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Sunday, September 21, 2014

How to Open a Stationery Store

by Katie Rosehill, Demand Media

A stationery can be a profitable business.
A stationery can be a profitable business.
Papers and pens, gift wrap and ribbons, cards and notes are all part of what you find in a stationery store. Add invitations, books, gifts and magazines and your store is stocked. Opening a stationery store takes planning, preparation and research. You don't have to be located in a huge shopping mall, but your store does have to have visibility to your potential customers. The founder of the William Ernst Brown brand grew his tiny 400-square-foot stationery store into a nationally recognized brand, according to Arlene R. Barro, the author of "Win Without Competing."


Research the competition. While you might be the only stationery store in the shopping mall or strip shopping center, you may not be the only store carrying stationery, cards, pens, pencils and such. Review the types of cards the other stores carry and offer your customers something a little different along with the expected "Happy Birthday" and "Congratulations" cards. Consider carrying wedding invitation catalogs. Find a calligrapher to work on a freelance basis to address cards. If the other stores don't offer business stationery and supplies, that could be an option for you.
Step 2
Obtain licenses and registrations. Call the business development office for your state and city to find out what's necessary. At the minimum, a business license and sales tax license will be required. The sales tax license is sometimes required by vendors so they can give you a wholesale discount on notes, cards and the rest of the inventory you purchase and not charge you sales tax on items you intend to resell.
Step 3
Acquire start-up funding. At a minimum, the first and last month's rent and security deposit will be required by the landlord. When you sign a lease, you're obligating your business to make the lease payments every month for the term of the lease. If your stationery store closes, you're still liable for the lease. There also may be additional fees for parking and utilities. The initial inventory for the store is necessary to open as well. A financial management system is necessary to track inventory purchases, sales, taxes owed and cut checks for payments. Also, you need a point of sale terminal and credit card processing equipment.
Step 4
Set up vendors. Stationery stores offer gift items, inspirational books, candles and potpourri as well as paper and pens. Attend gift trade shows to see the upcoming trends and to meet with vendors. The exhibitors may be distributors, wholesales or the manufacturer. In any case, select the vendor based on overall prices and merchandise, but keep terms and shipping costs in mind. Consider minimum purchase requirements as part of the overall selection process. Vendors may have a dollar minimum purchase or a number minimum purchase. If the only way you can buy that cute teddy bear note paper is to buy 100 boxes, you may not have the storage space.
Step 5
Plan a grand opening celebration. Offer free face painting for the children. Take their photo and email it to the parents. Use the email list to announce specials, tips and hints to encourage people to come back to your store. Hand out free pens with the store's name. Have a drawing for a complete stationery package -- letterhead, envelopes, blank note cards, thank you cards and such. Set up a demonstration on paper making. Announce the grand opening through advertising and by sending out press releases.

Tips

  • Choose a location that gets traffic. Location is important to the success of any retail establishment.
  • Listen to your customers. If they consistently ask for something you don't have, consider stocking it.

Warning

  • Pay all taxes and withholdings promptly.

About the Author

Katie Rosehill's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.

Photo Credits

  • PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

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Getting the Right Point-of-Sale (POS) software

The right point-of-sale software system can save you as much as five hours a day, and retail establishments can see an average of 15 percent of their gross annual sales as return on their POS investment. Each system is designed for a specific industry and size, and can offer thousands of features. Because so much hinges on this decision, it is essential for gift shop owners to find the optimal POS system.

This article compares five POS packages based on ease of use, cost and company reliability for follow-up support. These are only a handful of considerations that business owners need to evaluate when finding the optimal POS system for their stores, and the buying decision shouldn’t end here.
A point-of-sale software package is, at its simplest, a computer program that takes the place of a simple cash drawer. All sales are made through the computer. A person enters the information, sales and transactions, and the system records and tracks everything. However, POS systems have dozens, if not hundreds, of features, some that you’ll need and others you may not.
Such features include: inventory management, purchasing, receiving, payroll, e-commerce, security, sales reports, customer tracking, order tracking, accounts receivable and accounts payable, among others. When you are narrowing your POS choices, make sure to compare systems based on a prioritized list of features that you feel will most benefit your business. An online tool to compare different POS systems can be found at:www.possoftwareguide.com.
Buying the best-sounding package is one of several mistakes that buyers make when purchasing their POS systems. Retailers need to take the time to evaluate their needs and consider their future growth. Ask your sales representative for a demonstration, ask for training, and don’t buy hardware first, because different software packages have different requirements. Be sure you don’t let cost be your deciding factor, because you do get what you pay for. An effective POS system should make life easier, show an early return on investment, and in the long run save time and money. In addition, the cost of the system alone tells only part of the story.
The true cost of the investment will vary significantly when you consider fees for training, configuration, hardware, support and, possibly, data-conversion services. Company reputation is also a very important factor, because you’re not just buying a software package; you’re buying a relationship. Consider what would happen if your system went down on a busy Saturday morning during the holiday rush and your company’s customer support wasn’t available until Monday morning.
An ideal POS system needs to satisfy two important requirements. First, it needs to be designed for a gift shop, which has different needs than a dry cleaner, a restaurant or a liquor store. In addition, your POS system should be designed for an establishment of your size.

