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Affects of Service Oriented Architectures and Web2.0 Phenomenon: Evolution or Disruptive Innovation

Affects of Service Oriented Architectures and Web2.0 Phenomenon:  Evolution or Disruptive Innovation

Wikipedia / O’Reiley defines Web 2.0 as the “second generation of Internet-based services” and while it is technically correct, it does little to communicate the significance of said advances. As used by its proponents, the phrase “Web 2.0” refers to one or more of the following:

  • The transition of web-sites from isolated information silos to sources of content and functionality, thus becoming computing platforms serving web applications to end-users
  • A social phenomenon embracing an approach to generating and distributing Web content itself, characterized by open communication, decentralization of authority, freedom to share and re-use, and “the market as a conversation”
  • A more organized and categorized content
  • A shift in economic value of the Web, possibly surpassing that of the dot com boom of the late 1990s
  • A marketing-term used to differentiate new web-based firms from those of the dot-com boom, which (due to the bust) subsequently appeared discredited
  • The resurgence of excitement around the implications of innovative web-applications and services that gained a lot of momentum around mid-2005

In the opening talk of the first Web 2.0 conference, Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle summarized key principles they believed characterized Web 2.0 applications

  • the Web as a platform
  • data as the driving force
  • network effects created by an architecture of participation
  • innovation in assembly of systems and sites composed by pulling together features from distributed, independent developers (a kind of “open source” development)
  • lightweight business models enabled by content and service syndication
  • the end of the software adoption cycle (“the perpetual beta”)
  • software above the level of a single device, leveraging the power of The Long Tail.

Let’s take a quick look at one of the representatives of Web2.0 applications, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional (social) networking platform that allows professionals to connect with each other in search of common connections, joint projects, business opportunities, etc. LinkedIn is a web-based application. The value of the service is extremely dependent on participation and the service is powered by the data that its members provide about themselves and their services. The business model is subscriptions, advertising and marketplace driven and the company provides only one product. Other applications representative of Web 2.0 include:

  • Google AdSense – Monetization of content
  • MySpace, LinkedIn – social and professional networking
  • BitTorrent – peer-to-peear content distribution
  • WIKI – user driven content management
  • del.icio.us – bookmark sharing
  • Blogger, Typepad, WordPress – content generation
  • Digg – content syndication
  • SalesForce.com – move of enterprise applications to the web
  • Writely and Online Spreadsheets – web-based office applications

Innovations Service Oriented Architecture Service Oriented Architecture is one of the principal components of Web2.0 world and is the thinking behind some of the most innovative Web2.0 applications. In computing, the term service-oriented architecture (SOA) expresses a perspective of software architecture that defines the use of loosely coupled software services to support the requirements of the business processes and software users. In an SOA environment, resources on a network are made available as independent services that can be accessed without knowledge of their underlying platform implementation.( Barry, Douglas K., 2003. Web Services and Service-Oriented Architectures)

The convergence of SOA and Web 2.0, two highly interrelated trends that are very focused on:

  1. connecting people and systems together easily,
  2. making software and data available for reuse via services, and
  3. building new value upon the foundation of existing information resources and IT assets.

At the core of Service Oriented Architecture is the ability of one application to be built on the top of another application (service) and possesses the following characteristics:

  • – interface abstraction
  • – leverage of the existing systems in building new ones
  • – ease of extending the functionality through “mashups”
  • – an elegant implementation of data, logic and interface independence

Situational Software

Situational Software is a term for Rapid Software Development by non-programmers solving a particular business problem. Situational software allows for building such components/application as registration interface, task list, workflow and other functions without knowing any computer language syntax. This is a powerful new development as it exponentially extends the number of users who can develop their own application logic thus lowering the need for IT resources every and providing business functions with a much quicker way to accomplish their goals.


One of the most consistent trends on the Internet is the rise of open APIs and the applications built on top of them, known as mashups. Programmable Web currently lists over 300 APIs that can be used for everything from building Web sites on top of Google Maps to using Amazon’s powerful infrastructure APIs for storage and cluster computing. The underlying trend: The desire to easily remix the vast pool of high value data and services on the Web today into useful new solutions, at home and in the enterprise.

Mashups provide a way to combine several existing services with a new User Interface and possibly new logic to create a new application. Examples of mashups are services build on Google Maps, RSS news feeds, Stock information, etc.


Real Simple Syndication (RSS) exposes the data behind a particular news or data source in order to be syndicated by other applications or services. RSS has become incredibly popular in the last few years with nearly every news or information source exposing their content as RSS. This type of content packaging allows the content provider to easily get their wares outside of the immediate readership group and provides an inexpensive marketing mechanism.

Social Networks

Social Networking represents a modern trend in maintaining and developing personal and business relationships. Internet services like MySpace, Classmates.com, LinkedIn, Ecademy are redefining how people go about staying connected and looking for new connections. Proliferation of the social networking sites with increasing specialization tells a story about the acceptance of the concept.


Practically all the applications in the Web2.0 category are taking advantage of collaborative properties offered by the centralized data storage. Some of the most notable implications of this trend is the ability to “associate on the fly” instead of having rigid, pre-determined groups, ability to share and version control documents accessible to groups of people, and finally, ability to assign tasks to the group members related to projects or documents.

Asynchronous Communication (AJAX)

One thing that characterizes Web2.0 class of applications is the fact that they are easier to use then previous generation of applications and start behaving in ways similar to desktop software. One of the difficulties that web-based applications had to face was the “stateful” nature of internet applications. In other words, the page had to be reloaded every time there was a new query to the database. This experience fit well with transactional applications that didn’t require a lot of user interaction, but prevented introduction of more complex applications where user interaction was key.

