Could debt relief help you?

By Ethan Nobles on 3:41 PM

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It’s no secret that Americans have been having trouble with consumer debt for years now. Want proof? Have a look at the bankruptcy filings in just about any jurisdiction and you’ll find there is no shortage of people who have let their debts rage out of control.

Here’s the thing about bankruptcy, however – it can ruin your credit for up to 10 years and all but the most impoverished debtors will wind up having to pay back at least a portion of their debts. There is, however, a very good alternative to bankruptcy – debt relief.

What is debt relief? Well, it comes in many forms. There are times when debt relief means simply negotiating payment schedules with creditors. There are still other times when it means taking out a credit loan that will keep the bill collectors at bay. The important thing about debt relief is to find a personalized plan put together by professionals that know what they are doing so that both you and your creditors come up with a plan that works out for everyone.

And, here’s something else about going the debt relief route – there are plenty of proven programs out there that will help you not only pay off your debts, but rebuild your credit rating in an acceptable amount of time.

Need some help with your debts? Click one of the links in your post for a start.

Music Monday–The Darling Buds

By Ethan Nobles on 10:50 PM

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A tragically overlooked band, the Darling Buds released three albums and then called it quits in the early 1990s after years of trying to get attention. That’s a shame, too. Let’s see. Plenty of guitar hooks? Check. Pop sensibilities mixed with some edgy guitars? Check. Hot blonde lead singer? Double check. I’m still not sure why this band never caught on with the listening public. Oh, well.

 
Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. Rules are simple. Leave ONLY the ACTUAL LINK POST here and grab the code below and place it at your blog entry. You can grab this code at LadyJava's Lounge Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.   PS: Because of spamming purposes, the linky will be closed on Thursday of each week at midnight, Malaysian Time. Thank you!

Need an employment attorney?

By Ethan Nobles on 10:36 PM

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As I’ve mentioned a time or two on this blog, The Hawg used to be an attorney. During the four years I spent practicing law, I was witness to plenty of treachery, injustice and downright unethical behavior.

Some of the worst cases I saw involved someone getting hurt on the job and then cut loose because, well, they worked for large companies that just kept their employees around until it was no longer convenient.

Here’s the thing – if you’ve been hurt on the job through misdeeds or negligence by someone else, you are owed compensation. Some companies will do the right thing by their employees, while others will simply fire them – or at least threaten to do so -- instead of lending a helping hand. Unless you work for a company that looks out for its employees, you will need a good employment lawyer to get what you are owed.

When it comes to employment law, the chances are you’re going to have to have some very good representation, too. When it’s “big guy vs. little guy,” the little guy had better come prepared or get ready to be hammered in court. Where can a wronged employee find competent representation? If you need an employment attorney in Woodlands TX area, you might give Garg and Associates a look – good track record, according to the firm’s Website so check them out.

Ubuntu 13.04 due out today

By Ethan Nobles on 12:31 AM

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That's right, Linux fans – a new version of Ubuntu is due out today.

If you already have Ubuntu, your system should tell you when the update is available. If not, launch the update manager in Ubuntu and it will search for the new operating system for you.

If you simply want to switch to Ubuntu, head over to Ubuntu.com, hit the download tab and follow the directions. Bear in mind that you can have Ubuntu running alongside your current operating system or you can put it on a USB drive or DVD so you can test drive it instead of installing it on your system.

Is your Internet site really helping your business?

By Ethan Nobles on 11:12 PM

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A couple of years ago, I was in the market for a Ford Mustang. There are two local dealerships that sell those – I’ll refer to them as Dealership A and Dealership B.

Like a lot of consumers, I started researching Mustangs on the Internet by visiting the sites of both dealerships. I found cars that met my requirements on both sites and asked for more information about those vehicles. Dealership B got back to me in a hurry while Dealership A responded much later. I bought my Mustang from Dealership B because that lot got back to me first. Both dealerships had similar cars and there wasn’t much difference in price.

The only difference between them is that one responded to me before the other one did – the quick company made a $28,000 sale, whereas the slow one lost a customer to a competitor.

What can we take from this? Response time matters and anyone who doesn’t realize that simple truth is living in a fool’s paradise.

Now, that all makes sense, and there’s data to back up that notion. A Kellogg study proving that the odds of connecting with a lead increases 100 times if contact is made within five minutes rather than within 30 minutes. Here’s something else – leads contacted within five minutes are 21times more likely to become customers than leads contacted within 30 minutes.

The name of the game, then, is lead generation. You can spend a ton of time and cash putting together a snazzy site that gets people interested in your business, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if a slow response time means you don’t convert leads into paying customers. You can have great content and an attention-grabbing call to action button that potential customers click like crazy, but all of that is wasted effort if your response time is so slow that interest leads wander to sites run by your competitors.

If you need some help in that area, you’re in luck – there’s a company called Speak2Leads that specializes into helping you turn those leads into paying customers.

