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10 Facts About Smart College Visit

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:19 AM on December 29, 2011:

Z. Kelly Queijo of Smart College Visit, IncSmartCollegeVisit is an award-winning college-search and travel planning resource that works with college and university admissions offices to provide efficient on-line and mobile products for college-bound students and their families.

Smart College Visit, Inc. also:

  1. won VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurial Summit Award for Best Business Concept.
  2. was featured in Valley Business FRONT.
  3. is a woman-owned technology company.
  4. publishes Where'd They Go To School - quirky lists of famous people and where they attended college.
  5. is a mobile app publisher.
  6. hosts a weekly chat on Twitter called #CampusChat.
  7. was invited by President Obama's Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, to attend a Whitehouse Mashup: The Convening on Consumer Information in Higher Education in September, 2011.
  8. is listed in the Top 100 Education Advice Blogs by College Scholarships.
  9. is listed in The Top 50 College Info Web Sites by  Parents Countdown to College.
  10. Is founded by someone whose last name means "cheese."

Smart College Visit's products include the Smart College Visit Blog, College Mom Minute, Campus Chat, Mobile Campus Guides, Smart Visit Widget, and other informational and productivity tools.

Photo: Zane J. Queijo

Smart College Visit, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

JavaScript Is a Plain-Belly Sneetch

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 9:00 AM on December 28, 2011:

From Wil Collins:

To use the mobile application development tool Titanium Appcelerator requires knowledge of JavaScript.

Expanding upon this Dr. Seuss analogy that Titanium Appcelerator works for mobile apps like McBean's machine works for Sneetches, if mobile apps are thought of as the Star-Belly Sneetches, then the JavaScript code can be understood to be a Plain-Belly Sneetch. Placed into McBean's Machine, a.k.a. Titanium Appcelerator, a single "plain" app written in JavaScript is transformed into two "star" apps written in Objective-C (iOS) and Java (Android).

Despite their similar names, JavaScript is not to be confused with the Java programming language. However, it is helpful to think of JavaScript as an object-oriented language, just like Java. "Thinking object-oriented" allows for the encapsulation of data within objects as well as functions and methods to interact with individual objects.

JavaScript
"Thinking object-oriented" also allows for easier management of the various aspects of graphical user interfaces (GUIs), including those within mobile apps. Buttons, tabs, text fields and windows all have different purposes and perform separate tasks and, therefore, can be thought of as separate objects. Being part of a GUI, they are all designed to be interacted with and the use of various methods and functions makes this interaction possible.

Titanium Appcelerator’s modular approach to the design process makes the development of apps with their software much more object-oriented.  It provides users with numerous application programming interfaces (APIs) that contain many of the common components for GUI implementation, both desktop and mobile. These APIs enable the metaphorical Dr. Seuss magic to occur when developing mobile apps. They transform the JavaScript written by the programmers into separate code for the two operating systems, or should I say they transform the Plain-Belly Sneetches into those with “stars upon thars.”

Wil Collins is a computer science major at Virginia Tech and an intern with Handshake Media, Incorporated, makers of Handshake(R) mobile applications.

Sell or Donate?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:30 AM on December 27, 2011:

According to Jeanne Safer, 5% of Americans lose a parent each year. I am one of that 5%. I am also one of the 76 million American baby boomers with a parent to assist. I'm very lucky that my father didn't need help with personal care, but with craigslist.

Steinway Upright Piano 1968After posting the link to my mother's piano for sale on craigslist on my personal Facebook page, a friend suggested we donate the piano for a tax deduction rather than sell it. 

I was certainly open to the suggestion.  For all questions about money, corporate and personal, from M & As to IRAs, I turn to Jamie Dunn, CPA with Hodges, Jones & Mabry.  I have his and my father's permission to share his email answer to my question:  "Would we receive more value for selling or for donating?"

Jamie Dunn replied:

Factors to consider when answering the question, "Sell or donate?"

  • With a donation of a non-cash item valued in excess of $5,000, you are required by the IRS to have an appraisal by a qualified person to support the charity contribution deduction that you take on your taxes. You cannot just donate it and let them give you a value for it or give it a value yourself like when we donate used goods to charities' thrift stores.  An appraisal would have a cost, perhaps several hundred dollars, and would require finding a qualified appraiser in the area.
  • From a tax perspective, a charity donation is a Schedule A itemized deduction, not a tax credit, so you do not receive a dollar for dollar reduction in your taxes from the donation.
  • If you sell the item on craigslist or eBay, you do not have a taxable transaction. The “tax” was already paid when the item was originally purchased.
  • Time is money - or can be.  How long will it take to sell a used item on the open market?  And at what price?  If funds are needed immediately for living expenses, selling the item at below market value may be necessary.
  • This does not have a dollar value, but from a donation you have a sense of satisfaction that it will be used by people who really appreciate it. 