This is now changes with a new paradigm in web-based development, known as AJAX. AJAX is a methodology and technology to enable asynchronous data exchange with the server without requiring page reloads. This approach results in significant speed and usability improvements found in a lot of Web 2.0 applications.

Office 2.0

Office 2.0 applications represent the well known class of applications for word processing, spreadsheets, calendaring, email and collaboration shifted to the instead or in addition to being installed on the personal computers.

Office 2.0 represents freedom from the tyranny of installing software and updates, remembering where you keep your data and your programs (it’s all in the cloud with Office 2.0), and dealing with pesky things like admin rights, software versions, virus scanning, and more. Though browser-based software still has its limitations (like what happens when the server is down or you don’t have a connection), it’s increasingly clear that the network is going to become the pre-eminent location for most meaningful business software, if it hasn’t happened already. (Dion Hinchcliffe, Blog)

Web 2.0 in the Enterprise Enterprise computing is far more complex than personal computing. It includes legacy environments, innumerable vendors, mismatched data sources, stringent regulations and far flung users. While Web 2.0 can deliver genuine advantages for both business users and consumers, the real “Enterprise 2.0” will encompass a far broader and more complex vision. (M.R. Rangaswami, The Birth of Enterprise 2.0)

One company that’s leveraging the SOA in the enterprise to the fullest is San Francisco based Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com has recently announced it’s Apex platform basically providing IT departments with ready to use platform for building logic and tying to legacy systems with seamless integration with it’s Customer Relationship Management functionality as well as any other partner driven applications.

Impact of Web 2.0 and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

The impact of Web2.0 and SOA is going to be very significant on a variety of industries.

With the advent of Service Oriented Architecture, Situational Software and Mashups, creation of applications is becoming faster, cheaper and available to a much wider audience. This phenomenon has a potential to reduce the specialized IT workforce required to churn out often redundant, lower-level code and bring the emphasis on creating business logic by those who possess immediate domain expertise.

Acceptance of Service Oriented Architecture inside the enterprise is allowing said enterprise to deploy software solutions much quicker, thus providing a competitive and productivity advantage. With this come shorter IT development cycles and more creativity in developing and utilizing applications. It’s likely that the days of huge, monolithic ERP software applications are counted as each department is striving to deploy what’s best for its needs without being stuck with a global roll-out which can take years to accomplish.

New web-based office applications such as Google Calendar, Writely, on-line spreadsheets and on-line Wiki’s are making it possible for the user to enjoy much the same benefits brought to them by current Microsoft Office applications, for free or at a much lesser price, while providing an extra layer of functionality through collaboration. This trend will allow more and more underprivileged societies to participate in digital economies and will provide an extension to the office application for those wishing to collaborate.

Blogs (RSS) are providing a way for everyday people, specialists and companies to distribute information without needing to be associated with a news source. Whether done for marketing, public relations or fun, blogs are becoming a great mechanism for knowledge management and dissemination changing the way people go about getting information to improve their lives, careers, businesses, etc…

Because of the shift of access control and storage to the network, the services provided by the client operating system are going to become less relevant. With the advent of SOA applications, the client operating system is being reduced to supporting the browser and networking functions. The browser on the other hand is going to undergo continuous enhancement process improving its support for browser-based programming, asynchronous communications and Javascript processing.

This brings us back to the main question of this paper, namely “is Software Oriented Architecture a natural continuation of the existing technologies with minimal effect on the underlying industries or does it represent a disruptive innovation”.

Disruptive Innovation

Clayton Christensen defines disruptive innovation or disruptive technology as a technological innovation, product, or service that eventually overturns the existing dominant technology or product in the market. A new-market disruptive innovation is often aimed at non-consumption, whereas a lower-end disruptive innovation is aimed at mainstream customers who were ignored by established companies. Sometimes, a disruptive technology comes to dominate an existing market by either filling a role in a new market that the older technology could not fill, or by successively moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market incumbents”

If we were to look at the innovations that Web2.0 and Service Oriented Architectures are introducing and apply the definition above to gauge the disruptiveness factor, we would find that most of the innovations listed here indeed qualify as disruptive:

New Technology/Product

Old Technology/Product


On what basis?


Traditional or Software Encyclopedias


Cost, Easier to use, universally accessible

Online Word Processors & Spreadsheets

Microsoft Office


Cost, adds new area of functionality (collaboration)


Microsoft SharePoint; Web sites


Cost, adds new area of functionality (content management)

Online CRMs

Oracle, SAP


Cost, available to users who weren’t served before




Cost, fill role old technology couldn’t fill

Social and Business Networking Applications

New market


New, fills the role old technology couldn’t fill

Situational Software

IT departments, small consultants


Cost, fills the role old technology couldn’t fill

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Traditional Software Applications


Fills the role old technology couldn’t fill

Peer-to-peer Lending

Banks and Credit Cards


Cheaper, more convenient


With Wikipedia is rapidly gaining popularity, and while the opponents argue about the accuracy of information on this open source information resource, it’s definitely eating fast into traditional and software encyclopedia market.

(Traffic statistics in reach per million internet users, Alexa)

Online calendars, word processors and spreadsheets eliminate the cost of having to purchase Microsoft Office applications, while providing collaboration capability not found in lower-end office applications.

(Online Calendar Application from Google)

Salesforce.com, a web-based CRM/ERP solution offering quick deployment options to corporations in addition to a much palatable pricing when compared to the traditional stalwarts like Oracle and SAP, has signed up over 100,000 corporate customers in less then 5 years on the market.

