The Importance of Project Closeout and Review in Project Management.

Description

The well known English phrase “last but not least” could not better describe how important the project closeout phase is. Being the very last part of the project life-cycle it is often ignored even by large organizations, especially when they operate in multi-project environments. They tend to jump from one project to another and rush into finishing each project because time is pressing and resources are costly. Then projects keep failing and organizations take no corrective actions, simply because they do not have the time to think about what went wrong and what should be fixed next time. Lessons learned can be discussed at project reviews as part of the closeout phase. Closure also deals with the final details of the project and provides a normal ending for all procedures, including the delivery of the final product. This paper identifies the reasons that closeout is neglected, analyzes the best practices that could enhance its position within the business environment and suggest additional steps for a complete project closeout through continuous improvement.

Project managers often know when to finish a projects but they forget how to do it. They are so eager to complete a project that they hardly miss the completion indicators. “Ideally, the project ends when the project goal has been achieved and is ready to hand over to customer” (Wellace et. al, 2004, p156). In times of big booms and bubbles, senior management could order the immediate termination of costly projects. A characteristic example of that is Bangkok’s over investment in construction of sky-scrapers, where most of them left abandoned without finishing the last floors due to enormous costs (Tvede, 2001, p267). Projects heavily attached to time can be terminated before normal finishing point if they miss a critical deadline, such as an invitation to tender. Kerzner (2001, p594) adds some behavioural reasons for early termination such as “poor morale, human relations or labour productivity”. The violent nature of early termination is also known as ‘killing a project’ because it “involves serious career and economic consequences” (Futrel, Shafer D & Shafer L, 2002, 1078). Killing a project can be a difficult decision since emotional issues create pride within an organization and a fear of being viewed as quitters blurs managerial decisions (Heerkens, 2002, p229).

Recognition

The most direct reason that Project Closeout phase is neglected is lack of resources, time and budget. Even though most of project-based organizations have a review process formally planned, most of the times “given the pressure of work, project team member found themselves being assigned to new projects as soon as a current project is completed” (Newell, 2004). Moreover, the senior management often considers the cost of project closeout unnecessary. Sowards (2005) implies this added cost as an effort “in planning, holding and documenting effective post project reviews”. He draws a parallel between reviews and investments because both require a start-up expenditure but they can also pay dividends in the future.

Human nature avoids accountability for serious defects. Therefore, members of project teams and especially the project manager who has the overall responsibility, will unsurprisingly avoid such a critique of their work if they can. As Kerzner (2001, p110) observe, “documenting successes is easy. Documenting mistakes is more troublesome because people do not want their names attached to mistakes for fear of retribution”. Thomset (2002, p260) compares project reviews with the ‘witch hunts’ saying that they can be “one of the most political and cynical of all organizational practices where the victims (the project manager and the team) are blamed by senior management”. While he identifies top management as the main responsible party for a failure, Murray (2001) suggest that the project manager “must accept ultimate responsibility, regardless of the factors involved”. A fair-minded stance on these different viewpoints would evoke that the purpose of the project review is not to find a scapegoat but to learn from the mistakes. After all, “the only true project failures are those from which nothing is learned” (Kerzner, 2004, p303).

Analysis

When the project is finished, the closeout phase must be implemented as planned. “A general rule is that project closing should take no more than 2% of the total effort required for the project” (Crawford, 2002, p163). The project management literature has many different sets of actions for the last phase of the project life cycle. Maylor (2005, p345) groups the necessary activities into a six step procedure, which can differ depending on the size and the scope of the project:

1. Completion

First of all, the project manager must ensure the project is 100% complete. Young (2003, p256) noticed that in the closeout phase “it is quite common to find a number of outstanding minor tasks from early key stages still unfinished. They are not critical and have not impeded progress, yet they must be completed”. Furthermore, some projects need continuing service and support even after they are finished, such as IT projects. While it is helpful when this demand is part of the original statement of requirements, it is often part of the contract closeout. Rosenau and Githens (2005, p300) suggest that “the contractor should view continuing service and support as an opportunity and not merely as an obligation” since they can both learn from each other by exchanging ideas.

2. Documentation

Mooz et. al (2003, p160) defines documentation as “any text or pictorial information that describe project deliverables”. The importance of documentation is emphasized by Pinkerton (2003, p329) who notes that “it is imperative that everything learned during the project, from conception through initial operations, should be captured and become an asset”. A detailed documentation will allow future changes to be made without extraordinary effort since all the aspects of the project are written down. Documentation is the key for well-organized change of the project owner, i.e. for a new investor that takes over the project after it is finished. Lecky-Thompson (2005, p26) makes a distinction between the documentation requirements of the internal and the external clients since the external party usually needs the documents for audit purposes only. Despite the uninteresting nature of documenting historical data, the person responsible for this task must engage actively with his assignment.

3. Project Systems Closure

All project systems must close down at the closeout phase. This includes the financial systems, i.e. all payments must be completed to external suppliers or providers and all work orders must terminate (Department of Veterans Affairs, 2004, p13). “In closing project files, the project manager should bring records up to date and make sure all original documents are in the project files and at one location” (Arora, 1995). Maylor (2005, 347) suggest that “a formal notice of closure should be issued to inform other staff and support systems that there are no further activities to be carried out or charges to be made”. As a result, unnecessary charges can be avoided by unauthorized expenditure and clients will understand that they can not receive additional services at no cost.

4. Project Reviews

The project review comes usually comes after all the project systems are closed. It is a bridge that connects two projects that come one after another. Project reviews transfer not only tangible knowledge such as numerical data of cost and time but also the tacit knowledge which is hard to document. ‘Know-how’ and more important ‘know-why’ are passed on to future projects in order to eliminate the need for project managers to ‘invent the wheel’ from scratch every time they start a new project. The reuse of existing tools and experience can be expanded to different project teams of the same organization in order to enhance project results (Bucero, 2005). Reviews have a holistic nature which investigate the impact of the project on the environment as a whole. Audits can also be helpful but they are focused on the internal of the organization. Planning the reviews should include the appropriate time and place for the workshops and most important the people that will be invited. Choosing the right people for the review will enhance the value of the meeting and help the learning process while having an objective critique not only by the team members but also from a neutral external auditor. The outcome of this review should be a final report which will be presented to the senior management and the project sponsor. Whitten (2003) also notices that “often just preparing a review presentation forces a project team to think through and solve many of the problems publicly exposing the state of their work”.

5. Disband the project team

Before reallocating the staff amongst other resources, closeout phase provides an excellent opportunity to assess the effort, the commitment and the results of each team member individually. Extra-ordinary performance should be complemented in public and symbolic rewards could be granted for innovation and creativity (Gannon, 1994). This process can be vital for team satisfaction and can improve commitment for future projects (Reed, 2001). Reviewing a project can be in the form of a reflective process, as illustrated in the next figure, where project managers “record and critically reflect upon their own work with the aim of improving their management skills and performance” (Loo, 2002). It can also be applied in problematic project teams in order to identify the roots of possible conflicts and bring them into an open discussion.

