Home Authors Posts by Ricky Robinson
Large businesses have typically shied away from using virtual telephone systems preferring instead to use traditional in-house PBX systems. The reasons for this are varied but virtual systems just did not provide the tremendous advantages to them as large companies as it did small and medium businesses. Large businesses would already have feature rich systems that could manage call queuing and many of the specialized features required to support contact centers and large salerooms. However, lately there has been a shift towards virtualization due to rising confidence in the internet and the cloud service provider’s capabilities. Similarly, advances in technology have seen vast improvements in internet bandwidth via xDSL and this has circumvented the problem with call quality and capacity. Both of were major concerns for large companies, as dropped call, distorted voice and failure to establish a call did little to enhance the company’s reputation in the eye of their customers.
However, with these improvements in the core technologies performance and confidence has risen and we are now seeing large company’s looking at virtual telephone systems. So what are the direct benefits that they can now get out of a virtual system?
- Mobility and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): By supporting inbound call forwarding and outbound calling using the virtual company’s number employees can use their personal devices to make and receive calls using the business number
- Converged communications: Voice, video and email can be integrated into one service providing voice and video call conferencing and transcript voice-mail to email.
- Follow-the-Sun routing: By using a virtual number for a contact center in bound calls can be redirected to the closest operational contact center depending on the time of day
- Collaboration and home-working: By utilizing the IP collaboration tools available with virtual telephone systems contact center workers no longer need to commute hours a day to work. Instead, they can work from home and communicate in real time by messenger, voice or through onscreen displays, which shows each workers status. This means the business can save on renting contact center premises.
- Automated Call Distribution: provides a system for your customers to call into and be connected to the correct people quickly and reliably.
- Virtual Regional Presence: Virtual telephone systems allow the business to have virtual telephone number for any city or country. This means the business can have virtual toll-free numbers that their customers in other regions and countries can call, even if the business has no presence there; this is a major benefit for both the customer and the business.
- Lower Cost of Ownership: By saving on monthly leasing fees for a traditional PBX and on the ongoing maintenance and support a large business can if it is careful about planning the virtual system make considerable savings. The point they have to remember hear is that if they want an extension on every desk then the monthly virtual telephone fees are going to soon outweigh the PBX costs.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: This is one of the biggest advantages for large businesses. The major benefit with business continuity practices ensures that the risks involved (and costs) of providing redundancy and fail-over hot sites is passed to the service provider. Similarly, with disaster recovery, it is the responsibility of the service provider to ensure there are disaster recovery options and hot sites available. This can be a major saving for any large business.
- Cheaper call tariffs: This is probably the most obvious but largest saving as the costs of international calls especially can be greatly reduced.
To conclude, it is now advantageous for large companies to consider virtual telephone services. Whereas before the technology and services were not mature. Now improvements have removed some of the disadvantageous and they deliver real benefits in price and operational savings.
Traditional books are becoming an outdated form of entertainment. Sure, the stories at the core of the reading experience have never stopped being engaging, but publishers also have to understand it is not the pioneer times anymore. People now have access to interactive forms of media such as the Internet and video games, not to mention animated and exciting forms of entertainment like TV and movies. The method by which a traditional book’s story is delivered – silent page skimming that involves no animation or interactivity – just does not cut it anymore when it comes to grabbing our attention. Largely in order to counter this fact, the “excitement” factor of reading books has been ramped up. Many publishers are utilizing the iPhone’s cutting edge graphics card and touch sensor technologies in combination with its ability to display eBooks in order to create an interactive and customizable reading experience. The list below details several of the biggest ways in which Nook’s app for iPhone is making reading interactive.
- Get the Picture – Setting really is one of the most important elements of a story. If the setting is dreary or nondescript, it can rub off on the characters and the plot itself, making the reading experience unenjoyable. By including sweeping and panoramic depictions of the setting that the reader can interact with within the book, illustrators and publishers have found a way to make the setting an even clearer and more colorful presence than even the best writing can manage. With an incredibly vivid backdrop that has been effectively molded into the reader’s mind, the story’s other elements will be all the more impactful.
- Self-Testing – Many publishers producing interactive eBooks for Nook include the option for the reader to test his own recollection of what he has just read by incorporating elective quizzes throughout the book. You may feel that this is silly if you are reading for pleasure, but it is actually a great way to make sure you are fully understanding the story and really getting every penny’s worth out of your purchase. Another great use for this feature is that students can make sure they are understanding the concepts presented when reading one of the many interactive textbooks available on the Nook store.
- Location-Based Reading – Because all iPhones have built-in GPS, your location can be used to change the content you read accordingly. The most obvious use of this is in electronic travel guides, which can adjust to guiding you around your local vicinity, but the feature can also be used in other creative ways, including the altering of locations mentioned in a book to correspond with places that would be relatable to the reader.
- Moving Pictures – Unlike the other entries on this list, interactive eBooks’ abilities to include moving illustrations doesn’t actually add to the book’s plot – it is just meant to add to the excitement. Page after page of unanimated black and white cannot hold our shortened 21st century attention spans, and that is a big part of why books are not nearly as popular as they once were. With the full color, high definition, fluidly animated illustrations that the iPhone’s display allows, as well as the possibility to interact with the illustration that Nook allows, books take on a life that, under previous technology, they could not.
- Interactive Demonstrations – Using the same technology as the moving pictures touched on above, book illustrators can fill you in on complex procedures much more easily than they can using words. This may be through use of an animated infographic or a short video, and it is especially useful in how-to books, mystery novels, and long, confusing stories.
- Seeing is Believing – Sometimes, being told about how something works is just not enough to get us to truly believe it. Sure, reading about the method a character in a book used to solve a problem might get us to acknowledge and accept the solution, but an actual mini-game built into the page where we can recreate the steps ourselves will really get us to internalize the solution. Not only is putting yourself in the character’s shoes through interactivity fun, but it also helps us empathize with the character, becoming more invested in the plot and increasing reading satisfaction.
Having a give-and-take experience when you read a book instead of just being talked at adds an exciting element to reading, and interactivity truly is the future of literature. Out of the best reading apps for iPhone, Nook was the best at presenting readers with an enjoyable interactive eReading experience. The app’s crystal clear reading display and the fact that there are many interactive titles available on the Nook store have convinced readers everywhere that it is the most thrilling eReader app out there.
Keeping your tablet or smartphone secure is an important aspect of protecting yourself from web hackers. Even if your device is in your hands, hackers are becoming more skilled at getting through firewalls and finding personal information in your email or other saved accounts. There are some simple steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you.
Passcode Protect Your Device
Image via Flickr by Chris F
Most tablets and smartphones come with an option to set a passcode so that you are the only one who can get into the information stored on the device. If you leave your phone or tablet sitting out, anyone who picks it up can get into your apps, messages, and emails. Some of the newer devices also have an option to set a password instead of a four-digit passcode for increased security. The iPad Mini 3 with fingerprint identity sensor makes it even easier to keep unwanted users out of your information since only your finger will unlock the device.
Back Up Data
If your phone or tablet breaks or is stolen, you will probably realize how much information was stored on the device. Instead of waiting for an issue to arise, take a few minutes every day or two to back up the data that is on the device. You can download free or paid security apps that will automatically back up your data, or you can use cloud-based services that you can access from anywhere. If you have security concerns about keeping your information in the cloud, you can also back up to your computer.
Modify Default Settings
When you first take your new phone or tablet out of the box, it will have default security settings that may not offer enough protection for your information. Start by disabling any location tracking services, since these can make it very easy for hackers to pinpoint exactly where you and the device are at any time. When you need to use location services, such as mapping, just enable it for that usage. NFC and Bluetooth can also allow hackers to connect wirelessly to your device, so keep them off unless you are using them.
Use Devices on Your Network
If you choose a tablet or phone that isn’t compatible with your network, you will have to root or jailbreak it to make it work. This means that you will override manufacturer settings and this can result in a loss of security features. Mobile malware programs are more likely to pop up and cause damage to these types of phones and tablets, since traditional devices used on their own networks have stricter security restrictions that help keep hackers out.