Conclusion Web2.0 and Service Oriented Architectures are having a tremendous effect on the world around us, specifically how we collaborate, how we communicate and how we innovate.

Web2.0 is changing the way software is designed and developed. Gone are the carefully planned software cycles. After the first version of the software is opened to public, the functionality grows continually in short incremental updates and the value grows proportionately to the usage.

What’s even more important, however, is that they are becoming a threat to a lot of established firms and technologies. The largest end-user operating system vendor Microsoft is under a threat as a lot of its Windows system services become unnecessary due to the tasks being transferred to the network layer. Media reporting has to reinvent itself to compete with a cheaper albeit less dependable source of news, the bloggers. Software development organizations are facing a threat from new breed of service based applications. Large software powerhouses, like Oracle and SAP, are under siege from the new entrants into the ERP space with the most well-known of them, Salesforce.com, reinventing the business models and proving to be extremely effective at winning the market share away from the traditional ERP vendors.

SOA applications in general have a tremendous capacity to change the landscape of many industries through changes in the product development lifecycles, harnessing innovation and introduction of the new business models.

The large incumbent software companies and media conglomerates are understanding the threats and opportunities provided by the SAO/Web2.0 generation of products and services as evidenced by a few high-profile acquisitions (Siebel by Oracle, MySpace by Newscorp, JotSpot by Google) and in-house development of competing SAO applications (Microsoft Office Live, SAP hosted services) The question remains whether the incumbents are flexible enough in their business models to be able to embrace the SAO movement or will the new entrants be able to capture large markets with the new SAO/Web2.0 technologies. Bibliography:

Leveraging the convergence of IT and the next generation of the Web, Dion Hinchcliffe

The Birth of Enterprise 2.0, M.R. Rangaswami

Paul Graham (November 2005). Web 2.0. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.

Tim O’Reilly (2006-07-17). Levels of the Game: The Hierarchy of Web 2.0 Applications. O’Reilly radar. Retrieved on 2006-08-08.

Jürgen Schiller García (2006-09-21). Web 2.0 Buzz Time bar. Retrieved on 2006-10-29.

Jeffrey Zeldman (2006-01-16). Web 3.0. A List Apart. Retrieved on 2006-05-27.

Tim O’Reilly (2005-09-30). What Is Web 2.0. O’Reilly Network. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.

Dion Hinchcliffe (2006-04-02). The State of Web 2.0. Web Services Journal. Retrieved on 2006-08-06.

Tim O’Reilly (2002-06-18). Amazon Web Services API. O’Reilly Network. Retrieved on 2006-05-27.

O’Reilly and CMP Exercise Trademark on ‘Web 2.0’. Slashdot (2006-05-26). Retrieved on 2006-05-27.

Nathan Torkington (2006-05-26). O’Reilly’s coverage of Web 2.0 as a service mark. O’Reilly Radar. Retrieved on 2006-06-01.

Tim O”Reilly. 9-30-2005. Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software.

Barry, Douglas K. (2003). Web Services and Service-Oriented Architectures: The Savvy Manager’s Guide

Little Appliance Fix is the Alternative to Save Your Broken Vacuum Cleaner Or Stitching Machine

Little Appliance Fix is the Alternative to Save Your Broken Vacuum Cleaner Or Stitching Machine

While it might seem to be less difficult to just substitute your appliances when they are not doing work effectively, you can truly help you save money and stress by having them repaired as a substitute of changing them. And selecting to mend in its place of just tossing them retains your vacuum, blender, or sewing equipment out of a landfill-earning it an eco-friendly remedy as perfectly. If you have a broken equipment, it is really time to get in touch with your neighborhood small equipment repair shop.

You can be pleasantly shocked by how easy and economical it is to get your appliances back again in suggestion-top rated condition. Simply just drop off your damaged item to be preset, and you are on your way to inconvenience-absolutely free price savings. Most appliance repairmen offer free estimates, for upfront pricing with no hidden fees. Every thing from coffee makers to mixers to shavers, stitching machines, and blenders can be repaired, so get your malfunctioning appliance and head to your professional fix shop nowadays!

Vacuum Cleaner Repair

Does your vacuum cleaner make unusual noises when you switch it on? Does it appear to be to absence suction? Is the beater brush caught? If you happen to be frustrated by seeking to maintain your residence clean with a vacuum that just isn’t doing the job appropriately, get in touch with your community vacuum maintenance professional. Servicing all forms of vacuums, including upright, canister, and even central vacuums, your technician should really be equipped to correctly recognize the bring about of the challenge-from broken belts to burnt-out motors-and competently maintenance it. When your vacuum cleaner is back in great shape, cleaning your property will be a breeze once again!

Stitching Device Fix

From uneven tension to damaged needles to snarled cloth, almost nothing ruins an afternoon of stitching very as rapidly as a damaged machine! Never despair your region appliance specialist need to be capable to correct your equipment. No matter whether your needle is trapped or your stitch selector won’t change, stitching device repair service is the remedy for smooth stitching. Hold in mind that stitching machine service can make a variation in the very long-time period effectiveness of your equipment, so it is really critical to have your sewing equipment cleaned and oiled at minimum once a year. Routine sewing machine upkeep is essential for keeping your equipment in prime ailment, so be sure to have yours serviced even if it can be not at present malfunctioning. It really is like they say, “An ounce of avoidance is truly worth a pound of remedy!”

So the up coming time you practical experience a issue with your vacuum cleaner, stitching equipment, or other equipment, be sure to get hold of your community technician for smaller equipment repairs [http://www.appliancerepairlongisland.com/site/services]. It’s an straightforward option for preserving revenue, currently being inexperienced, and preserving your domestic items in leading-notch issue!