Microsoft RMS

Microsoft has been in the software business for more than 30 years and has sold its retail-management system to thousands of customers. Company longevity is important because if a software manufacturer goes out of business, customers can be left with no support and no chance of future upgrades.
Support is offered through a reseller and direct through Microsoft, which means that support call-back times, prices and training all vary. A reseller in this case is an individual or a company that has partnered with Microsoft to sell and support its POS software packages. This allows the resellers to establish their own customer service policies and practices. Because you are buying more than a package, you’re buying a partnership, it is important to ask questions and get references on your local resellers.
The initial software price is $1,190 per lane for one to five checkout lanes, and $1,090 per lane for six to 20 lanes. This is a very reasonable price for what the product offers. Microsoft RMS is best suited for the small to mid-sized retailer. It is Windows-based, which makes it easy for anyone who is familiar with Windows to use. The general system features the ability to view all printable reports on screen, a report generator that allows you to create your own reports and export them into Microsoft Excel, and a network failsafe that allows you to continue entering information even if your network is down.
A drawback is that there isn’t an available training mode that would allow you to practice with your own in-store data, and the variety of available reports may not meet your needs. On the other hand, security is pretty good, allowing you to password-protect each module. Screens and menus are customizable.

PayGo by Christian James Inc.

Christian James Inc. has been in business for five years and has more than 400 customers. A real up-and-comer in the industry, one of its greatest strengths is its customer service and small-business focus. The average call-back time is less than an hour, and telephone support is offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST every day. Support fees range from $399 to $799 a year, depending on your choice of support options.
Telephone-and computer-based training is standard. On-site training costs $599 a day. Classroom training is not an option, although it may be in the near future. While many software manufacturers, including Christian James, will visit your store and install the software for you, with PayGo there is an additional cost that varies depending on your location and installation needs. One unique feature that PayGo does offer is “virtual installation,” where a member of the Christian James staff will walk you through your installation process step-by-step.
The initial software price is $1,799. PayGo can be utilized on personal computers and Macs. It offers a customizable screen, menu and training mode utilizing in-store data at an additional cost. Network failsafe and integrated shipping is planned for a future release.
PayGo does not offer integrated accounting options such as payroll and general ledger, though some of these features are planned for the future. At press time, a major new release had been scheduled for this month (January 2007). The security options are extensive. Another plus is that users are able to issue, track and redeem gift certificates. Overall, the PayGo system is extremely easy to use and has a reputation for good customer support. The downsides are the cost of add-ons and the slightly higher base cost.

Radiant Systems Counterpoint

Radiant Systems has more than 10,000 product installations. Customer support is offered through dealers, so call-back time and availability varies. Radiant offers a subscription service for updates. The starting price ranges from $2,000 to $2,500 per user, depending on the dealer and the options.
Counterpoint is available in Windows, Linux and Unix, which makes it easy to integrate into whatever operating system your store is using. It is a stable and extremely customizable package. Customer reviews indicate that it is also an intuitive package. Training and installation are offered through dealer channels. Options vary.
As with the other POS choices listed so far, Counterpoint does not offer integrated accounting. However, it is a feature-rich package that offers accounts receivable, inventory and customer management, purchasing, gift-certificate redemption, tracking and issuing, definable screens and menus, network failsafe, and a wide variety of security options.

