Swipe launches KONNECT at Rs. 4,999 Exclusively on Snapdeal        

by Shrutee K/DNS 

India, 4th August 2017: Swipe Technologies, India’s leading mobile internet technology company, is all set to unveil brand new member in its popular KONNECT Series - Swipe KONNECT Power.  The slim and sturdy smartphone sports 5” HD IPS display and boasts enormous 3000 mAh battery.  The compelling feature rich Swipe KONNECT Power is competitively priced at Rs. 4,999 only. It will be available exclusively on Snapdeal from 7th August 2017.

Swipe KONNECT Power is driven by a powerful 1.5GHz quad core processor that runs on Android 6.0 OS for lag-free multi-tasking smartphone experience. It comes with 2 GB RAM plus 16 GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB and OTG support enhances the storage options. The new 4G VoLTE-ready KONNECT Power features 5” HD IPS display that allows users to enjoy cleaner & sharper visuals at the highest resolution. Besides, this device has a very sleek body that makes the phone very stylish in its looks. That’s not all. For the photography enthusiast, KONNECT Power comes with 8MP Rear Camera and 5MP Front Camera. The camera app also comes with lots of features to enhance the photography. The new phone gives an extended company to the user with its 3000 mAh battery, which is installed keeping in mind the daily lifestyle and usage patterns of young smartphone users.  Commenting on the launch of KONNECT Power, Mr. Shripal Gandhi, Founder and CEO of Swipe Technologies said: “Fulfilling aspirations of demanding Indians at affordable price is what differentiates Swipe from other smartphone players.  Our latest creation is yet another affordable device under the KONNECT series – KONNECT Power. It is designed for the aspiring youth of the country who requires long lasting battery that too with 2GB RAM yet the phone is light on pocket.”
Vishal Chadha, Sr.Vice President – Business said: “As part of our commitment to the vision of Digital India, we are keen to bring our consumers access to compelling technology products at great value. With Swipe Konnect Power, we are confident that this newest exclusive addition to our smartphone assortment will be well received by our customers”
Swipe KONNECT Power comes with a gorgeous design, and it has a smoother touch experience as well as comfortable grip. Customers will be able to enjoy a greater multimedia experience, as they can capture stunning photos and videos in virtually any lighting condition.
About Swipe Technologies:
Swipe Technologies is an innovation-centric mobility solutions company, having started its operations in July 2012. Within a short span of time, Swipe has become the leading tablet and Smartphone maker in India.   Swipe was started with an aim to bring exciting devices in the growing Indian market and today, it is the leading consumer brand with key innovations across products, pricing and customer support. Founded by technocrat Mr. Shripal Gandhi, Swipe raised $5 million in May 2014 from the Venture Capital firm Kalaari Capital. In the last three years, Swipe has won a number of accolades including the “Top 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurs of India” by The Economic Times, the “Most Innovation-driven Company in India” by World Brand Congress, and the “Most Innovative Start-up” by Franchise India, the “Best Integrated Campaign” by the World Brand and Congress& the “Best Youth Brand Tablet” by CNBC. Also, Swipe’s young founder Mr. Shripal Gandhi has been recognized as the “CNBC Young Turks” for his breakthrough strategies and innovation in the field of mobile communication technologies. For details, logon to www.justswipe.com

          'Monte Paschi .. should be put into resolution, not bailed out.' (no replies)        
'A bank that has proved multiple times that it has no reason to exist should exit the market to allow stronger competitors to survive.'

'This isn’t Monte Paschi’s first state-aid rodeo. Italy bailed it out twice after the crisis when the lender failed stress tests, posted billions of euros of losses and creaked under a mountain of bad loans.

The bank’s track record has convinced some observers that it should be put into resolution, not bailed out. That would require a determination by the ECB that Monte Paschi is insolvent.

“A bank that has proved multiple times that it has no reason to exist should exit the market to allow stronger competitors to survive,” said Lutz Roehmeyer, a fund manager at Landesbank Berlin Investment in Berlin. “Permanent rescues make it impossible to clean up the market and achieve risk-adequate pricing.” '

- Boris Groendahl, Monte Paschi Rescue Pushes EU Bank-Failure Rules to the Brink, December 23, 2016


'..the mismanagement and corruption of bankers and politicians in the 21st century.'

          LG Introduces The Curved Phone G Flex 2        
LG Introduces The Curved Phone G Flex 2

Back in 2014, LG released the G Flex handset, a 6-inch smartphone with a unique curved body design and a self-healing coating that clears up scratches or any damage done to the device's casing.  

Now, the South Korean company is introducing an enhanced and more streamlined version, the G Flex 2. This time around, the newest version comes with a smaller but more handy 5.5-inch display screen, and Qualcomm's most powerful chip set.

The G Flex 2 smartphone was introduced by LG during its very recent press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 (CES 2015) held in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States. 

With its introduction, LG's G Flex 2 handset is the first of many phones this year expected to feature Qualcomm's newest offering -- the Snapdragon 810 processor. It is an eight-core 2.0 GigaHertz chip set that is 64-bit compatible for Android 5.0 Lollipop, the latest version of the Android mobile operating system. The 810 processor functions with 2 gigabytes of memory, and can support 3 x 20 MegaHertz LTE carrier aggregation for all networks that support it.

For the device's display screen, LG employed its own plastic OLED display technology. Techies may recall that this is the same display technology utilized in LG's G Watch R wearable device. But in G Flex 2's case, the resolution is set higher to 1080 pixels. 

As for its camera, the G Flex 2 smartphone sports a 13-megapixel camera that has laser autofocus system and optical image stabilization -- features that users may also find in LG's current flagship device (the LG G3).

The G Flex 2 features a 3,000 mAh battery that takes full advantage of Qualcomm's fast charging technology available via the latest Snapdragon chip sets. This technology significantly reduces the recharging time by up to 75 percent. Thus, users can get the G Flex 2 half-charged in just 40 minutes.

But what really makes the G Flex 2 unique is its curved body. The front side (display screen) has a 700 millimeter curved radius, while the rear side is curved just a bit less (650 millimeter radius). This is by design, by the way. According to LG, this helps users hold the phone more easily and also, allows the device to fit more easily in users' pockets.

Naturally, the G Flex 2 will be launched first in South Korea before the end of the month. But American users will not have long to wait. Major carriers AT&T and Sprint have already confirmed that they will be including the device in their respective smartphone line-ups this year. Regional carrier US Cellular has also announced that they will be offering the device in spring. No specific release dates and pricing details have been provided yet, but LG fans in the US should be pretty excited nonetheless. 

Want to know more LG devices? You can start comparing LG phones and plans now.

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          Sprint Introduces Deal To Reduce Bills Of AT&T, Verizon Customers In Half        
Sprint Introduces Deal To Reduce Bills Of AT&T, Verizon Customers In Half

When it comes to grabbing customers from rival wireless carriers, Sprint does not seem to shy away from unusual tactics. Just recently for instance, the carrier introduced a new deal that promises to cut the bills in half of any customer from competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Of course, for the customers to avail of the deal, they would have to produce a current AT&T or Verizon bill. It is a gutsy move for sure, but will it be effective? 

Sprint is calling the deal the Cut Your Bill in Half promo. In this deal, anybody who is currently on an AT&T or Verizon plan and wants to switch to Sprint, must first furnish a copy of their current bills, and either upload them to Sprint's website, or hand-deliver them to any official Sprint store. Sprint will then evaluate the bill submitted, and decide which Sprint plan matches it in terms of calls, text messaging, and data allotment. Sprint will then offer that matching plan for half the price of the defecting subscriber's current AT&T or Verizon plan.

For instance, a customer who hands in a bill for a Verizon family plan costing $260 each month will be offered a family plan with similar inclusions but only for $130 each month.

Sprint already launched a promotion wherein it covered early termination fees up to $350 in the form of a prepaid Visa gift card. This can be paired with the new Cut Your Bill in Half promo, as long as the customer qualifies.

There are a few caveats, of course. One, those who avail of this promo will not be able to buy a subsidized handset from Sprint. They must sign up for the carrier's leasing program, make installment payments, or buy the device outright at its full retail price. Two, participants will have to turn in their current AT&T or Verizon handsets to Sprint. Understandably, it would be weird using an AT&T or Verizon device on Sprint's network, but still, you would be parting ways with something that you've gotten used to. What if you don't have a smartphone to turn in? (Got lost, perhaps?) Sprint will then charge you $200 per line of service. It is not clear yet what Sprint plans to do with the devices that are turned in though. 

Sprint's Cut Your Bill in Half promo is offered on a limited time only. However, people who participate in the deal will be able to keep enjoying discounted bills in the future as long as they do not add more data or minutes. Once they do, their plans will be reverted the normal pricing structure.

One more thing -- this promo is off limits to T-Mobile subscribers. One possible reason is that T-Mobile is already competing with Sprint in offering slashed data prices in a manner that the other carriers, AT&T and Verizon, are not. 

And because the promo is designed to lure AT&T and Verizon subscribers, Sprint's own existing subscribers will not be able to take advantage of the deal. Find out what other deals Sprint is offering right now -- start comparing Sprint plans and phones now.

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          Nintendo Wii U gets December 8th release date for Japan: 26,260 yen for basic set, 31,500 yen for premium        

Nintendo Wii U heading to Japan on December 8th 26,260 yen for basic set, 31,500 yen for premium

The Nintendo Wii U arrives on Japanese shores on December 8th starting at 26,260 yen (around $340), Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced this morning via Nintendo Direct's video stream. A presentation later today in New York City starring Nintendo of America prez Reggie Fils-Aime will reveal pricing and release dates for the rest of the world, but you'd be right in guessing it won't be too far from the Japanese launch.

A basic set (only in white) and premium set (only in black) were revealed, with the darker option adding more storage; 32GB, up from 8GB on the cheaper bundle. The Premium set (priced at 31,500 yen, or about $405) consists of the console, GamePad, a charging stand, play stand, and yet another stand for the Wii U itself. Those GamePads will also be available standalone for 13,440 yen, which could see American gamers paying around $173 for the luxury of a spare.

The Wii U pro controllers are priced at 5,040 yen ($65) each, while the Wiimote will continue to be priced at 3,800 yen (around $50), now in a range of colors. Likewise, the nunchucks will come in three color palettes. The GamePad charging stand will also be available to buy separately -- setting you back around 1,870 yen -- around $25. Naturally, there's going to be some international variance in these prices so we'll be updating once we get those global prices cemented.

We've been given a little more detail on the technical specifics too, with the Wii U packing 1GB of its own ("main") memory alongside 1GB for running games. Two titles, New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land will both debut alongside the console -- we're expecting to hear even more software details later today.

Ben Gilbert contributed to this post.%Gallery-165202%%Gallery-165204%

Source: Nintendo Japan

          Droid X360 goes for the KIRF prize, antagonizes Microsoft, Motorola and Sony at the same time (video)        

Droid X360 PS Vita clone goes for the KIRF prize, antagonizes Microsoft, Motorola and Sony at the same time

Can we establish a KIRF award for Most Likely to Invite Multiple Lawsuits? If so, Long Xun Software would have to claim the statuette for its Droid X360, at least if it dared set foot in the US. This prime example of keepin' it real fake is even more of a PS Vita clone than the Yinlips YDPG18, but goes the extra mile with a name that's likely to irk Microsoft, Motorola, Verizon and George Lucas all at once. That's even discounting the preloaded emulators for just about every pre-1999 Nintendo, Sega and Sony console. Inside, you'll at least find a device that's reasonably up to snuff: the 5-inch handheld is running Android 4.0 on a 1.5GHz single-core Quanzhi A10 processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in space, a 2-megapixel camera at the back and a VGA shooter at the front. If the almost gleeful amount of copyright and trademark violation isn't keeping you from wanting this award-winner, you'll have to ask Long Xun for pricing and availability.

          More Silver Shenanigans        

As we documented after it happened, the Comex "silver market" was hit with another stop-run last evening that sent price wildly careening in both directions. That this occurred at precisely 7:06 pm EDT...the exact same time as the silver flash crash of July 6...should come as no surprise to anyone who recognizes what a farce and scam this pricing system has become.

read more

          Just another week        
It t was forecast to rain on Saturday so I got up early and walked 7 miles. It was quite warm, cloudy but with lots of patches of blue sky; although there was quite a strong breeze. It was a lovely walk; I saw a Kestrel again and this time I saw some yellow hammers/corn buntings as well. Every time I walked last week I saw the Kestrel. I think it's the same one because twice it flew out of the same copse. I'm so used to seeing Kestrels hovering over the roadside it's a bit of shock to see them in trees and flying over fields!

Everything charity shopped. The jeans are the ones from the 3:16 charity shop last week; 1.50 (half price sale),  top from Tu at Sainsbury's;  the necklace is from Mercy in Action outlet shop, 1.00. The boots are from Lidl last winter and the earrings are about 20 years old. If you think I'm looking a little different in this photo it's because I'm wearing a nude lipstick instead of my usual red lippy! I was saving that for Saturday evening as I was going out for a friend's 60th birthday meal in Luton.

Cushion bought in the Oxfam shop about 18 months ago.
I had errands to run in town on Saturday and I struck it lucky. I walked past the 'Reuse Shop' and they had a rather nice small chair in the window. It was perfect for my study so I bought it. The chair which used to be in the study was rather too large and it went on Freegle.  Last week I missed out on one on e bay because I forgot to check on it -  and it sold for £20 including delivery. My chair was £30 and it had just been reupholstered. Reuse is a charity shop and they have someone at this shop who reupholsters chairs and sofas and someone else who up cycles furniture. I have a floral covered footstool that I can put my feet up on (charity shopped, of course). I now have no excuse not to start my next crochet blanket!

All jewellery charity shopped.
This is what I wore on Saturday evening to my friend Cecilia's 60th birthday meal.  She and my best friend Ann went to school together in Luton and I got to know C when we used to go raving together in the early to mid 1990s. We had some brilliant times!

We had a lovely time on Saturday night although there was no music and no dancing. I saw a couple of people I hadn't seen for years, so it was great to catch up. It was such a shock for my friend as she was only expecting her immediate family...

These photos were taken when I returned from the birthday meal past midnight. I'm wearing my 99p Jaeger jacket; the skirt is from M&S but is very steam punkish (I thought) with the bustle at the back, it came from a charity shop in Kettering for 2.99. The black cross over top is one of the most  frequently worn and useful items in my wardrobe and is also M&S; charity shopped years ago.

This is Monday's outfit.  The top is for the charity shop bag as it doesn't fit properly around the bust. It says large but it's clearly not large enough! It's a shame because it's an Ossie Clark top; charity shopped but can't remember where. Everything is charity shopped except the leggings bought in a Store 21 sale.

Necklace gift from next door neighbour; earrings Sainsbury's.

The Red Cross shop was so full of bags of clothes waiting to be steamed and hung up that we didn't do much sorting on Monday - there was just no room! I did have a good sort of the jewellery and put new stuff out. I bought my daughter a lovely summer top off the pound rail - she liked it; thank goodness. I bought a green dress for myself for 1.99, and a a red  checked headscarf which I wore with Tuesday's outfit (below).

I was at the Guild House on Tuesday and was quite busy sorting stuff and pricing it and as usual I did a bit of a ironing. It's funny I hate ironing at home but I don't mind it at the Guild House; it's probably the fancy steam iron they have.

Asleep on my feet, here!
Everything is charity shopped except my daughter donated boots.

The waistcoat is the one I bought at the newest charity shop in town last Wednesday for 1.50; it was lovely and warm. The top is from Barnardo's 1.00 rail; trousers M&S, can't remember which charity shop; scarf; Red Cross on Monday.

All jewellery charity shopped except red ring; Sainsbury's and watch which was a Christmas present from my daughter about 6 years ago. I've had these earrings for about 20 years.

I went to the 3:16 charity shop to drop off some books and bought a maxi skirt with an African print for 3.50. It will be lovely for the summer but I may wear it this Sunday. My daughter is taking me out somewhere - to eat presumably. She sent me a message - ' Mum, on Sunday don't have any lunch and don't let Wes make you any dinner either; can you guess what we're doing? Lol'. It's Mother's Day on Sunday, of course. That's three weekends in a row I will have gone out somewhere - oh, the excitement!

On Wednesday morning I walked  6.6 miles with the group and I wished I hadn't! It was wet, cold and windy. I got soaked and was so cold that when I got in I put my PJs and dressing gown on. The afternoon was windy but sunny and dry -  wish it had been in the morning - it's called 'Sod's Law...'

The wind continued on Thursday but at least it was dry. I had lots of errands to run; I had my eyebrows done; I did the food shopping in Lidl and Sainsbury's; I also went to Aldi, two banks, the card shop, a gift shop and the dry cleaners. It was my best friend, Ann's, 60th birthday so I took her card and gift round to her. She was off to London to go out for a meal and see a show with her two daughters. I was glad to get home and put my feet up for a bit!

Everything charity shopped. The cords are by Primarni; the waistcoat is by Bench; bought it at Age UK in Bedford - which is no more. The top is by M&S. Everything is grey today - I just fancied some grey.

The earrings are from Sainsburys; the necklace is also a Primarni one but I bought it in a charity shop quite a few years ago. Bangles, watch and red ring charity shopped.

I bet you won't believe what I did on Friday. Walking - no. Charity shopping - no. Visited friends - no. I started at 9.30 am and finished at 3 pm (when I leave to pick the grandchildren up from school); cleaning my kitchen was what I did. It needed doing; I cleaned the cooker and the cooker hood, all the surfaces, tiles, appliances and the floor. It's time I begrudge but it has to be done. Oh well, that was Friday!

This is the green dress I bought at the Red Cross on Monday for 1.99. The kimono is also from there. Daughter donated boots; the green tights are also charity shopped.

All jewellery charity shopped except the earrings which are from Sainsbury's.

Oh and I are going out for a rummage tomorrow - haven't decided where yet but I'll let you know how we got on...

Have a fab weekend everyone!

          February is flying by        

Hello to everyone and I hope you are all keeping warm! February seems to be flying by; we're almost half way through. January dragged.

I went out on Sunday morning to recce Wednesday's walk. It was cold, damp and very foggy. After about three miles I realised that I couldn't see any landmarks and that the fog was getting thicker; I had to turn back. I walked 6.8 miles and was glad to get home. It stayed cloudy, cold and foggy all day.

This is what I changed into when I got back. Everything is charity shopped. The animal print top is a 50 p rail bargain. I'm still looking for the perfect animal print shirt with long sleeves...

I woke up on Monday with the lurgy.  Middle grandson had it last week and he'd given it to me. I have had a drippy nose, cough, aches and pains all week; I felt yucky but I went in to the Red Cross on Monday. I'm still sorting and pricing clothes; as I'm waiting for a PIN number to arrive in the post that I need to work the till. I've been allocated a special area in the shop for attention and it's the jewellery. Hooray!  I enjoy untangling necklaces and sorting out the wheat from the chaff...

On my way home from the Red Cross, I passed the Salvation Army charity shop and on the 50 p rail outside spotted the grey checked shirt below. It was washed and ironed and I wore it on Tuesday.

I went to the Guildhouse on Tuesday morning. More sorting and pricing of clothes and I did an hour's ironing! I don't think I've ironed for so long since my children were small and I used to do the Sunday evening marathon iron of everybody's clothes for the week...I bought an emerald green cardigan in the sale there for £1.25, but it's a little bit too big. I really wanted an emerald green cardigan so I might try and wash it on a hotter than usual wash and even tumble dry it and see if it shrinks a bit

Everything charity shopped except the boots which were donated by my daughter (DDB).
Red jeans and grey knitted top both by Oasis. All jewellery charity shopped. I didn't realise how bobbly the top had got....

 I went to recce the walk again on Tuesday afternoon. It was the most glorious day. The sun shone and it was so warm I had to take my jacket off; although it was very muddy, boggy and even waterlogged in places. The air was full of bird song, cheeps, calls and trills and the hum of insects. You could feel Spring in the air.

On Wednesday, I did my walk leader's bit and for the first time decided to use my walking poles which were a birthday present from my daughter last year. I found the poles quite easy to use and they do work your upper arms and shoulders. I'm still aching days later - or is that the lurgy? 

 There were 22 of us walkers in total and all was going well. Then one of my poles decided to extend itself and I fell flat on my face! My pride was hurt but I was fine. I had mud on my scarf, mud on my jacket and mud on my trousers. My hands were covered in thick mud where I had put them out to break my fall. It's a good job I hadn't put my wrists through the loops on the poles otherwise I may have fallen more awkwardly and hurt myself. Luckily, one of the walker's had wet wipes (a woman of course - I just couldn't see any of our male walkers carrying wet wipes with them) and I was able to get most of the mud off my hands. As for the other stuff it was all put in the machine when I got home and washed.

Everyone said they enjoyed the walk; one person said they wanted to re-walk it another day which I take as a compliment. We were lucky with the weather as the sun came out. Since last Sunday, I've walked more than 20 miles and I hope to do another 7 mile walk next Sunday if the weather holds.

This is what I wore on Wednesday.
The necklace was recently bought in a Devon Age UK charity shop for £2.00. The earrings were bought from Debenhams about eight years ago when they had a 'two for a fiver' offer on their costume jewellery.

The shirt is by Punt Roma; the jeans are Laura Ashley - both charity shopped and the cardigan was a Christmas 2015 present from OH. Bangles charity shopped.

Boots are DDB.

On Thursday I went to spend the day with my friend Natalie in Cambridge. We had planned to look around the charity shops and go somewhere for a meal. Natalie is extremely talented at up cycling furniture and she has been up cycling my bureau which I left with her the last time I visited. When I got to her house this time it was finished!

Isn't it lovely? She had also up cycled a very small table in the same colour and pattern which I'll put my printer on - and she recovered an upright chair in similar patterned material. My study is now a haven for me to read, crochet, listen to the radio and write my blog. I just need a very small armchair to complete it... 

Everything is charity shopped except the boots which were a Christmas 2016 present from my daughter. The jacket is by Boden and was charity shopped in the Red Cross a few months back for £1.99. I like the pleated collar. The tunic is by Fat Face and was from the Red Cross for £1.99. For warmth,  I layered a camisole from  Lidl underneath. The jeans are from Next but can't remember which charity shop.

All jewellery charity shopped.

It was bitterly cold in Cambridge.
I bought three green Virago books in the RSPCA bookshop; a picture for the spare bedroom; some glasses - we keep breaking glasses at the moment -  a pair of earrings, a necklace and a pair of ear phones for grandson all in the Salvation Army.  Note, I didn't buy any clothes! 
Natalie picked up a three cornered children's chair and a side table on wheels; both to be up cycled.

On Saturday, OH and I went rummaging in Northampton.  OH hadn't been rummaging for a while and was missing it; so ever obliging as I am, I went with him... We hadn't been to Northampton for more than a year. The only things I really wanted were: 1) A brown animal print shirt. 2) Another yellow cardigan - my present one is not very warm.

Saturday was a horrible day. Grey, cold and very misty/foggy. Northampton was relatively quiet as a result of the weather. We visited 10 charity shops in total and I found nothing on my list.

Everything charity shopped except the boots which were a Christmas present from my daughter in 2016. Knitted tunic from Esmara (Lidl), M&S jeans, top; Dorothy Perkins.

All jewellery charity shopped.

I bought some clothes (oh dear!); a pair of Next jeans from the £1.00 rail in the Sue Ryder shop -  and a lovely tunic which I paid £6.00 in Age UK for; as I really liked it. I also bought a necklace (£1.99) in the Heart Foundation shop and two pairs of earrings at £1.00 each in Age UK. It will be back to no rummaging next week as I'm trying to go only once a month now. It won't be too long before I go to Ireland again... I've had a blip this month because of going to Cambridge as well as Northampton, but in March, probably around my birthday I'll have another rummage in a different town. You never know I might even get taken away for the weekend somewhere!

I believe the weather will be getting milder in the week to come so let's hope it does and that we see even more signs of Spring. I'm also hoping that the lurgy will have gone and I'll be back to my normal self - whatever that is!

          Not Good Pricing At All        
Apple will never establish a good pricing for their products and will never be able to use the weak moments of MS and others to tighten its position and conversion strategy. Mac mini should not be in the price of 800 no matter what; It should be in the price range of 400-500 $ maximally, because at this price range you can convince new windows users to try a mac, besides the hardware choices in some mac mini and the 17" 1.8 core duo imac are not appropriate, because for mac mini with 1.6 GHz core duo CPU is so mascular while GPU of intel is so weak and the problem increases when CPU becomes 1.8GHz and just intel GPU, imac also does have a very nice screen 17" which will be driven by intel GPU and the price is 1000 $, for 1000 $ they could put much decent GPU like ATI X600-1300 and leave the X1600 for the 1200$ model. So, lower end product lines hardware still and probably will still suffer from inconsistancy combined with overpricing. Their middle part of hardware line still doesn't exist or suite alot of people (we want a mac pro like case or smaller without screen and which allows more disks and hardware upgradability but less powerful CPU/GPU than mac pro eg: core2duo @2.4GHz/ATI X1600) Their high end products line was and still is very well priced and excellently powered though. Apple must pay more attention to their lower and middle line of products to attract more windows choppers.Edited 2006-09-06 23:41
          RE: Not Good Pricing At All        
and based on your adept and saavy business acumen, this is why you too run a multi billion global corporation? Apple knows their pricing and their market. First the arugment was if they made a headless imac, i'd buy it. delivered. Then it was but it doesnt run windows. delivered. then it was it was, now if theyd just put an intel chip in it, delivered. now its well it could be cheaper and needs to have this this this and this and this before me and others like would buy it. I have a better idea; get a job, dump or get off the pot and just get one. if not, ok, but read the article and move on. i tire so much of people that know more than the beleagured apple thats been slowly dying and going out of business and making missteps against MS and others since 1990.
          RE[2]: Not Good Pricing At All        
Totally agree with you jaceebleu... The pricing is pretty good. Look at what you are getting. A "good" 20" screen in Australia costs around AUS$1000, so for another AUS$1299 you get a pretty cool iMac that can run a heap of s/w that a non-Mac cannot, plus it comes with a full OS (not a Home version), iLife and heaps of other stuff, including some very nice dev tools (including XCode, WebObjects, unix dev tools and so on). Can I get a PC cheaper, yeah, a bit cheaper, but then I can't run OS X (which for me is important). If you don't like Macs, then fine, cross that bridge. I think Apples pricing isn't bad at all and a lot of my "PC" friends are now buying or considering buying a Mac now. So please, if you don't like OS X or have no need for it, don't buy a Mac. I do know that Dell have been shipping a laptop that is much cheaper than the MacBook with similar (better) specs, but as I need OS X the Dell isn't good for me, nothing against the Dell however, just not the tool for the job I need. Oh, and most of the iMacs now have 1G standard!!! Very nice... / Finally :-)
          RE[3]: USD vs. EUR        
The point is simply to have standardized pricing over the affected markets. Over time the value of the USD could be lowered which would make the EUR priced iMacs cheaper, but it would still be standardized pricing. Not like the shit Dell does who is abusing the EU market to be able to give the US market cheaper stuff.
          RE[2]: Not Good Pricing At All        
" Apple knows their pricing and their market." Obviously not; Apple bombarded us with the "switch to mac" since OSX came out and they just admitted in their last WWDC that only 50% of their new sellings were for Winodws customers; from this we can see that Apple cares about windows users -unlike you-, while they cannot reach the heart and dollar of them because they don't listen quickly to such wishes that they even promote you to send on their web site. "now if theyd just put an intel chip in it:" Actually, it wasn't customers wish for intel chip but rather Apples choice to get rid of IBM ignorance and disrespect to Apple's Buisness demands especially for laptops product line. "get a job, dump or get off the pot and just get one." You are either amature for what you said or you are a frustrated Apple's customer support guy. There is a wise say for you: Those who don't believe FACTS, must suffer till they respect them.
          REVISION: IPO Activity and Information in Secondary Market Prices        
This paper explores the link between IPO underpricing and financial markets. In my model the IPO is a mean for a capital constrained initial investor to exit and thereby to raise funds for a new investment opportunity. This investor is privately informed vis-a-vis outside investors about the profitability of the new opportunity and the quality of the firm to be offered in the IPO. He can then use the offer price and the fraction of shares sold as signals of his private information. The model shows that underpricing is not only linked to firm's characteristics, i.e. firm value, but to elements external to the firm, i.e. new investment profitability and financial markets characteristics. In particular higher market efficiency reduces the cost of listing. This results in lower underpricing and the listing of more valuable firm. Similarly, a higher lower bound of the new investment's profitability reduces the information asymmetry and hence reduces underpricing and widens the range of ...
          2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Pricing Announced        
Hyundai is pitching the all-new, third-generation Elantra GT as "European influenced" – it's more than hyperbole since, like the first two generations, the brand's latest compact hatchback was developed primarily in Europe.
          Dodge Announces 2018 Durango SRT Pricing        
First revealed at the 2017 Chicago Show in February, the 2018 Durango SRT will have a starting price of $64,090, which includes a $1,095 destination charge.
          Comment on Pricing to stay in business by Scott Sokoloff        
Very good insights. One thing that many firms often fail to take into account it when running these types of test is long term price elasticity. While most consumers on a single transaction are highly price inelastic, they in fact exhibit elastic behaviors over the long run. Think gas prices. As they have risen we don't change our behaviors instantly, but more and more people are finding ways to use less. Has anyone noticed that the listed price of seeing a movie has gone up, but effective price after discounts has gone down? In the long run consumers behave in rationale ways.
          Comment on Pricing to stay in business by Dennis Yu        
Scott, Fascinating that prices can vary so widely on a simple donut. You know, a friend of mine who was a statistician at Blockbuster a few years ago ran tests where he varied the price of a single movie rental-- between $2 and $10 for one night across a range of locations. He found that consumers were highly price inelastic, leading to Blockbuster raising prices and increasing earnings overnight. For Dunkin Donuts, there is likely more price elasticity, since if you have taken the effort to drive to a Blockbuster and select something, you're already committed-- versus you walk by a donut shop and decide if you want a donut or not.
          Acura and Acura RDX win 2013 Residual Value Award        

When purchasing a car, one shouldn't look solely at its current value, but also its value in the future - because more likely than not, it will be traded in at some point. Will the vehicle still be worth something, even though its been driven hard, or will you have to pay someone to haul it away?