How to Do Residence Electrical power Maintenance

How to Do Residence Electrical power Maintenance

Electrical energy troubles at household can be rather unnerving and it can be disheartening when it occurs at midnight specifically in summers. An electrician may perhaps not be out there at all hrs. So a simple knowledge about residential wiring and typical electrical power complications can assistance you via the havoc. A basic being familiar with is all that you involve. Nevertheless, steer clear of resolving these problems if they are at greater risk mainly because no subject how considerably awareness you have, encounter can place you on lacking ground.

Knowledge household wiring

Typically house electricity is provided with two sizzling wires and one particular neutral coming into them which materials you a voltage of 240/120 volts. On the other hand, the essential voltage is a bit much less which is all around 230/110 volts. This electrical power offer is known as single phased energy.

You may possibly be aware of alternating latest which is taught in physics. So, the ability coming to your property is certainly alternating. In common language, alternating existing makes it possible for electrical power to be transported along lengthy distances. Therefore, it is possible for the electrical power division to provide you with electricity.

Now coming to wiring devices once again, if you discover only a single hot wire together with neutral then you may possibly be getting a electricity of only 115 volts. It all depends on the wiring technique. This kind of wiring, even so, is generally seen in electrical units. Couple of exceptions like dryer or incredibly hot water tanks use both of those incredibly hot and neutral wires use up to voltage of 230 volts.

Fundamental factors to know before doing the job on them

I know, this is hugely interesting but do not tear your electrical units to see the wiring or your residential power provide mainly because it can be everyday living threatening. Generally recall to swap the circuit off in advance of functioning on them even if the ability is down. Preserve your get in touch with voltage tester with you. Look at the wirings diligently, it is very achievable to have far more than one particular circuits in a one box. Uncover the one that you switched off. Wiring system is complex so do not hurry and double check out you.

Operating with electricity is perilous than any activity and will come with unfavorable outcomes. So, use security gears. If you do not have just one then basically don rubber slippers. They will secure you from electric powered shocks.

Next, each and every house is supplied with a “most important services panel” which includes circuit breakers or fuses for retaining the electricity at your household. Every time electricity goes off, test the service panel due to the fact in circumstance it may possibly be disconnected.

With this superficial awareness you will be ready to deal with minimal complications. Do not choose threat of solving the key concerns as it can be hazardous.

Weight Loss Program Diet Tips – How to Create Healthy Food Cravings

Weight Loss Program Diet Tips – How to Create Healthy Food Cravings

Why do we crave unhealthy foods? A healthy weight loss diet program often becomes a battleground between our desire to lose weight quickly, and snack cravings based on unhealthy food choices. We may not be what we eat, but research indicates that we desire the foods that we have grown accustomed to eating, so you could say that we crave what we eat. If you have created a pattern of eating ice cream for pleasure or when under stress, it should be no surprise that you will have a hankering for ice cream under the right conditions. Pavlov’s Dog, by any other name, is still Pavlov’s Dog.

But if we have, in effect, trained ourselves to want unhealthy snacks or foods, the reverse may also be true: we can train ourselves to crave healthy snacks and food. If we can do this, a bland tasting weight loss supplement could become just as desirable as a sweet roll.

I never craved coffee until I started drinking it. The same goes for double chocolate chip ice cream. The taste for coffee and chocolate must be learned through exposure to these foods and their flavors. If people who live in more primitive cultures in the jungle can have a hankering to snack on creepy-crawly insects unique to their habitat, surely we can develop our own desire for a decent, healthy snack, healthy fast food, and healthy food recipe choices when preparing meals.

So how do we re-program ourselves to turn a craving for sweets into something on the healthy food list? To quote a line from a movie, “Build it and they will come.” In this case, if we build the habit of making healthy food choices at meal and snack time, we will begin to want those foods instead of the ones we’ve given up.

There is a lot of pleasure associated with these snacking experiences, and most of us are reluctant to give them up. But if we can get ourselves to substitute some simple healthy food and snack recipes, we can train our mental and physical taste buds to desire them, and a new pleasure-association will be formed around the new healthy food choice or recipe.

Recent research has proven this. The results showed that new cravings can be formed to replace old ones, even though the new ones are based on bland, healthy foods, and the original ones were the tried and true fat and sugar tasty delights. The best news? It may only require one week to do it.

I’ve addressed some healthy snack ideas to use for re-training our cravings in another article. (It contains healthy snack ideas that also apply to children.) For now, I’ll give just a few examples of healthy snack food substitutions.

If you don’t want such a jolt to your taste buds right out of the gate, you can make it a two-step process in some cases. For example, when the seemingly uncontrollable urge for chocolate ice cream hits, instead have a coffee cup or glass of Chocolate Ovaltine and milk. Ovaltine is not like the junky chocolate milk mixes pitched to kids. Think of it instead as a healthy fast food snack. It contains vitamins and minerals, and if you use one or two tablespoons instead of the recommended four, not too much sugar.

Step two: Purchase a good chocolate flavored whey protein mix from your local health food supplier (or the flavor of your choice) and use it instead of the Ovaltine. These protein supplements are not anything like they used to be. In the past, they would NOT mix without a blender, and they tasted pretty bad. Not so anymore. They mix quickly by simply stirring or shaking, and the flavors are quite good. Trust me.

Now you’ve turned a fat and sugar ice cream binge into a healthy fast food choice: a protein supplement! In addition, it’s far more filling and satisfying. You won’t be tempted to eat anything as quickly as you would if you had succumbed and eaten ice cream.