Retail Pro

This company has been in business since 1978 and has more than 25,000 product installations. Customer support is offered by a Retail Pro business partner, so availability and call-back response can vary. Support is offered via telephone, in a classroom, on site and through the computer. Training costs $720 for eight hours online, $795 for three days in the classroom, or $995 for a day on-site.
The price varies depending on the reseller. Retail Pro is a Windows-based package. Integrated accounting and accounts receivable features are not available. But this is an extremely feature-rich product. Just about any POS function, report or task—including inventory management and reporting, customer management and marketing, purchasing, and gift certificates—is standard. Security options are plentiful, multi-store options are supported, and reports are customizable.

Prophetline

Manufactured by Spectrum Retail, which has been in business for 14 years, Prophetline has been installed at more than 2,500 customer locations. Support and training are offered direct or through a reseller, which means that support can vary. Support is available during normal business hours and costs $995 a year—this fee includes updates. Because buyers have the ability to choose modules—such as accounts receivable, marketing, order tracking and design—the total software package price varies.
Prophetline is a Windows-based software package and an extremely feature-rich product. Like the other packages outlined here, Prophetline includes multi-store operations, security-protected modules, network failsafe and gift certificate functions. Another advantage—unlike the others outlined, Prophetline does offer integrated accounting. However, screens and icons are not customizable.
There are hundreds of POS software systems available, many of them designed for the gift shop industry. Visit company Web sites, speak to representatives, ask for and call references, compare products based on desired features, ask for quotes, and always request a demonstration.
Software prices and features change on a continual basis. Retailers are advised to always check and determine the current status and price of each POS system.
Purchasing POS software is one of the most important decisions that a business owner can make. If it is done hastily, business owners may end up with a very frustrating experience, costing themselves and their businesses time and money. If the process is followed correctly, owners will have a business-empowering tool for years to come.

Get More Out of Your POS

If you already have a POS system, there are several things that you can do to make sure that you’re optimizing your investment.
The most important, and maybe the most elementary thing that you can do is to utilize all of the software training available. Training sessions, whether on-site, on-line, or at a seminar, can prove invaluable by teaching you tips, tricks, and best practices in the gift shop industry.
Gift shops that take advantage of their inventory control features can also save a lot of time and money. Use your POS software inventory features to track sales history, track special orders, suggest purchase orders, send orders electronically, and forecast future needs.
Take advantage of the Customer Relationship Management features in your POS software. Most systems offer powerful CRM features that allow you to identity market segments and send targeted messages to those customers.
For example, you can send a coupon to customers that spent over $100 last month—or bring lost customers back in by sending a 20 percent off coupon to customers who haven’t bought from you in six months.
Finally, pay attention to your financials and key performance indicators and review them on a daily basis. For example, review key sales reports that show your profit margins for each department and category. If you notice that a profit margin is low, examine why it’s low. Maybe there is a big pricing mistake or employee theft is the cause.
It pays to examine all aspects of your POS system to make sure that you are getting the maximum benefit.
Take the time to review your software guide, and if possible speak with other gift shop owners who are utilizing the same software.

How POS Software Can Help

POS software can give you a massive boost in profits by reducing pricing errors. Because each item’s price is entered into the computer only once, and not every time an item is rung up, you will no longer lose money, nor, equally important, have an unhappy customer.
An important factor for a gift shop with many items to track is that POS software can simplify your inventory management system and reduce inventory costs, by instantly showing you which items aren’t moving and which items are. This will enable you to track your best sellers and slow movers, and adjust pricing and inventory accordingly. Some packages also allow you to track special orders and layaways, automatically create purchase orders based on sales, and show you where you are overstocked or understocked.
POS software can also amplify your marketing efforts. Your single most powerful marketing tool is your customer list, which is stored in your POS software. Most software programs come with a variety of integrated marketing features that allow you to identify specific customer segments by sales, demographics and buying habits. Thus, you are able to target these customers with specific marketing promotions, discounts and sales.
Your software’s integrated Customer Relationship Management features can allow you to send sales letters or promotions to your existing customers. It can also allow you to set up automated mailings and thank you letters to promote customer loyalty, and can produce reports that allow you to monitor your marketing efforts. When these CRM features are integrated into a software package without additional cost, they can be significantly more economical than hiring a separate loyalty service provider.
POS software can reduce your bookkeeping and accounting work by calculating your monthly sales tax in a matter of seconds; print monthly sales, receivables and other accounting-related statements with the click of a few buttons; automatically enter transactions into your accounts receivable; and show whom you owe, and how much, so that you can control your cash flow, create journal entries, and make your year-end accounting much less painful.
Possibly more important than all of the above, POS software can help you serve your customers faster and more efficiently. No more running to the back to find a price, and no more slow checkouts. Customers also appreciate the efficiency of crisp, clean receipts, a clerk’s knowledge of their past purchases, and clear record-keeping regarding their in-house credits and available discounts.
POS software systems show your customers that you are ahead of the game. Check verification becomes fast and painless. Bar code scanning, touch screens, signature pads and electronic check readers make the transaction process fast, easy and accurate.

