Friday, November 24, 2006

The All New Windows Vista

When Microsoft first started speaking about ‘Longhorn’ -a codename for its successor to Windows XP, it got everyone’s attention. Today, a bit more than five years after XP’s official summer launch, its successor, now renamed Windows Vista, is finally here.

Initially, priority will go to its volume licence customers such as Dell, HP-Compaq and Lenovo, followed by an ‘on-the-stands’ availability by January 30, 2007.

We have been keeping tab of Vista’s development thanks to Microsoft’s generous strategy of making a pre-release version of the OS freely available for a limited period of time to anyone interested in having a look at it.

Vista is available in eight iterations: Starter, Home Basic, Home Basic N, Home Premium, Business, Business N, Enterprise and Ultimate. We installed Vista Ultimate, as it is a superset of all the others.

Microsoft classifies machines into two categories for running Vista: ‘Vista-capable’ machines and ‘premium-ready’ machines. The former represent the lowest recommended configuration (1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, a DirectX 9 class graphics card, and 20 GB hard drive).

However to run Vista without a hitch, you’ll need a premium-ready machine (1.5 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, a DirectX 9 graphics card with its own 128 MB RAM, and 40 GB hard drive). We suggest running Vista on a premium-ready machine, as this OS is a resource hog!

What’s new?
The most eye-catching aspect is Vista’ graphical interface, called ‘Aero’. The most demanding theme, Aero Glass, requires a moderately powerful configuration to run efficiently, and is stunning. Everything from the taskbar, the start panel to individual window borders is translucent. You can adjust the level of translucency from the control panel.

Minimising or maximising a window doesn’t result in it just disappearing or reappearing on the screen. Instead, you’ll see cool visual effects as the window moves either to the taskbar or to the screen. Switching through windows has been stylised as well. Now if you press the keyboard shortcut Alt + Tab to move through different windows in the taskbar, you’ll see a thumbnail image of each-this makes selection a whole lot easier. But it gets better: press the Windows key in combination with Tab and you’ll see separate windows organise themselves in 3D, allowing you to scroll through each in a cyclic order!

Windows Explorer looks and behaves quite differently too. Vista also redefines the idea of the desktop. Conventionally, the desktop was a place where you could place either files or folders.

But now there is a new sidebar where you can place customised Desktop Gadgets-small applets designed for a specific function. For instance you can place a clock, a calculator, an RSS feed viewer and so on. Vista ships with 13 gadgets but connecting to Microsoft online will allow you to download more or customise your own.

Even searching for a file is easier. After you install Vista, the OS will spend a few minutes indexing the files on your hard drives. So the next time you search for a particular file, you’ll get an instant result. The search can be accessed either from the start panel or directly from Windows Explorer.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this indexing service: sometimes the PC will run slower after you’ve added new files, as the system is busy indexing them.

The overall security and robustness of the OS has been increased. There’s a new element called the ‘User Account Control’. Any action requiring more than the default privileges explicitly asks the user, even if he is an administrator, for permissions. This, coupled with Windows Defender, an anti-spy ware program, will ensure that the machine isn’t overrun with viruses and malware.
Finally, you’ll find plenty of new and upgraded programs in Vista. There’s Windows Mail which replaces Outlook Express , Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Gallery (a photo management tool), and Windows DVD Maker among others. Internet Explorer 7, Windows Media Player 11 and DirectX 10 come installed by default as well.

Is it for you?
To put it simply, you only need two things going for you if you decide to upgrade to Windows Vista. One, if you pick up the Ultimate edition, be prepared to shell out $400 on the OS itself. We suggest you pick an edition that’s suitable for you. This way you will save money and unnecessary features won’t take up your hard disk space either. Two, you can’t afford to skimp on the computer’s configuration. We recommend you go for a ‘premium ready’ PC.

Or else, be prepared for Vista taking terribly long to do even the smallest of things. That said, Vista is definitely a much-required breath of fresh air. Hardware installations are quick and easy. Even the overall way you interact with the computer is intuitive and refined. If you can look past the hole it’ll burn in your pocket, there won’t be much to dislike about it.

Michael Jackson Age Progression!

This age progression is the result of applying basic aging trends to one of Michael Jackson's childhood pictures. It is not meant to be a definitive result. This was a client requested age progression.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Carry Hard Disk In A Pen Drive!

BANGALORE, INDIA: His first tryst with programming was in a computer class at St Paul’s English School, Bangalore . That very moment he knew he was made for the world of programming.

From then on, Anil Gulecha has been on an aggressive learning mode. The internet and books have been his tutors. He is still learning . But he has already accomplished a unique feat — that of putting a whole operating system (OS) on a thumb/pen drive and enabling it to run live on any computer without having to install it on the computer’s hard disk.

In other words, you can now carry your hard disk or your entire operating system in your pocket. This effort takes computing to a whole new level.

Moinak Ghosh, an engineer at Sun Microsystems, Bangalore, recently took the lead on Solaris 10, the flagship operating system of Sun Microsystems , and came up with the version called BeleniX. As TOI reported in July, Moinak took the whole OS and put it together as an abridged LiveCD version. Thanks to the 20-year-old Anil Gulecha, BeleniX can now “boot from a USB thumb drive.’’ The challenge for Anil was to take the existing LiveCD programme and modify it in a way that it identifies USB drives when these are inserted.

“You can now buy a thumb drive, visit the BeleniX website and mount the whole OS on to it. You can then carry this with you and use it. We’ll now work on enhancements for future versions,’’ he said.

Anil is a third year computer science student at JSS Academy, Bangalore. He worked on BeleniX during his spare time and happened to cross paths with the BeleniX team at a college tech fest, where Sun was organising a contest for hackers.

Moinak helped Anil identify the need for BeleniX to be mounted on a thumb drive and then helped him through the project. “This is my first open source project and my first experience with Unix. I’m happy with the outcome and encouraged by Moinak’s support,’’ he said.

Anil looks forward to the days when new variants of the OS would make computing more simple and effective.
Meanwhile, plenty of accolades have piled up. “Anil has received huge appreciation from the top management at Sun. He has been nominated as one of our technology ambassadors — to talk about Sun technologies in colleges. We equip these ambassadors with tools and information to work on new technologies and applications,’’ K P Unnikrishnan, director in Sun Microsystems India, said.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Understanding Antioxidants

An antioxidant is a substance that counters the negative effect of oxygen.

In foods anti-oxidants prevent the oxidation of different food components. Oxidation of foods results for example in an undesirable brown colour and/or off-odours and off-flavours known as rancidity. Antioxidants are substances that react with oxygen and thus counteract the negative effects. Examples are vitamin C, vitamin E, Zinc, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Grape Seed Extract etc.

In the body antioxidants protect key cell components by neutralizing the damaging effects of "free radicals," natural byproducts of cell metabolism. Free radicals form when oxygen is metabolized, or burned by the body. They travel through cells, disrupting the structure of other molecules, causing cellular damage. Such cell damage is believed to contribute to aging and various health problems. Example of anti-oxidants which are active in the body are the vitamins A, C and E, and polyphenols (a group of plant chemicals, present in for example tea and fruits).

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are using modern technology to rank foods based on which has the highest concentrations of antioxidants, compounds that fight free radical damage and thereby block disease. Small red beans head their new Top 20 list in the June issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

  1. Small red beans (dried)
  2. Wild blueberries.
  3. Red Kidney beans.
  4. Pinto beans.
  5. Blueberries (cultivated).
  6. Cranberries.
  7. Artichokes (cooked).
  8. Blackberries.
  9. Prunes.
  10. Raspberries.
  11. Strawberries.
  12. Red Delicious apples.
  13. Granny Smith apples.
  14. Pecans.
  15. Sweet cherries.
  16. Black plums.
  17. Russet potatoes (cooked).
  18. Black beans (dried).
  19. Plums.
  20. Gala apples.

