Due to a planned power outage on Friday, 1/14, between 8am-1pm PST, some services may be impacted.
<p>We begin with Netguide.com, a site that shows you how to use the Internet to be more productive in your life. Under the Living and Home section you'll find many resources for decorating and improving your home such as databases of online contractors and samples of work contracts. Jessica Adelson explains how to find links to the Better Business Bureau that gives tips on checking contractor's references and what kinds of questions to ask them. Other resources on the site include cost and time comparisons of doing work yourself vs. hiring a contractor plus links to sites such as fixerupper.com and Martha Stewart's decorating website. <br><br>And for even more information on hiring building contractors, Improvenet.com offers a free service for researching contractors' histories. Bob Stevens says he screens virtually every contractor in the US using legal/license history and recommendations from architects. You can contact these contractors through the site. Also on the site is a home design section to help you decide how you want your kitchen to look. Stevens gathers some of the best designs from architects that you can put into your "idea file" for future use. There's also a product section to find suppliers of home improvement materials. The goal of the site is the give consumers a more informed approach to design.<br><br>Next, Kelly Krupp from Homecentral.com explains how you can use her site to find ways to fix things around the house yourself instead of hiring a contractor. On the Gardening.com section you can type in where you live and what kind of effect you want in your garden and then pull up suggestions for the most suitable plants. You'll also find other tools on the site such as a metrics calculator that can convert yards and meters. Krupp says the site is creating a community around their CD Rom product that guides you to "do-it-yourself" projects. <br><br>Then, Larry Magid from Home PC Magazine and the LA Times reassures us that it is very safe to buy products online using your credit card. Magid says you are more likely to get your wallet stolen on the street then have your credit card misused on the net. He says there are often better bargains online especially with airlines sites and auction houses. Magid also give tips to buying online, suggesting to always deal with merchants that you know have real address and phone numbers. <br><br>Nancy Duff, an online real estate agent, explains how she and her site, planetproperties.com, have become a popular matchmaking resource for homebuyers and sellers. Duff uses a Multiple Listing Service, MLS, to update you daily on houses that come on the market. You can set up parameters for a type of home and perform an intelligent search. This website allows you to calculate your potential mortgage and also gives you referrals for loan brokers. You can also get a feeling for a certain community by looking up the weather, events, restaurants and theatres on Duff's site. In the future, planetproperties is planning 3D virtual tours online. <br><br>And lastly, Tripod.com is an online community and information resource geared to 20 and 30 somethings dealing with their first car, first home or first pipe break. Candi Strecker is part of a column on Tripod.com called "Handy Girls" that fields questions about home maintenance problems such as carpentry, electrical, painting and stains. The site also features "Things Your Mother Knows", essays such as getting rid of mice. Chats are big on this site and are organized into different interest groups called "pods". Lycos recently purchased this site.</p>
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