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What Is VoIP and How Does It Work

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Introduction

The way we make phone calls is changing. In fact in many circumstances things have already changed. Take long distance calls for instance, many service providers are already using a technology called Voice Over IP or VOIP for short. If you have never heard of VOIP before, then the following article will change the way you think about how long distance phone calls are being made now, and about how all phone calls will be made in the future. Voice Over IP (VOIP) is a method for turning analogue audio signals into digital data that can be transferred over the internet.

You may be asking yourself how this is useful. Well think about it for a few seconds. If it is possible to turn analogue signals into digital data, then VOIP can turn a standard internet connection into a method for placing phone calls anywhere in the world virtually free, except for your internet service fee, enabling you to bypass the phone companies entirely.

Voice Over IP (VOIP) has the potential to completely revolutionise the way the worlds phone systems operate. There are many VOIP service providers that have been around for a while, and are growing steadily. Now the worlds leading telecommunications operators are waking up to the endless possibilities of this new technology, setting up VOIP calling centres around the world and promoting the sales of Voice Over IP phone systems.

Making a call

With VOIP phone systems it is possible to make a call in one of three ways:

ATA (gateway) – The simplest way to make a VOIP phone call is through the use of ATA’s (analogue telephone adaptor) sometimes called gateways. These devices enable you to make use of your existing standard analogue phones. You simply plug your standard handset into the ATA (gateway) then connect the ATA to your computer or your internet connection, enabling you to make VOIP calls. An ATA takes the analogue signal from your standard phone and turns it into a digital signal that ready for transmission over the internet. Some ATA’s (gateways) come with additional software that is loaded onto a host computer, enabling you to configure it for VOIP accurately.

IP Phones – These handsets look just like normal standard handsets. They have an RJ 45 Ethernet connector instead of the standard RJ 11 connectors. These phones have all the necessary software and hardware to handle VOIP calls already built in them. They connect directly to your router, providing a very fast and cost effective entry into the world of Voice Over IP.

Computer to computer – This is the easiest way to make use of the VOIP technology. There are many companies offering cost effective software that you can use for this type of VOIP. Usually the only charge you pay is the monthly one from your internet service provider, even for long distance calls. All you need is a microphone, speakers, a suitable sound card and a fast internet connection.

Chances are that you have already made a VOIP call without even realising it. The major phone companies already use VOIP to route thousands of long distance calls through a circuit switch and into an IP gateway. This is then received by a gateway at the other end and then routed to another local circuit switch. More and more companies are installing VOIP phone systems, and the technology will grow and grow until it finds its way into every business and household across the globe.

VoIP Features

Because with VOIP you can make calls from anywhere you have access to a broadband connection, users can take their IP phones or ATA’s with them on trips and still have access to what is essentially their home phone.

Some people use a softphone to access their VOIP service. A softphone is a specially developed software application that loads the VOIP service onto your desktop computer or laptop. Some even have an interface on the screen that looks like a traditional phone. These softphone applications allow you to place VOIP calls from your laptop; anywhere in the world you have access to a broadband connection.

Most traditional phone companies charge you for extra features that are added to your account. With VOIP service providers these usually come as standard. Features such as:

1. Caller ID

2. Call Waiting

3. Call Transfer

4. Repeat Dialling

5. Return Call

6. Three-Way Dialling

Some VOIP service providers also offer advanced call filtering features. These additional features allow you to decide how calls to a specific number are handled by using caller ID information. They allow you to:

1. Forward the call to a particular number

2. Send the call directly to voicemail

3. Give the caller a busy signal

4. Play a “not-in-service” message

Many VOIP services also allow you to check your voicemail over the internet or attach messages to an e-mail that is sent to your computer or PDA. It’s best to check with VOIP phone system suppliers and service operators exactly what features they offer as package and service prices vary greatly.

There are many other cost saving benefits that arise from a streamlined VOIP phone system network. For the network administrators, a VOIP phone system means they only have one network to maintain instead of two. The portability of the phone system is also greatly simplified. This is because most VOIP phone systems can be configured using a web interface, which can be managed by the network administrator. The MAC (move, add, change) process is made much easier, and you will not have to call your system/service provider for every MAC you carry out. All this means lower ongoing costs for your company.

Another cost saving for companies who implement a VOIP system is, because multiple offices, no matter where they are in the world are seamlessly connected, they can share many of the features VOIP can offer, such as:

1. One single receptionist

2. Auto attendant facilities

3. Voice mail system

Choosing a VOIP phone system

If you have decided that a VOIP phone system is the right step for your company, next you need to determine which of your existing telephone equipment you are able to keep. The potential cost savings that can be made through using any existing digital equipment are huge. Many digital phone systems can be IP enabled using minor hardware additions and software upgrades.

When shopping around for potential systems you need to be certain of the features they provide as standard and which are optional cost extras. You also need to be certain of exactly what is included with the system. Many suppliers claim to include everything you need, but standard components can vary from one company to the other. So you need to sure you are comparing equivalent systems when approaching potential suppliers.

You will also need to enquire about the compatibility of existing equipment. The technology used in many VOIP systems may affect the implementation of any existing telephone hardware.

You will also need to ensure that any devices such as fax machines, credit card processors, and security systems etc can be integrated into your new VOIP phone system. You should make any potential vendor aware of such devices so they can provide you with a suitable phone system for your requirements.

Finally, do not try to save money by buying used VOIP phone systems. Remember VOIP is a new technology, so even last years equipment is outdated. Also the installation cost will still apply whether the system is new or second hand, and the service costs may even be higher due to reliability issues. To put it simply it just isn’t worth the hassle, the higher secondary costs will wipe out any potential saving.

Thanks for reading,

Jason

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Greyhound Racing: What The Coloured Jackets Mean

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The typical greyhound race in the UK consists of six dogs. Each dog is identified by the coloured jacket it wears for the race. The colour signifies its starting position – in other words the trap number it races from – and helps you to identify the dogs as they are racing. The colours are standard so it helps to become familiar with them for your night at the greyhounds. Let’s take a run through them.

The red jacked is always worn by the dog starting from trap one. This is the starting position closest to the inside rail. Such animals generally have a preference for running along the inside of the track and are known to race goers as “railers.” A railer typically requires a good burst of early speed to hold its position in to the first corner and not get baulked by the opposition.

The blue jacket is always worn by the dog starting from trap two. This trap is also generally favoured by railers with such dogs seeking to get over to the rail in front of the greyhound in trap one.

The white jacket is always worn by the animal starting from trap three and the black jacket is always worn by the greyhound staring from trip four. Such starting positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running along the middle of the track as signified by the (M) notation next to their name in the race card.

The orange jacket is always worn by the greyhound starting from trap five and the black and white striped jacket by the greyhound starting from trap six. Such staring positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running towards the wide outside of the track as signified by the (W) notation next to their name in the race card. A potential advantage of wide running is that the frequent first turn scrimmaging can be avoided.

Trap position does make a difference and should be taken in to account when looking for betting opportunities. A greyhound running out of position can be harmful to its chances though usually for graded races trap preference is taken in to account by the racing manager and a wide runner will not be placed in to an inside trap and vice-versa.

This is to avoid trouble in running. For example if a greyhound which is normally a wide runner was to be placed in trap one its natural instinct would be to seek the outside rail and move right out of the traps. This could cause interference with other dogs in the race.

It can be a fun night out and need not break the bank as entry is not expensive. Many race goers like to enjoy a meal as they watch the racing from the comfort of the restaurant. A few minutes familiarising yourself with the different coloured jackets, the starting position and if your chosen greyhound has a noted preference for trap position can aid your enjoyment when going for a night at the greyhound racing.

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How Do YOU Measure Success

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It was in January of 1962 when Barnsley P. Wentworth III told his father that he wasn’t going to be a doctor: he was going to be a clown. Without hesitating his father replied, “Then you will never amount to anything. Consider yourself a failure.” That was the moment Barnsley P. Wentworth III fell from his father’s grace, changed his name to Juggles, and became a clown. It was his greatest joy. It was his greatest passion. And he never made more than $50 a job.

It was a hot afternoon in July and Juggles was driving back to his hotel after working all day at a county fair, when he took a wrong turn into a trailer park and saw the mailbox covered in balloons – the calling card of a child’s birthday party. He sat there for a moment, looked at his watch, shook his head, sighed, and grinned from ear to ear as he put his rubber nose back on and jumped out of the car. He saw a little red head peeking through the flowered sheet curtain followed by piercing squeals as the door burst open and children rushed at him like excited puppies finding food. He would never forget that sound or the shocked look on the mother’s face as she whispered thank you and started to believe again. Or the sheer adoration on the birthday boy’s face as Juggles signed his cast and he solemnly vowed to never wash his arm again as he hugged Juggles’ striped leg and that moment was branded into his memory as he whispered thank you and started to believe again.

Juggles never stopped being a clown. Day in and day out. It stayed his dream and remained his passion. Even when his hair fell out and he was too weak to honk his nose – even from his bed, when what little fans that were left had to come to him. It was March of 1998 when Juggles died, wearing a big red nose and a contented smile. He never made more than $50 a job.

How do you measure success?

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When Do Interns Have to Be Paid? Revised FLSA Test May Create New Unpaid Internship Opportunities

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Did you know that the Department of Labor recently changed the test used to determine whether interns are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Though mostly overlooked, this development may significantly affect the manner in which employers provide internship opportunities. It may also encourage other employers to start their own internship programs.

In January 2018, the Department of Labor clarified that going forward, a “primary beneficiary” test will be used to determine whether interns are employees of “for profit” employers under the FLSA. Why is this a big deal? The FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements generally apply to employees, not interns.

Educators and employers alike agree that individuals can benefit greatly from properly designed unpaid internship programs. Unfortunately, since interns are not entitled to compensation under the FLSA, they may be exploited by employers who use their free labor without providing with an appreciable benefit in education or experience. The DOL began issuing informal guidance to prevent this kind of abuse in the late 1960s.

In 2010, the DOL published a 6-factor test to distinguish between interns that don’t need to be paid under the FLSA and employees that do. One factor in particular proved to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle. “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.”

Since all six factors had to apply, many believed this test was too rigid, including some federal appellate courts. These courts instead opted to apply a “primary beneficiary” test that:

  • focuses on what interns receive in exchange for their work;
  • gives courts the flexibility to examine the economic reality of the intern/employer relationship; and
  • acknowledges the uniqueness of internships in that interns agree to perform work in exchange for educational or vocational benefits.

In January 2018, the DOL essentially adopted this “primary beneficiary” test to eliminate unnecessary confusion and provide increased flexibility to holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis. This test includes seven factors to consider when determining whether an intern is actually an employee under the FLSA.

  1. Expectation of Compensation. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee-and vice versa.
  2. Training. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. Education. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. Academics. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. Duration. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. Displacement. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. Promise of Employment. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Unlike the rigid six-factor test, the primary beneficiary test is intended to be flexible. No single factor is determinative and additional factors may also be considered on a case-by-case basis when appropriate.

The FLSA’s “internship exclusion” was quite narrow under the old six-factor test. Whether this changes under the new primary beneficiary test remains to be seen. Nevertheless, employers should proceed cautiously when evaluating and determining whether someone can be treated as intern under the FLSA, rather than an employee.

The risk of employment-related claims goes up whenever laws and regulations change. Employment Practices Liability Insurance, which may include limited wage and hour coverage, can protect employers in the event of an inadvertent violation.

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