End Over: A Mountain Biking Story Where The Main Character Should Have Totally Bitten It

Remember those little caplets that would turn into “dinosaurs” when dropped in water? I know of a person who is sort of like that (though he didn’t have the shape of a dinosaur after the expansion, and I don’t think it was just water that caused this transformation). His name is Mark. Before about the age of 15 Mark was like the little caplet. He was small for his age. He had glasses that were about half an inch thick and his hair always seemed to be rather disheveled and a little greasy. In the middle of his teen-age years Mark remade himself, apparently as a sheer act of will. He became incredibly strong, capable, cleanly, and still amazingly nice. Once Mark committed to something, he refused to betray that commitment. It was this trait that allowed him to change his appearance so much. However, in Mark this trait also created a level of honor found in only a rare few.  Betrayal was not an option for Mark. He stood up for what he believed.
* * *
Mountain biking was an excellent pastime on the ranch. There were steep slopes that made it hard and eventually gave one a sense of accomplishment. There were also forests to obscure one’s totally embarrassing falls. To make things more exciting we would start our rides from many different places on the ranch. Due to the size of the ranch, this meant getting places on the ranch with the bikes but without riding the bikes. Such an enterprise often entailed stuffing the bikes into the back of our 1992 ford explorer. As much as I liked this car it was not quite optimal for bike transportation. Since there were three of us we could put down only one of the back seats. We took off the wheels and seats of the bikes and stuffed them into the awkwardly shaped space that wrapped around the one backseat. For some unfortunate reason Mark always seemed to be the one who sat in the back next to the bikes. As we bounced across the ranch the bikes tended to become rather rambunctious. They would honestly leap a foot or two into the air when we went over hills and come crashing down slightly after the explorer itself did. It could be argued that this was, in large part, a result of the driving style employed. However, right now we are focusing on the funny situation in the back seat, not about the driver or on determining blame. The fact that the bikes leapt into the air and moved towards Mark with ruthless force was regrettable. However, the real kicker was that when the heap of metal landed it would lock together. One piece of twisted metal would loop over the next and so forth. This locking prevented Mark from pushing away the attacking bikes and over time resulted in a continual loss of space to the bikes tireless invasion. By the time we arrived at our trail-head Mark had about half the personal space that he stated with and about ¾ of what he needed. Upon arrival Mark also had a bike fork pressed firmly into his thigh.
* * *
At the end of the bike ride we went down a final steep section. We lost enough altitude going down this final slope that we were able to zoom down it. This section was  long enough to convince us that we could totally handle flying down it. If it were steeper, I think we would have slowed down more. But, on this particular hill we just leaned in close to our bikes and felt the air go past us faster and faster. Due to our speed we spread out a bit, so that if someone fell there would at least be the possibility that the person behind them could avoid hitting them. Mark was the final one to come down the hill and we were able to watch him flicker between the trees on his descent. He was going fast. Then, Mark and his bike charged behind one particular tree. When he appeared on the other side of the tree he was no longer riding his bike. He was sprinting with all his might and leaning forward like someone who couldn’t quite keep up with their speed.
* * *
As it worked out Mark had hit a deep pothole in the path. This particular pothole was so deep that it was able to violently and completely stop his fast moving front tire. However, the pothole did not stop Mark or the rest of Mark’s bike. This resulted in Mark and the back end of the mountain bike gracefully pivoting around the axle in the middle of the front tire. Mark pivoted towards the ground at the same speed he had been biking. While he was looking straight ahead at the seemingly vertical earth coming at him Mark was somehow able to do a series of extremely helpful actions. Mark was able to get is feet out of the clips that held them to the pedals of the bike. Then he was able to get his feet up to the height of his armpits and over the handlebars of the bike (before these same handlebars collided with the ground). From this awkward fetal position Mark was able to break into a full sprint. A sprint so fast that few could have sustained in the best of circumstances. This sprint turned out to be just fast enough to prevent him from performing a painfully unexpected cartwheel. I am not a completely ignorant man. I have watched the Olympics and the world cup. However, this is honestly one of the most impressive physical acts that I have ever seen. It is so impressive partly because he did it completely without warning, and partly because it would have hurt so much if he didn’t pull it off.
* * *
Mark slowed down at the bottom of the hill with his bike far behind him. He stopped and  leaned forward, placing his hands on his knees. After looking up the hill at the bikes he looked at us and panted “Looks like I got back at the bike for the car ride”.

