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Monthly Archives: June 2011

The 10 Best Cameras You Can Buy

If you’re looking at buying a new camera without going broke then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a list of the ten best cameras you can find on the market without spending thousands of dollars on a professional camera. If you are thinking of buying one of these then shop online to ensure you get the best possible price as you can potentially save yourself a few hundred dollars off the standard retail price.

 

10. Olympus XZ-1

Olympus makes some of the best cameras in the world and the XZ-1 is no exception with its 10 megapixel resolution and a staggering 610 dots per inch. The best features of the camera are its 54.6 MB of memory, battery life of up to 320 shots and 1.8-2.5 aperture. The flash is effective and the filters easy to use but comprehensive. Only downside is the video recording which isn’t very good.

9. Casio Exilim EX-ZR100

Fantastic resolution is the order of the day with this entry from Casio boasting an impressive 12.1 megapixel and 800 dots per inch resolution. The 3-7.9 aperture is stunning but the additional functions are where this camera really shines with image stabilisation, HDR, HDR ART and a good solid movie capability.

8. Olympus SP-610UZ

The second entry from Olympus gives us a great mixture of features at a whopping 14 megapixel resolution. The ability to take panoramic shots and the whole host of editing options make this the best all in one editing suite available. Our favourite options are the Pop art and watercolour features which are superb fun.

7. Samsung SH100

14.2 megapixel resolution and brilliant movie options make this a good camera for holidays and at home. The Wi-Fi connection is the shining feature though with the ability to remotely control shutter speed, zoom and light levels ensuring you can get a great picture every time.

6. Canon PowerShot A800

Whilst it only has ten megapixel resolution this is our favourite travel camera as it has a 500 shot battery life and great memory. The least technical entry this is great for the amateur with easy interface and a reasonable 2.5 inch display.

5. Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR

The best compact entry in the top ten this still manages to have high resolution and a 3 inch HD display. The aperture is incredible at 3.5 – 10 and the movie manages an impressive 30frames/second. At 300 shot battery life this is the perfect camera for the light traveller.

4. Sony CyberShot DSC WX10

460 dots and 16.2 megapixels make the quality of this camera truly outstanding but the features are where Sony as always really shines. The camera features 3D panoramic shots, multi angle sweeps, light reduction and auto backlight correction. Easy enough to use for beginner and expert alike this is a great creative camera and our favourite for anyone who loves the outdoors.

3. Samsung NX-11

Whilst it only has 14.6 megapixels of resolution this is a great entry for Samsung thanks to the price, quality and ease of use. The interchangeable lenses give you plenty of options and the iFunction lens and automatically controlled focal plane shutter are absolutely superb increasing the picture quality far beyond the relatively small dip in resolution.

 

2. Olympus E-PL2

This is one of our lowest megapixel entries with “only” 12.3 megapixel resolution which might put you off initially. However megapixels aren’t everything as this entry clearly demonstrates. The price and ease of use are huge factors in choosing this model but in terms of quality the camera still manages to shine with its fantastic range of features and filters. If you are on a budget this is the camera for you.

1. Casio Tryx

This camera is, as its name suggests, full of tricks and basically is fantastic. Only 12.1 megapixel resolution isn’t even a worry as this is easily as high quality as our 16 megapixel entries. The 360 degree rotating frame and panoramic 360 degree features are unbeatable anywhere and the host of filters and adjustable settings for everything you can imagine will ensure you can take the best photos every time. This is probably the best camera for serious photographers who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on professional equipment.

Steve writes about products within the technology industry, in addition to using shopping portals such as ShopAndEarn where you can earn rewards for items purchased online – http://www.shopandearn.com.au/

 

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A Relentless Race to the Bottom

by Seth Godin

They’re shutting down Jimmy Wang’s store. Shutting down a successful little business.

Walgreen’s is moving into town, my town, a town with three or four small drugstores and plenty of places to buy stale cookies, thank you very much.