Where are the negatives?

Now that we have gone over the many advantages of a POS system, it’s also important to point out the negatives. POS systems cost money. In addition to the software costs, you may need to purchase additional hardware and consider training fees, monthly support fees, update and maintenance fees, data-conversion fees, hardware configuration fees, back-up systems, networking costs and Internet access. Prices for these vary depending on your needs and the requirements of your software.
You’ll have to invest a significant amount of time to not only research and find the right software package for your business, but also on training—both for you and your employees. Training time varies depending on the software package, the computer skills of your staff and the training that is available from your provider.
It is important to know that leasing is usually an option, and it can be a very effective cost-saving alternative to a one-time cash payment.
Another potential negative is that the POS system might go down or be inoperational for a while. Most systems have a network failsafe, which means that you can continue entering transactions while the network is down without losing the information. If you experience problems with your software, you must contact your customer support for assistance. So it is important to make sure you have a quality customer support system before you make your purchase.

So, should I buy one?

Is your business large enough to support a retail management system? The answer is probably yes. If you gross more than $100,000 a year, then you probably need a system.
Will a POS system pay for itself and make you more money? Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer is yes, but you have to calculate this one using a cost analysis, or a return-on-investment calculator. Industry standards say that a quality POS system adds 15 percent to your bottom line. If you gross $100,000, that’s an increase of $15,000. And that doesn’t include your time savings, which can add up to five hours a day or more.
The importance of choosing a quality POS system cannot be overemphasized. Talking to your sales representative or a sales consultant to determine your costs and possible financial and time gains is strongly recommended.

Editor’s note: The inclusion of a POS system in the list doesn’t imply an endorsement. Retailers are advised to do their own research on the software packages discussed in this article, as well as others that are designed for the gift shop industry.


A Few Good Point Of Sales Systems

From museum stores to gift shops, organizations with retail storefronts need Point Of Sales solutions that help process transactions, provide reporting, and manage inventory. What are the options in this area?
Point of Sales, or POS, systems help manage the transaction between a buyer and seller, and typically support physical rather than online storefronts. Far more than just a cash register or credit card processing machine, POS systems consist of various combinations of software, hardware and services to keep track of everything from items, prices, taxes, sale date and time, discounts and payments. 
They can also handle returns and voided transactions, and some POS software will support related needs ranging from inventory management to sales and accounting reports. 
Transactions can’t live in a vacuum—they’ve got to be tracked to keep your books balanced, and many POS systems connect or report out to separate accounting software. Some have their own built-in e-commerce systems or can connect to your existing system to allow merchants to integrate point-of-sales information with online storefronts. 
Part of the appeal of POS software is that it can be run on a variety of computer hardware, from standard desktop systems and laptops to mobile devices like Android phones and tablets, iPhones and iPads, making it a viable and affordable choice for small businesses and organizations. Some can be combined with cash drawers or price display monitors to make them more “customer-friendly.” They’re often sold as “all in one” or “integrated” systems that contain all the hardware needed to process sales, including a computer, a touchscreen keypad for data entry, a receipt printer, POS software, a cash drawer, bar code scanner, “price poles” that display prices to customers, and a credit card terminal.
You don’t need a POS to take credit card payments—some card readers, like the Square (https://squareup.com), plug in directly to your smartphone or table, and there are a number of other ways to accept credit card payments. (For more information, see “A Few Good Methods For Processing Credit Cards.”) But if you want to use your POS to take credit card payments, you’ll need a payment processing service and merchant account to collect money from customer accounts, and a credit card reader, or terminals, to swipe cards on site. 

