22Apr
0

Whether you’re for vaccines or against them (à la Jenny McCarthy), you’ll be able to find plenty of data to back you up your position.

That’s not good enough for Shannon Duffy, however. She’s one mom who’s on a mission to spread the word of pro-vaccination. Her daughter, Abby Peterson, was almost six years old in 2001 when she got chicken pox and subsequently died of pneumonia.

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Doctors say she was simply too small and too young to be able to battle two such serious infections at once. Both diseases are preventable if the person has been vaccinated.

However, Duffy claims that her pediatrician warned against vaccinations. The mother and daughter lived in a small town in rural Minnesota, and Duffy didn’t think twice about taking the advice of Abby’s doctor.

She says, “I asked for them (vaccinations) and my doctor talked me out of it. He said vaccines were too new and recommended I expose my children to diseases instead because he felt they could build up their immunity naturally.” Now of course she wishes she had sought a second opinion.

A mother’s mission

It wasn’t revealed until post-autopsy that Abby was actually born with no spleen, which is a crucial part of the body’s immune system. She didn’t stand much of a chance without vaccinations, says Duffy.

Germs and viruses are tough enough to combat as it is, but without a spleen Abby was even more vulnerable. Over the past 12 years, Duffy has had one goal: To pass a law that requires childhood immunization throughout the state of Minnesota. She’s spoken to the legislature and tried to work with the anti-vaccination parents.

She’s perhaps the best person to bridge the gap between the two camps, having been on the opposite side herself. Understanding that the fear of autism and other alleged vaccination side effects make parents wary, she says, “Not vaccinating is not taking full medical care of your child.”

Duffy is certain that had her daughter been vaccinated, she’d be alive today.

Taking responsibility

Just like a proper parent wouldn’t deny his or her child a warm home in the winter, or bar a kid from getting a good education, Duffy sees vaccinations in the same positive light. Fortunately for her mission, the majority of health-care facilities in her state agree with Duffy.

Nationally, major organizations and agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control have encouraged vaccinations for years. However, opinions remain strong on both sides of the controversy. Duffy still has a long road ahead of her.

22Apr
0

Tax season (round one) just came to a close, but before you start complaining about how little you got back or how much you had to pay, consider the stressful lives of the rich and famous. pro athletes

For pro athletes, just like anyone else, how much you pay in taxes depends on how much you make. However, the average sum paid by the top players is $1 million apiece in taxes every year. Fields of Green, a project of USA Today, undertook the daunting task of figuring out just how much the likes of Tiger Woods pay each year.

Check out the totals

According to the Fields of Green report, members of the NBA, MLB, and NFL pay, altogether, about $3 billion in taxes each year, if their 2013 returns are to be believed.

For comparison, consider that the IRS took in $2.5 trillion in total income taxes for 2013. It’s estimated that total salaries for pro athletes are around $9 billion.

Of course, the majority of pro athletes fall into the highest tax bracket, which means they’re required to pony up 39.6 percent of their income. They get an additional 0.9 percent tacked on to help out with the Affordable Care Act, but their average deductions (such as all those travel expenses) only cut their total percentage to about 33 percent.

How accurate is this figure?

How accurate is any figure that has the IRS involved, no matter which side of the table you’re on? Of course there are some cream-of-the-crop athletes who really make the most of those endorsements, and they’re probably paying more than a million each.

There are those with the best CPAs who get every possible deduction and are probably paying a bit less. Plus, once you add state taxes to the mix, things get more complicated.

States such as Texas and Florida, which have no state income tax, are the places to be, and that’s a key recruiting point. That’s probably the reason Tiger Woods “moved” to Florida from California, since California is notorious for high state taxes.

Even Phil Mickelson has joked that taxes could make him leave California. You may not feel too bad for them, but no matter how much or little you make, you have to have some empathy for Americans who are required to shell out more than 40 percent of what they make to Uncle Sam.

Maybe celebrities and athletes aren’t so different from regular folks after all. Usually, teams only withhold 25 percent of checks for taxes, so if athletes aren’t on top of things, they might be scrambling come April, like the rest of us.

Taxes might also be a reason why so many athletes are cleaning up their online image, compliments of great but costly advertising, so they can score an endorsement to help them with those heavy dues.