I’ve written about Brother’s market before, an anchor in my little town. The only place to get hand-picked fresh food, pretty much, and the sort of market you could imagine moving to town just to be near. Remember those little markets where they actually care about the produce they sell? In a world filled with bitter cash register jockeys, Brother’s was different. A smiling face, a family member mentioned, a don’t-worry-about-the-pennies sort of interaction.

I’ve probably shopped there a thousand times, and every single time it brought a smile to my face.

The problem is that while Brother’s was in a race to the top, a race to create more and better interactions, Walgreen’s is in a race to the bottom. They exist to extract the last penny from every bit of real estate they can control. That’s the deal they made with their shareholders.

The landlord who owns this land lives in another state. He doesn’t care. He can ignore the protests and the petitions.

And Walgreen’s won’t even notice the community outrage. We can write letters or call or boycott the new store (or all their stores) and the local manager, the local region manager, the state-level manager, the head of store operations–none of them care, of course, because it’s just a job to them.

Real estate is the soul killer here. You can’t have a beloved local market and a public drugstore chain occupying the very same spot. Pundits like me can talk all we want about being remarkable, about leading and about making connections, but when a public company wants your spot, when it can extract a few extra pennies per square foot, you lose.

The internet has opened the door for millions of businesses to do things differently, because there are other assets now, assets that can transcend location. Your permission to talk to customers, your reputation, your unique products–you can build a business around them online. But that doesn’t work so well if you depend on local (and leased) real estate, if you’re selling watercress or radishes, apparently.

One by one, store by store, the chains expand, earning a few more dollars a share and further insulating themselves from the communities they used to serve. No, my neighbors and I don’t need another drugstore, we have plenty. That’s not going to change Walgreen’s mind, and it’s not going to help Jimmy and his team, either. My heart goes out to them. Thanks for everything you did for our community, guys.

The race to the top continues. It’s just a lot harder if you have a landlord.

 

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Toyota Substitute’s Rare Earth Metals for Their New Product Line

Resources from the earth have been used since the dawn of man for technological advancement. Goldman Sachs, an investment firm, predicted that in 2013 there will be a rare earth surplus. Even though there are experts who refute this analysis, exploration and mining companies have set out to exploit these resources. Products can be developed utilizing these resources, thus satisfying both customers, and investors.

The Toyota Prius uses the resource neodymium. This mineral is increasing in demand because it is a metal used for building strength magnets. Analysts project that neodymium will have a significant value in the following years. Since many industries are switching to renewable energy sources, the demand for permanent magnets is increasing. These magnets are used in applications such as wind turbines, electric vehicles and electric motors. To supplement the research of these minerals, the U.S. Department of Energy is willing to offer $30 million for research in alternatives to earth elements. These alternatives are vital to securing the supply of materials and cost savings.

Dr. Chen Zhanheng who serves as a central figure in The Chinese Society of Rare Earths as Director of the Academic Department states that demand for NeFeB, or neodymium-iron-boron, will increase by 259,026 tons in the next decade, and 176,289 metric tons within the next few years. These neodymium-iron-boron magnets will primarily be utilized for the operation of wind turbines. A single wind turbine uses a ton of neodymium for each megawatt of generating capacity. With the demand for renewable sources increasing, the expected demand for neodymium will also increase.

As mentioned before, Toyota needs these minerals when constructing green cars such as the Prius. Toyota analyzed the high price of neodymium and decided to seek an alternative metal to be used in their motor vehicles. This company is currently constructing the RAV4 EV which is a pure electric vehicle; this car gets its energy from being plugged into a power source. This is Toyota’s first step in escaping the use of rare earth materials. This company is also designing a new car with a new partner, Tesla Motors who is an electric sports car manufacturer.