All-Around POS Choices

Intuit QuickBooks POS (http://intuitpayments.com/POS
A popular all-around choice, the Intuit POS solution provides an easy user interface that makes it one of the simplest systems to adopt. It integrates with other QuickBooks products, making it easy to import from or share with QuickBooks account systems, and supports inventory management with alert features to signal when inventory is low. 
QuickBooks POS tracks customer data at the point of sale, and when coupled with the customer rewards system built-in to the Pro version, can track loyal customers and provide them with incentives to return. Intuit provides a turnkey credit payment processing solution, making it easy to get a payment processor and merchant account system in place.
QuickBooks POS comes at three price points—$1,100, $1,600 and $1,800 per license—and is installed locally rather than hosted. The least expensive Basic package lacks some features for managing employees, shipping integration, customization for price tags, and more, but covers the core POS needs required for most stores. The most-expensive package supports multiple store locations that require centralized management.
Microsoft Dynamics bills itself as an “Enterprise Resource Planning” (ERP) software suite, and contains several packages for managing both constituent and transactional information. Both Dynamics POS system and Retail Management System (RMS) are designed to support store transaction information, though Dynamics POS is the more affordable of the two, targeting key point of sales needs for smaller stores. 
Less-customizable than the more advanced RMS solution, Dynamics POS features support for running a single storefront, including sales reports, purchase orders and receipt generation, customer purchase history, role-based security, and  time tracking. Additional features include inventory management and integration with Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting and QuickBooks. Dynamics POS costs about $1,400 per license.
Dynamics RMS is better suited for multisite store support, and for nonprofits who may need additional software customizations and integrations to improve the efficiency of the entire POS process. RMS includes options for customizing reports and receipts, more-advanced integration to support connections to e-commerce solutions for online storefronts, and the ability to manage more complex sale items—for example, clothing with size-and-color information that affects pricing and inventory. Dynamics RMS integrates with a variety of accounting systems including MYOB (http://myob.com.au/), Peachtree (http://na.sage.com/Sage-50-Accounting-US/) and Blackbaud (https://www.blackbaud.com/) products. Dynamics RMS costs approximately $3,000 for the first two licenses, and approximately $500 per license thereafter.

Cloud-Based Services

Cloud-based solutions are becoming increasingly popular for the ease of setup and affordable, predictable pricing they offer. These systems offer easier integrations with multiple storefronts, social media promotion and support for mobile devices. 
Posterita (www.posterita.org)
Posterita is a newer cloud based point of sales solution, offered for free to clients. They profit through means other than licensing to clients, including ecommerce integration, customizations, support and developer app development fees. They have preferred payment processors used for payment transactions - nonprofits may need to switch payment processors if they are not on their list. 
ZingCheckout (http://www.zingcheckout.com
ZingCheckout is a simple POS system with a free version that’s appropriate for cash-only single-store, single-user storefronts. To use ZingCheckout to process credit card payments through the vendor’s preferred payment processors, additional licensing is required at $50 per year.
Cashier Live starts at $20 per month for a single store with up to three registers and unlimited users. The vendor offers hardware bundles that work with the service, including stationary and mobile POS register systems.

POS Systems Specialized for Nonprofit Needs

A few systems stand out for their efforts to support POS processes common to many nonprofits. 
Blackbaud’s Altru is designed to comprehensively support museum management, one component of which is storefront POS, including museum gift shops, ticketing and facilities reservations. In addition, Altru serves as a constituent management system for managing a museum’s donor and membership management, volunteer management, mass email marketing and more. The system starts at $10,000 per year including unlimited users, setup and training, and can increase in price depending on the level of configuration or customization support required to meet specific needs.
Cougar Mountain has developed the “Denali” suite of software targeting accounting and POS needs for businesses. The system software integrates with Cougar Mountain’s Denali accounting systems and connects with its Denali FUND + Accounting system for nonprofits. The POS system lets nonprofits designate products to apply to specific funds, which can help in cases where restricted grants require specific tracking of sold items. Cougar Mountain offers hardware bundles, as well, providing the touchscreen, computer, price poles, scanners and receipt printers needed to complete a POS system. Cougar Mountain software and service is tailored to each client’s needs, and they do not offer predetermined pricing. Pricing for a single register software system starts at $5,000, including accounting integration.

Open Source Systems

Many open source solutions may be appropriate for nonprofits with a strong technology development team, as significant customization will be needed to support a unique POS process. One of them, Openbravo (http://openbravo.com), is a mature and well-adopted free ERP software package with a strong POS component. Developer teams can implement their own system using Openbravo, or work with a service provider using a professional version of the product. Expect to pay about $10,000 and up for 10 users. 