ALG, the leading provider of residual value information, has bestowed their 2013 Residual Value Award to Acura for being the Best Premium Brand for 2013, and recognizes the entire Acura lineup for "exceptional vehicle quality, strong brand desirability, and long-term reliability". And not only did Acura win as a whole, but the new 2013 Acura RDX ranked highest in the Premium Compact Utility Vehicle category, marking the 6th model win for Acura since 2000.

Michael Accavitti, VP of National Marketing Operations for the Acura brand says, "We are honored by ALG's selection of Acura as Best Premium Brand for long-term value which helps demonstrate what's smart about our 'smart luxury' brand values." He goes on to add, "with RDX earning a best-in-segment award for Premium compact Utility Vehicle, ALG is confirming what our customers have been telling us by purchasing the all-new RDX in record numbers for the past six months."

The ALG Residual Value Awards goes to those vehicles that are predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price after 3-years. To do this, ALG carefully studies the competition, historical vehicle performance and industry trends, as well as overall vehicle quality, production levels relative to demand and pricing strategies.

To check out Acura's newest lineup, including the 2013 RDX, visit your local dealers at Muller Acura of Merrillville. For quality and professional service, please call to set up an appointment.
          Pricing announced for 2013 Acura TSX Sport Wagon        
You want the performance and quality of an Acura, and need the cargo room, but don't necessarily want an SUV. Well you picky person…you are in luck. The new 2013 version of Acura's popular TSX Sport Wagon is about to be released, and it's still as safe, luxurious and versatile as always. 

Under the hood sits 2.4L 4-cylinder engine, giving out 201 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a 5-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission. Standard features aplenty, the TSX Sport Wagon comes with 17x7.5-in aluminum wheels, Xenon HID headlights, halogen fog lights, glass moonroof, power-actuated and heated front seats, leather-wrapped sport-style steering wheel, perforated leather trimmed seating surfaces and a 36--watt Premium Audio System with 7-speakers and a subwoofer. While the 2013 TSX doesn't have the need for it, the Sport Wagon includes popular features such as roof rails, a cargo cover and hidden underfloor and side storage in the cargo area.

If you're into the latest technology, the TSX Sport Wagon is the vehicle for you. The available Technology package includes a 460-watt Acura/ELS Surround Premium Audio System with 10-speakers, power actuated rear tailgate, Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition, rearview camera and AcuraLink (including AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with Traffic Rerouting and AcuraLink Real-Time Weather).

The 2012 TSX Sport Wagon was safe enough to earn the IIHS' Top Safety Pick, and the 2013 will be no different. Equipped with Acura's standard safety equipment, the Sport Wagon includes VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) with traction control, anti-lock brakes, dual-stage/multiple-threshold front airbags, front-side airbags, side curtain airbags, TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) and Daytime Running Lights. Also, fuel efficiency isn't lost, with 30 MPG highway and 22 MPG city, giving it a respectable combined EPA Rating of 25 MPG.

Pricing for the 2013 TSX Sport Wagon starts at $31,860 MSRP, and the Sport Wagon with Technology Package goes for $35,510 MSRP.

To check out Acura's latest lineup of cars and SUVs, visit your local Acura dealers at Muller Acura of Merrillville. Stop in to find out more information about the 2013 TSX Sport Wagon and other upcoming models.
          The 2013 Acura ZDX goes all in for its final year        

Leave on a good note. Go out with a bang.

Anyway you put it, the Acura ZDX had a very good run. Introduced in 2009, the ZDX was Acura's innovative and stylish crossover, and is now entering its final year of production. The luxury automaker has decided to discontinue the CUV and "sharpen its focus" on new models and core products. However, even with the ZDX ending its run, the 2013 version has received numerous styling and technology upgrades to show that it won't go down without a fight.

New to the 2013 version is a redesigned front grille, front and rear parking sensors, power folding side mirrors and such safety features as Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Lane Departure Warning (LDW).

Jeff Conrad, VP and GM of the Acura Division says, "People shopping for a luxury crossover vehicle will find the Acura ZDX an even more attractive product. " He goes on to add that, "Moving forward, we will continue to advance the Acura lineup with a focus on new core models, like the recently redesigned RDX and the upcoming all-new RLX flagship sedan, that provide the ideal balance of performance and fuel efficiency that is right for each product and a driving experience that is dynamic and emotional."

Being sold as one version, features are abundant in the value-packed 2013 ZDX.  Under the hood sits a 3.7L V-6 engine that kicks out 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Alongside the new-look front grille, there's also front and rear bumpers with integrated parking sensors and power-folding auto-dimming side mirrors.

Inside the cabin is a 435-watt Acura/ELS Surround 10-speaker audio system with 15GB HDD (Hard Disk Drive) memory, Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition, 8-in high-res VGA display, multi-view rear view camera, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface, ventilated and heated front seats with perforated premium Milano leather seating surfaces, Keyless Access System (with Smart Entry and pushbutton ignition) and dual-zone automatic climate control system.

For safety, the Forward Collision Warning (FCW) determines if a collision is imminent, and alerts the driver. For the Lane Departure Warning (LDW), a camera mounted between the windshield and rear-view mirror detect the lane lines, so if the driver shifts out of the lane without using the turn signal, an alarm will go off.

For the future, the Acura RDX and the TSX Sport Wagon will fill up Acura's CUV/SUV segment, and those with a ZDX will still get high-level service and parts through the life of the vehicle.

Pricing for the 2013 ZDX starts at $50,920 MSRP, and goes on sale this fall. For more information on the ZDX, or to test drive one of Acura's luxury vehicles, visit Muller Acura of Merrillville. For quality and professional Acura Service, please call to set up an appointment.
          2013 Acura TSX to start at $30,510        
A new year, a new price.

Going mostly unchanged from its 2012 predecessor, the 2013 Acura TSX can no longer claim to be 'sub-30k'. With a modest $700 price increase, the luxury auto now starts at $30,510, which includes a 2.4L 4-cylinder with a 5-speed automatic.

If you wish to get an impressive ELS digital audio system, rearview camera and voice-activated navigation, you must acquire the Technology Package, which goes for $3,100. If you want the Technology Package included in the car, then you'll have to move on up to the V6 model, which costs $39,150.

The Special Edition TSX has an available 6-speed manual, and can be had for $31,510 - exactly $1,000 more than the 5-speed automatic base model. None of the model pricing listed include the $895 destination charge.

To check out Acura's latest lineup of luxury cars and SUVs, visit your Northwest Indiana Acura dealer at Muller Acura of Merrillville. For quality and professional Northwest Indiana Acura Service, please call to set up an appointment.
          Collecting Watches and Thinking about Time         
 Recommended Books Review—Marking Time: Collecting Watches and Thinking about Time

Any halfway serious collector of watches eventually yearns to know more about them than simply where they can find expert "http://www.thewatchbuyersgroup.com/rolex-service-center">rolex watch service
for their prized timepieces. The seriously addicted collector—sometimes called a Watch Idiot Savant or WIS on the ‘net—eventually moves past forum posts and even monthly magazines and begins looking for book-length tomes on watches and watch collecting. Michael Korda’s charming book, Marking Time: Collecting Watches and Thinking about Time would be high on our list of first stops for the budding or even veteran collector to read. It’s that rare collector’s book that even someone who isn’t a diehard watch aficionado might read and enjoy.

The reason’s are many. It’s superbly well written for one thing. Besides being a successful novelist, Korda was Editor-in-Chief at Simon & Schuster publishers for many years and it shows in the book’s clear, entertaining prose. Indeed, you feel while reading it almost like you’ve sat down beside a terribly witty, erudite gentleman raconteur on a train…one who just happens to very much like watches. It’s never boring. There are no dry, dull historical passages to slow down the proceedings. Korda tells amusing anecdotes about how he came to be a watch collector and the fascinating journey its led him on for over fifty years. Perhaps most importantly, he does a better job than anyone we’ve encountered in explaining the seemingly impossible: why we watch lover’s are so watch-obsessed in the first place. His answer is worthy of a direct quote:

“We cannot possess time or stop it or hold onto it; it’s like water running through our fingers. But we can possess the instruments that measure time—hence, the endless fascination with clocks and watches, and the fact so many people collect them, often without knowing why, except for the fact they’re pretty or mechanically interesting or expensive, or simply because they draw envious glances from those who know the value of the object on our wrist.”

If after reading Marking Time you are still in need of top-notch "http://www.thewatchbuyersgroup.com/rolex-service-center">rolex repair, do consider the Watch Buyer’s Group. Their true CW-21 Certified Watchmakers use only authentic factory parts and offer impeccable service with very attractive pricing.

          If you're not feeling well but think things can't get any worse - you forgot to factor in the Australian Minister for Health's cost cutting ways        

The Age, 4 August 2017:

State and territory health ministers say hospital treatments and services will suffer under a Commonwealth proposal to withhold budgeted funds and reduce spending.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has drafted a directive to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority to review its public hospital funding method.

It would result in retrospective funds not being paid and reduced services in future, Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick said in a joint statement issued after the COAG Health Council meeting in Brisbane on Friday.

Mr Hunt drew condemnation from Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT when he confirmed he would uphold the direction.

"States and Territories have already funded services and boosted frontline staffing taking into consideration Commonwealth funding," the statement said.

Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), media release, 17 July 2017:
IHPA releases Consultation Paper on Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19
The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) today released its Consultation Paper on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19. The consultation is open to the public until Thursday 17 August 2017.
The Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19 outlines the major policy decisions which will underpin the National Efficient Price and National Efficient Cost Determinations for 2018-19.
This year IHPA will seek feedback regarding work that has been progressed on pricing and funding for safety and quality as well as canvassing options to enable new and innovative approaches to value based or preventative health care models.
The Chair of the Pricing Authority, Shane Solomon said, “IHPA has continued to work closely with the jurisdictions, clinicians and other stakeholders to make significant progress on the implementation of national reforms to incorporate safety and quality into the pricing and funding of public hospitals in Australia.
“A range of factors must now be considered including risk adjustment and how the approach can be embedded as part of broader system change.
“The success of a safety and quality pricing and funding mechanism is dependent on national, state, and local health systems working together to support the implementation of a model and ensure that it is working to improve safety and quality across all services,” he said.
“The Consultation Paper is an important opportunity for stakeholders to engage with IHPA on the approach to pricing and funding for safety and quality as well as the emergence of new innovative pricing models to help improve public hospital services across Australia. We strongly encourage all interested parties to provide feedback as part of this process,” concluded Mr Solomon.
The Consultation Paper on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2018-19 is available on the IHPA website.
Submissions should be emailed as an accessible Word document to submissions.ihpa@ihpa.gov.au or mailed to PO Box 483, Darlinghurst NSW 1300 by 5pm on Thursday 17 August 2017.
– ENDS –

Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Ministerial Direction, 16 February 2017:
Ministerial Direction
On 16 February 2017 IHPA received a Ministerial Direction from the Hon. Greg Hunt under section 226(1) of the National Health Reform Act 2011.
The Direction requires that IHPA undertake implementation of agreed recommendations of the COAG Health Council on pricing for safety and quality to give effect to:
  1. nil funding for a public hospital episode including a sentinel event which occurs on or after 1 July 2017, applying to all relevant episodes of care (being admitted and other episodes) in hospitals where the services are funded on an activity basis and hospitals where services are block funded; and
  2. an appropriate reduced funding level for all hospital acquired complications, in accordance with Option 3 of the draft Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2017-18, as existing on 30 November 2016, to reflect the additional cost of a hospital admission with a hospital acquired complication, to be applied across all public hospitals; and
  3. undertake further public consultation to inform a future pricing and funding approach in relation to avoidable hospital readmissions, based on a set of definitions to be developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
IHPA will incorporate the requirements under this Direction into the final Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospitals 2017-18 due to be published on the IHPA website in early March 2017.
IHPA will undertake further consultation as part of its annual consultation process on the draft Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospitals 2018-19 due for publication in June 2017 and provide a report back to the COAG Health Council by 30 November 2017.
Note: This follows on from a Direction received on 29 August 2016 which required IHPA to provide advice to the COAG Health Council on options for pricing for safety and quality.
More information
For any questions, please contact enquiries.ihpa@ihpa.gov.au

          This is what privatisation did to Australia's household electricity bills        

When three eastern and one southern state formed the National Electricity Market in December 1998 Australia had the lowest retail prices in the world along with the United States and Canada.

The rules which underpin this National Electricity Market are created by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) set up by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) - through the COAG Energy Council - for that purpose and to advise federal & state governments on how best to develop energy markets over time.

The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) sets the amount of revenue that network businesses can recover from customers for using networks (electricity poles and wires and gas pipelines) that transport energy.

So far so good. There's a defined market and there are rules.

Then the privatisation of electricity supply and infrastructure began in earnest.

It should come as no surprise that this push towards full privatisation, with its downhill spiral in service delivery and uphill climb in cost to retail customers, began and was progressed during the term of Liberal Prime Minister John Howard.

By 2017 the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government has almost completed its three-stage privatisation of state power infrastructure by selling off poles and wires and, it goes without saying that the retail cost of electricity is expected to rise again next year.

This is where we stand today……………………

[Graphs in Financial Review, 4 August 2017]
The Financial Review, 4 Augut 2017:

The annual cost to households of accepting a standing offer from one of the big three retailers instead of the best offer in the market has been estimated at $830 in Victoria, $900 in Queensland and $1400-$1500 in NSW and SA by the St Vincent de Paul Society.

Mr Mountain said power bills are constructed in such a complex way that ordinary customers without sophisticated spreadsheet and analytical skills have little hope of analysing competing offers to work out which offers them the best deal.

Private comparison websites do not include all market offers and charge retailers for switching customers, while the websites offered by the Australian Energy Regulator and the Victorian government do not provide the tools customers need to discriminate among offers.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to conduct an inquiry into electricity supply, costs and pricing, including retail pricing.

The Treasurer should have a preliminary report from the ACCC in his hands by the end of September this year, however this body does not submit a final report until 30 June 2018 with no guarantee that any recommendations will be adopted by government and industry.

Quite frankly, it appears the privatisation train left the platform some time ago and there is no way to halt or divert it in order to genuinely benefit household consumers.

          Comment on Tim Parry and Fred Lizza Discuss “Ship From Store” and Other Timely Multichannel Retail Order and Inventory Management Topics at IRCE 2013 by cstoreoffice1        
Great info for all of us. Inventory Management is a powerful tool for retailers because there are many way where inventory management help retailers, it will give them total control over inventory, personnel, pricing and margins and help them for improve their operations i think it will be a Beneficial experience for all specially for those who want to start their business.... <a href="http://www.petrosoftinc.com/" rel="nofollow">Petrosoft</a> is the ideal solution for all companies of any size becuase Petrosoft’s back office software, C-Store Office, gives you the ability to control your back office accounting and store inventory management tasks quickly and easily, increasing your gas station and convenience store automation and your profits.
          Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act (H.R. 3220) Slashes IRS Waste        

With Republicans controlling every branch of government, eliminating Internal Revenue Service (IRS) inefficiencies should be a no-brainer. Rep. Jason Smith’s (R-MO) Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act, H.R. 3220, will do just that. This bill eliminates wasteful tactics used in IRS audits and evaluations of tax disputes.

When the IRS notices a discrepancy between an individual’s reported income and information from third parties, it issues a notice of deficiency. A notice of deficiency indicates that the taxpayer has 90 days to either agree to a proposed increase in tax liability or appeal to resolve the discrepancy by providing previously unreported information. Far too often, appeals processes are funneled into Tax Courts rather than the IRS’s own Office of Appeals established for this precise purpose. Litigation burdens both taxpayers and the IRS with unnecessarily expensive procedures.

H.R. 3220 eliminates this tautology by establishing a legal right to have disputes heard by the IRS Office of Appeals before litigation is considered. It also creates stricter criteria for the IRS to designate cases for litigation, permitting only those involving recurrent legal abuses that impact many taxpayers, not just individual income disputes.

Another wasteful practice fixed by this bill is the use of designated summons during corporate tax audits. A designated summons forces a corporation, or relevant parties, to appear before court and provide information. When ordered, a designated summons unilaterally and indefinitely suspends an audit process. Sometimes, the IRS uses these summonses to compel information from a corporation without evidence of wrongdoing or noncompliance. An indefinitely suspended audit process can last for years. Under H.R. 3220, the IRS will only authorize designated summonses when a corporation is notably noncompliant.

Lastly, H.R. 3220 prevents the IRS from hiring outside lawyers to conduct or take testimony in a tax audit. The IRS has its own staff of government tax law attorneys for this purpose. One of the promises of the IRS Office of Appeals for deficiencies and audits is an objective and unbiased process. This is not possible when private firms, which have their own interests and clients, handle information explicitly intended for the government. H.R. 3220 rectifies this potential privacy breach.

The Preserving Taxpayers’ Rights Act is a necessary reform that eliminates government waste, defends taxpayers’ legal rights, and protects privacy. There’s no justifiable reason to oppose any of these objectives, which is why a bipartisan group of cosponsors joined Rep. Smith in introducing this bill, four Democrats and three Republicans. If members of Congress support efficiency and accountability, they must support this bill.

          SOMETHING ROTTEN Rolls Into Starlight 7/25-30        

The completely original new musical Something Rotten! brings its rib-tickling North American tour to Starlight Theatre for six performances July 25-30.

A love letter to theatre-goers, this hilarious new Broadway hit is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin), with music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Tony nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe Award and Tony nominee Karey Kirkpatrick, and a book by Tony nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O'Farrell.

Nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Something Rotten! makes its Kansas City premiere with three principal cast members direct from Broadway: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom. The touring cast also features Maggie Lakis as Bea, Blake Hammond as Nostradamus, Autumn Hurlbert as Portia, Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah and Jeff Brooks as Shylock.

From the director of Aladdin and co-director of The Book of Mormon and the producer of Rent, Avenue Q and In The Heights, the irreverent Something Rotten! tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two playwrights stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star Will Shakespeare. When a soothsayer foretells the next big thing in theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the Bottom brothers set out to write the world's very first MUSICAL!

With its heart on its ruffled sleeve and sequins in its soul, Something Rotten! is an uproarious dose of pure Broadway fun and an irresistible ode to musicals - those dazzling creations that entertain us, inspire us, and remind us that everything's better with an exclamation point!

"Something Rotten! says fun from the very start, and, as the show progresses, it only gets livelier," said Rich Baker, Starlight President and CEO. "The plot is smart; it offers something for everyone, and I think it's just what audiences need right now. I invite Kansas Citians to come to Starlight, check their worries at the door and get ready to laugh for 2½ hours straight!"

The show's award-winning design team of Broadway veterans includes Scott Pask (scenic design), Gregg Barnes (costume design), Jeff Croiter (lighting design), Peter Hylenski (sound design), Josh Marquette (hair design), Phil Reno (music direction/conductor), Glen Kelly (arrangements), Larry Hochman (orchestrations) and Steve Bebout (associate director).

Something Rotten! is the fifth show of Starlight's 67th Broadway season and the second of three brand-new musicals that will take the Starlight stage this summer.

Tickets for Something Rotten! at Starlight Theatre are on sale now for $14 to $152. Tickets are available online at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Discount prices for groups of 10 or more are available. For information about group pricing, contact group sales coordinator Camille Sumrall at 816.997.1137 or groups@kcstarlight.com.

For more information about the show, visit http://www.rottenbroadway.com.

About Starlight Theatre
Starlight Theatre, a recent winner of the Venue Excellence Award from the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), is the largest and oldest performing arts organization in Kansas City and the second-largest outdoor producing theatre in the country. Opened as a theater in 1950 and as a not-for-profit organization in 1951, Starlight presents and produces Broadway musicals and concerts. It also offers extensive community outreach and educational programming, including classes, scholarships and Starlight's Blue Star Awards, one of the largest high school musical theatre award programs in the nation.

Located on 16 acres in Swope Park, Starlight's venue includes rehearsal halls, gift store, club area for dining, concessions, gardens, fountains and a 10-story, climate-controlled stage.

For more information, visit www.kcstarlight.com.

          ASP.NET Core Hosting Comparison – HostForLIFE.eu vs HostGator        
 Hosting solutions are not created with the same specs; hence, the need to compare their pros and cons to make sure that you get the fitting package. Nonetheless, checking numerous plans wastes time and effort, so we created this comparison platform. Here, immediately compare HostForLIFE.eu with HostGator. We will compare their pricing, features, server performance,…
          ASP.NET Hosting Comparison – HostingUK.NET vs WebWiz        
 HostingUK.NET and WebWiz are two famous ASP.NET hosting provider in UK. They have been in this business for many years. Now, we will make comparison between them based on price, performance, reliability, and also support. ASP.NET Hosting Pricing Scheme – HostingUK.NET vs WebWiz HostingUK.NET has released 4 optional solutions to enable people to choose the most appropriate one for…
          By: E. Poole        
<p>Nice well-argued piece.</p> <p>Expansive monetary and fiscal policies in the late 1960s/early 1970s appear to have contributed substantially to increases in real oil prices. The critical intermediate variable is the expected real interest rate which was low or negative for many years during that period.</p> <p>In Engel's explanation, the real interest rate represents the opportunity cost of oil inventories. In other models, lower real interest rates would increase output and the demand for oil through investment or increases in the labour supply, especially if the rate shocks are not fully anticipated.</p> <p>Those looking for a tight correspondance to current reality may not find one. The real costs of borrowing capital have gone up. (See the balloon that some US banker floated on the weekend about re-pricing the LBO/privatization of Canadian telecomm giant BCE lower than the C$42.75/share agreed to last summer.)</p> <p>If unexpected higher real energy costs are hinting at the increasing obsolescence of the current capital stock, increased expectations of slower growth could easily drive real borrowing costs higher.</p> <p>There is a more mundane explanation. Markets have generally been awful at forecasting oil price demand elasticities in this decade and have given up <i>over analyzing</i> demand on the assumption of significant inertia in global demand due to robust emerging economy demand. Anything else in the larger economy is treated as spurious noise in this radical decoupling view.</p> <p>FWIW, I'm betting that the price of oil declines between now and October 2008 and natural gas prices will increase in the same time period. Oil and gas stock markets look like they are just starting to heat up. Refineries will drag down integrated company earnings.</p>
          Freakonomics on Shemita and the Law of Unintended Consequences        
The always-interesting Freakonomics guys (Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner) had a fascinating column in this weekend's NYTimes Magazine. It covers the law of unintended consequences and links some seemingly unrelated topics:
What do a deaf woman in Los Angeles, a first-century Jewish sandal maker and a red-cockaded woodpecker have in common?
I recommend reading the column to find out - as well as to catch how the Shemita-year device of Heter Mechira figures into the discussion. Though their point - that every action can incur all manner of unexpected results - might seem obvious, it doesn't make reading about some specific unintended consequences any less interesting.

This is the relevant passage from the column as regards to Shemitta and Heter Mechira:
How long have such do-good laws been backfiring? Consider the ancient Jewish laws concerning the sabbatical, or seventh year. As commanded in the Bible, all Jewish-owned lands in Israel were to lie fallow every seventh year, with the needy allowed to gather whatever food continued to grow. Even more significant, all loans were to be forgiven in the sabbatical. The appeal of such unilateral debt relief cannot be overestimated, since the penalties for defaulting on a loan at the time were severe: a creditor could go so far as to take a debtor or his children into bondage.

So for a poor Jewish sandal maker having trouble with his loan payments, the sabbatical law was truly a godsend. If you were a creditor, however, you saw things differently. Why should you lend the sandal maker money if he could just tear up the loan in Year Seven? Creditors duly gamed the system, making loans in the years right after a sabbatical, when they were confident they would be repaid, but then pulling tight the purse strings in Years Five and Six. The resulting credit drought was so damaging to poor people that it fell to the great sage Hillel to fix things.

His solution, known as prosbul, allowed a lender to go to court and pre-emptively declare that a specific loan would not be subject to sabbatical debt relief, transferring the debt to the court itself and thereby empowering it to collect the loan. This left the law technically intact but allowed for lenders to once again make credit available to the poor without taking on unwarranted risk for themselves.

The fallow-land portion of the sabbatical law, meanwhile, was upheld for centuries, but it, too, finally gained a loophole, called heter mechira. This allowed for a Jew to temporarily “sell” his land to a non-Jew and to continue farming it during the sabbatical year and then “buy” it back immediately afterward — a solution that helped the modern state of Israel keep its agricultural economy humming.

The trouble is that many of the most observant Israeli Jews reject this maneuver as a sleight of hand that violates the spirit of the law. Many of these traditionalists are also extremely poor. And so this year, which happens to be a sabbatical year, the poorest Jews in Israel who wish to eat only food grown on non-Jewish land are left to buy imported goods at double or triple the regular price — all in order to uphold a law meant to help feed the poorest Jews in Israel.
They make an interesting point. When the Shemitta-year law of forgiving all debts created a situation in which those who needed loans were being refused in pre-Shemitta years, thus harming those (the poor) who most needed the reprieve ostensibly offered by Shemitta, Hillel instituted a system whereby that unintended consequence could be averted. However, while the law of Shemita that commanded that all fields must lie fallow may have allowed poor Jews living in Israel to help themselves to produce during that year, the similar though admittedly far more recently instituted Heter Mechira has not at all been accepted among Charedi Jews. This has created a situation where the Charedim, some of whom number among the poorest of Israeli citizens, instead spend their meager funds on imported produce to avoid buying fruits and vegetables grown on Jewish-owned land with a Heter Mechira - or worse, these families are forced to go without much in the way of fresh produce altogether.

