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Earn a new cardmember bonus of $100 after you spend $500 in net purchases on your card within the first 90 days of account opening.

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23/09/2017

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Wire Size and Breakers #which #wire #is #hot

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Wire Size and Breakers

Residential electrical wiring can be confusing at the best of times. The size of the electrical service coming into the home and how to take that service and deliver the various power requirement through-out the home, can be a complex exercise.

Power is supplied to your home, from the utility, in the form of volts and amps. The amount of power that the utility provides is governed by the transformer on the pole, as shown in Figure 1, or the transformer that is mounted on the ground, as shown in Figure 2, that services your home and the size of the wires from that transformer to your home.

Figure 1 – Typical residential overhead electrical service

Figure 2 – Ground or pad mounted residential electrical service

For explanation purposes we will use 120 and 240 VAC as the voltage. 120 240 are nominal numbers and can vary from 110 to 120 and 205 to 240 depending on the utility.

Utilities can drop power into your home using copper or aluminum wiring. However, there is a difference to the current carrying capability of copper versus aluminum.

Because of our ever increasing demand for electrical power in out homes, most new homes are being built with a minimum of a 150 Amp service and 200 is not uncommon. Many older homes still have 60 amp services and in rural locations it is still possible to find 30 amp services.

It is important to understand the relationship between wire gauge and amperage. To do this we will look at the original fuse. The original fuse was a piece of wire sized to melt when a specific amount of amps (current) was going through it, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 – The fuse element, on the left of the picture, is what is inside the cartridge. The thinner the link between the caps the less amount of current (amps) that the link can handle before it melts, due to the heat.

A piece of wire gets hot as it carries the current to your home or throughout your home. This is why a toaster, stove or hotplate works, current is sent through the wires and they get hot. The thinner the wire the hotter it gets when a specific amount of amps are flowing through it.

Circuit breakers (Figure 4) perform the same function although they work in a different manner. They work in a similar manner to a thermostat. As current flows through the breaker, a piece of metal warms and bends, when the bend reaches a point it mechanically trips the breaker to the TRIPPED position, which is between the OFF and ON positions.

Figure 4 – Circuit breaker

It may be noted that although circuit breakers are more convenient than fuses because they can be reset. Fuses react much faster to overloads and hence shut down a circuit faster than breakers do.

Wire is manufactured to a specific group of sizes that are designated by numbers known as gauges. The gauge of the wires that carry the power from the transformer to your home and within your home are chosen in size to ensure that they do not overheat at their rated amperage. In fact, there should be no noticeable heat on the wires at any time.

So you might think that you can obtain more power from your utility just by increasing the size of the main fuses or breakers, and you probably can, to a point. At some point, the wires that run from the transformer to your home will act as a fuse and burn out from carrying more current than specified.

Table 1 – Service Wire Gauge Versus Amperage

* If you have aluminum wiring then the gauge should go up one level. As an example; for a 15 amp circuit using aluminum wire the correct wire gauge is 12.

** More and more new homes are being wired with a minimum of 20 amp circuits for general receptacles and lighting applications.

Choosing the correct wire gauge within your home, wires that run from the electrical distribution panel (load center) to various appliances, and electrical outlets (receptacles) is crucial. You do not want the wire to act as a fuse and burn should a short circuit occur.

Table 3 provides the correct gauge of wire for electrical circuits in your home depending on the rated load.

Martin County: (772) 214-9929 Broward/Palm Beach Counties: (954) 340-6615





22/09/2017

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Which Nursing Schools are in the Houston, TX Area? #which #nursing

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Which Nursing Schools Are in the Houston, TX Area?

Learn about nursing programs in Houston. Get information about programs available and admission requirements to make an informed decision about your education. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Do you need to know what schools in Houston offer nursing programs? Here you can learn about schools in Houston that offer nursing programs and their courses and requirements.

What You Need to Know

A vocational nursing certificate program requires about one year of study, and completing it prepares you to take the practical nurse licensure examination. Associate’s degree programs are also available and prepare you for work as a registered nurse. Associate’s degree programs include general education classes alongside core nursing courses and take about two years to complete. Clinical experiences are an essential component of both certificate and associate’s degree programs in nursing.

Bachelor’s degree programs are also available, and you can complete this program in four years. It prepares you for licensure as a registered nurse, and your coursework includes general education coursework, nursing skills classes and clinical experience.

