Success on 123RF: Image Agencies Not Always Getting It Right Though

Good news: here’s another image sale, this time the UNESCO World Heritage Site image shot on location in Borgvik, Sweden ©2015, sold as an occasional success through 123RF. The not-so-happy part is 123RF’s Title and Keywords editor messing with the originally uploaded submission, incorrectly truncating the more descriptive and helpful original image title to just “Site Borgvik, Sweden”. Obviously it’s a “site” but it would have been so much better to let website visitors know which one that is…

Anyone who happens to ever have visited 18th century Borgviks Bruk in Sweden just off the E-18 motorway might be interested in this photo taken right on the lake shore of Grumsfjorden which is connected to the giant Lake Vaner in Värmlands province. The area offers a perfect break on the way from Oslo to Stockholm or, in fact, for all travellers going into Sweden from the Oslo area or southern Norway in general.

Image credit: Mark Mage, stock photo of UNESCO World Heritage Site in Borgvik, Sweden, also see my Dreamstime portfolio if you are a Dreamstime user and prefer downloading it from my portfolio there.

Water Filters: Caveat Emptor, If You Want to Really be Safe from Contaminants

After some research, it turns out that there are mainly two water filter models out there really doing their jobs properly. Depending on what you want, i e dependent on the contaminants you seek to reduce (or ideally eliminate) the outcome might be slightly different.

For every-day use, water contamination with pesticides, heavy metals, and medical residues may be the focus of your attention. These are most common in today’s public water supply in almost every country. (Water from a private well may still be exposed to nitrate and pesticides run-off from agricultural pollutants, a. k. a. conventional “farmers”.) To get rid of those common contaminants, the AcalaQuell filtering system has one of the best setups. It also treats water that has been pressurised in a domestic system so that it can “breathe” or re-naturalise before it is consumed as drinking water.

The German-made AcalaQuell system is available directly from the manufacturers via the AcalaQuell online shop or from Amazon as a rectangular desktop water filter or a pitcher-style or “pouring can” variant with a slightly more ergonomic handle (or
in Germany from Amazon.de as well as their other local-language versions.

The AcalaQuell filter beats those popular Brita filters by miles, do note that laboratory tests have found Brita filters (along with Culligan, Pure, and Seychelle filters) to actually INCREASE aluminium contamination in water by 33.9% (ouch). This is possibly due to some aluminium parts within those cartridges, so what’s the point of using Brita, really…), see these in-depth water test results for more! The Acala filter is not known to have these problems. AcalaQuell know a thing or two about Good Water and their filters are among the best thought-out on the market.

If general heavy metals filtering or even getting rid of radioactive contamination is a filtering need (this may or may not help to survive a nuclear accident), then the pitcher-style ZeroWater filter is clearly and by far your best choice (also available from local Amazon stores like amazon.de or other language versions.

At the end of the day, we got both filtering systems, the Zero Water “just in case” or as a preventative measure along with the AcalaQuell for more regular or “every-day” use. The latter we ordered with a supply of filtering cartridges. Each of them is said to have a useful life of 2 months. This gives you plenty of output for your money and is a lot cheaper and more convenient than bottled water. (Without any fungi issues, it is also the much better option over bottled water).

Little Kid Lighting Christmas Candle with Santa Figure – Seasonal Family Values Concept Greeting Card Style Close-Up

Little Kid Lighting Christmas Candle With Santa Figure – Seasonal Family Values Concept Greeting Card Style Close-Up – Download From Over 39 Million High Quality Stock Photos, Images, Vectors, Stock Footage. Sign up for FREE today. Video: 48098638

Source: Little Kid Lighting Christmas Candle with Santa Figure – Seasonal Family Values Concept Greeting Card Style Close-Up

How Most Real Estate Brokers Mug Things Up

The large majority of real estate agents are on record for neither being overly bright nor having any feel for investing. Most of them are only employees working for some office they don’t feel very strongly for — and, to be honest, neither care about real estate nor investments in general. They are the people giving you “advice” though if you happen to be interested in a particular piece of property.

Bad luck, in most cases then.