Now, the fact that that individual Halachot might have unintended consequences is far from a Chiddush. I think it's fair to state that just about every law - whether religious or secular - will have some unintended or unplanned-for consequence. Nor should that fact necessarily be a criteria to attempt to change normative Halacha. That said, there is a halachic concept of considering the societal or financial fallout of a psak before rendering it. I have personally seen such a practice in action, when in a situation that forced me to ask a Shaila of a quite eminent Rav regarding the need to replace a certain kitchen appliance that had been rendered unkosher. When I posed the question to the Rav, his first ruling was that we were required to replace a certain component of the appliance only, as opposed to the entire appliance. When I mentioned that I had researched the pricing and found it almost as expensive to do so as to replace the appliance entirely, he paused, told me he was unaware as to how costly the component in question was, and told me to call him back later that evening after he did some research. When I called back later that evening he had decided on a more lenient ruling, and told me how to perform a technique to kasher the appliance instead of replacing the component or the appliance entirely. At first blush, that might seem to be a cop-out of sorts, a less than strict adherence to Halacha in the face of what might have amounted to a bit of financial discomfort. But clearly this very learned Rav felt comfortable amending his ruling based on the hardship a stricter ruling might cause. I should probably add, however, that the same Charedim who do not hold of Heter Mechira might very likely not hold of the ruling I received regarding my kitchen appliance. I will also add the the usual disclaimers regarding how one ruling has absolutely nothing to do with the other aside for the seeming differences in flexibility when it comes to the question of a strict adherence to halacha when it imposes financial hardship.

Some might also find it interesting that the very same Rav who gave me my kitchen appliance psak does not approve of eating produce grown with Heter Mechira. So in the interests of full disclosure, I must note that the OrthoFamily ourselves do not purchase Heter Mechira fruits and vegetables.

Go figure.

(A previous post on Heter Mechira.)
          How to Speed Up a Slow Computer With These Two Simple Tips        
Is your computer running so slow that it is driving you crazy with frustration. In addition you are under additional stress because you have an important work to finish for a deadline tomorrow. You have even been online pricing the cost of an upgrade or even a new laptop, because it's not a pleasure any more to be working with your computer. The good news is that you probably won't have to upgrade. Here are 2 simple tips you should investigate before upgrading or purchasing another computer.
          30' Pacific Yurt        
I owned a 30' Pacific Yurt a short time ago. I thought it would be a great idea, and the price was right- $10,000 including the deck. I ended up selling the Yurt due to some financial pressures, and the fact that the high winds in our area would make Yurt living fairly uncomfortable. However, I can't say enough good things about the Yurt. My wife and I took one down in a day with the person selling the yurt, and stacked it on a car trailer. Building any other structure besides a mobile home would be difficult or even tearing it down. The yurt had 7' sidewalls. I made a template of the 2x4's and center ring to build one down the road. Ideally, if the panelized yurt option was less expensive, I would have gone this route. It really seems to be the only route that would feel like a real house with real windows.

If you are thinking about getting one, make sure you like camping. That's what it feels like inside a Yurt, kind of a camping/jungle safari feeling inside one. The pricing new is about $15,000 plus the deck, which will set you back another $4-$5k. Definitely craigslist one if you can. I sold my Yurt pretty quick, but probably had over 30 phone calls that past month from others wanting to buy it w/o even looking at it. The person who purchased it was off-grid with a 120 acre parcel and a seasonal stream for water in calaveras county.

Below: the yurt completely dissasembled in my garage.

You will need to use a transit to get your deck level. In terms of yurt manufacturers, pacific yurt is great for a camping yurt. I personally love the designs over at www.greenlivingsystems.com out of Grass Valley. The 36' version they sell is panelized and can meet certain building codes - even here in the environmental nut state of California. They start at about $25k for an 18', and $50k for a 36' Yurt with about 1000 square feet. You can build one yourself for about $10k. www.smilingwoodsyurts.com also has a panelized yurt that's affordable in a kit.
          Nintendo Reveals Super Mario Run Release Date And Pricing For iOS        

Nintendo has slowly become more open-minded about mobile gaming and has seen the financial benefits it can deliver thanks to a huge audience. You only need to look at the extraordinary success of Pokemon GO to see how profitable Nintendo’s mobile division is becoming. Of course, they don’t want to alienate the core console audience […]

The post Nintendo Reveals Super Mario Run Release Date And Pricing For iOS appeared first on eTeknix.

          Channelling Dawkins        

Dawkins latest programme elegantly put lots of the same points that I ineptly failed to make in any comprehensible manner, in a previous post on holistic medicine. That includes paying for other people’s gullibility; alternative therapies meeting a need for attention; the placebo effect and alternative therapies referring to scientific sounding concepts; and so on. (You know who you are, Deepak Chopra)

This blog is clearly channelling Dawkins. If you need any chakra realignment, you can probably get it here from now on.

Today’s episode of the Enemies of Reason series has people promoting such odd theories that Dawkins only has to smile politely and give them enough rope…. Indeed, some express such utterly strange beliefs that the only charitable explanation is that they are joking

Atlantean DNA? A woman barefacedly told the world’s best known evolutionary biologist that bits of his DNA were missing. She then waved her hands about – in a surprisingly graceless manner, given the magical ritual context – to realign the missing parts of Dawkins Atlantean DNA. I guess it worked but he didn’t grow any visible gills, sadly.

However, the therapist who seemed to be using a pricing gun to stamp the back of Dawkins neck may have accidentally amputated them, so don’t take that as a certainty.

I’ve made sense of this bit now. I was half-hoping to see Dawkins turn into an extra from that ten – or so- years old sci-fi series that was like old-style Battlestar Galactica but underwater. Without Silons. But with gills. It wasn’t good enough for me to remember its name. Stargate Atlantis – exponentially better. Why didn’t I think of that?

Well, it doesn’t really have people with gills. Anyway, the new even-more-gentlemanly-and-mellow Dawkins couldn’t even begin to qualify for the “arrogant genius” part in Atlantis, despite there being an Internet’s worth of creationists and others who think Dawkins is arrogant.

But maybe that’s what the magical Atlantean DNA lady meant. Dawkins is lacking the extra strain of arrogance that Stargate Atlantis’s Canadian genius has. So she put it back. And there are no gills to see, so there.

(See, it does all make perfect sense when you cleanse your DNA and start channelling……)

You have to worry a bit about the state of current medical education, when you see how many qualified doctors-turned-alternative practitioners Dawkins has managed to find.

One doctor detects chakras as “black holes” in the human body (or vice versa or something like that.) Another doctor – rheumatologist turned alternative practitioner – gives out water in the Royal Homeopathic Hospital, which has had a fair bit of public cash, to Dawkins’ justified annoyance.

If you live outside the UK, you can probably watch the new series on YouTube until it comes to a cable channel near you. Black Sun Journal has a link to the last episode.

          Comment on Eminence PSD2002-8DIA Diaphragm by Cathy        
You can order this directly from our website. http://reconingspeakers.com/product/eminence-psd2002-diaphragm-8-ohm/ To get a shipping quote, add the product to the shopping cart, go to checkout and calculate shipping, you can see shipping options and pricing and delivery estimates.
          Comment on Scan Speak D3004/6600 Diaphragm by Cathy        
The Thiel CS3.6 and D26AG3604 are the same. I gave you pricing above. I think it would be easier if you email me directly at sales@speakerex.com
          Chrome Plated Saddle Clips        
Chrome Plated Saddle Clips

Chrome Plated Saddle Clips

JTM Plumbing is now a major importer of high quality brass, chrome, rubber lined and unlined brackets into the uk, due to our buying power we can now offer a full range of sizes in all types.  We can offer discounts for large orders and box quantities so please contact JTM on 01325488588 for information. At the moment we have 1.5 million brackets in our main warehouse.   High Quality Fast delivery Very competitive pricing Huge stocks

          Copper Saddle Clips        
Copper Saddle Clips

Copper Saddle Clips

JTM Plumbing is now a major importer of high quality brass, chrome, rubber lined and unlined brackets into the uk, due to our buying power we can now offer a full range of sizes in all types.  We can offer discounts for large orders and box quantities so please contact JTM on 01325488588 for information. At the moment we have 1.5 million brackets in our main warehouse.   High Quality Fast delivery Very competitive pricing Huge stocks  

          The article confused me        
The title is "Apple's Worst Business Decisions". There may haev been numerous bad decisions but this is the list of the "worst" Then I find somewhat contradicting subheadings: - Overpricing the original Macintosh -- John Scully 1. Covertly funded Macworld magazine 2. Set the trend to overprice the Mac - Firing John Sculley Leaving me confused about John Scully's original "worst" decisions for Apple. I guess in business even those who make the worst decisions deserve a second chance.Edited 2006-10-02 20:25
          RE: IBM compatible PC        
Even although they have now left the market, I argue that they have done better out of it than they ever would have had they kept the architecture closed. The open architecture stole market share, but it drove down prices, allowing the less well-off to buy machines and therefore increase the size of the market in total (99% of 100 is 99, but 58% of 200 is 116 - lower marketshare, but bigger numbers). Indeed, it seems that keeping technology closed is the best way of eventually pricing/driving your technology (or worse, your company) out of a market. All companies die eventually, but it happens even quicker with proprietary stuff. The list of companies that have made this mistake and been killed off (or had their technologies killed off) is legion. Apple (got *near* it several times, and was arguably saved only by buying more and more off-the-shelf parts) Commodore Atari Digital Data General IBM (yes, even using proprietary technology, IBM saw strong competition from clone-makers (Amdahl) and companies exploiting new markets (DEC, Digital) Apollo HP (with MPE and then PA-RISC) Note that in several cases, having a *better* technology (cf Amigas with 1990 PC-compatibles, or IRIX versus Windows) did nothing to save the company in the long run. Producing a *generic* product - that sells! The only things that will save you and/or your technology is (a) being open, intentionally or otherwise (IBM, AMD, AT&T (Unix)), (c) being massively entrenched (guess who), or (c) corporate welfare. Sooner or later the movers and shakers of the buyers' market move on, and if you don't compete with a compatible product, You're Dead.
          The article does not make sense        
There are some factual errors. The Jobs fired thing comes to mind. Jobs was kicked off the Lisa team (demoted) to the macintosh team where he turned the Mac from an Apple II successor to Lisa-Lite. The power struggle that followed lead Jobs to to try to oust Sculley and after failing, resigning to create NeXT. This was Apple's big mistake, letting him go along with much of the creative talent. In most cases the article get things absolutely backwards, with some exceptions like the early high pricing of the mac - this was the most critical mistake. The underlying premise of the article is that relying on Job's was a huge business mistake. However, Apple's decline was during the years without Jobs - the time with Jobs are the growth years. The PERCEPTION of Job's indispensability is a valid concern but not a business mistake. This comes from the success the company has had with him at the helm vs. without, combined with his famous charisma. However it is not Jobs that is indispensable, but the creative core of the company. Sure when he steps down (hopefully decades from now) there will be a hit, but if they can get the right person to take over that shares the creative vision, Apple will be fine. Take this article for what it is, someone's opinion, no more valid than yours or mine, but MY opinion is that they do not understand the history or value of Apple.
          THIS is what I call an interesting photo of an interior!        
You've all heard me whine about my inability to take good photos.  As an interior designer, I know I've got the eye to see and compose good shots, but the technical knowledge is just not there.  Last week I bought the latest issue of Domino magazine.  My interest was piqued by the headline "334 Best Makeovers and Easy Decorating Tips" on the cover and the $10.99 price tag (what could be inside a magazine to make it worth 11 bucks?).  Ok, it was an impluse buy--I've done worse.

I'm enjoying reading it (have made it up to page 74 so far).  The layout inside is lovely.  Clean.  Attractive pictures. Product sourcing and pricing right on the page.  Best of all--and you're going to know what a nut I am here-- the paperstock used is fabulous.  Heavier than the norm.  Nice thick pages.  Great paper is a tactile pleasure.

Then I came  upon this photo on page 72.  My brain said "THERE IT IS!"  My idea of an interesting photo.Lovely  finishes and well used props.  See what you think:

Wow.  Is that a beautiful door or what?  Oh!  The cow!  I'm kidding, of course it's all about the cow. That's the well used prop.  Don't you want give give him a hug?  Be careful--I'm not sure cows like to be hugged. I LOVE this picture.  The photographer is Paul Costello.

          Networks and Cloud Networking Architect (H/F) - Amadeus Sophia Antipolis - Nice        
Business environment Amadeus is a leading SaaS and Service provider for the global travel and tourism industry, providing advanced technology solutions to our travel provider and travel agency customers worldwide. We act as an international network providing comprehensive real-time search, pricing, booking, ticketing and other processing solutions to travel providers and travel agencies through our Travel Channels business area, and we offer travel providers an extensive portfolio of...
          REPUBLIC P-47 BLUEPRINTS        
All P-47 versions, over 46000 drawings, 60 dvds. Contact me for high resolution samples and pricing
          5 Digit Forex Brokers        
Compare Forex brokers with 5 decimal pricing. Get 5th point precision and smarter pricing with the following NDD/STP Forex brokers.
          USPS - New Prices Coming May 12, 2008        
j0379439 "Pricing has always been important to the Postal Service. Now, with greater pricing flexibility than ever, our customers have more choices, and we can price quickly in response to customer needs and the marketplace." - Pricing and Classification Vice President Stephen Kearney

The second half of last year's proposed postal rate changes takes place on May 12, 2008. The most commonly used classes are included in the rate changes. A few discounts will also be put into place, but these will not impact the average postal customer.

j0434883For those of us shipping packages:
Express Mail becomes zone-based with a 3 percent price cut when purchasing online or via corporate accounts. Meet USPS' quarterly minimums, will save shippers even more.

Priority Mail offers an average 3.5% savings if using electronic postage or meeting other USPS requirements.

Parcel Select features pricing and volume incentives for large- and medium-size shippers.

Parcel Return Service becomes weight based with savings for lighter packages.

j0288926Mr and Mrs John Doe's mailings will also be affected with changes. The USPS website is proud to state: "The average increase by class of mail is at or below the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index."

The changes are as follows:
First-Class Mail letter (1 oz.) = $0.42
First-Class Mail letter (2 oz.) = $0.59j0413666
Postcard = $0.27
First-Class Mail large envelope (2 oz.) = $1.00
Certified Mail =$2.70
First-Class Mail International changes depend on destination
          Valero Partners prices offering        
Valero Energy Partners LP has announced the pricing of a public offering of 4.25 million common units at $46.25 per unit. The offering represents limited partner interests. In connection with the offering, Valero Partners granted the underwriters a 30-day option to buy as many as 637,500 additional common units. The offering is expected to close
          Just wait a little while        
SUBHEAD: You’ll have to earn everything worth having, including self-respect and your next meal.

By James Kunstler on 7 August 2017 for Kunstler.com -

Image above: Aarly 20th century Russian painting of "A Peasant Leaving His Landlord on Yuri's Day" by Sergei V. Ivanov. From (https://www.kp.ru/radio/26511/3430500/).

The trouble, of course, is that even after the Deep State (a.k.a. “The Swamp”) succeeds in quicksanding President Trump, America will be left with itself — adrift among the cypress stumps, drained of purpose, spirit, hope, credibility, and, worst of all, a collective grasp on reality, lost in the fog of collapse.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s going on and where we’re headed.

The United States is comprehensively bankrupt. The government is broke and the citizenry is trapped under inescapable debt burdens. We are never again going to generate the kinds and volumes of “growth” associated with techno-industrial expansion.

That growth came out of energy flows, mainly fossil fuels, that paid for themselves and furnished a surplus for doing other useful things. It’s over.

Shale oil, for instance, doesn’t pay for itself and the companies engaged in it will eventually run out of accounting hocus-pocus for pretending that it does, and they will go out of business.

The self-evident absence of growth means the end of borrowing money at all levels. When you can’t pay back old loans, it’s unlikely that you will be able to arrange new loans.

The nation could pretend to be able to borrow more, since it can supposedly “create” money (loan it into existence, print it, add keystrokes to computer records), but eventually those tricks fail, too.

Either the “non-performing” loans (loans not being paid off) cause money to disappear, or the authorities “create” so much new money from thin air (money not associated with real things of value like land, food, manufactured goods) that the “money” loses its mojo as a medium of exchange (for real things), as a store of value (over time), and as a reliable index of pricing — which is to say all the functions of money.

In other words, there are two ways of going broke in this situation: money can become scarce as it disappears so that few people have any; or everybody can have plenty of money that has no value and no credibility.

I mention these monetary matters because the system of finance is the unifying link between all the systems we depend on for modern life, and none of them can run without it.

So that’s where the real trouble is apt to start. That’s why I write about markets and banks on this blog.

The authorities in this nation, including government, business, and academia, routinely lie about our national financial operations for a couple of reasons.

One is that they know the situation is hopeless but the consequences are so awful to contemplate that resorting to accounting fraud and pretense is preferable to facing reality.

Secondarily, they do it to protect their jobs and reputations — which they will lose anyway as collapse proceeds and their record of feckless dishonesty reveals itself naturally.

The underlying issue is the scale of human activity in our time. It has exceeded its limits and we have to tune back a lot of what we do. Anything organized at the giant scale is headed for failure, so it comes down to a choice between outright collapse or severe re-scaling, which you might think of as managed contraction.

That goes for government programs, military adventures, corporate enterprise, education, transportation, health care, agriculture, urban design, basically everything. There is an unfortunate human inclination to not reform, revise, or re-scale familiar activities.

We’ll use every kind of duct tape and baling wire we can find to keep the current systems operating, and we have, but we’re close to the point where that sort of cob-job maintenance won’t work anymore, especially where money is concerned.

Why this is so has been attributed to intrinsic human brain programming that supposedly evolved optimally for short-term planning. But obviously many people and institutions dedicate themselves to long-term thinking.

So there must be a big emotional over-ride represented by the fear of letting go of what used to work that tends to disable long-term thinking. It’s hard to accept that our set-up is about to stop working — especially something as marvelous as techno-industrial society.

But that’s exactly what’s happening. If you want a chance at keeping on keeping on, you’ll have to get with reality’s program. Start by choosing a place to live that has some prospect of remaining civilized. This probably doesn’t include our big cities.

But there are plenty of small cities and small towns out in America that are scaled for the resource realities of the future, waiting to be reinhabited and reactivated.

A lot of these lie along the country’s inland waterways — the Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri river system, the Great Lakes, the Hudson and St. Lawrence corridors — and they also exist in regions of the country were food can be grown.

You’ll have to shift your energies into a trade or vocation that makes you useful to other people. This probably precludes jobs like developing phone apps, day-trading, and teaching gender studies.

Think: carpentry, blacksmithing, basic medicine, mule-breeding, simplified small retail, and especially farming, along with the value-added activities entailed in farm production.

The entire digital economy is going to fade away like a drug-induced hallucination, so beware the current narcissistic blandishments of computer technology.

Keep in mind that being in this world actually entitles you to nothing. One way or another, you’ll have to earn everything worth having, including self-respect and your next meal.

Now, just wait a little while.


          Remote Enterprise Account Executive        
Cloud computing company has an open position for a Remote Enterprise Account Executive. Must be able to: Source new opportunities Qualify new prospects Drive the sales process from internal leads Applicants must meet the following qualifications: Demonstrated success by exceeding quota on a consistent basis to new customers Track record of personally selling and closing complex technical solutions to enterprises and software companies in excess of $100K Experience selling communications to a technical and business audience, building trust and mutual respect with technical customers and peers Experience with creating pricing proposals, negotiating terms and managing the contract process World-class interpersonal and communication skills Passion about what you do and able to think outside of the box
          Remote Regional Revenue Manager        
A leading hotel and resort company has an open position for a Remote Regional Revenue Manager . Individual must be able to fulfill the following responsibilities: Consulting weekly with hotels on pricing, rate strategy and yield management Using industry reporting to evaluate success of assigned hotels Creating and maintaining demand forecasts and pace reports for each property Applicants must meet the following qualifications: Ability to travel (between 3 to 8 times per year) Certified Hotel Revenue Manager (CHRM) or Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME) certification or the ability to acquire either certification within one year A minimum of five years of hotel experience in a revenue management role, preferably with multi-property experience Strong technical skills with Microsoft Office, strong analytical skills and attention to detail Ability to effectively communicate; ability to work from home uninterrupted
          Remote Financial Data Analyst        
A healthcare company is in need of a Remote Financial Data Analyst. Candidates will be responsible for the following: Support Account Team related to establishing, tracking and process for all client reporting and analysis Work with finance team to provide quarterly reporting regarding pricing guarantees Regularly attend and actively participate in company and client meetings as requested Required Skills: Travel 25 % of the time Bachelor's degree 2 years of experience with reporting, billing, analysis, and file exchanges 2 years of claims analysis experience 2 years of experience in benefit file exchange business requirements, File Transfer protocol knowledge Working knowledge of Structured Query Language
          Flexible Finance from Merchant Money        

Merchant money provides loans to small businesses. Their finance solutions are fast and flexible. They offer business loans and pay as you trade. The application process is considered quick and straightforward.


Application process

The process of getting a loan is simple. It involves only three basic steps. The first step is an njkmbvxzzapplication. Application entails only two further steps. The application process involves filling a form. The form has very simple requirements which can be completed in five minutes. Basing on your form, your lenders will make an accurate principled decision

The second step is fast truck funding. You get to this step after successfully completing the initial step. In this step, you will be provided with log in details. The purpose is to upload any additional documentations. The lending experts will review the other documentation.

The final step is instant money transfer. Getting to this level means you have been approved. Approval takes less than 24 hours after the first steps. The loan will be deposited to your account within two hours. The whole application process can happen within a day. It’s the simplest way to acquire a loan.

Merchant money finance products

Merchant money offers two financial products. The products are business loans and pay as you trade. Business loans are offered up to 100,000 euros. Pay as you trade is up to 50,000 euros. Their primary objective is facilitating growth in companies. Due to that, there are no application fees and no obligations. Their pricing is also fast and transparent.

The difference in merchant money

Getting a loan in merchant money doesn’t require a business plan. Their process is simple you don’t even need an appointment. Their loan terms are affordable, flexible and transparent. They have a 24-hour approval process. A provisional answer takes only 20 minutes. In 24 hours you are guaranteed a final answer. In 2 hours you will already have your loan in the bank.

Interest paid

jhjhjhjhjhjhThere are no fees and penalties for early settlement. Interest is only paid in outstanding loan amounts. The loan terms are also sufficiently flexible. You get to agree on the loan terms with them. The loan terms will be made to suit your credit profile. Your ability to repay comfortably is highly considered. Their application is instant. You can make swift decisions in an online lending platform. They also provide financial advice to small businesses.By understanding their client needs, they can predict success

Merchant money cares about small business growth. They consider themselves investors rather than lenders. They foresee growth of small business to large business. They ready to help any business grow.…

The post Flexible Finance from Merchant Money appeared first on The Yeson Finance Group.

          Home Sweet Home        
After a hiatus on my travelogue, I decided to share a post on my new house which I have dedicated most of my time during the weekends in 2015.

We have gotten our 4 room built-to-order (BTO) flat keys in July 2015 but I started my renovation research way back in February 2015. Deciding the theme for the house is important and the foremost thing to do before any research is done. It's akin to choosing the travel destination before researching on airfare, accommodation etc. I have research from the below websites before deciding which theme suits us:

- http://www.homeanddecor.com.sg
- https://qanvast.com
- http://www.renonation.sg
- http://renopedia.sg
- http://www.renotalk.com/forum

We first visited interior designer firm (ID) as ID is able to provide quotation based on the floor plan whereas contractor prefers to quote based on the physical state of the house. We meet up with at least 5 ID which we picked up ideas and knowledge from them. We also have a gauge of how much budget we would need to set aside for our renovation.

Hubby and I decided that we do not require an ID because:
- We intend to do minimal and simple renovation. We can also visualize the outcome of our renovation. Most who engage an ID is because ID provides the 3D images. I have tried few software on the Internet doing up a 3D image for our new house. It's time consuming and of cos it's not as presentable as an ID 3D image but it's sufficient for us.
- We can monitor the renovation progress ourselves. We are lucky that hubby job is flexible and our new house is near my parent's house so we went to our new house almost everyday during the renovation period.
- We want to save cost. ID will charge a premium as they provide 3D image and help to monitor and co-ordinate with the contractors. They can't be doing these for free.

After we have collected our keys, we meet up with at least 10 contractors. We compared their quotations (I did this in MS excel for easy comparison) and visited their client house to look at their workmanship. When comparing the quotations, I have to keep asking them to revise their quotation as it's inevitably that they missed out items here and there. In the end, we engaged Steven who has renovated ~50 houses in our BTO project and his price is very competitive.

Renovation work
- Hacking of kitchen wall
- Dismantle service yard door & lourve windows
- Kitchen cabinet base and cement sink base
- Labour & tiles & skirting for living room, dining area, walkway (750sqf) + 2 in 1 cement
- 5 ft top & 14 ft bottom Kitchen cabinets
- 14 ft Kitchen quartz top
6.5ft Master bedroom wardrobe
L 3.5ft x H 4ft shoe cabinet
- Sliding window at service yard
- Window grills at living room, 3 bedrooms & service yard
- Plumbing works
- Electrical works
- Disposal of debris
- General cleaning

As we did not opt in for HDB flooring, we have to factor the flooring cost in our renovation. There are few types of flooring such as tiles, parquet, laminate, vinyl. We decided with wood grain tiles as tiles are more durable and we do not have to worry about the floor getting too wet. We didn't know that there are different sizes of wood grain tiles i.e. 60cm, 90cm and 120cm until we meet up with one contractor. We went to Hafary, Lian Seng Hin & Soon Bee Huat to take a look at the tiles and we can asked for samples to bring home. The samples given are ~ 8x8cm which is not easy to visualise. We took more than 20 samples and compare it under day light and at night, repeat the process again and again before deciding the final one. As HDB no longer provides prepacked cement, this adds on to our renovation cost too.

The wall between kitchen and dining area is hacked away to create a larger space. As I seldom cook and we bought a good hood, open concept kitchen does not pose a problem to us. The window and door dividing the kitchen and service yard are also removed to create a larger space and easier maintenance.

I don't understand why the HDB did not install windows at the service yard. We have to include window installation as our service yard is prone to get drenched during raining days. We also added the installation of window grills for the whole house.

There is minimal carpentry for our house as I feel that the more cabinets you have, there is a higher tenancy to buy and keep more things. The carpentry in our house only consist of a half height shoe cabinet, kitchen cabinet and MBR wardrobe. We opt for a half height shoe cabinet as I do not have so many shoes and most of the time, the upper level of a full height cabinet is usually made redundant. We did not have a TV feature wall too as we prefer the white wall in the background. In the kitchen, we have a lower cabinet for the stove and sink and a lower and upper cabinet at the opposite. The rationale for not having both lower and upper cabinet on both sides is to prevent the kitchen from being seen as too cramped. I have requested the contractor to build a cement base at the sink area to minimise wood corrosion. We had quartz kitchen top as it is durable and has a range of colours to chose from. We have a simple 8 doors wardrobe instead of walk in wardrobe as I find that over time, clothes become very dusty. I have requested my contractor to split the upper and lower wardrobe into separate doors to minimise opening the upper wardrobe where I kept the winter clothes.

