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Understanding Concrete Pavers

What can pavers do to your American home? This is a question commonly asked by many home enthusiasts. Here is a perfect answer;

  • They can increase the resale value of your property by over 60%
  • They add an aesthetic feel to your premises
  • They complement your landscape in a great way
  • They make your premises stand out among many in the neighborhood

The above are just but a few benefits that pavers can offer. One important thing to note, however is that you can use different materials to construct your pavers, based on your personal taste and the results you want to achieve at the end. You can decide to use bricks, natural stone, or concrete. The decision purely lies in your hands.

Concrete has however surpassed all the other materials as far as paving is concerned. Most Americans are preferring concrete pavers for their homes and business premises. Whereas this is the fact on the ground, let us analyze the pros and cons of concrete pavers.

Pros

They are economical

You don’t have to break your bank just because you need pavers in your outdoor space. Compared to other paving materials, concrete pavers are less expensive, and will help you achieve all your desires within your budget. With them, you don’t need to always disturb your family and friends that you need a loan to complete a project, you can do it at an affordable price.

They are flexible

With concrete pavers, you can achieve any design you want. In fact, you can mimic any high-end building material you can thing of using concrete pavers such as brick, marble, natural stone, flagstone, wood and many more. You can make whatever you can imagine with concrete pavers, as long as you make effort to work with a professional concrete contractor.

They are easy to install

Concrete pavers are uniform, and can easily be cut and installed. For a fact, they are a perfect choice for people who are DIY projects fanatics. Instead of paying hugely for a top-notch concrete contractor to come and lay them, you can call your family and friends and do it as a fun event.

Cons

Color might fade

Decorative concrete pavers are dyed with color pigments, hence they are prone to fading especially is hot areas. This means that with time, your good-looking pavers can eventually turn to be the ugliest elements in your outdoor space.

They might need regular sealing

In an effort to help maintain their color for longer, home owners might be forced to apply sealants on regular basis. This is not only inconveniencing, but it also makes their maintenance an expensive venture that can be difficult to live with.

Quality varies

Concrete pavers don’t come from one manufacturer, like their counterparts that are naturally sought. They therefore vary largely in quality. Having many brands in the United States, choosing the best is not an easy task. Some concrete pavers will even crack and crumble even before they reach the site.

PS: all the cons of concrete can be taken care of in three easy steps;

  1. Through proper sealing and using the best sealants in the market
  2. Through staining and stamping
  3. Through purchasing them from renowned brands at reasonable prices
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What Do You Think Occurs When Concrete Gets Too Wet?

Those who own construction companies have probably experienced having loads of wet concrete delivered to the site. What do you think happens when concrete gets too wet? Is the answer really to throw them out? You can’t make that decision just yet; you have to at least think it through.

wet concrete

You have to keep in mind that it takes time to deliver concrete of that volume to the jobsite and that non-productive labor is going to cost you a lot of money. There are some companies who manage to make these decisions pretty easily while there are some that take time decide what to do. Whatever the case, you need to read this article for more information on such matters.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with rejecting the load. It’s a bit harder for residential contractors to make these decisions though. The thing about wet concrete is that it’s going to affect the result of your project and if it’s something that has anything to do with decoration then that simply won’t end well.

Concrete basics

Concrete will shrink when it’s too wet and the quality will be reduced in more ways than one. When you do your research, you would be more familiar with these rules of science that helps you know what happens to too-wet concrete. You need to be aware of this information before you make decisions on using a particular kind that you’re planning for a project. You will have to know the entire purpose of the concrete as well because if it’s a big time project, you cannot make do of anything less than the best quality. Losing the strength in concrete will affects its value in more ways than one so be sure to take the utmost care in making sure the material you are using doesn’t get too wet at all.