Most phones and tablets have the option to remotely wipe the data stored on the devices. If you engage a remote wiping, it will restore the device to its original factory settings. This can help protect your personal information in case your device is stolen or hacked. If your device has the option to reset itself if too many wrong passcode attempts are made, be sure to enable it. There are also apps that make it easier to find your device.
Watch Out for Bad Apps
Many mobile device users have found that the most common reason that their devices are compromised is because they have downloaded bad apps. When you are considering downloading an app, make sure to read reviews and double-check permissions to make sure the app won’t access information it doesn’t need. You can also enable a security setting that won’t allow another user, such as a family member or friend, to download an unsecured app.
Use Caution on Public Wi-Fi
Accessing free Wi-Fi networks in public places can be an easy way to lessen your mobile data usage. However, if you use your device to shop or do online banking, it is a lot easier for hackers to access this information. Make sure that you only use private and secured networks when you are using credit card information or other personal details.
With a few easy tips, you can keep yourself protected from hackers and thieves who are looking for ways to get into your private data.
Whether your business is large or small, you’ve probably seen first-hand the importance of email marketing on your existing consumer base. However, managing the various aspects of the company’s email campaign can be challenging, especially for a business that lacks the manpower. The following tips showcase the increasing importance of a managed email service.
When it comes to growing your business, the use of a website is instrumental in promoting your product or service. However, when it comes to reaching your consumer base through email, a managed email service can dramatically improve your sales and increase your email list. Managed email service companies have the experience and knowledge to identify various business opportunities and provide tools to see that it succeeds. Because you don’t have to recruit or train anyone in-house to handle this task, you can better utilize your precious time to more productive endeavors for the company.
Targeting the Right Audience
Adhering to the industries practices is a difficult feat because the rules and regulations are constantly changing. A managed email marketing service knows how to build trust among your subscribers. They also know what’s at stake when it comes to targeting the right audience. Through your brand and future vision, the service can design a specialized campaign for your customer base. They also know that ongoing communication is just as important once you’ve found your targeted audience. As your subscribers go through various changes such as a change in careers, they can keep in touch with your customers to ensure that your business is meeting their needs.
The Increasing Importance of Managed Email Services
When it comes to email content for your subscribers, a marketing service has the experience to devise the right promotional material. Whether you’re looking for newsletters, videos, letters or blogs, they can help put together something creative that sets you above the competition. The marketplace for business owners is cut throat, so you need to put together something unique and useful for your subscribers.
Make Your Presence Known
Once your email marketing service has helped you implement the right strategic plan, you’ll need their guidance when it comes to keeping on-task. Delivering fresh content in a timely manner shows your subscribers that you’re on top of your game. Whether you send a newsletter daily, weekly or monthly, an email marketing service can assist you in making sure things get out on time. They also have a team of experts who can provide new and entertaining ideas that are sure to attract and captivate their attention throughout the year.
Integrate Social Media
Social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are instrumental in connecting with your customers. By providing your email marketing service with your company’s Facebook site or Twitter handle on your email marketing materials, you’ll be able to garner a number of followers. It’s also a way for your subscribers to have a voice and personally connect with you. This allows you the chance to find out if the product or service that you’re providing is good or there kinks to work out.
Build a Better Relationship
In today’s world of mass emails, you may be wondering if your marketing voice is being heard. Email marketing services know what it takes to build a relationship with your customer base. This includes putting together interesting emails that actually get read. It’s also about including privacy links, so your audience knows that you won’t use their personal information for any other purposes.
Tracking and Reporting
When it comes to the analytical side of email marketing, tracking the information can be overwhelming, especially if you’re involved in other aspects of the business. An email marketing service can keep track of the campaigns metrics such as the shares, clicks, bounces and emails that have been actually read.
High definition conferencing is nothing new in the boardrooms of worldwide corporations, but the rapid expansion of cloud-based videoconferencing apps more businesses of a more modest budgetary level are discovering what high definition can do for them. Far from being out of reach, cloud apps have brought high definition to wherever you, or your staff, happen to be at the time. Liberated from large room-based systems, modern videoconferencing can take place between locations and between devices. You can have face time with anyone, anywhere, anytime. And in the end it can save you a lot more than money.
The Hard Costs of ‘Soft Costs’
A recent Gallup poll had a hard wake-up call for human resources and management across all spectrums of business. When seven out of 10 of your best educated senior employees are disengaged from their jobs. Workers who are engaged and involved, enthusiastic about their environment, and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner have reached a massive low. As productivity has grown, so have demands on the senior workers to contribute more and more of their time to the success of the company, often to the detriment of time they would otherwise devote to their family, or even to themselves. The competitive pressure cooker to give more, do more, and make more has in the end not helped but hurt American business.
Going worldwide, the numbers are actually worse, with 87 percent of highly educated workers from 30 to 64 reporting that they are disengaged at work to some degree. This disengagement can result in high turnover, absenteeism, workplace accidents, quality defects, and even in shrinkage. Re-engaging with employees often reevaluating the culture of the workplace itself. Bringing back enthusiasm, creativity, and even passion requires jettisoning the jargon soaked pabulum of the business publishing industry, created less to help manage actual people, and more to sell books and seminars. Changing the culture to promote the kind of engagement you want to see takes effort and creativity, too.
People really do love meetings. Actually over 90 percent of employees who regularly attend meetings really do value them as a way to contribute to the success of the company and their projects. However, meetings are very costly. A Verizon study placed the average cost of a five person meeting with four attendees required to travel at over $5,000. In addition to being expensive, the study also found that busy professionals are required to attend an average of 60 meetings per month, and most state that they cannot attend all the meetings that are demanding their time and resources. This and the time that they are required to be away from the office, and away from family, also contributes to a great deal of stress for constantly traveling busy professional.
Bringing the meetings home is one way to handle it, videoconferencing is very popular. Bluejeans HD videoconferencing and other apps have bridged the gap that room-based video systems could not. Bluejeans can operate on any equipment, any system, and most operating systems – such as Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. By bringing the videoconference to your employees, on whatever device they happen to be using at the time, you are making meetings simultaneously more accessible and more inclusive. In addition you are creating the incentive for geographically diverse staff and departments to work together. When a meeting simply takes a few taps and a swipe on someone’s iPad, it becomes as easy or easier than walking down the hall and knocking on someone’s door.
Face Time is Money
Implementing videoconferencing that can be used by everybody, no matter where they are or how they access the Internet, can bring 87 percent of remote users to feel more connected and engaged with their coworkers and their projects. A Gigaom study points out that videoconferencing is an awesome way to increase enthusiasm and productivity. As much as people value meetings, there’s nothing to say that everyone has to be in the same room. Contractors, home workers, office workers, staff at remote worksites, and management can all agree that good meeting really brings life to an otherwise moribund project and passion to the fore.
Making the most of your employees’ creativity and drive doesn’t mean micromanaging or making ridiculous demands of their time and resources. Working to find new tools to help them reengage will mean a lot to your bottom line, as well is to your reputation as an employer that someone would really love to work for. Increasing employee engagement and satisfaction doesn’t mean pampering or pandering, it means giving people the best available tools you can to do what you hired them to do. Videoconferencing can bring your people closer together, and give them a new and deeper interest in their workplace, coworkers, and work.
Xamarin is one of the best tools for cross-platform mobile development. This powerful and easy-to-use framework brings .NET/C# to both iOS and Android. Mobile apps created with Xamarin meet the distribution requirements of Apple Store and Google Play. IT specialists, choosing Xamarin for cross-platform development, save much time and effort working on their apps.
Here are 5 basic reasons to choose Xamarin for cross-platform development:
1. Easy to Learn
To create decent mobile applications, developers need to learn lots of things, like the platform SDK, user interface norms, process life-cycle and so on. This list is pretty long, so adding several programming languages to it will be too much. With Xamarin you can develop apps for iOS and Android without learning two different programming languages (Objective-C and Java), as it allows building applications for multiple platforms using just one programming language – C#.
2. Faster application development
Xamarin, with its absolute code re-usability, allows saving much time on the application development. In other words, you create one application logic and then share it across multiple platforms. There is no need developing similar apps for different platforms, as mobile applications created with Xamarin are compliant with the native development requirements of all major platforms.
3. Absence of limits
One of the best features of Xamarin is that is does not hide uniqueness of each platform. In fact, it does the opposite – embraces specific features of every platform. Thus, applications written with Xamarin never feel foreign to the platforms on which they are run.
4. Fewer bugs
It is proven that applications created with Xamarin have fewer bugs. Moreover, it allows testing apps and detecting bugs right in the cloud. Consequently, there is no need testing the app’s performance, feel or look on multiple devices. Otherwise speaking, testing is also faster and easier with Xamarin.
5. Saves money
Faster application development requires fewer investments. Thus, when choosing Xamarin for application development, you save company’s money, which is especially beneficial for startups.
When entrusting Xamarin application development to FreeZe Pro Software, you get all the mentioned above advantages coupled with superior customer service. This premium software development company has a great experience in developing custom software solutions. When choosing FreeZe Pro Software, you choose 8 years of software development experience, exceptional customer services, high-quality software solutions and timely product delivery.
The Latest Advancements in Reality Gaming
The Latest Advancements in Reality Gaming
If you have had the opportunity to stay up to speed with the world of technology, you have probably come to realize by now that realism and the most immersive experience combined together have been significant keys in determining the future of cloud gaming.
Though the same could be said about nearly any type of video game out there, these two specific factors are considered to be the most important, as both realism and immersion allow for much more quicker response times compared to other stimuli. And if you consider yourself to be a gamer, whether amateur or pro, we all know how recent bandwidth and latency issues can turn our gaming experience into something far less enjoyable than it was designed to be. With that being said, these are just some of the reasons why most of the world is experimenting with virtual reality gaming more than ever.
Also known as immersive multimedia in some technology circles, virtual reality has grown to be much more than a stranger at events like E3, but the latest advancements in this hardware and software still continue to turn heads. While the virtual technology we have available is still quite limited in several aspects, it is only the beginning.
The Oculus Rift headset is tested by attendees at the Eurogamer Expo at Earls Court in London.
Sony, Oculus, and Facebook — Oh My!
It was only two years ago when Facebook purchased Sony and Oculus VR, which is probably the most popular virtual reality gaming start-up to date. But while the social media giant has yet to carve any solid plans into stone as to what they plan to do with this buy of the century, several other companies are stepping up to the plate with their own virtual reality demonstrations. And as for the rest of the developers, such as Virtuix Omni, add-on virtual reality gaming equipment is creating just as much buzz.
During E3 in 2014, Virtuix Omni revealed their 360-degree treadmill, designed to be used in conjunction with the Oculus Rift headset. They even developed special shoes that users would need to wear with the low-friction surface in order to allow players to slide across the platform.
Though Oculus Rift has been receiving most of the attention since virtual gaming was introduced to the public, it’s not the only piece of hardware that’s been turning heads. Ubisoft and Electronic Arts have also hinted that they will be taking the route of virtual gaming as well in the near future.
Project Morpheus Headset
“There is No Spoon” — Project Morpheus
Initially revealed at the 2014 GDC (Game Developers Conference), industry-leader Sony has also decided to join in on the virtual gaming phenomenon with Project Morpheus. Intended to be used in conjunction with the variety of games they already have to offer to consumers, Project Morpheus’ newest evolution has a wide range of features that land right up there with the Oculus Rift. And, if we’re lucky, we may even be able to own one ourselves by 2016.
Complete with a field view that stretches to 100 degrees, Project Morpheus offers a comfortable 5.7-inch OLED screen and is able to support an outstanding 120 FPS (frames per second). In addition, one of its newest features also enables 3D audio and “social screen,” allowing users to project what they see inside the Morpheus system onto a larger television screen, which enables other players to join in.
Samsung Unpacked – Gear VR
Smartphones Get Smarter — Gear VR
Powered by the Galaxy Note 4, Samsung’s Gear VR is yet another device that has been brought to us by Oculus, the company at the forefront of the virtual reality industry. Known for their brilliant mobile phone models and their display abilities, the Gear VR was designed to give users the most cinematic experience possible in terms of both games and videos.
Using the Note 4, users can easily create an immersive effect by connecting the mobile phone into the VR device in conjunction with the 3D dual lenses. In addition to its simple touch pad and controls, Samsung is planning to give early adopters of this device access to a collection of 360-degree videos and movie trailers from a variety of studios, all pre-loaded.
Gameface Mark IV
Put Your Game Face On — GameFace
The GameFace prototype by GameFace Labs has certainly come a long way since its first introduction. Now in its fifth iteration, the GameFace virtual reality headset still doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as something like the Oculus and all of its add-ons. Instead, the GameFace offers a more inclusive solution to the casual gamer. Running on a custom Android-based virtual reality operating system, this is truly an all-in-one unit that continues to advance. Now with a 2.5k display, which is the highest in virtual reality, the GameFace headset is one that offers desktop-class graphics and much less latency than its previous models.
The Future of Reality Gaming
Each year we witness more diverse and advanced technology than the year before. And in the case of virtual reality gaming, we can only expect it to continue to grow upwards. From being able to take tours around countries you’ve never visited before to making exercise more interesting, it’s clear to see that this kind of technology has not even begun to reach its full potential. Just imagine all of the current games we play on wired gaming consoles and computers, and how they can improve by moving to a virtual reality system like the Oculus Rift or Morpheus.
Ten years ago, not many people would have ever thought that this kind of technology would ever exist, but then again, no one ever expected mobile phones to do what they are able to do now. Regardless of which genre of games you enjoy playing, whether it’s poker, puzzles, adventure, etc., don’t be too shocked if it becomes enhanced by the inclusion of virtual-reality hardware in the near future. What do you see yourself using this kind of technology for in the future? Games? Social media? With the technology we have available today, there’s no reason to leave any stone unturned.
Framework Ruby On Rails software web development companies are using to create, publish and manage a website’s content, it is necessary having a reliable and easy-to-use content management system. CMS (content management system) is a computer program that is widely used for blogs, websites and also for corporate sites. This program provides a user-friendly UI and helps avoid hand coding. CMS gives an ideal environment for a hassle-free content management and does not require mastering any programing language to start using it. In other words, a content management system is understandable even for newbies.
Ruby on Rails is one of the most popular web development framework used for CMS developing. This powerful, open source web application framework enables running diverse web apps. It provides facilities for developing new pages, handling templates, querying the database and gathering information from the web server. Content management systems created with Ruby on Rails, are characterised by a secure UI and a wide set of functions that make content management apprehensible even for the most inexperienced users.
Here are top 5 CMS created with Ruby on Rails:
This is one of the most popular and widely used open source CMS. Users choose it for its elegant and intelligible UI and a huge collection of templates it comes with. When choosing Radiant CMS you get awesome page parts, snippets, plugins and layouts.
This Ruby on Rails CMS is extremely lightweight. It comes with basic management, user authentication and minimal CURD user interface.
The main advantage of this content management system is that it is available absolutely for free. Refinery CMS is very easy to use and can be easily modified in accordance with your needs. The interface provided by this content management system is ideal for creating websites with a customized content management.
A comprehensive set of efficient features has made Browser CMS a number one choice for editors. This content management system is very easy to use and therefore is suitable for newbies.
This content management system is focused on a standard development process and front end technology. When choosing Locomotive CMS, you help your clients avoid a number of difficulties, including a bothersome and time-consuming learning process.
Whatever Ruby on Rails content management system you choose, you will get a wide range of useful functions that will make a website’s content management easier and more efficient. Moreover, you will get an excellent opportunity to increase your productivity and at the same time, save much effort and energy.
It’s always important to know what to expect when choosing career, Search Engine Optimization as a profession has added advantage as compared to other professions and therefore, it doubles as a good business for students. Some of the benefits of search engine optimization are as listed below.
Advantage in Marketing or Advertising, in today’s world things have changed from analogue to digital and this is because the Web has changed ways in which companies carry out their businesses. Therefore, as a student with basic knowledge of SEO or PPC management and wants to become a marketer or advertiser stands a better chance of getting a good job.
Makes Good Money
Why doing SEO is a good business for students
It’s important to note that the salary compensation for an employee who has a profession in search engine optimization is higher than most of Web designers and developers. Self Employment, with SEO or PPC as a career someone doesn’t have to go looking for a job since this is a job someone can work on their own. It also generates income for the students since most of the freelance sites have sector services for search engine optimization professionals. Most of the companies pay hourly and students can take advantage of these offers.