Ignoring the established point of view of disbanding the project team as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary overheads, Meredith and Mandel (2003, p660) imply that it’s best to wait as much as you can for two main reasons. First it helps to minimize the frustration that might generate a team member’s reassignment with unfavourable prospects. Second it keeps the interest and the professionalism of the team members high as it is common ground that during the closing stages, some slacking is likely to appear.

6. Stakeholder satisfaction

PMI’s PMBoK (2004, p102) defines that “actions and activities are necessary to confirm that the project has met all the sponsor, customer and other stakeholders’ requirements”. Such actions can be a final presentation of the project review which includes all the important information that should be published to the stakeholders. This information can include a timeline showing the progress of the project from the beginning until the end, the milestones that were met or missed, the problems encountered and a brief financial presentation. A well prepared presentation which is focused on the strong aspects of the projects can cover some flaws from the stakeholders and make a failure look like an unexpected success.

Next Steps

Even when the client accepts the delivery of the final product or service with a formal sign-off (Dvir, 2005), the closeout phase should not be seen as an effort to get rid of a project. Instead, the key issue in this phase is “finding follow-up business development potential from the project deliverable” (Barkley & Saylor, 2001, p214). Thus, the project can produce valuable customer partnerships that will expand the business opportunities of the organization. Being the last phase, the project closeout plays a crucial role in sponsor satisfaction since it is a common ground that the last impression is the one that eventually stays in people’s mind.

Continuous improvement is a notion that we often hear the last decade and review workshops should be involved in it. The idea behind this theory is that companies have to find new ways to sustain their competitive advantage in order to be amongst the market leaders. To do so, they must have a well-structured approach to organizational learning which in project-based corporations is materialized in the project review. Garratt (1987 in Kempster, 2005) highlighted the significance of organizational learning saying that “it is not a luxury, it is how organizations discover their future”. Linking organizational learning with Kerzner’s (2001, p111) five factors for continuous improvement we can a define a structured approach for understanding projects.

This approach can be implemented in the closeout phase, with systematic reviews for each of the above factors. Doing so, project closure could receive the attention it deserves and be a truly powerful method for continuous improvement within an organization. Finally, project closeout phase should be linked with PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity (OPM3) model where the lessons learned from one project are extremely valuable to other projects of the same program in order to achieve the highest project management maturity height.

References

1. A Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge, 2004, 3rd Edition, Project Management Institute, USA, p102

2. Arora M, 1995, Project management: One step beyond, Civil Engineering, 65, 10, [Electronic], pp 66-68

3. Barkley & Saylor, 2001, Customer-Driven Project Management, McGraw-Hill Professional, USA, p214

4. Bucero A, 2005, Project Know-How, PM Network, May 2005 issue, [Electronic], pp 20-22

5. Crawford K, 2002, The Strategic Project Office, Marcel Dekker, USA, p163

6. Department of Veteran Affairs, 2004, Project Management Guide, Office of Information and Technology – USA Government, p13

7. Dvir D, 2005, Transferring projects to their final users: The effect of planning and preparations for commissioning on project success, International Journal of Project Management vol. 23, [Electronic], pp 257-265

8. Futrel R, Shafer D & Shafer L, 2002, Quality Software Project Management, Prentice Hall PTR, USA, p1078

9. Gannon, 1994, Project Management: an approach to accomplishing things, Records Management Quarterly, Vol. 28, Issue 3, [Electronic], pp 3-12

10. Heerkens G, 2002, Project Management, McGraw-Hill, USA, p229

11. Kempster S, 2005, The Need for Change, MSc in Project Management: Change Management module, Lancaster University, [Electronic], slide 16

12. Kerzner H, 2004, Advanced Project Management: Best Practices on Implementation, 2nd Edition, Wiley and Sons, p303

13. Kerzner H, 2001, Project Management – A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling, 7th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York, p594

14. Kerzner H, 2001, Strategic Planning For Project Management Using A Project Management Maturity Model, Wiley and Sons, pp 110-111

15. Lecky-Thompson G, 2005, Corporate Software Project Management, Charles River Media, USA, p26

16. Loo R, 2002, Journaling: A learning tool for project management training and team-building, Project Management Journal; Dec 2002 issue, vol. 33, no. 4, [Electronic], pp 61-66

17. Maylor H, 2005, Project Management, Third Edition with CD Microsoft Project, Prentice Hall, UK, p345

18. Mooz H, Forsberg K & Cotterman H, 2003, Communicating Project Management: The Integrated Vocabulary of Project Management and Systems Engineering, John Wiley and Sons, USA, p160

19. Murray J, 2001, Recognizing the responsibility of a failed information technology project as a shared failure, Information Systems Management, Vol. 18, Issue 2, [Electronic], pp 25-29

20. Newell S, 2004, Enhancing Cross-Project Learning, Engineering Management Journal, Vol. 16, No.1, [Electronic], pp 12-20

21. Organizational Project Management Maturity (OPM3): Knowledge Foundation, 2003, 3rd Edition, Project Management Institute, USA

22. Pinkerton J, 2003, Project Management, McGraw-Hill, p329

23. Reed B, 2001, Making things happen (better) with project management, May/Jun 2001 issue, 21, 3, [Electronic], pp 42-46

24. Rosenau & Githens, 2005, Successful Project Management, 4th Edition, Wiley and Sons, USA, p300

25. Sowards D, 2005, The value of post project reviews, Contractor, 52, 8, [Electronic], p35

26. Thomset R, 2002, Radical Project Management, Prentice Hall PTR, USA, p260

27. Whitten N, 2003, From Good to Great, PM Network, October 2003 issue, [Electronic]

28. Young, 2003, The Handbook of Project Management: A Practical Guide to Effective Policies and Procedures, 2nd Edition, Kogan Page, UK, p256

LED Hula Hoop Product Review Guide

LED Hula Hoop Product Review Guide

A great way to add some extra excitement to your ‘Hula Hooping’ is by using a dazzling, brightly glowing LED Hula Hoop. These ‘futuristic’ Hula Hoops utilize some of the latest technology such as programmable software, USB adaptability and wireless remote controls to help you put on an amazing fluorescent display of lights and patterns every time you swirl your hoop.

There is a huge selection of different LED Hula Hoops available out there on the market so we’ve compiled a comprehensive list detailing the features of some of the very best. With a wide variety of different manufacturer’s and customizable options to choose from, there is guaranteed to be a LED Hula Hoop to suit people of any age, shape or size.