How To Choose

When choosing a Point of Sale system, it’s important to first look closely at your specific point of sales process and define what you expect of POS software and hardware to provide the greatest efficiency for your needs. 
Create a plan to help you understand your goals for your new software, and have the funds available to invest in implementation, training and support. Identify what you will you need in the way of reporting—customer receipts, purchase orders, or sales and inventory reports—and make sure the solution you choose supports it. 
If you’re not buying an all-in-one package and plan to use your own hardware, be sure the POS system will work with it. Make sure it will also work with any other transaction-related software you plan to use, including e-commerce systems and your current accounting software. 
A good POS system will make transaction-related tasks easy, allowing you to focus on the bigger picture of managing your organization’s retail presence and interacting with customers.  

This article was originally published by TechSoup. We're grateful to them for the financial support of this article, as well as to the following nonprofit technology professionals for providing recommendations, advice and other help:
Peter Campbell, Earth Justice (www.earthjustice.org)
Tamara Page, Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org)

Eric Leland is a partner at FivePaths (http://www.fivepaths.com). He worked with Idealware (http://www.idealware.org) to research and write this article.

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New ISI chief — time for the PM to pick and choose

By Baqir Sajjad Syed

Updated a day ago
PM Nawaz Sharif is faced with the difficult choice of picking a new ISI chief — AFP photo/ File
PM Nawaz Sharif is faced with the difficult choice of picking a new ISI chief — AFP photo/ File
ISLAMABAD: Barely in his second year in office, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is faced with the difficult choice of picking a new Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief — a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for the already strained civil-military relations.
Director General of ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam, who was appointed as the spy chief in March 2012, is set to retire on Oct 1.
And for many reasons, the sit-ins and the floods have not stopped politicians, journalists and analysts from speculating on who will replace Gen Islam in this key post.
An extension for Gen Islam is highly unlikely; while the government is not too keen on the idea. It is also evident that the military is in no mood to ask for it. No wonder then that speculation is rife on the next man who will hold the position called DG I.
With the control that the head of the ISI enjoys on intelligence gathering within the country and the role the agency has played in Pakistani politics, the filling of the post generally attracts considerable attention.
And at the present juncture, the allegations about ISI having played a role in instigating the dharnas and the general state of the civil-military relations have added to the interest in Gen Islam’s successor.
So who can be a likely candidate?
According to the procedure, the army chief will recommend a panel of lieutenant generals to the prime minister for the latter to make the final choice.
However, at least once in the recent past, only one name was sent to the prime minister.
In 2012, the then army chief retired Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani sent only one name — Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam — to the PPP government for appointment as the ISI chief, not allowing the government any choice.
The government, which was recovering from the memogate controversy, accepted Mr Kayani’s proposal without much ado, a general who has now retired, disclosed to Dawn.
And while this time around the appointment will also take place against the backdrop of another political crisis, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif is not Kayani and Prime Minister Sharif does not appear to be as willing to acquiesce as the PPP government then did.
But before the identity of the new head is unveiled, there will be another, military related development — five officers will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant generals to fill the vacancies created by the retirement of five lieutenant generals on Oct 1.
Besides Gen Islam, the other four who will hang up their uniforms on Oct 1 are Lt Gen Tariq Khan, corps commander of Mangla; Lt Gen Saleem Nawaz, corps commander of Gujranwala; Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani, corps commander of Peshawar; and Lt Gen Sajjad Ghani, corps commander of Karachi.
Therefore, before the army chief sends a list to the prime minister, he will first be carrying out some in-house promotions. And these newly promoted men could also be in line for the ISI post.
But what sort of considerations will guide Gen Sharif while selecting a panel to send to the prime ministers?
Those who keep an eye on military affairs suggest that the army chief will look at issues such as retirement date, experience of intelligence operations and political inclinations.
Gen Sharif, who has over two years in office, may want an ISI chief who will last as long as his own tenure. If this is how he thinks, eight lieutenant generals will no longer be in the running.
Analysts also suggest that the army chief, who does not have much intelligence experience, may want an ISI chief who is well versed with the system and can adequately assist him in intelligence matters.
Even though DG I technically works under the prime minister and is supposed to directly report to him, the army chief has traditionally been the spymaster’s de facto boss.
In the words of a defence analyst, “Gen Sharif would want a loyalist in office, while Prime Minister Sharif may also be looking for one.”
Extrapolating from this, it can be said that Gen Sharif would prefer a politically neutral officer. Any suggestion or hints of what the government may prefer would not help that particular officer; in fact, it may just kill his chances altogether.
As a matter of fact, if the army chief wants to sideline the government’s preference (provided he has been given a hint) subtly, he can simply appoint the officer for one of the corps commanders positions that will have to be filled before the ISI slot.
However, at the moment, this is simply conjecture as there is no information about whether or not the prime minister has a preference, let alone having expressed it.
In the absence of such information, it can be safely said that Gen Sharif will be looking for someone he can trust and this may be someone he has promoted himself. While he has already promoted one batch recently, the next set will be promoted on Oct 1, as explained earlier.
And analysts feel that it is among these groups that he will look for the men who can fill the critical slot.
It is noteworthy that former ISI, chief retired Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, was given the ISI assignment immediately after his elevation from major general to lieutenant general.
In addition, some observers point out that Gen Sharif has already given some important posts to younger generals — the appointment of Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ashfaq Nadeem is a case in point.
Once these various considerations are taken into account, those who keep an eye on military affairs suggest that NDU President Lt Gen Javed Iqbal Ramday and DG Rangers Sindh Maj Gen Rizwan Akhtar should be watched. Maj Gen Naveed Mukhtar, who can also be promoted in October, is also one to consider as he has experience of intelligence.
Others likely to be considered are Lt Gen Obaidullah Khattak, Lt Gen Ikramul Haq (who were also promoted by the chief himself) and Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan, who was promoted by Mr Kayani.
However, it is not possible to say more with any certainty.
The final decision, after all, will be made by the men at the top. How few these are and who they finally choose remains to be seen.
Published in Dawn, September 20th , 2014
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that five officers will be promoted to the rank of major generals. They will be promoted to the rank of lieutenant generals.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Standard Measurements in Sports

Here you can find the standard measurements used in baseball, basketball, bowling, boxing, football, golf, hockey, and tennis.

BASEBALL

Home plate to pitcher's box:60 feet 6 inches.
Plate to second base:127 feet 3 3/8 inches.
Distance from base to base (home plate included):90 feet.
Size of bases:15 inches by 15 inches.
Pitcher's plate:24 inches by 6 inches.
Batter's box:4 feet by 6 feet.
Home plate:Five-sided, 17 inches by 8 1/2 inches by 8 1/2 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, cut to a point at rear.
Home plate to backstop:Not less than 60 feet (recommended).
Weight of ball:Not less than 5 ounces nor more than 5 1/4 ounces.
Circumference of ball:Not less than 9 inches nor more than 9 1/4 inches.
Bat:Must be one piece of solid wood, round, not over 2 3/4 inches in diameter at thickest part, nor more than 42 inches in length.

BASKETBALL

(National Collegiate A.A. Men's Rules)
Playing court:College: 94 feet long by 50 feet wide (ideal dimensions). High School: 84 feet long by 50 feet wide (ideal dimensions).
Baskets:Rings 18 inches in inside diameter, with white cord 12-mesh nets, 15 to 18 inches in length. Each ring is made of metal, is not more than 5/8 of an inch in diameter, and is bright orange in color.
Height of basket:10 feet (upper edge).
Weight of ball:Not less than 20 ounces nor more than 22.
Circumference of ball:Not greater than 30 inches and not less than 29 1/2.
Free-throw line:15 feet from the face of the backboard, 2 inches wide.
Three-point field goal line:19 feet, 9 inches from the center of the basket. In the National Basketball Association, the distance is 22 feet.

SOCCER

Playing field:Minimum 100 yards long by 50 yards wide; maximum: 130 yards long by 100 yards wide. International matches: Minimum 110 yards long by 70 yards wide; Maximum: 120 yards long by 80 yards wide. Longer boundary lines are called touchlines or sidelines, and shorter boundary lines are called goal lines.
Goal area:Two lines drawn at right angles to a goal line, 6 yards from the inside of each goalpost. Lines extend into playing field for 6 yards, and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line.
Goals:Distance between posts is 8 yards. Distance from crossbar to the ground is 8 feet. Width and depth of bars not to exceed 5 inches.
Weight of ball:Not more than 16 ounces nor less than 14.
Circumference of ball:Not greater than 28 inches nor less than 27.
Penalty area:Two lines drawn at right angles to the goal line, 18 yards from the inside of each goalpost. Lines extend into playing field for 18 yards and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line.
Center circle:Radius of 10 yards. Center at midpoint of halfway line.
Flagposts:Not less than 5 feet high, and not less than 1 yard outside the touchline.
Corner arc:Quarter circle with a radius of 1 yard from each corner flagpost drawn inside playing field.