Why Native Apps Are Still Ahead of HTML5

HTML5 might have had a promising start but native mobile video players are still making their mark due to their features. Due to the impressive start of HTML5, it was being considered as the next big thing in the world of mobile ads. Bets were being placed on HTML5 over the native mobile video player. But Alas! Due to the time and cost it requires to develop cross-platform compatible ads are still in the game, and are still popular among advertisers.

Edge of Native Mobile Video Player over HTML5

The demand of mobile apps by the brands is increasing with every passing day. Advertisers and software developers come up with creative ideas to gain an edge over their competitors and get more per click user ratio.

According to the creator of a leading social networking website, using HTML5 to create mobile apps was a mistake. It slowed the end user experience and wasn’t providing similar results on different browsers. The apps created by using HTML5 soon began to lose their charm after its introduction. The mobile app developers are facing long-term issues with their apps developed using HTML5.

However, with native apps it was easier to create video ads and integrate them into mobile phones. Native mobile video players are being hailed by the advertisers due to their cross-platform compatibility and better branding experience.

HTML5 gained quick popularity because of its new and innovative features. However, it couldn’t enhance the end user experience. The apps which were created by using HTML5 were slow. However, the Native apps have enhanced the end user experience with the constant upgrades in the technology.

Native Mobile Video Player SDK (Software Development Kit) for Android and iOS

Interactive mobile ads require creative options to be able to engage their user in their cell phone video ads. Native cell phone movie player for Android and iOS have better usability compared to HTML5 but the time and cost it takes to develop apps that provide similar user experience on all forums is not worth it.

With the native mobile player SDK (Software Development Kit) available for Android and iOS, now you can create a better and interactive mobile ad and gain the attention of the mobile surfer. This provides an effective way to deliver the message to the targeted audience. Native mobile players are software developer and browser friendly and enables developers to creatively place mobile video ads.

How to Find the Right Designer for Your Interior Design and Decorating Projects

Looking for an interior designer or interior decorator can be overwhelming if you are not sure which designer you need for the scope or your project. Are you building, renovating or moving and need professional advice? Are you planning to sell your property and not sure how to get ready for the first inspection?

This document gives you answers to frequently asked questions in regards to interior design, interior decorating, colour consulting and property styling.

It will help you finding the right designer for your interior design and decorating projects and eventually create your individual style in your home.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior stylist?

You may have asked yourself this question already when facing a building or renovation project. Do I need an interior designer, an interior decorator, a colour consultant or an interior stylist?

The answer is that it depends on the scope of the project.

An interior designer is a skilled professional who is designing interior environments according to your briefing. The interior designer either modifies what already exists (renovation) or provides an entirely new design for a space (new build). In this case the interior designer works closely with the architect and comes in at an early stage of the project. Interior designers work either along a team in design firm or on their own.

What is the job of an interior stylist? An interior stylist is a designer or consultant in a field subject to changes in style, especially fashion or interior decoration. An interior stylist cultivates or maintains any particular style and in most cases stylist are finders, keepers and collectors of beautiful objects.

The interior stylist can help you finding your own style, creating beautiful interiors that are unique and meaningful. This can be achieved with the simplest things and does not have to be expensive. The only thing you need to do is keep your eyes open to beautiful things in nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel. There is only one rule: Only collect or buy things that mean something to you!

How does a colour consultation work?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

Prior to designing a colour scheme for you the colour consultant should always talk to you about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in your space. He will explain to you the differences between the paint companies and their products and choose the right product for your needs. After designing the colour scheme you will receive a written recommendation including a specification sheet and brushouts ready for your painter to start.

Why is it important to seek advice from a designer when choosing colours?

Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication and the design element that makes a space come alive. Colour brings individuality in a space and it is one of the most useful tools to master when finding your own style.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says in her book Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color: “Among other uses, color stimulates and works synergistically with all of the senses, symbolizes abstract concepts and thoughts, expresses fantasy or wish fulfillment, recalls another time or place and produces an aesthetic or emotional response.”

When choosing a colour for a room or house it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve. Is it a dark room or flooded with natural light? In which direction is the room facing? How are the proportions? Do you live in a small apartment or a contemporary newly built house with open plan living areas? All this needs to be considered when choosing colours for a space.

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of colours available – yes, there are thousands on the market – how can you start finding your personal colour scheme?

For some people it is a longer journey, for others it comes more naturally. The most important thing is to take some time, open your eyes, walk around your home and absorb the colour combinations you see. Then start gathering all the pieces you love. This can be anything from old porcelain, travel souvenirs, photographs, artwork, clothes, tear sheets from magazines, fabric swatches, stationary, a collection of stones, feathers or glass objects.

And don’t forget nature as inspiration for a colour scheme (interior or exterior). If you live near the ocean, shades of blues and greens can be used to link your interior with its surroundings. Flowers, butterflies, stones, shells, driftwood are fantastic inspirations for colour schemes.

Once you have gathered all your beloved treasures in one spot, play around with the pieces, group them by colours and you will see a colour palette emerge. This “moodboard” is a great starting point for your interior designer, interior stylist or colour consultant to help you creating an individual and personal space, a home that reflects who you are and a place that you love coming home to.

Stylist’s tip: Before you start painting always buy a test pot and paint a large sheet of paper or cardboard (one square metre) with your colour. Tape it to the walls in your room and study it for a couple of days. Look at it in daylight and artificial light. This is very important as colours change depending on the light, the orientation of the room, other colours in the room and spatial elements like furniture and artwork for example.

What is the difference between a colour and a styling consultation?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

The styling consultation focuses on creating a certain (Your) style in your home or simply on answering all your questions about colours, style, furniture sourcing and placement, art sourcing and placement, displays of your collections, accessories, proportions in a space, lighting etc.

Again it is vital that the designer listens to what you would like to achieve (briefing) and makes sure that he understood what you want (debriefing). Don’t let the interior designer or interior stylist talk you into something you don’t like!

How do I maximise the output of my styling consultation?

Are you planning to colour, redecorate or renovate, but don’t know where to start? Do you have lots of questions about colour schemes, furniture placement, how to display your collections, books or other beloved things? Are you not sure whether to redecorate with your old furniture and accessories or to renovate and create a new look? Do you need inspirations where to source furniture and accessories, second hand pieces or antiques?

If you prepare your first consultation with your stylist properly, you will get answers to all the questions you have. Here are my tips how to maximise the output from your styling or colour consultation:

• Be clear what you would like the outcome of the consultation to be.

• Decide which room or space you would like to focus on. Is it only one room or the whole house?

• Prepare yourself with tear sheets from interior design magazines like Real Living, Inside Out, Belle or Vogue Living. There are plenty on the market so choose the one that speaks to you most and start collecting pages of everything you like: colour schemes, furniture, accessories, room layouts, rugs, flooring, wallpaper, decorative items and everything that speaks to you. If you do this for a couple of weeks you will clearly see what you like and find your own personal style.

• Keep your eyes open to the beautiful things around you: nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel.

• Make sure that your stylist is listening and explain what you want to achieve with your styling project, what you would like a room to do for you and what mood you would like to create in your space.

And finally one of the most important things: Don’t let the stylist talk you into something you don’t like! You have to live in the space and you need to feel comfortable and at home! It is all about creating your home with your personal touch.

How do I find my own style?

The answer is as simple as this: explore the world around you and appreciate the beauty that lies within everything you discover!

Keep your eyes open and your mind excited! Discover and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you every day! Find inspiration in nature, buildings, shops, exhibitions, museums, art, events, markets, magazines and of course books.

One of my favourite books I spotted in a museum shop is called: How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith. On the back it says: “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.”

A stylist’s tip: always carry a little notebook and a pen with you in order to be able to sketch, doodle and write down what you discover.