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21Apr
0

If you’ve ever worked at home or brought your pet into work, then you’ll know how dangerous these little furry critters can be. They might seem innocent, but they’re just lurking out of sight, waiting to knock a cup of coffee all over important paperwork or knock your external hard drive off the desk. Your cat’s attempts to gain your attention can actually result in data loss and major headaches. Here are five ways to protect your work from pets.

Keep Liquids Away

Liquid damage is the quickest way to kill your computer, data storage device or even a regular piece of paper. Even if you’re not the clumsy type, the last thing you need is your cat to walk over to a cup, rub against it, and send the liquid crashing down on your important work equipment. If you’re working from home, start keeping your drinks on a lower surface than your work to reduce the risk of liquid damage. For example, place a cup of coffee on a low shelf or inside of a drawer, while your computer stays up on a desk surface. That way, if a pet knocks the cup over, it won’t touch your work.

Move Business-Critical Items

You know that extremely important check that you need to deposit? Well your cat’s stolen it off your desk, and is chewing the corner to shreds. You just watched your dog steal a work phone off your desk, and it might be his new chew toy. Both of these scenarios can result in major work-related headaches. If you bring home items that are extremely fragile or important, you should keep them out of reach from pets. Put them on high up shelves or lock them away in cabinets. Just find a way to keep these little monsters from reaching them!

Play with Your Pets

Sometimes you pet just needs to burn off some energy and they’ll calm down. If your cat, dog, or other furry critter won’t stop begging for attention, break for a few minutes and play with them. Do something active, like playing catch or chasing them. Your pet will get worn out, take a nap, and stop destroying your work.

Invest in Pet Distractions

You can’t always drop everything to pay attention to your pet though. Invest in distracting toys that your animal can play with on their own, like cat toys that hang from door frames or hard chew toys for your dog. These pet distractions will keep them from clawing and chewing your work materials!

Pet-owners have to approach their environments like they have a child. Look out for vulnerable environments and avoid placing business materials in areas that your pets can reach. Back up your business data early and often.  Good luck, and watch those coffee spills!

 

14Apr
0

After years of research and evaluation of proposed rules, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this month that it would requiring rear-view cameras to be installed in cars, trucks, SUVs, and other vehicles manufactured on or after May 1, 2018.

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The federal agency said the requirement for “rear visibility technology” would apply to all vehicles that weigh less than 10,000 pounds. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the new requirement primarily aims to address back-over accidents. The NHTSA believes the mandate “will serve as a significant step toward reducing these tragic accidents.”

The rules will require that the affected vehicles feature a camera system that displays a 10-foot by 20-foot zone of visibility behind the auto when it is shifted into reverse. Because this arrangement will enable drivers to see a considerable array of space behind the vehicle without straining to turn around, the theory is that the requirement will reduce the number of accidents in which people, animals, and vehicles are struck by a car or small truck when it backs up.

Statistics for reverse-driving accidents

According to government statistics, this rule could have a significant effect in reducing the 15,000 injuries and 210 deaths that occur annually as a result of this kind of accident. The injuries and deaths are of particular concern because of the fact that most of the victims fall into two distinct categories: the elderly and the very young.

The NHTSA reports that people aged 70 years or older are victims in 26 percent of the total fatal back-over incidents, and children aged less than 5 years are killed in 31 percent of these incidents. According to the calculations of the NHTSA, the new rule is expected to save up to 69 lives annually.

To ensure reliability, effectiveness, and consistency, the NHTSA has regulations regarding the size of display, deactivation, response time, unit durability, and other issues.

Other effects of the rear-view camera mandate

The new rules will not just help to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries through the use of new — though for some drivers, already familiar — technology. In addition to the safety of consumers, the mandate will also affect auto manufacturers as well as the makers of rear-view camera components.

A surge in the demand will be beneficial for component manufacturers, obviously, while the required inclusion will slightly increase costs for vehicle manufacturers. However, in an attempt to offset the increase in expense, some vehicle manufacturers may decide it’s worth it simply to make the cameras and their components in-house.

This would not be beneficial for the companies who solely manufacture the rear-view cameras, but it’s too early to tell what will happen at this point.

In addition, the new cameras will likely affect insurance rates as well as the field of personal injury law. Issues ranging from the degree of negligence of a driver to the appropriate level of compensation for auto accident injuries, pain, and suffering will likely be addressed differently. Video footage from rear-view cameras will likely appear as evidence in an increasing number of trials.

