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Web Hosting - Why Backups Are Essential One thing most web site owners have little time for is... anything! Anything other than focusing on their site content and the business or service it supports and the information it provides, that is. That means that administration often suffers, as it frequently must. There's only so much time in the day. But the one thing that you should never let slide are backups. They are like insurance. You rarely need it (you hope), but when you do you need it very badly. Performing regular backups - and testing them - doesn't have to be a nightmare. A little bit of forethought and effort and they can be automated to a high degree. And, they should be tested from time to time. Even when a backup appears to have gone without a hitch, the only way to know whether it's of any value is to attempt to restore the information. If it can't be restored, the backup is worthless. Even when the web hosting company provides the service, there is still some planning involved for the site owner. Hosting companies often rely on one or both of two methods. They backup everything (called a full backup), then backup anything which has changed since the last full backup (called an incremental backup). Of special interest are any configuration files that have been tailored. If you've modified the default installation of a software package, you want to be able to recapture or reproduce those changes without starting from scratch. Network configuration files, modifications to basic HTML files, CSS style sheets and others fall into the same category. If you have XML files, databases, spreadsheets or other files that carry product or subscriber information - about items purchased, for example, or people who signed up for a newsletter - those should get special attention, too. That's the lifeblood of your business or service. Lose them and you must start over. That can break your site permanently. It should go without saying that all HTML and related web site files that comprise visible pages should be backed up regularly. It isn't necessary to record every trivial change, but you can tailor backup software to exclude files or folders. Usually they're so small it isn't worth the trouble. But in some cases those small changes can add up in scenarios where there are many thousands of them. Here again, the backups are worthless if they can't be used. Even if the hosting company charges for doing so, it's worthwhile to test once or twice a year at least to ensure the data can be restored. That's especially true of database backups, which often involve special software and routines. Database files have a special structure and the information is related in certain ways that require backups be done differently. Developing a backup strategy can be straightforward. Start simply and review your plan from time to time, modifying it as your site changes and grows. But don't neglect the subject entirely. The day will come when a hard drive fails, or you get hacked or attacked by a virus, or you accidentally delete something important. When that day comes, the few minutes or hours you spent developing and executing a backup plan will have saved you days or weeks of effort.

Highlights for Free Stuff for Educators Everybody knows that teachers work hard for little monetary compensation. Fortunately, there are many fine resources available that allow educators access to free stuff. Who deserves free stuff more than our teachers? If you are a teacher searching for the best of what the web's freebies, here are some places that offer freebies just for educators. Teaching Education Aid Available for Free There are many websites on the World Wide Web that offer totally free educational and teaching aids. If you teach younger students, you can find great coloring pages. You can also find several teaching aids, including alphabetical pages. Why spend money on expensive preprinted alphabets? You can gain easy access to your own free alphabet pages. Print them out, color them and seal them to make them last. This is an easy way to put together very elemental packets and gain access to fun activity pages. There are many fine teacher resources available for free on the World Wide Web. Here are even more resources for finding great and free resources for educators of all stripes. Getting Access to Free DVDS for Educators Did you know that you could get access to free educational DVDs? Izzit.org offers you a free DVD on your birthday (or another day of your choosing). This offer is limited to teachers of grades 6-12. This website also offers educators discounts on educational DVDs as well as coupons for free ice cream. Gaining Free Nutrition Educational Materials If you are an educator seeking out free nutritional materials, you are in luck. The Dole Corporation is currently offering free educational materials to teachers. Their 5 a Day program offers free downloadable teaching materials. You can also request professional teaching materials by using mail and fax. Simply request your free nutritional materials on your school's official letterhead. Free Computer Tools for Educators If you need access to free teacher tools, Microsoft Office has got you covered. Microsoft is currently offering free learning essentials that can help you create handouts, compose tests, and make presentations and other educational content. You will need a registered copy of Microsoft Office 2002 or 2003 that runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000. Need Teaching Aids for Your Classroom? If you are looking for free teaching visual aids, there are many nonprofits that can provide you with such aids. The Human Genome Project offers educators free posters. Although this promotion is directed specifically to educators, anyone can take advantage of this great offer. The National Institute of Drug Abuse also offers free visual teaching aids. These are great to hang in the classroom. You can order multiple copies directly form the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The USEPA is another organization that offers educators a variety of free posters, as well as other teaching materials, including activity books, CD-ROMs, lesson plans and more. Keep Your Classroom Safe With Free Cleaning Aids Keeping the classroom clean is one of the biggest challenges of any educator. The Clorox Company is trying to make it easier on teachers by offering them a free "Clean Up the Classroom" multimedia kit aimed specifically at classroom educators. The free kit comes loaded with a poster, a cleaning guide and DVD. You will also get a free canister of handy Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Get Free Magazine Subscription Offers Educators have access to many free magazine subscription offers. Yes Magazine is offering educators a free one-year subscription. This is a magazine published by the Positive Futures Network. This is non-profit organization that helps promote social change to a more compassionate and sustainable world. Take advantage by contacting the magazine for your free educator subscription.