Best LED Hula Hoops

Atomic Evoke – by Astral Hoops

The Atomic Evoke LED Hula Hoop is the 4th generation model from Astral Hoops and was specifically designed for the more serious and professional ‘Hoopers’. Professional performers have used the Atomic Evoke to captivate audiences on entertainment stages all over the world. With over 165 mode selections and preset functions to choose from, you are guaranteed to find the perfect light patterns and displays to compliment your LED Hula Hooping routine.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: Astral Hoops

Price: $339 + shipping (with coupon code: Isabel)

Sizes: 13″-45″ inside diameter

Tubing: 5/8″, 3/4″ [Polypro], 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″ [HDPE]

Weight: ~8 ounces (30″ ID, 5/8″ PP, light battery option)

Availability: Now, 1-3 weeks build time.

Seamless LED’s (no gap): YES (on models other than 5/8 tubing)

Favorite Mode Save: YES

Adjustable Brightness: YES

Pattern Customizability: LOW – You can customize presets with modes to create custom light shoes, however you cannot customize he actual light patterns.

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: NO

Removable Battery (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Select from 165 different modes. Access favorite modes quickly with preset feature. Cycle through presets or mode sets at 10s or 30s intervals using scan feature. Two random pattern generation modes.

HELIX - by Proton Labs

The Helix LED Hula Hoop by Proton Labs boasts some amazing features that will allow you to customize your performance and put on a dazzling light display. This LED Hula Hoop is designed with 256 preset functions, a custom designed graphics processor, 3 different shuffle modes that fade into new patterns while you swirl, and a sophisticated energy management system that gives you a massive 10 hours of battery life! Proton Labs claim that their Helix LED Hoops actually spin 4 times faster than similar LED Hula Hoops on the market so they guarantee an amazing light show whenever their hoops are spinning.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: Proton Labs

Price: $360 + shipping (with $40 off sale)

Sizes: 26″-36″ inside diameter

Tubing: 3/4″ Polypro, 3/4″ HDPE

Weight: ~11.2 ounces (31″ ID PP)

Availability: Now, 1-4 weeks build time

Seamless LED’s (no gaps): NO

Favorite Mode Save: NO

Adjustable Brightness: NO

Pattern Customizability: Yes (using PC software only)

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: NO

Removable Battery (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Select from 200+ modes. Edit modes using the included PC software. Several random mode cycle options available.

SYNTH – by LED Artistry

The Synth LED Hula Hoop by LED Artistry has some cool in-built features that have been preset by the manufacturers to enhance your performance. These preset features allow you to create a variety of wild shapes and patterns with total ease. With 160 different settings to choose from, you can easily create a variety of glowing shapes such as hearts, flowers and even a half-moon! This Hula Hoop comes with a unique feature that allows you to program and preset your Hula Hoop to randomly skip through a series of different shapes, colors and patterns while you swirl.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: LED Artistry

Price: $325 + shipping

Sizes: 30″, 33″, 34″, 37″ outside diameter

Tubing: 3/4″ Polypro, 3/4″ HDPE

Weight: ~11.7 ounces (32″ ID PP)

Availability: Preorder via email, build time 2-5 months

Seamless LED’s (no gaps): YES

Favorite Mode Save: YES

Adjustable Brightness: YES

Pattern Customizability: Low. Can customize favorite banks with modes to create custom light shows. No customizations of the actual light patterns.

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: NO

Removable Battery (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Select from 160 modes. Random function cycles through all pattern modes at adjustable intervals.

FUTURE HOOP - by Mood Hoops

The Future Hoop made by Mood Hoops is capable of generating an impressive number of mesmerizing shapes and patterns – allowing you to put on an equally impressive light show display. The Future Hoop by Mood Hoops has special built-in modes and functions that can produce thousands of different color, pattern and shape combinations on demand.

Another great feature of the Future Hoop Hula Hoop is the strategic use of rechargeable batteries. Mood Hoops will supply you with 4 high quality, long-lasting lithium-ion batteries PLUS a charger. The ‘Future Hoop’ is designed to operate using only 1 Lithium-ion battery – leaving you 3 spare and fully charged batteries to interchange at your will.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: Mood Hoops

Price: $299 + shipping (for basic model)

Sizes: 30″, 33″, 34″, 37″ outside diameter

Tubing: 3/4″ Polypro, 3/4″ HDPE

Weight: ~11.7 ounces (32″ ID PP)

Availability: Now 5 day build time

Seamless LED’s (no gaps): YES

Favorite Mode Save: YES

Adjustable Brightness: YES

Pattern Customizability: Low. Can customize favorite banks to create custom light shows.

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: NO

Removable Battery (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Select from 160 modes. Random function cycles through all pattern modes at adjustable intervals.

PHEONIX & PHEONIX HD HOOPS - by SpinFX

Take your Hula Hooping to the ‘next level’ with the Phoenix & Phoenix HD by SpinFX. These futuristic LED Hula Hoops are some of the most advanced LED Hula Hoops available. The Phoenix Hoops are completely programmable and have amazing some unique features including the ability to display custom graphics, text or logos. The SpinFx Team has used cutting-edge technology when making the Phoenix Hoops and we have listed a few of these brilliant technological features below:

· A USB interface for updating software, adding new patterns and designs, advanced pattern configuration options and charging.

· Bluetooth capabilities for remote control (Android only)

· The ability to Synch your performance with other Phoenix Hoop users.

· Easily charged with any micro USB cable (Cable comes included with purchase)

· High quality, rechargeable long lasting Lithium-ion batteries.

· A large library of preloaded images PLUS simple instructions given on how to create your own.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: SpinFX [formerly Hoop Daddy]

Price: $399 & $425 + shipping

Sizes: UNKNOWN

Tubing: UNKNOWN

Weight: ~11.5 oz (33″)

Availability: Late 2013 (Projected), build time unknown

Seamless: NO

Favorite Mode Save: UNKNOWN

Adjustable Brightness: YES

Pattern Customizability: Very high. Extremely powerful customization features allow you to create original light patterns. These can be uploaded to the hoop using any computer.

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: YES

Removable Battery: (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Choose from 200+ modes. Create your own modes and upload to the hoop via USB. Random function cycles through all modes.?

THE PHOTON HOOP – by The Battery Dude

The Photon Hoop has a selection of different options to help you put on a varied display of different images, patterns, shapes, colors and time modes. The Battery Dude’s CEO Daniel Rogers is very approachable to work with you on any ideas you may have and has said, “I strongly believe in and practice a high level of customer service and customer appreciation. I’m very easy to reach by phone, email, or Facebook at anytime and am happy to answer any questions you may have.”