While there certainly are exceptions of seasoned real estate agents who have got a hang for particular kinds of property or who are self-employed, sufficiently ambitious, and/or simply love the line of work they’re in, our own multi-year experience in many local real estate markets throughout one or two dozen countries worldwide has taught us many sobering lessons among the few situations that we were and still are really happy about. (Needless to say that we continue working with the brokers offering decent properties in a convincing and proper way and earned our business by standing out from the crowd, as described above).

Take, for example, Irish properties where a large auctioneer is dominating some portions of the market. While they do offer adequate online support (and even try and stimulate extra action once they feel there aren’t enough interested parties to make prices going the hoped-for way, which is clearly North of already overly expensive Dublin and generally Irish price levels), if you look closely you’ d be hard-pressed finding an agency mugging things up more badly (for the seller side as well as the prospective buyers) than these lackluster employees on their heavily subsidised and overpaid big bottoms.

As a real estate agent, you can hardly do anything worse to the sellers’ interests than not provide good information in order to make the subject property as attractive as possible to as many potential buyers as possible in order to attain as good a selling price (or final auction price) as possible. Failing to do this means leaving money at the table or torpedoing the chances of selling the property altogether.

Merely look at the fact that they regularly fail to even mention if there is any land included with a property or, if so, how much that might possibly be. Remember, that real estate refers to investment in land, hence that portion might reasonably be expected to be of some interest to prospective buyers (if you want to attract them, that is).

Also note that they do have a shiny online presence outlining the properties up for auction in the next session. However, what good is such an innovative — and certainly attractive and very handy, if used in the right manner… — tool when it is more than obvious that listings are produced without giving any thought about the property listed, nor about the audience of these listings and their needs and matters worth knowing. From the very “presentations” themselves and even upon superficial browsing, you can clearly see that they have merely grudgingly sent out a bored trainee to the properties. Equipped with some point-and-shoot digital camera, this person then reluctantly drove by the subject properties without even stopping and regularly took between one (!) and three shots of the house out the side window of their car. No internal images, no details as to property size, not even any reliable outside dimensions of the house, no mention of outbuildings, no nothing.

When you still register or put some nice little house on the “My Properties” list, you may or may not receive further updates on the subject property later on — usually much later on, as in one or two days before the auction. These “further updates” then include essential legal documents (such as mortgage copies from which you cannot even see if you are buying morgaged property or property free of any bank or other liens) or in some — increasingly many, by the way — instances a notice that the auction reserve price has been lowered from such-and-such by 5000 euros (in that case a whopping 15%) or similar amounts.

For illustration’s sake, look at what they’ve done here https://onlineauction.allsopireland.ie/lot/details/1192, and note that only three outside pictures where available prior to the auction date. The desperately ones, needed for any reasonable decision whether to visit and view or not to view, mysteriously appeared the night before the auction — a clear example of Too-little-too-late. Also, that essential question whether or not the place of your buying-on-the-cheap dream comes with or without a €100,000 mortgage has still not been answered — leaving potential buyers in the dark as to what they would be bidding on.

We are watching how that goes and whether or not this particular lot will be sold in the November 2015 auction.

For all the complaining, one thing is sure: even with “information” like this, there is a certain informational — along with some entertainment — value in these kinds of auctions. The information bit being some kind of gauge on the state of the Irish property market. As this particular country’s market seems too stubborn to adequately correct after the 2008 events — or even start correcting at all –, it is already of interest to receive at least some messages of “lowered reserve prices” on certain properties for these show that, even in Ireland, prices are now set to adapt, if only slightly, to investment reality.

Academics and Content, Not Religion: What Homeschooling Is Really About

In light of steadily deteriorating academic levels in most countries, there is an increasing trend to homeschool instead of sending children off to some public “schooling” institution yielding, at best, mediocre results and — most certainly — providing outdated approaches and often even academically outdated curricula or “content”.

Robert Kyosaki in “Rich Kid, Smart Kid” as well as many other places in his books within the Rich Dad series is providing many good reasons and strong arguments for homeschooling since the early 2000s. In fact, I have come across his point the first time in 2003 when he talked about the lack of financial training in public schools along with other, at least as severe, shortcomings of any public school system in any country in the world.

