Gadgets For the Home

Gone are the days when men did not buy home gadgets – they married them! There is, of course, an added advantage today. Gadgets for the home come in all forms to suit various kinds of needs and pockets.

Just think. There is a small baby at home. That new bundle of joy needs to sleep soundly for 2 reasons. One is obviously to enable baby to grow properly.The second is not so well advertised, but none the less valid for that. The parents need to catch up on their work and rest. So if you are left (literally) holding the baby for the better part of the day, when do you do either? Particularly when baby loves to wake up just when s/he is being transferred to the cradle or baby cot?

There is a simple solution by way of a new home gadget. It is a hammock which keeps baby sleeping even when being transferred to it. There are many such home gadgets which have gone a long way to make life easier for those who prefer to live in a home rather than a hostel or mess or boarding house. Think of the ubiquitous mixer which is needed for your juices, shakes, pastes and purees. Gadgets for home have gained in sophistication with advances in technology. Be it an energy hub system to monitor your domestic energy consumption or a hygienic door handle or a voice control travel alarm clock, there is a plethora of home gadgets in the market today.

Using a vacuum cleaner is old hat. For many using a robot to push around a vacuum cleaner is also something that’s been around for quite a while. Neato Robotics has a state-of-the-art robotic vacuum cleaner. Using lasers and SLAM technology (simultaneous localization and mapping), this amazing gadget maps the layout of the room even before it starts cleaning. This ensures that it does not bump into objects in the room (though humans often do) while cleaning! It returns to base only when the job is done or when it needs recharging. It also has features like a top loading dust bin, edge detection to keep it from tumbling down stairs and also a programmable schedule to set how often you want the robot to clean. All in all, this must be one of the neatest gadgets for the home in recent years.

Software Development Life Cycle – Introduction Model Stages and Advantages

What is the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle is essentially the process or phases of a model or methodology, which software engineers and developers follow in developing an application or software. In simpler words, it is a process consisting of a series of planned activities for planning, creating, testing, deploying and maintenance of software.

SDLC is often referred as software development process, as it consists of all tasks, which needs to be followed while developing an application or software. SDLC is followed within IT development companies to develop, alter, replace or enhance the performance of the software. ISO/IEC 12207 is an international standard for SDLC, which ensures high quality of the newly developed software. It also helps IT development companies in improving the overall quality of their software development services.

What are the major SDLC Models, followed in the IT Industry?

There are various SDLS models, which are currently followed in the IT Industry. Often referred as ‘Software Development Process Models’, all the process models follow unique software development steps, ensuring 100% success of the development projects.

The major software development life cycle models are-

  • Waterfall Model
  • Iterative Model
  • Spiral Model
  • V-Model
  • Big Bang Model

Other related models are Rapid Application Development (RAD), Prototype and Agile Models.

The advantages of choosing an appropriate Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)-

  • Increased Product Quality
  • Increased Development Speed
  • Improved Client Relations
  • Improved Tracking & Control
  • Decreased Project Risks
  • Decreased Project Management Overhead

What are the different stages of SDLC?

Stage 1:

Planning and Requirement Analysis

This is the most important stage in the SDLC. This stage needs input from the customers, sales team, industry experts, a marketing team and their survey reports. After which, senior business managers and developers of a software development company plan the project approach and the development model.

Stage 2:

Designing

After the analysis of requirements and finalizing the Design Document Specification (DDS), the product architecture is designed by an expert team. This architecture has to stand upon various parameters such as budget, time, product robustness, risk assessment and design modularity, after which it is considered for the development.

Stage 3:

Development

The actual development of the software or application starts at this stage. The team of engineers and developers follow the coding guidelines set by the organization and use different tools for code generation. The programming code is generated as per the details documented in the DDS. The developers use different high level programming languages as per the requirement.

Stage 4:

Testing

In this stage, the final product goes through a pre-defined road of testing, where defects or bugs in the product are reported and then fixed by the developers. This stage ensures that the final product meets the highest quality standards, which are accepted worldwide.

Stage 5:

Deployment

At this stage, the final product is deployed at the client base. At times, the software is integrated with the client’s current application and database. All the deployment and integration works are done under the guidance of expert software engineers and developers.

Stage 6:

Maintenance & Support

Most of the reputed IT development companies also provide complete maintenance and technical support, post deployment of the final product at client base.

How Do Credit Card Companies Make Money?

Credit cards have gained much popularity in India over the last few years. Public sector banks as well as private banking institutions have come forward to launch a host of credit cards suiting customers with different types of needs. HDFC Credit Cards and SBI Card are the two companies with the largest market share. While banks are ready to offer you with a small loan in the form of credit cards, have you ever wondered how these banking institutions make money from these ventures?

The three main ways how card issuers make money is through the annual fee of the card, interest charged on late payment, penalties on skipping EMIs, etc. At the same time, they also earn from the businesses that accept these cards. Businesses are required to pay transaction fees to the banks which also makes up for significant earning of the card issuer banks.

But before we dig deeper into how they make money, let us first understand the term 'Credit Card Companies'. It is easy to get confused between credit card issuers and credit card networks. An issuer is the bank or financial institution from which you take the card. You are taking a loan from the card issuer and paying back to them. A credit card issuing company is usually a bank. On the other hand, credit card network refers to companies that process the transaction. Currently, there are three major networks in India- VISA, Master Card and RuPay. Apart from these, American Express and Discover cards can also be found.

