A Guide to Help You Pick Your Next Piece of Furniture

Buying furniture does not have to be a stressful or painful activity. In fact, it can actually be a bit fun when you know how to distinguish the quality pieces from those destined for the dumpster. The following guide will hopefully demystify the inner workings and construction of furniture so you can focus on picking out the perfect color, print, and texture for your home.

Upholstered Furniture

Your furniture sets the mood, tone, and overall feel of your home just as your wardrobe conveys these same exercises about you. Upholstered furniture is perhaps the most telling sign of these characteristics as the use of color, design, and texture come into play more here than with any other type of furniture. Pieces that generally fall into the 'upholstered' category include chairs, sofas, love seats, sectionals, and sofa beds. This guide is designed to make your decision less daunting by eliminating some technical terms and giving you some insight into what lies benefit the cloths and cushions.

Woven Fabric Covers

Woven fabric means simply that the fabric is woven by a machine that interlaces two yarns running at right angles to each other. The most widely used group of decorative upholsteries sold in the United States consist of woven fabrics. These woven fabrics can be natural, such as linen and cotton, or man-made fibers like polyester and olefin. In most cases, fabrics are blends of various fibers like the popular cotton-polyester blend. The most popular types of weaves are as follows:

O Jacquard weaves are fabrics with differently colored yarns or fibers woven into highly decorative designs. These weaves are most often found in traditional furniture styles.

O Pile fabrics have loops or cut fibers standing up densely from the surface to form a three-dimensional texture. Depending on color and design, pile fabrics can be suitable for traditional or contemporary furniture.

O Textured fabrics are woven from yarns that have been processed to give them more bulk, crimp, stretch, or otherwise altered. Chenille is an example of a very popular textured weave. Textured fabrics are often woven to resembble antique, homespun cloth.

O Plain-woven fabrics consist of one color with their character resulting from the type of yarn or fiber used. Depending on the texture, plain weaves can be used on formal or informal furniture and with a variety of styles.

O Printed fabrics are first woven and then printed with a decorative design. Chintz and polished cotton are examples of fabrics that are often used for prints, although textured fabrics with blends of nylon, rayon, cotton, and polyester fibers are also often printed.

Non-Woven Fabric Covers

Non-woven fabrics are produced by the bonding and or interlocking of fibers. These fabrics can be made by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or solvent means, or with an adhesive, or any combination of these. Examples of non-woven fabrics include:

O Vinyl , which may or may not be laminated to a fabric backing. Vinyls are preferred on furniture that is subject to hard usage. Also called Naugahyde®, vinyl is often thought of as a substitute for leather, and can be printed in a variety of patterns.

O Flocked fabrics are made by gluing pieces of cut fibers onto a flat woven cloth base. These fibers form a three-dimensional surface much like pile. Flocked velvet is an example of this kind of fabric.

O Knitted fabrics are made by interlooping one or more sets of yarns. This is a reliably inexpensive way of manufacturing fabric.

O Suede-like fabrics , such as Ultrasuede® are often used in decorative upholstered furniture covers to give the look and feel of genuine suede, without using animal hides and usually at less cost.

Inner Construction

The construction and inner workings of an upholstered piece of furniture can be as mysterious as an episode of Murder, She Wrote (ask your Grandma). But hidden under the decorative fabric or cover lies the secret to the piece's overall function, comfort, and longevity. No need to call Angela Lansbury in order to solve this case, read on as we forget what makes your chair or sofa tick.

The frame is the single most important component in determining whether or not a piece of furniture is going to stand the test of time. You probably figured wood as being the most commonly used frame material, and this, of course, is true. But any old hunk of tree will not due if you plan on passing this wonderful chair, sofa, love seat, or whatever on to your children or grandchildren (they'll probably just put it in storage or sell it at a yard sale anyway ). Hardwoods, such as oak, alder, ash, beech and birch are what you're looking for in a frame. These hardwoods have a tighter grain and allow for screws, pegs, and nails to be set securely. Also, the best-made frames use wood that has been kiln-dried . This process consist of heating the wood in an industrial oven to remove excess sap and moisture. The process also makes the wood resistant to absorbing any outside moisture. If you're wondering what the problem is with moisture, I'll tell you. If you already know the answer to this, then skip to the next paragraph Mr. Egypt Smarty-Pants. Moisture can cause warping and swelling, can lead to loose joints and fastenings, and in severe cases can cause mildew or rotting, other than that, it's great.

The quality of the frame depends not only on the materials used, but how they're joined and held together. To create a strong, rigid frame, a variety of woods and laminates can be used in joints and for blocking and doweling.