On top of Robert Kiyosaki, there are many similar thinkers giving their own opinions about the same problem, and — not really so surprisingly — arrive at very similar solutions. Only today, came I across an interview that is actually roughly a year old, given by Doug Casey of Casey Research, excerpts of which are quoted below:

” […] most high school and college courses [..] are not designed to produce educated young people but useful em­ployees, ready to enter the labor force. But they don’t even do that well.”

“Most schools today are state schools or [..] they teach state-approved curricula […] to train the kids to be good little cogs in the wheel, as in obedient subjects, and as opposed to independent thinkers and citizens. That’s probably the most important reason not to send your kids to a state school.”

“Homeschooling is a great alternative, though so many homeschoolers are religious fanatics they’ve given the whole idea an unfortunate and undeserved aura of nuttiness. [But instead of religious or political infiltration] children [need] classical education in the liberal arts starting in grade school.”

The latter is exactly why we favor homeschooling, and why we believe children can learn more this way than in today’s (failed) model of public schools.

Homeschooling IS NOT about religious fundamentalism but better use of children’s time and abilities for the sake of ACADEMIC IMPROVEMENT, LEARNING FUN, and alternatives to the many wrong approaches in the public school system!

The Doug Casey interview continues with the interviewer asking Mr Casey, “Do you really think homeschooling has such a bad reputation? Aren’t homeschooled kids burning up the track at the spelling bees, geography bees, etc.?”, and Mr Casey replying, “Perhaps it depends on which circles you travel in.”

Continuing on the REAL ADVANTAGES OF HOMESCHOOLING, Mr Casey provides us “a good reason to favor homeschooling”, and says that, “Regardless of who most homeschoolers are, I had a good enough time in school, and I generally enjoyed the social interaction with the other kids. But it was a mis-allocation of my time; there’s little of value you can learn from other kids. It’s simply a bad idea to put your kids in an environment where they spend most of the day associating with young yahoos, many or most of whom have a lot of bad habits”!

“Sure, kids need to learn how to work together and socialize, but school is not the only, and certainly not the best, place to do that.”

Indeed, because AFTERNOON ACTIVITIES are. Unfortunately, with current trends of full-day public schooling, these are increasingly hard to fit in. Another reason to opt out of public school (and to oppose Germany’s illegal policy of mandatory school attendance: it hurts more than it helps, and it is a violation of basic individual freedoms available in most countries around the world).

Finally Mr Casey gives “Another reason” [against public school, let alone mandatory attendance, and FOR HOMESCHOOLING INSTEAD, saying:, “Every class, like a group traveling together, tends to move at the pace of the slowest kids in the group. An environment tailored for the lowest common denominator bores the smart kids to tears…or trouble. I was perpetually bored and distracted by the “one size fits all” program of my schools.”

So here you have REAL REASONS for homeschooling. Think about them, instead of some religious fundamentalism or motives derived from it. Homeschooling is not so much a matter of “freedom of religion” but of “Freedom of the arts, science”, and general individual Freedom instead.

This is what the Homeschooling für Deutschland project is all about. While also sympathetic to other motivators — including religious ones –, we most certainly would not want to be mis-understood as “favoring religious fundamentalism” WHICH WE ABSOLUTELY DO NOT. Read our lips, and please do read our Posts, Comments, or other publications here or elsewhere to get the full picture — and to get the real picture!

Object Photography, From Bullion Coins to Technology

With object and travel photography and video footage clip production covering the same subjects, i e the ones from travel to objects to commercial video and aerial imaging, featured prominently in the portfolio, Dreamstime as well as Nimia and Shutterstock are the best places to be for ones “port”. With its innovative features and good market penetration, Dreamstime with my portfolio there is my favourite one though! Feel free to check this — or any other one with the other agencies — out today (and let me know what you think)…

Images worth mentioning here are the Gold and Silver Bullion Coin close-up shots. other commercial-style Bitcoin object shots, the close-ups of isolated wood screws in three layers set on a clean studio background, isolated (Technology, Raspberry Pi single-board computer and this rather popular Organic Yellow Sunflower and Green Sunflower Blossom with an extra-shallow DOF photographic artistsy composition, all part of that agency portfolio or online image Gallery.

Real-life tests between profitability of video footage and photography are still going on. Results may or may not be in soon — but will be published here anyway. So watch this space for more on the stock photographer’s and video artist’s true life here!