We did not engage our contractor to paint our house as the painting quotation I received from various contractors range from $1,100 to $1,400. We bought our own paints and engaged the Bangladesh painters. The Bangladesh painters are professional painters as they painted the interior and exterior of flats for HDB. We bought our paints and painting tools from Chye Seng Paints & Hardware Co (Add: Blk 452 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 #01-1767 Singapore 560452). It's cheaper here as a tin of Vanilex 5000 cost $47 and a tin of Odouless cost ~$70. The boss from Chye Seng Paints advised us to buy Vanilex paints since we are not moving in immediately and the odour will fade away in few days time. In the end, we bought Vanilex 5000 Sail White for living and dining room and Vanilex 5000 Snow Flakes for bedrooms.

The renovation sequence is usually in this sequence: Dismantling -> Tiling -> Electrical work -> Painting -> Light installation -> Carpentry and there are a few milestones where owner presence are important: electrical wiring, aircon installation, gas piping installation, plumbing, carpentry installation. 

After selecting the contractor, we have to source for lighting, furniture and appliances. We decided to be more adventurous and bought lighting from Taobao. We spent about $450 on lighting (inclusive of shipping and GST charges) which is ~50% saving compared to buying locally. All the lighting are received in good condition except the walkway lamp casing which cracked. I have informed the seller and the seller agreed to send a replacement FOC. However I have to arrange my own shipment from China to Singapore which I have consolidated with my 2nd batch of Taobao purchase.

Living room: 1.5米黑色导轨5W 暖白 铝黑壳5W 正白 铝黑壳
Dining area: æœ¨çº¹B款(送3W暖光LED) (we changed the light bulb as the original Taobao bulb is too dim)
Kitchen: 90cm*20cm 26W LED白光,银色
Household shelter, MBR bathroom, Common bathroom: æ–¹åž‹ 18W白光
Entrance, Service Yard, MBR entrance: æ–¹åž‹ 12W白光
Walkway: ç»¿è‰²C款(送3W暖光LED) 
Bedroom 2 & 3: å°å·-白-LED-白光-16W (without remote)
Lights purchased from Taobao

Another alternative is to buy from Malaysia. Below are Johor Bahru lighting shops visited by Singaporeans:

-Tampoi Lighting Centre Sdn Bhd
Add: No 2 Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, 81200 Johor Bahru
- e Mart
Add: No 23 Jalan Bestari 12/2,Taman Nusa Bestari, 81300 Skudai, Johor Bahru
- Starworld Lighting
Add: 28 Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, 81200 Johor Bahru

At first instance, I feel loss when surfing Taobao website but after I joined several Taobao Facebook page, read a lot and learn from there. I also save the links of those items which the renotalk forumer bought for reference. It's better to buy lights from Tmall which is more expensive but more reputable (Tmall is operating on B2C system (business-to-consumer) whereas Taobao is operating on a C2C system (consumer-to-consumer). I have inform the seller that the purchase are to be ship overseas hence they will usually take extra steps in the packaging. As I'm buying many big items, renotalk forumers recommend shipping agent Peeka or Amcon and I used Amcon for my shipment. The charge is RMB550 for 1st cbm (rounded to nearest 2 decimal places), S$35 shipping document, S$40 local delivery and 7% of the item value purchase. Amcon provided me their Guangzhou warehouse address which I have keyed in when checking out my items. They provide 14 days free storage from the day the 1st item is received. I have to provide Amcon the list of items which I have bought and I will ask for update on the items and the volume received at Guangzhou warehouse. After all the items have reached Guangzhou warehouse, I will ask Amcon to proceed to ship the items to Singapore which takes about 7-10 days. Then Amcon will call me to arrange delivery to my house. 

We visited furniture stores almost every weekend and below are the list of Scandinavian theme furniture stores which we have visited:

- Star Living
Various location
- Comfort Furniture
Add: 110 Eunos Avenue 7
- Home's Harmony
Ad: 978 Toa Payoh North #01-01
- Nook & Cranny
Add: BLK 514 Chai Chee Lane #02-07
- Tan Boon Liat Building
- Prestige Affairs
Add: 9 Tagore Lane #03-08
- Born In Colours
Add: 1024 Yishun Industrial Park A #02-37
Tel:90093586 (by appointment)
- Castlery
Add: 2 Alexandra Road, #01-03A Delta House
- Ikea
Add: 317 Alexandra Road or 60 Tampines North Drive 2

- Commune
Add: 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-52 Millenia Walk 
- Danish Design
Add: 100E Pasir Panjang Road #08-01
- Teak Avenue
Add: 9 Tagore Lane #02-05
- Grafunkt
Add: 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-34 Millenia Walk
- We Love Air
Add: 29 Tai Seng Avenue #01-02
- Lush Lush
Add: 134 Joo Seng Road Level 2
- OM Home
Add: 16 Tai Seng Street Level 8
- Scan Teak
Various location
- Pickle and Rail
Various location

After visiting so many furniture stores, we bought sofa, TV console, dining table and bench from Star Living. Our bed frame is purchased from Prestige Affairs and we also bought the glass cabinet and dining chairs from Ikea. I have read that there are many people who bought furniture from Taobao nowadays but we decide to buy locally as we prefer to see the physical sample before buying. We did purchased smaller items such as coffee table and bedside cabinet from Taobao. It's better to start from the big items follow by the smaller items e.g buy sofa follow by TV console and coffee table as the smaller items can be omitted if there is not enough space. 

We did not major haul our bathroom as we do not see the necessity in spending on the bathroom. We only change the basin in the MBR bathroom as we find the basin provided by HDB too small. We went to a sanitary shop in JB which was recommended by hubby friend and bought rain shower, 2 bidets and a kitchen mixer. These only cost us $230 which I don't think we can get such price for Johnson Suisse product in Singapore. Do note that if you travel out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, the GST relief is for goods valued up to $150 per person.

- The Best Sanitaryware Trading 
Add: No.37, Jalan Setia 12/3, Taman Setia Indah, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor 
Tel:07-355 5020

Below are 2 sanitaryware shops frequent by Singaporeans. We bought our kitchen hob and hood from Universal Union as we find that Hoe Kee pricing is slightly more expensive. We decided to invest in a better hob and hood and have chosen the Fujioh brand.

- Universal Union
Add: 710 Geylang Road
- Hoe Kee
Add: 8 Genting Lane

We opt for gas heater instead of electric heater because the gas heater has inner storage tank and is able to support the rain shower system. We do not want to install the water tank in our toilet as we find it ugly. In addition, gas is also cheaper than electricity.

We purchased most of our appliances from our neighbour as he's working in LG. We got a good discount for our TV, fridge and washing machine. We purchased Mitsubishi Starmex System 3 from AJ Aircon where we enjoyed bulk BTO purchase price. The aircon specs research are done by hubby. We got our ceiling fan from JB e-mart which is half of the price in Singapore. We bought a Mayer 3.5L air fryer for the price of 2.2L during the SG50 promotion. We also bought discounted food blender, rice cooker, iron and hair dryer during the Philip warehouse sales. We decided to do without a built-in oven and microwave as our kitchen is relatively small and I seldom bake.

Below are list of appliances shops which offer competitive pricing and most accept cash or NETS, there is extra charges for payment by credit card. 

- Maximum Credit Co Pte Ltd
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-02
- Aik Leong Enterprise
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-16
- Hong Liang Electrical Enterprise
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-70
- Goh Ah Bee
Add: Blk 210 Hougang St 21 #01-247

I choose curtains over blinds for easier maintenance. Instead of engaging those curtains makers who charge at least $700 for four rooms flat, I decided to DIY which only cost half of it. We bought curtain rods from Ikea and asked our contractor to install for us. For the curtains, I purchased them from Qoo10 and the quality is good.

Floor plan
Living room under day light
Living room with lights switch on
Close up view of living room

To some, this may not come as a surprise: a solution from AWS taking on traditional call centers was rumored to be in the works in February under the working title of “Lily”, according to a report in The Information. (That name isn’t mentioned today, although other parts of that report have proven to be correct.)

In doing this, Amazon is moving into a business area that is already pretty crowded with companies that offer different aspects of cloud-based contact center solutions, including Zoho, Zendesk, Freshdesk, and many more: some of these, including Zendesk, Zoho, and Freshdesk, are actually partnering with Amazon for this service.

As with other AWS solutions (and Amazon as a whole), the company hopes to wedge itself a place in the market with ultra-competitive (read: cheap) pricing: in addition to no up-front costs, there is no long-term contracts to sign and (as you would expect with a cloud service) no infrastructure.

The core of this service is a “Virtual Contact Center” that Amazon claims can be set up “in minutes” and requires no special training to use, for which customers are charged by the minutes that it is used, on top of telephony costs — similar to the per-use pricing model that AWS also applies to its cloud services. Amazon isn’t announcing anything like this here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon at some point also looks into ways of combining this with a telephony service of its own (it’s already offering video conferencing in Chime).

The per-minute charging that Amazon is applying here is also potentially useful to support specific marketing campaigns and temporary services — short-term promotions, seasonal spikes and new product launches are three examples Amazon gives for when it might be used.

Amazon Connect integrates with other existing AWS services to source data, including Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Redshift, or Amazon Aurora, as well as third-party CRM services: Salesforce is among the companies that has already announced an integration.

It also incorporates some of Amazon’s newest innovations in natural language voice and other services to build automated responses that also integrate with other services like Amazon Alexa to support users. Specifically, companies can customize Amazon Connect using Amazon Lex, an AI service that is underpinned by the same automatic speech recognition technology and as Amazon Alexa so that customers can request services without needing to go through long menus.

          Honda CRZ USA Price        
Honda officially announced that the 2011 CR-Z Hybrid Sportscar will go on sale in America from August, starting from Just 19,200 USD. The Honda CR-Z will be made available in three trim levels, base, EX and EX with Navi, and with a choice between two transmissions, a 6-speed manual and the company's CVT gearbox. The fuel consumption of the Honda CR-Z equipped with the manual gearbox is rated at 31 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 34 mpg in the combined cycle. The CVT version of the Honda CR-Z is rated at 35 mpg in the city, 39 mpg on the open roads and 37 mpg in the combined cycle.

Upgrading to the CR-Z EX requires $21,510 and adds fog lights, aluminum pedals, Bluetooth connectivity, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an upgraded sound system with a subwoofer. The top-spec EX with navigation trim is $23,310 and, as the name suggests, adds a nav system, with voice recognition, to the EX’s equipment list.

The base model comes standard with AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, cruise control, and more. The 2011 CR-Z EX adds a  360-watt AM/FM/CD high-power audio system with 7 speakers, Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, leather-wrapped steering wheel and more. Optional on the CR-Z EX is the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System with Voice Recognition.

All CR-Zs feature a hybridized 1.5-liter petrol engine with 122 hp (91 kW / 124 PS) and 128 lb-ft (174 Nm) of torque.

Honda CR Z Honda CR Z Honda CR Z Honda CR Z Honda CR Z Honda CR Z Honda CR Z

The all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z sport hybrid coupe is set to debut at dealers on August 24, 2010, with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) starting at $19,200, plus a destination and handling charge(1) of $750, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.

Developed as a stylish, driver-focused vehicle with an emphasis on efficient performance, the all-new 2011 Honda CR-Z introduces a sleek two-passenger coupe design with quick, sporty handling to the gasoline-electric hybrid segment. A 1.5-liter iVTEC 4-cylinder engine works with Honda's unique, compact and lightweight Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system to supply both power and efficiency to the CR-Z. A sport-focused, six-speed manual transmission is a first for any mass-produced hybrid. An automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is available and includes steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual-like gear-ratio control.

A new, exclusive 3-mode drive system allows the driver to configure the vehicle's responsiveness for Sport, Normal or Econ (Economy) driving modes. Driver efficiency tools include Eco Assist(TM) and Eco Scoring, which together can help drivers find improvements to efficient driving styles, while also comparing economy achievements to previous trips as well as the life of the vehicle.
The CR-Z is available in two equipment grades - the well-equipped CR-Z (base) and the feature-rich CR-Z EX. Standard features on the CR-Z include an AM/FM/CD/USB audio system with six speakers, automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, remote entry, cruise control, and more.

The CR-Z EX adds a 360-watt AM/FM/CD high-power audio system with seven speakers - including a subwoofer - Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, leather-wrapped steering wheel and more. The CR-Z EX is available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System(TM) with Voice Recognition(2).

The CR-Z demonstrates the Honda commitment to safety in the vehicle's design and construction. The Advanced Compatibility Engineering(TM) (ACE(TM)) body structure is designed to help protect vehicle occupants in a frontal collision. Additional safety technologies include Vehicle Stability Assist(TM) (VSA®); standard dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; standard front-side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); side-curtain airbags; active head restraints; an anti-lock braking system; a tire pressure monitoring system; and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle.

EPA** City/Hwy/
CR-Z EX with Navigation
CR-Z EX with Navigation

Additional media information, including detailed pricing features and high-resolution photography of the 2011 Honda CR-Z, is available at www.hondanews.com. Consumer information is available at automobiles.honda.com.

(1) MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, $750.00 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
(2) The Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System(TM) is available on the CR-Z EX model in the United States, except Alaska. Please see the navigation system manual for details.
(3) Based on 2011 EPA mileage estimates, reflecting new EPA fuel economy methods beginning with 2008 models. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models before 2008. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.

          Mini Cooper Cabrio Review And Road Test        

Model Tested:
  • 2009 Mini Cooper S Cabrio ‘Chilli’; 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol; six-speed manual; cabriolet – $51,600*
Options (as fitted):
  • Limited Slip Differential $350; Bonnet Strips in Black $200; Mirror Caps in Black (No Cost Option); Front Seat Heating $490; Interior Surface in Body Colour $225; Chrome Line Exterior $250; Colour Line Dark Grey (No Cost Option); Bluetooth mobile phone preparation with USB interface & armrest $1,470

While money can’t buy you love, it certainly can buy you a whole lot of fun, and when it comes to the Mini Cabrio, less roof really does mean more woohoo!

The Mini Cooper S Cabrio Chilli, we’ve just tested sits just under the mighty John Cooper Works edition on the Mini Cabrio line-up, and on top of the Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper R52 models.
While it might carry a hefty price tag with our road test model optioned to just shy of $55,000, the amount of enjoyment squeezed in to this impressive little package is absolutely incontrovertible.


In terms of looks the retro styling keeps the spirit of the original Mini alive while not detracting from being a thoroughly modern vehicle, though that said, I prefer the look of this car with the roof folded down.

The cabin too retains that retro 60′s charm while not doing away with all the mod-cons we’ve come to expect from the marque, however the ‘always-open’ metre (a device that times how long the roof has been off so you can calculate your UV exposure) seems to block one of the driver’s vents and the rear seat is best reserved for small children or brief trips by adults.

The oversized centre speedo is best thought over as a novelty as parallax error makes it difficult to accurately determine speed. Fortunately a digital duplicate can be found in the centre of the tachometer.


There’s enough features to keep you entertained including bi-xenon headlamps, front and rear foglamps, parking sensors, climate control, cruise control and trip computer, though our test vehicle was optioned with a bit of extra kit (see options list at top of page).

Sadly the new Cooper S is sans Harmon Kardon audio which is a bit of a shame all things considered. The 10 speaker unit as featured in the current model is otherwise decent of both tone and volume, even with the roof off.

When it comes to the retractable roof there’s a few issues with regard to noise and rattles which I feel are a little sub-standard for the money with no insulation provided in the canvas twin-folding design.


It’s also rather slow to retract at 21.0 seconds (or 24.0 seconds with the engine switched off) and though this isn’t a problem generally speaking, it can catch you out if you’re to attempt the manoeuvre at a short set of lights. Thankfully closing the top sees a full five seconds shaved from that time – great if you’re caught in the rain.

However, it’s driving with the roof off that is the absolute highlight of the ‘S’ variant Cabrio as it allows you to imbibe the subtle crackle and pop of the raspy exhaust while feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your back while enjoying that trademark sporting prowess the brand has become famous for.


As you might expect from a Mini toting the ‘S’ badge the performance on tap is truly grin inspiring with the force-fed 1.6-litre, four-cylinder producing a cracking 128kW at 5500rpm and 260Nm or torque, on overboost, which is available from a low 1700rpm all the way to 4500.

Zero to 100km/h is dished out in a little over seven seconds, drive out of corners is sharp and snappy, and when it comes to rounding up slow moving traffic, overtaking is brisk and purposeful.


Best still the drive is completely usable thanks to a close ratio gearbox which has a sweet short throw through its six forward ratios and a positive clutch feel not often synonymous with cars of this category.

The well cogged gearbox also manages to provide Mini with exceptionally frugal fuel economy returns with our week totalling 7.8 litres per 100km (combined), just over half a litre more than the ADR claims.

Steering is truly a point and shoot affair with near perfect levels of feel and road feedback on offer. Torque steer can however be a little snappy in certain situations, though I will admit, I did enjoy the optional limited slip differential.


Road holding is simply tremendous and with such a short wheel base, tight suspension and strong braking, the ‘S’ is a hoot through your favourite twisty sections of country road, or even when playing in traffic. That said, there is a little scuttle shake evident over mid-corner lumps and bumps.
Sure all of this wicked fun comes at the price of a comfy ride, but if you’re a the kind of driver who likes a little more enthusiasm from your car’s handling, then I’m sure you’re bound not to care.


While the Cabrio was never really meant to be practical it does offer a 170 litre boot that can be expanded through the rear seats to avail 660 somewhat awkward litres if need be.

Safety come courtesy of pop-up roll-over bars; front and side airbags; switchable ESC with traction control; as well as ABS with CBC, EBA and EBD to see Mini Cabrio achieve a four-star ANCAP rating.

So with summer just around the corner the Mini Cabrio represents a joyously uninhibited way to have some topless fun through the warmer months, and even if the added pep of the Cooper S isn’t your thing, a base model can be yours from just $39,800.

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.

  • Engine: 1598cc DOHC four-cylinder (16-valve)
  • Power: 128kW @ 5500rpm
  • Torque: 260Nm @ 1700 – 4500rpm
  • Induction: Turbocharged & multi-point
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, CBC, EBA & EBD
  • Top Speed: 222km/h (Claimed)
  • 0-100km/h: 7.4 seconds (Claimed)
  • CO2 Emissions: 171 grams per kilometre
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.2 litres per 100km (ADR combined)
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.8 litres per 100km (as tested)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
  • Fuel Type: 95-98RON petrol
  • ANCAP Rating: Four-star
  • Airbags: Dual front & side
  • Safety: ESC with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: (Run flat tyres)
  • Suspension: Strut(F)/Multi-Link(R)
  • Cargo Capacity: 170 litres/660 litres
  • Tow Capacity: N/A
  • Turning Circle: 10.7 metres
  • Warranty: Three year/unlimited kilometre
  • Weight: 1305kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 17 x 7.0-inch (Black Star Bullet)

          Mini Cooper D Review And Road Test        

Mini Cooper D – The Frugal Mini

Green motoring has finally become cool.
Model Tested:
  • 2009 Mini Cooper D; 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-diesel; six-speed manual; hatch – $33,750*
The Mini Cooper D is an interesting car, it’s both cool and yet still green, two concepts which so far haven’t gone all that well together despite the best attempts of the world’s largest car companies. Making a car that can go 1000km+ on a single tank, put out very little CO2 emissions and yet still be fun and not embarrassing to be in? Is it even possible? Yes

It takes several hundred kilometers to review a car properly and usually when an evaluation vehicles goes home it has about ¼ tank of fuel left in it. So you can imagine my shock as I was handing the Mini Cooper D test car back to BMW and realised that the fuel tank was still more than half full. That would’ve been more than believable had I not done 496km!


On the whole I am not a big fan of fuel efficient cars, in a way they say a lot about the mentality of the automotive industry today, with manufacturers desperately trying to be environmentally conscious and promoting their green image, meanwhile keeping the passion and performance aspect alive at the same time. There is a lot incongruent with that idea.

Fortunately though, the Mini Cooper D is a little different to the rest, for a start it’s a Mini so it instantly has some cool factor attached to it. Additionally, it’s not powered by some super complicated electric hybrid engine that requires half the planet to get involved in its construction.


Of course, then there is the drive factor, it drives like a proper car, you can push hard into corners and you can drive up a twisty mountain and it won’t complain, it won’t make you feel like you’ve sold your soul just to save a few trees.

Best of all though, it’s not incongruent, it’s not confused, it knows exactly what it is. Mini call it Minimalist design even though the car is relatively well equipped.

I collected the Cooper D from Brisbane BMW in Fortitude Valley and headed into peak hour traffic, BMW had decided that since I’m going to be driving it around for a week, it may as well use the car as an advertising billboard. Two giant stickers each side made sure of that, one side read 3.9L/100km and the other side read 104g co2/km.


I was driving around in a beacon of the green movement in peak hour traffic, hippies waved, men in BMW M3s frowned as they sped past. Alas, I am open minded, so what if it helps save the planet, it can still be cool, it’s a Mini! Plus if you buy one, BMW promises to take the stickers off.


On the first set of lights in the middle of Brisbane CBD, the car turned off. Oh dear, had I stalled the car? Had the car broken down, could this get any more embarrassing? For a good 30 seconds there, I started wondering how I was going to end up on the 6 o’clock traffic helicopter with the tag line reading “Hippy in eco friendly car stops Brisbane traffic”.

I looked down, the car was in neutral, how could it possibly stall? It hadn’t, the Mini is so smart it had decided to turn it self off similar to hybrid cars that turn off their petrol engine when stopped. Perhaps if I had paid more attention to the lady explaining the car’s ins and outs 10 minutes ago the Mini’s start-stop system wouldn’t have come as a surprise.


With the system on, the Cooper D will turn itself off (safely) everytime you’re stopped in traffic, even if its for 10 seconds, when you press the clutch in, it will turn back on instantly. Now if you’ve never experienced a car with Start-Stop technology, it may seem like a gimmick, something that might slow you down, however it’s quite a brilliant system.

The idea is that instead of the engine running while you’re not moving, it simply turns off for the duration of your stop to save fuel. To the outside world, it may seem like you’ve gone mad with the ignition switch (or are incapable of driving) but it’s all very seamless and after a few days you get used to it.


Start-stop aside, there is a lot more to the Mini that makes it fuel efficient, it’s powered by the BMW/Peugeot designed 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engine. With 80kW and 240Nm of torque, by no means is the Cooper D a performance car, but nor is it slow. It will go from 0-100km/h in about 10 seconds but somehow BMW have managed to bring fuel usage down to just 3.9L/100km (equal best fuel rating on the market). It does help that the car only weighs 1090kg.


To put that into perspective, the new third generation Toyota Prius with all its ultra-modern technology, electric drives, batteries, hybrid engine and what not can only manage the same fuel rating.

For a car that costs $33,750 you get a lot of underlying technology to go with the good fuel economy. Mini’s famous driving dynamics apart, the Mini Cooper D comes with pretty much the basics, the chilli variant ($37,350) gets a rear spoiler, uprated interior, 16-inch alloys (as oppose to 15), front fog lights and a better stereo system (10 loudspeakers and a digital 8-channel amplifier).


Safety wise you can’t expect anything less than five-star these days and the Cooper doesn’t disappoint. With airbags all around and a five star rating from Euro NCAP Crash Test the Mini also comes with Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Automatic Stability Control Traction (ASC T) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC).


During the week I drove to the Gold Coast, around town and even used the Mini to move some furniture. If you’re like me and don’t have any kids, it’s hard to argue against the Mini’s practicality.


Of course it wouldn’t be a proper green car if it didn’t have a few gimmicks, for example the Brake Energy Regeneration system helps charge the car’s battery whenever the driver brakes or the car is coasting in traffic.


In the manual variants, there is even “Shift Point Display” that works out what’s the best gear to be in and prompts the driver to shift up or down via arrows in the rev counter.


For the low to mid 30s there are a few other alternatives on the market, Volkswagen, Peugeot, even Fiat make similarly specified cars for around the same or lower price. So the question you have to ask yourself is, and if I may use Toyota’s marketing department genius for a minute, are you a Mini person?

What makes a Mini person? Being a little different, as much as I love the Volkswagen Golf diesel (and it’s a brilliant car), it’s not exactly a unique car and as much as I want to recommend a Fiat to anyone, resale and reliability come to mind with all Italian cars. So for me it comes down to the Peugeot 207 and the Mini Cooper D.


The only minor downside that is worth mentioning is the stereo, it’s just not what I expected from a car of this caliber as it seems to be lacking much needed bass and clarity. However if you go for the Chilli variant that won’t be an issue.

Handling and performance wise, there should really be no need to explain as the 1.6-litre diesel is the fastest 1.6-litre diesel in Australia (0-100km/h) but it also handles rather well despite its tiny 15-inch wheels (16- on chilli). Steering response is typical go-kart like as with all Minis and the pedal position feel makes for an easy drive.


You have to remember the Mini Cooper D can travel 1,025 km from a single 40-litre tank – and that’s no small feat. Yes it’s a little more expensive than its other European rivals, but being cool has a price.

If you’re looking for a car that is green but still keeps its cool factor whilst being extremely fuel efficient, it’s really hard to go past the Mini.

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.

  • Engine: 1560cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
  • Power: 80kW @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 240Nm @ 1750-2000rpm (260Nm Overboost)
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
  • Top Speed: 195km/h (Claimed)
  • 0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds (Claimed)
  • CO2 Emissions: 104 g/km
  • Fuel Consumption: 3.9L/100km (ADR)
  • Fuel Consumption: 3.9L/100km (As Tested)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 40L
  • Fuel Type: Diesel
  • ANCAP Rating: Five-star
  • Airbags: Dual Front, Side & Curtain
  • Safety: ESC with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: Full-size Alloy
  • Cargo Capacity: 160L/680L
  • Turning Circle: 10.7m
  • Warranty: Three Year/Unlimited km
  • Weight: 1165kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 15 x 5.5-inch (5-Star Spooler)

          Mini John Cooper Works Cabrio Review And Road Test        
99 per cent fat free motoring
Model Tested:
  • 2009 Mini R57 John Cooper Works Cabrio; 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol; six-speed manual; convertible – $56,900*

Mini’s top-ranking John Cooper Works models have since their introduction come to represent all that’s right about modified modern motoring.


The JCW recipe takes a brand already synonymous with ten-out-of-ten enjoyment and, thanks to a few simple tweaks, brings the Mini’s competitive performance credentials to the fore.

To an untrained eye the JCW Cabrio may not look any different to its standard sibling, but therein lies its charm, for with under bonnet augmentation pumping the topless tuner’s performance’s credentials a further 27kW and 20Nm northward, you’d want to believe this is one Mini that takes itself pretty seriously.

Inside Mini’s compact cabin the familiar funky retro styling is further enhanced by slick piano black trim highlights and matching door sill finishers. Even the gearknob gains a fiery red shift-diagram in a nod to the car’s bolstered performance credentials.

Front seating is supportive, and surprisingly roomy, though the rear pews are only suitable for the occasional very short trip, stowing the handbag dog, or as additional luggage space to the rather limited 125 litres on offer up back.


The feature list is otherwise generous, as you’d probably expect at this end of the price range, with single-zone climate control air-conditioning, pumping six CD tuner, steering wheel-mounted cruise control, four-in-one power windows, electric mirrors, push-button starter, front and rear foglamps, xenon headlamps, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and iPod auxiliary audio input.

