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Current Topic: Miscellaneous

Cost of Living comparison calculator
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:12 pm EDT, Mar 12, 2009

Use this calculator to compare the cost of living between U.S. cities. Select the city you're in and the city you're moving to. Enter your present income and click "Refresh listing." The income required to maintain your current standard of living will appear in the box below, along with the percentage difference between the two cities.


Cost of Living comparison calculator

AOL mail v. Gmail. The numbers.
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:24 am EST, Feb 24, 2009

the perception that Gmail is trouncing AOL mail simply isn’t true. Yahoo’s mail service is the king of the hill, towering over everyone else.

AOL’s e-mail seems to be a big and engaging service that is holding its own with users. Gmail, by contrast, is growing in the number of users, but is far behind the other big Web mail providers in how often users check their mail and how much time they spend on the site. That would imply that it is Gmail, far more than AOL, that is being used as the supplemental throwaway e-mail address.

For those interested in the details, here are the numbers...

Yahoo dominates e-mail with 88.4 million users in the United States in August, according to comScore. That is far more than Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail at 45.2 million and AOL at 44.8 million, not to mention Gmail at 26.0 million.

When you look at how much time people spend reading their e-mail, Yahoo mail users spend the most time (286 minutes a month), Gmail users the least (82 minutes), with AOL and Microsoft in the middle (229 and 204 minutes, respectively). When it comes to how many times users (defined as those who visited the site at least once in August) checked their e-mail, Google again was at the bottom, with 13.6 visits a month. Yahoo had the most loyal users, visiting 18.8 times that month, followed closely by AOL and then Microsoft.

It’s also illuminating to look how many total minutes were spent reading e-mail on each of the services. An astounding 25 billion minutes were spent on Yahoo mail in August. People spent 10 billion minutes on AOL mail, 9 billion on Microsoft’s mail, and 2 billion on Gmail.

Interesting statistics.

AOL mail v. Gmail. The numbers. Outsource to Freelancers, IT Companies, Programmers, and Web Designers
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:53 pm EST, Feb 20, 2009

Useful site, putting together freelance programmers and designers, with those who are looking for the same. Outsource to Freelancers, IT Companies, Programmers, and Web Designers

BBC: China moves to stem mass layoffs
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:48 pm EST, Feb 20, 2009

Companies in two Chinese provinces, Shandong and Hubei, have been told they must seek official consent if they want to lay off more than 40 people.

The order highlights the Chinese authorities' concern over mounting job losses.


In Shandong alone, nearly 700,000 people have lost their jobs this year.

In southern Guangdong, tens of thousands of firms have closed, sparking off reverse migration to the countryside by redundant workers.


The Chinese authorities are keen to avoid social instability, seen as a source of labour and political unrest.

The human resources controls imposed in Shandong and Hubei are an attempt to put bureaucratic obstacles in the way of mass layoffs.

But it is unclear how effective they will be.

"The factories are not getting enough orders, so some workers have nothing to do," Chinese media quote a Shandong factory manager as saying.

"I have been thinking of getting rid of some of them to cut costs. But if the government doesn't agree to my layoff plans, what can I do? I can't afford to pay them all."

The alternative may be drastic wage cuts.

In one factory in Guangdong, salaries have been reduced by up to 75%.


BBC: China moves to stem mass layoffs

Medieval helpdesk
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:35 pm EST, Feb 18, 2009

Very funny. :)

Medieval helpdesk

Artworks for State Buildings
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:26 pm EST, Feb 18, 2009

Adam's Spinning Top is the second sculpture in the plaza, created from bronze with perforated text in English. The artist chose text from the writings of Adam Smith, an economic theorist and John Maynard Keynes, a 20-century theorist for the sculpture. The artwork stands as a metaphor for the importance of a healthy economy and an invigorated mind.

During the current economic crisis, I am often reminded of some of the other sculptures by James Sanborn (Kryptos creator), such as the multiple sculptures entitled "Adam Smith's Spinning Top". I see the economy spinning and moving along. The faster the movement, the more stable the top, and the stronger the economy. The movement is caused by everyone: Businesses, banks, government, individuals buying and selling. With the economy moving along at a good clip, everyone buying and selling, things are good. But right now, people are hunkering down, and not buying and selling. People are scared, are more likely to save than spend, and the top is slowing down more and more. Which affects everyone, as the economy weakens. The money to get it moving again is there, but people are reluctant to help push it along, because they're more concerned for their own finances, which, ironically, makes their own finances worse.