According to WillBecoded.ca Vancouver Company, websites are growing day in day out and that is a sign that the sites are making a lot of money and as a result it’s becoming reasonable to engage qualified and dedicated search engine optimization specialists. Therefore, demand for skilled SEO is increasingly and continually on the rise.
New Online Programs
When new online programs commence search engine students are far much better understand the programs since they can be able to navigate through them at ease. This can even help them become analyst in a certain field due to their knowledge of SEO.
The new NOOK is as much a tablet PC as it is an eReader, which actually works in the user’s favor when it comes to obtaining key accessories. Unlike previous NOOK devices, which ranged in proportions from standard to almost square (making it very difficult to find some important accessories), the favorite of the new line is Nook’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7-inch, with NOOK apps and access straight out of the box to one of the largest eBook libraries online today. As a standard sized tablet, there are plenty of option when it comes to making this device your own—here’s a list of what you need to have the best experience with your hybrid eReader.
You know your NOOK needs a case, but what kind of case should you be looking for? According to eBookFriendly, there are plenty of cases out there to fit this device, but the best have a few features in common:
- Rigid cover construction
- Magnet closure(s)
- Doubles as ergonomic stand
A good case should be snug and appropriately sized for your device, but not put inordinate pressure on any point on the screen. It’s difficult to remove the new NOOK from many cases with hard corner closures, meaning that the pressure on the glass could be enough to cause breakage if dropped. Look for cases with snug elastic fasteners to hold your device in place, and make sure that you can remove it easily. Cases in this style range in cost from around $10 to $50, depending on brand, design and function. Ebooks are made of plastic, but can they make a Case for Environmental Responsibility?
You may not need a stylus right away, but for many Samsung NOOK users this is a must. If you intend to use the device for taking notes, doodling or even word processing a stylus can make it almost as natural as writing on an old-school paper writing tablet. If you intend to use your stylus more for working with Swype features on your keyboard or helping hit tiny app icons, a standard round-tipped stylus will do fine; these range in price from $5 up to $20. For more detailed work, particularly for the artists out there, a precision or active stylus is definitely the way to go, although this tool could set you back up to $70 depending on the brand you choose.
Even if it’s going to be in its case 100 percent of the time, any touch device requires a screen protector. The new NOOK works best with an anti-glare screen, also called matte and “natural view.” This both protects the screen from scratches and helps stabilize the glass to avoid breakage in case of a collision. A cheap protector for a 7-inch unit could cost as little as $5 from certain vendors, but it’s much more effective to spend a little more and get a multi-pack, just in case, which can range in price anywhere from $20 up to $40 for three to five protectors.
Regardless of what you intend to do with your NOOK, you need more space. The Galaxy NOOK ships with 8 GB of internal space, but with the free content and built-in apps, you’ll only have about 4 GB available to use when you boot it up for the first time. Rather than deleting $200 worth of free content, try picking up a micro SD card and transferring your books, movies and games off the internal storage; this will not only save you space on your eReader’s hard drive, but can also keep the device running faster longer by pulling app caches and temp files onto external storage rather than weighing down the pre-designated “shelf space.”
According to GSM Arena, the 7-inch version of the Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK can expand up to 32 GB via micro SD card, while the 8- and 10-inch variants can take memory cards up to 64 GB in size; these range in price from around $25 for a 32 GB to $45 for a 64 GB card.
If you want to use your NOOK for TV, movies, music or even gaming, you probably want a way to keep from disturbing everyone around you with background music and ambient dialogue. Getting a pair of headphones is easy and inexpensive enough, but there are a few variables to consider before buying. For portability, PC Mag recommend sticking with ear bud style headphones, although a nice Bluetooth headset could be worth a little more cumbersome transportation; if you’re going to be out around other people or in a noisy public place, you may want to splurge on some noise-canceling headphones to help tune everyone out. A cheap pair of plastic ear buds will run you less than $20, but a sleek set of noise-cancelling headphones, with or without Bluetooth capability, will set you back between $100 and $300.
The most important thing you can get to make your NOOK better than ever is a little delicacy. Remember that while this is a mobile device designed for some abuse, being overly rough or careless with it could result in issues other than a broken screen—leaving it out in the car could ruin your color calibration or even permanently damage the chargeability of your battery. Get the best accessories for your device, and then treat them all with care to get everything you really need out of this sleek new device.
Video conferencing has provided many businesses with greater productivity and opportunities for communication. What makes it even better is that it has also helped businesses save money. Increasingly more businesses are considering using video conferencing as their primary means of communication. It can save money, make the team more efficient, and reduce roadblocks to networking. However, it can still be challenging for some employees to make the change. Here are some of the ways that you can make the transition smoother.
Explain General Expectations of Conduct
One of the first things to make sure everyone understands is the general expectation of conduct. Intuit reports that one of the best ways to get the team to collaborate through Blue Jeans and other similar video conferencing services is to ensure that everyone knows how they are expected to behave on a video call. Video conferencing is a distinct communication style that has different etiquette requirements. Talk to your employees about how to avoid distracting noises, remain within the frame for the conversation, how to stay healthy and so on.
Transitioning to Video Conferencing for Most of Your Communications
Expectations of conduct should also extend to potential cultural misunderstandings. For businesses generally focused within the same geographic area are not as likely to run into this issue. However, if you are working in a more global or multicultural setting, you should make sure everyone is on the same page. Be aware of common points for concern and have recommended procedures in place for potential issues. Hand gestures that are benign in the US, for instance, may be offensive to someone from a Latin American country. Avoiding these sort of faux pas can make the collaboration run far smoother.
Provide Expectations of Available Times
Being on call at all times can be trying. The International Trade Association recommends making the expectations clear from the beginning for all aspects of the communication. The most important thing you can let them know is whether they are to be on call at all times, specific times, and so on. People who are always on call for situations that involve video cameras may feel self conscious, particularly if they are telecommuters who work from their homes. Be sure to explain this to them in advance. It may be wise to have downtimes as well so that your employees can recuperate.
Determine and Discuss Policies on Recording Conversations and Meetings
Business Insider reports that record numbers of employees are starting to record evaluations, business meetings, and regular discussions. While 12 states require all participants being recorded give consent, the majority do not. However, you, as the business owner, need to determine how you want these to be handled. If you prohibit unauthorized recordings, you can help protect yourself, even though the recordings may not be criminally offensive. A no recording policy can also make dismissals and protection of corporate secrets safer.
Have a Training Session
Even when using an intuitive service provider like Blue Jeans, you should still have a training session for all your team members. You can either do this as a group or require that they go through the necessary tutorials. Most of your employees will probably have a general understanding of how the cloud video conferencing system will work. However, some of the more nuanced tasks may require some give and take. Having a group session is not a bad idea though as some of your employees may be uneasy about asking questions for fear of appearing stupid.
Continue to Have Feedback Sessions
It’s important to determine what concerns your employees have as they transition into the video conferencing for their primary communication. Having the initial guidelines will get things off on the right foot. However, as time passes, you should consider having additional feedback sessions to determine how well the current setup is working and whether there are additional concerns that should be addressed. These can be conducted privately or in group sessions. Group sessions may give a greater perspective on the overlying issues but private sessions will more likely reveal less censored concerns. After the feedback session, revise the conduct requirements as needed.
It will take time for any business to adjust to using video conferencing as their primary form of communication. Even when a service provides significant improvements for productivity and efficiency as well as savings, some people may be resistant to the change. However, you can make it easier for them. Start off by making sure that everyone understands general behavior expectations as well as the times when they are supposed to be available. You should also make sure that your business’s policies on recording and so forth are made quite clear. To help avoid any usage issues, offer a training session. If you make this mandatory or put it into a group setting, you will be more likely to cover all the potential issues even if your employees are embarrassed. As this is a learning process, continue to have feedback sessions with your employees. Look to see what needs to be improved and what you can do to further streamline the process.