Mini’s dual-mode canvas roof too is completely automated, but somewhat slow at doing its thing, which is a little annoying when you’re left holding the button for 25 seconds. The roof is also a little on the rattly side and dramatically hinders ‘C’ pillar visibility when locked in place.


But refinement aside, it’s what’s at the heart of any JCW Mini that serves to raise a well plucked eye brow.

In this instance the JCW Cabrio manages an impressive total of 155kW of power – and a whopping 280Nm (overboost) of torque – from its force-fed 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Mated to a sweet, short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, acceleration is acutely sharp with 0-100km/h dealt with in under seven seconds, half a second faster than the regular Cooper S Cabrio on which it’s based.

The JCW Cabrio also boasts a top speed some 17km/h greater than the standard ‘S’ while, curiously, also managing better fuel consumption figures – our test model consuming only 7.3L/100km (combined) this week – a full half-litre better than its generic sibling.


Adding to the beefed up powerplant, the JCW Cabrio gains stiffer suspension, brake upgrades (now 316 x 22mm front / 280 x 10mm rear), 17-inch “Cross Spoke Challenge” alloy wheels, subtle John Cooper Works badging front and rear, chrome plated side air inlets (without “S” lettering), as well as a raucous centrally mounted dual 85mm stainless steel exhaust that snarls and crackles playfully as you swap cogs.

It’s terrific fun to drive too, with a wickedly responsive throttle, sharp brakes and super grippy handling that nearly defies the laws of front-wheel drive physics. On the downside however an over zealous right foot will induce torque steer that’s about as subtle as the lyrics in a Cypress Hill song.


With pop-up roll bars, dynamic traction control with EDLC, plus front and side airbags the JCW Cabrio earns a four-star rating from the boys at ANCAP, and with pricing nearly as cheeky as it’s personality, this little Mini scores the same from me.

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer.

  • Engine: 1598cc DOHC four-cylinder (16 valve)
  • Power: 155kW @ 6000rpm
  • Torque: 280Nm @ 2000rpm (Overboost)
  • Induction: Multi-point & turbocharged
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual
  • Driven Wheels: Front
  • Brakes: Discs with ABS, CBC, & EBD
  • Top Speed: 235km/h (Claimed)
  • 0-100km/h: 6.9 seconds
  • CO2 Emissions: 169g/km
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.1L/100km (ADR)
  • Fuel Consumption: 7.3L/100km (As Tested)
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 50L
  • Fuel Type: 95-98RON Premium Unleaded
  • ANCAP Rating: Four-star
  • Airbags: Front & Side
  • Safety: ESC with Traction Control
  • Spare Wheel: (Run flat tyres)
  • Suspension: Strut (F) / Multi-link (R)
  • Cargo Capacity: 125/660L
  • Tow Capacity: N/A
  • Turning Circle: 10.7m
  • Warranty: Three Year / Unlimited Kilometre
  • Weight: 1230kg (Tare)
  • Wheels: Alloy 17 x 7.0-inch

          AAVSO Publication Subscriptions        

All pricing information for 2017 can be found here (pdf).

For new subscribers: The following AAVSO publications are available on a yearly subscription basis.  The subscription period is from January 1 - December 31.  Payment is due by January 1.  For more information or to subscribe to any of our publications, please contact the AAVSO.

Quick Links:

The Journal of the AAVSO (JAAVSO)
Contains refereed research articles on variable stars and other topics relevant to the AAVSO, mostly written by AAVSO members. (Approx. 100-200 pages)
Note: To order a printed copy of an earlier Journal, please see this page.

AAVSO Bulletin
Contains the predicted maxima and minima dates of approximately 370 long period and semiregular variable stars.  (Approx. 11 pages)

AAVSO Solar Bulletin
Contains information on and photos of solar activity, including sunspots and solar flares. (Approx. 4-5 pages)

AAVSO Publication Package
Includes a one-year subscription to each of the following publications:


*Please note: All listed publications are generally mailed to subscribers within three business days of the publication date, and are sent by first-class mail.  Please allow two to three weeks from the publication date before submitting a claim for a missing issue (four to six weeks for international subscribers).  Publication dates are subject to delay.

          Blue Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm        
Blue Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm

Blue Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm

 Blue Shelf Backing Strip 100 m Roll DURABLE - Made from PVC these shelf backing strips are hard-wearing and long-lasting. CUT-TO-LENGTH - The roll allows you to cut the backing strip to the length you require. STANDARD 39 MM STRIP - Fits standard 39 mm EPOS strips, ensuring expanding or changing your retail shelving display is made straight forward. EASY TO USE - Simply cut to size and slide in to the ticket edge. Pricing can be attached to the backing strip rather than the EPOS strip making price changes easier. EYE CATCHING - Help make your shelving units stand out with these bright blue backing strips, drawing customers attention to your products. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          Blue Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100        
Blue Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100

Blue Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100

 Blue Strung Price Tickets STRUNG TICKETS - Tie the tickets to almost anything for a quick and easy way to add information to your display, ideal for pricing and ticketing. LIGHTWEIGHT CARD - A simple, yet cost effective way of pricing and ticketing. RANGE OF SIZES AND COLOURS - We stock a variety of strung tickets in different sizes and colours.

          Blue Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm        
Blue Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

Blue Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

 Blue Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets PRE-PRINTED HEADERS - With 'No', 'Style', 'Size' and 'Price' pre-printed you can simply write in your information on the dotted line, for quick and easy product identification. TWO-PART - Two-part stock tickets have a perforated line to allow for easy tearing to separate the tickets.   PERFORATED HOLE - Small perforated hole allows for tagging, a quick and easy way to label your product with information and pricing. DIFFERENT STYLES AND SIZES - We stock a variety of Price Labels, Swing Tags and Tickets in different styles and sizes, this particular ticket is available in seven colours.

          Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For July 28th, 2017s        

Hey, it's HighScalability time:


Jackson Pollock painting? Cortical column? Nope, it's a 2 trillion particle cosmological simulation using 4000+ GPUs. (paper, Joachim Stadel, UZH)

If you like this sort of Stuff then please support me on Patreon.


  • 1.8x: faster code on iPad MacBook Pro; 1 billion: WhatsApp daily active users; 100 milliamps: heart stopping current; $25m: surprisingly low take from ransomware; 2,700x: improvement in throughput with TCP BBR; 620: Uber locations; $35.5 billion: Facebook's cash hoard; 2 billion: Facebook monthly active users; #1: Apple is the world's most profitable [legal] company; 500,000x: return on destroying an arms depot with a drone; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Alasdair Allan: Jeff Bezos’ statement that “there’s not that much interesting about CubeSats” may well turn out to be the twenty first century’s “nobody needs more than 640kb.”
    • @hardmaru: Decoding the Enigma with RNNs. They trained a LSTM with 3000 hidden units to decode ciphertext with 96%+ accuracy. 
    • @tj_waldorf: Morningstar achieved 97% cost reduction by moving to AWS. #AWSSummit Chicago
    • Ed Sperling: Moore’s Law is alive and well, but it is no longer the only approach. And depending on the market or slice of a market, it may no longer be the best approach.
    • @asymco: With the end of Shuffle and Nano iPods Apple now sells only Unix-enabled products. Amazing how far that Bell Labs invention has come.
    • @peteskomoroch: 2017: RAM is the new Hadoop
    • Carlo Pescio: What if focusing on the problem domain, while still understanding the machine that will execute your code, could improve maintainability and collaterally speed up execution by a factor of over 100x compared to popular hipster code?
    • @stevesi: Something ppl forget: moving products to cloud, margins go down due to costs to operate scale services—costs move from Customer to vendor.
    • @brianalvey: The most popular software for writing fiction isn't Word. It's Excel.
    • @pczarkowski: How to make a monolithic app cloud native: 1) run it in a docker 2) change the url from .com to .io
    • @tj_waldorf: Morningstar achieved 97% cost reduction by moving to AWS. #AWSSummit Chicago
    • drinkzima: There is a huge general misunderstanding in the profitability of directing hotel bookings vs flight bookings or other types of travel consumables. Rate parity and high commission rates mean that directing hotel rooms is hugely profitable and Expedia (hotels.com, trivago, expedia) and Priceline (booking.com) operate as a duopoly in most markets. They are both marketing machines that turn brand + paid traffic into highly profitable room nights.
    • Animats: This is a classic problem with AI researchers. Somebody gets a good result, and then they start thinking strong human-level AI is right around the corner. AI went through this with search, planning, the General Problem Solver, perceptrons, the first generation of neural networks, and expert systems. Then came the "AI winter", late 1980s to early 2000s, when almost all the AI startups went bust. We're seeing some of it again in the machine learning / deep neural net era.
    • Charity Majors: So no, ops isn't going anywhere. It just doesn't look like it used to. Soon it might even look like a software engineer.
    • @mthenw: As long as I need to pay for idle it’s not “serverless”. Pricing is different because in Lambda you pay for invocation not for the runtime.
    • Kelly Shortridge: The goal is to make the attacker uncertain of your defensive environment and profile. So you really want to mess with their ability to profile where their target is
    • @CompSciFact: 'About 1,000 instructions is a reasonable upper limit for the complexity of problems now envisioned.' -- John von Neumann, 1946
    • hn_throwaway_99: Few barriers to entry, really?? Sorry, but this sounds a bit like an inexperienced developer saying "Hey, I could build most of Facebook's functionality in 2 weeks." Booking.com is THE largest spender of advertising on Google. They have giant teams that A/B test the living shite out of every pixel on their screens, and huge teams of data scientists squeezing out every last bit of optimization on their site. It's a huge barrier to entry. 
    • callahad: It's real [performance improvements]. We've [Firefox] landed enormous performance improvements this year, including migrating most Firefox users to a full multi-process architecture, as well as integrating parts of the Servo parallel browser engine project into Firefox. There are still many improvements yet-to-land, but in most cases we're on track for Firefox 57 in November.
    • Samer Buna: One important threat that GraphQL makes easier is resource exhaustion attacks (AKA Denial of Service attacks). A GraphQL server can be attacked with overly complex queries that will consume all the resources of the server.
    • wheaties: This is stupid. Really. Here we are in a world where the companies that own the assets (you know, the things that cost a lot of money) are worth less than the things that don't own anything. This doesn't seem "right" or "fair" in the sense that Priceline should be a middleman, unable to exercise any or all pricing power because it does not control the assets producing the revenue. I wonder how long this can last?
    • platz: Apparently deep-learning and algae are the same thing.
    • @CompSciFact: "If you don't run experiments before you start designing a new system, your entire system will be an experiment." -- Mike Williams
    • Scott Aaronson: our laws of physics are structured in such a way that even pure information often has “nowhere to hide”: if the bits are there at all in the abstract machinery of the world, then they’re forced to pipe up and have a measurable effect. 
    • The Internet said many more interesting things this week. To read them all please click through to the full article.

  • Cool interview with Margaret Hamilton--NASA's First Software Engineer--on Makers. Programmers, you'll love this. One of the stories she tells is how her daughter was playing around and selected the prelaunch program during flight. That crashed the simulator. So like a good programmer she wanted to prevent this from happening. She tried to get a protection put in because an astronaut could actually do this during flight. Management would certainly allow this, right? She was denied. They said astronauts are trained never to make a mistake so it could never happen. Eventually she won the argument and was able to add code to protect against human error. So little has changed :-)

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

          Sponsored Post: Apple, Domino Data Lab, Etleap, Aerospike, Loupe, Clubhouse, Stream, Scalyr, VividCortex, MemSQL, InMemory.Net, Zohocorp        

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  • Apple is looking for passionate VoIP engineer with a strong technical background to transform our Voice platform to SIP. It will be an amazing journey with highly skilled, fast paced, and exciting team members. Lead and implement the engineering of Voice technologies in Apple’s Contact Center environment. The Contact Center Voice team provides the real time communication platform for customers’ interaction with Apple’s support and retail organizations. You will lead the global Voice, SIP, and network cross-functional engineers to develop world class customer experience. More details are available here.

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          More on carbon taxes...        
In response to So what would a carbon tax really cost?, Stefano Carattini wrote:

We have recently published an advanced review article tackling some of the points that you mention.
From the abstract: Here, we present the main arguments for carbon pricing, to stimulate a fair and well-informed discussion about it. These include considerations that have received little attention so far. We stress that a main reason to use carbon pricing is environmental effectiveness at a relatively low cost, which in turn contributes to enhance social and political acceptability of climate policy
Lobbying definitely plays a key role here, but unfortunately under standard circumstances the general public is not much more open to the idea of a carbon tax (see for instance this).
From the abstract: We examine the determinants of voting and find that distributional and competitiveness concerns reduced the acceptability of energy taxes, along with the perception of ineffectiveness. Most people would have preferred tax revenues to be allocated for environmental purposes... [Given the inefficiency of this choice...] providing information on the expected environmental effectiveness of carbon taxes reduces the demand for environmental earmarking.
I then asked Stefano: Do you think that a series of national carbon taxes (with funds reallocated domestically) is better than an international (but more efficient) tax system? I think that cap and trade is defacto dead as a policy due to its complexity but — worse — its design of shipping money to foreigners. Thus, I think that a national carbon tax (even without border adjustments, but I like that idea of refunding the border adjustment to the exporting country!) is a definite second best…

To which he replied: The question that you ask is a tough one, but I would say that yes, starting with domestic carbon taxes is probably the most feasible solution. The number of countries implementing carbon taxes has been slowly but steadily rising in the last few years. I know of several initiatives trying to tackle the unpopularity of carbon taxes, with the aim to push for (acceptable) national carbon taxes in different countries. For instance, Citizens’ Climate Lobby is also pushing in several countries (starting from the US) the idea of a carbon fee-and-dividend, a carbon tax whose revenues are redistributed through lump-sum transfers (advertised as “checks”). Their plan does include carbon motivated border tax adjustments, as also did the recent initiative by a group of prominent republicans. At some point, British Columbia actually had a serious plan to implement an original version of a border tax adjustment, by taxing carbon-intensive imports.*

The wind may be slowly changing. Firms are also realizing that carbon pricing may be advantageous for them, of course depending on the design, as long as the status-quo is no longer an option.

* DZ: According to this summary, the border tax has not been implemented, perhaps due to the plan to tax carbon across Canada in 2018.

          Recap: Andrew Coyne weighs in on mobility pricing to reduce congestion        
National Post columnist Andrew Coyne spoke to a crowd at SFU Woodwards on Tuesday, February 25th, on the topic of road pricing to reduce congestion. His talk was the second in a series entitled Rethinking Transportation presented by TransLink and a number of others (as listed on the series’ website) trying to spur conversations on […]
          Clear Acrylic Label Holder - H75 x W50 x D53 mm, Pack of 10        
Clear Acrylic Label Holder - H75 x W50 x D53 mm, Pack of 10

Clear Acrylic Label Holder - H75 x W50 x D53 mm, Pack of 10

Clear Acrylic Label Holder DURABLE - Made from 1.5 mm acrylic this label holder is hard-wearing and long-lasting. LIGHTWEIGHT - Move the label holder around to suit your requirements, great for use in jewellery stores or shop window displays. EASY-TO-USE - Simply slide in the label you wish to display whether it be for pricing or product information. When you come round to changing your display or price you can quickly slide out your label and replace it with a new one. FREE-STANDING - Keep your display professional by standing the label holder next to products, giving customers the information they need.

          Dayglo Stars, Medium - Pack of 45, Choice of Colours        
Dayglo Stars, Medium - Pack of 45, Choice of Colours

Dayglo Stars, Medium - Pack of 45, Choice of Colours

 Dayglo Stars BRIGHT COLOURS - Stand out colours will attract customer attention to your display. EYE-CATCHING - The bright colour and star shape will create an eye-catching look, great for use in arts and crafts. DIFFERENT STYLES AND SIZES - We stock a variety of sale signs, banners and tickets in different styles and sizes. MULTIPLE USES - Ideal for pricing and labelling, use with Chrome Wire Shelving, Shop Counters, Slatwall Displays and Gridwall Displays.

          Deli Pin Tag/Card Holder - 38 mm Pin, Pack of 10        
Deli Pin Tag/Card Holder - 38 mm Pin, Pack of 10

Deli Pin Tag/Card Holder - 38 mm Pin, Pack of 10

DURABLE - Made from delrin plastic this sign clip is hard-wearing and long-lasting. PIVOT JOINT - Allows for signage to be tilted and rotated for maximum visibility. LONG PIN BASE - 38 mm long pin base. SUPPORTS UP TO 60 MM HIGH - Display material up to 60 mm high, great for pricing and additional information about products. LIGHTWEIGHT AND STYLISH - Create a modern display with this ticket holder, easy to position and re-position. Ideal for photos and promotional signage.

          Deli Swivel Pin Ticket Holder -L38 mm Pin, Pack of 10        
Deli Swivel Pin Ticket Holder -L38 mm Pin, Pack of 10

Deli Swivel Pin Ticket Holder -L38 mm Pin, Pack of 10

DURABLE - Made from delrin plastic this sign clip is hard-wearing and long-lasting. PIVOT JOINT - Allows for signage to be tilted and rotated for maximum visibility. LONG PIN BASE - 38 mm long pin base. SUPPORTS UP TO 0.8 MM THICKNESS - Display material up to 0.8 mm thick, great for pricing and additional information about products. LIGHTWEIGHT AND STYLISH - Create a modern display with this ticket holder, easy to position and re-position. Ideal for photos and promotional signage.

          Display Clip Tag Holder - Pack of 20        
Display Clip Tag Holder - Pack of 20

Display Clip Tag Holder - Pack of 20

DURABLE - Made from butyrate plastic this sign clip is hard-wearing and long-lasting. HINGED - Allows for signage to be tilted for maximum visibility. CLIP-ON - Ideal for displaying promotional messages and pricing when clipped to shoes, bowls and other items. Clips on to material up to 9.5 mm. SUPPORTS UP TO 0.25 MM THICKNESS - Display material up to 0.25 mm thick, great for pricing and additional information about products. LIGHTWEIGHT AND STYLISH - Create a modern display with this sign clip, easy to position and re-position. Ideal for photos and promotional signage.

          Double Sign Clip with Clamp - Pack of 10        
Double Sign Clip with Clamp - Pack of 10

Double Sign Clip with Clamp - Pack of 10

DURABLE - Made from clear acrylic this sign clip is hard-wearing and long-lasting. UNIVERSAL JOINT - Allows for signage to be tilted and rotated for maximum visibility. CLIP-ON - Ideal for displaying promotional messages and pricing when clipped to shoes, bowls and other items. Each clamp clips on to material up to 9.5 mm. TWO-HEADED CLIP - Display double the amount of material using the two clips. LIGHTWEIGHT AND STYLISH - Create a modern display with this sign clip, easy to position and re-position. Ideal for photos and promotional signage.

          EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1000 mm, Choice of Colours        
EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1000 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1000 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS TICKET EDGE - The finishing touch to your retail shelving unit. For displaying pricing information. Accepts 39 mm price tickets. AVAILABLE IN A RANGE OF COLOURS - The ticket edges come in a range of colours including clear, blue, black, red, green, silver and Jura white to complement your interior decor. Matching kick plinths are also available. WIDE RANGE OF SIZES IN STOCK - The ticket edges come in a range of sizes to fit your retail shelving units including 665, 800, 1000 and 1250 mm lengths. STANDARD 50MM PITCH SHELVING - Our retail shelving uses the standard 50mm pitch system, which means compatibility with existing shelving that is used throughout Europe. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components,. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1250 mm, Choice of Colours        
EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1250 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - 1250 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS TICKET EDGE - The finishing touch to your retail shelving unit. For displaying pricing information. Accepts 39 mm price tickets. AVAILABLE IN A RANGE OF COLOURS - The ticket edges come in a range of colours including clear, blue, black, red, green, silver and Jura white to complement your interior decor. Matching kick plinths are also available. WIDE RANGE OF SIZES IN STOCK - The ticket edges come in a range of sizes to fit your retail shelving units including 665, 800, 1000 and 1250 mm lengths. STANDARD 50MM PITCH SHELVING - Our retail shelving uses the standard 50mm pitch system, which means compatibility with existing shelving that is used throughout Europe. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components,. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L665 mm, Choice of Colours        
EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L665 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L665 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS TICKET EDGE - The finishing touch to your retail shelving unit. For displaying pricing information. Accepts 39 mm price tickets. AVAILABLE IN A RANGE OF COLOURS - The ticket edges come in a range of colours including clear, blue, black, red, green, silver and Jura white to complement your interior decor. Matching kick plinths are also available. WIDE RANGE OF SIZES IN STOCK - The ticket edges come in a range of sizes to fit your retail shelving units including 665, 800, 1000 and 1250 mm lengths. STANDARD 50MM PITCH SHELVING - Our retail shelving uses the standard 50mm pitch system, which means compatibility with existing shelving that is used throughout Europe. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components,. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L800 mm, Choice of Colours        
EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L800 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS Ticket Edge for Retail Shelving Wall or Gondola Units - L800 mm, Choice of Colours

EPOS TICKET EDGE - The finishing touch to your retail shelving unit. For displaying pricing information. Accepts 39 mm price tickets. AVAILABLE IN A RANGE OF COLOURS - The ticket edges come in a range of colours including clear, blue, black, red, green, silver and Jura white to complement your interior decor. Matching kick plinths are also available. WIDE RANGE OF SIZES IN STOCK - The ticket edges come in a range of sizes to fit your retail shelving units including 665, 800, 1000 and 1250 mm lengths. STANDARD 50MM PITCH SHELVING - Our retail shelving uses the standard 50mm pitch system, which means compatibility with existing shelving that is used throughout Europe. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components,. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          Gold Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm        
Gold Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

Gold Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

 Gold Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets PRE-PRINTED HEADERS - With 'No', 'Style', 'Size' and 'Price' pre-printed you can simply write in your information on the dotted line, for quick and easy product identification. TWO-PART - Two-part stock tickets have a perforated line to allow for easy tearing to separate the tickets.   PERFORATED HOLE - Small perforated hole allows for tagging, a quick and easy way to label your product with information and pricing. DIFFERENT STYLES AND SIZES - We stock a variety of Price Labels, Swing Tags and Tickets in different styles and sizes, this particular ticket is available in seven colours.

          Green Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm        
Green Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm

Green Backing Strip for Retail Shelving Shelf-Edge/EPOS Strips - 100 m Roll, H39 mm

 Green Shelf Backing Strip 100 m Roll DURABLE - Made from PVC these shelf backing strips are hard-wearing and long-lasting. CUT-TO-LENGTH - The roll allows you to cut the backing strip to the length you require. STANDARD 39 MM STRIP - Fits standard 39 mm EPOS strips, ensuring expanding or changing your retail shelving display is made straight forward. EASY TO USE - Simply cut to size and slide in to the ticket edge. Pricing can be attached to the backing strip rather than the EPOS strip making price changes easier. EYE CATCHING - Help make your shelving units stand out with these bright green backing strips, drawing customers attention to your products. VARIED RANGE OF UNITS, ACCESSORIES AND COMPONENTS - We have a huge range of units including wall and gondola units as well as accessories and components. Additional shelving and uprights can be added easily to continue your run of units when you need to expand.

          Green Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100        
Green Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100

Green Strung Price Tickets - Choice of Sizes, Pack of 100

 Green Strung Price Tickets STRUNG TICKETS - Tie the tickets to almost anything for a quick and easy way to add information to your display, ideal for pricing and ticketing. LIGHTWEIGHT CARD - A simple, yet cost effective way of pricing and ticketing. RANGE OF SIZES AND COLOURS - We stock a variety of strung tickets in different sizes and colours.

          Green Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm        
Green Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

Green Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets - Box of 1000, H61 x W39 mm

 Green Two-Part Perforated Stock Tickets PRE-PRINTED HEADERS - With 'No', 'Style', 'Size' and 'Price' pre-printed you can simply write in your information on the dotted line, for quick and easy product identification. TWO-PART - Two-part stock tickets have a perforated line to allow for easy tearing to separate the tickets.   PERFORATED HOLE - Small perforated hole allows for tagging, a quick and easy way to label your product with information and pricing. DIFFERENT STYLES AND SIZES - We stock a variety of Price Labels, Swing Tags and Tickets in different styles and sizes, this particular ticket is available in seven colours.

          Ink Roller for Samark S26        
Ink Roller for Samark S26

Ink Roller for Samark S26

Quality Ink Roller For Samark S26 Quality Ink Roller for Samark S26. Use as replacement for your old ink roller.

          Multipurpose Movable Hook Holder for Versatile Poster Frame - Pack of 2, H35 x W20 x D15 mm        
Multipurpose Movable Hook Holder for Versatile Poster Frame - Pack of 2, H35 x W20 x D15 mm

Multipurpose Movable Hook Holder for Versatile Poster Frame - Pack of 2, H35 x W20 x D15 mm

Multipurpose Movable Hook Holder for Versatile Poster Frame EASY-TO-USE - Simply slide the hooks onto a Versatile Poster Frame, you can then suspend the display from the ceiling or hook it on to display units such as Chrome Wire Shelving and Dump Bins. Great for maximum visibility to your customers for pricing or additional information. CLEAR PLASTIC - The movable hook holder is clear so attention is not drawn away from your display. MOVABLE - The movable hooks allow for movement in your display where a surface is not completely flat or for extra movement when hanging creating an eye-catching display. ADD ONS & ACCESSORIES AVAILABLE  - This versatile display is compatible with a variety of add ons and accessories, such as Poster Frames, Stands and Clamps.

          User monitoring software?        

amigojeff wrote:

I use track4win. It's a per seat license and not very inexpensive...

Ballpark pricing?  Could only find a reference to $39/seat.

          by: Codesign - Martin Weber's Weblog        
More on MicroISV and tools Brian at MicroISV.com noticed my post about MicroISV not beeing on the radar of many tool vendors. My take on Visual Studio Team System is due to my reaction on Eric Sink's post about it's pricing. Generally I am not centered around MS offerings and ...
          Church bake sale ideas....        
What items sold well at your church/fundraiser bake sale? How were they packaged in a frugal way? We are having a church bake sale in a month and I have never participated before. I offered to make banana bread/mini banana bread and m&m cookies. We don't know what sells well and instead of pricing the items, we are asking for donations only. We all have to package our goodies by ourselves and the sale runs for 2 days. Any ideas appreciated!
           Revenue publishes Transfer Pricing Documentation Obligations        
Irish Revenue have issued updated Tax and Duty Manual provisions regarding transfer pricing documentation obligations. If you would like any further information on this update please feel free to contact a member of our Tax Group. The Revenue Tax an...
          gorilla artbook vol. 1: coming soon ! ! !        
Some friends and me over at Gorillaartfare have been working together with CFSL Ink to bring you the first volume in what is bound to be an incredible artbook. It will be filled with awesome pieces of illustrations from all kinds of genre and I am stocked to have a few of my illustrations on the pages of this book among all those amazing people.