That’s why your company started an Internet site to begin with, isn’t it? The whole point of putting your company on the Web is to find people interested enough to pay you money. If your company isn’t responding quickly enough to inquiries from potential customers, then what’s the point of its Internet site?

Why not take it easy on yourself?

By Ethan Nobles on 10:11 PM

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TaskBulletDo you want to know the worst part of owning your own business? All the piddling tasks that you have to deal with on a day to day basis.

Well, those tasks aren’t exactly piddling – they have to be done. We’re talking about stuff like billing, customer support tasks, answering email, scheduling appointments, bookkeeping, etc. If those tasks don’t get done, you’ve got some real problems just waiting to jump up and bite you.

While those tasks are important, they keep you from doing the things that made you decide to open your own business in the first place. I know about this firsthand from the days I was an attorney. I didn’t get a law degree, pass the bar and open an office so I could spent most of my time paying bills, checking my post office box and dealing with salesmen who wandered into my office. No, I opened a law firm so I could spend my time suing people and growling at other attorneys. In other words, I loved the freedom of owning my own office, but hated the day-to-day office stuff for which I had no training and no interest.

In my case, I wound up hiring a secretary to take care of everything from scheduling appointments to putting together bankruptcy petitions. The problem with a full time employees is that they are expensive, want benefits and may or may not show up to work on time. Now, I don’t want to bash my secretary – she was great and was great at keeping me from having to deal with the tasks that need to be done but which bored me to tears. However, she was expensive and cut into my profit margin like crazy.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d avoid hiring a secretary altogether and turn to virtual assistant services instead. Why? A virtual assistant can cost half of what a regular employee does and they handle those necessary tasks you don’t want to do and that frees you up to work on the large tasks you dreamt of when you started your business. Also, you can scale your workforce at will – grab some more assistants if you have a large project requires more help and then trim your workforce back as needed (in other words, there’s no full time employee drawing a salary when there’s no work to do).

By the way, hit the aforementioned link if you want to hire virtual assistants from an American company that has no shortage of professionals with university degrees. Oh, and you can hire those smart assistants for one of the lowest rates in the industry. Not bad, huh?

Wordless Wednesday–‘Mine!’

By Ethan Nobles on 2:04 AM

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Click here for more Wordless Wednesday entries.

A dentist for people who don’t like dentists?

By Ethan Nobles on 1:23 AM

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Haymore

If you don’t have a horror story or two about dentists, the chances are good you know someone who does. As for me, I’ve been through serial extractions, wisdom teeth removal, braces and a number of things that have left me with a distinct dislike of dentists.

So, when you run across one that talks about “gentle” dentistry, it’s time to pay attention. That’s doubly true if the dentist has patient testimonials on hand to back up his claims. The great thing about the Internet, of course, is that researching is very easy – finding a painless dentist (or anything else) has become much easier than it used to be.

At any rate, I’m about to make that research a bit easier for you good people in Las Vegas. Forget about running searches for “dentist Las Vegas” or “root canal Las Vegas” and simply click, click, click one of those two aforementioned links to visit the site of a dentist who promises to be gentle with patients.

Now, any dentist on the planet can make that claim, but how can you tell if the dentist is telling the truth? Fortunately, you’ve got some testimonials on that site that back up the dentist’s claims. In the words of one client who submitted a review, “…fast, efficient root canal. Did not hurt at all and face did not swell up.”

That’s good stuff. Haymore Endontics backs that claim up further by showing off an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Something else in the dentist’s favor is the ability to make an appointment online in about 30 seconds. You can even make an emergency appointment on the site.

That, folks, is the epitome of convenience. In this day and age where people are in a hurry and money is tight, good customer service is essential – if you’re going to pay for something, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth, right? That fast-loading, informative site is indicative of a professional who knows the value of good customer service. That speaks volumes, folks.

Again, one of the advantages of the Internet is that doing some research on dentists or anything else is easy. I wish such a tool would have been available back when I was a kid and my parents were searching for a good dentist for me. I wound up with a dentist who evidently subscribed to a philosophy that suggests that causing a patient pain is merely an unavoidable consequence of getting dental work done. It’s nice to see a dentist bucking that trend, isn’t it?

Looking for a business lawyer in Lafayette?

By Ethan Nobles on 10:46 PM

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Back in my 20s, I went to law school, passed the Arkansas Bar Exam and then went to work as an attorney. While I don’t practice law anymore, I do understand what the most difficult thing was about finding an attorney was hiring one that wasn’t awful.

What’s the best way to find a solid, competent attorney? Do some research. If you’re looking for a business lawyer in Lafayette, La., just click on the aforementioned link and you can start your research immediately. What will you find there? The firm’s philosophy, areas of focus and everything else you might need when wondering where to find a good business lawyer in the area.

If you want to move past the business lawyer area, make sure to read up on the Lafayette lawyers’ areas of practice. Remember – attorneys are expensive. If you need one, you’d better hire a good one as a bad one costs about the same and can really leave you in a world of hurt.