11Apr
0

Whether you remember her as the interviewing goddess before Katie Couric, or simply know her as the “mature” voice on The View, Barbara Walters has been a media leader for decades. Described as a “pioneering American TV journalist,” she’s just announced her retirement with her final hurrah (at least so far) scheduled to take place on The View in May 2014, according to ABC. She was the first female co-anchor on an evening news program and has famously hosted the annual most fascinating people list.

Walters created The View in 1997, and at the time it was an innovative approach to talk television. A two-hour evening special is scheduled for May 16, 2014 which will highlight her life and career. Walt Disney Co. oversees the ABC network, and according to the Chairman and Chief Executive of The Walt Disney Company, Bob Iger, “In this business there are legends, there are icons, and then there is Barbara Walters. She broke barriers, defied convention, made history and set the standard for journalistic excellence for more than 50 years.”

Farewell to a legend

“It’s hard to imagine television without her,” Iger muses. However, Walters will of course go out with a bang. ABC News headquarters located in New York is hosting a dedication ceremony for her this spring, and The View will feature a full week celebrating her career. President of Disney/ABC Television Group Anne Sweeney says, “Her influence on television, and American culture, will resonate for decades to come.” Walters announced her retirement plans one year ago, saying that even though she was healthy at 84, it was simply time to transition.

“This is what I want to do. I’ve had an amazing career,” she said in a teary announcement last spring. Though she describes herself as healthy, she’s faced a number of health issues including a concussion from fainting and chickenpox (which can be deadly as an adult). Undergoing open heart surgery in 2010, these ailments must have taken a toll on Walters. However, her legend will surely persist for many more years.

The real most fascinating person

Whether Walters was covering a story on home buying tips for first-time buyers or interviewing the POTUS, she had a knack for connecting her viewers with the story. Last year, she hosted “20 Years of the 10 Most Fascinating People,” but of course the true most fascinating person may very well be Walters herself. She has interviews with Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro, every POTUS since Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein under her belt.

Add in Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor and a host of other celebrities, and it’s astonishing what this journalist has achieved since 1961 when she started her career on “Today” at NCB as a morning co-host.

11Apr
0

On April 8, 2014, all Windows 8 users could officially upgrade to Windows 8.1, but are the changes enough to win over the critics? It’s designed to make Windows 8 more appealing to mouse and keyboard users as well as seriously increase security. It’s a crucial move for Microsoft, which is requiring all Windows 8.1 consumers to have the update installed if they want to keep downloading updates and security measures on the OS. According to Microsoft’s Premier Field Engineering blog, “Failure to install Windows 8.1. Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!).”

Win8

That little memo had a cold response from users who are tired of being shouldering the responsibility of dealing with bugs and subpar software. Windows 8 was received with very mixed reviews in 2013. Consumers either loved it or hated it with little room for middle ground. In fact, there were so many people desperate for older Windows versions that a number of hacks have been developed to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7 or another user-friendly interface.

Update details

However, if you haven’t upgraded to 8.1 (and are still using the original Windows 8), you’re not required to get the update. Mark Morowycynski of Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 8 will continue to be supported until at least January 2016. At that point, you’ll be required to upgrade to 8.1 or any other future Windows releases in order to keep receiving Microsoft support. The latest update includes every released update to date, and requires the running of Windows 8.1 (so if you want the upgrade and use Windows 8, you’ll need a two-part upgrade).

For some users who are also MSDN/TechNet subscribers, they got he update early on April 2, 2014. Early reports show that the updates help tremendously, especially for mouse users, and movement between desktops and “modern” is a lot smoother. However, you might still get a Desktop boot via default, but can change this in the start menu if you like.

Good to know

Whether you simply check your email on a tablet, do extensive research on how to get better sleep, or only use your computer for gaming, it’s crucial to know the benefits of the upgrade. The 8.1 Update is made up of many individual updates, and each are designed to slipstream into the upgrade “in the near term” according to Microsoft. If you’re not happy with your current OS, give the upgrade a try.

 

10Apr
0

Adam Carolla is best known for his various talk shows. His current show focuses on punishing contractors who scam people out of their money. The series aims to resolve issues with these lazy contractors and gets them to finish the work they started on their customers’ homes.

The concept of the show

Adam combines his comedy experience with his construction experience to deliver a reality show that helps people avoid shady contractors. After a thorough investigation is completed at the work site, Adam lures the contractor to a sting house.

This house is set up for the contractor to land another job. When Adam and his crew pop up out of nowhere, the contractor is caught. Adam’s crew involves a MMA fighter to keep the contractor in line.

