June, 2002
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Software Review


Software review: Microsoft “Streets & Trips”
by Gregg Harwood, ASHI Member

One of the prerequisites for presenting a professional image is showing up on time. That is easier said than done when your market covers more than a half dozen counties in two states.

If you are anything like me your office and vehicle are stuffed with maps. Well, my life has recently gotten easier with the purchase of a computer map program, Microsoft “Streets & Trips” for about $40.

As soon as the job order comes in over the phone, our secretary punches the address into the program and prints a map. If the house is quite a distance from the office, she will print one large scale and one small scale version to get us there. All of this can be done faster than looking the address up on a paper map. The printed map is then stapled to the job order, and away we go.

Yes, you can get free maps and driving directions off the internet. However, if you’re a poor boy like me without a high speed connection, this option just takes too long.

CPSC announces new email subscription lists

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) now offers five different free e-mail subscription lists, so consumers have more choices in the types of messages they can receive. The five lists are:
  • All CPSC press releases and the CPSC Public Calendar
  • All CPSC press releases
  • Only CPSC press releases involving product recalls
  • Only CPSC press releases involving product recalls that present a risk to children
  • CPSC Public Calendar
Previously, the Public Calendar and all CPSC press releases, including announcement of product recalls, civil penalties and agency news, were sent automatically via Internet e-mail to consumers who signed up for the service. Now, consumers can select exactly the type of information they wish to receive.

Four other features of this new service are:

  • Speed – the new system is much faster, so consumers will get information sooner.
  • Confirmation required – consumers can only subscribe using their own e-mail address.
  • Easy to sign up – consumers can subscribe and unsubscribe using the CPSC web form or by sending an e-mail.
  • Ease in unsubscribing – consumers don’t need to remember what e-mail address they used.
To subscribe or unsubscribe to this service go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.asp.

Free consumer brochures from UL

According to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), more than 75,000 people are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for lawn mower injuries – casualties of burns, dismemberment, electric shock, falls and thrown objects.

That’s just one of reasons UL decided to produce the “Spring into Safety” brochure. It provides tips on how to avoid some of the dangers associated with spring cleaning. Topics covered include: lawn mowers, power tools, ladder safety, and more.
Order a maximum of 50 free brochures by going to: www.ul.com.

SBA makes free business planning software available at counseling centers

Business planning just became easier with new software available for free use at U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) training and counseling centers.

Atlas Business Solutions Inc. of Fargo, N.D., designed the business-planning application called “Ultimate Business Planner.” It guides the small business entrepreneur step-by-step to create a business plan that can be presented to a lender, other financial backer, employees and managers.

“A good business plan is the heart and soul of every successful small business,” said Hector V. Barreto, SBA administrator. “Therefore the SBA is committed to making available the tools to guide small businesses at start-up and sustain their growth.”
The software has been loaded onto workstation computers at many of the agency’s Business Information Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Tribal Business Information Centers and Small Business Development Center offices around the country.

For the location nearest you, go to www.sba.gov/services, or call 1-800-U ASK SBA.

At locations where Ultimate Business Planner is unavailable, other small business planning software and a wide variety of reference and research materials are available. Many of these sites also offer free counseling and free or minimal-cost training courses and workshops for small business clients in areas that include business planning, marketing and sales.

If you are interested in purchasing “Ultimate Business Planner,” it is available on Atlas’ Web site at http://www.bptools.com/index.epl

The cost is $99 to download the program and $129 for the CD.

Top 10 solutions

Why are losses from recurring natural disasters increasing? This question served as the basis for a workshop convened by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS). Forty-two experts encompassing many professional disciplines and with broad knowledge of natural disasters and disaster reduction attended the workshop to study the problem. Their goal was to develop consensus recommendations and priorities for future research and development of cost-effective solutions to reducing recurring losses. The result was a report, published through IBHS titled, “The Ten Most Wanted–A Search for Solutions to Reduce Recurring Losses from Natural Disasters.” To view the report in pdf format go to www.ibhs.org and click on “Library” and you’ll find it under “Publications.”

ICC® launches integration Web site

The International Code Council (ICC) has created a new Web site to provide information and news about the integration of the nation’s three model code organizations: Building Officials and Code Administrators: International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI).

“Our objective is to provide our members, industry colleagues and employees with the most up-to-date and accurate facts about the integration as we move toward this historic event,” said Bill Tangye, president and CEO of ICC.

Since the turn of the last century, the U.S. has operated under a regional system in which states adopted different building safety codes provided by BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI. In 1994, these organizations formed the ICC to unify the building industry nationwide with a single building regulatory system. In 1999, the ICC achieved its goal by developing the International Codes – a single family of codes that is being adopted across the country. The founding organizations are now preparing to be integrated into the ICC to form a single, national organization that will continue setting the standard of building safety.

ICC, BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI invite anyone interested in this to visit the Web site frequently to stay informed about progress towards this event. The integration is scheduled to be completed January 2003. For more information, visit http://www.iccsafe.org/.

The ICC was founded in 1994 by BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI as a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes.