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Filling Out Surveys Could Equal Free Stuff! Did you know that you could get great freebies simply by filling out surveys? It's true?while you may not be able to get rich off of filling out surveys, you will certainly be able to get your fill of great freebies. Here are some tips for filling out freebies so you too can get great free stuff. One of the Web's Best Sites for Filling Out Surveys for Free Stuff There are many fine websites that offer freebies. One of the best websites for finding free stuff is known as MyPoints BonusMail. This website operates as a shopper's reward program. It is fast, easy and totally free to join MyPoints BonusMail. What can this shopping rewards program do for you? It is easy, and did we mention free? All you have to do is to fill out the registration form. After signing up with MyPoints BonusMail, you will begin to receive offers in your email inbox. You set your own personal preferences when you sign up about the number of emails you wish to receive on a weekly basis. In order to complete the registration process, you will be asked to take a short survey about your shopping preferences and general interests. You will only receive emails in your in box regarding the preferences you have indicated. The programs works through point accumulation. When you have accumulated a certain number of points, you will qualify for gift cards to some of your favorite retail centers and merchants, including big names like Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart and many others. How do you accumulate points? You get points by making purchases directly through the MyPoints website. You also accumulate points by reading emails and clicking on the promotional links. Finally, you can also gain points by filling out surveys. MyPoints BonusMail is a long-established website that has helped shoppers get something back every time that they make a purchase. Finding the Best in Freebie Surveys Why does filling out surveys often result in free stuff? Filling out surveys is an easy, efficient and relatively accurate way for companies to find out what is on the mind of the general consuming public. Many companies will often offer free samples or products to consumers who are willing to take the time to fill out a full survey. Thus, filling out surveys can be a great way for companies to get some relatively cheap market research done. Don't expect to get rich off filling out surveys, but do expect some kind of compensation, even if it is only a free sample of a popular product. Freebie Sites Are Often a Good Place to Find Freebie Surveys There are many well-regarded websites that specialize in web freebies. If you already have a good spate of freebie websites bookmarked, these sites are wonderful resources for finding legitimate freebie surveys. Many of these sites offer a compendium of the latest surveys and companies offering freebies and product samples. Word to the Wise ? Be Wary if It Seems Too Good to Be True If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. This is the rule in life, and it rings true when it comes to the practice of filling out surveys for freebies. Here are some short and easy guidelines for avoiding non-legit surveys. Never fill out a survey that requires you to divulge too much information. You should especially avoid surveys that ask for personal contact information, as the survey may be just a front to gain sales contact information. Is that free sample of detergent really worth getting on telemarketers to-call lists? Be careful to whom you hand over your information.