BOWLING

Lane dimensions:Overall length 62 feet 10 3/16 inches, measuring from foul line to pit (not including tail plank), with ± 1/2 inch tolerance permitted. Foul line to center of No. 1 pinspot 60 feet, with ± 1/2 inches with a tolerance of ± 1/2 inch permitted. Approach, not less than 15 feet. Gutters, 9 5/16 inches wide with plus 3/16 inch or minus 5/16 inch tolerances permitted.
Ball:Circumference, not more than 27.002 inches. Weight, 16 pounds maximum.

BOXING

Ring:Professional matches take place in an area not less than 18 nor more than 24 feet square including apron. It is enclosed by four covered ropes, each not less than one inch in diameter. The floor has a 2-inch padding of Ensolite (or equivalent) underneath ring cover that extends at least 6 inches beyond the roped area in the case of elevated rings. For USA Boxing or Olympic-style boxing, not less than 16 nor more than 20 feet square within the ropes. The floor must extend beyond the ring ropes not less than 2 feet. The ring posts shall be connected to the four ring ropes with the extension not shorter than 18 inches and must be properly padded.
Gloves:In professional fights, not less than 8-ounce gloves generally are used. USA Boxing, 10 ounces for boxers 106 pounds through 156 pounds; 12-ounce for boxers 165 pounds through 201+ pounds; for international competition, 8 ounces for lighter classes, 10 ounces for heavier divisions.
Headguards:Mandatory in Olympic-style boxing.

FOOTBALL

(NCAA)
Length of field:120 yards (including 10 yards of end zone at each end).
Width of field:53 1/3 yards (160 feet).
Height of goal posts:At least 30 feet.
Height of crossbar:10 feet.
Width of goal posts (above crossbar):18 feet 6 inches, inside to inside.
Length of ball:10 7/8 to 11 7/16 inches (long axis).
Circumference of ball:20 3/4 to 21 1/4 inches (middle); 27 3/4 to 28 1/2 inches (long axis).

GOLF

Specifications of ball:Broadened to require that the ball be designed to perform as if it were spherically symmetrical. The weight of the ball shall not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois, and the size shall not be less than 1.680 inches in diameter.
Velocity of ball:Not greater than 250 feet per second when tested on USGA apparatus, with 2 percent tolerance.
Hole:4 1/4 inches in diameter and at least 4 inches deep.
Clubs:14 is the maximum number permitted.
Overall distance standard:A brand of ball shall not exceed a distance of 280 yards plus 6% when tested on USGA apparatus under specified conditions, on an outdoor range at USGA Headquarters.

HOCKEY

Size of rink:200 feet long by 85 feet wide surrounded by a wooden wall not less than 40 inches and not more than 48 inches above level of ice.
Size of goal:6 feet wide by 4 feet in height.
Puck:1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter, made of vulcanized rubber; weight 5 1/2 to 6 ounces.
Length of stick:Not more than 60 inches from heel to end of shaft nor more than 12 1/2 inches from heel to end of blade. Blade should not be more than 3 inches in width but not less than 2 inches—except goal keeper's stick, which shall not exceed 3 1/2 inches in width except at the heel, where it must not exceed 4 1/2 inches, nor shall the goalkeeper's stick exceed 15 1/2 inches from the heel to the end of the blade.

TENNIS

Size of court:120 feet long by 60 feet wide, with rectangle marked off at 78 feet long by 27 feet wide (singles) and 78 feet long by 36 feet wide (doubles).
Height of net:3 feet in center, gradually rising to reach 3-foot 6-inch posts at a point 3 feet outside each side of court.
Ball:Shall be more than 2 1/2 inches and less than 2 5/8 inches in diameter and weigh more than 2 ounces and less than 2 1/6 ounces.
Service line:21 feet from net.

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