Whatcom Association of Celestial Observers

W.A.C.O. is a community based society dedicated

to preserving the arts and skills of amateur astronomy.

The society was created in 1988 for the purpose of making astronomy fun.

Home Calendar Members  Photos Local Resources Observing Programs By-Laws Blogs Contact Us

Visit the calendar section for meeting times and location.




Click for Bellingham, Washington Forecast      Click for Bellingham, Washington Forecast       


5 Sure-Fire Strategies to Bring Your Freight Services to the Spotlight

Over the years, the whole freight forwarding industry has embraced sophistication in order to better cater to as wide of a client base as possible. Availability in as many levels of a supply chain has also allowed freight forwarders to become a crucial part in it, no matter how big or small.

Building a logistics company may not exactly be as different from setting up any other business, but it does have its own complexities and level of diversity that set it apart. These complexities result from the constantly changing landscape as well as the heavy focus that the industry has on networking and effective communication, aside from cargo transportation.

On Marketing Freight Services

In today’s freight industry, whether you specialize in local freight or international freight, fierce competition make it so that every logistics company in Singapore has to look for effective strategies to adapt and market their services in more ways that stand out among your competitors.

Size, for instance (with the exception of well-known international freight agencies), is no longer the main criteria that customers consider when looking at a freight forwarding agency. The entire industry is even made up of different firms that have their own specializations.

For instance, some may have more extensive connections with cargo transportation agencies, while others specialize more in consolidating and even providing the necessary software and methods to keep track of the cargo.

Here are five ways you can bring your business to adapt to the ever-changing industry:

1. Find what makes you different – and bank on it

Whether it’s your business model, your deep expertise in customer and shipping industries, or cutting-edge IT tools to stay up-to-date on the routes and quality of every shipment in your business in real time, it’s important that you quickly establish the key qualities that set you apart from your competitors.

For small freight forwarding businesses, it might be the quality of service and the more personal touch when it comes to treating your customers that sets you apart from your competitor businesses. Another way that you can be distinguished as a service is your connection to different transportation services, be they air freight or sea freight.

2. Incorporate multiple services into your business

With the fast-paced world of freight forwarding, customers now expect fast means of transporting of goods, may it be outside or within Singapore. The forwarding agent who can give consumers lesser shipping time always wins the game, so it is important to offer a speedy service as much as possible.

Don’t assume that they know other options when it comes to air freight, sea freight, or other types of cargo transportation that they can take to save time and money – you have to take the lead and provide these options to the client yourself. The more services you provide, the better your relationship with your clients will be in the long run.

It’s also no longer enough as a freight forwarder to quote prices for each shipping company, get in touch with the shipping company (or companies, depending on the type of cargo and the chosen service), book the client’s cargo, and call it a day.

Providing additional services, such as booking warehouses, drayage, is also another way for you to gain a competitive edge in the business.

3. Use EDI, Logistics, and Tracking Software

Supply chains are expanding and connecting to each other all over the world. However, most supply chain technology available to many a shipping company is not built to handle the demands of the industry, whether it’s local freight or international freight. This creates potential risks and blind spots caused by a significant lack of coordination.

Many logistics services companies try to make their existing operating management systems work by creating work-arounds or attempting to connect disparate systems, but still fall short.

This is where logistics technology gives you an advantage over your competitors. Especially when you deliver cargo by air transfer from Singapore, digital and technological advancements such as GPS (global positioning system) and EDI (electronic digital interface) play an important role in cargo handling, tracking shipments and guaranteeing consumers the safety of their shipped goods via an air freight.

4. Keep your business plan flexible and versatile

In an industry of constant change, the truth is that it’s companies themselves – not entire industries – that don’t evolve and adopt new strategies and technologies that eventually die out.

By staying cutting-edge and adapting to the latest market trends, as well as preparing to embrace emerging ones that could change the way the industry is played, you can plan ahead and shift your business plan according to what will draw customers to your business.

However, you should keep in mind to keep everything in your freight forwarding services agency, from standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to Incoterms, clear and defined to avoid any potential confusion, as well as minimize potential conflicts that could end in liabilities.

5. Perform Market Analysis

The freight forwarding industry in Singapore grows increasingly more competitive every year, which makes staying updated on customer needs and trends a lifeline for every logistics services hoping to stay in the industry in the long term.