The contractor is offered three choices. He can finish the job under Adam’s supervision, give the customers their money back, or fight the case in court. Most contractors finish the job rather than risk blackening their name any further.

The main lesson taught here is to avoid giving money to a contractor before it does the work. Many of these contractors just run or do shoddy service after getting paid.

Lessons learned the hard way

In addition to avoiding payment up front, people who are searching for the right contractor should ask for references. Those are meant to ensure the contractor has done good work in the past. Homeowners should verify that the contractor is licensed and insured.

If the contractor asks you to pay for the parts up front, beware. No money should be paid in advance, before any work is done. Parts such as door closers are not expensive, but the money adds up if the contractor has a lot of people lined up.

A verbal agreement is another thing to watch out for. Always get a contract in writing for evidence if the matter ever ends up in court. A written contract will describe all the work that needs done and might even include an estimate of the time it will take.

If the job isn’t completed within a reasonable time frame, you could take the contractor to court.

Public views of Catch a Contractor

Catch a Contractor is the name of Adam’s reality show. It takes a few ideas from the hit show Catch a Predator.

The first episode attracted 1.2 million viewers from around the world. It depicted a couple who had to live on the living room floor after a shoddy contractor destroyed part of their home. They were temporarily left without a bathroom.

Experts have said that the 1.2 million viewers broke a record for the largest audience in a series debut on the Spike cable channel since the premiere of Coal in 2011. One expert feels the show could do a little better job in some areas.

Brian Lowry, a TV columnist, described Adam’s show as watching a bazooka kill a cockroach for half an hour. This might be due to Spike TV’s reality formula, though.

The aim is to help people avoid bad contractors, but Brian believes that the show focuses too much on the punishment of the contractors. He might like it better if it actually described more ways that people can find good contractors, instead of punishing bad ones.

Adam’s show does provide some insight on avoiding bad contractors. Then it proceeds to punish the bad contractors for the public’s entertainment. This might be why it has captured an audience of more than 1 million viewers.

08Apr
0

As the employment sector grows more competitive, employers are looking for innovative ways to entice the best candidates for their open positions. There may be 20 people applying for the new IT position, for example, but most of them are not qualified to do the work.

Several unusual perks might encourage the right candidates to apply and score that dream job.

Not just a walking lunch date

Corporations are looking to lower their health insurance costs by motivating employees to take care of themselves. Wellness programs are steadily becoming a norm in many companies.

But they’re taking on a new flair with gadgets given away for a discount or time off to go to the gym. Employees invigorated by exercise and good nutrition are happier with themselves and their health partner, the employer.

You can hire and maintain the best workers with a wellness plan that goes beyond just handing out healthy food flyers.

Bonuses are normal

Employers have recognized that it’s not just top management that makes a new client sign on or a hesitant customer purchase thousands of dollars of products. Every employee, down to the shipping department, plays a key role.

Bonuses need to be given out when employees meet their performance goals. Understanding that they are part of a unified team, employees feel more loyal and want to work harder for next season’s bonus.

Money is certainly motivation in itself, but it also signifies that the employer recognizes true contributions in the workplace.

Pets and children are welcome

Employees may feel compromised when they are at work, especially if they worry about pets or children. Some employers can set up an actual day care for pets, as well as a separate space for children.

Knowing that their loved ones are safe and enjoying themselves gives your employees the focus they require to finish a project. This perk also saves them substantial money for outside day care. Employers will find that workers have better concentration and less absenteeism.

Paid charitable work

There never seems to be enough time in the day to complete every chore or job. Reserving time for charitable work is almost impossible. Companies that offer paid time off for charity work are finding that quality people are vying for their jobs.

Employees want to help out, but they can’t afford to take a no-pay day off. Offered a paid salary, employees take several days a year to help others. As a result, the employer sees higher morale and loyalty from the employees, and it gives your company a good reputation in the community.

Negotiations aren’t unheard of

If the right person is interviewing for a position, don’t be afraid to negotiate. You could offer casual Fridays or an extra vacation day each year, if the person is valuable enough to hold onto.

The prospective employee may have a counteroffer during negotiation. For the right person, negotiations are normal and healthy. With a happy employer and employee, the business can only improve.

Health insurance and vacation days are no longer the only perks in the private sector. As an employer, take a look around the industry to find the right perks for the perfect employees. Your business will flourish.

08Apr
0

Business owners often focus solely on their company and services when it comes to helping customers. One issue that many company owners face today is the fact that potential clients don’t know what they’re all about.