Certificate Programs in Houston, TX

Houston Community College at Coleman College for Health Sciences

At Houston Community College, nursing programs are offered through the Coleman College for Health Sciences. This program includes stand-alone courses in gerontology, nutrition and pediatric nursing. Sequences in vocational nurse training and nursing in health and illness are also required for graduation.

  • Program Name: Vocational Nursing Program
  • Program Length: 1 year, full-time
  • Tuition: $1,632 per year for in-district students, $3,360 for out-of-district students, $3,756 for out-of-state students (2015-16)
  • Requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 58,276 undergraduate students

San Jacinto Community College – South Campus

This program features classroom and clinical practice to prepare students for the licensure exam for vocational nursing. Some courses train students in a specific form of nursing, such as neonatal, pediatrics and surgery.

  • Program Name: Licensed Vocational Nurse Certificate of Technology
  • Program Length: 3 semesters, full-time
  • Tuition: $1,408 per year for residents in-district, $2,416 for residents out-of-district, $3,688 for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Requirements: High school diploma or GED, acceptable placement test scores, successful physical examination results and minimum 2.25 college GPA
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 27,911 undergraduate students

Associate Degree Programs in Houston, TX

Houston Community College at Coleman College for Health Sciences

  • Program Name: Associate of Applied Science
  • Specialization Areas: Nursing or Licensed Vocational Nurse to Registered Nurse
  • Program Length: 2 years, full-time
  • Tuition: $1,632 per year for in-district students, $3,360 per year for out-of-district students, $3,756 for out-of-state students (2015-2016)
  • Requirements: Satisfactory HESI scores, TSI scores and pharmacology mathematics test scores, minimum GPA of 2.0, LVN licensure (for LVN-to-RN candidates only)
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 58,276 undergraduate students

These 6-semester programs include more supporting scientific coursework than the certificate program, such as classes in anatomy and physiology, microbiology and human growth. Some general education courses are also required. Clinical training is part of the final five semesters of the nursing program, while the LVN-to-RN program incorporates clinical training into three of its six semesters.

San Jacinto Community College – South Campus

Another nursing degree option offered through San Jacinto Community College is the Nursing LVN-RN Mobility Associate of Applied Science. Students prepare to take the registered nursing licensure exam through clinical practice in hospitals and healthcare facilities in addition to classroom learning. Students must have completed a number of health science courses before they’ll be admitted to the LVN-RN program.

  • Program Name: Nursing LVN-RN Mobility Associate of Applied Science
  • Program Length: 3 semesters, full-time
  • Tuition: $1,408 per year for residents in-district, $2,416 for residents out-of-district, $3,688 for non-residents (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Several courses in psychology, composition, mathematics, biology, dosage, health assessment, anatomy and physiology, and pharmacology must be completed prior to admission
  • School Type: 2-year, public; 27,911 undergraduate students

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Houston

Houston Baptist University

At Houston Baptist University (HBU), you’ll prepare for a career in nursing through both clinical and administrative courses, as well as clinical experience. This curriculum offers experience observing flight teams and intensive care units. If you’re interested in graduate studies, you can earn a master’s degree in nursing from HBU. This university offers a 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition: $29,800 per year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: University undergraduate admission, minimum 3.0 GPA, no more than 2 ‘D’ or ‘F’ grades on transcripts, all nursing prerequisites completed with a ‘C’ grade or better, all university proficiencies completed, complete the HESI A2 exam, attend Nursing Information Session and meet with a nursing facility adviser
  • School Type: 4-year, private; approximately 3,128 students (2,288 undergraduates)

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

At the Health Science Center at Houston, you have the option to pursue either a traditional or accelerated bachelor’s program. Options are also available if you are either an RN who wishes to pursue a bachelor’s degree or if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. This school is comprised mostly of graduate students and offers both master’s and doctoral degree programs. The student-to-faculty ratio is just 5-to-1.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Program Length: 4 years, full-time
  • Tuition: $6,846 for residents, $29,043 for non-residents (2015-16)
  • Requirements: Minimum 2.75 GPA in nursing course prerequisites and 3.0 GPA in science course prerequisites, official transcripts submission, at least 40 hours of program prerequisites with eight hours in science prerequisites and 75% score or better on HESI A2 exams
  • School Type: 4-year, public; approximately 657 undergraduates and 3,899 graduate students

To summarize the information here, there are at least four universities in Houston that offer nursing programs at various levels.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.