Being able to utilize market analysis not only provides you with valuable information and insight, but in the right circumstances, it can even tell you how your business is doing and help you take the necessary steps to stay ahead of the business curve.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Different Property Management Services

Property management is an important thing when it comes to making sure that your property maintains its upkeep. Because it’s a manager’s oversight of the property on the owner’s behalf, a manager is often the point person in charge handling a variety of real estate.

Whether that piece of real estate is an apartment, a home, or a commercial building, getting in touch with a managing agent can be especially beneficial for your property in Singapore because of the wide variety of services they can offer. Here they are for your consideration:

1. Tenant Services

Managing agents are always on hand to act as a liaison between you and the tenants, as well as a contact that tenants can get in touch with in case of an emergency.

They also have a system of screening potential clients, which helps a lot to minimize any accusations of discrimination. They can even filter out the best tenants that can not only pay for longer, but also pay on time and are less likely to cause any problems with your property.

Aside from screening for tenants, managing agents can also set the initial rent level (which depends mostly on how much certain units of the property need to be priced in order to recover the investment and continue making a profit), they can also collect and adjust the rent in your absence.

A managing agent can also make sure that the property is marketed to as wide a tenant base as possible. When combined with their selective screening based on tenant capacity to pay rent, you can make sure that your property is always turning in a profit even if you’re not personally there to oversee everything yourself.

2. Facility Management

This includes all residential property maintenance that your unit might need to ensure that it will continue to provide a steady profit for you. A condo property manager in Singapore will take care of private housing facilities and ensure that your property will remain in its best condition to preserve its value.

Whether they are personally in charge of estate maintenance or hiring a third-party estate maintenance service, managing agents are more than capable of making sure your property is in peak condition.

Because of this, they often have large networks of reliable third-party agencies who can do the job, as well as a broad range of supplies and suppliers to keep the process of maintaining the property as smooth and streamlined as possible, ranging from management, to marketing, to even grounds control and outdoor and pool accessories.

3. Property Marketing

Good maintenance and an intensive screening for potential clients both play a huge part when it comes to marketing the property to future tenants.

Marketing is essentially advertising your property to prospective clients, and managing agents understand well that creating ads as well as working with other realtors is the best way to net in a client.

It also includes providing tenants with legal rental applications that comply with Singapore’s housing laws as well as collecting them with the rental fee. Providing contacts to get in touch with prospects for house viewings and questions is also part of marketing.

If you have real estate in Singapore, appointing a managing agent from http://www.estateinfo.sg/ to handle facilities upkeep is a must-do, especially if you’re planning on marketing it.

4. Financial Management

The upkeep of real estate is one of the most crucial things you need to keep your eyes on, as well as the detailing of budget plans as well as establishing and keeping existing records, such as income, expenses, and the cost of maintenance and repair.

Keeping a detailed record on both income and expenses gives you a concrete indicator on whether the property is still profitable, and whether you should sell it or continue to maintain and lease it. While you can do this on your own, this can be quite time-consuming.  

Hiring a financial managing agent for your property in Singapore can do a lot to help you not just with making a profit for your real estate, but also to make sure that your property increases in value over time.

5. Risk Management

Real estate is a huge investment, and assessing the risk that comes with any investment – particularly real estate – is a critical component of managing real estate. Risk management often involves extensive record-keeping with the property’s upkeep and needs an experienced professional to be able to handle the work.

For instance, condominiums often need a condo manager for the purpose of assessing how viable the property is in terms of generating steady income. Aside from examining the condo’s upkeep, the manager also has to look at the surrounding area.

Rental properties can be especially risky for properties that are a little far from amenities and with a considerable amount of travel time to get to the city, which results in a smaller pool of tenants.

Managing agents have to be aware of this, and are often equipped with the skills needed to make sure that it continues to generate income.

Even though these could all be handled on your own, there are plenty of reasons why you should simply let a managing agent take care of the property on your behalf. Often, these reasons will be not having enoughtime or the expertise to handle these factors.

The good news is that with a professional property management agent, this will not be a problem. Be sure to contact one for your property as soon as possible.  

Commonly Asked Questions on Electrical Maintenance and Repair

Any malfunction or problem in your electrical system can lead to accidents or fires, which is why it is important to know which signs to watch out for to prevent these from happening. Most of the time, however, even common electrical issues can be easy to overlook such as dimming lights, faulty light switches and not having enough power outlets because they seem harmless. These problems, especially recurring ones, can indicate other problems that will need professional electrician services in Singapore.