While water is generally part of cement mixing, you cannot allow the concrete to absorb too much moisture. The slab will become easily breakable when it gets to a point where there is simply too much water in it. If you are expecting high quality results with concrete that is simply too wet then you won’t be getting. What you will get, however, is a loss and that would truly disappoint you to no end. This is an expensive project which you can’t take for granted because it would set you back thousands, quite possibly even millions of dollars depending on the magnitude of your project.

Always remember that you cannot allow concrete that is too wet to be delivered to your site. You have to choose a concrete contractor in Atlanta that will provide you with excellent services which include delivering concrete that isn’t broken or wet at all. This kind of material is what you’d be able to use for your project because it will guarantee an excellent finish in more ways than one. You will definitely get the ideal outcome when you accomplish this.

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Will Spray Foam Really Rot Your Roof?

There have been so many arguments and debates on whether spray foam rots away the roof. Even more confusing is the fact that the argument is being supported and disputed by well-respected and learned professionals. Before going deep into this burning question, it is important to quickly differentiate between the types of Spray Foam available.

There are two types of spray foam, the first is the open-cell spray foam insulation while the second is the closed-cell spray foam. Each of the them has its own advantages and disadvantages which plays a major part on their effectiveness at different parts of the world.

The advantages of the open-cell spray foam lie in its low cost of installation, plus, is very easy to install. However, its disadvantages lie in its low effectiveness in the cold climates due to its inability to be used during low temperature associated with the cold climates.

The closed-cell foam spray, on the other hand, can be used anywhere due to its effectiveness in times of low temperature. The major drawbacks of the closed cell are that: it is very expensive to install; difficulty in installation and; high material usage.

Therefore, unless the complaints about spray foam leading to the rotting of the roofs is analyzed objectively and without bias, one may not be able to really ascertain whether spray foam can lead to the rotting of the roof.

Taking a closer look at the bunch of complaints about the rotting of the roof as a result of Spray Foam will show that the rotting of the roof as a result of Spray Foam is not universal and is subjective, in fact, the issue seems to be a climatic one in nature.

As a result of the fact that indoor moisture can diffuse through the foam and get access to the roof sheathings leading to the rotting of the roof, open-cell spray foam is not advisable in cold climates. This is due to its low water vapor permeability. Therefore, higher density closed-cell spray foam is the preferred method amongst majority of qualified professionals in the cold climates of the world.

Some have even argued that in cold climates, installation of a water retarder ensures that open-cell spray foam can be utilized. Also, the improper installation of close-cell spray foam in the cold climates can lead to water permeating the foam and its consequent rotting of the roof.

However, the open-cell spray foam is widely accepted in the warmer and equatorial climates of the world because precipitation is not common like it is in the colder climates.

Therefore, it should be noted that spray foam can lead to rotting of the roof if it is not effectively done. It is advisable to use close-cell spray foam in the cold climates but if open-cell spray foam must be used then the following should be followed:

  • Do not use open-cell spray foam unless you are using a water vapor retarder.
  • Ensure you hire a professional who will install it as building codes demand.

The notion that spray foam can lead to the rotting of the roof is wrong as there is no way the effective installation of spray foam can rot the roof, check out Insulation Wizards for more information on Insulation.

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Where Disaster Recovery and Virtualization Meet

One of the more positive developments following the recent string of high-profile natural and man-made calamities is the awareness it has raised among enterprise executives for the need for robust disaster recovery  programs. Traditionally, disaster recovery was seen as primarily a cost center — and an expensive one, at that.

Fortunately, at the same time concerns over business continuity and service integrity were growing, a number of technological developments were converging to not only improve enterprises’ ability to keep functioning after an outage, but to lower costs and even utilize DR resources during normal operating periods without compromising their ability to step up in times of emergency.

One of these, obviously, is virtualization. By decoupling data and applications from underlying physical infrastructure, enterprises gain tremendous flexibility in provisioning new operating environments and balancing data loads across available resources. As enterprises gain more experience virtualizing server environments in the drive for greater consolidation, it is widely expected that DR will emerge as one of the technology’s first secondary applications.