Here's the official statement from our group blog:

We have the most exciting news today! Gorilla Artfare and CFSL Ink have joined forces to bring you a wonderful collection of artwork: Gorilla Artbook Vol 1!
The book is hardcover, sized 24×28 cm (9.4×11 inches approximately) and it holds 250+ pages of stunning images by more than 70 of our artists. It will be available for preorder on April 7th and released on April 14th!
We will share more info on pricing and where you can buy it real soon! Update: Some more info + a small preview of the interiors here! For now, feast your eyes on these previews of the cover (illustrated by Clo, Devin Platts & Tom Scholes, designed by Victoria Maderna & Federico Piatti):

          Comment on Pricing your home to Sell by Denial will stop you from selling your home - Sellers Get Reality Check | Greater Tampa Bay Real Estate        
[...] Pricing your home to Sell [...]
          Comment on SugarCRM Editions and Pricing 2013 by David Faye        
There's also a Community Edition that's free. It doesn't have the breadth of features that the other editions have, but it has many of them. And, you can't beat the cost.
          Optiemus launches the BlackBerry KEYone limited edition black in India        
Unveiled at an event in New Delhi, the BlackBerry KEYone limited edition black will be available exclusively from Amazon India and be made available starting on August 8 with pricing set at Rs. 39,990. After plenty of rumors and speculation, Optiemus has now launched the BlackBerry KEYone limited edition black in India. Unveiled at an event in New Delhi, the BlackBerry KEYone limited edition black will be available exclusively from Amazon India and be made available starting on August 8 with pricing set at Rs. 39,990. Additionally, special offers are in place for American Express Card Members and those who sign up with Vodafone will get up to get up to 75GB additional data for 3 months. Read More »...
          Online Swimwear Boutique Expands Designer Swimwear Offerings for Women        

Blanco, TX -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/18/2011 -- Swimwear Boutique.com, the online fashion forward swimwear boutique has expanded its line of designer swimwear. The online retailer specializes in luxury and designer swim and resort apparel for women and men.

There is little doubt that as we reach the peak of summer 2011, swimwear has made its transformation to true lifestyle apparel. With their definitive focus on women's swimwear, Swimwear Boutique has begun to expand its growing list of high fashion designers who offer the latest in swimwear design. "Our goal is to provide our shoppers with a fresh and unique variety of designer swimwear collections that allows fashion conscious consumers of all types to express their individualism at affordable prices," said a Swimwear Boutique buyer.

That goal has manifested itself in a variety of fashions from designers who provide women's swimwear and designer bikinis that appeal to a wide palette of feminine interest, proportions and ages. Luxury and designer swimwear from Swimwear Boutique encompasses one and two-piece designs, separates and beachwear cover-ups from many of the world's Haute Couture fashion leaders.

Understanding that all women on the beach and at resort destinations want to feel both elegant and body confident, the expanded line of designer swimwear provides a plethora of prints and monochromes that accentuate the positive in women of all shapes and ages. From daring to conservative cuts, the selection provides all women with designer choices that exude elegance, beauty and functionality. Just a few of the dozens of current names include well known swimwear and bikini lines such as Agua Bendita, Badgley Mischka, L Space (2012 additions also available), Maaji, Melissa Odabash, Tara Grinna, Seafolly, Sauvage, Vitamin A, Zeugari, Sunflair, Zimmermann, and many more.

In addition to designs for women, the retailer offers designs for preteens, juniors, contemporary missy, and missy. Men's and children's bathing suits are also part of the mix as well as selections of evening apparel, shoes, bags, hats and jewelry items that have been chosen to complement the broad collection of swimwear.

A currently active summer sale offers pricing that provides 20 to 75 percent off of select one and two-piece women's swimsuits and bikinis. The site makes shopping simple and hassle free, providing every woman with a very personalized shopping experience that is tailored to respond to each individual's shopping habits, preferences and interests. Shoppers can choose from payment choices with MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and Pay Pal. To see the new designer swimsuit lines, please visit http://www.SwimwearBoutique.com/

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/swimwear/boutique/release-104329.htm

Media Relations Contact

Nancy Jenkins
Email: Click to Email Nancy Jenkins
Web: http://www.SwimwearBoutique.com/

          Auto Transport Company Doubles Staff to Better Serve its Customers        

Vancouver, WA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/18/2011 -- Arranging to have a vehicle shipped from one location to another can often be stressful, pricey and time-consuming.

Evergreen Auto Transport, a Washington state-based auto shipping company, is determined to change the way people think about the entire process.

In order to meet the needs of its many customers more quickly and efficiently, the company recently doubled its staff and also increased its advertising budget.

"At Evergreen Auto Transport, we strive to provide the best possible auto transport experience for our customers," said company spokesperson Jamie Langton.

"When you call us about your auto shipping, we answer the phone—we have live agents ready to give you auto shipping quotes for all your car transport needs. If you call looking for an auto transport quote, we will talk to you about your auto shipping needs and work with you to provide you with the best auto shipping quote we can give."

From California to Maine, Minnesota to Texas and even Alaska to Hawaii, Evergreen Auto Transport can handle sending vehicles from literally any point A to any point B within the entire United States. The type of vehicle also doesn't matter; as experienced auto shippers, the company is able to accommodate almost anything with wheels.

"We can provide auto shipping for a variety of different vehicles including cars, trucks—including oversized trucks and dulies—SUVs, boats, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, ATV's and other things that other auto shippers can't provide auto shipping services for," Langton explained, adding that the company offers three different levels of auto shipping service that other auto transporting companies do not provide.

The company's easy-to-use website also makes it easy for customers to get pricing information. Simply enter in information like the make, model and year of the vehicle, the city and state where the car will be picked up and also dropped off and the desired time frame for auto transport, and a free quote will be provided.

"As a car shipping brokerage we keep your prices in check and make sure that the auto shipper carriers out there don't gouge you for every last penny," Langton said.

"Auto transportation is hard enough without having to worry about losing an arm and a leg, and we understand that."

For more information on Evergreen Auto Transport, visit http://www.autoshippingforu.com.

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/auto/transport/release-104316.htm

Media Relations Contact

Jamie Langton
Email: Click to Email Jamie Langton
Web: http://www.autoshippingforu.com

          Leading Auto Transport Company Unveils New Website        

Vancouver, WA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/17/2011 -- Weber Auto Transport, a leading automotive transport service is pleased to announce their new comprehensive Website. The company provides auto transport services from anywhere to anywhere in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

Finding an automotive transport service that is reliable, prompt and cost effective can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Weber Auto Transport has more than a decade of experience transporting cars, trucks, SUV's, oversized vehicles, motorcycles, and other vehicle types. The company also offers open and enclosed auto transport, door-to-door shipping and terminal-to-terminal transport if required.

With exceptional service as the highest priority, the company's new Website provides customers with one-click access to the information they need. From terms and conditions to a new FAQ menu explaining how auto transport works, customers have easy access to answers for any question. "In recent weeks, we've doubled our staff and added significantly to our advertising budget to show our customers what we offer and make the auto transport experience simpler and less expensive," said a Weber Auto Transport representative. The new Website is the first of many new steps in making auto transport a hassle free experience."

Our rebate page provides detailed information on packaged auto shipping rate choices with terms dependant on location, delivery priority and payment options. Regardless of package choice, customers can receive a rebate for submitting a review of the company's services within a predetermined time. "Our auto transport sales team is dedicated to giving customers the best auto transport experience possible, so getting their feedback is important," said the Weber representative. Providing a $30 rebate is our way of showing our appreciation for their time in giving us that feedback."

A new quote section allows customers to input some basic information to obtain an auto transport quote from pickup location to desired destination. With a 30-day guarantee on all auto shipping quotes, customers don't have to worry if their dates need to change.

A media section and blog provides constantly updated videos and information on Weber Auto Transport, navigating the new Website and the process of automotive transport as well as changes in the industry. An expanded social media section also provides additional ways to stay in touch with the company and the transport industry.

Weber Auto Transport has worked hard to obtain its strong reputation by providing customers with prompt service via phone or email to answer to any questions about pricing, services or anything else pertaining to auto transport. "The new Website reflects our dedication to providing peace of mind and the best service possible to our customers," said the company representative. For more information on Weber Auto Transport, please visit http://www.weberautotransport.com.

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/auto/transport/release-104190.htm

Media Relations Contact

Jeff Newell
Email: Click to Email Jeff Newell
Web: http://www.weberautotransport.com

          Dumpster Rental Direct Announces New Site that Provides Dumpster Rentals in Any Town Nationwide- Clients Give Rave Reviews        

Tempe, AZ -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/17/2011 -- In response to the recent demand for nationwide dumpster rental services, Dumpster Rental Direct is proud to announce their new website that rents roll off dumpsters in any city in the United States.

For many people the prospect of renting a large dumpster seems like a daunting task. Whether it's for their home project, restaurant or other needs, people rarely know where to turn when they need a large amount of trash to be disposed of.

This is the basis for Dumpster Rental Direct. By specializing in nationwide service they can rent a variety of dumpsters to clients regardless of the size of their project or budget. "As we offer a wide range of roll off dumpsters in sizes from three to fifty yards in volume, our dumpsters are able to tackle every waste disposal job, large or small," says the website.

Dumpster Rental Direct specializes in both residential and commercial clients. They can provide dumpsters for home renovation projects such as roof removal, bathroom demolition, or even the disposal of an entire home. This option is especially convenient as they can get the dumpster as close to the source of the trash as possible.

They also offer services for businesses that find themselves with more rubbish on their hands than they can effectively deal with: "Perhaps you own a retail store that's about to undergo a major renovation, or a restaurant that is simply generating more waste than your current dumpster supplier can handle," says the website. "Dumpster Rental Direct can provide you with a roll off dumpster solution that is exactly the right size for your job, and get it delivered to your business whenever you need it."

Perhaps the most distinguishable characteristic of Dumpster Rental Direct is that they offer nationwide services. Many times when people hit the internet in search of local dumpster services reputable companies are difficult to come by. This problem is made worse by the limitations that come with small town searches- especially those in rural areas or those which are largely removed from the grid.

Past users all attest that the convenience and competitive pricing of the service makes it well worth the investment. According to a spokesperson for Dumpster Rental Direct, "Our clients just have to make one call and we'll take care of the rest."

To learn more about Dumpster Rental Direct, or to get a free quote for any variety of roll off dumpster needs, please visit: http://www.dumpsterrentaldirect.com/

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/dumpster/rental/release-104186.htm

Media Relations Contact

Jack Almeida
Email: Click to Email Jack Almeida
Web: http://www.dumpsterrentaldirect.com/

          Lowongan Kerja Purchasing Officer        
Candidate must possess Diploma or Bachelor Degree any majorHave minimum 2 - 3 years of working experience as Purchasing or Procurement OfficerHave good negotiation skill and high initiativeHave skills in pricing analysisGood communication skill and ...

          Gigabyte launches out BRIX mini PC        

Tiny NUC wannabe

Gigabyte has launched a new mini PC with some quite powerful internals, all packed in a diminutive 29.9mm x 107.6mm x 114.4mm chassis. If you think it looks familiar, it should. It is practically Gigabyte’s take on the Intel NUC.

Like the NUC the BRIX PC will ship as a barebone DIY kit and it is available with a range of Intel processors, including Core i3, i5 a i7 chips. As it is too small for traditional 2.5-inch storage, it relies of an mSATA slot for SSDs. It also has two SO-DIMM memory slots and can take up to 16GB of RAM.

HDMI, mini DisplayPort, WiFi and two USB 3.0 ports are also on board. All in all it looks like a more powerful version of the NUC and the price will probably reflect this. Sadly though, Gigabyte has not revealed any pricing info.

The BRIX should show up this summer. However, judging by the weather in much of Europe, summer is probably coming in August or September.


          Cheap T1 Lines, Ethernet and DS3 Service        
solveforce posted : If you know anyone who is looking for Cheap Telecom Service then go to »telecombits.com and you will get real time, real cheap pricing for T1 Lines, Ethernet, DS3 and VoIP services for all of your telecommunications needs.
»www.solveforce.com has the Telecom Bits

          Just pick a price        

Joel Spolsky wrote an interesting post Camels and Rubber Duckies. Beware, it is an old post, and some things have changed since then. Yet, I liked the second have of his post, where he writes why segmentation pisses your customers off. And also, how you can never know for sure how your demand curve looks like.

If you are into the psychology of customers, watch the BoS Talk by Rory Sutherland: Praxeology - Lessons from a lost science.

I will end with a sentence by Joel Spolsky: The more you learn about pricing, the less you seem to know.

          Lowongan Kerja Purchasing / Pricing Staff         
Pandai bernegosiasi dengan banyak orang baik melalui telepon ataupun tatap mukaBerpenampilan menarik amp percaya diri untuk berbicara dengan orang lainWanita usia 20 ndash 30 tahunMinimal SMU/ D3/S1 any major1 - 2 tahun pengalaman di bidang ...

          Road pricing in Auckland        
A simple guide:

1.  The proposal now on the cards is not "road tolls", tolls are when individual roads are subject to an additional fee on top of existing motoring taxes.  

2. The Auckland Mayor's "motorway tolls" proposal has been comprehensively rejected, as it has been before for sound reasons.  Quite simply, the motorways are not Auckland Council's to charge and just charging them diverts traffic onto the local road network which has traditionally been neglected in Auckland.

3. The proposal put forward by the government is to replace fuel tax with what is essentially an updated version of road user charges (which already is provided now by three private companies collected RUC), that varies by vehicle type, location and time of day.  It should be absolutely clear, as are vaguely similar proposals in Oregon and California, that fuel tax must go if roads are to be charged directly. 

4. The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) has made it abundantly clear that the current "build lots of rail based public transport" trend beloved of new-urbanist planning enthusiasts (and the Green Party) will have next to no impact on traffic congestion. It's hardly surprising, because the reason traffic congestion exists is because the provision of roads and the pricing of roads is not done under market conditions, but is subject to a political/administrative process that results in demand exceeding supply.  Nowhere in the new world (NZ/Australia/US/Canada) have any cities noticeably eased traffic congestion by building new bespoke passenger rail networks.  Which is why, when questioned, the enthusiasts for highly subsidised (by taxes from road users) urban rail don't talk about addressing the problems of urban transport, but sell how "wonderful" it is for people to have a choice that they pay a fraction of the cost for.

5. There is no need for road pricing to be accompanied by highly subsidised alternatives.  Full market based road pricing has four major effects:

-  Prices go up at peak times, encouraging users to make different choices, such as drive at a different time, use a different (less congested) route if available, use another mode (increasing revenue for that mode), or not take a trip at all (consolidating trips);
- Prices go down at off peak times, encouraging greater use and facilitating more trips at those times;
- Congestion is greatly reduced, providing capacity for more public transport on existing roads at peaks, and making such public transport commercially viable.
- Higher revenues at peak times on busy roads sends a signal to invest in more road capacity when revenue from additional users will pay for the cost of the new capital investment

The primary economic argument for subsidising peak time public transport in cities has always been that roads in cities at peak times are underpriced (and historically the technology did not exist to adequately address this).  Once roads are priced efficiently, the case for subsidising urban public transport is weak indeed.  Notice that intercity bus and airline services are not subsidised, neither are road freight services (in or between cities).  Why should urban public transport be special when roads are subject to market forces?

6.  Market based road pricing inevitably should mean the management of roads is taken away from politicians and bureaucracies and towards a more commercial model.  State highways could be shifted into a state-owned-enterprise that could be privatised by giving away shares to all registered vehicle owners.  Local authority roads could be transferred into similar enterprises, but with shares held by local property owners (as ratepayers currently pay for half of all local road costs).

The price of roads should then be set by these organisations.  They would be owned by those with the greatest interest in their networks being run efficiently and meeting their needs.  

7. The ATAP road pricing proposal can only work nationwide.  It isn't just for Auckland, it's a change in how roads are priced everywhere.

Auckland Council wont like this, because it knows that the only way to address congestion is through road pricing, but it doesn't want to lose control of its large rail vanity projects (now including trams - which are buses on dedicated rights of way for 3-5x the price to taxpayers).  It wants control of the revenue to spend on its politically/central planner driven projects, but it shouldn't get it.

Bearing in mind the government wont do what I say, this is what it could do:

- Move all of the state highways into a new SOE, empower that SOE to charge users but only if it gives them an equivalent refund in fuel tax or RUC

- Tell Auckland Council that if it shifts its roads into a new Council Controlled Organisation, it can be fully funded from fuel tax and RUC (and any road pricing that replaces them), but on condition it gives all Auckland ratepayers an equivalent permanent cut in rates and that it has no political direction at all on its activities.

More background on Auckland road pricing debate in recent years:
Auckland motorway tolls re-emerge as revenue raising option
Auckland transport funding report promotes urban road pricing and tolls
Auckland congestion charging, not happening yet
          Three elections, none are likely to please: 1. London election        
Yes it's been a while.  Having moved from one employer to another,  and with a load of house improvements I've been spending more time with life than pontificating, but there are two elections in the coming three months that I can vote in.  Of course the biggest one in the world is going on in the US, and from the point of view of a pro-capitalist objectivist libertarian, none of them seem likely to provide an outcome that is pleasing.  Why?

These are the London Mayoralty election, the UK EU referendum and the US Presidential election. First, the London Mayoralty.

London Mayoralty - 5 May:  The lowest profile one,  the least important, but also the election one that can't help but be disappointing.  Not one of the candidates is worth my vote, especially not the two leading candidates - Labour's leftwing candidate, Sadiq Khan, who nominated the neo-communist, anti-capitalist, totalitarian apologetic Jeremy Corbyn to be Labour leader (then didn't vote for him to be leader, and the "Conservative" leftwing Green candidate, Zac Goldsmith, who has spent much of his life lazily trotting out enviro-fascist agin-prop.  Despite some concerns, Khan is not an Islamist, and is less offensive than the vile old Castro-phile Ken Livingstone, but he has had poor judgment with those he associated with.   One of his former aides is a racist Islamist.  The imam at the mosque he attends rails against Ahmadi Muslims, like the murdered shopkeeper Asad Shah (killed by a fellow Muslim because he dared wish customers a Happy Easter - because Mr Shah was a model of tolerance, as Ahmadi Muslims tend to be).  Khan's response, and the response of the Labour Party is to shout "racist" at anyone questioning these links,  but that's almost stereotypical standard far-left identity politics laziness.  Bear in mind that his main opponent is backed by another, much more famous, much bigger Muslim political figure - Imran Khan (Zac is his ex.wive's sister after all).  Not that this endears me at all to Zac, because he is beyond the pale too.

Zac Goldsmith epitomises much of the worst of the Conservative Party, for he exemplifies the self-serving "generosity" of the inherited wealth entitled classes that decide that instead of producing anything or achieving anything (he dropped out of Cambridge), they can "serve" us by having power of us.  Much worse though, is the guilt-dripping  embrace of trendy authoritarian environmentalism, which drips of the greatest hypocrisy.  You see as Zac once fought genetic engineering (organics for him, to hell with the price of food for the poorest), he now fights airport expansion because of climate change - not that he shows any sign of giving up long haul travel, he just embraces policies that will keep the price high (can't have the oiks going to the Caribbean can we?  It's for their own good).

He follows from Boris Johnson whose main quality was that he is entertaining and has a slight libertarian streak, although he has a fancy for totemic vanity projects.  Zac is neither entertaining, nor has any libertarian streak.

More importantly, neither Sadiq nor Zac have any clue how to make a significant difference to the policies that the Mayor of London has powers to change, and which are the biggest London-centric issues the city faces.

On housing London has a crisis of supply.  It is usually talked of as a crisis in affordability, which is the result of the supply crisis, although far too many politicians think it is something different.  Khan and Goldsmith both admit supply needs to increase.  At the moment London's population is increasing by 10,000 per month, but the number of new home units is increasing by only 25,000 per year.  Given average occupancy of over two per unit, it is far below what is needed to accommodate a growing population.   Khan thinks the answer is more council flats and to hobble the rental market because he sees increasing rents as landlords ripping off tenants, not a function of a market where demand exceeds supply.  Indeed, Khan thinks that new private builds should be 50% "affordable", that nonsense euphemism in London for "subsidised".   What he (and many politicians in London) ignore is that to cross-subsidise cheap social housing for those on modest incomes, means the remaining 50% have to be priced to cater for high income Arab, Russian or Chinese investors (although they have decreased in number in the past couple of years).  Middle income or middle/upper income Londoners flee to the home counties and spend inordinate amounts of time on subsidised railways commuting into London.   Goldsmith isn't much better, but he is obsessed with new builds on public land and "brownfield" sites, but wont confront the two issues that constrain growth in housing - the strangling of the market by central planners.

London's housing problem is a function of the Leninist central planning approach adopted in the 1940s by the Atlee Government called the Town and Country Planning Act.  It nationalised land development and usage, giving local authorities large scale powers to control development and meaning any property owners needs to seek permission (and anyone can object to this) to build anything that doesn't involve repairing an existing structure.    Councils impose planning demands on home builders that range from a minimum subsidised stock, to a minimum number for the disabled to prohibiting any off road parking (except for the disabled) or even banning residents of new developments from being entitled to on-road residents' parking (Councils in London in particular see car ownership as pernicious and to be reduced by fiat).   The effect of this is that house building is a market dominated by a small number of large firms that can afford to waste months or years of lawyers' and architects' fees to meet the demands of Council planning committees.  Tens of thousands of pounds get spent just on meeting the demands of people who themselves put not a penny into developments, so of course, this adds to housing costs, but more importantly constrains supply because the market simply offers little realistic scope for small scale developers.  With the exception of loft conversions, there isn't much in the way of new housing build in London that isn't the preserve of large developers, and of course Council planners see them as full of money that should be spent meeting social policy goals rather than building housing the market demands.

A perversion of this is the encouragement this presents for developers to delay construction as prices continue to rise.  Former Labour leader Ed Miliband wanted to ban anyone from owning land they had permission to build on, yet not embarking on using that permission.   What he didn't admit was that the sole reason this practice exists is because of the scarcity of supply inflicted by the likes of him and his comrades.   Why build this year, when next year the sale price would be 15-20% higher with construction costs only rising by a tenth of that?  So a planning system that makes small scale development uneconomic, but demands large scale development meet the social policy goals of politicians rather than market demand is constraining supply.

London greenbelt, more land used for this than any other purpose
The second problem with London housing is more visible, and it is the blight of the Green Belt.   Khan and Goldsmith have vowed to protect it and not allow any new housing construction on it, but this is complete madness.   The Green Belt policy had two purposes.  One was to ensure that some open space would remain in a growing city, the other was to constrain sprawl.  It has profoundly failed to do the latter, as people live as far out as Ipswich, Brighton, Kings Lynn and Luton and commute into London by train.   London has sprawled using the railway network and the few goods that service its outer suburbs, by sheer factor of housing supply.   22% of the land in metropolitan London is Green Belt much of the image above is beyond that, but envelops greater London strangling people so that those with homes adjacent to it can enjoy ever increasing prices, undisturbed by new people.  Indeed,  another 43% of land is London is "green", that being parks, gardens and other green space that is not protected as Green Belt, so around two-thirds of London isn't built on.

However, only 22% of the Green Belt land has environmental designations, so 78% does not involve protected habitats.  59% of the Green Belt is farmland, subsidised by the EU, which if made available for housing would be worth many times what it currently is  (indicating that housing is more important than uneconomic farms).   7% of the Green Belt is golf courses, and 2% of the Green Belt is buildings, roads, railways or driveways/car parks.  

Furthermore, 60% of the Green Belt is within walking/cycling distance (2km or less) from an existing underground or overground railway station.  So there is much land that building on would simply enable more utilisation of existing transport networks. 

Green Belt defenders (and nobody is saying abolish the Green Belt, rather just let some of it be released to allow housing) talk about "paving over the countryside" yet less than 5% of the total land area of the south-east of England is built on (buildings, roads, parking lots/yards).   Only a small proportion of Green Belt land would be needed to transform London's housing market, but neither Goldsmith or Khan will touch it.   The votes of NIMBYs are worth more than those who can't afford to live in London.

On transport, they are both equally uninteresting.  Khan is taking the traditional far-left Labour view that fares on the monopoly subsidised public transport services should be frozen for four years, whereas Goldsmith talks about bikes and electric cars.  Both pay lip service to controlling Uber.   However, neither ever suggests that the behemoth monopoly, Transport for London, get broken up and privatised.   Both say next to nothing about roads, which carry the majority of people and nearly all freight in London.   There is no suggestion that the competition coming from the likes of Uber should be encouraged and extended to buses, nor any suggestion that the main roads be run more on business like lines.   In short, nothing interesting to see here, just maintaining the status quo, which is driven by technocratic beliefs in what is good for people and business, rather than reflecting choices and embracing innovation.   Automation and connected vehicle technology, with ultra fuel efficient engines can transform urban transport (buses and trucks could run in train like formations on main corridors with a fraction of the pollution of today), but to make it work roads have to stop being managed like Soviet style tools for social change.

Both oppose expansion of Heathrow Airport, the hub airport of the UK that is at 99% capacity and can finance a third runway (and construct it in a location that reduces the numbers exposed to noise, which itself is dropping because of aircraft technology).  Khan is prepared to support a second runway at Gatwick, which, of course, is not actually in London, but itself is at 90% capacity and can also be justified (but is not a substitute for allowing the hub to expand).    For me, it doesn't help that he said the Airports Commission (the third study in recent years into what airport expansion in south-east England should look like) had a "pre-conceived" outcome already determined, although I spent a couple of years working on it including being one of a small team who screened through over 50 proposals into the shortlist.   Goldsmith didn't like the outcome of the study, so he criticised those involved, as he can't accept that he might have been wrong (he never admits that, just stops talking about it- like GMOs).

What the Mayoral campaign tells me is how utterly asinine local politics is in the UK.  Two mainstream candidates, one whose biggest achievement was becoming a lawyer (human rights lawyer) and the other who became the polite son of a billionaire, who are ultracrepidarians either unwilling or unable to conceive of the sort of transformations needed to fix London's biggest problems.   They are attention seeking, focus group informed professional politicians, and on housing they will continue to exacerbate the problem, not confront it - because they embrace the problem's sources to the core.

So I haven't voted for Mayor, I crossed out all options and wrote a short damning sentence about the lot - to hell with the anti-capitalist consensus.   London doesn't need a Mayor, it doesn't need a politician to develop a housing strategy of where to spend public money and how to fiddle with a broken planning system that is causing the problem.  It doesn't need a politician to decide how large transport networks are developed, it needs one who knows that he (or she) doesn't know what's best, but if decisions on these are left to suppliers and consumers, then they together might provide much more robust solutions.

So don't vote for Khan or Goldsmith, and ignore the protectionist  halfwit Peter Whittle from UKIP, who thinks that London's traffic can be solved by limiting the numbers of minicabs (because pricing people out of catching cabs is good for them), and focuses his campaign on immigration and leaving the EU.  Khan will probably win, in spite of his laxness towards Islamist lowlives.  However, Goldsmith does not deserve the vote of any supporter of free-market capitalism, small government and most of all, rational evidence based public policy (including science).  Far better for him to resign as an MP in a fit of pique because the UK Government has decided to approve Heathrow's third runway, and for him to depart politics for the life of leisure he has inherited.   He's fully entitled to be an annoying Greenie prat, but let's keep him away from power and punish the Conservatives for picking a candidate who is far removed from the party's values.
          Farewell Air NZ 737s - the noisy revolutionaries        
On the 6th of September, NZ557 from Christchurch to Auckland marked the end of Boeing 737 service for Air New Zealand.  This was barely mentioned by the press, but there is history behind Air NZ (and its predecessor NAC) flying Boeing 737s, because they truly revolutionised travel within the country in the 1960s and in just over 10 years or so they had seen off the end of the Wellington-Lyttelton overnight ferry, the Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill overnight train and one of the two Auckland-Wellington overnight train services - despite best efforts by politicians to prop the latter three up with subsidies.

Before aviation enthusiasts jump on me, yes, I know the Boeing 737-300s that have been flying the last decade and a half are not the ones that started flying in 1968.  These were the 3rd generation of the type NAC first flew on the "main trunk" Auckland-Wellington-Christchurch Dunedin", and yes there is now a 4th generation (which are the types flown by the likes of Qantas and Virgin Australia to NZ today), but the basic design retain a lot of commonality.  Besides, I like an excuse for a bit of history, and this one contains a political element that demonstrates, once again, how "democratic control" of a business can so easily sow the seeds of failure.

