Conclusions on Hardwood Furniture

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We have recently launched a few articles that have detailed various help and advice for home improvement, namely our article titled ‘Identifying Credible Online Furniture Retailers’ and ‘Thinking about Oak Furniture’.

In the research for these articles we identified the following information that could be interesting to users reading these articles.

We have been discussing the possibility of using Oak furniture in the home, but before we move onto discussing our next topic, contemporary bedroom furniture, we should finish off with a final analysis.

Although often more expensive than other hardwoods it seems that oak furniture is a firm favourite. With alternatives including birch furniture, Ash furniture and even Mahogany still popular, the longevity of oak and ease when staining has been seen to save customers money in the long run, and thus leads the market.

When buying any hardwood furniture it is important to examine the workmanship than has gone into it. This alone is often a good indicator of the quality of a retailer. If the piece seems ramshackle or thrown together, with a sub-par finish, it obviously does not reflect well. Conversely, the sale of oak furniture, as explained above, shows the company is aware of quality, but more than anything things like well dove tailed joints and good, smooth finishes shows a company that takes pride in its work.

In short, when deciding on furniture for your home do a bit of research, and mixed with a bit of common sense you can make all the difference in getting a value-for-money, quality piece of furniture. If the price is right, The Shelf believes oak furniture is always a good way to go.

IE8 Launched as MS Market Share falls to 68%!

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In technology news, it seems that Microsoft are upping their game in the browser wars this week in an attempt to win back users.

The latest release of Microsoft’s internet explorer 8 is being marketed as the faster, easier and most secure way of accessing the web.

The Shelf believes this to be another one of Microsoft’s spin marketing campaigns, but after reading of the enhancements does see improvements in the new browser.

“We have made IE 8 the best browser for the way people really do use the web,” said Microsoft’s Amy Barzdukas.

“Microsoft needs to say these things because it continues to lose market share to Firefox, Chrome and Safari,” said Gartner analyst Neil MacDonald.

With Google’s Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browser now to compete with as well as Safari for windows, it seems the competition is only growing.

Latest browser market share figures show that although IE remains the dominant browser, its market share is being chipped away at by competitors. At the end of 2008 IE market share fell below 70% to 68% for the first time, whilst Mozilla now hold over 20%.

In an interview with the BBC Ms Barzdukas said: “What we are seeing for many consumers in particular is that their computing experience is a browsing experience.

“The role of the browser has become more and more important. Our focus is on delivering the best experience possible and one that is faster, easier and more secure.”

One of the major security enhancements of IE 8 is the “InPrivate Browsing” feature. This feature means users can see and block when a third-party content provider might be tracking their activities on the Web in an effort to target advertisements.

“InPrivate Browsing” is also being touted as a major improvement which allows a user to start a browsing session during which the history of sites viewed will not be recorded.

Identifying Credible Online Furniture Retailers

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In our second home improvement post, The Shelf picks up a theme echoed in many consumer forums of late. How can you best identify a quality furniture retailer?

Narrowing this down to fit into our newly created home improvement category, we narrow this down to furniture sector, and explore how you can be safe in the knowledge you are using a credible retailer with what tend to be larger online purchases.

It is true that some people avoid shopping in sectors such as these altogether due to this uncertainty, but by identifying those online furniture retailers that are established and hold a good reputation, you can be sure that you are safe in spending larger sum of money those e commerce channels.

For most people the purchase of your house will probably be the most expensive personal outlay of your entire life. It is also commonly accepted to be one of the most stressful. However, decorating your home can also be an utter chore, and finding yourself ripped off with inferior furniture and fittings is a hassle you don’t need.

Choosing furniture for your home will no doubt take up a lot of your time whilst decorating. With the advent of the internet, the amount of people wanting to sell you furniture has increased prodigiously. The problem with too much choice though is that there will always be inferior companies that offer varying degrees of quality for your money. So, how can you attempt to sift through the chaff and find the wheat, how to spot a good furniture retailer from a bad one?

Well, like many things, a lot of picking a furniture retailer comes down to simple common sense. In many cases, if a price appears too good to be true, it often is. It is false economy to buy the cheapest when for shelling out a little more you could get a piece of furniture that endures.

Our second piece of advice is to do your research! Jumping at the first option that appears good is a recipe for disaster. Browse multiple websites, assess prices and take the opinion of families and friends. If they have furniture you consider to be well made and at a reasonable price, ask them where they got it, would they buy from there again, what was the service like? Word-of-mouth recommendations are often the most reliable indicators as to whether a retailer is genuinely worth considering or not and as such forums such a can be invaluable.

Observing the furniture itself is also telling. Pine furniture, while cheap, is flimsy and will not take well to painting and staining. Also, chipboard and MDF constructs will often appear cheap, but will not endure for very long. On this point, oak wood furniture is often the way to go.

Robocop Launches Nets at Intruders

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This week news broke of a Japanese technology company that has launched a prototype robot for the home, designed to immobilise intruders by entangling them in a Robocop style net.

The security robot can be commanded from a user’s mobile phone to capture unwanted intruders. The prototype robot can be controlled using images that are streamed in real time to the user’s mobile phone.

The prototype T-34 that was revealed this week can move at up to 6 MPH, and is equipped with sensors that can detect the movement of intruders. When activated the robot then calls the users mobile to alert them of the intrusion.

“Security sensors often set off false alarms but examining the location with the robot will lead to more efficient operations,” – Tmsuk Co and security firm Alacom Co.

Seems a rather nifty way of detecting intruders in your home when you are not there that is for sure, I do however feel that any able bodied intruder would be able to outrun the robot at a mere 6MPH.

Perhaps another 30 BHP and we will be there.

Satellite Imagery: Low Cost Commercial Mapping

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I a return to regular posting on The Shelf we are re visiting the topic that we have become synonymous with reporting on. New Technologies.

A UK based company has today announced that through a unique satellite design, it can dramatically lower the cost of high resolution space imagery.

The satellite would be able to map the surface of the Earth a resolution that has only previously been found in virtual globe programs, at 60cm/pixel.

Similar systems have previously been built at huge expense, with the cost of putting up a conventional satellite nearing the $500 million mark. With a unique design the company has estimated this system could be launched for as little as $70 million.

The company that launches this system, SSTL, has recently been bought by EADS Astrium, Europe’s largest space firm.

“This is an exciting development for us; we’ve been studying the idea for over a year now,” – Philip Davies, business development manager with SSTL

He went on to say that. . .

“You could produce extremely good maps with the data from this spacecraft. In terms of the satellite, we are looking at about one-tenth of the cost of a normal satellite.”.

Commercial mapping is a fast growing industry with the emergence of Google Earth, Microsoft Virtual Earth, TomTom sat nav systems and Nokia maps to name but a few.

To date the image data that has fed these systems is partially funded by the US government. The development of the system from SSTL changes the face of this, where relatively small businesses could launch their own systems, holding exclusive image rights.

As well as loosening of control of image rights, there is also a commercial savings that can be made, with imagery costing as little as $0.15 per sq km as opposed to $20.

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