Don’t think this will work? Well, I can vouch for it personally, and tests done on regular everyday people like us have proven the same. In fact, it worked when very bland but healthy food recipes and snack substitutes were used instead of the usual tasty treats, and in only a week’s time. People actually craved the bland tasting healthy snack food in preference to their old unhealthy treats.

Go ahead and give it a try. You’ll be craving healthy foods and snacks in no time.

Nothing Is More Beneficial Than Your Wellbeing

Nothing Is More Beneficial Than Your Wellbeing

How precious is your Well being? If you thrive at creating a good deal of cash and acquiring a large amount of stuff, what good is it if you would not be close to to appreciate it. Which is appropriate, if you will not have your overall health you never have significantly else. As a result, pretty speedily your wellbeing becomes one particular of your leading priorities.

These a shame that are recently the actor who performed Tony Soprano handed absent, the similar goes for the father in the refreshing Prince of Bel Air. Two extremely effective actors who died way in advance of they really should have. It makes me consider about our wellness and it will become pretty genuine. Some of us to even speed our route to termination with harmful strategies of lifestyle this sort of as medicine. I point out this because just a short while ago just after by the title of Philip Seymour Hoffman passed absent. They identified him lifeless with a heroin needle in his arm. So remember to remain and be healthful and stay clear of harmful actions that are obvious detriment to your health.

You know I was watching an episode of one of my favored reveals Shark Tank. Humorous all the sharks, are very a great deal about wellness. You could explain to by the dollar they are eager to invest, some of the things they imagine are excellent strategies. They like matters that are standard nutritious merchandise. I think probably it is really due to the fact they all know that they want their wellbeing to get pleasure from their millions and billions of pounds. Not to point out if you are in poor health and fitness the expense can be huge. Recall, I stated that one particular of the selection a single factors for personal bankruptcy in the US was wellness care expenses or money owed. Things can occur up quite rapid, and they can expense you a fairly penny.

You frequently listen to how “prevention is worth a pound of remedy”. This is so real! A lot of do not acquire it extremely really serious until finally they had or have a important wellness concern.

Or probably that a person did have a major overall health difficulty and they conquer it. If that took place, I am guaranteed they are really thankful. They never want to go via that ordeal yet again. Not having care of yourself is like taking part in ‘Russian Roulette’. In other text ‘rolling the dice’! You do not want to opportunity your wellness or just desire and hope for good health. You can do issues to boost or retain your wellness.

Now, believe about likely to your physician. You have to acquire time out of your active schedule, system your day all around it, it’s possible the youngsters day way too. Then you go, wait around in the waiting place, wait around in the area. Then you have to go decide on up a prescription, and so forth… You possibly never want to go.

Also, you should not forget about about individuals who rely on you, it’s possible like your kids. We want to perform game titles with the young children, browse with the children, go to their faculty functions, and more.

So really don’t neglect your wellbeing and do your finest to be as wholesome as you can. Your health and fitness is far too important not only for you, but your liked ones as nicely.

How to Check a Remodeler’s Client References

How to Check a Remodeler’s Client References

Prior to choosing a remodeling professional, the wise homeowner asks for a list of client references. The confident remodeling professional will encourage prospective clients to call these references and ask about their experience and level of satisfaction through all of the planning, build and follow-up work. Here is a list of 10 good questions to ask a prospective remodeler’s references prior to signing a contract.

1. Was the home finished on time and on budget?

2. Would they recommend the remodeler to others?

3. Did the remodeler protect against dust and damage with surface protection products?

4. Do they feel they received value for the time, money and energy they spent?

5. How was their comfort with the communication with their remodeler?

6. Does the remodeler keep deadlines and schedules?

7. Was the home finished as expected?

8. Were the remodeling professional and his/her team pleasant to work with?

9. Did they feel that issues or change orders were handled effectively and fairly?

10. As a final question, consider asking, “Is there anything else I should be asking or you want me to know?

If you do uncover a problem, don’t jump to conclusions. Instead, get the remodeler’s side of the story. For instance, if the project went over budget, a follow-up conversation might reveal that the homeowners made a lot of costly changes after things were underway. These types of follow-up conversations set the stage for honest communication.

Any homeowner who has lived in their home during a kitchen or bath remodel has experienced the huge amount of dust that is generated. A good remodeler will contain dust so that it does not present a health hazard by using a dust containment system. In addition, surface protection for carpets, counter tops, cabinets, tubs and other installed finishes should be used if these fixtures are to remain in place during the remodel. These surface protection products should not be added to the cost of the remodel after the homeowner complains but included in the original bid.

The remodelers bid should include the complete budget and an estimated completion date. It should also include each remodeler’s policies and costs, including any administrative charges, for making changes once the project is underway. Before making the final choice, the homeowner should meet with each remodeling prospect to review the bid, ask clarifying questions, and confirm numbers. After all, it wouldn’t be good for anyone to rule out a qualified candidate, or to end up with problems later, because there was a math error on the bid.

Any reluctance on the part of the builder to provide references is a red flag. A forthcoming attitude is a good sign that the builder values transparency and is secure in his or her reputation.

Reflectons of Travel to South America

Reflectons of Travel to South America

As a four-decade Certified Travel Agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher, and photographer, travel, whether for pleasure or business purposes, has always been a significant and an integral part of my life. Some 400 trips to every portion of the globe, by means of road, rail, sea, and air, entailed destinations both mundane and exotic. This article focuses on those in the South America.