The Tesla motor is special because it does not require the need for magnets to power up. Instead, the motor utilizes stacked steel laminations when an electric current is produced. The laminations create a magnetic field that rotates, thus pushing the motor. The motors are able to recycle energy when the driver brakes. The regenerative braking system is used on hybrids, making the partnership between Toyota and Tesla, that much more convenient.

Toyota is making a great strategic business move. Not only have they diversified their resources, but their ambition to ensure the future developments of different vehicles is admirable. By slowly easing away from a necessary resource before the value increases, they will save on manufacturing costs in the future. Toyota’s project to develop an all-electric vehicle that is purely plug-in will attract consumers. Many drivers are slowly going green by taking the necessary steps to save our planet; soon, we may all be driving all-electric vehicles.

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Top Tips for a Great Team Building Away Day

Team building is a useful way for businesses to get their employees together and achieve a number of business goals, as well as having a bit of fun at the same time. There are numerous ways in which team building can work, from a simple brainstorming session in the pub to a full on day out in professionally run venue, this type of activity can be very beneficial for both morale and the business in general. In this article we outline some top tips that can make these days run as smoothly as possible.

Find the right venue

For some purposes a car park might suffice, however many of the most effective team building days happen when the right venue is chosen. To make it an “away day” feel like just that, it’s a good idea to pick a venue that is out of the office but not so far that attendees will feel like they’re going to spend all day travelling.  The best venues will have a reception area where bags can be left and people can relax in comfort, flexible meeting rooms, and other outdoor spaces for some of the more fun or abstract team building activities, as well as free flowing refreshments on offer throughout the venue. Very often venues with all the top notch facilities will be on the outskirts of big cities or housed in some of the most attractive buildings in the country – this means they really offer an ideal location for productive team building.

Get the right balance of activities

Team building days should be fun but they are also useful if a business is hoping to get a message across or after lots of new staff members have joined in order that everyone can get to know everyone else. Therefore it is important to get a good mix of activities for the away day. These can range from the gently competitive such as a school-style sports day or go-karting to more collaborative activities such as assembling a huge art installation that highlights your company‘s corporate values. Other worthwhile activities include simple ice breaking games for those who may take a little while to get into it and even days where it appears there’s very little to do with work but collaboration is very important such as cookery workshops.

Supercharge your brand

Several conference venues have in recent years taken the innovative step of creating branded space for a business that is using its facilities. This can be a real benefit for a team away day because it really gives the event a professional air and can make attendees feel like they are part of something significant. The best conference providers will be able to customise the required space with everything from brand logos adorning the walls to whether solid oak floors or carpets are required in the business “hub”. Many businesses have found that creating this type of bespoke space is ideal for embellishing an atmosphere of quality – especially in regards to training and team building as it shows employees that their workplace is prepared to go that extra yard.

Obviously there several other ways in which team building activities can be done, however it is certainly an aspect of business that should not be avoided – in the very least it can be a fun day out for everyone.

Jonathan has been away on many training days and in many meeting rooms with a variety of companies. He has found training away days very useful and a good morale booster.

 

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11 Highest Paying Jobs

A quick glance at the highest paying jobs in the United States proves that this country values its health care, technology and public administration jobs the most. Surgeons and other health professionals top the list, which also contains specialists in software and networking. Engineers and academic deans also do well.

1. Anesthesiologist

With a median salary of $290,000 and a top end salary of $393,000 per year, anesthesiologists easily top the list when it comes to salaries. They receive high compensation for the hours they spend making sure that patients sleep comfortably and safely through all different kinds of surgeries.

2. General Surgeon

The surgeon performing the actual operation earns high pay as well. The median salary for a general surgeon is $260,000, while top surgeons can bring in as much as $412,000 per year. The job requires years of training, but the payoff can be worth it in the end.

3. Obstetrician/Gynecologist

These physicians work long and varied shifts based on the whims of unborn babies. They have to carry high malpractice insurance because of the unpredictable nature of their work. The median salary for an obstetrician is in the $210,000 range.

4. Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists have a higher earning potential because of their years of medical training. The median salary hovers near the $185,000 mark. Psychiatrists have the ability to prescribe medication for mental illness, which sets them apart from other mental health professionals.

5. Academic Dean

Deans make about $150,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are the educational administrators of colleges and universities, providing the school’s vision and direction. The dean represents all that the school wishes to project to students and the public.

6. Product Management Director

These technology specialists are behind many of the technological advances we use on a daily basis. With a median salary near $148,000, they can afford to spend their days helping to drive the invention of new gadgets for companies around the globe.

7. Software Engineer

Software engineers help create the programs that make it possible for people to use computers effectively. They are extremely vital to our current computer-driven business world, and their median salary of around $144,000 proves it.

8. Dentist

Keeping a nice, healthy smile is an important part of overall good health. Dentists can expect to earn a median salary of $142,000 per year, with top end jobs paying as much as $237,000.

9. Airline Pilot

We trust airline pilots to deliver us, our friends, and our families to the air and back to the ground safely day in and day out. The expertise and high stress involved in flying an airplane for a living is tempered by the nice paycheck, which is usually around $134,000 per year.

10. Actuary

Actuaries receive high pay because they are responsible for weighing each financial decision made by a business. Their expertise allows them to bring home a median salary of $133,000 per year, with top positions paying as much as $222,000.

10. Electrical Engineers

We need electrical engineers and electronics specialists to make sure that we always have the least expensive power available at all times. Engineers are constantly working to make power development and consumption more efficient. For their efforts and for the years of necessary training, these specialists can expect to earn around $112,000 per year.

Jessica Bosari writes about careers for Education-Colleges.com, a site offering tips and information for those considering careers in education and looking for education colleges.

 

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Five Essential Skills for a Technology Career

A Career in technology can be interesting, challenging, and lucrative. If you are looking at a career in technology, whether information technology (IT) or something more “blue collar” like industrial engineering, these five essential skills will help you succeed.

Mathematics

Technology careers draw heavily on math. Students should have a good grasp of the various branches of mathematics such as algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus. Whether you will actually use these specific skills every day is unimportant. Understanding math helps you understand essential technology concepts. A computer may do the math for you, but you need to understand it, especially if you are programming the computer to do that math.

Advanced knowledge of mathematics can also help advance your future career. If you want to go from being an IT professional working on the customer side of things to getting involved in the design end, it will be easier if you can speak intelligently about mathematics.

Basic Physics

Most technology fields require at least a cursory knowledge of physics. Your need for deep understanding will depend on the career you choose. Researchers are running advanced simulations to try to understand how the universe was formed. If you don’t understand physics, you’ll have a hard time breaking into this exciting field of study.

Problem Solving

Problems solving is at the heart of information technology. IT workers solve problems every day, all day. They find solutions through hands-on help, guidance, programming new software, inventing new technologies and more.

Learning to approach problems effectively is vital to success in this area. If you can analyze what needs to be done, use creative techniques to find a solution and figure out how to implement it, you have a great head start in a technology career.

Systems Analysis

An analytical mind can look at a problem and logically trace it back to its roots. This skill is especially important for programmers and debuggers. Systems must be broken down into their component parts and dealt with in a specific yet integrated way. Dealing with systems and integrating your insights on the problem can be very helpful in solving technological problems of all sorts.

Communication Skills

Finally, good communication skills are a necessity in this field. Luckily, even poor communicators can improve, especially since most messages will go via email. Students must be able to explain problems and solutions clearly, communicate effectively and make themselves understood while maintaining pleasant and constructive exchanges of information. These skills are not technical ones per se, but they should not be overlooked as part of a technology professional’s core skill set. They are vital to information exchange that is effective, efficient, and cooperative.

Jessica Bosari writes about technology careers for Technology-Colleges.info. Students can find information about many technology jobs, such as computer forensics careers.