Ideas are needed to get the top moving again, and spinning at a healthy rate. Which means people need to be confident enough to spend some money. For each dollar spent, that dollar keeps moving, and affects multiple other people. I may go to a restaurant and enjoy a nice meal of sushi. The money I spend goes to the waitress, and the restaurant owner. They send the money along to their food suppliers. The waitress spends the money on clothes for her kids. The food suppliers spend the money going to a movie. The theater pays salaries to its own employees. Those employees may logon to the internet to play a subscription game, and that money comes back to me, so I can keep going out to sushi. ;) But the money's gotta flow, or everyone suffers.


Artworks for State Buildings

Idea: To help the economy, change the Roth IRA early withdrawal penalties
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:05 pm EST, Feb 18, 2009

There are already a few exceptions to avoid early withdrawal penalties on an IRA:

The early withdrawal penalty does not apply to distributions that:

1. Occur because of the IRA owner's disability. (This can be a very narrow definition, so if you get a severe paper cut, don't consider a Roth IRA distribution for a disability until you review IRS Code Section 72(m)(7) and IRS Publication 590.)
2. Occur because of the IRA owner's death.
3. Are a series of "substantially equal periodic payments" made over the life expectancy of the IRA owner.
4. Are used to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7 1/2% of adjusted gross income (AGI).
5. Are used to pay medical insurance premiums after the IRA owner has received unemployment compensation for more than 12 weeks.
6. Are used to pay the costs of a first-time home purchase (subject to a lifetime limit of $10,000).
7. Are used to pay for the qualified expenses of higher education for the IRA owner and/or eligible family members.
8. Are used to pay back taxes because of an Internal Revenue Service levy placed against the IRA.

However, with the economy worsening, these exceptions should probably be expanded. There are plenty of people with substantial funds in their IRAs right now, but they're reluctant to touch the money because of the withdrawal penalties. However, if the penalties were temporarily waived, people could be more comfortable about accessing the cash, spending would increase, and it would help get "Adam Smith's spinning top" of the economy moving again.


Idea: To help the economy, change the Roth IRA early withdrawal penalties

ILO: Unemployment, working poor and vulnerable employment to increase dramatically due to global economic crisis
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:57 pm EST, Feb 18, 2009

From the International Labour Organization, January 28, 2009:

The global economic crisis is expected to lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people joining the ranks of the unemployed, working poor and those in vulnerable employment, the International Labour Office (ILO) says in its annual Global Employment Trends report.

Based on new developments in the labour market and depending on the timeliness and effectiveness of recovery efforts, the report says global unemployment in 2009 could increase over 2007 by a range of 18 million to 30 million workers, and more than 50 million if the situation continues to deteriorate.

The ILO report also said that in this last scenario some 200 million workers, mostly in developing economies, could be pushed into extreme poverty.

“The ILO message is realistic, not alarmist. We are now facing a global jobs crisis. Many governments are aware and acting, but more decisive and coordinated international action is needed to avert a global social recession. Progress in poverty reduction is unravelling and middle classes worldwide are weakening. The political and security implications are daunting”, said ILO Director-General, Juan Somavia.


The number of working poor – people who are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$2 per person, per day, poverty line, may rise up to 1.4 billion, or 45 per cent of all the world’s employed.

At least in the United States, laid off workers have social services and safety nets. Unemployment insurance, COBRA to continue medical benefits, etc. In other countries, things are much much worse.

ILO: Unemployment, working poor and vulnerable employment to increase dramatically due to global economic crisis

Saturday Night Live - Wii Guys - Video -
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:27 pm EST, Feb 16, 2009

This is destined to be one of the classic SNL skits. Brilliant satire about playing the Nintendo Wii.

Warning: NSFW (not safe for work), and keep it away from the kids, too. ;)

Elonka :)

Saturday Night Live - Wii Guys - Video -

YouTube: Rockwell Turbo Encabulator
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:52 pm EST, Jan 10, 2009

Turbo Encabulator - Rockwell

LOL. :)

YouTube: Rockwell Turbo Encabulator

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