Researchers note that color often characterizes antioxidant-rich foods. They also warn that just because a food tests high in nutrients in the lab, does not guarantee that it will be well-absorbed by the body. The processing of a food also affects its antioxidant potency. For instance, blueberries are best fresh; whereas, gentle cooking enhances the antioxidant properties of tomatoes.

The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported a new research study focusing on the antioxidant capacities of over 100 foods. This study is the largest, most comprehensive analysis to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods.

Total Antioxidant Capacity (TAC) of the top 50 Foods


Food Item

Serving Size



small red bean

1/2 cup 92 g



blueberry, wild

1 cup 144 g



red kidney bean

1/2 cup 92 g



pinto bean

1/2 cup 96 g



blueberry, cultivated

1 cup 144 g




1 cup whole 95 g




1 cup hearts 84 g




1 cup 144 g




1/2 cup 85 g




1 cup 123 g




1 cup 166 g



apple, Red Delicious

1 fruit 138 g



apple, Granny Smith

1 fruit 138 g




28.4 g (1 oz)



potato, russet raw

1 potato 369 g



cherry, sweet

1 cup 145 g



plum, black

1 fruit 66 g



potato, russet cooked

1 potato 299 g



black bean

1/2 cup 52 g



plum, red

1 fuit 66 g



apple, Gala

1 fruit 138 g



apple, Red Delicious peeled

1 fruit 128 g



apple, Gold Delicious

1 fruit 138 g



apple, Fuji

1 fruit 138 g



date, Medjool

1/2 cup 89 g



avocado, Haas

1 fruit 173 g



pear, green

1 fruit 166 g



pear, Red Anjou

1 fruit 166 g



apple, Gold Delicious peeled

1 fruit 128 g




28.4 g (1 oz)



broccoli raab raw

1/5 bunch 85 g



navy bean

1/2 cup 104 g



orange, navel

1 fruit 140 g




1/2 cup 75 g



cabbage, red cooked

1/2 cup 75 g



potato, red raw

1 potato 213 g



potato, red cooked

1 potato 173 g




28.4 g (1 oz)



pea, blackeye

1/2 cup 52 g



potato, white raw

1 potato 213 g




1/2 cup 89 g



asparagus, raw

1/2 cup 67 g



grape, red

1 cup 160 g



pepper, yellow raw

1 pepper 186 g



grapefruit, red

half 123 g




1/2 cup 68 g



potato, white cooked

1 potato 173 g



pepper, orange sweet raw

1 pepper 186 g



peach, fresh

1 fruit 98 g


Pictures To Make Your Heart Miss a Beat!

Tata in Forbes Top 20 Most Reputed Companies

Eight Indian business houses have made to the Forbes list of world's most reputed companies, with the country's largest corporate conglomerate Tata group sharing space with the top 20 global firms.

Tatas, the largest Indian group in terms of revenues and market capitalisation, has been ranked at the 20th position among the most reputed company list of Forbes.
Maruti Suzuki, Hero Honda Motors, HLL, ITC, SBI, Infosys and M&M have also managed to find place in the top 200 list.
Italian Food and Tobacco major Barilla Holdings has been ranked at the first position, followed by Denmark's consumer products firm Lego Holdings and German airline Lufthansa at the second and third positions.
Among other Indian companies, Maruti has been ranked at 91st position, Hero Honda Motors at 108th, FMCG major HLL at 116th, ITC and 137th, IT major Infosys at 155th and automotive giant Mahindra & Mahindra has been placed at 189th position.
Tata is the only Indian entity in the top 20 of the list of world's 600 largest companies in terms of corporate reputation.
The Tata group has more than over 90 operating companies, with strong international presence in Automobile, steel, IT and services sectors, with total revenue of $24 billion and a market capitalisation of $47 billion.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tips for NRI's to buy house in India

Most non-resident Indians and persons of Indian origin want to buy a house in India for themselves or for their family. Generally, NRIs/PIOs have a doubt in their mind as to whether they can invest in a residential house property in India by remitting funds from overseas under the current foreign exchange regulations. This article attempts to address those concerns.