 

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Gone in 60 Seconds No More

In the year 2000, Nicholas Cage made a film about a master car thief trying to save his brother by stealing 50 cars in three days. The implication is that Cage’s character is such an excellent car thief that, if he sets his eyes on your vehicle, it will be be “gone in 60 seconds.” While the film’s premise strained credibility even when it was released, a decade later the idea that any car thief, no matter how skilled, could have such an easy time making off with a car would not only be unlikely, it would be very nearly impossible.

In the decade since that movie came out, car theft is down by over 60%. This is due in large part to advances in technology meant to make it more difficult for thieves to have their way with a car unless they have a degree in automotive engineering or computer science.

The first obstacle is that modern cars are basically impossible to start unless you have the key. A car’s key is now electronically encoded so that its computer will not start the vehicle until it confirms that they key is in the ignition and has been properly turned. In fact, many thieves are now resorting to home break-ins simply to steal car key. Indeed, statistics suggest that this is the motivation for as many as 1/5 of such break-ins.

Furthermore, old methods of hot-wiring cars are now untenable. With cars made earlier than the 90’s, a thief could simply remove the dash and fiddle with the various parts down there until something fired up – it was actually laughably easy, even for someone who didn’t know how to do it beforehand. This problem was solved by putting those components in a place where they could not be so readily accessed by someone who should not be touching them. Of course, since these components may need to be looked at for purposes of repair, they are accessible by some means. But getting to them without proper knowledge is extremely difficult, and even then there are other safeguards in place.

There have also been advances in the less electronically-oriented areas of preventing auto theft. Cars made in the last decade have locks with harder steel than those of previous models, and as such are harder break open with a simple tool like a screwdriver. The glass in contemporary cars is also considerably harder to break, and many cars are now programmed not to unlock from the inside when the owner is away. This means the thief has to actually climb in over the glass he has broken in order to get to the steering wheel, which is often enough to make a would-be thief simply move on.

With all the safety measures in place, petty criminals are have much less incentive to even try stealing cars. Organized crime may be able to amass the resources to steal some modern cars, but since they are much more likely to target very high-end luxury cars, the average car owner need not give them much worry.

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The Case for Online Education

Over the past few decades, online education has emerged as a form of secondary education that for many people has replaced actual attendance in physical classrooms. However, this change didn’t occur over night. Below is a brief overview of the rise of online education.

The Beginning

The seeds that would later grow into online universities were actually planted well before the internet was even available to the public. This goes all the way back to the 60’s. During the 1960’s, the very first experiments using computers to teach were performed at Stanford University. Psychology professors, Richard Atkisnon and Patrick Suppes, used the very modest computer technology available at the time to teach reading and math to elementary school students.

These experiments were very successful, and the result was that a focus on combining computers with teaching would continue as the technology itself slowly evolved and became more available to more instructors.

The Digital Revolution of the 1990’s

However, the use of computers and the internet as teaching tools really didn’t take off until the 1990’s. In 1993, a man named William Graziadei developed the first curriculum using an online model. He used e-mail, which still had rather limited use outside of the government, to send students lectures and assignments. Over the next four years, he finely tuned his online teaching strategies. In 1997, he published an influential article outlining his strategy for developing and managing a course using the capabilities of the internet.

However, it was one year prior to this article that the first online university was officially launched. The first university to exist completely online was Jones International University. This university had in fact been implementing distance learning techniques via cable television networks since the late 80’s. This business plan helped them transition easily to using the internet as a replacement distance learning platform. The online version of this school received its accreditation in 1996.

Online Education Today

Today, online education has become part of the foundation of both pedagogy and the secondary education marketplace. Nearly every highschool student now uses online teaching tools inside and outside of the classroom.

Secondary education will also never be the same. Almost every major college has adapted to include the internet as part of courses in nearly every field. Most large colleges also now offer online courses in addition to courses completed on campus.