So, when you make a transaction with your credit card, your money moves electronically from your bank through the network to the merchant's bank.

How do credit card companies make money?

As mentioned above, your bank makes money majorly from you and also from the merchants where you use the card issued by the bank to make the payment. Banks or financial institutions make money in the form of-

Fees

Banks charge different types of fees from their cardholders- some fees are to be paid by everyone whereas other types of fees are levied on condition. Let us talk about these fees and charges-

  • Annual Fees- You have to pay annual fees towards your credit card, especially when you are an elite cardholder and enjoy higher benefits than normal users. This is to be paid by all users. However, some banks may set a condition of spend based annual fee reversal scheme.
  • Cash Advance Fees- When you withdraw money from an ATM using your credit card, the bank charges a minimal fee for it which is normally correlated to the amount you withdrawal. This is also included in the card issuer's earnings.
  • Late Fees- Your card issuer charges fees from you if you delay your EMI payments. Banks make more money from late payers in the form of late fees.
  • Balance Transfer Fees- When you transfer outstanding balance from one card to another, the bank charges fees from you which again becomes its earnings.

Interest

The bank or financial institution has just gifted you a credit line. You have to pay the interest for the loan that is offered to you in the form of credit card. This interest cost adds to your expenses and is a method of earning for the banks. Interest on credit card is charged on daily basis for as long as the amount stands outstanding in your account. This is why experts always advise you to pay the total outstanding amount in full every month because interest will accrue on any amount that stands unpaid.

Let us understand this with the help of an example. Suppose the billing date is on 4th of every month and payment due date falls on 29th of every month. APR = 24%

  1. 10th March- Apparel Shopping- Rs. 5,000
  2. 13th March- Bill Payment- Rs. 2,000
  3. 19th March- Gadget Purchase (converted into 6 month EMI) – Rs. 12,000
  4. 22nd March- Dining Bill- Rs. 1,000

Now considering that the person does not have any outstanding amount from the previous bill, he will have to pay Rs. (5,000 + 1,000 + 2,000 +2000) = Rs. 10,000.

This will be the total amount due on 29th March. Now if the person chooses to pay only Rs. 6,000, the remaining Rs. 4,000 will accrue interest for each day until the amount is paid in full. Considering that the user again pays Rs. 2,000 on the 10th of April, let us see how interest cost works out-

Interest = (outstanding amount x 2 percent per month x 12 months) * (number of days) 365

In this case, the total interest charged would be Rs. 52.60 which is a total for Rs. 4,000 that lies outstanding for 11 days and Rs. 2,000 that lies outstanding for 18 days until the next payment. This is the reason why those who only pay minimum amount due tend to fall into debt soon sooner. Cardholders should also note that when an amount is outstanding in your statement, the new purchases that you make are not eligible for the interest free period. This is why interest charge is the easiest way how banks make money out of your credit card.

Interchange Fee from the Merchant

When you use your card at a merchant terminal, the merchant also pays a percentage of the amount to the bank as processing fees. This will also be added on to the bank's earnings. It usually ranges between 1 to 3 percent of the transaction value but may differ from merchant to merchant.

How to save yourself from paying too much to the bank?

Savvy customers plan their transactions and payments in a way that they have to pay the least amount to the bank. These are the habits you can adopt to cut your costs-

  • Pay your entire outstanding balance every month; just pay the minimum amount due is not a good practice.
  • Set alerts for your payment due dates to avoid missed payments which entail late fees.
  • Create an emergency fund to replace costlier options like cash advances from credit card.
  • Choose low annual fee or free credit cards and even if you select a card with high annual fee, make sure that the rewards are worth it.

Work At Home Entrepreneurs – Profiting From Micro-Blogging

If you are one of those people who work at home then this article will get you thinking. There is a new kid in the block called micro-blogging. These are social networking sites where users can send short messages to people following them. Unlike blogging where you have to come up with a full article, micro-blogs are like one liner messages; talk of lazy work at home blogger. The amazing thing, you can generate huge traffic from these websites.

Whatever business you are running, attracting customers to your business is the key to your success. Currently, social media marketing is the way to go. But websites like Facebook and MySpace have been given a run for their money. This happened with the introduction of sites like Twitter, Yammer, Plurk and others.

The advantage of micro-blogs is that they are faster means of promoting your online business. Work at home business people have discovered that you can now reach more people through sites like Twitter, identi.ca and Jaiku. This is mainly because the number of people joining these sites is increasing by the minute. To some great extent this is an awesome deal to online marketers.

Early I called this mode of communication "lazy work at home blogger"; This is because all you need to come up with are updates containing 140 to 150 characters. Therefore, now you have no excuse for not succeeding in attracting sales leads to your online products. All you need is to come up with short juicy lines, that will leave people with no choice but to follow your links, which you include within your short messages.

The one thing that crowns it all when it comes to micro-blogging is the fact that it is mobile phone compatible. This means apart from working at home you can work on the go. Big multi-national companies are now spending millions of dollars to communicate to their customers through Twitter. A good example is Dell, which has hired over 100 employees to send hourly tweets to their customers.

Follow the links below to get more insightful content on improving your work at home experience.