The Photon comes equipped with some very cool features including:

· A battery gap free design,

· 705 different modes (including 225 intricate and complex patterns PLUS 480 solid FX patterns),

· Custom modes available on request

· Themed mode banks available for purchase

· A variety of different sizes available upon request.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: Battery Dude

Price: $350 + shipping

Sizes: 30″, 32″, 33″, 35″

Tubing:

Weight: ~11.5 oz (33″)

Availability: Fall 2013 (projected), build time unknown

Seamless: YES

Favorite Mode Save:

Adjustable Brightness:

Pattern Customizability:

Warranty:

Remote Control:

Removable Battery: (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Projected to include 500 modes.

THE KINETIC HOOP – by Electriclifestylz

The Kinetic Hoop was designed by Electricliestylz to be the first affordable (to the general public) Hula Hoop with LED technology and programmable software capabilities. This very affordable – yet very impressive LED Hula Hoop can cycle through 40 different modes every 10-12 sec; changing randomly through different color combinations with each new change in mode to produce a constantly changing display of fluorescent lights and patterns. The Kinetic Hoop is available in 3 different models including the STANDARD, REMOTE and MINIS. All models come fully equipped with either the base programming by the manufacturer or customized programming requested by you.

Specifications & Features

Manufacturer: Electric Lifestylz

Price: $399 & $425 + shipping

Sizes: UNKNOWN

Tubing: UNKNOWN

Weight: ~11.5 oz (33″)

Availability: Late 2013 (Projected), build time unknown

Seamless: NO

Favorite Mode Save: UNKNOWN

Adjustable Brightness: YES

Pattern Customizability: Very high. Extremely powerful customization features allow you to create original light patterns. These can be uploaded to the hoop using any computer.

Warranty: 1 Year

Remote Control: YES

Removable Battery (can keep extras handy): NO

Mode Selection: Choose from 200+ modes. Create your own modes and upload to the hoop via USB. Random function cycles through all modes.?

October Man Sequence – Why Ultra Evil Seduction Technology Must Be Banned

October Man Sequence – The Bane Of Mankind

The October Man Sequence has been mentioned in “The Game” by Neil Strauss, and has become somewhat legendary. Apparently, it is a new technology in seduction which is supposedly able to make a woman want to sleep with a man in a matter of minutes.

When it was first published in the eBook format, the October Man Sequence caused a controversy in the dating and seduction community. There were calls for the eBook to be banned – since if it falls into the hands of the unscrupulous, it can easily be harmful to women.

The origins of the October Man Sequence

The October Man Sequence is created by a member in the dating and seduction community called Twotimer (later known as IN10SE). He was one of the main characters in “The Game”, and also was the protege of the much maligned Speed Seduction creator, Ross Jeffries. Twotimer created the sequence based on the ‘fractionation’ method derived from the field of neuro-lingustic programming (NLP) and hypnosis.

Why the October Man Sequence should be banned

According to IN10SE himself, using the October Man Sequence is like “bringing a nuclear weapon to a gunfight”. As the basis of the sequence is ‘symbolism’, according to psychology theory, controlling the symbol associated with the person often means controlling her feelings at will.

This is dangerous because the unsuspecting victim often gets hypnotized, and thus leaving herself vulnerable to manipulation. Additionally, she will feel pain or pleasure depending to the intention of the man, and therefore become succumbed at his total mercy.

The October Man Sequence eBook has the complete description of the sequence, as well as scores of other forbidden patterns such as “The Door”, “Death”, “Install Sickness” and “My Slave”. The latter is used to make a woman become a ‘sex slave’ – absolutely disgusting.

Additionally, there is also a section on Boyfriend Destroyers - questions that a man can ask in order to make an attached woman question her love for her own partner. Evil stuff indeed.

Review of AVS4YOU

If you are looking for an honest AVS4YOU review which is based on personal experience and also on real testimonials collected from all over the Internet, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article I will try my best to enlighten you on some subtle and finer nuances of this software suit of products and also give you the major pros and cons of it. After reading my review I suggest you to visit the official website of AVS from which you can get more information if needed.

What is AVS4YOU

AVS4YOU is a collection of software tools (currently there are 18 tools available) for which you can purchase either an unlimited access license or a one-year access license and use ALL of the tools with that license. There is a Trial Download version for all of the tools from the official website. There is nothing better than using the software first before purchasing.

The official price for the Unlimited Access Subscription license is $59 and offers full access to all software tools with no time limits.

The official price for the One-Year Access Subscription license is $39 and offers full access to all software tools for one year only.

Who is Behind AVS4YOU

The company behind AVS4YOU.com is “Online Media Technologies Ltd” which is based in London, UK and specializes in software development for digital video and multimedia. That’s why the best software tools in the AVS4YOU bundle are the ones dealing with Video and Audio multimedia. The company developing the AVS products has been in the market since 2004 and has a very strong reputation as one of the best and most trusted software companies in the field of digital multimedia.

What’s included in the AVS4YOU package

As we’ve already mentioned above, the website offers a bundle of 18 software tools divided in 4 categories:

Video Software Category:

o AVS Video Converter (Most Popular tool)

o AVS Video Editor (Most Popular tool)

o AVS Video Remaker

o AVS DVD Authoring

o AVS Video Recorder

o AVS Media Player

Audio Software Category:

o AVS Ringtone Maker

o AVS Audio Recorder

o AVS Audio Editor

o AVS Audio Converter

Image Software Category

o AVS Image Converter

o AVS Photo Editor

o AVS Cover Editor

Miscellaneous Software Category

o AVS Disc Creator

o AVS DVD Copy

o AVS Firewall

o AVS Registry Cleaner

o AVS Antispam

The best tools included in the bundle package above are the first two categories (Video and Audio Software Tools). Indeed, the company is specializing in digital multimedia technologies, so their Video and Audio tools are the best. Especially the AVS Video Converter and AVS Video Editor are the most popular from what I have gathered after reading several testimonials.

If you are looking for firewall, registry cleaner, antispam tools etc, you will find better products from other vendors, not from AVS4YOU. However, if you purchase the registration license, you will have access to the Miscellaneous Category tools anyway, so why not use those software tools as well.

The software tools work ONLY on Windows Operating System (Win XP, Win 2003, Vista and Windows 7).

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages:

• Being a tech guy and video/audio fanatic, I can assure you that the video/audio tools that you will get in the bundle are probably the best in the market. I have not tried the rest of the tools (yet), but for the video and audio tools I have a great personal experience.

• Excellent price. Considering the price with which you get to download 18 top-notch software tools, there is nothing much to say about the value for money you will get.

• 30 Day Unconditional Money Back Guarantee.

• Free Trials for all the software. Just Download, Install and give them a try before you buy.

• Free Software Updates for life.

• Every new software released by the AVS4YOU website will be always free for customers that have already purchased a subscription license.

• Unprecedented Technical Support.