***

Newly informed, we've considered these factors and, for now, we've decided to continue to offer the piano for sale.  Jamie's last point is the best one, however.  We wish joy to the people who play my mother's piano, however they receive it.

***

Jamie Dunn, CPA, Partner with Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C. Certified Public Accountants, specializes in consulting services to start-up companies, business tax planning strategies, and accounting services for manufacturing, transportation, construction industries.

Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Joy Sylvester Johnson

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on December 26, 2011:

Joy Sylvester Johnson

Joy Sylvester Johnson of the Roanoke Rescue Mission in Roanoke, Virginia was featured in the December, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo: Dan Smith

Who's in FRONT? is a weekly series featuring photographs of the people in the news in Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia.

You're invited to view Who's in FRONT? on Handshake 2.0, to read Valley Business FRONT's blog, moreFRONT, and to keep up with Valley Business FRONT on Twitter and Facebook.

Parametric Holiday Greetings

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 7:00 AM on December 20, 2011:

The original Parametric Tree was created using Wolfram's Mathematica by Alex Edelman and appeared on Handshake 2.0 in 2009.  We love sharing this 2010 post again - Alex's parametric tree decorated for the holidays for client Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS(R) by Kelsey Sarles!

Parametric holiday greetings from Coldwell Banker, Townside, REALTORS(R)

Seasons greetings and best wishes for a wonderful 2012 from from Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS and Handshake 2.0!

***

You're invited to view all the parametric images on Handshake 2.0.

Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes Coldwell Banker Townside specializes in in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Roanoke, and Salem, Virginia real estate and homes and national and global relocation services to the Blacksburg, Virginia and Roanoke, Virginia areas. You're invited to check out the CBT blog, Keepin' It Real Estate, visit Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS (R) on Facebook, and see more of Coldwell Banker Townside on Handshake 2.0.

Download the Coldwell Banker Townside App in the iTunes App Store or in the Android Market.

Coldwell Banker Townside REALTORS is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

Who's in FRONT? Shaena Muldoon

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:09 AM on December 19, 2011:

Shaena Muldoon
Shaena Muldoon of the Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston, Virginia was featured in the December, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo: Michael Abraham

Who's in FRONT? is a weekly series featuring photographs of the people in the news in Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia.

You're invited to view Who's in FRONT? on Handshake 2.0, to read Valley Business FRONT's blog, moreFRONT, and to keep up with Valley Business FRONT on Twitter and Facebook.

Custom Homes: Just Your Size, Just Your Style

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2011:

From Eric Sallee, President of Progress Street Builders in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA:

One of the first questions a new custom home buyer asks is “So, how much does a house cost?”  or  “How much do you charge per square foot?” These are perfectly reasonable questions on the one hand, but pretty hard to answer on the other.  Custom homes are a little like custom suits – they aren’t an off-the-rack product.  They are designed and constructed just for you –  a combination of materials, colors, functions, and costs specifically and uniquely your own. 

Selecting custom home features for a perfect fitA knowledgeable builder can only provide accurate cost information about a new home if he or she has accurate information about the size, style, and functions custom home buyers want - or think they want. As costs and cost trade-offs are reviewed, the picture becomes clearer to the buyer.  The questions change:  "Which do I want more - the whirlpool tub or the wood burning fireplace?"

Progress Street Builders has been fortunate to be in the building business for some years and so we have had the chance to identify important first steps for custom home buyers.

First: You need to identify a lot or parcel.  If you have a special spot you already own, you are off to a great start. In either case, you may save yourself some heartache if you consult a reputable builder before becoming too invested in a certain spot.  The lot is a big part of the cost, but so is getting a driveway, utilities, materials, and people to that spot.

Second: The best prepared customers come with a scrap book of images in hand - pages from magazines, web site photos, pictures of a friend’s house or a model home.  A picture can communicate a certain feel or a special look you hope to achieve more clearly than words alone.

Third: Be prepared to make informed compromises. It is the rare custom home where all the owner's “wants” fit neatly into their “dream” budget. An experienced builder is accustomed to helping customers make intelligent trade-offs, refine plans, navigate tough decisions and work to a realistic budget. Everyone’s goal should be creating a home that is a perfect fit for the new homeowner.  And that takes some special tailoring...

With these points in mind, custom home buyers can work with their home builders to create homes just their size, just their style.

In the photo, Amy Mabry of Progress Street Builders helps a new custom home buyer through the selections process.

***

Eric Sallee is President of Progress Street Builders, a custom home builder serving the Blacksburg, Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia, specializing in the design and construction of unique single family homes, townhouses, additions and residential remodeling projects.