• How often should I call electrician services? If you are moving in to a new apartment in Singapore, it’ s a good idea to call the nearest electrician services shop to perform a thorough inspection, especially if the house looks old and in need of rewiring. You should also call a licensed electrician every time you need to have your wires, switches, and lights repaired, installed, or replaced. Regular electrical maintenance can save you more money in the long run because you will be able to address minor problems right away.

• What services do licensed electricians offer? In most countries, including Singapore, an affordable power line worker works with power companies to ensure efficient distribution of electricity to the public. A wire man, on the other hand, mostly works for residential, commercial and industrial settings. Both, however, can help fix power trip in your area and can provide 24 hour electrical service if needed.

• What should I look for in an electrician? Contact a reputable electrician services company if you need to have electrical problems solved. Only a licensed electrician can inspect, install, troubleshoot, and repair electrical works because they are trained with the safety standards of working with live electricity. You should also look for insurance in case an accident happens, and a warranty if the work did not address the problem.

• How do I know if there is a problem? Call a licensed electrician in Singapore if you notice any of the following problems: lights dim whenever you turn on an appliance or gadget; lights flicker or go off even with regular replacement; if you need to plug in a three-prong adapter; if you use too many extension cords and power strips; if there is a burning smell; and if you have just moved into a new apartment.

• What causes flickering lights? Flickering or dimming lights might be caused a faulty light bulb that is nearing its lifespan, but if replacement does not solve the problem, you need to call an electrician for an inspection. One serious cause of frequently dimming lights is power arcing, a situation where the current can jump between the gaps in the wiring.

• What type of lights is right for my home? Most modern homes in Singapore have recessed lights that are perfect for small spaces. The sizes can range between 2 inches to 6 inches depending on the size of the room. Consult an electrician to know which lights are right for your apartment.

• What causes the light switch to become hot? Hot light switches are caused by faulty wiring, overloaded switch, or a failing switch. These are all serious problems that need the attention of expert electrician services.

• What is a tripping circuit breaker? A circuit breaker will shut off or trip if it detects that the flow of energy in the circuit is causing damage or overheating. The circuit breaker is the device that automatically stops the flow of the electric current and protects the electrical circuit from excess flow and overloading.

• What is a GFCI receptacle? GCFI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, a receptacle that is installed to prevent electrical shock when using appliances and gadgets near water. Commercial buildings, hotels, and residential complexes need this for extra safety of the personnel or residents near bathrooms, swimming pools, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoor areas. Regular troubleshooting, preferably once a month, is important to make sure that it is still functioning.

• Is there a difference between amperage and voltage check? Calling a licensed electrician to measure the capacity of your power line is extremely important, especially if it is for bigger buildings. This will secure the steady flow of current and minimize occurrences of power failure. Amp or ampere measures the speed of the electric current while volt refers to the potential of one ampere to flow through a conductor. Your electric contractor for office setup will help you check for these in your Singapore office.

• What is the difference between two- and three-prong outlets? If you have just moved into a new apartment and noticed that some of the plugs have three slots while others only have two, it means that one of them is for plugs with guards for electric shock. The two-prong outlets only have one connection to a hot wire and another for a neutral wire, while the three-prong outlets have both neutral, hot wire connection, and an extra ground connection.

• How do I know if my home needs a rewiring? Apartments that are older than ten years need to be inspected to make sure that the electrical system can meet the demands of modern appliances and gadgets. Rewiring is easy (it will not take more than two weeks) and safe because you are ensuring that there are no fire hazards in the system. For example, some wires, receptacles, and joints might be worn out but are difficult to see especially if they are covered by the walls and ceiling. Call a licensed electrician to perform an inspection.

• Is it okay to try DIY projects? Do-it-yourself electrical projects are fine as long as you have the expertise and the experience as well as the permission from the landlord. However, if you need to have a project completed, it would be much safer for your family to call a good electrician in Singapore to do it for you. If you are worried about the cost, think about how much you will need to spend for accidents that could result in sloppy work versus the quality work of a professional.