Web Hosting - Changing Web Hosts, Pitfalls and Planning At some point, nearly everyone finds it necessary to change web hosts. It may be just a migration to another server, or it may be changing web hosting companies entirely. Either way, the process is fraught with potential dangers. But there are ways to minimize the odds of problems and maximize your changes of a smooth migration. Plan, plan, plan. Make a very detailed list of everything that is on your current system. Review what is static and what changes frequently. Note any tailoring done to software and files. Be prepared to remake them if the systems aren't transferred properly or can't be restored. Keep careful track of all old and new names, IP addresses and other information needed to make the migration. Backup and Test Backup everything on your system yourself, whenever possible. Web hosting companies typically offer that as a service, but the staff and/or software are often less than par. Often backups appear to go well, but they're rarely tested by restoring to a spare server. When the time comes that they're needed, they sometimes don't work. Do a dry run, if you can. Restore the system to its new location and make any needed changes. If you have the host name and or IP address buried in files, make sure it gets changed. This is often true of databases. SQL Server on Windows, for example, picks up the host name during installation. Moving a single database, or even multiple ones, to a new server is straightforward using in-built utilities or commercial backup/restore software. But moving certain system-related information may require changing the host name stored inside the master database. Similar considerations apply to web servers and other components. Accept Some Downtime Be prepared for some downtime. Very few systems can be picked up, moved to another place, then brought online with zero downtime. Doing so is possible, in fact it's common. But in such scenarios high-powered professionals use state-of-the-art tools to make the transition seamless. Most staff at web hosting companies don't have the skills or the resources to pull it off. Prepare for Name Changes One aspect of moving to a new host can bedevil the most skilled professionals: changing domain names and or domain name/IP address combinations. When you type a URL into your browser, or click on one, that name is used because it's easier for people to remember. www.yahoo.com is a lot easier to remember than 209.131.36.158. Yet the name and or name/IP address combination can (and does) change. Still, specialized servers called DNS (Domain Name System) servers have to keep track of them. And there are a lot of them. There may be only two (rarely) or there may be a dozen or more DNS servers between your visitors' browsers/computers and your web host. Every system along the chain has to keep track of who is who. When a name/IP address changes, that pair has to be communicated to everyone along the chain, and that takes time. In the meantime, it's possible for one visitor to find you at the new place, while another will be pointing to the old one. Some amount of downtime will usually occur while everything gets back in sync. The Little Gotchas But even apart from name and IP address changes, there are a hundred little things that can, and often do, go wrong. That's not a disaster. It's just the normal hurdles that arise when changing something as complicated as a web site and the associated systems that underlie it. Gather Tools and Support Having an FTP program that you're familiar with will help facilitate the change. That will allow you to quickly move files from one place to the next to do your part to get the system ready to go or make repairs. Making the effort to get to know, and become friendly with, support staff at the new site can be a huge benefit. They may be more willing to address your problem before the dozen others they have to deal with at any given moment. Ok. On your mark. Get ready. Go.

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

Web Hosting - Redundancy and Failover Among the more useful innovations in computing, actually invented decades ago, are the twin ideas of redundancy and failover. These fancy words name very common sense concepts. When one computer (or part) fails, switch to another. Doing that seamlessly and quickly versus slowly with disruption defines one difference between good hosting and bad. Network redundancy is the most widely used example. The Internet is just that, an inter-connected set of networks. Between and within networks are paths that make possible page requests, file transfers and data movement from one spot (called a 'node') to the next. If you have two or more paths between a user's computer and the server, one becoming unavailable is not much of a problem. Closing one street is not so bad, if you can drive down another just as easily. Of course, there's the catch: 'just as easily'. When one path fails, the total load (the amount of data requested and by how many within what time frame) doesn't change. Now the same number of 'cars' are using fewer 'roads'. That can lead to traffic jams. A very different, but related, phenomenon occurs when there suddenly become more 'cars', as happens in a massively widespread virus attack, for example. Then, a large number of useless and destructive programs are running around flooding the network. Making the situation worse, at a certain point, parts of the networks may shut down to prevent further spread, producing more 'cars' on now-fewer 'roads'. A related form of redundancy and failover can be carried out with servers, which are in essence the 'end-nodes' of a network path. Servers can fail because of a hard drive failure, motherboard overheating, memory malfunction, operating system bug, web server software overload or any of a hundred other causes. Whatever the cause, when two or more servers are configured so that another can take up the slack from one that's failed, that is redundancy. That is more difficult to achieve than network redundancy, but it is still very common. Not as common as it should be, since many times a failed server is just re-booted or replaced or repaired with another piece of hardware. But, more sophisticated web hosting companies will have such redundancy in place. And that's one lesson for anyone considering which web hosting company may offer superior service over another (similarly priced) company. Look at which company can offer competent assistance when things fail, as they always do sooner or later. One company may have a habit of simply re-booting. Others may have redundant disk arrays. Hardware containing multiple disk drives to which the server has access allows for one or more drives to fail without bringing the system down. The failed drive is replaced and no one but the administrator is even aware there was a problem. Still other companies may have still more sophisticated systems in place. Failover servers that take up the load of a crashed computer, without the end-user seeing anything are possible. In fact, in better installations, they're the norm. When they're in place, the user has at most only to refresh his or her browser and, bingo, everything is fine. The more a web site owner knows about redundancy and failover, the better he or she can understand why things go wrong, and what options are available when they do. That knowledge can lead to better choices for a better web site experience.