Keeping your Career Intact During Maternity Leave Since, for the most part, maternity leave in this country is not paid, the reality of returning to work after having a baby comes much sooner than it does in most countries. No one wants to return to absolute chaos after they have the baby. Cut down on the stress of going back to work by being prepared. The length of your maternity leave can determine the amount of stress you return to. If you are willing and able it is a good idea to work as long as possible. Of course, everyone is not willing and able. For those that need a longer leave, they should put some plans in place to make the transition back to work smoother. How long you are on maternity leave varies. However, if you plan on returning after you have the baby, you do not want to return to a totally chaotic situation. That means that you want to have the needs of your career in tact before you take your maternity leave. Nothing should interfere with your new addition to the family. While you are bonding and spending time with your newborn you do not want the stress of the office hanging over your head. Lay the ground work so that you do not have to worry about the office while you are away. If you are the boss, you have a lot more stress to manage. It is important that you leave a responsible and capable person in charge of things in your absence. Start training that person to deal with the aspects of your job that they will have to handle as soon as you know you are pregnant. Nothing is more annoying than getting ?How do I?? phone calls when you are on maternity leave. If your job is massive, split the responsibilities between two employees. You do not want to split up the tasks among too many people because this can lead to confusion. Two should be the maximum. Be sure to leave things in order. If you are not the most organized person, get that way when you find out you are pregnant. While you are on maternity leave anyone should be able to walk into your office and find what they are looking for in a very short amount of time. If things are messy there is more of a chance for things to go wrong. If you are one of those women that needs to have an extended maternity leave because of pregnancy complications, don?t fret. Enjoy your time offer and relax but also, if you can, try to stay on top of what is happening in your career field. Take an online class and brush up on skills. If you are not sure you want to return to your 9-5, research a new career. The Internet has made working from home a very real and popular option. Search for a job that will allow you to stay at home but also bring in some income. Some jobs, such as Computer Programming, can fetch a pretty penny. Do some research and find out what will suit you best. Work part time until you are ready to have the baby. While some women are eager to take their maternity leave, others are not so excited about it. If that is the case, talk to your employer about working part time until you are due. Some women work until they go into labor. There is no need to do that if you are uncomfortable but if you are having an uneventful pregnancy and love your job, why not?

To Enter or Not to Enter Writing Contests (writing contests) If you are a freelance writer, it is because you love to write. Why not put those abilities to use and enter a writing contest? You have nothing to loose and a lot to gain. You can find writing contests by simply searching the Internet. Writing groups and message boards may also have listing for these contests. No matter what you writing genre maybe poetry, fiction, non fiction, there is a contest out there for you. Read about them and choose which ones are right for you. It is not necessarily about winning or loosing but about the experience and knowledge that you gain to get there. Whether you win or not there are still valuable things that can be learned or gained by entering into contests. Entering writing contests will help you hone the skills that you have. Try something new, you may choose to write in a niche that you normally wouldn?t. You get constructive criticism from someone new. Someone that doesn?t have to worry about hurting your feelings and that is unbiased can be a wonderful asset to your career. The feedback you receive can be invaluable to you. It will get your name out there and give you a place to showcase your work. Depending on how good your story, if you make it to the next round your writings could be in front of editors and agents. This feedback and criticism is even more important than the first. Do not your eggs all in one basket. Enter a couple contests to get multiple feedback sources. Not every editor or agent is going to agree. By entering multiple contests and find common points about your writing that need perfecting you will be able to concentrate on a general consensus about your abilities. There are some downsides to entering writing contests, too. Chances are that a simple contest is not going to launch your career into star status. Do your research just as if you were going to write an article about contests. For many contests you give up your rights to your entry whether it wins or not. You need to decide whether or not you are willing to give up all rights to your story. If you win it is not a big deal, but if you loose your giving your work away. Are you willing to do this? Research the contest. You can search the Internet for reports or opinions on contests run by the company. You can find valuable information on if the contest is legitimate, if entering has had any effect of previous entrant?s careers, and if it is really worth it in the long run. The bigger and well-established companies will give credibility to your work if you win. But the bigger and more well know the companies are will also bring in tougher competition with well know authors. Some companies offer contests as a disguise. Yes they will give away prizes and declare winners but their main goal with the contest is advertising. It can be in the form of offering you to buy obscure book featuring your contest submission. Sometimes it is an editing company that offers a discount for its services or a company that will offer you discounts on writing classes. A writing contest is just a possible stepping stone. Whether it helps you or not is the unknown, but it definitely won?t hurt you. It may help you reach the next level of your career. You and only you will be able to make the decision on whether or not writing contests are a good move for your career.