Who are NRIs/PIOs?
It is first important to understand how the law defines NRI. NRI refers to an Indian citizen who is residing outside India. PIO here refers to an individual (not being a citizen of select countries such as Pakistan, China and Bangladesh) who at any time held an Indian Passport or whose father or grandfather was a citizen of India.
What can they buy?
They can acquire any immovable property in India other than agricultural land, plantation and farm house. These days a number of options are available to buy houses of international standard with all the facilities such as club house and gymnasium.

Money for that buy
An NRI/PIO may use his own funds to acquire immovable property. He can also avail of a housing loan for this purpose.

Own funds — the NRI’s own funds means money received in India by way of inward remittance from overseas out of income earned overseas or personal savings outside India or funds held in non-resident external (NRE) or non-resident ordinary (NRO) or foreign currency (non-resident) (FCNR) bank account.

Housing loans from banks — Authorised banks have been permitted to provide a housing loan to an NRI/PIO for acquisition of a residential accommodation in India. This is, however, subject to certain conditions. The quantum of loans, margin money and the period of repayment is at par with the housing loans provided to residents in India; the loan amount cannot be credited to the NRE/FCNR account; it has to be fully secured by equitable mortgage of the property proposed to be acquired, and if necessary, also by lien on the NRI’s/PIO’s other assets in India; the installment of loan and interest and other charges has to be paid by the NRI/PIO by remittances from outside India through normal banking channels or out of funds in the NRE/FCNR/NRO account in India. In the last case, the loan and interest can also be repaid out of the rental income of such property.

Rental income
If the property so acquired could not be used for own occupation and is let out, then NRIs/PIOs may earn rental income. The rental income can be credited into the NRO/NRE account.

Transfer of property
The NRIs may transfer such property to a person resident in India or even to another NRI or to a PIO, without any approval from the Reserve Bank of India.

Repatriation of money
The remittance of the sale proceeds depends upon the mode of acquisition — that is whether it was acquired out of the funds remitted from outside or out of rupee funds. A property can be acquired out of rupee funds by the NRI before leaving India or acquired after leaving India but from the savings bank account in an Indian bank out of income earned in India.

Property acquired from overseas remitted funds — Proceeds can be repatriated provided the amount does not exceed either the amount paid for acquiring the immovable property in foreign exchange received from overseas or the amount paid from the FCNR account; or the foreign currency equivalent, of the amount paid from the funds held in NRE account for acquisition of the property.

It is also important to note that in respect of the residential property, NRIs / PIOs can remit sale proceeds outside India for up to two such properties without any RBI approval. Remittance for third and subsequent house property requires RBI’s approval.

Property acquired from rupee funds held in India — the rules relating to this are dependant on the holding period of the property. For a property held for more than 10 years, up to $1 million per calendar year, without any RBI approval, can be repatriated out of the funds held in NRO account in respect of the sale proceeds of immovable property.

If such property is sold after being held for less than 10 years, remittances can be made if the sale proceeds were held for the balance period in the NRO account or other eligible investments. In respect of remittance of sale proceeds of assets acquired by way of inheritance or legacy or settlement no lock-in-period is there. In all other cases, specific approval of the RBI is required.

Remittance through normal banking channels — It is pertinent to note that, wherever specific approval of RBI is not required, the sale proceeds of the house property as well as the rental income may be remitted outside India through normal banking channels, after obtaining an appropriate certificate from a chartered accountant
certifying that applicable taxes have been paid/provided for.

Therefore, NRIs/PIOs can acquire their dream house in India, rent it out, transfer or sell the same, if required. They can also take the rental income and their investment in the house property outside India, subject to the foreign exchange regulations.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Don't Get Into Debt - Save Money

They say that if you watch the pennies the pounds will watch themselves!