14/09/2017

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Booking with a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online Which is Better?

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Booking with a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online Which is Better?

A recent vacation purchase has me thinking of what appears to be the continued downfall of the travel agent. We all have the choice through a growing number of online travel portholes to do all the research and travel booking ourselves with a click of the mouse or a quick phone call to a ready and waiting online booking agent. Most of you are doing just this and the numbers are growing so exponentially that it is putting many travel agents out of business but the question is Is it better to book travel online or through a travel agent?

I recently booked an all-inclusive vacation online after a friend convinced me she had no issues using them before (more details on this experience in a later post, best not to name names until after the vacation is over) she showed me the super low prices, we researched the hotels and decided to go ahead and book it. The site offered a price drop protection on our package so we figured what the heck we have nothing to lose. We called the site s number and an online booking agent took are details and we were super excited. People book online all the time no worries right?

Well it wasn t so simple after all and it really got me researching all the pros and cons of booking a vacation through a Travel Agent vs. booking a trip with an online travel site. So I put together some of my findings below.

Convenience   A Pro for Online Booking or Booking with a Travel Agent?

Is it really as convenient as we think?

So it is undeniable that it is far easier to go online and search for travel options and buy them more quickly than calling an agent, waiting until they are free to talk, discussing your needs, waiting for them to get answers as they search and so on. However, there is a downside to this convenience the searching.

When booking flights the search may not be an issue but when booking packaged vacations and cruises or more complicated trips this is where the online booking loses its stronghold. Personally I love the searching, checking reviews and digging out my next vacation from all the information, however not everyone has the time for this. You are not only looking for the best price, but a place with a good reputation, the amenities you desire and the locations you want to visit during your trip. You might need answers to questions like is it the best time to travel here? Are there any travel advisories I should be aware of. If you are not into spending the time doing this research then a Travel Agent may be the best choice here. They have experience and information that you may not be digging up from an online site.

Do You Get The Same Treatment? Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online

You are more likely to get bumped flights or booked in a lower-end room when booking through an online travel site.

Personally I m starting to believe this statement more and more. How can this be true? Well the fact is that when booking your flight online the online travel agency will not remove your seats off the availability list as quickly as a travel agent does. The travel agent does it immediately at the time of booking so if the flight is overbooked the last tickets issued are the first ones bumped off the flight. Since customer service with online travel sites is less than stellar the airline may feel it is easier to bump an online booking over an agent booking which will be more quick to respond on behalf of their client.

With regards to hotel room bookings a room booked online is put in a less desirable class than one booked by an agent. So if you book an Oceanview room online you will get an Oceanview room but probably in the oldest wing of the hotel and next to heavy machinery or in a loud part of the resort. This would be an interesting survey of trip-advisor reviews if you book online vs an agent is your room worse than the agent customer? A travel agent booking includes special notes and requests, so if you want a second floor room, in a quiet part of the hotel or resort you will be more likely to get it than if you book through an online site.

Customer Service Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online

From my own personal experience and the many many complaints I ve read online this is where the online booking sites fail miserably. If you book your trip online and there are no issues or changes then consider yourself lucky, but the moment something goes wrong, a clerical or accounting error is made, the price changes, the flight changes or you are not satisfied with something getting a customer service representative at the online booking site may prove difficult.

Many of these sites put their resources in bookings rather than dealing with issues. Once the trip is booked you will have a hard time getting a customer service agent to help. A few examples you might encounter:

  • You Don t Like the Room You get to the resort and hate the room you got, so you head to the front desk and they don t seem to want to help you. Why? Well you bought the cheapest hotel room, remember? Why would they want to help you? So by some miracle you get through to a customer service representative at the online booking site, they too have little luck with room selection, because they are selling the cheapest deals not the best vacations. On the other hand a travel agent whose direct number and email you have will be far more easy to reach and much better equipped to handle the situation for you. In fact the front desk knowing the travel agency s representatives may encourage them to be more helpful in the first place.
  • Your Flight Schedule Changes Online travel agencies are famous for this one. They don t inform you of any changes to your flight. According to their fine print You are responsible for checking your flight times 24 hours before you leave. Again an online agency is putting its resources on new bookings, they don t always look back and forward any new relevant information for an old booking. A travel agent on the other hand will be more likely to send you the flight change notice and be there to handle any concerns you may want to discuss.

The Lowest Prices are Guaranteed Online? Or Are They?

