Friday, April 27, 2012

Preventing Eye Strain

Preventing Eye Strain from sitting in front of a computer too much is more important than ever now that most of us spend eight hours a day or more in front of the bright glare of the screen.  Whether you're working or just surfing the web, Apartment Therapy.com has some tips to keep your eyes healthy and happy. 

Remember when we were kids and our Moms nagged us not to sit too close to the tv or we'd ruin our eyeight?  Well the same is true for how close you sit to your computer monitor.  If you sit too close, you may not go blind, but it will discourage you from blinking frequently enough which eventually leads to eye dryness.  Your monitor should be at eye level and you should be seated about 20 to 26 inches away from it.

Another tip for preventing eye dryness is to keep a bottle of eye drops at your desk.  When your eyes start to feel tired or dry, take a quick break and give them a couple of drops of rewetting solution.  Also, pay close attention to the lighting in your office, whether it be at work or in your house or apartment.  Overhead florescents and bright overall light can create glare and make your eyes have trouble focusing.  Instead, use a lamp focused towards the wall beside your work area and switch out bright fluorescent bulbs for ones with a soft and natural glow. 

Finally, if your eyes are still feeling the strain after following all this advice, it might be time to look into computer reading glasses.  These glasses are specially designed to reduce glare and just slightly magnify what you are reading on the screen to give your eyeballs a break.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Venture Capital Investing in Austin Hits 4-year High

Apartments Plus CardVenture Capitalists are investing in Austin companies again, and at record levels, the Statesman.com reports.  In a sign that the markets are rebounding, there was a combined investment of $274.4 million spread out over nineteen companies, all during the first three months of 2012.

The majority of the investment was in established technology companies who already have a reliable product and revenue stream, but are looking to expand their operations.  The big winner was Drilling Info, a software and services retailer for the oil and gas industry, who received nearly $117 million.  Their top investor was a New York company called Insight Venture Partners, who also gave $40 million to another Austin company, Kinnser Software.  They sell web-based software that allows home healthcare nurses and doctors to access their patients' records remotely. 

Insight's managing director says that Austin is a great place to invest because of its "really good entrepreneurs who are building real companies" for the long-term, not to just resell to a larger company.  Most of these investments will go towards hiring new employees, who will then buy houses or rent Austin apartments, buy new cars, shop at Austin-area establishments, etc, creating a huge boost for the town as a whole.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Austin's Popular Rental Market

A+ Apartment Locating CardAustin's Popular Rental Market is getting even more tight, according to Austin Board of Realtors.com.  Austin has always had a strong rental market because of a large temporary population due to its large universities, local, state and federal government agencies, and start-up companies.  However, in just the past year, the market has gotten even stronger.

This more transient population is attracted to rental over home ownership because they want to have the freedom to move when they want.  Also, many people come to Austin and fall in love and decide to stay.  They rent because it has the advantage of allowing them to "try out" their favorite neighborhood before they commit by buying.

Other reasons for the strong Austin rental market is due to increased restrictions on residential and single-family construction loans that came after the housing bubble burst, a large aging population looking to downsize, and an increase in costs of home ownership for everything from HOA fees to insurance and taxes.

The Austin rental market is predicted to continue to climb for the next two to three years.  This results in more competition, and increases the importance on having a correctly filled out leasing application.  Using a professional Apartment Locator is going to become more important than ever to insure that you've crossed all your i's and dotted all your t's so your leasing application won't end up in the rejection pile.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk May Take Funding from Third Street Project

A Plus Apartments CardThe Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk has run into higher than anticipated costs and city officials may need to downsize a planned Third Street Makeover to fund it, Statesman.com reports.   The boardwalk would close a gap in the hike-and-bike trail on the south side of the lake between Congress Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.  Currently, trail users have to run on narrow concrete sidewalks close to Riverside Drive traffic and through apartment parking lots to use that portion of the trail.

The boardwalk was originally budgeted at $17.4 million, but the cheapest bid wound up coming in at $20.7 million, plus a $1 million contingency.  The Public Works director blamed the added cost on the fact that the city didn't get bids out in time to take advantage of the depressed construction prices during the recession and to contractor's uneasiness with the risk that comes with putting more than a half-mile of boardwalk over the water.

The extra $3-4 million will most likely come from reducing the scope of the planned Third Street "Great Streets" Makeover.  That plan had the city widening sidewalks and adding landscaping and bike lanes to Third Street between Nueces and Trinity.  Under the new plan, the project would only add these improvements to the three blocks of Third Street between Congress and Trinity, much to the consternation of area business owners and apartment and condo dwellers.