Argentina, the first of them, entailed entry through Buenos Aires, and its city-related attractions included the Plaza de Mayo; the Catedral Metropolitano; the Casa Rosada, the mansion and office of the Argentinean President and the famous balcony from which Eva Peron spoke to the masses; and the almost mandatory tango show.

A side trip to San Carolos de Bariloche was a deposit into the German Alps, with its architecture and chocolate shops. A 585-kilometer drive of the Circuito Grande encompassed the lake- and mountain-surrounding Llao Llao Hotel and Resort for an elegant afternoon tea, the Villa Traful, the Villa la Angostura, and “teleferico,” or “chairlift” ascents, up the Cerro Otto and Cerro Catedral for dramatic views and lunch.

Other Argentinean trips further north entailed entry through Puerto Madryn and a tour of the Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery, the world’s largest.

The motor coach, in this case, left the pier and crossed the bridge toward National Route 3, the main highway connecting Buenos Aires in the north with Ushuaia in the south, beneath powder-blue skies, traversing Chubut, one of Patagonia’s provinces, past the flat, dry, scrub-blanketing steppe topography characteristic of the coast. Passing through Trewel, a town settled by the Welsh where traditional afternoon tea was still served and the second largest in the area with its own regional airport, it threaded its way through the low-elevation White Hills, which appeared like the Badlands of South Dakota, and intercepted the dry, dusty, gravel surface of Provincial Route 1, passing indigenous South America wildlife almost camouflaged by the low scrub, such as the mara and the guanaco, the South American equivalent of the camel. Ultimately entering the gates of a private sheep farm, it covered the final 39 kilometers to the rookery, itself on the Atlantic, where the hills rose from the predominately flat expenses, completing its 170-kilometer drive.

Punta Tombo Penguin Rookery itself offered a glimpse into the life of these sea birds.

Magellanic penguins, which are diving seabirds with hydrodynamic bodies, inhabit the costs of Argentina and Chile, feeding at sea and breeding on land. Punta Tombo, with 175,000 breeding pairs, is the world’s largest breeding penguin colony. During September, males return to the area, refurbishing their previous year’s nests, at which time the females are reunited with them. After courtship, the female lays two large eggs, whose 40-day incubation period is guarded by the male and the female on alternating days.

For a short period after birth, the chicks, wearing a feathery, gray coating, are unable to swim, during which time the males follow precise paths to and from the sea in order to obtain food until the skin mulches off. When they are old enough, they are the first to leave the nest, followed by the parents.

At the end of the breeding season, they migrate more than 6,000 kilometers from the Patagonian coasts and the Falkland Islands to islands off of Brazil, during the April-to-September period.

Numerous penguins were viewed during the one-kilometer walk, but their gray, rock-resembling skin and their semi-hidden locations, in recessed dirt burrows beneath the low dome plants, initially rendered them undetectable. Crossing a wooden footbridge, below which a multitude of them poised themselves toward the hot sun, and following a winding, climbing dirt path, I almost kicked two large, gray rocks on either side. Both, it turned out, were penguins, which apparently had no innate fear of humans.

A lava rock outcrop, at the end of the trail a few meters higher and overlooking the beach and the Atlantic Ocean, had sprung from volcanic activity 120 million years ago.

The gray gravel beach, littered with thousands of penguins, led directly into the ocean at a very narrow angle, serving as the pathway to their sustenance. The Punta Tombo penguins swim as far as 600 kilometers from their nests to seek nourishment for their chicks, while a one-minute dive takes them 12 meters below the water’s surface.

South of Buenos Aires and served by Ushuaia, the world’s most southern city, was Patagonia, with its dramatic waterfall, forest, mountain, and glacier topography in Tierra del Fuego National Park, some of which was experienced on a ride on the Train at the End of the World, the narrowest of the existing narrow-gauge railroads.

Pulling away from the wooden-log, alpine Estacion del Fin del Mundo, the eight-car, green-painted train, propelled by the tiny, 1944 South African-built steam locomotive, followed the one-meter, narrow-gauge track through dense, dark-green forest into a whirling snow blizzard on its seven-kilometer stretch to the National Park Station. The low shrubs, rivers, and grazing horses wore coats of white, while the gray-granite and dark-green mountain face rose almost vertically from the right coach windows.

Following the narrow, almost toy-like track, which multiplied into two, the train arced to the left of the two branches, which were separated by a crude log fence, and ceased movement at Puente Quemado, its only stop, with access to waterfalls.

Emitting an initial, train-trailing explosion of white smoke and translating piston motion into wheel-turning power, the train chugged out of the Puente Quemado station through the whirling, white snow blur, which obscured the mountains and reduced them to but specks of darker hues barely distinguishable through the blinding, horizontal streams of frozen flakes. Snaking rivers were reduced to silver-gray mirrors.

Entering Tierra del Fuego National Park, the train moved through flat, barren, tree stump-ubiquitous terrain known as the “tree cemetery.” The sky cracked into a brilliant blue and the fleecy-white mountains again became visible, reflected by the winding, silver, mirror-like river. The white-blanketed valley, a veritable winter wonderland, stretched to the rising peaks.

Belching streams of thick, white steam, which swept over the chain of tiny, narrow, green coaches like a draped veil and temporarily obscured visibility through their windows, the miniature locomotive climbed the moderate track grade, pulling its eight, tourist-packed cars into an arcing right curve through a skinny, brown-barked tree forest. Following the multiplying track, from the single spur to the current four, the engine branched to the left-most of them and decreased speed, pulling into the platform of the National Park Station at 1335 with a final chug.

As all the doors were simultaneously opened and the 100 or so passengers climbed down to the gravel, Ferrocarril N2 expelled a last, tired hiss of steam.