When you meet or hear about the very rich; do remember that they got there by mastering the art of saving or economizing. The Warren Buffett’s of this world did not make their billions by frittering away money. The wealthy realize that the money earned and saved rewards them in return. ‘Money saved is money earned’ is a dictum the wealthy understand.

For the vast majority of people, paying off debt and saving money can be done painlessly. That is to say, most people can pay off their current debt and start a saving fund without making major changes to their current lifestyle. How can this be done? By simply rearranging how you spend your money.

Although we don't often think about it, there is an art to spending money efficiently. Like any skill, it's a matter of study and practice to get better at it. While some people are better at picking up the skill than others, anybody can easily learn the basics of this art which can save them thousands of dollars a year.

Let’s take an easy to understand example. Let's say that you purchase a cup of coffee on the way to work everyday at a local shop for $2.00. This would meant that you spend $40 (20 days x $2) a month. Most people would probably do this without even thinking twice about it.

Now if you made the same cup of coffee and placed it into a thermos each morning before you went to work and took it along with you, the same coffee it would cost you about $0.50 a day. That adds up to a total of $10 a month. By making your own coffee instead of purchasing it at a store on the way to work, you save $30 a month (over $350 a year) without giving anything up (you still get your coffee everyday). All you have done is rearranged the way that you spend your money.

Let's take another example. You have your phone service and pay a certain amount each month for it. But are you getting the best deal on your service for the way you use the phone? Chances are you aren't, but the phone company isn't going to tell you that on their own. Most people can save over $100 a year on their phone service by calling their phone company and signing up with a discount or bundled plan geared toward the way they use the phone as opposed to the standard plan with extra options that most people have. Here again, you are getting the exact same service you currently receive, but are paying less for it by rearranging the service to your advantage.

There are literally hundreds of ways that you can rearrange the way you spend money. In the process, you will get the same goods or services that you are currently receiving at a fraction of the cost that you are currently paying. The money saved can then be put forth to eliminate your current credit card debt and start a savings plan. All it takes is a little understanding of the art of spending efficiently and to actively look for ways you can rearrange how you spend your current income to make your purchases more efficient.

This write-up is about various methods of SAVING MONEY, i.e. avoiding spending money unnecessarily. To a lesser extent it's about SAVING MONEY in the sense of saving-up money, collecting and stashing away money so you have a lot of it, but this latter concept is often a consequence of the former.

Being mean and stingy with money is an art and a virtue, and is often misquoted. The moral is: Be mean about money but be generous to people.

Tips around the Home:

So far, we've looked at ways of how to save money in banks and shops, but there is a surprising amount we can do around the home to cut down on costs without cutting corners. For instance:

Don't leave your television on standby. Turn it off from the mains, as leaving it on standby actually uses up quite a bit of juice.

Use energy-saving light bulbs - they're planet friendly too. Incandescent light bulbs are outdated; 95 percent of the energy used goes to heating the bulb, adding unwanted heat to your home in the summer. Replace your five most used light bulbs with ENERGY SAVING compact fluorescent bulbs to save $60 each year in energy costs. These light bulbs use two-thirds less energy and last up to 10 times longer. Use dimmers, timers, and motion detectors on indoor and outdoor lighting.

Switch radiators off in the summer.

Only have the heating on for long enough to heat the water in the winter. Put it on for an hour before you get up in the winter, so the bedroom is warm for getting dressed, and then for about three hours in the evening.

Switch lights off in rooms you're not using.

Turn the thermostats down 5°C and avoid using electric blankets as they are real energy guzzlers.

In the summer, open the windows; turn off the fans and air conditioners until you absolutely must go to sleep.

Activate "sleep" features on computers and office equipment that power down when not in use for a while. Turn off equipment during longer periods of non-use to cut energy costs and improve longevity.