NAC was wholly owned by the Government and had virtually a statutory monopoly on domestic air services.  Other airlines did provide services, but they had to prove to the bureaucracy that there was demand for the service (heaven forbid a business start up service risking it might not have customers!) and prove it would not interfere with the services provided by existing operators.  So NAC had a legal veto over competition.  Nevertheless, it almost always operated profitably overall, although the reality was that the "main trunk" was gouging passengers and making high profits, whereas services to provincial airports like Kaitaia, Gisborne, Oamaru and Westport were unprofitable, but considered politically important (unlike today, with Air NZ which is profit focused across the network).   Still, NAC, as government businesses were at the time, was run by aviation professionals and as the jet age started in the 1950s, by the early 1960s it was becoming clear that the next revolution in air travel would be pure jet travel.  It gained Government permission to go to tender for jet aircraft to fly domestic services in 1965.

The three main manufacturers at the time, Boeing, Douglas and British Aircraft Corporation all were shortlisted.  Boeing with its, as yet unflown, 737. Douglas with the DC-9, and BAC with its BAC 1-11.  NAC's criteria for the aircraft to choose included speed of turnaround, fuel efficiency and ability to manoeuvre safely and reliably at Wellington Airport (which had a runway even shorter than it has today).  Herein comes the "democratic control" element.  The then Holyoake National Government wasn't impressed by the conclusion of NAC's analysis, that the Boeing 737 was the best aircraft for the job.  It was more interested in international trade diplomacy and winning the support of the British Government in securing favourable trade access when it would eventually enter the EEC.  It insisted that NAC "look again" at its business case, delaying approval for its capital investment in the 737.

NAC did, and once again made it clear that the 737 was the right plane for the job, and so it proved to be.  Over 8,600 Boeing 737s have been built (and are still being built), of the four generations of the original design (and a fifth generation is being developed).  The BAC 1-11? 244 and production ended in 1982, although Romania's Ceausescu regime was licensed by the Callaghan government to produce 22 it struggled to complete 9 by the time the vile regime was overthrown in 1989.  It was not the last attempt by a New Zealand Government to intervene commercially in the decisions of its airlines, but fortunately the airline won and so NAC was one the earliest operators of the Boeing 737 (Lufthansa was the first), the plane that (after some slow years) would be Boeing's biggest selling variant ever.

So what was the result? It cut travel time on the routes it serviced by nearly half, and it was 50% faster than the Vickers Viscounts it was replacing, so one Boeing 737 could fly around twice as many services a day with 50% more passengers, saving them a considerable amount of time, but also enabling airfares to be more affordable, particular for growing business traffic between the main centres.   As a result, the competing modes were increasingly hit hard.

Take the train, what else are you going to do?

Between Auckland and Wellington, driving was a long and by today's standards, much harder trip, with few passing lanes, many sharp bends in the road meant it could take a good 8-9 hours.

The preferred option was by overnight train, and at the time there were two such trains each way.  The Night Limited and the North Island Limited.  However, New Zealand Railways didn't exactly make a lot of effort to make those trips comfortable in the 1960s.   By the late 1960s steam was giving way to diesel, but NZR didn't bother putting electric heating in to replace the steam heating piped through from the locomotives.  It built steam heating cars which had boilers on board, to pipe steam through the cars.  The result was that all cars were equally heated.  If it got hot, you had to open the window with the resulting noise of railway crossings, train horns, tunnels.  There were three classes of travel. Sleeper cars had two bunks, so if you were travelling alone you'd have to share with a stranger. There was cold water sink in the cabin, but if you needed to go to the loo, you'd have to toddle down to the end of the car to the toilet.  About the only bit of luxury was that each car had a cabin attendant, who besides making up the linen and folding up and down the bunks, would offer a cup of tea or coffee in the morning as the train trundled through the environs of Auckland or Wellington.  What if you wanted to eat? Well, NZR got rid of dining cars during World War 1 as an economy measure, and never thought it was worthwhile to bring them back (after all, there was little competition for long journeys).  So the trains would stop at various stations on the way for refreshments, the classic "pie and a cuppa" with a slab of fruit cake.  Taihape, Taumarunui, Frankton Junction, Paekakariki, Palmerston North all had this role.  So, eating involved rushing into a random queue at a station to grab whatever was on offer and bring it on board, of course these stops added a good hour and a half to the total journey.

Quick get something to eat to break up your journey

Had work been willing to pay for the sleeper or you could afford it, at least you could guarantee some sleep.  However, only a few cars were sleepers, the rest were first class or second class.  First Class offered large leather recliners, a little like lazee-boy chairs, you could lay back at a 45 degree angle, and with 2-1 seating there was plenty of space.  Second Class, well think about old local bus bench seats, because that was exactly what they were like.  My Mum was on a train just like that after arriving from the UK on a ship at Wellington, and it wasn't a welcoming trip, especially when all of the catering (there wasn't even a shop) was only at stations (the sleeper tea or coffee wasn't available to the egalitarian masses).

Second Class on NZR long distance passenger services from the 1940s to the 1970s was basically this.  Cozy for 13 hours +

So you can hardly be surprised when business travellers and more and more leisure travellers said "bugger that" and didn't bother with the trains.  The same with the Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill overnight train, which of course conveniently arrived in Dunedin in the wee small hours from Christchurch, or left Dunedin near midnight in the other direction.

You can't accuse NZR of not responding to the competition, but you can accuse it of doing it too late. It's first response was to upgrade its daylight service between Wellington and Auckland to a faster railcar, the Blue Streak, in 1968 and then with new railcars in 1972, the SilverFern.  This offered air conditioning, light refreshments at your seat, but still stopped for lunch at Taihape at a sit down railway restaurant (for an extra price).  For leisure travellers it was definitely an improvement and proved to be a great success for some years (indeed it remains as the Northern Explorer, barely breaking even).  However, for business travellers it was a day lost.

In 1970, the South Island saw the arrival of the Southerner.  Old first class cars built in the 1930s and 40s, were spruced up with luxuries like carpet, electric heating and, lo and behold, a buffet car was introduced offering full meal service, and many intermediate stops were removed, so the service would approach being competitive with driving.  It was a success for some years, but only because the distances between the main centres were shorter than the North Island Main Trunk.  Yet it too would fall by the wayside because of economics.  Cars that weighed three times as much as a bus and carry 30% fewer passengers, buffet cars lost a fortune.  Ultimately, the Southerner ended in 2002 because a combination of widespread car ownership and low cost efficient shuttle bus services saw it seen as a slow, lumbering and expensive way to get around.

In 1970, it became possible to buy a meal on a train again.  The Southerner Buffet Car


Then in 1971 the ill-fated Silverstar came into service.  Too late, but not too little.  This brand new, air conditioned (the first in New Zealand), Japanese made overnight train ran between Auckland and Wellington. It was all sleeper, with double glazing and had a buffet car with full meal service, including alcohol.  Half the train was single birth sleepers, each with their own fold down toilet and hot and cold sink, the other half two birth sleeper with separate bathroom, including shower.  It was described by one international travel critic as the "third most luxurious train in the world" (after South Africa's Blue Train and Australia's Indian Pacific), and was a hit, for a short while.

A vain attempt by the Silverstar to target a demographic that was already flying
The problem was simple.  It didn't really matter how good a train it was, business travellers mostly preferred to hop on a jet at the end of the day and go home, or get up in the morning get on a jet and go to their meetings.  Spending a night on a train was always going to be less desirable than flying. In 1975, the second overnight Auckland-Wellington train was refurbished (again with cars from the 30s and 40s), called the Northerner, with all the seats now refurbished version of the old first class with a couple of old style sleepers, and a buffet car introduced.   The Northerner did gain around a third of its passengers from stopping at points along the route, but it still meant leaving at 7.30pm and arriving at 8.30am, and without a shower compared to the Silverstar.

None of this was going to be enough to woo people off of planes, so by 1979 the legacy overnight trains (on Friday and Sunday evenings only by now) between Christchurch and Invercargill were discontinued, and the Silverstar was withdrawn, the intention being that half of its sleepers be gutted and have seats installed, so the Northerner could be replaced with a relatively new, air conditioned single overnight train.  However, the discovery of blue asbestos as insulation saw the railway unions refuse to work on the train, and for around 10 years debate was had about whether it was worth it to pay the much higher cost to undertake the work.  Ultimately, the Silverstar cars were sold to a Malaysian company, which completely refurbished them and it now runs as the Eastern Oriental Express.

Farewell Lyttelton Ferry

As this was all happening, the seas saw the end of another service.  The Wellington-Lyttelton ferry had long been the standard service between Wellington and Christchurch, offering overnight cabins for passengers, and roll-on roll-off service for cars, between the cities.  It had already lost freight traffic with the arrival of the NZR Cook Strait Ferries between Wellington and Picton, particularly as the law at the time gave NZR a monopoly on almost all freight traffic consigned for distances over 40 miles, so much freight that had once gone by road on the Lyttelton ferry, was legally required to go by rail via the Picton ferries.

TEV Rangatira at Wellington

However, it was hit with two blows in 1968.  The first was the tragic sinking of the TEV Wahine on 10 April 1968, which not only shook confidence in the service, but saw its frequency half, as with only one ship (the aging TEV Maori), it was impossible to operate a nightly service in both directions.  With the arrival of Boeing 737 services on the route later that year, by 1972 the replacement ship - the TEV Rangatira - had already seen big drops in patronage.  As always, a range of accommodation had been available.  Single berth cabins would get well used, but four and eight berth cabins (which could be booked for individual travellers to share with strangers) were increasingly difficult to fill, as people weren't keen on sleeping with strangers.  With a large number of two berth cabins many prospective passengers either would have to pay for a whole cabin, or risk sharing with a stranger.  Of course backpacking was virtually unknown in those days.  Having a restaurant, cafeteria, cocktail bar and cinema weren't enough to make up

Instead of retaining both ships, the Rangatira replaced the TEV Maori, and maintained a service every second day, but was already losing money.  In 1974 the Union Steam Ship Company announced the service would be cancelled, as it was losing NZ$4m a year.  This wasn't helped by the militant Seafarer's Union demanding increased pay well above inflation, essentially pricing themselves out of jobs.  Both the Rowling and the Muldoon Government that succeeded it, subsidised its operation for the following two years, but it ceased in 1976 having averaged patronage of little more than 50% and vehicle numbers of around a third of capacity.   Although the removal of the railways' monopoly on long distance freight did see the revival of vehicle ferries for trucks on the route, it was never again to be for an overnight passenger trip.

Competition and cars

Of course, since then, NAC and Air New Zealand (then only an international airline) merged in 1978, the Muldoon Government deregulated the airline industry in 1983 and the Lange Government lowered in 1987 and eventually removed foreign investment restrictions on domestic airlines, resulting in Ansett New Zealand - flying secondhand Boeing 737s at first - providing competition for major domestic air services.  With that, fares dropped, and as subsequent governments allowed second hand car imports, and removed tariffs on imported new vehicle, intercity rail travel dropped. It became "normal" for people on average incomes to fly domestically, and car ownership increased, along with the quality and safety of the cars people owned.  In addition, in response to the number of major accident blackspots, spending on roads through the 70s to the 90s focused on fixing problem intersections, bends and other parts of the network which disproportionately saw lives being taken.  A simple measure, installing median barriers on all motorways, saved dozens of lives every year. Driving was becoming safer and cheaper, and flying was cheaper too.   Of course, the Northerner is gone too, as not even backpackers were willing in sufficient numbers to sit on an overnight train (the sleepers were withdrawn in 1987 following the Lange Government's decision to end subsidies). Eventually, the 737 had opponents, as the professional whinger Sue Kedgley, as Wellington City Councillor demanded the Council boycott Air New Zealand (it had been privatised by then), because its second generation 737s (which arrived in the 1980s to replace the original set) were noisier than the BAe 146 so-called "whisperjets" Ansett was flying in the 1990s.  This came to nothing, as "hush-kits" were put on the planes, and they were replaced by the 3rd generation 737-300s in the late 1990s, of course by then Kedgley had found a new "anti-technology, pro-tell people how to get around", cause to be a hypocrite about.

Although railway enthusiasts, including myself, may be saddened by the end of many rail services on nostalgia grounds, there is little doubt that those small jets transformed business travel and eventually leisure travel in the country.  A weekend away following a flight of no more than an hour and a half, is affordable and feasible.  Business meetings in different parts of the country entirely possible, with frequencies on the busiest Auckland-Wellington and Christchurch routes more than hourly at peaks. NAC took a chance on a very new design, and took on a government less interested in what was good for the business (and passenger), and more interested in how it looked diplomatically.  In the 1960s, thinking about having conferences that attract people from across the country, seemed fanciful and indeed business meetings at the "drop of a hat" were much rarer than today.

Yes, the same services are now continuing with the Airbus A320, a design originating from the 1980s, not the 1960s.  Yes, Boeing 737s will be in our skies for some years as foreign airlines use them for regular service, but few in 1967 would that thought the decision to order that stubby, then noisy twinjet, would change business, leisure and society so much.

So farewell to the Boeing 737, and thank you to the NAC executives who told Ministers where to stick their ultracrepidarian noses.



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          Metro’s “pick your own price” pass will become permanent. Here are 3 ways it can continue to grow.        

WMATA’s SelectPass, new this year, is a good deal for almost anyone who rides Metro daily. It’s been a pilot program, but soon will likely be permanent.

For some of these folks, riding Metro may have gotten a lot cheaper when SelectPass came around. Now, it’s going to stay that way. Photo by Aimee Custis Photography on Flickr.

The pass lets you select a fare level (say, $3.25), pay one fixed price for the month, and then get unlimited rides that cost that amount or less. For more expensive rides, you only pay the amount beyond your set level. Our handy calculator helps you figure out what level is the best deal for you.

According to a presentation from WMATA, Metro now sells 3,700 SelectPasses a month, compared to just 400-1,000 a month for the long-standing unlimited rail pass which did not offer various price levels.

98% of pass users rate the pass at least a 7 out of 10. Low-income riders are even more likely to use the pass, representing 18% of pass users but just 12.8% of overall Metro riders. And WMATA estimates that the pass has slightly increased revenue while increasing ridership even more — just the point of a pass like this.

Michael Perkins has been pushing the idea for this pass since 2009 after getting the idea from Seattle’s ORCA; the transit in that area, as with WMATA, has a variety of fare levels that makes the simple one-price-fits all pass not work.

You can currently get the pass at a fare level of any 25¢ increment from $2.25 to $4.00, plus the $5.90 max fare. Metro plans to add fare levels from $4.00 to $5.75 as well if the (quite old) faregate computers can handle it.

Beyond this, there are a few ways Metro could work to further improve this pass:

Make it easier to get with employer benefits

Many riders get transit through their employers, either where the employer pays for some transit fare for free, or as a pre-tax deducation from the employee’s paycheck. Unfortunately, it can be a pain to get a Metro SelectPass this way if the employer or payroll personnel are not helpful or knowledgeable.

Employers set up benefits through a special (not very user-friendly) WMATA website. To get a pass, the benefits administrator has to specially designate the money for a pass rather than to go on your SmarTrip card as cash.

Many employers don’t know how to do this. Other commenters have said that some employers use third party companies to process these benefits, and not all of those companies support the pass yet.

One GGWash contributor, who asked not to be named, writes, “I made a request with my employer when the pass first came out. I followed up a few months after that. I still haven’t heard anything.”

Metro either needs to work on making it possible to get the pass even with a non-savvy payroll department, or it should make the payroll process easier so employees can help their employers set up the pass correctly.

Allow riding rail or bus without extra cost

Right now, you can add on a bus pass to your Metro Select Pass for $45 more per month, which is like buying a month’s worth of bus rides for just over $1 each. It’s a good deal if your normal commute includes a bus ride, but it’s not a good deal if some of your trips are on rail only and some of your trips are on bus only.

We want to encourage people to use the best transit mode for their needs. If the train isn’t working well, people could switch to the bus; let them. Plus, for people who commute daily by rail, it’s in Metro’s best interest to let them take some midday bus trips for free when the buses aren’t full.

Therefore, it would be better if the Metro Select Pass worked for either mode of transit, rail or bus, as long as it’s less than your selected pass value.

Encourage more bulk purchases

Right now, if you’re a student at American University, you (or, more likely, your parents) pay a $260 per semester mandatory fee, and you and all other students get an unlimited transit pass. This encourages more students to ride transit, while Metro can charge only $260 a semester because most students don’t ride every day.

Beyond adding more universities, Metro could explore building a program to create such passes for other groups, including condo or apartment buildings, employers, and others. When passes are purchased in bulk, the price per pass can be reduced, and everyone is encouraged to use transit.

To get approval for new buildings in many jurisdictions, developers have to prepare Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plans, where they identify strategies to help residents or workers commute by more efficient means than driving. This often includes Bikeshare memberships, car-sharing memberships, TransitScreens in lobbies, and more. Passes could be a great amenity as well.

Congrats to Metro on building a successful new pass program! We look forward to seeing where this goes in the future.

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          DDOT’s newest performance parking program will be its best        

In May, DDOT will launch its most robust performance parking experiment to date. The program, called ParkDC, will significantly change how people park in Gallery Place: the cost to park a car on some of downtown’s most in-demand blocks will rise or drop according to demand.

Photo by Payton Chung on Flickr.

ParkDC’s boundaries will stretch from 11th to 3rd and from E to H Streets Northwest.

Under the performance parking program, DDOT will use cameras and sensors to measure when parking spaces in the designated area are occupied and when they’re empty.

Each quarter, the agency will measure that data against a target occupancy rate of 80-90% (or about one empty spot per block) and adjust how much it costs to park in a given spot accordingly. It’s possible that prices will change more frequently after the first few quarters, and DDOT will assess ParkDC’s overall impact sometime before the end of 2016.

A map of where ParkDC will go into effect. Image from DDOT.

Charging market rate for parking will make sure there are enough empty spots for people who need them while also eliminating an oversupply. That, in turn, will cut down on the congestion that comes from people driving around looking for somewhere to park.

ParkDC is based in part on the success of SFpark, which was introduced to several busy areas in central San Francisco in 2011. An evaluation of SFpark showed that the program made streets better for everyone, with 30% fewer miles driven, 23% fewer parking tickets, 22% less double parking, and 43% less time wasted looking for parking. The average price for parking even fell by 4%. Compared to control areas, buses ran faster and retail sales grew more.

The local business improvement district supports ParkDC: in its press release, businesses touted the project’s ability to make parking “easier to locate” and cut down on double parking and drivers circling for spaces.

ParkDC will be DDOT’s best parking effort to date

DDOT has tried pilots on Capitol Hill, H Street, and Columbia Heights. They were less successful than supporters hoped because DDOT did not have a cost-effective way to measure occupancy. It also didn’t put forth a schedule for updating the meter rates, nor a timeframe for evaluating effectiveness.

For each of these pilot areas, DDOT only reported occupancy data publicly twice, and it hasn’t changed prices in some places even when the data show they’re either too crowded or empty.

ParkDC’s real-time cameras and occupancy sensors, along with a pre-announced schedule, make the program smarter and more responsive.

According to Soumya Dey, DDOT’s director of research and technology transfer, ParkDC will use a number of methods to gather occupancy data. A traditional “hockey puck,” transaction data from the meters, historical data, cameras, and law enforcement data are all among the ways DDOT will know how many people park, and when, on each block. Dey said the hope is to use fewer embedded sensors, and to evaluate which method is most cost-effective.

Dey said that once the program is up and running, the public will be able to view spot occupancy in real time on DDOT’s website or its app.

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          Coursera’s Rick Levin on the Evolution of MOOCs and Microcredentials | EdSurge         
Photo: Jeffrey R. Young
"Coursera sits somewhat awkwardly on the border between traditional higher education and the Silicon Valley-forces working to disrupt it" notes Jeffrey R. Young, senior editor at EdSurge.

The venture-backed startup based in Mountain View (near all those online giants like Google and Facebook) has partnered with more than 150 colleges and universities around the world (including the old and famous ones like Princeton and Yale). The colleges create course videos and assignments that are offered on the company’s platform for free—and students can pay for a certificate showing completion.

How’s that going? EdSurge talked with Rick Levin, CEO of Coursera (and former president of one of those big-name universities, Yale) about how the mega-courses known as MOOCs have changed in the five years since the start of their hype-filled debut. And he shares what lessons he’s learned working at a startup.

The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

EdSurge: I’ve heard folks at Coursera refer to your courses and microcredential programs as “products.” That word struck me, since many academics are worried that higher education is becoming too commercialized. Is there a tension between the for-profit structure of Coursera and the nonprofit mission of your college partners?

RIck Levin: The advantage that we bring as a for-profit company is energy and direction and access to a labor force that's highly talented. There's an energy about our being a for-profit Silicon Valley entity that will create other services for university partners.

Sometimes our partners say we are moving too fast because we're coming up with new features all the time, and we're experimenting with new pricing models, and each of these changes requires a lot of explanations from the university departments who customize them.

It has been five years since Coursera launched its first MOOCs. What do you think is the biggest difference as far as pedagogy between those first attempts and the offerings you have today?

We've been adding features over time to make the learning experience better. We're better, first of all, at helping learners find the courses they want and the courses they need to advance their careers. There's some new stuff going on which is really exciting about analyzing the content of our courses so that we can really pinpoint exactly what are the skills that are being taught in each one—and in each part of each course—so that we can help target good advice to learners about where they need to go if they are on a particular career path. That's extremely helpful towards a career-focused learner.

In terms of a general learning experience, I would say we have improved the quality of our discussion forums. Instead of one big mess, now it's separated into different topical threads. We can open and close different groups so if an instructor wants to create a discussion forum for a subset of the learners, let's say, the alumni of an institution, they can have their own private discussion forum. And I think we're improving our ability to grade assessments online. We can handle not just multiple choice, but mathematical expressions, and short coding exercises that can be auto graded. Even short descriptive sentences. I think we'll get to a point where we can do even better in terms of what can be graded without human intervention.

Source:  EdSurge

          Here’s All The Changes Coming to .STORAGE Domain        

What happens when a half-launched new domain is acquired by XYZ Registry? The domain is turned upside down! Literally… The acquisition of .STORAGE is the 10th for .XYZ Registry. .STORAGE which had originally planned to go to General Availability in July, 2017 is now preparing for a re-launch schedule with new pricing. New launch dates […]

The post Here’s All The Changes Coming to .STORAGE Domain appeared first on Latest Domain Name News.

          A New Way to Jump-Start US Infrastructure Investment        
Public Works Financing

The paradox of US infrastructure in 2016 is that everybody agrees we need to invest more—but nobody is enacting policies to bring this about. Consider the following:

  • Majorities in both houses of Congress continue to reject increases in fuel-tax rates.
  • With the federal government on a path toward insolvency, Congress will soon run out of general-fund “pay-fors” to bulk up the Highway Trust Fund.
  • As The Wall Street Journal reported, despite interest rates being at historic lows, cities and states are opting for less debt rather than doing more bond-financing.

So how are we going to invest trillions of dollars in better infrastructure in the coming decade? In previous columns I have discussed two key ideas: asset recycling and pension fund investment.

Asset recycling refers to a government selling or long-term leasing existing revenue-producing infrastructure facilities and using the proceeds to invest in new infrastructure that cannot be self-supporting (e.g., mass transit, some kinds of bridges and tunnels, school buildings, etc.). The recycled assets would be leased under revenue-risk public-private partnership (P3) concessions, while the new infrastructure would be procured via availability-payment (AP) concessions.

Public pension funds are logical investors in brownfield revenue-risk concessions for several reasons. They need an additional asset class to shore up their investment returns, but will be happy with 8-9 percent rather than the double-digit returns expected by infrastructure investment funds that invest in riskier greenfield concessions. And this means, other things equal, user-fee rates for refurbished infrastructure won’t need to be as high. Moreover, public pension funds provide the retirement income for huge numbers of public employees. This combination of features suggests the possibility of bipartisan support for pension-fund investment in recycled revenue-producing airports, toll roads, seaports, and municipal water and electric utilities.

Like any new idea, however, asset recycling must overcome what Milton Friedman called “the tyranny of the status quo.”

Recall a decade ago how much political opposition there was to the long-term leases of the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road. And at least one public employee union in California last year bitterly denounced the decision of CalPERS (the nation’s largest public pension fund) to invest in the Indiana Toll Road. Most public employee unions will term such proposals “Privatization,” and be automatically against them at first blush.

One way to start gaining traction for the idea is to document its success in other countries. Australia has been the leading practitioner, as I discussed in March, and despite a very recent pull-back by its new federal government, states such as New South Wales continue to recycle assets and invest the proceeds. Canada’s new Liberal government is developing plans for asset recycling, with advice from some of the leaders of its major public pension funds, which have been investing in infrastructure for more than a decade (mostly overseas due to a lack of opportunities in Canada). Ontario is the early leader in asset recycling, having sold 30 percent of state-owned utility HydroOne to investors last year, and planning many further sales. Quebec is developing an aggressive program, headed by major pension fund Caisse de depot et placement.

Although a few U.S. pension fund have begun such investments, most don’t really understand the merits of P3 concessions as a superior form of stewardship of vital public-purpose infrastructure. And the same is true of most elected officials. So a concerted educational effort is needed to explain to these audiences what readers of this newsletter already know:

  • There are major benefits in shifting risks such as revenue uncertainty, (re)construction cost overruns, schedule slips, etc. from taxpayers to investors.
  • Long-standing deferred maintenance can be addressed and proper ongoing maintenance guaranteed over the long life of the concession agreement.
  • New technology (and flexible pricing) are more likely to be implemented by commercially-minded P3 companies.

Besides getting pension funds, elected officials, and the media familiar with both asset recycling and the synergies of public pension fund investment in infrastructure, what else is needed to get this concept under way in the United States?

As we have learned with other innovations, such as express toll lanes and P3 concessions themselves, new policy ideas need political champions, and we need to start looking for such people. The original lease of the Indiana Toll Road would not have happened without the vision and political courage of then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. He happened to be a Republican, but his counterpart in leasing the Chicago Skyway was then-Mayor Richard Daley, a Democrat. Surely there are members of both parties—in Congress, in governors’ offices, and elsewhere—who care deeply about infrastructure investments and who might come to see asset recycling and pension fund investments as a new way forward. (DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx visited with Australian pension funds on a visit there in August—but he will likely soon be out of office.)

Someone with the right credentials should start talking with union leadership about these ideas. Infrastructure attorney John Schmidt of Mayer Brown tells me that construction unions in Chicago supported both of the efforts to lease Midway Airport, and their counterparts in Indiana did likewise for the lease of the Indiana Toll Road. Significant union support would make this approach more acceptable to Democrats.

Finally, in our efforts next year to get Congress to lift the $15 billion cap on tax-exempt private activity bonds, the P3 community should embrace Schmidt’s proposal that tax-exempt bonds be allowed in deals to acquire brownfield transportation assets for reconstruction and modernization. Currently they may only be used for greenfield P3 projects.

The paradox--of agreement on the need for large-scale infrastructure investment but no agreement on how to pay for it--cries out for a solution. Asset recycling and pension fund investment could play a key role in resolving this conundrum.

          â€œOmne Vivum Ex Vivo” for Data-Driven Health        

Louis Pasteur’s law of biogenesis (reflected in the above Latin phrase meaning “all life from life”) might well capture how we see our mission at Commerce to democratize and harness public data to drive innovation and help solve big public problems.

To explain, we see in countless ways every day—from patent search that begets new patents, to trade data used to fuel exports—how mining and combining open public data, and combining public data with private data sets, multiplies its value and impact. Just as Pasteur’s microorganisms multiplying in an open flask led to life-saving vaccinations and drugs.