• The AVS4YOU website is full of excellent User Guides and Video How-To Guides to help you perform any supported task with the software tools.

Disadvantages:

• License is valid only for a single computer. If you are planning to change your computer soon, then don’t buy just before you get a new PC.

• Software works only on Windows machines (no MAC or Linux support).

• The company might go bankrupt if they keep the price so low (just kidding!).

John Assaraf’s Winning the Inner Game of Money Review

Did you ever dream of living a luxurious life with everything you ever desired and all this available at the tip of your fingers? You did. Well, most of us did, but the million-dollar question is HOW?

The answer rather surprisingly is very plain and simple. But before giving you the answer let’s learn a bit or two about the person who devised this amazing technique to let us pursue our dreams and get what we wanted rather being satisfied with what we need. Sounds too good to be true? Read on to know what we are talking of.

The person in question is John Assaraf. He was just like any other teenager, wondering aimlessly with no direction in life and a shuddering desire for an ecstatic lifestyle. On his wild goose chase of fulfilling desires and leading a life with a purpose and meaning discovered a method of success in business and life through brain research and quantum physics as these subjects are relative. Through his dedication and hard work John Assaraf is a multi-millionaire and a proud owner of several companies of high repute.

So what exactly is this technique and how does one follow the prescribed method and effortlessly go on to be a millionaire. It is called the ” winning the inner game of money” and it works so amazingly well that you can’t believe it unless it happens to you. In this program John Assaraf will guide with the help of the advanced techniques like cutting-edge brain entrainment technology; sound wave patterns; 3-d / surround-sound technology; affirmations; subliminal messages; sophisticated audio interpretations and elements of emotional freedom technique; eye movement desensitization reprocessing; guided visualization sessions; and meditation tracks to program your mind to succeed in the monetary domain.

With the help of certain mastered techniques like ‘neuro re-conditioning’ John will guide you through a detailed procedure of altering your sub-conscious habits and beliefs which result in improvising your thought process about money, success and fame.

It wouldn’t sound incorrect if we regarded this technique as one of the most impactful discovery of this decade. This is a tried and tested method and the result are bound to leave in awe. The whole technique works based on the processing of mind and the response of our neurons to various stimuli. By varying the functioning of our brain with the help of these flawless techniques we can alter our thought process and think big money and success wise.

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A Review of Prominent Circuit Breaker Manufacturers

The following article provides a review of prominent circuit breaker manufacturers.

ABB is at the forefront of circuit breaker manufacturers, offering homes and industries the ability to achieve maximum performance while limiting the negative impact on the environment. With companies operating in over 100 countries around the globe, ABB is a leader in its field. ABB offers products from miniature circuit breakers to molded-case breakers and guarantees its products are among the safest and most dependable on the market.

Perhaps better known for home appliances and products for various industries, Siemens is also a leading circuit breaker manufacturer. In 1998, Siemens executed a major recall of one of their circuit breaker products. The breaker in question was mostly used in hot tubs and spas. Although Siemens claims they are unaware of any injuries due to malfunction, they erred on the side of caution. The breakers were found to have the potential cause electrocution of people in hot tubs.

GE circuit breakers are probably some of the best-known and used circuit breakers on the market. GE offers circuit breakers that are compliant with Federal regulations. This circuit breaker manufacturer offers a wide range of products for all voltage needs. From home to industrial electrical necessities, GE has products for both low and high voltage electrical outputs.

ITE is credited as the founder of 5 kV air magnetic circuit breakers. They were among the first circuit breaker manufacturers to offer low energy and high quality solutions to industrial electrical needs. ITE also offers medium and high voltage circuit breakers for a variety of purposes.

Cutler-Hammer (Eaton) is also a well-known circuit breaker manufacturer. Perhaps one of the most innovative technologies to come from this company in recent years is the fireguard circuit breaker. Cutler-Hammer’s FireGuard provides protection from fire hazards that result from arcing faults. FireGuard circuit breakers will likely become the standard circuit breakers used in 21st century homes because they provide advanced protection against some of the most common causes of house fires.

The reliability of Federal Pacific, an established circuit breaker manufacturer, is questionable at best. These breakers have a notorious reputation for failure to trip when hit with a power surge. Some experts claim the rate to be upwards of 25%. Failure to trip during a power surge can cause structural fires. Rumors have circulated that the company was “de-listed” from the UL, although the company states they simply “went out of business”. Regardless of the actual reason for this, most electrical experts recommend discontinuing the use of these circuit breakers since most tests show an unacceptable failure rate.

Another circuit breaker manufacturer, Square D, has a long history in the circuit breaker business. This company was the first to offer plug-in type circuit breakers in 1951, which was then highly innovative technology. Since that time, Square D continues to be a leader in circuit breaker technology and offers a wide variety of products for both home and industry.

According to product reviews, ETA is the leading manufacturer of circuit breakers around the world. Their circuit breakers are crafted with precision and are used for a variety of circuit protection technologies. Thermal, magnetic, high-performance and electronic are just a few of ETA’s specialties. They continue to strive to create and produce the best circuit protection on the market.

Since 1947, Westinghouse circuit breakers have been among the most durable and reliable on the market. In tests, these breakers continue to deliver high performance to industries and their electrical needs. It is likely that Westinghouse will continue to be a leader in this field because they continually strive to meet the needs of advancing technologies.

Review of the Best Online Professional Development for Educators and Teachers

Professional Development for Educators

Professional development is an essential way for teachers to refine their strategies, methods, and understanding of their work. In order to provide educators with the tools they need, a market in professional development (also known simply as “PD”) has developed around online and offline tools built for teacher training.

This list is a guide of the major and minor players in the PD field. Our analysis of each competitor shows PD 360 from School Improvement Network to have the most tools and training videos in the industry, and they are also one of the most inexpensive. Teachers can buy individual licenses to PD 360 for $125, but the most inexpensive method is to purchase a license for an entire school or district, which often drives the price well under $100 per license.

Each school and district must determine what their needs are and what is most effective. We hope to have been as open and objective as possible in the following analysis.

PD 360 – School Improvement Network

PD 360 has 1,500+ videos, training from 120 experts, 97 topics, a community of 700,000, new content added daily, and a year’s complete access costs around $100 or less per teacher. The platform also integrates with an observation tool equipped with prescriptive technology, Common Core Standards training, and a unique product for Title I schools. PD 360’s community is closed to the public.

Pros: You get the most bang for your buck. PD 360’s entire platform costs less per teacher than one course from any of the competitors.

Cons: The platform is currently built in Flash.

Bottom line: School Improvement Network provides a true tour de force that is unstoppably effective and cost efficient.

EdWeb

EdWeb has a K12 Educator Store that sells eBooks and teacher aid materials, but it is not presented as a focused resource for teacher improvement. The store and its products are open and available to anyone, though the main product seems to be the online teacher community. The number of users is unpublished.