Keep all your findings, notes and pictures in a folder or box and keep searching for at least four to eight weeks. Then start to group things by colour or theme and you will discover what your style is. And there are no rules. It is all about finding what you like!

Books for your inspiration

This is a list of books that I personally own and love! They are all a fantastic source of inspiration and creative ideas for your home.

Sibella Court: Bowerbird

Shannon Fricke: Sense of Style

Megan Morton: Home Love

Holly Becker: Decorate

Susanna Salk: Be Your Own Decorator

Geraldine James: Creative Walls

Hans Blomquist: The Natural Home

Is it necessary to seek advice from a stylist when I want to sell my property?

If you plan to sell your house it is worth investing in a styling consultation. A professional property stylist can help you to achieve maximum impact when presenting your home to potential buyers. A property stylist will help you to get ready for the first inspection by giving you advice on how to style your house with what you have. He will help you with colour schemes that attract potential buyers. He will also advice if you need rental furniture to style each room according to its function and help potential buyers to envisage themselves in the space. Property styling is all about creating a wow factor in key areas of your home and help the buyers to envisage themselves in your space. Once the styling is done don’t forget to book your stylist for the real estate photography shoot to make sure everything looks perfect on this day!

How To Pick Profitable Affiliate Programs

Although it has been said that affiliate marketing is a simple way of making residual income from the comfort of your home, you should not plunge into any affiliate program without carrying out your due diligence.

You need to ask a lot of questions before you choose which affiliate program to join. This foundational stage is very crucial to your success in affiliate marketing and you should not joke with it. What are the questions you need to be asking? I have a few suggestions below.

Are you going to pay any money to join the affiliate program?

If yes, drop it like hot potato. Almost all affiliate programs are free to join, and rightly so. After all, you will be making money for them; plus you increase the profit turn over the affiliate master will make on his product. It is in the interest of the affiliate master to sign you on free because he does not pay you a red cent until you make sales from your affiliate link.

How much does the product sell for?

It is important that you are not wasting your time promoting products that sell for pennies. As an affiliate, your commission is paid by percentage. That simply means the higher the cost of the product, the more money you make. Do not forget that you will spend valuable time and money promoting the product; hence the commission you get on it must be reasonable enough to pay your bills and give you a comfortable profit.

What percentage of sales price are you getting as commission?

Generally affiliate programs pay at least 50% commission, some even 75%. If the affiliate master knows his onions well, he will give attractive commissions so that the affiliate marketers will be inspired to really promote his products and make him money.

How popular is the product?

Go to related marketing forums and ask about the product. See what people are saying about it and form an opinion. Do a Google search on the product and see how many people are selling it. If it is a product that everybody’s uncle and grandmother is selling, please keep away from it. It will be all over the net and might be difficult to sell.

What type of affiliate program is being offered here?

Is it a one tier affiliate or a two tier affiliate? Of course, the two tier affiliate will make you more money. This is because when you get people on your list to promote the product, you make money from their efforts as you are paid commission on every sale they make. How do you get paid? What are the terms of payment? When do you get your commission check? This is different from program to program. Some programs will pay you once a month, some (very few) will pay your commission weekly while some might even pay quarterly. I don’t like this type of program because it holds on too long to your money.

Who is the creator/owner of the product?

What is his reputation online? Again you can find this out from forums and discussion boards. The gold fish has no hiding place. If he is a credible, reliable person you will know. If otherwise, people will also let you know. If there is any hint of you not getting paid what is due to you, look for another program.

How good is the affiliate track system?

It is quite important that your chosen program should be able to track every single sale made by you so that you get truly paid on your efforts. How long does your referral remain in the system? If they buy 90 days after you sponsored them, will you still get paid your commission?

Although there are a few more questions which you may ask, but the above are the crucial ones. Once you are satisfied with the results you get on the above questions, take immediate action steps to start your business.

As you can see, affiliate marketing is a serious business and should be so handled if you want to make maximum money from it. Sure, it is possible to become extremely wealthy marketing affiliate products and that is why you should be prudent about it.