An actuator is a motor accountable for controlling or moving a mechanical system. It follows that such gear can move a system in a linear, circular, or both circular and linear motions. A rotary and linear actuator, also called a dual one, is an example of an actuator that moves a mechanical system in both linear and rotary motion. As a result, the uses of rotary and linear actuators are applied differently from other types of actuators.
As aforementioned, rotary and linear actuators can provide both circular and straight-line motions simultaneously. Therefore, the circular and linear motions for most rotary and linear actuators are controlled differently. This is possible because the system use the two-axis stepper motor driver (for controlling the two motions differently). Nonetheless, the circular and linear motions for some dual motion actuators are controlled together depending on their application. The drawing underneath is a demonstration of a linear and rotary system in action.
Rotary and Linear Actuators
Where are Dual Actuators Used?
Certain applications require both linear and rotary motion. For instance, dual linear actuators are used in robotic selection and placing of modules. This occurs where it is necessary to shift a component to an insertion point axially (before screwing the component in place). Further, dual actuators are applicable in laparoscopic and similar medical instruments, which require a shaft that may rotate selectively. Consequently, dual actuators are used in industries such as production industries, manufacturing industries, and automotive industries.
Clearly, Rotary and Linear actuators produce both circular and linear motions concurrently. As a result, they are applicable in mechanical industries such as the automotive, manufacturing, and production industries.
Without sounding cliché the future is certainly paved in robots, or at least robotic design. Society has come a long way, and only continues to develop towards a golden pinnacle. Everything we utilize on a regular basis whether inside or outside the home is in some way or another technology or at least influenced by such. Even jobs that would normally be filled by people can be replaced with high end products of technology. Offspring of technology can speak, take orders, and accurately respond with ease now in our society. Science hasn’t stopped its forward push, and it’s quite acute when we take a moment to observe google sudden rise into robotics.
Recent news states google has been laying claim to robotic companies left and right and it has left many wondering the question why. Google’s seemingly recent interest in these types of technologies has been at the top of its list, and as of now they have purchased eight robotics companies spanning over a couple of months. So far Google has procured Schaft Inc, Industrial Perception, Redwood Robotics, Meka Robotics, Holomini, Bot & Dolly, Boston Dynamics, and DeepMind Technologies. When we take a moment to look while these aren’t necessarily a great number of companies they certainly offer quite the variety when it comes to robotics. This list covers smart AI, disaster relief robots, and surprisingly enough even a four-legged robot that can run almost 30 mph. Google has diversified its product offerings over the last decade. If it wasn’t the case before Google will now certainly need the speedy services of A1 Servomotor or at least something comparable to tend to all these robots. It’s all so interesting; however, this doesn’t help clarify our question.
While the answer is not necessarily straightforward we do know that “Google is a business that has made data and algorithms something quite successful, so it’s a logical step for a company that values innovation as highly as Google does”. Anthony Mullen, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, states this to simply be the case, and is the next step in becoming closer to consumers. Mullen goes on to claim that, “Robots, like smartphones, are a platform for products and services. Both require data and intelligence to operate well and Google is very good at data and algorithms. To ensure that they aren’t disintermediated in the ‘last mile’ to the consumer (or employee) means getting involved in the physical world with hardware.”
While this seems like a rather large leap for google it can’t be denied that their healthy interest does seem to at least interconnect with previous ventures. Android phones and the like carry a certain similarity when it comes to functionality so it wouldn’t be odd for a connection to be made and for google to expand. This of course would seem rather complex for the average customer, and is a concept that is gradually worked in. It’s not entirely known if the market is ready for such a thing as robots, however, it is certainly something unexplored worth the endeavor.
Starting your own business is something that many people dream of doing, but not many people actually achieve. Starting a business takes a great deal of hard work, time, and often money, and these are the reasons that many people opt out of entrepreneurship.
Starting a business also comes with many risks, such as the risk of failing and losing all the time and money you just put into it.
If you are considering starting a business, buying an existing business, or if you already have done either one, it’s important to know what rewards come from the risks. The following are the top incentives for starting your own business, and they may just outweigh the risks.
You get to be your own boss.
One of the biggest incentives in starting a business is that you get to be your own boss. You don’t have to do your job the way someone else wants you to, and you don’t have to listen to someone who is less skilled than you are. Instead, you get to be in charge, and you get to make all the decisions, and you have nobody to answer to but yourself. You get to decide the hours you work. You get to decide what marketing collateral you use. You even get to determine the dress code for the company. For some people, not having to answer to anybody else is the biggest reward or entrepreneurship.
You get to (possibly) work from home.
As long as your business doesn’t require the need for a warehouse or manufacturing plant, you can likely do your job from home in a virtual office. You don’t have to worry about sitting through an awful commute, you don’t have to get out of your pajamas if you don’t want to (as long as you’re not seeing clients), and you don’t have to worry about paying for a storefront or utilities, which can decrease the cost of the business. As long as you have a professional workspace to do your job, and the technology solutions to help you do the job successfully, you’ll enjoy not having an office to go to every day.
You get the recognition and reward.
As a business owner, it’s a major accomplishment to take a business from scratch and turn it into something successful. Doing this can earn you respect in your industry, especially if your company becomes extremely successful and expands.
You also get to enjoy the rewards of owning a business. For example, if you’re the sole employee of the company, you get to keep the profits (aside from what you need for taxes and to put back into the business). This could be significantly more than what you’d make being someone’s employee. You also get to enjoy the rewards of expansion if it happens for your business. Who knows? In a few years, your in-home company may turn into a franchise, and you’ll certainly enjoy all those perks.
Starting a business can be a major accomplishment, so if it’s something you really want to do, weigh the risks and rewards and determine if the rewards outweigh the risks.
Having effective IT backup systems in place is a must for businesses these days. Without such security measures, companies stand to lose potentially valuable data, and this could have disastrous consequences.
Highlighting just how much data is being generated around the world, a 2013 report produced by a team at Stanford University in the US suggested that humanity now creates a staggering 1,200 exabytes per year. To put this in context, one exabyte equates to 1,000 petabytes, which, in turn, is equivalent to 1,000 terabytes. One terabyte, meanwhile, is equal to 1,000 gigabytes, which is 1,000 megabytes. Typically, around one minute of MP3 audio takes up a single megabyte.
Hardware failures, viruses, the accidental or intentional deletion of information, theft, power cuts and natural disasters all pose a risk to data. Rather than opting for traditional onsite data storage solutions, such as computer hard drives, external hard drives, CDs, memory sticks and NAS drives, a rising number of organisations are turning to hosted backup solutions. Here are just some of the reasons why.
Save cold, hard cash
Firms do have to spend a little money in order to take advantage of hosted backup solutions, but this can be far less than the sums they would have to shell out if they relied on onsite systems. After all, online backup does not require the upgrading of in-house hardware and software. Also, cloud solutions are efficient because they enable companies to scale their plans to fit their precise needs. They can add or reduce storage space as and when they need to.
Benefit from greater ease of use
Online backup occurs automatically, meaning once they have set up these solutions, companies rarely have to think about them. This can free up valuable time for IT teams to get on with other important tasks. In sharp contrast, manual backup processes must be consciously adhered to on an ongoing basis.
In the event of disasters such as fires and floods, backup devices kept within offices can turn out to be useless. The very same things that destroy original data can wipe out these backup systems simultaneously, meaning businesses’ efforts to protect their data fail. This is why it is considered unwise for organisations to rely solely on onsite backups to safeguard their information.
Hosted solutions, on the other hand, avoid this problem entirely. By storing data on secure offsite servers, companies can ensure it is not tied to the fate of their premises.
Online backup systems can also help to enhance security. Many enterprises now keep sensitive information like tax documents and financial records. If they back this data up onsite, they leave themselves vulnerable to the risk of theft. Criminals can easily make off with CDs, external hard drives and other devices. The same danger does not apply to online backup solutions.
Prevent reputation damage
By bolstering their security in this way, firms can minimize risks to their reputations. In the business world, it can take many long years of hard work and skill to build up a positive image as a trustworthy and reliable provider of goods or services. In contrast, it takes hardly any time at all to destroy such a reputation. If firms prove themselves to be unable to protect sensitive data, their public profiles can quickly plummet. Individuals and organisations do not want to deal with companies that display inadequate data protection procedures.
Enjoy peace of mind
By taking advantage of hosted backup systems, bosses can enjoy much greater peace of mind. As long as they choose a quality platform, such as London Cloud, they can rest assured that they have got this potentially complex issue under full control.
eBooks have many advantages, and most people are familiar with some of the key benefits: affordability, instant gratification, large print capabilities, audio capabilities, educational interaction, and saved space, to name a few. However, many people remain unaware of the very important and unique advantage eBooks have concerning the environment. To learn more about how eBooks may actually help care for the environment, try taking a look at the information below. Many people are at least a little surprised to find out how great of an impact eBooks may have on the world around them – both intellectually and physically.
Going Green with Plastic?
The Role of eBooks in Environmental Responsibility
The “go green” movement continues to sweep through the nation with much success. People are starting to realize that planet Earth cannot be treated thoughtlessly. As a result of this, many industries are becoming more conscientious about the products they manufacture and the way in which they manufacture them. Consumer demand is more and more about ethicality than about quantity. Therefore, traditional publishing companies are beginning to produce more and more eBooks in an effort to reduce the number of trees cut and amount of paper used during traditional printing processes. A lot of consumers have jumped on board with the digital over paper campaign; however, many who are reading this article may be a little skeptical about the concept of eBooks as environmentally friendly items. Both plastic and paper are poor for the environment, so what is the difference? Can the world really be improved if more plastic is being used than ever? In this case, many individuals state that choosing the lesser of two evils is the way to go. Preserving the many trees that are being cut down during mass deforestation endeavors is one of the most vital aspects of the environmental enthusiast campaigns today. Endangered animals are dying and entire people groups are being cornered due to the lack of forest left from mankind’s ravaging of resources. eBooks save trees, and this fact cannot be denied.
Over 300 million tons of paper is consumed across the globe on an annual basis. Since paper is not a necessity in such a technology driven world, it causes concern among those who are environmentally conscientious. eBooks solve the paper problem by providing a way for individuals to get the same information without using a slew of natural resources.
The amount of energy needed to mass produce printed books in the publishing industry is astonishing. It does not take a lot of imagination to think of how much power is burned on a regular basis at any given book manufacturing plant. The energy needed to run large equipment and machinery, heat bind pages, etc. may leave a larger carbon footprint than people had previously realized. Those who are concerned about “leaving no footprints” may want to consider whether or not buying brand new books is environmentally responsible or not. A recent news story highlighted the horror of mass publication when it reported that an entire publication of new books was pulped due to previously unnoticed typos.
Everyone enjoys having a package show up on the front porch; however, having that new book set shipped to home may actually be a cause of pollution. Most people do not stop to consider the fact that books arrive via transportation – a.k.a. gasoline burning vehicles that leave a gigantic carbon footprint. When possible, avoid shipping physical copies of books. Instead, visit a local used bookstore or order an electronic copy of the bestseller you have been waiting for. Reading said bestseller on a Samsung Nook is just as satisfying as reading it via printed paper – maybe even more so.
The use of ink is a major concern of environmentalists. The problem is easily evidenced by the 350 million cartridges that end up in landfills on an annual basis. If homeowners use this much ink on a regular basis, then how much more ink must the publishing industry use for the mass production of traditionally printed books? The thought should be alarming to those who are concerned about about the tons of plastic discarded as ink cartridges are thrown away, or those who feel uncomfortable about the use of certain chemicals within common printing inks. Take action and protest the use of environmentally disrespectful items by purchasing eBooks instead of traditionally printed and published books.
Many people today are interested in “saving the planet;” however, very few people actually take the steps and make the actions necessary to make a difference. Even one person can make a difference by choosing more earth friendly alternatives in day-to-day living, such as the use of eBooks instead of the “norm.” Books and newspapers may seem totally normal and “in place” to citizens around the nation, but that should not be an excuse for the current lack of concern about paper waste. The prevalence of a problem does not make the problem okay. Take the time to choose which aspects of life ought to be changed in order to live in a more earth friendly lifestyle. Grab an eBook and curl up on a Fair Trade beanbag. The effort it takes to make these simple decisions is well worth it in the end – the world itself is at stake.
A recent study conducted in Europe states that consumers are changing their focus and now demand better value for money when it comes to skincare.
The report suggests that value for money is one of the “emerging trends” and consumers now want quality healthcare and skincare products by spending less as the industry looks at a near 2.5% growth by the end of 2018.
The research firm noted that the key driver is multi-functionality. As the functionality increases, consumers derive more value by spending less.
But despite the recent trend, the niche is reported to have been underperforming with the chief case believed to be recent crisis in Europe. Analysts spot that rising debts, bailouts, slow growth and downsizing naturally resulted in sluggish demand of skincare products.
According to a research firm, Ceano Cosmetics and other skincare product companies will have to offer more skincare for less monetary value if they are to attract the European masses towards skincare once again.
Reflecting on the trend once more; they say it is not long before the ‘value’ trend spreads like wildfire and engulfs the world of skincare and beauty. They have labelled it as ‘Mixolgiste’ and forecast that the trend in question will change everything. According to them the trend spans across all skincare categories and is increasing at an accelerating pace.
According to an analyst of the firm, the changing trends are influencing the manufacturers to take notes from other niches so they can come up with better products and newer marketing strategies even though they have already been working to create multi-functionality for years.
This trend of multi-functionality has progressed to other areas of skincare. Based on figures of another firm, more than 20% of Spain and United Kingdom residents use natural beauty products like sun screen on daily basis. These numbers according to the figures will continue to rise as new cosmetic and skincare products enter the market.
The wave of multi-functionality has hit Europe’s skincare market. Thanks to recent economical problems, citizens are focusing more on value for money. Big European brands now face an uphill challenge of offering best products without demanding too much from their customers.
A recent study has found that PC and console games are declining in popularity, as many gamers are turning to the online and mobile options. With the likes of Facebook available on all devices, more users are taking up social gaming as they are able to play and connect with friends through social media platforms. This increase in popularity had led to the real-money online casino games played on social networking sites is now a £1.8 billion industry.
The numbers are rising and currently 40% of all internet users worldwide play online games. Mobile games have become the most popular, which players can play while on the go and social games, which can be played on social networking sites. Game developers are also working on designing their games and characters to attract more women to gaming. Marvel and Blizzard for instance are working on redesigning their lead characters for some upcoming games so that in the near future there will be more female lead characters.
The country with the largest gaming market in Europe is Germany, in terms of the monthly revenue per paying user. In 2013, German gamers generated a staggering $3.7 billion dollar revenue, creating the fourth largest gaming market worldwide, only preceded by the US, China and Japan. However, the Market Research Blog have found that the UK rank before Germany in terms of spending rates on digital game content.
For the gaming industry, the shift to online gambling is a very welcome one. The online gaming market has very quickly turned into a multi-billion dollar business and it is particularly popular in Europe. Some concerned voices have argued that the rise of online gambling would increase the number of gambling addicts, however researchers of the Harvard Medical School and other organisations have argued that there is no evidence for such a claim. Casinos should embrace the potential the internet offers or otherwise they risk being left behind.
Head of Consumer PR at Ladbrokes Casino David Williams, discusses that;
“The rate at which social gaming is growing is undoubtedly one of the most exciting developments on our landscape. Being in the right place at the right time to influence consumer behaviour and offer discerning customers precisely what they want – and more – will be key to leveraging the cash benefits of social gaming for big firms.”
The online gaming industry is an incredibly fast growing one. Social games are definitely the future and if you want to be competitive you will need to cater games for all genders as more and more women play games online. There are many more markets that can be explored, with Europe being one of the fastest growing ones, and now is the time to seize the opportunity and delve into the world of online gambling.
Google Play has been on the scene since October 2008 and during this six-year period it has grown to be one of the two biggest mobile app platforms in the world – alongside the App Store created by Apple. Google Play services those who use Android phones and, having started as the relative underdog, now has 84.7% of the overall market share, as pointed out by CNET. Of course market share does not automatically ensure dominance, but there are other signs that Google Play could achieve this.