Have you ever gone online and found the most amazing deal on a flight and then when you start going into the actual booking the price just goes higher and higher? Online travel sites are well known for the bait and switch tactic. They have all done clever marketing campaigns to get the word out that you will get the lowest prices for the same packages that agents sell and if you travel often then you may be discovering that this is just not the case. In fact every agent I have talked with about a price I found online has matched and further reduced the online price, so why doesn t the Agent have the upper hand here?

There are some unbelievable travel deals to be found on an online site but is what you see always what you get? You purchase the trip and then the online site says oh we are sorry the tour operator changed the flight, or cancelled it all together. It isn t our fault but the charter flight company changed the flight. Is it just me or are these changes happening more with online bookings than with agency bookings?

The Bottom Line Travel Buyers Beware

In response to my recent online booking issues, I m questioning if I ever want to book a flight or trip online again. Having a relationship with a good travel agent means experience, expertise, information, customer service and someone that has my back. I m starting to wonder why consumer reports have not been compiled on issues of using Online Travel Sites for bookings and is it really true that they offer the lowest price for the same vacations you get with an Agent? Just sayin !

01/09/2017

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Which Nursing Schools are in the Dallas, TX Area? #which #nursing

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Which Nursing Schools Are in the Dallas, TX Area?

Find out which Dallas schools offer nursing programs. See requirements and school information, like tuition frees and enrollment statistics for schools in the area. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Students looking for nursing schools in the Dallas, TX area, will find that there are several options available depending on their desired education level and specialization.

What You Need to Know

Nursing programs in the Dallas area are offered at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels. The associate’s degree program takes two years to complete; prerequisite classes are required. The bachelor’s degree programs take four years but earning advanced standing is possible, as is online learning. Graduates of these programs may be prepared for advanced study or nursing licensure exams. The master’s degree program accepts applications from working, licensed nurses, and joint degree programs are offered, too. Keep reading to learn more.

Associate Degree Programs in Nursing in the Dallas Area

El Centro College

The Associate Degree Nursing program at El Centro College has received accreditation and approval from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas. After taking the necessary prerequisite classes, you’ll be able to complete the requirements for the nursing major. You can expect to take courses on lifespan growth and development, clinical registered nursing, integrated care of the patient with common healthcare needs and integrated care of the patient with complex healthcare needs.

  • Program Name: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN)
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time (71 credits)
  • Tuition Fees: $1,770 for in-district students, $3,330 for in-state students and $5,220 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Classes covering basic health profession skills, college algebra, composition, anatomy and physiology, and general psychology
  • School Type: 2-year, public; just over 10,500 undergraduates

Brookhaven College

Once you’re admitted to Brookhaven College’s Associate Degree Nursing program, you’ll need to acquire liability insurance. You must also provide proof of medical insurance and possess CPR certification. As a graduate of this program, you’ll be qualified to transfer to a 4-year university and/or pursue a registered nurse license. You should be able to use critical thinking skills to provide safe nursing care to patients of all ages and have a legal and ethical framework in your mind when it comes to applying nursing care.

  • Program Name: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN)
  • Program Length: Five semesters, full-time (72 credits)
  • Tuition Fees: $1,770 for in-district students, $3,330 for in-state students and $5,220 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Courses in composition, chemistry, psychology, and anatomy and physiology
  • Admission Requirements: Background check, drug screening
  • School Type: 2-year, public; just over 12,400 undergraduates

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Nursing in the Dallas Area

Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University is located in Denton, but the school has a Dallas campus that offers nursing programs. The requirements for this school’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program differ based upon your previous education. For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing subject or you’re already a registered nurse with an associate’s degree, you would apply for advanced standing. There is a standard option for freshmen as well, which normally takes four years to complete. After completing the core classes, you can explore nursing subjects like adult health competencies, nursing assessments across the lifespan, critical competency integration, leadership and management, and promoting wellness in the aging family.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition Fees: $6,948 for in-state students and $16,308 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; almost 9,700 undergraduates and around 5,400 graduate students

University of Texas at Arlington

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has recognized the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Texas at Arlington as a high performing program. Located near Dallas, this program has online and on-campus options. As a student here, you’ll have access to the Smart Hospital. This is a hospital in a virtual environment with simulators serving as patients. A learning laboratory is also available that can help you gain competence and confidence in delivering patient care safely. You normally complete an introductory nursing class in your freshman year before being allowed to advance in the nursing curriculum in the following years.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition Fees: $9,208 for in-state students and $19,104 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; almost 30,000 undergraduates and almost 10,000 graduate students

Master’s Degree Programs in Nursing in the Dallas Area

Texas Woman’s University

The nurse practitioner master’s degree program at Texas Woman’s University has several different focal points. The family nurse practitioner program at this school has increased in popularity in recent years, so the admission process for this path is competitive. About half of your curriculum is dedicated to the same core classes regardless of your concentration choice. These courses are on research in nursing, differential diagnosis, advanced pathophysiology, health promotion and primary prevention, and pharmacotherapeutics for advanced nursing practice. The rest of your coursework is dependent upon your specialization.

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Nurse Practitioner
  • Concentration Areas. Adult nursing, acute care nursing, family nursing, women’s health nursing and pediatric nursing
  • Program Length: 46 credit hours
  • Tuition: $4,380 for in-state students and $11,400 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
  • Admission Requirements: Clinical experience, GRE scores, GPA considered, registered nurse license, CPR certification and liability insurance
  • School Type: 4-year, public; almost 9,700 undergraduates and around 5,400 graduate students

University of Texas at Arlington

To graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington’s Master of Science in Nursing program, you’ll have to complete classes in nursing research, research and theory application in nursing, and analysis of theories for nursing. From there, you must take classes in nursing administration, nurse practitioner, nursing education and executive nursing administration. There are also several dual degree options if you’re interested in acquiring a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration or a Master of Business Administration. A joint degree also exists if you want a Master of Science in Public Health.

  • Program Name: Master of Science in Nursing
  • Program Length: Minimum of 36 semester hours
  • Tuition: $6,959 for in-state students and $14,713 for out-of-state students per academic year (2015-2016)
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor’s degree
  • Admission Requirements: GPA considered, GRE scores, clinical experience, registered nurse license, personal essay and CPR certification
  • School Type: 4-year, public; almost 30,000 undergraduates and almost 10,000 graduate students

To summarize the above information, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Woman’s University, Brookhaven College, and El Centro College are all nursing schools in the Dallas, TX area.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:





05/08/2017

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Travel websites: Which online resource is best? CBS News #travel #websites

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Travel websites: Which online resource is best?

(CBS News) If you’re still planning that summer vacation or have a business trip on tap, there are many ways to find help on the Internet. However, even though they’re just a click away it is not always easy to tell which site will give you the best options.

Personal financial expert Lauren Lyons Cole, of TheStreet. made the process a little easier and shared her top picks for the best travel websites on “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”

To get the best airfare, she suggested the Google-owned site, ITAairfare. The site is popular because it not only gives you best pricing, but is very easy to search. It has a calendar-style presentation and is great for finding cheap fares for international routes.

If you’re looking to travel the rails, she suggests the site Man in Seat 61. Cole says that this site is great for those new to rail travel. It provides information on tickets, pricing and the best routes. It’s also a great tool for those traveling in Europe where trains are much more frequently used for travel.

Cole gave two different options for those looking to book hotels. The website Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a catalog of reviews for boutique hotels from a couple who’ve actually stayed at each venue. This is a great resource for those looking to stay in these types of establishments.

On the flip side, Hostelworld is a site for people who want to save a bit more money. Cole said that hostels aren’t what they used to be, and that even families can stay in them.

“They’re a great way to save on money while you travel abroad,” she said, noting that not all hostels are exclusively for students. “There are hostels that are more family-friendly. You can get on hostelworld.com, see everything, whether it’s booked or not booked, and then read expert reviews on whether this is going to be the right fit for you.”

If you’re looking for things to do off the beaten path, Cole suggests the site Atlas Obsucra. where you can put in a location and check out reviews on bizarre sites across the world — or in your own backyard.

As a safety precaution, Cole recommends that any time you leave the United States you check with the U.S. State Department’s website for any urgent restrictions. as well as register your trip in case of emergency at home or abroad.

For Lauren Lyons Cole’s full interview, watch the video in the player above.

2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

12/07/2017

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RCN DC Metro #which #phone #company #is #best

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Switching Is Easy

In the Washington, DC metro area, RCN provides high speed internet. digital cable TV and home phone service plans. RCN’s affordably priced internet service delivered through our proprietary, fiber- rich network is perfect for wifi, streaming, watching tv online, and internet home networking. RCN, as a cable TV provider, offers the best in TiVo DVRs. Netflix, On Demand movies, and on the go TV. We are dedicated to providing DC with the best entertainment services at a fair price with 100% U.S. based customer support. In Washington, DC. RCN also provides service to the areas of Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Falls Church, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and more.

Get installed as early as today**

Find Deals Now

Better TV with Netflix & TiVo

RCN in the DC Metro

* The availability of services, pricing and offerings displayed on www.rcn.com are for residential NEW RCN customers only. Commercial and business pricing and service offerings differ. Other restrictions may apply.

Service offerings are contingent upon RCN verification that the specific address covered by the service request is an RCN serviceable location. Prices do not include taxes, franchise fees or other surcharges. Learn more about taxes and surcharges. Services and pricing are subject to change. All prices exclude taxes, surcharges, fees and equipment. At the end of your promotional period, standard rates apply. Services are subject to RCN’s customer terms and conditions, online shopping terms and conditions. and other applicable terms and conditions.

TiVo and the TiVo logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of TiVo Inc. and its subsidiaries worldwide.

Netflix is a registered trademark of Netflix, Inc.

* RCN received the highest overall satisfaction rating (8.3, tied with FiOS) among cable-based ISPs in 2015. Reprinted from pcmag.com with permission. © 2017 Ziff Davis, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Readers’ Choice logo is a trademark of Ziff Davis, Inc. used under license.

** Same or next day installation is not guaranteed. Availability varies by market and is limited to availability of appointments during normal business hours Monday- Saturday.
For additional terms and conditions visit Polices Disclaimers at rcn.com. Other restrictions may apply.





13/06/2017

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Booking with a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online Which is Better?

#online travel agent
#

Booking with a Travel Agent vs. Booking Online Which is Better?

A recent vacation purchase has me thinking of what appears to be the continued downfall of the travel agent. We all have the choice through a growing number of online travel portholes to do all the research and travel booking ourselves with a click of the mouse or a quick phone call to a ready and waiting online booking agent. Most of you are doing just this and the numbers are growing so exponentially that it is putting many travel agents out of business but the question is Is it better to book travel online or through a travel agent?

I recently booked an all-inclusive vacation online after a friend convinced me she had no issues using them before (more details on this experience in a later post, best not to name names until after the vacation is over) she showed me the super low prices, we researched the hotels and decided to go ahead and book it. The site offered a price drop protection on our package so we figured what the heck we have nothing to lose. We called the site s number and an online booking agent took are details and we were super excited. People book online all the time no worries right?

Well it wasn t so simple after all and it really got me researching all the pros and cons of booking a vacation through a Travel Agent vs. booking a trip with an online travel site. So I put together some of my findings below.

Convenience   A Pro for Online Booking or Booking with a Travel Agent?

Is it really as convenient as we think?

So it is undeniable that it is far easier to go online and search for travel options and buy them more quickly than calling an agent, waiting until they are free to talk, discussing your needs, waiting for them to get answers as they search and so on. However, there is a downside to this convenience the searching.

When booking flights the search may not be an issue but when booking packaged vacations and cruises or more complicated trips this is where the online booking loses its stronghold. Personally I love the searching, checking reviews and digging out my next vacation from all the information, however not everyone has the time for this. You are not only looking for the best price, but a place with a good reputation, the amenities you desire and the locations you want to visit during your trip. You might need answers to questions like is it the best time to travel here? Are there any travel advisories I should be aware of. If you are not into spending the time doing this research then a Travel Agent may be the best choice here. They have experience and information that you may not be digging up from an online site.

Do You Get The Same Treatment? Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online

You are more likely to get bumped flights or booked in a lower-end room when booking through an online travel site.

Personally I m starting to believe this statement more and more. How can this be true? Well the fact is that when booking your flight online the online travel agency will not remove your seats off the availability list as quickly as a travel agent does. The travel agent does it immediately at the time of booking so if the flight is overbooked the last tickets issued are the first ones bumped off the flight. Since customer service with online travel sites is less than stellar the airline may feel it is easier to bump an online booking over an agent booking which will be more quick to respond on behalf of their client.

With regards to hotel room bookings a room booked online is put in a less desirable class than one booked by an agent. So if you book an Oceanview room online you will get an Oceanview room but probably in the oldest wing of the hotel and next to heavy machinery or in a loud part of the resort. This would be an interesting survey of trip-advisor reviews if you book online vs an agent is your room worse than the agent customer? A travel agent booking includes special notes and requests, so if you want a second floor room, in a quiet part of the hotel or resort you will be more likely to get it than if you book through an online site.

Customer Service Pro for the Travel Agent Con for Booking Online

From my own personal experience and the many many complaints I ve read online this is where the online booking sites fail miserably. If you book your trip online and there are no issues or changes then consider yourself lucky, but the moment something goes wrong, a clerical or accounting error is made, the price changes, the flight changes or you are not satisfied with something getting a customer service representative at the online booking site may prove difficult.

Many of these sites put their resources in bookings rather than dealing with issues. Once the trip is booked you will have a hard time getting a customer service agent to help. A few examples you might encounter:

  • You Don t Like the Room You get to the resort and hate the room you got, so you head to the front desk and they don t seem to want to help you. Why? Well you bought the cheapest hotel room, remember? Why would they want to help you? So by some miracle you get through to a customer service representative at the online booking site, they too have little luck with room selection, because they are selling the cheapest deals not the best vacations. On the other hand a travel agent whose direct number and email you have will be far more easy to reach and much better equipped to handle the situation for you. In fact the front desk knowing the travel agency s representatives may encourage them to be more helpful in the first place.
  • Your Flight Schedule Changes Online travel agencies are famous for this one. They don t inform you of any changes to your flight. According to their fine print You are responsible for checking your flight times 24 hours before you leave. Again an online agency is putting its resources on new bookings, they don t always look back and forward any new relevant information for an old booking. A travel agent on the other hand will be more likely to send you the flight change notice and be there to handle any concerns you may want to discuss.

The Lowest Prices are Guaranteed Online? Or Are They?

Have you ever gone online and found the most amazing deal on a flight and then when you start going into the actual booking the price just goes higher and higher? Online travel sites are well known for the bait and switch tactic. They have all done clever marketing campaigns to get the word out that you will get the lowest prices for the same packages that agents sell and if you travel often then you may be discovering that this is just not the case. In fact every agent I have talked with about a price I found online has matched and further reduced the online price, so why doesn t the Agent have the upper hand here?

There are some unbelievable travel deals to be found on an online site but is what you see always what you get? You purchase the trip and then the online site says oh we are sorry the tour operator changed the flight, or cancelled it all together. It isn t our fault but the charter flight company changed the flight. Is it just me or are these changes happening more with online bookings than with agency bookings?

The Bottom Line Travel Buyers Beware

In response to my recent online booking issues, I m questioning if I ever want to book a flight or trip online again. Having a relationship with a good travel agent means experience, expertise, information, customer service and someone that has my back. I m starting to wonder why consumer reports have not been compiled on issues of using Online Travel Sites for bookings and is it really true that they offer the lowest price for the same vacations you get with an Agent? Just sayin !

24/04/2017

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Travel websites: Which online resource is best? CBS News #travel #cancellation

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Travel websites: Which online resource is best?

(CBS News) If you’re still planning that summer vacation or have a business trip on tap, there are many ways to find help on the Internet. However, even though they’re just a click away it is not always easy to tell which site will give you the best options.

Personal financial expert Lauren Lyons Cole, of TheStreet. made the process a little easier and shared her top picks for the best travel websites on “CBS This Morning: Saturday.”

To get the best airfare, she suggested the Google-owned site, ITAairfare. The site is popular because it not only gives you best pricing, but is very easy to search. It has a calendar-style presentation and is great for finding cheap fares for international routes.

If you’re looking to travel the rails, she suggests the site Man in Seat 61. Cole says that this site is great for those new to rail travel. It provides information on tickets, pricing and the best routes. It’s also a great tool for those traveling in Europe where trains are much more frequently used for travel.

Cole gave two different options for those looking to book hotels. The website Mr. and Mrs. Smith is a catalog of reviews for boutique hotels from a couple who’ve actually stayed at each venue. This is a great resource for those looking to stay in these types of establishments.

On the flip side, Hostelworld is a site for people who want to save a bit more money. Cole said that hostels aren’t what they used to be, and that even families can stay in them.

“They’re a great way to save on money while you travel abroad,” she said, noting that not all hostels are exclusively for students. “There are hostels that are more family-friendly. You can get on hostelworld.com, see everything, whether it’s booked or not booked, and then read expert reviews on whether this is going to be the right fit for you.”

If you’re looking for things to do off the beaten path, Cole suggests the site Atlas Obsucra. where you can put in a location and check out reviews on bizarre sites across the world — or in your own backyard.

As a safety precaution, Cole recommends that any time you leave the United States you check with the U.S. State Department’s website for any urgent restrictions. as well as register your trip in case of emergency at home or abroad.

For Lauren Lyons Cole’s full interview, watch the video in the player above.

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11/04/2017

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Which Travel Credit Cards Have the Best Rewards? #hotel #travel

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Which Travel Credit Cards Have the Best Rewards?

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Gearing up for your summer travel plans and looking forward to racking up the rewards on your credit card? Depending on which credit card you use, you could get some serious value for your travel. From double points for every dollar you spend on the card to $400 cash intro bonuses to two free flights, travel cards are going all out these days to attract new customers. So which travel credit card has the best rewards? We did a little research to help you out.

How Did We Test the Cards?

We researched the real-world dollar value of each card’s travel reward program by seeing how much it cost to book actual hotels and flights at different times of year. Then those dollar values were compared to the number of points it took to book those same hotels and flights.

The same dates and locations were used for all the cards, and bookings were made during both the “high” summer season and “low” fall season. When possible, the identical hotels and flights were booked to further even the playing field. The final reward value was based on the actual dollar value a user would receive in rewards after a $100 credit card spend. Separate reward values were given for both hotel stays and flights.

To calculate the actual reward card value, we employed a basic formula. First we took the dollar value of the reward and divided it by the number of points required to purchase that reward.

Point Value = Reward Price / Number of Points Required to Purchase

Then we assumed a spend of $100, with 5% ($5) spent on high point rewards like hotel stays and flights. The remaining 95% ($95) was allocated to standard point earning spends.

Value per $100 Spent = (High Point Earn * $5 * Point Value) + (Standard Point Earn * $95 * Point Value)

If you want to know more, you can check out the full travel rewards card analysis.

Which Credit Cards Are the Best?

What does all that math mean? It basically means that we figured out which cards offer the best rewards when it comes to real-world dollar value. Here are the cards that were the best:

#1. Barclay Arrival World Mastercard: This card earns top status mainly for its $2 in flight or hotel value you earn for every $100 spent. But the reward that catches many people’s attention is the intro bonus. Cardholders earn 40,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, equal to an eye-popping $400 that you can spend on travel or even as a statement credit for any purchase you might make. When it comes to ongoing earnings, you earn 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase with no limits. To use rewards, cardholders can redeem points for a straightforward statement credit. As an added bonus, if the credit is used to pay for a travel purchase, users earn an additional 10% in points. This means if you spend 10,000 in points on travel you’ll get a 1,000 point bonus deposited to your rewards bank — a huge benefit we have not seen with any other rewards card.

#2. Capital One Venture Rewards Card: Yes, this is the card from those Alec Baldwin commercials. Coming in a very close second, the Capital One Venture Rewards Card also offers a fabulous $2 flight and hotel redemption value per $100 spent. And just like the Barclay Arrival World Mastercard, cardholders can book their travel however they’d like and with any airline or hotel they prefer. However, we ranked this card second because it didn’t feature the 10% point bonus for booking travel that the Barclay Arrival World Mastercard did. Additionally, the Capital One Venture Rewards only offers a 10,000 point bonus (equal to $100), compared to the World Mastercard’s 40,000 points. You also get a very generous 2 points per dollar spent on every purchase.

#3. Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express: With an amazing $2.61 hotel point value, Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express featured the highest hotel redemption value of any card in our study. While their value for flight redemption was much lower at $1.35 per $100 spent, it is still higher than some airline rewards cards. Users earn a hefty 4-5 points per $1 spent at Starwood hotels and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Additional perks include a 10,000 point bonus with first purchase and another 15,000 point bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months.

#4. BankAmericard Travel Rewards: BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit card features a $1.50 travel value on both flights and hotels for every $100 spent. Cardholders who have another qualifying account with BofA will especially appreciate this card, as they will earn an extra 10% annual points bonus on their total yearly purchases. In addition, all cardholders will earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases in the first 90 days. Redeeming points is easy — users need only to use their card to pay for their travel and their points are used as a statement credit towards their travel purchases. They can book their travel anyhow and anywhere they like; whether online, over the phone, or with a travel agent. And while the reward value is not quite as high as with the top 3 finishers in our rankings, unlike those cards the BofA Travel Rewards card has no annual fee.

06/04/2017

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