Pay all bills by direct debit. You usually get a slight saving for paying this way. If you can't pay DD, pay through your bank, not via the post as it will save the price of a stamp.

Use Solar panels wherever possible. If it is your own independent house have a solar panel for at least heating up the water. You will get hot water 24 hrs a day. The investment will pay back in a couple of years.

Buy books second hand.

Here are Some Tips on How You Can Save Money in Other Areas of your Life:

There are ways you can cut back and increase cash on a regular basis without resorting to extreme measures. Below are some tips for areas in which you can save without necessarily compromising quality and/or service:

Airline Fares
-you can lower the price of a round-trip air fare by as much as two-thirds by making certain your trip includes a Saturday evening stay over, and by purchasing the ticket in advance. Plan your travel. If it is not planned try last minute online auction of tickets.
-to make certain you have a cheap fare, even if you use a travel agent, call all the airlines that fly where you want to go and ask what the lowest fare to your destination is.
-keep an eye out for fare wars. Be prepared to act quickly.

Car Rental
-since car rental rates can vary greatly, shop around for the best basic rates and special offers.
-rental car companies offer various insurance and waiver options. Check with your insurance agent and credit card company in advance to avoid duplicating any coverage you may already have.

New Cars
-you can save thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a car by selecting a model that combines a low purchase price with low Halal financing, insurance, gasoline, maintenance, and repair costs. Ask your local librarian for new car guides that contain this information.
-having selected a model, you can save hundreds of dollars by comparison shopping. Call at least five dealers for price quotes and let each know that you are calling others.
-remember there is no "cooling off' period on new car sales. Once you have signed a contract, you are obligated to buy the car.

Used Cars
-before buying any used car, compare the seller's asking price with the average retail price in a "bluebook" or other guide to car prices found at many libraries, banks, and credit unions.
Have a mechanic you trust check the car, especially if the car is sold "as is."
-consider purchasing a used car from an individual you know and trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge a lower price and point out any problems.

Auto Leasing
-don't decide to lease a car just because the payments are lower than on a traditional auto loan. The leasing payments may be lower because you don't own the car at the end of the lease.
-leasing a car is very complicated. When shopping, consider the price of the car (known as the capitalized cost), your trade-in allowance, any down payment, monthly payments, various fees (excess mileage, excess "wear and tear," end-of-lease), and the cost of buying the car at the end of the lease.

-you can save hundreds of dollars a year by pumping gas yourself and using the lowest-octane called for in your owner's manual.
-you can save up to $100 a year on gas by keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure.

Car Repairs
-consumers lose billions of dollars each year on unnecessary or poorly done car repairs. The most important step that you can take to save money on these repairs is to find a skilled, honest mechanic. Before you need repairs, look for a mechanic who is certified and well established, has done good work for someone you know and communicates well about repair options and costs.

a. Auto Insurance
-you can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto insurance from a low price, licensed insurer. Call your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different companies. Then call at least four of the lowest-priced, licensed insurers to learn what they would charge you for the same coverage.
-talk to your agent or insurer about raising your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverages to at least $500 or, if you have an old car, dropping these coverages altogether. Taking these steps can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
-make certain that your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.

b. Homeowner Insurance
-you can save $100 or more a year by purchasing homeowner insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different licensed companies. Then call at least four of the lowest priced insurers to learn what they would charge you. If such a publication is not available, it is even more important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.
-Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house and its contents.
-Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.

a. Checking
-you can save more than $100 a year in fees by selecting a checking account with a minimum balance requirement that you can, and do, meet.
-banking institutions often will drop or lower checking fees if paychecks are directly deposited by your employer. Direct deposit offers the additional advantages of convenience, security, and immediate access to your money.

b. Credit cards
-avoid using credit cards when you can. If you do, make sure to pay off your entire bill before the deadline, so you avoid the Haram, by not paying interest, and obviously saving because you don't have to pay this extra amount.