While (virtualization) has made its way into 90 percent of the medium and large business market, only 37 percent of servers in that market are virtualized,” says Nathan Coutinho, solutions manager for virtualization at systems distributor CDW. “So customers are going to focus on trying to virtualize the rest of their servers, which means looking closely at as-yet unvirtualized applications to determine if they are compatible with a virtual platform. Following more widespread implementation or adoption the next phase will be to build out disaster recovery (DR) plans and to start looking at both desktop virtualization and building private clouds.

In a way, disaster recovery and virtualization form a symbiotic relationship. If virtualization simplifies and enhances disaster recovery capabilities, DR also provides for a safer, more resilient environment in which to virtualize. Multiple surveys have shown that one of the primary reasons enterprises are not extending virtualization into mission-critical systems is that they fear for the integrity of that critical data. As a key piece of the data availability pie, a robust DR architecture can go a long way toward alleviating those concerns.

Whenever the subject of disaster recovery comes up, there is a tendency to invoke images of hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes and nuclear annihilation. But more mundane outages caused by system failure or human error are far more disruptive to enterprise productivity, and profits, than a major disaster.

Evidence suggests, though, that most enterprises don’t take the problem of smaller outages very seriously, or at best consider them part of routine data center operations.

“In general, enterprises are probably not doing enough to protect themselves from more mundane outages,” says Paul Egger, vice president of global operations at contact center provider TELUS International. “Unfortunately, there is not a lot of industry statistics on disaster recovery effectiveness due to the fact that many business interruptions are rarely reported and if they are, they are highly underestimated. Much of the loss of productivity and revenue may go unnoticed in many enterprises.”

This is surprising because gearing a disaster recovery program to more typical outages would help leverage the cost of the system and the resources it consumes, and it would help keep it in good working order through a series of mini workouts.

Many of the newest DR platforms are taking a closer look at correcting the smaller problems, while still keeping any eye on catastrophic failures. Marathon Technologies, for example, recently released the everRun MX Extend system that combines fault tolerance and DR technology with CA’s ARCserve replication system to create an end-to-end application availability system that kicks in during all types of outages. The system features localized failure protection as well as remote failover that by-passes compromised infrastructure.

Virtualization also vastly improves the functionality of off-site backup infrastructure through technologies like cloud computing. Once enterprise users are adept at provisioning their own environments using a range of geographically disperse resources, the loss of one data center, or a cluster of centers for that matter, won’t bring operations to a standstill.

One critical component of off-site virtualized disaster recovery is WAN optimization. When systems go down, a sudden influx of traffic on the wide area network can be nearly as disruptive as a general failure. That’s part of the reason the top virtualization platforms have embraced a range of optimization technologies. VMware and Microsoft users, for example, can take advantage of the HyperIP optimizer from NetEx, which maintains transfer speeds up to 800 Mbps. An added bonus is that the system can streamline routine operations like physical-to-virtual migrations, putting what would otherwise be an idle cost center to good use.

No matter how DR facilities are set up, we are talking about an entirely new data environment that must be maintained and managed in both good times and bad. As these environments become more complex, so do the management responsibilities.

“Even though DR has come a long ways, enterprises still face several management challenges, beginning with initial configuration and setup,” says Vish Mulchand, director of software product marketing at 3PAR. “Particularly in scenarios where a multi-site, multi-mode disaster recovery configuration is concerned, implementing a DR strategy typically requires professional services for configuration and testing, and deployment can take months.

“Once a DR strategy is in place, regular testing, which is needed to ensure that the implemented DR strategy will actually work in the event of a disaster, can also pose problems,” he added. “Testing is necessary to ensure protection, but it is often time-consuming, and figuring out ways to perform routine testing without disrupting production can prove challenging. Another major challenge is configuring and testing the DR program as it applies to the entire data center, not just the storage piece of the puzzle.”