8 VoIP Provider Hiring Mistakes That Could Spell Disaster for You

Small and mid-sized businesses in Singapore are now steering away from traditional telecom providers in record numbers, with each of them hoping to take advantage of the cost saving capabilities of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) while leveraging the calling features it provides. But with the potential for great return being this high, it has become easy to get caught up in the hype, rush into making decisions, and end up settling with a less than capable VoIP provider. To help mitigate the risk and ensure that you reap the maximum benefits of this phone service, we listed down some hiring mistakes you should avoid as you start searching for your VoIP service provider.

1. Disregarding How the Technology Works
Before you proceed in choosing a VoIP provider for your business, you should first ensure that you understand how the VoIP technology works. You don’t need to become an expert on the VoIP technology, but learning the basics – such as knowing how it functions – will certainly help you avoid the pitfalls that some providers might not disclose.

2. Failing to Learn About the Hidden Charges
Although VoIP in Singapore are inexpensive, have the initiative to go one step farther than the price you see on the provider’s website as there might be some hidden charges like its licensing, support and usage. For instance, you might notice a great price on the unlimited calling on your prospective provider’s website, but in the brochure it might state that the price doesn’t actually include calls made outside of their network. If this is case, inform your prospective VoIP provider beforehand to include both local and international calls in their unlimited call plans.

3. Hiring a Flagship VoIP Provider
If the provider that you are planning to hire is new to the VoIP industry, then it’s possible that they are using your business as a test subject. While this isn’t true to all new VoIP providers, it’s crucial that you find and hire someone who knows their craft and has been in the industry for quite some time. After all, you wouldn’t want to hire someone who will disappear on the fly, or worse, leave you with a system that will cause you a lot of headaches later on.

For that reason, ensure that you spend some time learning about your prospective hosted pbx solution offered in Singapore as this investment will surely return to you tenfold. Browse through local hosted pbx providers to cater to your business needs.

4. Choosing Someone Who Won’t Consider Bandwidth and Traffic
When implementing a VoIP service in your business in Singapore, it’s crucial to remember that your phone calls will be transmitted over your internet connection. Depending on the type of connection that you have, the upload capacity of your VoIP might be limited. If you have a large amount of data and voice, you might not have enough bandwidth to effectively use your VoIP service. The end result will be an unreliable VoIP connection and issues with data transmission using your internet connection.

To keep this from happening, ensure that you provider knows and listens to your needs. It would also be a good idea to get feedbacks from the people who previously hired your prospective provider so you will have an idea as to how the service works.

5. Forgetting to Ask About any Necessary Licenses
Using a VoIP on your home computer is relatively easy – you simply choose a provider, pay your monthly fee, and download the necessary software interface. However, it doesn’t work this way when it comes to using the services for your business, as most providers use licensing to lock their clients in. These VoIP in Singapore also use great value telecom services to hide licensing, making their offer look better until you are already locked in. To keep this from happening, inquire about any possible licenses that they have before you sign on the dotted line.

6. Failing to Ask About Their Disaster Recovery Plan
One of the first questions you should be asking your prospective VoIP provider is whether or not they have a plan in place for disaster recovery. Failing to do so will likely leave you stranded in case a system failure occurs. So don’t assume that your VoIP provider will automatically provide disaster recovery services to your business. Instead, ensure beforehand if these services are actually offered or not.

7. Neglecting the Features Offered by the Provider
While some of the phone services you need for your business seems like a “no brainer”, you will be surprised at how many VoIP providers in Singapore actually leave out some basic services like call forwarding. So instead of relying that all the services you want are already provide, require your provider to perform a demonstration so you fully understand what is being offered in the plan you are planning to get. Doing this will certainly help in avoiding negative surprises that might adversely affect your business later on.

8. Forgetting to Perform a Network Test
Some VoIP in Singapore will not bother evaluating your existing network to see if it’s capable of handling the VoIP system that you need. If your prospective VoIP provider is one of those teams, simply ask them about it. If things start becoming sketchy as they answer, do yourself and your business a favour and move on the next VoIP on your list.

With the hype in the VoIP system these days, it’s quite easy to end up hiring an incompetent and inexperienced provider. To keep that from happening, ensure that you avoid committing these mistakes when choosing a VoIP provider. Make sure that you are hiring someone who’s offering a reliable technical support and system maintenance. After all, this is an area of your business you would not want to cut corners, as it could spell disaster if you do.