After a tour of Ensenada Bay and Tierra del Fuego National Park, a performance of the Ballet Folklorico Cruz del Sur was capped with sweet and savory empanadas.

A subsequent trip to Stanley in the Falkland Islands included a motor coach drive along the harbor, passing the Jubilee Villas, the Upland Goose Hotel, and the Christ Church Cathedral. Stops were made at the Falkland Islands Museum, East Harbor, the Lady Elizabeth, a rusted, three-masted cargo ship listing to port at Gypsy Cove, Stanley Airport, and Surf Bay Beach. The tour ended with a peat cutting demonstration.

Cape Horn marked the southern tip of the South American continent.


Brazil equally accounted for multiple-trip travel.

Entered via Rio de Janeiro, a seaside city, it was famous for its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, the 38-meter Christ the Redeemer Statue atop Mount Corcovado, which required several suspended gondolas to reach, and for Sugarloaf Mountain, its granite, cable car-accessed peak.

Petropolis, a mountain retreat, was crowned by the Imperial Museum, which displayed furnishings in the former palace of the 19th-century Emperor Dom Pedro II.

A side trip, via Curitiba in the Brazilian state of Parana, entailed a stay at the elegant Hotel das Cataratas and a close inspection of the water spray emitting Foz do Iguacu, or Iguacu Falls, and its national park.

Boca da Valeria, Manaus, Parintins, and Santarem were all destinations visited on the Amazon River.

The first of these took the form of a self-guided walking tour of the primitive pocket of Boca da Valeria, with inter-language, Spanish and Portuguese communication with the locals.

Sights in the more major city of Manaus included the Museu do Indio, the Aoologico do CIGS, and the Opera House-Cultural Center Largo de Sao Sebastiao/Amazonas Theater.

Parantis offered a unique, tricycle tour. The three-person tricycle featured a metal frame and wooden, box-like accommodation with a padded bench seat for two, a padded back support, and a canopy, and was connected to a conventional, single-wheeled bicycle behind it with a bicycle seat, pedals, a sprocket, two rearview mirrors, and a single tire. A procession of some 40 of these vehicles leisurely negotiated the streets.

Sights pedaled to included the Curral do Boi Caprichoso, which was built in 1998 and served as the location of the Caprichoso, or Blue Team’s, festival rehearsals.

Liberty Square, constructed in 1997 on the site of Parintins’ first airport, featured sculptures which depicted the city’s history.

Bumbodromo was the dividing point between the city’s Red and Blue Team sectors. The Bumbodromo, constructed in 1988, was the location of the annual folkloric festival, its stylized ox head configuration providing seating for the authorities in its face, the entrance through its horns, and the head its main arena with bleacher seating. The stadium alternatively served as a school, a health center, and a sports arena during the remainder of the year.

Finally, Our Lady of Carmel Cathedral, founded on May 31, 1962 and constructed of brick with tiles, was located in the heart of the city and was the largest Catholic Church in the state of Amazonas with a 40-meter-high tower.

Santarem sightseeing included the Centro Cultural Joao Fona, the Museu de Santarem, and a typical manioc farm, consisting of thatched-roof, open huts with Amazon-indigenous fruits, and demonstrations of medicinal plant usage, rubber tree extraction, and manioc flour processing.


Like Argentina and Brazil, Chile was toured on several, multiple-mode trips.

Sights visited on the first of them, from Santiago, included day trips to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, the latter a seaside resort.

This was followed by a flight to Puerto Mont, a port city in Chile’s Lake District and gateway to the Andes Mountains. A 577-kilometer road coverage, from a base lodge in Puerto Varas entailed Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales, Petrohue, in the shadow of snow-covered peaks, and the Osorno Volcano. The car climbed the winding, cloud- and mist-shrouded road toward it, transitioning from pavement to gravel, as it passed the smooth, black, treeless hills at its summit. Its 1,200-meter-high alpine center featured a cafeteria, a gift shop, ski lifts, and views of Lake Llanquihue below and the snow-covered volcano itself above.

La Serena, accessed through Puerto Coquimbo, afforded sightseeing opportunities of its lighthouse, the Iglesia Santo Domingo, the Plaza de Armas, the Museo de Historia Regional, the Catedral de la Serena, the Iglesia San Agustin, the La Recova Market, and La Herradura Bay.

Punta Arenas, a city near the tip of Chile’s southernmost Patagonian region, was located on the Strait of Magellan, which itself connected the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and was often used as a base for excursions to the surrounding wilderness and the continent of Antarctica.

Cerro la Cruz offered views of the city’s multi-colored, low structures, the dark, blue-velvet Strait of Magellan, and the silhouettes of the mountains on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego. Principle sights here included the Cementario Municipal, the Braun Menendez House, La Plaza Munoz Gamero, and the Cathedral.

Lunch, in El Galpon (the shed), a reconstructed, relocated wooden ranch house with tree-trunk support beams, wagon wheel chandeliers, an open-pit fireplace, an A-frame ceiling, and modern, almost-Scandinavian wood block dining tables, included pisco sours; cheese empanadas; open fire pit-roasted lamb and chicken, rice salad; scalloped potatoes; sliced tomatoes; corn and onions; a carrot, nut, and raisin salad; rolls and butter; Chilean red wine; strawberry cheese cake; mocha ice cream rolls; trifles; and coffee.

A subsequent farmland walking tour amid sheep, llamas, and horses was capped with a sheep-shearing demonstration.