Although Android has this massive slice of the mobile market, at the moment the actual Google Play app platform only has 39% market share distribution, compared with 61% for the App Store . This translates into higher revenues from the App Store, but the overall app market is growing fast and Android is cutting into iOS revenues, as Google targets users of lower-end smartphones costing less than $200 with its apps. Alongside tablet users this has helped Google Play reach 90% of the total App Store downloads. However, the problem has been converting that into profits, as better-off iPhone users have been more inclined to buy apps, but making the Android OS free and targeting users of Samsung mobiles in South Korea and Japan particularly, is now helping Google close this gap. Google Play’s revenues rose to 38.5% of the App Store’s (compared with one tenth a year before), indicating that sales of Android games apps in these countries is proving effective.
It is not just games apps that are helping Google Play catch the App Store, and increase its share of the market even further, as educational ones are proving a big hit in schools. The likes of Google Apps for Education are becoming a fixture in US schools, showing that the company has a varied strategy. The impressive performance of Google Play since 2008 and the spread of Android phones around the world, suggests we should all Google Play to win. General interests such as fashion, movies, and sports app are also becoming increasingly popular, with many being developed by individuals and companies. For example for sports fans who enjoy to check the odds on matches there is a Sports Bet Predictor app. These are easily downloadable to devices from the play google page and contain all the necessary information such as the developers details and independent reviews to help you make an informative decision.
If you’ve ever had a prescription filled in the United States, you’re aware that American drug prices can be ridiculously high. But some drugs are pricier than others — and health insurance providers are fighting back.
The recently released prescription drug Solvadi (sofosbuvir) is a case in point. Solvadi is the only cure for hepatitis C, a liver infection that can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and ultimately death. You’d think this drug would be a godsend for the many patients struggling with hepatitis C — until you got a look at the price.
Solvadi costs a staggering $1,000 a pill, or $84,000 for a full, 12-week course of treatment. Other specialty drugs, like those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis can cost patients an average of $10,000 a month. Even drugs for more common conditions can be prohibitively expensive for most people, which is why many Americans turn to online pharmacies like Medicines Mexico to cut their prescription drug costs.
Health insurance providers say drug prices that high simply can’t be borne. Many insurers are now refusing to cover the costs of expensive drugs at all, at least in cases where the drug’s perceived benefit doesn’t justify its price, or there are other drugs available that do the same thing for less money. Patients will be forced to use similar drugs with lower price tags.
Prescription Drug Access Is a Problem for Many Americans
Prescription drug sales topped out at $326 billion in the 12 months prior to September 2013, and Americans’ prescription drug spending is expected to grow by three to five percent by the end of 2014. The high price of prescription drugs is to blame, and physicians around the nation are aware that, for most people, affording prescription drugs is difficult, especially when it comes to obtaining some of the most expensive treatments.
Jerry Avorn, a Harvard Medical School professor and chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told CNBC, “Access really is a problem for a lot of patients in relation to these very costly medicines. We sometimes think, ‘Well, people have insurance, and under Obamacare there’s a lot more coverage,’ but what that doesn’t take into account is that very often there is a very big co-payment that the patient has to come up with that is often many, many hundreds or thousands of dollars.”
In 2012, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center chose to stop prescribing the costly cancer medication Zaltrap (ziv-aflibercept) on the grounds that the drug didn’t provide any additional benefit over older drugs, despite its substantially higher cost. In response, the drug’s French manufacturer, Sanofi, cut the price of Zaltrap in half.
Insurers Forcing Drug Price Negotiations
While the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are prohibited by law from attempting to negotiate lower drug prices, health insurance providers are not. With rising health care prices affecting everyone, insurance providers are now giving pharmaceutical manufacturers a choice. Either drug manufacturers can slash the prices of their most expensive drugs, or insurers will remove those drugs from their formularies. A drug not listed in an insurance provider’s formulary won’t be covered under any plans — patients who want it will have to pay full list price out of their pockets.
Of course, health insurance providers aren’t going to dump drugs just because they’re expensive. If there’s no equivalent drug available yet — such as in the case of Solvadi — insurers will likely still cover it regardless of cost. But patients are already being asked to switch to less expensive equivalents of the medications they need — CVS Caremark dumped around 30 expensive drugs from its formulary in 2012 and 70 more this year; next year’s formulary will exclude 200 drugs. Express Scripts dumped 48 drugs and medical products this year. A new Catamaran formulary is 54 drugs lighter this year. Some of the drugs dumped include popular prescriptions like Advair (fluticasone/salmeterol) and Victoza (liraglutide).
So far, American drug manufacturers haven’t responded by lowering the prices they charge insurance companies. Nor will the strategy affect list prices, the prices paid by patients who must buy their drugs out of pocket, without help from an insurance provider. List prices will remain the same. Instead, insurers hope that by dumping costly drugs or forcing manufacturers to bargain, they can keep premium costs low.
Drug prices are astronomical, especially for some specialty drugs used to treat cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Insurance providers, in a bid to keep premiums manageable, are dumping expensive drugs by the dozens. Unless drug manufacturers decide to start bargaining with insurers, patients will find their prescription drug options dwindling by the year.
The exact number of people who now own an iPhone or iPad is unknown but you would expect it to be a pretty hefty proportion of the population. The truth of the matter is that people quite simply love Apple products.
Going hand in hand with the rise of iPhones and iPads has been the rise of new, unique, app based companies and the rise in other traditional businesses changing their business plan. Here are some existing and new businesses that, in economic terms, have been the genuine free riders of the Apple revolution.
The betting industry
Going hand in hand with the advancement of smart phones has been the rise of mobile gambling. Ten years ago the idea of betting from your phone would have seemed utopian. The idea of being able to bet on your phone, in-play, has become ever more prevalent in recent years with numerous companies allowing for instantaneous gambling from anywhere with a signal. While that is impressive, the fact that some apps, such as the Unibet iPhone app, allow one to watch upwards of 10,000 sporting events is simply incredible. Credit the gambling industry: they modernised fast and they modernised well whilst other sectors of the economy missed the boat.
Twitter has grown into a $24billion company since being founded in 2006. The first iPhone was released in 2007. In direct correlation to the iPhone sales were the active Twitter users. They currently have 255 million active users, of which, 78% use Twitter via the medium of mobile. Simply without iPhone and then Android, Twitter would have been dead in the water. Have you tried Twitter solely on your laptop? You won’t find it overly impressive. It’s not just Twitter though; Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1billion, whilst the founder of Snapchat turned down a $3billion offer from Facebook and a $4billion offer from Google. It is startling that the advent of one phone can create so much wealth.
The Game Industry
The beauty of the game industry and the rise of the iPhone, and more so the iPad, is that the manufacturers who had hegemony of the video game market had no foothold whatsoever in the App store. This meant that for a long time the market was near perfect in terms of wide-ranging competition. Small games flourished: Angry Birds has sold over two billion copies which is stupefying, 2013 game Flappy Birds caused a pandemic when the developer pulled it from the App store (phones with the game preinstalled were attracting bids of $90,000 on EBay). Has the iPhone and iPad saved the gaming industry? No, but they have certainly bolstered it.
When you sit back and think of all the companies that have grown rich through Apple, Android and the internet you start to see that this is the technological revolution, and it is only going to get better.
Every year numerous minor changes are made to the rules of the road, and the legal obligations of car owners, which then mean the driving theory test and the practical test need to be updated. If you’re learning to drive, stay clued up on the rules by revising online – click here for a useful website.
This year the alterations include the SORN notification becoming valid until the car is sold, taxed or scrapped, and the tax disc being replaced by an electronic system, meaning you no longer need to display it on your windscreen.
The SORN notification is an interesting one – it used to be valid for only 12 months after which you would have to renew it, or the car would be considered in-use and you would need to have it insured. The reason why it’s important to register your vehicle as off-road when it’s not being used for a substantial length of time is that the government wants to clamp down on the problem of uninsured drivers, which are thought to cost the car industry around £500 million a year, and add £30 onto the cost of each standard insurance policy to boot.
In an effort to reduce this problem, the net is swung wide so that any car without insurance can be subject to a fine of up to £1,000, or potentially be destroyed. And even if you haven’t used your car in months, if it’s not registered as SORN, you could be caught up in that net.