-never use credit card for withdrawing cash. The rate of interest can be very high.
-you can reduce credit card fees, which may add up to more than $100 a year, by getting rid of all but one or two cards, and by avoiding late payment.

Auto Loans
- try to get an interest-free loan from a relative or friend, so you can avoid interest. But have enough cash saved so you don't have to borrow too much.

- Ask how interest rate is quoted, flat rate or reducing balance rate. Don’t get fooled.

Home Purchase
- you can often negotiate a lower sale price by employing a buyer broker who works for you, not the seller. If the buyer broker or the broker's firm also lists properties, there may be a conflict of interest, so ask them to tell you if they are showing you a property that they have listed.
- do not purchase any house until it has been examined by a home inspector that you selected.

Renting a Place to Live
-do not limit your rental housing search to classified ads or referrals from friends and acquaintances. Select buildings where you would like to live and contact their building manager or owner to see if anything is available.
-remember that signing a lease usually obligates you to make all monthly payments for the term of the agreement.

Home Improvement
-home repairs often cost thousands of dollars and are the subject of frequent complaints. Select from among several well established, licensed contractors who have submitted written, fixed-price bids for the work.
-do not sign any contract that requires full payment before satisfactory completion of the work.

Major Appliances
-consult Consumer Reports, available in most public libraries, for information about specific brands and how to evaluate them, including energy use. There are often great price and quality differences among brands.
-once you've selected a brand, check the phone book to learn what stores carry this brand, then call at least four of these stores for the prices of specific models. After each store has given you a quote, ask if that's the lowest price they can offer you. This comparison shopping can save you as much as $100 or more.


a. Electricity
-to save as much as hundreds of dollars a year on electricity make certain that any new appliances you purchase, especially air conditioners and furnaces, are energy-efficient. Information on the energy efficiency of major appliances is found on Energy Guide Labels required by federal law. Check with your electric utility to learn if it has a program to help reduce the costs of any appliance purchases.
-enrolling in load management programs and off-hour rate programs offered by your electric utility may save you up to $100 a year in electricity costs. Call your electric utility for information about these cost-saving programs.

b. Home Heating
-a home energy audit can identify ways to save up to hundreds of dollars a year on home heating (and air conditioning). Ask your electric or gas utility if they can do this audit for free or for a reasonable charge. If they cannot, ask them to refer you to a qualified professional.

c. Local Telephone Service
-check with your phone company to see whether a flat rate or measured service plan will save you the most money.
-you will usually save money by buying your phones instead of leasing them.
-check your local phone bill to see if you have optional services that you don't really need or use. Each option you drop could save you $40 or more each year.

d. Long Distance Telephone Service
-long distance calls made during evenings, at night, or on weekends can cost significantly less than weekday calls.
-if you make more than a few long distance calls each month, consider subscribing to a calling plan. Call several long distance companies to see which one has the least expensive plan for the calls you make.
-whenever possible, dial your long distance calls directly. Using the operator to complete a call can cost you an extra $1 to $3.

Food Purchased at Markets
-you can save hundreds of dollars a year by shopping at the lower-priced food stores. Convenience stores often charge the highest prices.
-you will spend less on food if you shop with a list.
-you can save hundreds of dollars a year by comparing price-per-ounce or other unit prices on shelf labels. Stock up on those items with low per-unit costs.

Shop on the web
Online stores often give a discount as they don’t have the same overheads involved when selling online. Search for the goods that you want using a search engine or ask the retailers themselves if they have an online store. However use a web based credit card where your bank tracks your spending on the web. Buy only from encrypted websites.

Prescription Drugs
-since brand name drugs are usually much more expensive than their generic equivalents, ask your physician and pharmacist for generic drugs whenever appropriate.
-since pharmacies may charge widely different prices for the same medicine, call several. When taking a drug for a long time, also consider calling mail-order pharmacies, which often charge lower prices. See the October 1993 issue of Consumer Reports (available in most public libraries) for a list of several of these pharmacies and their toll-free phone numbers.