You're invited to read more about Progress Street Builders on Handshake 2.0 and to visit Progress Street Builders on Facebook.

Progress Street Builders, Inc. is a client of Handshake Media, Incorporated, the parent company of Handshake 2.0.

An Entrepreneur Walks into a Bar

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2011:

An entrepreneur walks into a bar...
An Entrepreneur Walks into a Bar - joke by Anne Giles Clelland, made exponentially funny via cartoon by Kelsey Sarles.

Of possible further interest:

A Guide to Angel Investors in Blacksburg, Virginia
Ten Bottom Line Stats on Angel Investing
Becoming an Angel Investor
Angel Investing category on Handshake 2.0

Investing in Rental Property: Doing the Numbers

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:51 AM on December 13, 2011:

I had dollar signs in my eyes instead of on paper during the Dot-com boom and had eye-popping, humiliating losses during the bust. I can feel my irises starting to morph into symbols when I read articles like Are You Ready to Be a Landlord? in the Wall Street Journal:  "With interest rates near record lows and property values still slumping, getting into the landlord business is cheaper than it has been in years."  I can, however, be taught.  To quote Kai Ryssdal, host of Marketplace on NPR, "Let's do the numbers."

I had dollar signs in my eyes...In Investing in Rental Property: Getting Ready, I used numbers from the Wall Street Journal's Are You Ready to Be a Landlord? to explore what it might mean to be "ready" to invest in rental property in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA, home of Handshake 2.0's headquarters.

Using "worst case scenario" numbers, I estimated that a prospective rental property investor would need $68,200 near-at-hand to make the down payment and to have risk-reducing reserves to purchase a $200,000 3-bedroom, 2-bath, single-family home in Blacksburg, VA.

With a down payment of $42,400 on a total amount of $212,000 ($200,000 purchase price + $12,000 in closing costs), our loan amount would be $169,600. We'll assume a 5.0% fixed rate, 30-year loan. According to Bankrate.com's mortgage calculator for Blacksburg, Virginia's ZIP code, our mortgage payment would be $912.06 per month.

The Wall Street Journal's source estimated $2000.00 per year for insurance, taxes and association fees. That's an additional $167.67 per month.

In asking "Are you ready to be a landlord in Blacksburg, VA?", I consulted Tommy Clapp, our real estate agent with client Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTOR(R), and used his lowest estimation that a single-family, residential rental property in Blacksburg, Virginia would rent for $300 per bedroom. Using that figure, our hypothetical 3-bedroom house would rent for $900 per month.

I'm running Handshake 2.0 and other enterprises of Handshake Media, Incorporated, so I would have little time to be a Do-It-Yourselfer (DIYer) and assume I would need property management services. The Wall Street Journal's estimates are 8% to 10% of annual rent for property management, so we'll choose 10%.

$900 x 12 = $10,800 x .10 = $1080 divided by 12 = $90.00 per month for property management

Our total estimated fixed expenses - which doesn't include other costs such as property repairs or improvements or rental vacancy - are:

$912.06 (mortgage payment) + $167.67 (insurance, etc.) + $90.00 (property management) = $1169.73

Let's do the numbers.

$900.00 (rental revenue) - $1169.73 (costs) = -$269.73 (monthly income)

A whopping 12 x $269.73 = -$3236.76 in debt per year?!

These numbers examining rental property exclude repairs and vacancy costs - and they don't include potential tax benefits or potential property appreciation. They assume a single purchase, buy-and-hold income and cash flow strategy.  And they use worst case scenarios - as does the Wall Street Journal in Accidental Landlords.  With a lower purchase price, a lower interest rate, higher rent, an optimum location and DIY, the numbers for investing in rental property for income might be more appealing.  But if my doing these numbers in any way inspires those with dollar signs in their eyes over rental property to do their own numbers for themselves before they buy, my eyes will be smiling.

Our series on investing in rental property:

Investing in Rental Property: Doing the Numbers
Investing in Rental Property: Getting Ready
Guide to Managing Rental Property in Blacksburg, Virginia

Who's in FRONT? Joey Kaylor

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 8:00 AM on December 12, 2011:

Joey Kaylor
Joey Kaylor, "The Hateful Mechanic" and owner of Protocol Automotive in Floyd, Virginia, was featured in the December, 2011 issue of Valley Business FRONT.

Photo: Sarah Beth Jones

Who's in FRONT? is a weekly series featuring photographs of the people in the news in Valley Business FRONT.

Valley Business FRONT is the monthly magazine for in-depth business news in the Roanoke Valley and the New River Valley of Virginia.

You're invited to view Who's in FRONT? on Handshake 2.0, to read Valley Business FRONT's blog, moreFRONT, and to keep up with Valley Business FRONT on Twitter and Facebook.