Pros: EdWeb sends out weekly emails to help subscribers stay up-to-date.

Cons: The community is open access, meaning that one does not have to be a teacher to participate in the forums. The user interface is very difficult to navigate and participation in the community is small.

Bottom line: EdWeb’s site only provides forum capabilities-no professional development is connect to the community. EdWeb sends helpful emails, but the community is difficult to navigate.

Schoolnet

Schoolnet focuses on improving education through data analysis and positions itself as “the leader in data-driven education for K-12 school systems.” They have an open-access community, and their website seems to provide professional development solutions la carte. The number of experts, users, and community participants is unpublished. Pearson Education purchased Schoolnet in April 2011.

Pros: Pearson Education will likely be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.

Cons: The community is open access. Their products are not one comprehensive whole.

Bottom line: Schoolnet provides free resources on their website to assist educators as much as possible. They have connected tools to their community, and Pearson Education will probably be able to expand Schoolnet’s resources.

Edutopia

Edutopia is backed by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Edutopia provides 150 free videos that average four minutes each, a community of over 100,000 members, and other free resources for educational professional development. The community is open access, so the public can and does participate in the forums.

Pros: The free materials are high quality and the community has good participation.

Cons: The materials and resources are limited, the community is open to the public, and the community is relatively small.

Bottom line: Edutopia may be one of the best free resources available to teachers, but the resources are very limited.

SimpleK12

SimpleK12 offers a community as the main professional development solution. The community does not have free registration as all other communities have in this competitive analysis; a registration fee of $297 per year will give a person access to the community. SimpleK12 claims to serve 500,000 worldwide and offer 500 hours of classroom technology how-to videos on the community.

Pros: If the community serves 500,000, then there could potentially be good participation.

Cons: There is no way to test the product without buying it, and it is quite expensive.

Bottom line: SimpleK12 is expensive and veiled.

Knowledge Delivery Systems

Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) has eClassroom, mVal, eWalk, and custom PD programs for some of its main products. KDS does not provide a community, but it does provide a way for educators who are following the same course to communicate with each other. The product eClassroom is the platform on which educators follow courses which they buy one at a time. The mVal product is an evaluation tool, and eWalk is a classroom walkthrough tool. KDS offers approximately 760 hours of training videos from 55 experts.

Pros: Educators have up to 760 hours of content from which to choose and evaluation tools that work effectively.

Cons: The observation and evaluation tools are not integrated with a professional development platform, KDS offers no community, and districts and teachers buy one course at a time.

Bottom line: KDS offers primarily specialty courses from which educators can gain college credit, but they are not meant to be a district-wide solution.

Teachscape

Teachscape offers courses that a school or district must buy one at a time. They offer 108 courses from 12 experts as of July 2011. Teachscape’s tour de force is the 360-degree camera technology they employ with their classroom observation platform.

Pros: Teachscape boasts a 360-degree camera for their observation technology.

Cons: Teachscape’s professional development, much like many other companies in the industry, is only available one course at a time from only twelve experts. They also do not offer an online professional learning community.

Bottom line: Teachscape provides extensive training, and any training must be universally applied.

ASCD

ASCD is a nonprofit organization that serves 160,000 educators in 148 countries with myriad products. ASCD offers several levels of membership, from a $25 student membership to a $219 premium membership (as of July 2011). ASCD offers several professional development solutions, including PD in Focus, a professional development platform with 90 hours of video and 49 experts. The community is theoretically open to all, but the group facilitator must approve each member.

Pros: ASCD has many resources at their disposal, meaning that users have the opportunity to access many resources in one place.

Cons: The resources are spread thin, and the actual PD training is minimal at only 90 hours, 55 hours, and a small community.

Bottom line: ASCD is affordable due to their membership breakdown. There are good resources, but those resources are spread thin.

PBS Teacherline

PBS Teacherline provides 130 graduate-level courses for teachers. They have recently added Peer Connection, their own online community. The courses and trainings are available one at a time, and separate licenses are purchased for each user.

Pros: The number of graduate courses available is tempting for anyone looking to advance in school while in his or her career.

Cons: The community is not free, and educators must pay for each resource that they use rather than having an open library. The licenses make providing specific training to multiple educators a logistical challenge.

Bottom line: PBS Teacherline is a good option if educators want to work toward a higher degree.

Learner.org

Annenberg Foundation has created Learner.org to provide free educational resources online. Learner.org has great resources for the average learner, but the site is not built for professional development on a district- or school-wide scale.

Pros: It’s all quality, and it’s all free.

Cons: Learner.org is not a viable resource for specific training as its PD content is limited.

Bottom line: Learner.org is the professional learner’s dream, but it is not a source of training for classroom management or teaching techniques.

Staff Development for Educators

Staff Development for Educators (SDE) coordinates both traditional and online professional development. SDE does not provide a community on which to collaborate, and online courses are only available with individual licenses. Educators can choose any one of 54 courses to buy and follow online.

Pros: It is simple and straight-forward: each teacher buys a course and finishes it.

Cons: SDE does not provide a library, a community, or a true PD platform.

Bottom line: SDE started as a traditional PD company, and they have retained that model even in their online endeavors.

Please feel free to leave comments about aspects we may have missed, companies you have seen or used, and your honest-and respectful-opinion about what has worked for you.

Does Your Pool Cue Matter? The Truth About Modern High Technology Pool Cues

I started playing pool at the young age of 7 years old, during the winters growing up in northern Maine when the temperature reached 50 below zero and it was too cold to ski. The rec room at Loring AFB had a couple of pool tables, and as a very athletic kid I had a natural curiosity about the game, and after watching a few games I was invited by one of the airmen to play a game with him. He showed me how to hold the cue stick and make a bridge, and got me a little wooden box to stand on so I could reach the table. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to the game, and soon invited my friends to play. We spent many a cold winter day inside that rec room, playing for hours, making up our own rules and games, and eventually even betting nickel candy bars on the outcome. Yeah, we were big spenders!

When summer hit, we put the cues away and played baseball all day long. My dream, since I was 5 and saw the Dodgers play in Los Angeles several times before my dad was transferred to Loring, was to be a pro baseball player, and I eventually got a baseball scholarship to college in Texas, where my dad retired in 1966. Through the years, every spare hour not spent practicing baseball was spent in a pool hall, and after my baseball career ended with a torn pitching shoulder, pool became my number 1 interest. I won my first tournament when I was 17, at a bar that my sister worked at, and won a cue stick as first prize. I was thrilled beyond belief, until I screwed the stick together and rolled it across the table. To my horror, it rolled like a corkscrew, being so warped as to be unplayable! Back to playing with a bar stick!