Many of these hassles can be alleviated, if not outright eliminated (for the user, at least), by outsourcing it to a third-party provider, as long as you’re comfortable hosting data outside your own infrastructure.

“We are now seeing many hosted service providers (HSPs) offering Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) leveraging the cloud, and this trend will continue to grow,” Mulchand says. “Disaster recovery issues will evolve, however, the challenges will remain,” says TELUS’ Egger. “As enterprises architect to include terminal services and thin client workstations, the workstation dependencies of many applications are removed, which can simplify the recovery challenge. In a way, it goes back full circle to the days of mainframe centralized computing — but with virtualization, the playing field gets flatter and cheaper. With cloud computing, your ability to outsource some of the risk and complexity is enhanced, further aggregating scale and reducing the cost of high availability.”

The BIG PAYOFF, however, is the minimal downtime should the unthinkable occur. Visit TFCBooks for the latest technology tips.

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Book on Educational Technology Galvanizes Interest in the Field

When Curtis Bonk’s new book, The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education, came out last year, it created a sensation among those interested in the field of educational technology.  Many of us had been clamoring for just such a work to be undertaken by someone, anyone, and finally after years of yearning we were given that rare gift – a book that covers a topic even better most experts could do themselves, and has a compelling point of view that everyone in the field must grapple with.

There’s no question that web-enabled education is a revolutionary force, perhaps the greatest development in the education field since blackboards were invented. So-called “distance education” – wherein telecommuting hits the student set  – has creates incredible opportunities for learning, which Bonk describes in great detail. In fact, Bonk offers chapters in his hefty tome on ten emerging trends in technology-enhanced education, whereby anyone anywhere can teach anyone else anything under the sun. Open education is a truly global development, and Bonk provides stories from all over the world to illustrate his depictions, all under the rubric of his we-all-learn philosophy of education.

He starts off with a presentation about how hopelessly broken our mainstream educational system really is, and proceeds from those assumptions. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be a force for liberation among the world’s 5 billion poor in particular, and this is a theme that clearly means a lot to the author.  Mobile learning can indeed create a worldwide learning frenzy that will potentially capsize the existing order of competencies and even perhaps of wealth distribution everywhere.

Here’s a list of the ten emergent trends that Bonk covers in detail in this breathtakingly logical book:

  1. Web-Searching
  2. Blended Learning
  3. Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS)
  4. OpenCourseWare
  5. Learning Portals
  6. Learners as Teachers
  7. Electronic Collaboration
  8. Alternative Reality including Serious Games
  9. Mobile Real-Time Learning
  10. Networks of Personalized Learning

He does an especially strong job at showing how these trends have started to interconnect in ways that make the future of teaching and learning so intensely exciting. There’s simply too much to say about each of these rich topics, so I’ll just urge every reader of this blog to procure a copy of this seminal work for themselves.

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Schools, Libraries and CIPA – Why Compliance Is Important

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was passed by Congress because many issues caused by the internet with regards to things like protecting underage kids from harmful material available online. School and library computers are often used by children in unsupervised settings, so protective measures were called for in order to prevent them from accessing pornography and other inappropriate content.

Schools and libraries now have financial incentives to certify that they are compliant with this law. They need to have an internet safety policy that uses technical protective measures to block obscene web sites. This is a requirement for any library or school that gets money for internet access or internal connectivity via the E-rate program. This program makes communications technology available at a greatly reduced cost, so there is a significant financial incentive to be compliant.

If a school is subject to the CIPA law, they must adopt and enforce a policy that monitors their student’s activities on the internet.

In addition, to quote the federal government’s web site on the subject:

Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

Before getting any E-rate funding, schools and libraries have to certify that their safety policies and implementing technologies are fully implemented and operational.

If your school or library does not get E-rate funding for anything except telecommunications, then it is not subject to the CIPA law. Also, any authorized person may disable any filtering or site-blocking software if adults need this to enable legitimate research or some other lawful purpose.