This is what happens when marketing and advertising have not been incorporated into the business. Marketing and advertising can be done both locally and on the Internet. These two approaches should be made to complement each other so that your company is able to promote itself to people everywhere.

From those who are using the Internet to learn more about the firm to those who live nearby, marketing can be the saving grace if you’re a new or struggling company.

Local marketing and direct mailing

Local marketing and advertising refers to the process of promoting your goods or services to people who are located near your business. This could include having professional business cards made up and handing them out to both customers and other business owners who might be interested in the services of your firm.

Another way that businesses implementing local market of their company name is by making use of direct mail advertising. Direct mail advertising refers to sending out pamphlets, brochures, and booklets via local mail to a variety of different clients.

Even individuals and companies that have not yet done business with the your company might be interested in what they can learn from direct mail.

The reason local marketing and advertising is so vital to the life of a business is because it lets people know that your firm exists and what it has to offer. For example, a brand-new company might not attract the customers it needs because it simply hasn’t notified enough locals about its presence and potential services.

By sending out direct mail advertising, putting up signs in the area, and giving out business cards, you get the name of your company out there for people think about and possibly investigate for themselves.

Online marketing and advertising

Just like local advertising, but possibly even more so in this day and age, online marketing is essential to the life of a new or struggling business. Many people nowadays do their initial research of a company on the Internet.

This means they might try to look up your business before they even contact you or visit your local office. Having an informative, professional, and easy-to-navigate website is vital because you offer a place where clients can easily go to learn more about the company.

Also, creating social media pages specifically for your business can help to get the name out there and cater to clients who might have questions or inquiries about whatever you do. Making use of online marketing with social media pages and a professional website can bring in a different audience than you’ll get through local marketing.

Since you’re bringing in a different crowd online, it’s a great way to develop more clients so that your company can truly do well for itself in the long run.

08Apr
0

While computerized appliances have been available for kitchens, living rooms, and cars for years, they’ve lacked an important feature: the ability to communicate across proprietary platforms.

A new protocol in development plans to remove that shortcoming, so a slew of new tech inventions can bring smarter electronic devices not only to homes, but hospitals and the front lines of war zones.

In hospitals, doctors have been able to synthesize simple living tissue to use when treating burns or during organ transplants. Until today, however, complex organs were too great a challenge. New 3D printing technology may enable scientists to grow living organs with computers.

Soldiers fighting overseas have relied on bulky night-vision goggles to be able to see at in the dark, but the Pentagon has recently learned of high-tech night-vision contact lenses that could replace goggles within a few years.

A universal language for home appliances

Cars, toasters, thermostats, and toothbrushes that communicate with people over the Internet can potentially make life more convenient for many of us. Many brands already produce these devices and sync them together with a computer language that extends only to products of the same brand.

For example, the Nest thermostat tracks users’ energy usage and automatically adjusts the temperature, but it doesn’t communicate with other smart devices. As demand grows for a universal protocol for smart appliances, research and development firms are working on a solution.

Qualcomm, SmartThings, Lowe’s, and Revolv have all attempted to unite appliances with a single language. Past attempts have mostly relied on a central physical hub to join devices, but a new open-source language called AllJoyn could sync devices without a hub.

In order for AllJoyn to succeed, appliance makers would have to be willing to work with each other. IEEE Standards Association President Karen Bartleston thinks consumers will eventually convince manufacturers to make their devices more open to communication.

Devices in critical situations offer new advantages

Advances in medical 3D printers may empower doctors to regenerate complex organs for patients who desperately need a transplant. Current technology allows doctors to replicate thin layers of one type of cell, but 3D organ printers would be able to produce complex living tissue with many different types of cells and structures.

For example, current technology doesn’t allow doctors to grow new skin for patients because it includes many types of interdependent cells and veins. Herriott-Watt University researchers developed a 3-D printer that can grow embryonic cells.

Cornell University engineers and doctors have replicated a human ear using 3D printing technology. NASA paid $100,000 for innovations in 3D printing of biomaterials in 2013. Previous biomaterial printing has been restricted to bones, teeth, and other simple structures.

War zone app

University of Michigan researchers have developed infrared-sensing material that’s as thin as an atom. The microscopic film can be applied to contact lenses and used to replace night-vision goggles in war zones.

Officials at the Pentagon have shown interest in the technology and may partner with the researchers to continue development.

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