Counselor Justin Antonipillai, Economics & Statistics Administration (left) and Chairman & Co-Founder Marc Dacosta, Enigma

Counselor Justin Antonipillai, Economics & Statistics Administration (left) and Chairman & Co-Founder Marc Dacosta, Enigma

A century after Pasteur’s day, prescription drug development and application is critical to the health of our people, and the strength of our economy. In turn, the volume of US government public data on prescription drugs available today is staggering, and invaluable.

Every year, there are disparate open data sets from public sources including our own Department of Commerce US Patent and Trademark Office (drug patents), National Institutes of Health (clinical trials), the US Food and Drug Administration (“Orange Book” of approved drugs), Adverse Event Reporting, Orphaned products, US Center for Disease Control recalls, the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the European Drug Registry.

The challenge, of course, is that to derive insights and make this digestible, these data sets need to be brought together and tools need to be provided to really unleash the potential. As you know from my recent posts, we here at Commerce have issued a challenge to companies and the private sector to make our constant surge of data more consumable. The initial response is inspiring. We’re onto something big.

Today, I write about another company that has taken on this challenge. Enigma has brought many of these public data sets together—including the Commerce/PTO patent data—and created “A Prescription for Healthcare Data.” This free and open public site will make available to the public “wrangled” data from disparate government sources on over 80 of the most commonly-dispensed drugs in America, and lets users follow the winding path from patent to patient.

“Knowledge,” Dr. Pasteur said, “is the torch which illuminates the world.” Imagine the brilliant lumens of light that our troves of public data on medicine today—if made more useful and useable—could shine on our children’s world tomorrow.

This is exactly why I have such a passion for our mission to democratize our public data. It’s not really about machine learning, algorithms, predictive analytics and the like, as important as these technologies and the talents driving them are. It’s about putting our data assets to work to make life better for more people.

It is terrific that Enigma has taken on this public challenge to make our data more available to more of the country, and we are proud that our PTO data could serve such a critical role in this free and open project.

Here’s a joint piece by Marc and me about the Enigma project.

What are we taking?

About 60 percent of Americans over 20 take at least one prescription drug, the American Medical Association’s journal reports. Over 15 percent take five or more. Pharma is a nearly $400 billion industry in the US alone. Taking prescription medicine is part of daily life, and plays a major role in advancing health and wellness. Naturally, it’s a major healthcare policy and headline issue.

Yet few have a complete picture of the drugs we’re prescribed and rely on. It’s hard to follow the lifecycle of activities and milestones, like: Who developed the drug? What was it designed to address? How was it tested? Who is prescribing or using it?

These questions linger despite the wealth of data generated and compiled in the conception, development and regulation of the drugs, and made public by pharma companies and government agencies. The problem is, this data is fragmented and disbursed by many disparate US government sources in different ways.

How can we know more?

A Prescription for Healthcare Data, a new free and open healthcare data site created by Enigma tries to address this problem.

A Prescription for Healthcare Data

It’s a connected and open data experience that links together existing public datasets from several sources—including open data from our Patent and Trademark Office—on 80 commonly-prescribed drugs that make up about 70 percent of all US pharmaceutical sales.

A Prescription for Healthcare Dataprovides transparency into healthcare data, enabling visitors to trace these prescription drug’s critical milestones from early development to generic usage. By connecting 10 typically fragmented public datasets, the site provides coherent and extensive timelines for each prescription drug, enabling visitors to easily explore and draw insights from these drug lifecycles.

Common Drugs Over Time

Bringing these public datasets together is just the beginning, and others can continue to build upon the site and datasets or create their own sites.

Who might benefit?

Beneficiaries of this wrangling and presentation of public prescription drug data could include:

  • Healthcare policy experts analyzing drug development. They could find out: Is development becoming costlier, and if so, why? Do particular diseases encourage more or less investment and how are they affected by development timelines? Are patent extensions legitimate representations of innovation? Has the Orphan Drug Act succeeded in accelerating innovation? What disease areas face the largest gaps in investment and drug discovery?
Chart showing adverse events of medicine.
  • Pharmaceutical R&D and commercialization analysts seeking to understand competitor activity and drug discovery events could answer: How are competitors accelerating their drug development timelines? How have patent extension regulations altered the pace of novel drug discovery? Which companies lead in drug discovery? Has time-to-first-generic-entry varied over time or by disease area?
  • Medicare analysts tracking drug pricing trends could determine: Is Medicare spending commensurate with the level of investment in drug research? Does Medicare see meaningful prices fluctuations or decreases post-approval? Have generics entrants meaningfully led to reductions in price?

Chance favors the prepared mind, Pasteur said. We hope this data and our efforts to help others harness it will give us all—everywhere—a better chance to live a healthier and happier life.

Thanks for reading

Justin and Marc

          In the Blue Acai Beads Mix, 100 Beads / Natural Eco Friendly Beads from the Amazon, Boho Beads, Yoga, Renewable Seeds, Round Beads / Navy by NatureBeads        

6.00 USD

In the Blue: Real Acai Seeds, Acai Beads / Pack of 100 beads / Organic beads, Natural Seeds, Eco beads / Jewelry and Craft Supplies

♥ Fine Print: Real & Natural Acai Beads-Seeds
Size: it will vary depending on the rainning season - average batches are coming in 8-10mm diameter with some larger beads
Variance: beads are natural which means, some variance will happen from one to another - no two beads are the same
Pattern: the black mark on the seeds are their birth mark
Hole size: from 1mm to 1.5mm diameter
Place of Origin: Amazon Rainforest-Brazil - All seeds are hand drilled!

The Acai (Ah-si-ee) beads are natural seeds and are the core (pit) of the Acai Berry fruit. The thin layer of pulp is used to make the Acai Juice used all over the world. ♥ We love our Acai Beads! They feel so earthy and the pattern and colors are just so beautiful. All seeds are hand drilled and the whole process is handmade from the begghing to the end. The beads you will be receiving are made with love and we hope you cherish them as much as we do! ♥ Beads are very unique and no two beads are the same. All beads will have a black line, which is natural in every single seed. Beads have been tumbled to give them a nice sheen, no vernish or lacquer have been used on them.

♥ Care: Acai seeds feel very much like wooden beads. So, if you get the wet, dry with care. The best way to dry the beads is to place them over a little paper towel or cloth and let them stay there for a few hours. To give your jewelry a nice sheen, use a little bit of bees wax and spread throughout... I mean, very little! That stuff works great! You can use oils, just be awere that too much oil will make your beads look darker since wood tends to soak up oils. Note that color will change overtime if you get them wet often.

♥ Large quantity is available at wholesale pricing here: http://www.naturebeads.com/acai-beads

♥ More:
Euterpe oleracea or Acai (Ah-si-ee) grows throughout South America and primarily in Northern Brazil. It is a staple food to the local populations in Amazonas and Pará and in some areas is even more popular than milk. When we are traveling in Brazil, we will often go to the market and purchase a liter of fresh squeezed acai pulp for what is equivalent to a $5.00. The rest of the world has also now become acquainted with this wonderful super food. You can find many different drinks and supplements with just a stroll through your local grocery store. Google the word ACAI and you will be overwhelmed at all of the information available on this berry and all of the companies selling their acai products. Since this information is so readily available, we have decided to give you some information not normally found.

♥ The legend and myth of the Acai ♥
The legend states that many years ago in northern Brazil, there was an Indian tribe. The tribe’s chief, Itaki (i-tah-kee) set out to sacrifice all of the children in the tribe due to the fact that there was a scarcity of food. One of the children was his granddaughter and the daughter of Iaca (ya-sah) his daughter.

On the next full moon after the sacrifices had taken place, Iaca woke to the crying of a child. When she peered from her oca (tipi) she was startled to see it was her daughter standing next to a palm tree in the moonlight smiling at her. Iaca ran to her and clutched her in her arms. The next day Iaca’s body was found holding tight to the palm tree and gazing upat the berries with her dark eyes. The chief Itaki demanded that the berries be retrieved and made into a drink that was then named “Acai” after his late daughter Iaca. (Iaca is Acai spelled backwards). There were no more sacrifices made and the tribe survived on this precious fruit.

Happy creating!

          Special Price Pendants - Animals and Plants - Set of 12 - Imperfect or Discontinued by Nakisha        


12 Pendants with various images of animals and plants - sold in bulk at a special price!

Some might have some glue or bubbles showing or have other minor imperfections, and some are designs or on bezels I am discontinuing. Rather than list and photograph them individually I am selling them as a set at a HUGE discount. These pendants normally sell for $8 -$12 each. They are sold in this lot at less than $1.25 per pendant! Keep some, give to friends or use as gift tags.

You will receive all 12 pendants shown in the images, the are made from actual vintage ephemera and are one of a kind. Please enlarge the images to see the details. Round pendants are each apx 1" (2.5cm) wide.

At this price I will NOT break up the set, sorry. Necklaces or chains not included. Sold as-is, no refunds for this item, due to the wholesale pricing, free shipping is not available on this set. Please contact me before purchase if you have any questions, thanks!

          Brief features of Excel QTO Roofing Quantity Takeoff and Pricing Database v3        
Roofing Specifications: The Roofing Specifications worksheet is considered as the base for all takeoffs.
          PVC Pricing        
Ok, so pretty much anyone who follows the whole PVC figure market from Japan will have noticed and felt the pain of ever increasing prices.  My question though, if given a chance to pose it to the manufacturers, would be what exactly is the reasoning behind it? 

Collectors and their money is a relatively finite resource.  It CAN run out.  Surely a lower price point is healthy for sales and for the market as a whole?  It seems that if sales are down across the industry then that should indicate that perhaps the pricing is no longer acceptable to the market in general?  

It just seems that we are squeezed more and more when it comes to SRP on PVC figures.  This is a niche market - higher prices just push these items further and further away from the reaches of new fans.  I don't feel all that optimistic about this industry right now.

The photo below says it all..

          AT&T to launch DirecTV Now streaming service before year's end        
AT&T to launch DirecTV Now streaming service before year's end

Lower pricing brings questions for 4.85 million U-verse subscribers

On Wednesday, during an AT&T investor’s conference, the company announced plans to launch an Internet-based video streaming app of its DirecTV programming lineup to serve alongside its existing satellite service and U-verse IPTV options.

The new app is called DirecTV Now, an over-the-top streaming service that will offer up to 100 premium channels to begin with, including Disney and HBO. Meanwhile, AT&T says more content deals are currently underway and are about “90 percent there” with a few remaining holdouts.

Lower deployment costs without installation fees

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said the service will launch before the end of the year and says the company plans to subscribe an initial 20 million households that do not currently subscribe to pay-TV service. The advantage of rolling out an IP-based video service, he says, is the lower deployment costs associated with providing it to customers. Although U-verse is already an IPTV service, the idea with DirecTV Now is that the company will not need to pay employees to visit residencies or businesses to install cables or local device equipment – customers can simply download the DirecTV Now app to their TVs, PCs, consoles and mobile devices.

directv streaming app

DirecTV's current streaming app for mobile devices and Amazon Kindle

The company’s IP service enters into the market alongside Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue, SFN’s TV Now, and soon Hulu’s live TV service. On the low end, prices start at $20 per month for just a handful of channels and will go up from there, depending on the selected package and service provider. There is often a catch, however, as services like PlayStation Vue are locked down to a single IP address and cannot be streamed to other household or mobile devices.

In contrast, AT&T claims it will provide one to two DirecTV Now streams per household, and will offer the ability to purchase more simultaneous streams per subscription.

Stephenson acknowledged that the new IP streaming service has the potential to disrupt sales from its premium DirecTV satellite and U-verse IPTV offerings, but says this is a good sign because “it means you have found something the market really wants.”

Of course, with a more limited initial rollout of 100 channels, many customers may still prefer to weigh their options or simply wait for the company to offer more distinctive advantages, benefits or service bundles over having traditional DirecTV or U-verse service.

Set-top box subscriptions not being replaced anytime soon

AT&T acquired DirecTV last year for $49 billion (to the dismay of consumer advocacy groups) during a time when consumers have been cutting pay-TV subscriptions in favor of over-the-top services like Hulu, Netflix, Vudu and others. As many have noticed, however, there is a large market gap in the channel offerings between over-the-top services and traditional cable, satellite and IPTV telecom packages that attract some customers to lower prices, but prevent others from abandoning a larger selection of service.

A report from summer 2015 indicates that cable, satellite and telecom TV subscription companies witnessed their largest quarterly subscriber decline at nearly 566,000 accounts between April and June last year. Of these, DirecTV disclosed that it lost 133,000 subscribers during the period, while AT&T’s U-verse lost 22,000. Fast forward one year later in Q2 2016, and DirecTV reports that it added 342,000 subscribers while U-verse decreased by 49,000 subscribers, respectively.

Fluctuating subscriptions signal market interest in streaming options

It was a slightly different story in Q4 2015, however, when AT&T’s DirecTV unit added 214,000 subscribers while the company’s own U-verse service dropped 240,000 subscriptions during the same period. This was the first full quarter that revenue from both units was included in results, with DirecTV ending up with 25.4 million total customers and U-Verse ending with 5.61 million at the end of 2015, respectively. As of its Q2 2016 earnings report, the company now has 20.4 million customers on DirecTV and 4.85 million on U-verse.

While some claim that traditional set-top box subscriptions are slowly dropping in favor of over-the-top solutions, it is more likely that cable and satellite customers will continue benefit from having a larger selection of channels while IP-based app solutions like AT&T’s DirecTV Now begin to roll out over the course of the next few years.

Last year, Cablevision Systems CEO James Dolan was asked about the state of cable subscriber numbers during an earnings call, to which he responded, “I don’t think the sky is falling quite yet, and I think that there is not enough programming weight yet in the Internet and in the over-the-top services that are out there to really entice a mainstream video customer.” He went on to say that he expects it to be at least another five years for 10 percent of the market to move, and about ten years for 30 percent to move.

          NPD: Ultrabooks are saving the high-end notebook market        
Ultrabook Sales Share Increase For people who want super-thin computers and who don't feel like paying more than $2,000 for a Retina MacBook Pro, ultrabooks are a blessing. And according to the NPD Group, ultrabooks are helping to keep the U.S. notebook market afloat as they "are off to a fast start capturing nearly 11 percent of all $700+ Windows notebooks sales at U.S. retail through the first five months of 2012." What's more, ultrabooks' share of Windows notebooks costing at least $700 has steadily climbed month by month this year, going from just over 6% in January to more than 15% in May. NPD says strong ultrabook sales are welcome news for the Windows notebook industry, which has seen overall sales of laptops costing $700 or more fall 3% through the first five months of 2012. Full press release after the jump.
Ultrabook Propels Growth in Higher Price Point Notebooks as Overall Market Struggles PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, JUNE 28, 2012 – Ultrabook sales are off to a fast start capturing nearly 11 percent of all $700+ Windows notebooks sales at U.S. retail through the first five months of 2012 according to leading market research company The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service.  While the overall Windows market for notebook PC sales fell by 17 percent, Ultrabooks helped propel the premium market with Windows notebooks priced over $700 falling by just 3 percent, and those priced over $900 increasing 39 percent versus the prior year. “Ultrabooks have helped establish a market for more premium-priced Windows notebooks at retail,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “The share of sales that the $700+ notebook segment represents jumped from about 12 percent in 2011 to nearly 14 percent in 2012 as a result of the solid market acceptance Ultrabooks have gained.  Consumers continue to respond positively to finally being offered stylish, thinner, and more premium device offerings than ever before within the Windows ecosystem.” This strong performance comes as Utrabook ASPs remain considerably more expensive than the market, with selling prices that averaged $927 over the first five months of 2012 and only dipping below $900, to $885, for the first time in May. While this is considerably above the Windows market price of $510 average pricing has risen by $13 since the same period in 2011, in part due to the growth in Ultrabook sales. “As we head into the crucial back-to-school selling season, lower-cost Ultrabooks, some as low as $699, will be the hot form factor,” said Baker.  “As we look towards the fourth quarter, the expected launch of Windows 8, a wide variety of Ultrabooks with touch screens, and convertible form factors should continue to make this class of product top of mind with the consumer as well as provide a much needed revenue boost to the entire PC ecosystem.”

          Ultrabooks are too expensive for enterprise, CIOs say        
Ultrabook Pricing Enterprise Adoption Early ultrabook adoption has not lived up to vendors' expectation according to numerous accounts. Spurred by the popularity of Apple's MacBook Air, these new ultra-thin notebook PCs offer ample performance despite their sleek, slimmed-down cases. High prices are often cited by industry watchers as the root cause behind slow ultrabook sales, however, and it looks like this is indeed the case in the enterprise market, according to TechRepublic. The site asked 12 CIOs if they planned to roll out ultrabook models at their respective organizations — 11 said no. High prices were repeatedly cited as a cause for the negative responses, and according to a recent report, ultrabook pricing is likely to remain high until next year. Read
          Ultrabook prices to remain high through 2012, drop in 2013        

Ultrabooks will remain pricey through the end of this year, with ideal pricing of $600-$700 finally being reached in 2013 according to Digitimes. Due to the high production cost associated with the computers — especially solid state drives, which are 10 times more expensive than traditional hard drive — prices are expected to remain high in order to maintain profitability. As vendors work on reducing costs, ultrabooks have chance to reach $799 in the second quarter of 2012, a significant drop from the $999 price point of the first generation models but still well above the "sweet spot" the new notebook supposedly must hit in order to be more widely adopted. Read
          Meet Your Fitness Needs: Finding the Best Health Club Membership        

Cycle Class at a Gym Category:Gyms_and_Health_...Image via Wikipedia

Meet Your Fitness Needs: Finding the Best Health Club Membership

When a person needs improvement, she or he thinks of a much better way to achieve his or her desired results. For example, get fit and maintain it by considering a health club membership.

But doubting sometimes cannot be denied since a lot of stories can be heard regarding people who have already signed up. They are active for more than two sessions and never showed up again.

It is very complicated to purchase and maintain a membership in a health club. But there are guidelines that can help you save money and achieve your fitness needs.

1. Setting up your priorities by listing specific fitness wants and needs. It can include options such as joining a large health club that are open for both males and females, getting access to other clubs, joining an exclusive service for personal training, assessing the frequency of workouts every month, thinking of how to maintain a fitness regimen, and budgeting the money for paying a monthly health club membership.

2. Visiting health clubs once the requirements are identified. Avail of the free passes from these clubs and workout more often upon free periods.

3. Never sign up a health club membership unless your free passes are over. Sometimes managers and sales people can pressure you a lot and encourage you to sign up to avail of discount pricing. Don't be in a hurry since discount pricing is offered by health clubs all the time.

4. If you decided to join, talk to the sales person regarding membership choices. Never be afraid to sign up a long term health club membership contract. This contract is an installment loan and paid with higher interest rates. But if you think you cannot maintain such payments, never sign the contract. Instead collect all written information and go home. Review it during your leisure time.

5. Ask the sales person everything you want. Never feel pressured or rushed. Don't forget that your signed contract supersedes any sales person promises. Although everything is written in the contract, these are not legally enforceable. Carefully read the terms and conditions before signing.

6. Make comparisons with every type of membership. Your ultimate decision must answer your needs not basically for availing the short term discounts. It may appear like you are saving money. However, in the end it can cost you a lot.

7. Make sure that cancellation requirements on the different types of health club membership are fully understood. Cancellation of most health clubs with long term contracts are often impossible. Choosing a monthly contract can be a good solution.

8. Never consider automatic payments through credit cards. It can be very difficult to stop the payments once you have decided to cancel your membership.

9. Always check all your paid accounts. This is important in case disputes arise with the health club.

10. When you cancel your membership from the health club, make sure that you obtain it in written form.

Making the right choice depends on how good you are in assessing these guidelines to avail all the advantages of a health club membership.

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          57 New Wedding Favors in 2017        

We get offered to carry 100s of new favors each month, but we only accept the ones we like! Here are our favorites! (Pricing varies on how many you want, so be sure to click see if it fits you budget!) Geometric Design Rose Gold Metal Tealight Candle Holder $1.92  Personalized 9 oz Party Time Stemless Wine Glass $1.38 - $2.06 Gold I DO Bottle Opener Favor $2.14 - $2.77 Copper Elegance Mr and Mrs Bottle Stopper $1.06 - $1.87 Glittering Heart Party Time Bottle Opener Favors $1.95 - $3.99 Metallic Gold Sunglasses $4.23 - $10.45 Gold Pineapple Themed Key

The post 57 New Wedding Favors in 2017 appeared first on Wedding Favors Unlimited Bridal Planning & Advice Blog.

          EPS Article: ZeeVee Assesses Onshore Vs OffShore        

February 12, 2016

Case Study: ZeeVee Assesses Onshore Vs Offshore

When ZeeVee Inc. was founded in 2007, its principals knew exactly where it would manufacture: China. A significant number of OEMs and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers had spent the prior decade moving manufacturing facilities there, so ZeeVee decided to follow best practices at that time.

Today, ZeeVee, a manufacturer of video and signal distribution technology, is a bit more tentative about that decision. The outsourcing of production to partners in China is complex and can be both rewarding and frustrating at the same time as Littleton, MA-based ZeeVee eventually found out. The decision of where to base production is a difficult one that demands the careful evaluation of all the pros and cons, according to Zee Vee executives.

“In 2007 we started in the consumer products market with a small device that was going to go into the living room,” said Steve Metzger, co-founder, vice president of hardware development and operations. “We were going to sell millions of these things to gadget geeks for Christmas. That was the plan, anyway. Conventional wisdom at the time dictated that high volume products had to go to China - so that was what we did.”

A couple of things happened on the way to the high-volume consumer market. First, in 2007 and 2008 it was becoming more difficult to break into the consumer electronics market. The PC was on the decline and smartphones and tablets were storming the market. The global economy was on the verge of a recession. And ZeeVee found some significant quality problems with its products.

“Our projected volume never materialized. If you don’t manufacture a zillion products in China they will build a batch [and] tear down that line to use for something else until your next batch. So every new order is like a new product introduction into manufacturing.”

At its worst, the failure rate at the end of the manufacturing line was up to 12 percent, requiring correction before shipping to customers. Occasionally things would sneak into the field as well.

“To fix products in the field is a dramatically larger expense than in manufacturing,” Metzger said. “We were trying to manage a production line in China but every two or three months we had to go over there—send a few engineers and audit the line—and for us it wasn’t practical to have people living in China to manage that.”

ZeeVee found what many other U.S.-based companies discovered about offshoring: manufacturing costs were significantly lower than in the U.S., but that benefit was offset by other factors. “During the 2008 worldwide recession, Chinese manufacturers were stuck writing off boatloads of unsold customer inventory,” Metzger explained.

“To avoid that in the future they changed the payment terms, requiring payment of at least half up front before producing a thing. That ties up cash early in the manufacturing process. So we then had the cost of a line of credit to order the goods, payment of the balance when the goods are shipped, and we then had to wait 4-5 weeks for the goods to arrive on a boat before we could sell them and actually make any money for ourselves,” he added.

At the same time ZeeVee executives are quick to point out there were a number of things its Chinese manufacturing partners did very well. “The quality of sheet metal in China is fantastic if you select the right supplier,” Metzger said. “Cable assemblies have significant labor content and the only cost effective way to source them is in China. With the correct supplier and a good process the quality is generally great.”

A Second Look

ZeeVee began to reassess its manufacturing and supply chain strategy in 2012. When ZeeVee first looked at U.S.-based EMS companies, executives said they had a hard time getting anyone’s attention.

“On our second pass at trying to manufacture in the US, we found that domestic companies were willing to talk and they learned a few things during the economic downturn," Metzger said. "We knew how much it cost to build our product in China so we knew what price we were trying to match. It would never be as cheap as China – maybe 15 percent higher—but the big benefit was that the overall quality improvement was phenomenal."

Domestic EMS companies were becoming more cost-competitive with overseas manufacturers by automating processes previously done by hand. “If you look at metrics such as the cost of cash, carrying costs and field failures, it can make sense to manufacture in the U.S. There are many more factors than the simple cost of the PCB as it leaves the line.”

ZeeVee also found it had better control over its supply chain in the U.S. The straw that broke the camel’s back: “If you give the Chinese the freedom to select whatever component meets your specs you can save a lot of money but you may end up with a component that fails. We had a certain component on one type of module that failed after running in the field for a brief while. We ended up tracing it back to the supplier and they said ‘that isn’t our part.’ It turned out to be counterfeit. That really caused us to question whether we did the right thing by offshoring.”

ZeeVee sources its strategic components directly from suppliers. Other devices are sourced through electronics distributors. “The lesson we learned is we have much tighter control over our sourcing and we can really narrow down our supplier base to avoid quality issues.”

When ZeeVee develops a product “on day zero we must approve the vendors' list and component spec for every single component,” said Metzger. “Our EMS will do the sourcing and some pricing. Based on their suggestions we might add vendor or part variant to the AVL (Approved Vendors List) after the initial phase of production. We will see where it makes sense and work with the EMS to qualify parts in a controlled fashion. That’s something we always had some questions about when sourcing material offshore.”

One of the side benefits of manufacturing in the U.S., said Chris Scurto, VP of marketing and North American sales at ZeeVee, “is the ability to take our staff and customers to see this stuff being made and the state-of the art facilities. The customers get the idea that this is serious manufacturing. When we take our employees there they get a better sense of ownership in the products when they see it being made. We couldn’t do that in China.”

“The one thing I would conclude is it really is all about customer satisfaction,” said Bob Michaels, CEO of ZeeVee. “At the end of the day the cost is one thing but you can’t afford to have a field failure. That will tank a company’s reputation. “We now have one of the longest – 5 year – warranties in the business. We could not have dome that if we had remained exclusively in China. We are only comfortable with that if we have a tight control over the process.”

ZeeVee, with revenue of less than $50 million, is four times the size it was when it was founded. One of its EMS partners is EIT LLC based in Methuen, MA.

Written by: Barbara Jorgensen | February 12, 2016

          New Webinar Hosted by Xtalks Prepares Manufacturers for AMNOG Regulations and the Future of Access and Pricing        

Join the presenter, Dr. Thomas Mittendorf, Vice President and Managing Director at Herescon GmbH, an AmerisourceBergen company, for insight on the current German requirements, recent trends in price negotiations, and future direction for the AMNOG assessment. The live broadcast will take place on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 11:00am EDT (4:00pm BST/ UK GMT +1).

(PRWeb August 25, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08/prweb12116389.htm

          The Times They Are A Changing        
The weather has been better. More seasonal. Certainly not mild but no triple digits or real high humidity. We have also been getting a little rain. I hope the worst is over.

We stayed home Saturday and got a lot of work done around here and rested some too. Sunday we went to my MIL's and got some more pricing done. It was a sweaty experience but we sold more stuff too.

I am still taking care of my wildlife and keeping up with my chores.

As many of you know, ...
          Microsoft: Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) is The Only Console For True 4K and Hi-Fidelity VR        
Xbox 2 VR and 4K

With the rise of both 4K and virtual reality, the time is upon us for Microsoft and Sony to start bragging about who does it better. While Sony has a lead with PlayStation Pro and PSVR, Microsoft doesn't seem to worried. The reason? Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) is going to be the only console capable of native 4K resolutions and what Microsoft calls "hi-fidelity VR."

Today we're taking a look at what these terms mean, and how they give Project Scorpio/Xbox Two an edge over the competition, despite the year-long gap between it and PS4 Pro.

Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio) Promises 'True 4K Gaming' and 'Hi-fidelity VR'

Microsoft has seen fit to update their Project Scorpio page with new information about the upcoming console. On this page they promise, among other things, "True 4K Gaming" and "hi-fidelity VR."

Okay, nice terms,