For the next 20 years, I hustled pool where ever I was working at the time. I drilled oil wells all over the country, and made as much money hustling the roughnecks after their shift as I did from my salary. As a mud engineer, I was responsible for checking many different rigs daily, and got to know, and play against, hundreds of different pool players each year. Moving around the country to different areas on a yearly basis, I was able to keep under the radar and remain a relative unknown, so it was never any trouble to get a money game going. I don’t think I ever met a roughneck who didn’t play pool, and most of them had a pretty high opinion of their game. That usually changed when it came time to pay up!

In 1989 I met the Alexander brothers on a golf course in Dallas. Nick, a lawyer, had founded Clicks Billiards many years before, and now had a total of 20 pool halls from Phoenix to Florida, with his original pool hall right there in Dallas at Abrams Rd. and Northwest Highway. Greg, his brother, was the General Manager, and responsible for hiring managers for all 20 of their pool halls. By this time I had retired from the oil business, and made my living on the golf course and pool halls every day. Greg and Nick were both members of Sleepy Hollow Country Club in south Dallas, where I hustled golf every day. Greg was a 3 handicap, and after I had played with him 3 or 4 days a week for several months ( and took quite a bit of money from him), he asked me if I played pool. Heh heh heh. “A little bit”, I said, and he took me that night to the original Clicks Billiards, to try to win a little of his money back.

After he paid up the hundred I beat him out of that night, he offered me a job, as assistant manager of the original Clicks. He knew I had never bar tended before, but assured me I would pick it up quickly, and would fit right in with the pool players who made up their core customer base. Was he ever right! I took to it like a duck to water, and ended up meeting most of the best pool players in Dallas, and some of the best in the country. Clicks had several exhibitions, including one by Grady Matthews, and one by Ewa Mataya, the Striking Viking. Clicks was also where I met CJ Wiley, the road player who won the ESPN Ultimate Nine Ball Challenge in 1995 or 96. There were many, many top notch professional players at Clicks, with many a $1,000 game of one pocket going on day and night, with lots of major Dallas bookies bankrolling a lot of the action, and sweaters on the rail by the dozens, just watching…or praying, lol.

CJ rolled into Clicks in 1990, and proceeded to terrorize the local pros. He was an instant legend, steamrolling every major player in town. Guys who scared the dickens out of me would not even touch CJ when he offered them the 5 and out. His rep grew, and his ranking did too, eventually reaching #4 or 5 in the world of Pool. Working there, I became fast friends with CJ, and when he opened up his own room in Dallas, CJ’s Billiard Palace, I eventually quit Clicks and went over to manage CJ’s place. When he opened up, 90% of the action, and pro players, went with him. He had 12 Gold Crowns, as opposed to the 4 at Clicks, a kitchen, and was open 24 hours. The action never stopped.

So what, you ask, does all this have to do with the title topic? I bought my first cue, a Thomas Wayne model, in 91, and while it was beautiful, with lots of gorgeous inlays, and very responsive, it really did nothing to improve my game. I played with it for 3 years until it was stolen, and I loved the cue, but I could play just as well with a bar cue, providing it was the right weight and had a good tip. I spent 700 dollars for the cue, but I really didn’t need to. It did not give me any advantage over a house cue.

I had a severe back injury in 1994, that made me quit playing golf and pool. I didn’t want to risk an operation, and it wasn’t until 2008 that I got some non-narcotic medication from the V.A. that let me bend over the table again without excruciating pain. By this time, Predator Cues had come out with a 10 piece shaft that was hollow at the tip, significantly reducing cue ball deflection at impact…or so they claimed. Having been away from the game for 14 years, I had read little about these cues, and was intrigued, to say the least.

For those of you reading this who don’t know what cue ball deflection is, here it is in a nut shell: When a cue ball is struck to either side of the vertical axis…the center line….the cue ball will deflect, or “squirt” in the opposite direction. So if you hit the cue ball using right ‘english’…hitting the cue ball right of the vertical center line…the cue ball will deflect to the left, and vice versa.. The amount of deflection varies, depending on speed of the stroke, the distance from the center line (or tip offset) the cue ball is struck, and the mass of the tip. In other words, the more english you apply, the harder the stroke, and the bigger the mass of the tip…..these factors will all increase the amount of deflection, or squirt. This squirt must be compensated for when aiming, or you will miss the shot quite often.

This is where the Predator technology comes into play. With a small hollow space at the end of the tip, the reduced mass drastically reduced the amount of deflection by allowing the cue ball to push the shaft out of the way at impact, instead of the shaft pushing the cue ball out of the way. The 314 shaft became very popular immediately with professionals, and the Z shaft reduced deflection even more by reducing the tip size from 12.75mm to 11.75mm. A shorter ferrule also helped reduce mass, and therefore reduce deflection even more. Independent testing has the Z² shaft and the 314² shaft from Predator as being the #1 and #2 shafts in the world in causing the least amount of deflection. Predator cues and shafts are used by over half of the top 40 professionals, 3 of the top 5 women professionals, and over 35,000 players worldwide, according to the Predator web site. These professionals are not paid to play these cues. They play them because their living depends on their playing ability, which is enhanced with this high-tech equipment.

Since Predator led the way in the mid 90’s, many companies have now joined the technology revolution. Lucasi Hybrid Cues offers the Zero Flex Point shaft on all their hybrid models. This shaft has technology similar to the Predator shafts to drastically reduce deflection. They offer these shafts with many joint types to fit most cues made today. World Champion Thorsten Hohmann from Germany now plays Lucasi Hybrid.

The OB-1 and OB-2 shafts also offer low deflection technology, and John Schmidt recently changed to the OB cue. He said he ran over 400 balls playing straight pool, the second day he used the OB shaft.

I had to try out one of these cues myself, and I must say: I love the new high-tech pool cues. I play with a Predator 5K3, and despite not having played in 14 years, my game has ascended to a level way higher than I ever played before. The reduced deflection makes the hard shots using english much simpler, by reducing the amount of compensation for squirt.

In summation, the advance of technology has shortened the learning curve for beginning and intermediate players by reducing cue ball deflection, and requiring much less compensation for the squirt effect. And the pros, who make their living with a cue? Nearly all of them play a low-deflection shaft of some kind. Why wouldn’t they? If they don’t, their competitors (who all do) will take the money.

While Predator remains the benchmark for low deflection, they are also not cheap. The retail price for a Z² shaft is nearly $300, but the new Lucasi Hybrid Cues, with similar technology (and also new grip technology to reduce impact vibration) are a good lower priced alternative. For less than the price of a Predator Z² shaft alone, your can get an outstanding Lucasi Hybrid [http://www.poolsharkcues.com/product_info.php?cPath=6&products_id=78/] that has advanced low-deflection technology and plays fantastically well. If a World Champion like Thorsten Hohmann is playing a Lucasi Hybrid, you KNOW it is an outstanding cue.

So think long and hard when purchasing a new cue stick. If you don’t use a cue with modern low-deflection technology, chances are your opponent will be. Everything else being equal, a modern low-deflection cue, or an older cue with a new low-deflection shaft, is going to win the vast majority of the time. Greatly improved accuracy will make it so.

2010 Demarini Baseball Bat Reviews

Demarini's 2010 line-up of baseball bats includes some minor adjustments to their 2009 line. The new "buzz word" for their 2010 models is Silver Trace technology which claims to be a unique blend of carbon combined with the "Silver Trace" technology. They say it is a bonding agent that adds strength to maximize power transfer to the barrel. I'd say it's more hype than anything else but at least they're trying to make it seem like there's something new going on. The new CF4 is essentially the same as the CF3 with a slightly larger barrel and they've adding a new option in the low-priced composite category. They've also dropped the Vexxum which has been in their line-up for quite a long time.

Here are the 2010 Demarini Baseball Bat Reviews:

Demarini 100% Composite Bats

  • Demarini CF4: According to Demarini the new CF4 Gold is their most technologically advanced baseball bat. Unfortunately there does not seem to be much change from the CF3. The handle is now "Pitch Black Plus" instead of just "Pitch Black" composite material and the aforementioned "Silver Trace" technology to the barrel. They say this adds 11% to the barrel length compared to the CF3 (so about an inch). It also has a redesigned end cap called "The Hub" that has a noticeably concave design. It's a two-piece double wall composite bat with a flex handle and a very low swing weight, although Demarini does not supply any numbers. The odd thing about the CF4 or CF3 is that most college players do not use it. In the 2009 College World Series teams that use Demarini bats, like Arizona State, have nobody swinging a CF4 or CF3. My guess is that these advanced players do not like the extremely light feel of the CF4 / CF3 and are looking for a little more mass. The Adult -3 model has a retail price of $ 399.99. I still think the CF3 is a very viable option on the discount racks.
  • Demarini Vendetta C6: This is where Demarini is using their brain. The Vendetta C6 is Demarini's first attempt at a second tier composite baseball bat. With the high cost of composite bats it's critical for manufacturers to offer a second tier model. The all new Vendetta C6 is a two-piece single wall bat with a flex handle, balanced design and Demarini's second tier (C6) composite material. The Adult -3 model retails for $ 299 which puts it in the same price range as the other second tier composite bats. This is a solid option in this category.

Demarini Hybrid Bats

  • Demarini Voodoo Black: Two-piece single wall bat with a flex handle that features "Pitch Black Plus" technology and a balanced design. The barrel is the same SC4 Alloy as the Vendetta SC4 but it retails for an additional $ 50 at $ 299.99 for the Adult -3 model. This is by far Demarini's most popular bat. As mentioned, teams like Arizona State that use Demarini bats overwhelmingly use the Voodoo. The entire Arizona State starting line-up used the Voodoo in the 2009 CWS. The Voodoo is my recommendation for high cost hybrid bats.
  • Demarini Vendetta SC4: The Vendetta SC4 is the same as the 2009 Vendetta model. It's a two-piece single wall bat with a flex handle, a balanced design and includes their "Rails Hybrid" technology. It has the same SC4 alloy barrel as the Voodoo. It has a retail price of $ 249.95 for the Adult -3 model. The only difference between this and the Voodoo is the inclusion of the Pitch Black plus and Silver Trace technology that's on the Voodoo. A solid option for the low cost hybrid category.

Demarini Alloy Bats

  • Demarini's only entry in the 100% alloy segment is the Nitro. It's a basic bat made from older material at a bargain basement price of $ 99 for the Adult -3 model.

Shiatsu Massage Chair Reviews

Many companies claim to make shiatsu massage chairs but in reality the chairs offer nothing of the sort. At best, most offer a general type of massage. Genuine shiatsu is the application of pressure with fingers and thumbs on energetic pathways, called meridians to improve the flow of energy. Quite frankly, most chairs lack the technology needed. However, some do. Here’s a review of some of the best shiatsu massage chairs currently available.

The HoMedics Shiatsu massage chair and others, like the iJoy, are often touted as giving a genuine, human-like shiatsu massage. But they really don’t. The problem is that in order to get a genuine shiatsu, the chair has to be intelligent enough to know your body shape, just as a professional massager takes into account each persons height, weight and so forth. Chairs like HoMedics and iJoy are cheap and lack the technology required. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good chairs, but you simply can’t find a shiatsu chair for under $1,500.

So, how much do you need to spend? Well, if you want a chair that does deliver, then you’re talking around $1,800.

The Fujikura 2000 massage chair retails for this price and comes with an intelligent 4 roller system that conforms to the contour of your spine and a special neck massage function that directly targets stress relieving “tsubo points” on your neck. It also has other features such as 26 air bags – 20 of which are in the foot and calf massager – as well as arm massagers. The massage modes include: rolling, kneading, shiatsu results, compression and percussion, chop action and flapping. As an added bonus, the chair comes with a music therapy system.

Fujikura is a Japanese company and if you really want the best shiatsu massage chair you should buy one designed by a Japanese company. The Sanyo HEC-SA5000K Massage Chair is the genuine article and retails for around $4,300. It’s a lot of money, I know, but you really are getting something that is in the top tier. It’s a very stylish chair but more importantly, it comes with physical body shape detectors that will automatically adjust the massage rollers to your body shape to deliver a perfect massage. You get a leg massager but no arm massagers with this model.

Retailing for a thousand dollars less – and in my opinion, a better chair – is the OSIM iSymphonic Massage Chair. Now, this chair is packed with the latest technology. It uses optical sensors to detect your body shape and to automatically align the rollers to deliver a stress relieving massage. There are also 5 Healthcare programs and you can customize them to create your own unique massage. But, what’s really impressive about this chair is the music therapy system. Unlike the Fujikura chair (mentioned above), it just doesn’t play music, rather the massage given is directly orchestrated by the music of your choice; if you decide on hard rock, you’ll get a pounding, but if you listen to soothing classical, you’ll get an altogether gentler massage.

The Inada i.2 Massage Chair (HCP-i.2A) retails for around $3,300 and is cheaper then either the Sanyo or OSIM but I believe offers the best value for money. Like the OSIM massage chair, it uses optical sensors to detect body shape and automatically adjusts the chair rollers. Also, like the OSIM, it has no arm massagers but it does come with vibration in the armrest. The overall design of the chair is very contemporary and stylish.

For its cost and feature list, the Inada is certainly a shiatsu massage chair I would recommend. However, it’s worth trying to test the others out if you possibly can, especially the OSIM and Sanyo massage chairs, so you can be absolutely sure which one is best for you.