However, the biggest change has been the explosion of schools and learning programs that only exist online. A plethora of accredited online universities are now available to students in every single state. By 2006, it was estimated that 3.2 million students were taking a course online. That number has surely risen since and will probably continue to rise well off into the future.

Britney Baker is a freelance writer who normally writes feature articles for carinsurancecompanies.org.

 

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If Something Doesn’t Work, Do More of It.

This one is for Mike Macartney @shooteyeout (internet publishing)

 

Personally, I have never gotten a lead from any of my Twitter followers. There might be a good reason for that, as most people who follow me are in the same business: internet marketing.  I have all sorts of social media experts, SEO experts, people who are keynote speakers, people who work at large ad agencies, small agencies, mom and pop developers, you name it.  

The key to success is in having more followers?  I had coffee with a friend yesterday who was telling me about this marketing "guru" that was extolling the virtue of followers for their own sake.  Her advice is to "follow" at least 300 people a day in the hope that a great majority of the will in turn follow back. Notwithstanding that, this is flawed logic. If you don't have anything worth following, nobody is going to actually follow you (I don't count the masses of virtual follows who say they are on paper but never really read any of your tweets).  Content is king, pay it forward, become a thought leader, all that great stuff. There is also the fact that any marketer reasonably dry behind the ears is going to look first at the number of people you are following, and dismiss you on the spot if that number exceeds your followers. Who says size doesn’t matter?  

For some reason the notion that if something isn't working for you, you should do more of it reminds me of an old joke from my Varian days.  We had a product called the Conflat Flange®.  It cost us roughly x to produce.  We could only sell it for x-1 because of our competition.  The joke was that we lost money on each flange, but made it up in volume. Having more people (who are not any use to you) following you is not an answer.  I don’t care if you have 100,000 people following you on twitter, 100,000 times 0 is still 0.

Let’s think about the quality score.  If you are a realtor, do you want a bunch of realtors following you?  What kind of return do you think that will generate.  No realtor is going to give you a lead for a listing that he or she could take themselves.  Think about even more predatory professions like attorneys.  Do you really think that any of the 5 trillion lawyers in the state of California would actually refer a case to each other if it wasn’t either pro-bono or a sure looser?  Let’s get our heads out of the sky with the “well they might if they are swamped…” mentality.  If they are swamped, they will hire a couple more interns to write the briefs, dress them up like pages, and tell them how many hours they have to bill, or refer the fallout to little cousin Allen because his motha is a friend of yours and he hasn’t been doing too well since law school.  Get real!

If you want to use your twit network to expand your group of prospects, you have to generate content that your prospects want to read, you have to invite prospects into your group, and you have to follow your prospects.  Know what THEY do.  Invite them to events THEY are interested in. Give them tips on how to grow THEIR businesses.  I’d rather have a stable of a few hundred small business owners that a million internet marketers because, hey folks:  I don’t WANT my competition knowing every step I take and what I’m thinking.

 

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The Grateful Dead and the Top 40

by Seth Godin

I wonder if Jerry ever got jealous of acts that were able to put songs on the radio. (The Dead had exactly one hit record…)

I hope not. Jerry was in a different business. Sure, he played music. Elton John also plays music. But they were in different businesses, performing for different audiences, generating revenue in different ways, creating different sorts of art.

In a world filled with metrics and bestseller lists, it’s easy to decide that everyone is your competitor and easier still to worry about your rank. Worry all you want, but if it gets in the way of your art or starts changing your mission, it’s probably a mistake.

It used to be that the non-customers, passers-by and quiet critics of your venture were totally invisible to you. They drove by, or muttered under their breath or simply went to someone else. Now, all is visible. Just because you’re vividly aware of your shortcomings in market share doesn’t mean it’s important.

The next time you have a choice between chasing the charts (whichever charts you keep track of) and doing the work your customers crave, do the work instead.

 

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