An Overview of the Urban Districts in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam has become a popular destination in Asia because of its fast-growing property investment ventures and commercial and industrial growth in the past several years. Formerly known as Saigon, the city is divided into 24 districts called Quan, each with distinct features and sites you need to see. Fortunately, investing in a Saigon apartment rental is affordable, whether you’re looking for a dream apartment for rent in district 2 or you want to live in the busiest central districts by closing a great deal for a condominium rental in district 1, there are a lot of choices awaiting you.

Here’s everything you need to know about the City with Two Names if you plan to look for your dream home in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon is known as the capital of the southern part of Vietnam and rivals even the busy capital of Hanoi with its growing residential, commercial, and industrial enterprises and ventures from both local and foreign investors. Because of its dynamic modern and traditional characteristics, Ho Chi Minh City has attracted various international communities, making this area a viable option for vietnamese house rental among tourists and expats. In fact, there are districts or quan in HCMC that cater to foreign residents and tourists. Consequently, it has become easy to rent a house in district 3 for example, because of the growing demand for affordable but quality condominiums, apartments, villa rental, and houses in various urban districts.

Saigon, the former capital of Vietnam, began as a fishing village of the Khmer people before it was annexed during the Nguyen dynasty in the close of the 1600s. In 1950, it came under French rule until 1975 and was renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the revolutionary leader who was instrumental in the independence movement against the French Union.

Ho Chi Minh City’s rich and colorful history is reflected in its architecture, food, and festivals. HCMCs tourism is a catalyst in the rise of the demands for Saigon apartment rental in this part of Vietnam because you can travel to other premium destinations in the country from the city. The atmosphere is also expat-friendly because HCMC in a major junction for public transportation systems and has plenty of world-class accommodations, restaurants and cafes, markets and shopping malls, hospitals, international schools and universities, and public offices.

12 HCMC Districts

Ho Chi Minh City has 24 districts, 19 if which are called the inner or urban districts, while the other 5 are considered suburban districts. If you plan to rent apartment in Saigon, it is important to determine which district you’re going to stay at because the price range for the villa rental or rent a house deals differ in each district. For example, in the busiest urban districts where most of the commercial and corporate offices are found, the cost of living is higher. If you cannot afford the posh condominiums in district 1 for example, you might want to consider apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh City in the surrounding districts.

Transportation and access to hospitals, malls, and schools are also important factors, as well as considering which areas in specific districts have a lot of expats. This is why most expats rent apartment at HCMC in districts 3 and 5 because of the number of foreign residents in the area.

Not all of the district, however, are as crowded as district 1, and there are still a lot of affordable Saigon apartment rental deals waiting for you. Let’s look at 12 of the 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh City.

• District 1. Most of the upscale villa rental and posh apartments are found here, as well as high-end shopping malls, entertainment centers, and world-class restaurants and hotels. This is also the center for the region’s commercial and administrative activities. But if looking for the same level of opulence for a better price, you may want to stay in a condo at vin home binh thanh district for a more peaceful environment that’s just about 20 minutes drive from District 1.

• District 2. Considered a family-friendly district, this is an ideal place to look for an apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh City if you’re taking your kids with you. It has several schools and rent a house deals perfect for a family of four.

• District 3. If you want peace and quiet, this is the best place to rent apartment at HCMC because it has several serviced apartments for busy workers and entrepreneurs who want to live within a few minutes of travel to district 1.

• District 4. It has the smallest area among all the districts, but you can still find plenty of options for apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh City here. The district may be small, but it doesn’t fall short of attractions, restaurants and food stalls.

• District 5. This is considered the Chinatown of HCMC and is known for its delicious array of street food. This is the ideal place to look for an apartment for rent in Ho Chi Minh City if you want affordable deals.

• District 6. It also has a large population of Chinese migrants and has plenty of pagodas and temples you need to see.

• District 7. This is the best place to look for a rent a house deal for families who want a long-term investment. The housing development in this district is the best.

• District 8. It’s less busy than the surrounding districts although you will find it difficult to find rental deals here.

• District 9. If you don’t want to live near the central districts, this is the best place to rent apartment in Saigon.

• District 10. This is the best place for people who want to explore Vietnam’s cuisine. It is also the ideal place for students looking for cheap lodging or for families with children who want to rent a house near some of the best schools in the country.

• District 11. It is known primarily for its water park and some pagodas.

• District 12. Tourists love the district for its several fishing spots, kite-flying activities, and historical landmarks.


Read all

Home Calendar Members  Photos Local Resources Observing Programs By-Laws Blogs Contact Us