O Joints are places where one piece of the frame meets another. These points of intersection need to be secured and reinforced with blocks and dowels to allow the frame to hold up over time.

O Blocking reiter to placing additional 'blocks' of wood behind or diagonal to joints and corners to help relieve the stress these areas encounter. Blocks also provide lateral support and create a larger area for screws and fasteners to set wood elements securely.

O Doweling is the process of drilling into both pieces of the joint and then placing a pin, or dowel into the hole, so further connecting the two pieces and adding extra support.

A quality chair or sofa will employ some type of inner spring system, usually in the back as well as the seat area. These systems add comfort, as you might expect, but they also work to take some of the stress off the joints of the frame. Here are some of the spring systems being used:

O The coil or cone spring system uses eight-way, hand-tied double cone springs to provide extra comfort and support. This technique involves fastening the cone springs tightly to the base and expertly tying their tops together with a strong cord. This is the only system that allows for side-to-side movement in addition to up and down movement. Hand-crafted quality comes at a price, though, and while this is widely considered the best spring system, it is also the most expensive.

O The sinuous wire spring is made in a continuous zigzag or "S" shape. These wires run parallel to each other and are quickly directly to the frame and to each other. Similar to this system is the formed wire spring, where the continuous wire is formed into rectangular bends and angles instead of the zigzag pattern.

O The grid suspension system is composed of a wire grid, sometimes covered with paper or plastic-coated wire, which has one side fastened directly to the frame. The other side is connected to the frame by helical springs.

O Some manufacturers use elastic webbing instead of wire springs. The strips of elastic usually intersect and weave together and are fastened directly to the frame. It is best to avoid furniture that uses this technique.

Arm yourself with this knowledge and make a more informed choice the next time you purchase furniture.

The Business Of Home Video

The technology of home video has it's roots in the mid 1970's with the advent of Sony's u-Matic video cassette system. What? Never hear of that? It's because it never found it's market as a home medium because it was too cumbersome and expensive. It went on to become the standard for industrial videos.

In the early 1980's, Beta and VHS were introduced as home video formats, with VHS taking a rapid lead. Even then, it appears mostly to time shifting TV shows, since the separate cameras and recorders with interconnecting wires and short battery life made portable video a chore.

By the mid eighties, camcorders had come to market, combining the camera and recorder in one compact unit (for it's day). Still rather large for most people to cart on vacation, entrepreneurs, myself included, quickly discovered a commercial use for the devices – filming weddings and corporate events.

In 1985 I opened my first video production business in Connecticut and within two years I quit my full time job in the computer engineering business and went full time into video. Back then, if you showed up on time, could hold the camera steady and keep it in focus, you could make a steady income in the video business. Camcorders were still rather expensive, and properly editing videos required equipment and talent beyond the realm of the average person.

By 1990, cameras became smaller, easier to use, and less expensive. Computer based non-linear editing was still the realm of the broadcast world, but more affordable tape based editing systems allowed event videographers to hone their finished products. No longer could simple basic skills keep you in business, you had compete with new video businesses in your market and polish your skills as an editor. Still, as the analog tape-to-tape duplicating process used for editing clipped away the undesirable footage, it caused an unavoidable loss of image clarity.

Digital video camcorders hit the consumer market in 1995. This allowed much clearer looking videos, and editing digital tape to tape avoided the loss of image quality associated with analog video editing. VHS was still the mainstay for the finished product, but now that product had the sharpness of a first generation VHS tape, and not a ragged edged copy as in the past. Computer based editing was still expensive, but was beginning to make it's way to the mainstream event video producers.

By the year 2000, cheaper, faster and less expensive computers had hard drives large enough to store feature length videos at reasonable cost. Non linear editing became the choice of nearly every video business. Clients were expecting far more from their finished product, and DVD was becoming the preferred medium for delivery of the final video. Even though videos were not yet high definition, the DVD made video look much better than VHS. More and more new event video companies were popping up as the prices of camcorders and computers continued to fall while their quality and ease of use went up. 2000 was a pinnacle year for wedding videos, as brides lined up in droves to have their weddings at the turn of the century.

By 2005, the camcorder had become so small, so easy to use, and high definition video produced such a great result it seemed that event video people were on every street corner. Anyone with two thousand dollars could start a video business and produce quality results, at least from the technical perspective. The real competition was beginning to come not only from other video businesses, but from former clients as well. Instead of continuing to pay a professional one to two thousand dollars to record their wedding video, some clients were buying their own camcorders for five hundred dollars and letting a friend or relative shoot the video.