Why you need insurance
The vast majority of cars in the UK are in use on a regular basis, usually daily for the commute or school-run. There are various legal obligations you need to comply with at all times, one of which is having at least 3rd party insurance to cover damage to any vehicle or property you may have a collision with. If you are caught driving without a valid insurance policy to drive that specific car then you can receive an automatic fine of up to £300 and 6 penalty points on your license, or even go to court over the matter.
That’s your first danger. Secondly of course, any damage to you or your vehicle is not covered either, and if you use your car for work, if you have a crash and you’re not covered, that could leave you in a very sticky situation.
Lies, lies and statistics
It’s thought that over 2 million British car insurance policies may actually be invalid because the holder has been less than truthful, or made a mistake, when applying. Apparently 60% of people do it because they want to save money on their premiums – an understandable motivation, especially if you’ve driven well for years, never made a big claim, but still see your premiums creeping ever higher, but it’s a false economy.
Because insurance companies are naturally going to check the details of a policy thoroughly in the event of a large claim, and if you said your car is parked off-road at night and it’s not, or you say you have an immobilizer fitted but you don’t, and it gets stolen or broken into, then you’re liable to get no pay out.
It’s common for people to invalidate their insurance completely unintentionally, and one of the easiest ways to make this slip is by not notifying your provider when you change address. Insurance policies are calculated using data from various sources, one of which is the area in which you live. So if you move from a quiet suburban area where car crime is minimal to somewhere much livelier, with busy roads, badly-lit parking areas and lots of incidents of theft, then of course the risks get much higher. Your policy and premiums must reflect this, and if the insurer is not aware of your move then it can consider any claim invalid and reject it.
Is your policy valid?
One of the easiest ways to check your car is insured is to enter your registration number into the Motor Insurance Database website at www.askMID.com, but you still need to check the details of your policy and ensure you’re compliant. Is your car taxed? Does it have a valid MOT? Are all the drivers on the policy and are all their personal details, including address and number of points on their licenses, correct? All of these things can play a role in whether your claim is accepted or rejected, so be sure to check your policy regularly.
Gap years are big business. It is estimated that £995 million is spent by British parents a year to fund these once in a lifetime trips. But are they helpful? With the debate still raging about whether gap years are the best use of time for our young people it’s a contentious issue.
Research carried out by Foreign Exchange World First has found that up to 88% of those who take part in a gap year believe it adds to their employability. But is this the truth? The benefits are clear, as the old adage goes travel broadens the mind and experiences of different cultures can only be a good thing.
In fact the only thing that can be said for staying on in education without a break is the high probability of being in full time employment quicker, and in the grand scheme of things is that what any of us really wants?
Take a look below at a graphic which has some interesting stats on the gap year phenomenon and why its such a big industry.
Are you looking for a new car in 2014? The year might be just a quarter old, but it’s already seen some of the highest car sales figures in over a decade as the motoring trade enjoys a rise in business. Whatever you choose is subjective, dictated by preference of make, model, size, fuel economy and, above all else, budget – but let’s take a look at the ten bestselling cars of the year so far, according to a recent report on Auto Express.
1. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta is the number one bestselling car of 2014 to date, with 39,240 registrations this year. One of its biggest selling points is its economical design, and it’s also a great car to drive. It’s worth noting there are a few variations of this model with the hatch Fiesta ST being one of the hottest on the market. Consistently popular, part of the Fiesta’s appeal is that it’s widely available, stocked at dealerships such as Jennings Motor Group and many others nationwide.
2. Ford Focus
It seems 2014 is the year for Ford with the Focus coming in a firm second. There have been 24,759 new registrations for this model so far. Families are a particular fan of this vehicle due to its low running costs and excellent space capabilities. Of course, it also helps that the car has an extremely stylish design.
3. Vauxhall Corsa
It may have been around for a while, but the popularity of the Corsa isn’t going away anytime soon. With 23,839 new registrations, this stylish model is available on great financing deals. Fans of the car will be pleased to know there’s soon going to be an updated model hitting the showrooms.
4. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf has seen 19,160 new registrations this year. This hatchback has the space inside to serve as a family car, though it retains a super classy image and is perhaps perceived as being a more superior performer than many of its rivals.
5. Vauxhall Astra
A long-established favourite with UK buyers, the Vauxhall Astra is still drawing in the crowds with 17,465 registrations so far. It’s the Focus’s main rival and considered to be a very comfortable and affordable family car.
6. Volkswagen Polo
Another one for Volkswagen, the Polo is just like a junior Golf. It has all of the great features of the Golf only in a much smaller package. There have been 13,631 new registrations for this super mini car in 2014.
7. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai was awarded the WhatCar? Car of the Year Award and it isn’t hard to see why. It boasts some pretty impressive features such as its 360 degree parking camera and Intelligent Park Assist. If you have trouble with your parallel parking then this is the car for you.
8. Fiat 500
If you’re looking for something a little different, the Fiat 500 is the car for you. There have been 11,685 new registrations for this model this year and it’s the unusual design that tends to draw people in.
9. Audi A3
Audi have delivered continuously stylish and innovative cars onto the market and one that has stuck is the A3. So far there have been 11,583 new registrations for this car and it’s not hard to see why. The car is pure muscle and it’s not going anywhere in terms of popularity. It’s a sleek, stylish and economical drive.
10. BMW 3 Series
BMW is one of the biggest names in the industry. Just like the Audi A3, the 3 series has seen 11,583 new registrations this year. It’s considered to be one of the best executive style cars available on the market.
All too often, there is more packaging than product. The cardboard box is encased in a plastic theft-proof container, and inside the cardboard, the minute-by-comparison product is sealed between two protective pieces of Styrofoam. Usually, each of these levels of packaging serves a purpose; however, the plastics and foams are often not recyclable and become post-purchase waste. While it’s likely that we will remain a consumer society, producers can be encouraged to minimize plastic packaging through mutually-beneficial exchange programs.
In most developed countries, packaging alone constitutes about one-third of all municipal solid waste. Likewise, in developing countries, container waste is also on the rise; as standards of living increase, so do plastic-wrapped commodities. According to the EPA, there are nearly 30 countries worldwide that have developed legal sanctions encouraging manufacturers to reduce packaging and/or increase recyclability. Manufacturers in some countries are legally obligated to accept container returns and reuse or recycle all packaging discards, often having to pay for recycling out of pocket. The United States, however, is not currently one of these countries with production and packaging laws.
Regardless, concern over packaging waste is abundant. The EPA encourages manufacturers to abide by the principles of “product stewardship”: eliminating toxins, decreasing quantity, and increasing reusability and recyclability while using more recycled materials in production. The acceptance of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) on the part of manufacturers would relieve much of the waste-management burden of local governments. Product Stewardship Institute is an NGO working to engage stakeholders in a push toward a nationally-recognized EPR system.
Increased reusability and recyclability would have great potential for reducing municipal solid waste if relevant laws could be enforced on the national level. Furthermore, if manufacturers were to practice EPR, they could potentially cut costs by decreasing what gets literally thrown in the bin.
In the “reduce-reuse-recycle” triad, the components are listed in order of best practice. Because it is a preventative measure, reducing the production of new packaging is clearly the most beneficial and immediate way to reduce waste, and in theory, costs. Furthermore, reusing is a more valuable effort than recycling, which relies on energy-intensive production, chemical treatments, and which often generates additional pollutants.
Here is where packaging exchange programs come into play: by reusing already-produced materials, manufacturers avoid the expenses of new production and recycling. However, to reuse materials, they first have to be recovered. Sydney-area industries have recently agreed to a recovery-reuse program to help achieve financial, social and environmental sustainability. This case demonstrates that these three goals, which so often seem at odds with each other, can actually be merged into a single, mutually-beneficial arrangement.
A similar initiative was started in California, which recycles 65% of all materials and thus leads the country in this endeavor. CalMAX, a division of CalRecycle, has created a network of resources for industries to better facilitate materials exchange. Education and training through workshops and “business kits” help prepare and transition businesses, organizations, and schools into green-running, waste-reducing network members.
Cooperation between organizations of all types can lead to significant improvement in waste management and its efficiency. And because efficiency is one of the primary goals of all industries, there is great potential for packaging exchange networks to relieve the costs – financial, social and environmental – of container use and disposal.
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