Cartagena was the major destination during a trip to Colombia. Located on its Caribbean coast, its walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, was characterized by squares, cobblestone streets, and colorful colonial buildings.

The principle sights here included the Fortress of San Felipe de Barajas, the Craft Market, the Plaza de Santo Domingo, the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, the Palace of the Inquisition, San Pedro Claver Church, and the Naval Museum of the Caribbean.


Ecuador, another multiple-trip and -mode South American country, offered a particularly varied travel experience.

Guayaquil, the hot, humid city on the coast, served as the gateway to a cruise of the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago some 1,000 kilometers distant in the Pacific Ocean and considered one of the world’s foremost wildlife-viewing destinations. Its protected status and isolated terrain sheltered a diversity of plant and animal species, which have remained unchanged throughout. Charles Darwin’s own visit in 1835 and his observation of both the islands” flora and fauna inspired his theory of evolution.

A five-day, 298-nautical mile cruise aboard the 48-passenger, 878-ton Corinthian entailed two daily expeditions of the islands of San Cristobal, Tower, Bartolome, and Santiago, usually requiring bare foot submerges into the water and a short trek to shore.

Quito, Ecuador’s capital, sat in the Andean foothills at an altitude of 2,850 meters. Constructed on the foundation of an ancient Incan city, it was known for its well-preserved colonial center, which itself was rich with 16th- and 17th-century churches and other structures blending European, Moorish, and indigenous styles.

Excursions to Cotopaxi National Park entailed lunch in a hacienda and a subsequent horseback ride, and to La Mitad del Mundo, or equator, where visitors could spread their legs, placing one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern one.

Another expedition, accessed by the port city of Manta, entailed a tour of Machalilla National Park. Located in Puerto Lopez, in the southwestern corner of the state of Manabi, the 136,850-acre park was created in 1979 to preserve Ecuador’s tropical scrub desert and dry forest. Of its lowland and rain forest fauna, the white-tailed dove, howler monkey, anteater, and agouti were its principle ones, along with some 200 species of birds, while its flora included the mesquite tree, the kapok, the guayacan, the guaruma, the barbasco, the prickly pear, and the balsa tree.

Specific attractions included the Agua Blanca Museum, the archaeological site and burial urns, Sabastian, the Craft Market, and Playa las Frailes, a beach bookended by lush, green hills with crashing surf. A tour-included box lunch both symbolically and practically featured tuna, caught from the very ocean that lay only yards away. It was followed by a nature walk across the now-dry Rio Buenavista and through the Bosque Humedo de Sabastian.

French Guiana:

Located on the northern coast of South America between Suriname and Brazil, French Guiana, which was settled by the French during the 17th century, was both an Overseas Department and an Overseas Region, and constituted the largest portion of the European Union outside of the European continent itself.

The Iles du Salut, or Salvation Islands, lay eight miles northeast of Kourou in the mid-Atlantic and comprised Ile Royale, Ile St. Joseph, and Ile du Diable, the latter Devil’s Island itself.

Settled by French colonists seeking to escape the disease-ridden jungle of the low lands on the continent in 1760, they subsequently served as outposts for ships too large to dock in Cayenne, and were initially known as “Iles du Diable” or “Devil’s Islands.”

A walk to the path’s summit was met with a treed, green grass expanse of the island and several penal colony-remnant structures, such as the two-story, balconied “Gendarmerie Poste des Iles” or “island police station,” and the brick and block “Eglise Classee,” or church, which was constructed in 1854. Its


Lima, he capital of Peru, was situated on the Pacific coast, and its preserved colonial center afforded sightseeing of its Plaza Mayor, the Catholic Archbishop’s Palace, the Government Palace, the Cathedral, City Hall, the San Francisco Monastery, San Marcos University, and the Parque del Amor.

Tacna, located in Northern Peru and a short distance from the Chilean border, afforded sightseeing opportunities to the Museo Ferroviario; the Catedral de la Ciudad de Tacna, a neo-Renaissance church located on the central Paseo Civico; the Plaza de Armas; the Fuente Ornamental; the Arco Parabolico, dedicated to the soldiers of the War of the Pacific; and the Casa de Jorge Basadre, reached after a single-car train ride across the Atacama Desert from Arica.


Uruguay, developed throughout much of the 20th century, was one of Latin America’s more progressive countries, notable for its political stability, advanced social legislation, and a relatively large middle class. Montevideo was the main port of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and afforded sightseeing opportunities of its Plaza Constitucion, the Plaza Independencia, the Parliament, and the Plaza de la Armada.


Venezuela, accessed by its capital, Caracas, accounted for four trips. Its sights, centering on Simon Bolivar, the country’s liberator, included the Centro Simon Bolívar, la Plaza Bolivar, la Casa Natal, El Capitolo, and la Catedral.

A “teleférico,” or cable car, ascent up Mount Avila, in the Maripez District, provided magnificent views and opportunities for lunch.

Outlying attractions included Los Tecques Glass Factory and Colonia Tovar. The latter, founded on April 8, 1843 by a group of 390 immigrants from the then-independent state of the Grand Duchy of Baden, bore the cultural imprint of their origin with peaked, A-framed structures reminiscent of a German village. Handmade ceramics were made and purchasable, and lunch in la Selva Negra, or “The Black Forest,” Restaurant featured typical German fare, such as sauerbraten, dumplings, schnitzel, wurst (sausages), and sauerkraut.

Margarita Island, only 40 kilometers north of Caracas in the Caribbean Sea, offered sunbathing and beach opportunities at Playa El Agua and Isla del Cabo, reached after a short boat cruise, as well as cultural ones in Laguna de la Restinga National Park.

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