Small, pocket sized high definition camcorders, high definition video in camera phones and free editing software on cheap, off-the-shelf PCs have diminished the client's perceived value of the professional video by 2012. The expectation of clients is that that video professional must Be able to replicate what the client sees in the movie theater or on television. Trouble is, studios still spend hundreds of thousands or more on lighting, sound and talent. Now matter how good home equipment is, or how polished the skills of a professional event videographer, a client's stingy three hundred dollar budget is not going to buy the results that clients see on TV. Not willing to pay thousands, many clients are satisfied with You-Tube style video clips taken with the camera phones of their friends – provided it's free. And a professional can not compete with free and stay in business.

Today, as a result of the amazing small, inexpensive and high quality camcorders and free editing software, the video business is far more challenging for the event professional. There is still something a professional can offer that all your friend's camera phones can never match. That is a video that truly tells your story or deliveries your corporate message as it should be, with the look and finish close to that of an independent film. In the end, it is the knowledge and experience that are worth the cost. You can not buy that with an iPhone in the hands of a close friend.

Top 10 Tips For Starting a Successful Multi-Restaurant Delivery Service

When planning to start a restaurant delivery business, here are 10 tips to help you plan, start and succeed in starting up your own food delivery service.

1. Do a research first.

Before starting any business, be sure to find time to dig up resources and valuable information about the business. This also applies when you have decided to start a multi-restaurant delivery business.

Reading informative articles would actually be helpful but you should also find time to talk to people who you think would give you additional information about the business. If you find a website that offers information about food delivery service business, try to contact them through email or call them if the number to reach them is available on their contact page.

2. Find an experienced guidance.

When starting up your own multi restaurant delivery, consider sharing your plans with a close family relative, a trusted friend or a business person who is close to you. Get their suggestions, thoughts and find time to consider all these. It is better to have support from your family or spouse than doing this alone. Starting up can be a bit daunting phase of the business.

It is best to have an experienced business person to support you and guide you as you start your own restaurant delivery service. If you can not find any immediate person to talk to, you can try to search for forums or business communities online, try to mingle with like minded people who are seriously considering starting their own food delivery business.

3. Be sure that you are really serious on this.

As what most business experts tell us oftentimes, "Start up a business that you are really interested about." One reason why most business fails is because the person behind it lacks sufficient motivation to continue after a stroke of problems arises.

Before starting up a multi restaurant meal delivery service, be sure that you are interested with the business and that you are really sold with the idea before you'll be able to effectively do it as a business.

If you still have doubts about it, do not tolerate these doubts and find answers.

4. Get ready with a business plan.

Having a business plan will show you firsthand if the business itself is feasible. It would allow you to see if the business is scalable. If you plan to start a food delivery service business as a franchisee or investor be sure to study the food delivery service business plan and analyze the business' potential before putting your time and effort.

5. Test the waters first.

Do not jump into the business immediately. What's good about restaurant delivery service is that you can do it part time or full-time. This only means that you can start doing part time meal deliveries first.

If you have a day job, do not quit your job right away. Having a day job while you're still starting up a new venture will definitely help you financially while your food delivery service is still on its early stages.

6. Prepare the investment needed.

It would be hard to decide about what business to start if you do not have enough financial fuel to run the business. Save up or consider taking a business loan or approach lenders if possible. Every business requires initial investment to start with.

Food delivery service business does not require a huge amount of investment and preparation for the investment may not be that difficult acquire.

7. Prepare for the legalities.

When doing a research on food delivery service, also consider the legal and tax obligations or obligations required. It is better to have this all looked at and fixed beforehand rather than fix a legal mess afterwards.

8. Market your business to your customers early on.

You do not have to wait for your restaurant delivery service to basically start before you start promoting it to your customers. Start distributing brochures, printed menus or stickers to homes, offices near your business location and start making contact. Supply your customers with enough information early on.

9. Hire professional assistance if needed.

When starting up a food delivery service business, it does not mean that you will have to do all the work. In a typical scenario, you may need a person to answer calls and a person or two to deliver the orders.

As for the legalities, you may also want to get assistance from professional lawyers on legal matters relating the business.

10. Be professional.

This only means that you need to establish your business in a professional manner. To do this you need to create professional business cards, put up your own multi-restaurant delivery service website, a business phone number and a business email address.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page identified as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who's possibly just lost his job companies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month – Forbes.com
  • Men's monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years – Guardian.co.uk
  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs – Guardian.co.uk

There's even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid would not you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let's take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it's deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we're talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also mean more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious) .

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, rarely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleges and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content like videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared among millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. The Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has reduced the need for traditional media because it enabled consumers to join social communities within their neighbors, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that's been said, the demise of Traditional Media can seriously be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership advertisers advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can not compete with immediately updated user-generated content that's immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio / Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe , their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, sometimes live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection …