The Mystery Of Damask Bed Linen

An exotic sounding term, but what is it really…? Let’s take a look and see what damask bedding is all about and how it just might be perfect for your next bed linen choice.

These luxurious bed linens are woven from silk (or linen) so that the direction and pattern of the threads create a complex pattern in the very fabric itself, frequently depicting flowers, stripes, or checks.

The name comes from the ancient city of Damascus in Lebanon. Selected for fine quality sheets, pillow cases, bed spreads, duvet covers, drapery, and upholstery, damask is very beautiful and quite elegant. You could say that these are actually sculpted linens.

Let’s take a look at a few of the wonderful selections available, maybe you’ll see something that gives you ideas for your next bedroom redecorating adventure:

Damask bed linens from Ann Gish includes the Tiger Stripe collection. Using the finest silk, the duvet cover is woven into a fabulous stripe pattern. The duvet cover is available in taupe, sea blue, cream, steel, and brown. The fabric, as with many silk fabrics, should be professionally dry cleaned for best performance. Match the duvet cover with Anali’s Tigress Stripe sheets made of 300 thread count Egyptian cotton percale in ivory, taupe, sea blue, cream, steels, or brown for a complete, luxurious look.

Austin Horn Collection’s Capulet bed linens are pure elegance. A damask duvet cover, damask bed skirt, and embellished pillows shams create a unique and gorgeous bedroom. Choose from understated tones of oyster, ivory, or taupe. Mix and match with sheets you already own. The duvet cover must be dry cleaned and pillow shams can be machine washed on delicate cycle. Match with sheets you own or select luxury sheets to blend with these sumptuous shades.

Martex, long known for the finest bedding products, offers bed linens in damask which are sure to make all your dreams sweet. Using 300 thread count 100% cotton, these linens are fully machine washable. The woven pattern creates a tonal stripe. The fitted sheet is made to fit deep mattresses up to 18 inches in depth. Each set includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillow cases. Colors of burgundy, white, ivory, khaki and sage ensure you’ll find a choice to suit your decorating scheme.

Coyuchi offers pure organic cotton damask bed linens which are woven to create your choice of stripe or check patterns. Using only certified organically grown, handpicked cotton, 300 thread count fabric is used.

In fact, attesting to the quality of this damask bed linen, Coyuchi was awarded the United Nations Second Annual Fashion Industry Award for Environmental Excellence for their use of purely organic cotton. Choose from ivory or white in stripe or check weave. This bed linen is machine washable and can be tumbled dry or line dried. Coyuchi recommends using a biodegrable soap product and white fabrics should be brighted only with non-chlorine bleach.

I hope you really enjoyed this piece on damask bed linen, and consider trying its luxury and elegance for your next set of bedding.

Janitorial Equipment Care

The proper maintenance of a building should include the care and maintenance of the supplies and equipment throughout the building. Every item of supply and equipment should have a special storage space – a sort of “home of its own.” Labels on chemical containers should be maintained for safety and prevention of waste. Loose and damaged parts on equipment should be observed and prompt repairs made prior to storage. Following these rules can save much on replacements, lost time, accidents or breakdowns.

Proper care and organization of storage closets or equipment rooms is also a key factor in caring for equipment. Not only should these areas be cleaned regularly, but they should be set up with a special place for every item. This includes regular space for hanging brooms and mops, shelves for cleaning agents and brushes, areas for power-operated equipment and attachments and facilities for washing and cleaning these items.

Equipment Maintenance Rules:

Floor Machine and Vacuum Cleaner Care:

o Check wiring for frayed insulation. Always use grounding plugs when furnished.

o Keep inventory of repair parts, brushes and other accessories.

o Place brushes or block on floor machine by hand – never start machine until brush lugs are engaged. When brushes are dirty, clean them by soaking brush part in cleaning solution and then rinsing. Always keep wood blocks out of solution and wipe dry when wet.

o Don’t tinker with the motor. Have an experienced maintenance person check.

o Keep tank clean, keep valve and lines in repair.

o Wear rubbers and rubber gloves when scrubbing floor for safety and health protection. Rest floor machine on wheels when cleaning. Wipe off floor machine and vacuum after each use, including electric cords. Also inside parts as well as outside. Keep in repair as needed. To store, remove brush and stand upright.

Wet Mop Care:

Special mops should be labeled. Never interchange the special mops. Mops may be marked ” Cleaning Mop,” “Rinse Mop,” “Finish Mop,” etc.

o Rinse out wet mops immediately after use. Clean by first soaking in all-purpose detergent cleaner and rinsing thoroughly.

o Cut off loose and uneven yarn strands. Always clean wet mops before hanging to dry. Keep yarn away from wall.

o Never twist or squeeze mop very hard. Such action will break fibers and destroy mop head.

o Replace worn mop heads. Use old heads to mop up oily dirt.

o Use care on rough floors to prevent catching of strings.

o Don’t store wet mops in contact with other equipment.

Dust Mop and Broom Care:

o Clean mop heads when necessary. Soak in all-purpose detergent cleaner.

o Repair or replace torn tie cords.

o Label special dust mops (“Treated,” “Untreated,” etc.)

o Always hang push brooms down to protect bristles.

o Choose proper size dust mop head for the block or frame.

o Treat dust mops and leave overnight in closed metal container or sealed plastic bag.

o Don’t use dust mops on wet or oily floors.

o Change handles on push brooms periodically to alternate position and lengthen bristle life.

Home Owners Insurance And Trees

Coverage for damage caused by trees and for the trees themselves is one of many confusing areas of a Homeowners insurance policy.

Your neighbors’ tree falls and damages your garage, shed and fence. Will insurance pay for the damage? Whose insurance should pay? What will they pay for?

A tree falls in your yard. Will your insurance policy pay for it to be removed? Will it pay for a new tree?

A tree limb breaks from wind or a lightning storm and is dangling over your house. Will your insurance policy pay for it to be removed? What if it’s hanging over a neighbor’s house?

A tree falls on your car. What policy will cover the damage to my car? Is there coverage for the tree removal?

First, the basics; it does not matter whose tree it was. If there is damage to your property (from anyone’s tree) your insurance policy is the one to respond. If there is damage from your tree to a neighbor’s property, their insurance policy is involved. If there is damage to both properties (from anyone’s tree) both policies will be involved and each will deal with its own property only.

The only time a Homeowners insurance policy should be involved with damage to someone else’s property is if there is liability involved. That is if the tree was rotten or leaning and should have been removed or trimmed prior to the damage occurring. Even then the damaged properties insurance policy will generally pay for their customer’s damage and then try to recover their money from the tree owners’ insurance company.

Second, the important consideration for coverage is; what is physically damaged. If a tree, or portion of a tree, falls and does not damage any real property there is no coverage. Real property is any building, structure or contents item it does not include land, landscaping or plants of any kind. A fence, shed, patio, driveway, swing set or bicycle would count as real property.

If a tree falls into your yard and does not cause any damage to the home or any other real property then there is no coverage to remove the tree or for any cleanup. Sorry!

If there is damage to anything such as a fence then the policy should cover repairs or replacement of the damaged item(s) and also limited coverage for removal of the tree. To make this even more confusing; the tree removal coverage is divided in 2 phases.

Phase 1: Getting the tree removed off of the real property is covered with no sub-limit. That is if a tree is on a storage shed then the first stage of tree removal is to remove it off the shed so repairs can be made. The only limit for this part of the removal is the coverage limit on this section of your policy; in this case the Other Structures coverage.

If the repairs to the shed and the tree removal combined are greater than the coverage available then there is an additional coverage available for debris removal. This is 5% in most cases, so if you have $10,000 coverage on Other Structures you can have up to $10,500 for the repairs and tree removal cost.

Phase 2: The second stage of tree removal is removing the tree debris off the premises. This portion is limited to $500 or $1,000, this limit can vary by insurance company, policy type and state involved.

Third, the tree itself is covered in certain limited circumstances and for a limited amount only. The tree is not covered for wind or hail damage but is covered for damage from fire, lightning, explosion, vandalism and vehicle damage (as long as it was not a vehicle driven by members of your family). The limit is typically $500 per tree but can be more on some policies and in some states.

Fourth, If a damaged tree is leaning toward your home or dangling precipitously over your home what is covered? Assuming that portion of the tree has not damaged real property then there is NO coverage. Even if another tree or portion of the same tree has caused damage.

It is your responsibility to protect your property. The insurance policy only covers damage, NOT potential damage. The same is true if one of your trees is dangling over someone else’s property, no coverage for potential damage.

If you ignore the situation and the tree later falls and causes damage to the neighbor’s home their insurance will cover their damage. They will then want to recover their money from your insurance company, or you. This is called subrogation.

If the later damage occurs to your home your insurance company could try to deny coverage because you did not protect the property.

The Homeowners insurance policy covers sudden and accidental damage it is not a maintenance policy.

Finally, damage to any automobile will only be covered on the auto policy (then only if you have Comprehensive coverage). The tree removal will not be covered by your Homeowners policy unless other real property was damaged.

See our websites mentioned below for more information. You can send direct questions or read what other homeowners have asked.

Plastic Or Metal? The Story Of The Snow Shovel

The lowly snow shovel has been around in various forms for hundreds of years. Starting with some of its earliest forms made from wood the snow shovel has progressed through the years and can now be found both in plastic and metal forms. With out this lowly and humble piece of equipment a good part of the world would struggle to maintain a comfortable form of life. Moving snow is essential to both our economy and our standards of living. Without it we would not be able to get out of our houses or for that matter keep our home safe.

Besides keeping the driveway clear or the side walks clean often time we must also shovel off our homes, sheds and cars so they will not suffer damage. Without doing this we would be stuck staying inside or trudging through the snow on our own two feet which is no easy task. In the not so distant past snow removal simply involved citizens going into the streets to level the drifts for sleigh traffic by hand. Today of course we have many other ways to remove snow but the shovel is still the most common of those methods for our personal properties. The question here is which makes the better shovel. Plastic or metal?

The metal shovel came first. At first these were heavy and cumbersome being made of steel. Often this also kept size to a minimum as the larger the blade the heavier it became. Today the metal shovel is often made of aluminum so the weight problem is a thing of the past. You can find them in all different sizes and shapes. Some of the most popular ones are similar in shape to a snow plow that you might find on a truck. With its curved blade it is easier to push the snow up in to piles. You can still get the standard flat style as well which is used better for scooping the snow up and throwing it into piles. One draw back of the metal shovel is that the tend to bend when you don’t have an absolutely flat surface to shovel. Also snow can stick easily to some of them and when you try to get the snow off by hitting it on the ground upside down you usually end up bending it more. All in all though it is light weight and easy to use.

The plastic shovel is newer of course since plastics were not always around. They are light weight which is one of their greatest advantages. You can get them in all shapes and size just like their metal counterparts and with plastic you get more color choices as well. Snow does not tend to stick to these shovels as much as the metal ones and you can hit them on rough edges or hard surfaces and not worry about bending them. There is one concern with the use of plastic shovels though; they can break. Depending on the type and quality of plastic used they can break in colder weather. Another concern some have about using plastic is that when they do break and you give it the toss it can harm the environment since the plastic takes a long time to degrade. Some could argue the same for metal but metal is easier to recycle.

So which one do you prefer or say is the best choice? For me I will stick with plastic. With its light weight, ease of use and no stick qualities I find plastic the better choice. I also prefer the scoop style rather then the traditional flat style. I can still pile the snow up high when needed but the scoop allows me to push the snow around with less lifting since I do not need to empty it. Which ever shovel you choose or prefer I am sure it will get the job done. And unless we all decide to heat our driveways and sidewalks so that snow and ice never sticks; we will always have a place for the lowly but very essential snow shovel.

Enjoy The Best In Authentic Outdoor Cooking

Many individuals enjoy food that has been cooked over wood fire because it has an authentic flavor. There is just something about the aromas that waft into the air as breads and meats sizzle over the flames and smoke to a crispy exterior. This wonderful culinary delight may be achieved by using a genuine outdoor cooking furnace.

These culinary kilns can be built in a variety of external facades, but the inside chamber is in the style of an igloo. This shape allows heat to travel in a circular pattern, creating an even heat flow that warms the food evenly and maintains high temperatures steadily. In most cases, the inside is insulated with ceramic brick for the best convection results.

The type of wood an individual chooses to use is going to affect the way the food will taste. Choosing a well seasoned hardwood such as pecan, pear, cherry, apple, birch, oak, ash, or maple, will burn for a longer, maintain higher temps, and deliver a sweet smoky flavor. Softer woods such as Cedar and yellow, or white pine, are great for lower temps as they produce less smoke and a gentler flavoring.

Regardless of which type of wood one prefers to use, preparation is important to maintaining temperatures for cooking, and controlling the amount of smoke produced. It is strongly suggested that the lumber be split and left to dry and season for minimum of 6 months to allow the sap to harden prior to being used. This process creates a cleaner burn and a purified flavor.

The process generally starts by creating a fire using tinder and kindling, adding the wood once the flame is established, then pushing it towards the rear of the chamber. Oxygen is drawn from the opening, towards the blaze, creating a convection system that follows the dome shape over the sides and across the bottom, in a continuous loop. With temperatures reaching up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, cooking times are accelerated.

Because the internal temperatures are so high, a huge amount of smoke is created in this process, vent design is an important factor. The most efficient designs have their opening located in a small chamber that separates the interior cooking space from the door. A duct travels from this area to a chimney that can be located at any point along the top of the structure.

The reason this design is recommended is because as the hot air goes up through the opening and out of the chimney, it creates an updraft. This limits the amount of smoke that filters out into the face of the cook whenever they open the door of the furnace. Owners should take note to have the vent and duct work cleaned periodically, so that a layer of creosote does not build up within it.

Using a pizza oven to cook one’s food not only gives great flavor in a short amount of time, but it also saves money on gas and electricity. Cleaning up afterwards is a very simple process of reaching in and sweeping out the ash that is left over once the fire has burned out. These appliances make a very attractive addition to any home whether it be installed on the inside or as an outdoor feature.

Moving Office

Moving offices is a significant stage in a company’s lifetime. It can signal growth, a change in direction and maturity. But if it isn’t managed properly it can be a painful exercise so it’s important to weigh up whether it’s the right time to move.

One of the most common reasons for moving offices is business growth. Companies can simply out grow the space they’re in. Upgrading to a bigger office space allows for a more productive environment and gives you the ability to increase workloads and staff levels. Likewise if your company is downsizing, then moving offices can be one of the simplest ways to reduce costs. There is no point spending money on office space that isn’t needed. It may be wiser to have a shared office arrangement rather than leasing entire premises. This way your company is only paying for the space it uses and can share the costs of services such as reception facilities.

Like many business decisions moving offices can come down to finances. If your company isn’t getting the maximum value out of your current lease, shopping around for a better deal can ultimately save money. Perhaps the landlord is putting up the rent but you feel that the costs aren’t justified then a new premise may be a better financial move.

Outgrowing your office space may not only be an issue to do with size. As your company matures, its image can too. If your current office doesn’t suit the look you are trying to achieve, then it may be time to relocate. This is particularly the case when you’re working from home, it may no longer project the professional look you’re after. It might be the case that you’re holding more client meetings and it’s no longer ideal to host them from your home office. It could also be that your current location isn’t attracting the cliental that you’re after. Simply moving offices could increase your client base.

When determining whether to relocate consider the positives and negatives of the move;


Costs – moving office can be expensive. It involves relocation costs as well as loss of productivity during the move. It’s essential to plan the process, or seek professional advice, so that you’re not losing business while you’re moving.

Fitting out the new premises – particularly if the new office space is bigger than the previous one, you may not have all the appropriate furniture and IT infrastructure. This is where a serviced office may provide the best solution. The space is work-ready without your company having to bare the brunt of the costs.

Upheaval for staff – a new location may not be desirable for all members of staff and could lead to employees having to leave the organisation. Discuss the move with key staff members and see if alternative arrangements can be made such as flexible hours.


Cost efficiency – leasing office space that doesn’t meet all your requirements can leave you paying for things you don’t need. A new office gives you the ability to pay for only the space you use. Shared offices can be an effective way of conducting your business at a much lower cost without compromising on what you need. Relocating also allows you to renegotiate a leasing agreement that is more flexible and less risky, such as a short-term lease.

Gives your business a more professional look – many small business owners start off in very basic premises. A new office space signals to clients that your company is growing.

Equipment upgrades – moving into a serviced office can often be the solution to upgrading your dated IT systems and furniture. Newer infrastructure is already in place so your company doesn’t have to pay the price for having the best equipment.

Reinvigorates staff – a fresh start in an organised and practical office space motivates employees and therefore increases productivity.

Protecting Pools And Outdoor Installations With The Right Fence

Failing to restrict access to pools, hot tubs and other outdoor installations can lead to any number of potentially serious problems and concerns. Young children that have unrestricted access to pools may be at greater risk of injury. The right fence can also serve as a deterrent in order to discourage trespassers and unauthorized visitors from gaining access to a hot tub, pool or similar installation.

Security is a concern that no property owner can afford to neglect, especially when it comes to the risk of injury and drowning associated with unattended pools. A fence installation is simple, proven and effective way to enhance security and reduce the risks associated with pools. Owners who fail to address such concerns are far more likely to be faced with problems in the future.

Pools are expensive installation and damage caused by vandals, unauthorized visitors and even wildlife can become very costly. Fences can be used to protect outdoor installations and ensure that home and property owners are less likely to be faced with additional costs or the need to make repairs. The right fence often means that protecting an outdoor environment can be done with greater ease and success.

Privacy is another concern that property owners would do well to consider. Having a more secluded environment means that activities like swimming and sunbathing can be done in greater comfort. A fence that can restrict access to backyard pools can also be used in order to create a more comfortable, secluded and excluded environment.

Fences can differ drastically in terms of style, layout and function. Finding options that will make a more attractive addition to their surroundings can be an important concern, one that few property owners can afford to overlook. Investing in installations that utilize the best quality materials can reduce long term maintenance and upkeep costs while ensuring that a fence is able to last as long as possible.

Property owners who may be working with a fixed or limited budget would be wise to deal with the right retailer and installation service provider. Spending too much to purchase a fence or arrange for a professional to handle the installation can place a great deal of strain on financial resources and budgets. Dealing with a better class of service provide makes finding more affordable options far easier.

Comparing different installations and learning more about what each has to offer can help property owners to make better choices. Investing in a fence or installation that fails to provide the level of privacy or security needed can be little more than a waste of money. Knowing enough to make smarter decisions can ensure that the right installation is able to be found and selected.

Dealing with professional service providers who specialize in pool fencing installations can allow owners to address a wide range of safety and security concerns. Unrestricted access to outdoor pools can be a recipe for disaster. Quality fences and professional installation services can allow homeowners to better protect their household and ensure that their property is not at greater risk.

Preparing The Garden For Winter

Are you like me? Sad to see the summer end but at the same time relieved that there is one less task to tend to. Weeding, watering, pruning, and more weeding is over for this year and with a few more chores the outdoor gardening year draws to a close. Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up. Practical steps to preparing your outdoor garden for winter involve:

1. Protecting plants. There are different opinions concerning whether to cut down or leave plants standing through the winter. Here on the prairies most people leave their perennials standing for a variety of reasons. In particular, trapping the snow cover is important for protection of plants and retaining moisture. Snow cover acts the same as good mulch by insulating the soil. Many perennial stems and seed heads are also very attractive for winter interest and provide food for the birds. After the ground freezes, mulch perennials and shrub beds with pine needles, compost, peat moss, or chopped leaves. This protects the soil and plant roots and moderates the effects of extreme temperature changes during winter periods of freezes and thaws.

2. Cleaning-up the garden. Harvest warm-season crops such as tomatoes even though they are still green. Lie out on windowsills; or layer in boxes with newspapers between the layers of tomatoes. They will slowly ripen or you can use green tomatoes for fried green tomatoes or various green tomato recipes. Pull out any remaining crops or spent annuals; clean up remaining debris and weeds to decrease the possibility of disease problems in the spring.

3. Evaluating your garden design. Before you start winterizing your garden, take a few minutes to review what worked and what didn’t and make note of any areas that you would like to change in the spring.

4. Prepare the soil for early spring seeding. Turn over the garden soil late in the season while amending with organic matter such as leaves, compost, or well-rotted manure. In the spring, a light raking is all that is needed.

5. Caring for trees and lawns. Protect the tender bark of young trees from rabbits and gnawing critters by wrapping stems or trunks with chicken wire or commercial tree-guard products. To prevent rodents from nesting near buildings and trees, trim tall grass, and remove weeds. Deeply water trees and shrubs so that they go into winter well hydrated. Don’t prune shrubs and trees as it may stimulate new growth just before the harsh weather. Cut lawns and fertilise if you wish with a low nitrogen ‘winter’ blend. Use grass clippings for mulch or compost. Never send them to the landfill, as they are excellent fertiliser left on the lawn (if they are not too long) and/or make terrific compost/mulch dug straight into the garden or used for pathways. Once rotted on garden pathways, dig into the garden and replace with new grass clippings.

6. Planting before winter. Now is the time to plant bulbs. Garden centres carry many varieties suitable for the prairies. Remember: buy good quality as cheap is not better – the larger the bulb – the larger the bloom. Look for plumpness, firmness, clean skin, and surface. Directions for planting are included with the package.

7. Composting. Compost dead plant debris including leaves. Leaves are a valuable natural resource. Rather than a nuisance, they are the best soil amendment as well as terrific mulches. Leaves take very little effort to recycle into a wonderful soil conditioner – leaf mould – for the yard and garden. You can make leaf mould by the same process nature does. Pile up moist leaves and wait for them to decompose or shred the leaves into smaller pieces before piling them up. If you wish, you can enclose the pile with chicken wire, snow fencing, or something similar. In the spring, I rake up dry leaves and dig them straight into the vegetable garden.

8. Cleaning your tools. Clean the soil from all your gardening tools, oil any wooden handles and moving parts, sharpen any blades, and then store them in a dry place for the winter.

9. Water Gardening. Bring in pumps, drain, clean, refill (if necessary) and store tender water plants prior to freezing.

10. Bringing in your indoor plants. Before bringing in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors, examine them for critters, wash them, and spray with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Use sterilised potting soil purchased from garden centres or shopping malls if re-potting your plants. Don’t use garden soil as it may harbour insects, weed seeds, disease, and fungi.

Importance Of Gardening Direct

Gardening is one of the most intimate tasks between a gardener and his garden. What the garden requires is an immense amount of attention and care. Soil is the most important aspect that needs preparation before the actual plantation starts. Compost and fertilizers are the prime requirement of every healthy and beautiful garden.This makes the soil a viable ground for the plants and then tress to flourish luxuriantly. Moreover, manure also plays an essential part to make the soil fertile and rich in fundamental nutrients. Sheep manure is the best available manure in the market. This is the best quality manure that can be used for the plants to grow at an increased rate. There are exclusive gardening shops to help one to learn and understand more about gardening products. Gardening Direct is one such source that specializes in gardening supplies.

Apart from taking care of soil, one needs to give attention to the planting of seeds. This means that the actual process of the planting of seeds plays a vital role in the process of gardening. Once the soil gets prepared for plantation, next in line is the part to be played by seeds. The actual method of laying these seeds is written on the seed packet. These instructions must be rigorously followed. If one wants extra advice then the online source such as Gardening Direct can always give special advises such as the correct procedure of going about the actual process. Apart from the purchase of seeds, another option available to the gardeners is to purchase young plants or shoots that can be planted for further growth. These young shoots are readily available from the market.

Now if we move our attention to the aspect of care and precision that the garden and the process of gardening requires then it is the use of pesticides that can kill and remove the pests attacking the plants destroying them in a large number. These pests can be destroyed manually or with the help of chemicals available in the gardening supplies stores. Gardening Direct takes care of all these necessitate that one might need in order to develop a garden.

A garden left to grown without giving any attention to the pests that bear the capacity of destroying the entire group of vegetables and plants, will be a deed of extreme foolishness on the part of the gardener. Therefore, gardening is an act that demands extreme attention in order to save it from the hands of destruction and make it bear the fruits of effort supplied by the gardener. It is for the individuals to take care of these details in order to turn the garden for the advantages that it is meant for. Therefore, gardening is a wholesome experience that demands special care and attention.

Save Money Using Smartphone Internet Access With WiFi

Technology companies continually improve the technology being used to produce Smartphones, so much so that you can literally use your Smartphone — depending on the model — as your personal digital assistant, GPS navigational device and email-checker, among many other things. It can essentially become a replacement for other electronic organizers and even pocket calendars you might carry around.

Smartphones have, indeed, become increasingly popular across many of today’s generations. Since 2005, the number of Smartphone users has increased exponentially. In fact, the November 2009 AdMob Mobile Metrics report found that the top devices used for WiFi were the HTC Dream, Motorola Droid, as well as the iPod Touch, which is essentially in the Smartphone family of devices.

WiFi Technology

One of the most useful aspects of newer Smartphones is that they come built with WiFi integrated into the phone. This means that, just like your laptop or netbook, you can access WiFi networks at virtually any wireless hotspot or on any network as you’re traveling and out and about. Unfortunately, there’s also a downside if you want to use the WiFi built into your Smartphone. Most wireless carriers require you to purchase a monthly data package that carries a sticker price of anywhere from $30 to $50 or more per month. The most expensive of data plans give you unlimited web usage and typically cost $50 and upwards.

Paying for WiFi on Smartphones

Though Smartphones constitute much of the WiFi activity going on in the United States today, there are two sides to the issue of paying for WiFi on your Smartphone and not paying for this service. The WiFi technology built into many of today’s Smartphones give it the ability to connect to wireless networks anywhere, just as you can do so with your laptop or netbook. The difference, however, is that a small version of an operating system — Windows and Android happen to be the most popular — runs on the cell phone and acts as the gatekeeper to the Internet. Only after you pay the required monthly fee to the wireless carrier are you able to use both the mobile web and WiFi service on your phone.

Many individuals would rather prefer only using WiFi networks to surf the Internet rather than paying for access to the wireless carrier’s 3G or 4G cellular network. In addition to paying for access to the 3G or 4G network, you also get to use the phone’s WiFi. The fact that wireless carriers make you pay to access the WiFi on your phone is because customers could, theoretically, use a WiFi network for making phone calls instead of paying the wireless carrier. This is possible because of various apps that can be downloaded to your Smartphone, such as VoIP applications and programs like Skype. To thwart this loss of income, wireless carriers typically block or disable the Smartphone’s WiFi functionality until you pay for a data plan for the Internet.

Though wireless carriers actually require you to pay for a data plan in order to have a Smartphone, many technology-savvy users have found various ways to get around this. For example, many BlackBerry smartphones, such as the BlackBerry 8820, can use WiFi without a data package if you take a few steps to first delete the username and password specified in the TCP section, select “WiFi Browser” as your default Internet browser and select “Turn On WiFi Connection” in the “Manage Connections” section.

You can perform similar steps on many other Smartphones branded to AT&T and even T-Mobile. However, in most cases you must find a way to actually disable the data service on your phone before you use the WiFi so that you’re not accidentally charged or billed for using WiFi services. This can be done by installing third-party apps like APNDroid for Android-branded phones or by actually calling up the wireless provider to get this done.

Smartphone Data Plan Options

Nevertheless, chances are that if you’re interested in a Smartphone than you’ll be looking into paying for a data plan simply because it’s the easiest way to access the Internet without going around the wireless carrier. You can find data plans for your Smartphone from virtually every major carrier on the market, including AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile.

The data plan you choose to access the Internet on your Smartphone largely depends on the type of web surfer you are and how much data you’re going to be using and downloading. Most carriers have tiered pricing structures that increase the more data you use. For example, AT&T’s basic Smartphone plans start at $15 per month, but this is recommended for casual users who may not use their Smartphone Internet access every day. This basic plan only allows for 200 Megabytes of data usage. Two other plans allow for 2 Gigabytes and 4 Gigabytes of data usage at a price of $25 and $45, respectively.

With all of AT&T’s Smartphone data plans, you can use the WiFi at any of AT&T’s hotspots as well as on your own WiFi network at home. Of course, a voice plan is required as well for all Smartphones.

Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile have similar plans as AT&T. If you want to use the WiFi on your Smartphone at home to make most of your calls over your WiFi network with VoIP apps and programs like Google Voice or even Skype, what you can do is pay for the lowest-cost data plan as well as the lowest cost voice plan. The total for this ends up being around $60 per month no matter which wireless carrier you choose.

All in all, accessing the Internet over WiFi with your Smartphone is perhaps one of the smartest things you can do if you want a cheap way to make and receive calls as well as browse the Internet. Though paying for the required data plan and voice plan with any wireless carrier can be pricey, you might be able to buy a Smartphone and then use the WiFi over your own home network, all without even contacting the carrier to sign up.