A time-tested, online travel site

By Ethan Nobles on 10:32 PM

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travel_logo_smallWhat can you say about a site that’s been online in 1997? It’s ancient by “dot com” standards and, as such, must have something going for it.

Travel.com.au has been around since 1997 and has managed to survive the shakeups that killed a lot of online companies. I particularly like this site because I’ve always wanted to visit Australia for one reason or another (possibly because there are some areas of that country that stay between 50 degrees and 70 degrees all year long and Arkansas isn’t exactly like that).

If you’re planning a trip outside the country, the chances are good that you’ll need a little help with international flights, international airfares and those sorts of things, right? If you’re a cheapskate like I am, you’ll probably want to find some cheap flights, too. So, I tested out the site and tried to figure out what flights were available from Little Rock, Ark. to Sydney, Australia, on June 1 from the Little Rock National Airport.

Within seconds, I got to see which flights I could take, how much each one cost, how long my travel time would be and in which airports my flight would layover. That’s very convenient and the site does a great job of listing every relevant provider – you might be looking for Signapore Airlines, Jetstar, United Airlines or Qantas (just a few examples) and you can see where each of those airlines fits into your international flight (or, indeed, if they are included at all).

That’s what we call convenience, folks. Check out the site if you’re in the mood to travel.

Take your music underwater

By Ethan Nobles on 8:29 PM

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Every wanted to take your music underwater? Ever worried that you’d ruin your iPod by taking it in a swimming pool with you? Have you ever thought that a waterproof iPod might cost you a fortune even if such a thing existed?

Well, fear not – you can have your very own underwater iPod for around $165. Yes, we’re talking about a legitimate iPod Shuffle that comes complete with waterproof headphones and everything you need to take your music with you wherever you go.

Folks, that’ significant. Think back to the 1980s (well, think back to those days if you’re old enough to remember that particular decade) when the Sony Walkman came out. It was revolutionary simply because it allowed people to take their music with them just about anywhere and listen to it in anywhere. Music became portable and very individual. For a low price, you could listen to music on the bus, in your office, in your house in such a way that you wouldn’t annoy your family with it and – as I said – go anywhere with it.

Well, you couldn’t take it underwater. That was a major limitation when you consider that three-fourths of the world is underwater.

That underwater barrier, folks, has been shattered. The iPod was limited in that regard the same way the Walkman was, but that is no longer the case. Now you can pick up an iPod Shuffle for a low price and truly take your music wherever you want.

What do you get for your money? How about a legitimate Apple device that has been improved (as mentioned) and comes in a variety of colors? How about a one-year warranty and a guarantee that the device will be waterproof up to 200 feet? It’s a pretty cool device to be sure and it is backed by a company that will give you your money back if the waterproof iPod doesn’t work as well as advertised.

Think about that for a second – a little waterproofing makes a device that was once revolutionary but has become fairly common a revolutionary music player once again. Here’s another benefit that will be recognized by anyone who has had an iPod ruined by water – you can drop this thing in the kitchen sink and it’ll be OK. That, alone, is well worth the price of admission. Have a look at the waterproof iPod, folks – when you think about all the uses for it, it’ll just become that much more attractive.

Weekend OTR–Gunsmoke

By Ethan Nobles on 12:03 AM

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Yes, the Weekend OTR series is back and as great as ever at First Arkansas News.

Yes, the series took a bit of a vacation due to the fact the editor of the site (uh, that would be me) dealt with health problems and had a slew of freelance assignments that actually paid me money.

So, now that things have calmed down a bit, it’s time to get back to work on First Arkansas News. So, one of my favorite series’ is back and you can catch a dandy episode of Gunsmoke (one of the best old time radio westerns) by clicking here.

Need a criminal lawyer?

By Ethan Nobles on 11:52 PM

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Years ago, I made my living as an attorney in northwest Arkansas.

I learned a thing or two during the four years when I was a lawyer and one of the most important ones was this – there are times when someone accused of a crime was actually innocent. There were other times when someone accused of a crime was actually guilty of a lesser crime – a misdemeanor instead of a felony, for example.

Here’s the thing – the guilty and not guilty faced similar fates if they weren’t represented by a good, hardworking criminal lawyer. While there were a lot of hard-working, knowledgeable public defenders available in the counties where I practiced, they were often overwhelmed by the sheer case load that got dumped on their desks daily.

Look at it this way – if a good attorney is simply overworked, how likely is it that lawyer will be able to give a client the necessary attention? Sadly, I saw a lot of cases in which someone who warranted a great defense simply didn’t get it because they had an overworked lawyer.

The same was true when it came to inexperienced attorneys. Sure, they had time on their hands, but they often didn’t know the judges or prosecutors that well and, as such, didn’t have a great working relationship with them. Such a relationship is necessary in these matters – a prosecutor who has worked a few cases with a defense lawyer is more inclined to listen seriously when it comes to working out decent plea bargains or dropping cases entirely.

The point of all this? If you need a good criminal lawyer and you happen to be in Jackson, MS, click the aforementioned link and you might just find one.