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THE INTERNET’S TELLTALE HEARTBLEED

By Rusty Foster -

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The cryptography expert Bruce Schneier, who has been writing about computer security for more than fifteen years, is not given to panic or hyperbole. So when he writes, of the “catastrophic bug” known as Heartbleed, “On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11,” it’s safe to conclude that the Internet has a serious problem. The bug, which was announced on Tuesday—complete with an explanatory Web site and a bleeding-heart logo—is a vulnerability in a widely used piece of encryption software called OpenSSL.

Heartbleed is as bad as it is possible for a security flaw to be. It can be easily exploited by anyone on the Internet without leaving a trace, and it can be used to obtain login names, passwords, credit-card information, and even the keys that keep our encrypted communications safe from eavesdroppers. The bug first appeared in OpenSSL code that was released in March, 2012—so the vulnerability has been open to exploitation for more than two years. The Internet-security firm Netcraft reported that up to five hundred thousand sites thought to be secure were, in fact, vulnerable—including Twitter *, Yahoo, Tumblr, and Dropbox.

When you log on to a secure Web site—your bank’s, for example—you see a green-padlock icon at the top of your browser window, which confirms that your connection is secure. In order for browsers to communicate securely with servers, there is a standard set of steps that both sides must perform to create, and to maintain, that secure connection. This protocol is called Transport Layer Security, or T.L.S., and everything that it requires from both sides of a secure connection is laid out in a document called RFC 5246, which describes something like the Platonic ideal of a secure Internet connection. Of course, RFC 5246 cannot, by itself, be used to keep your bank account safe. To do that, someone has to write software that will make your Web browser and your bank’s Web server actually follow the steps that RFC 5246 delineates.

Among programmers, cryptography is notorious for its difficulty—even a tiny mistake can render your seemingly secure code worthless—and the conventional wisdom is that, whenever possible, the implementation of cryptography should be left to the experts. Since 1998, one way that programmers have been able to avoid implementing encryption protocols themselves has been to use an open-source library called OpenSSL. A code “library” is just a set of common functions that programmers can use within their own code, rather than having to write them from scratch. If many people are all using the same library, and the code is open-source—so that anyone can check it for bugs—it should be more reliable and more secure than a code that one person or firm could create alone.

Heartbleed is a bug in OpenSSL’s implementation of a small part of the T.L.S. protocol, called the heartbeat extension. A “heartbeat,” in this context, is like the “beep… beep…” of a hospital heart monitor: a quick way to check that the other end of a secure connection is still there. One side sends the other side a small piece of data, up to sixty-five kilobytes long, along with a number indicating the size of the data that has been sent. The other side is supposed to send back the exact same piece of data to confirm that the connection is still active. Unfortunately, in OpenSSL the replying side looks at the stated size of the data rather than at the actual size, and it always sends back the amount of data that the request asked for, no matter how much was sent. This means that if the stated amount of data is more than the amount actually provided, the response contains the data that was sent plus however much additional data, drawn from the contents of the computer’s system memory, is required to match the amount requested.

Here is why this is so bad: the heartbeat response can contain up to sixty-four kilobytes of whatever data happens to be in the server’s random access memory at the moment the request arrives. There is no way to predict what that memory will contain, but system memory routinely contains login names, passwords, secure certificates, and access tokens of all kinds. System memory is temporary: it is erased when a computer is shut down, and the data it holds is written and overwritten all the time. It is generally regarded as safe to load things like cryptographic keys or unencrypted passwords into system memory—indeed, there is little a computer can usefully do without temporarily storing pieces of sensitive data in its system memory. The Heartbleed bug allows an attacker to “bleed” out random drops of this memory simply by asking for it. Heartbeat requests aren’t usually logged or monitored in any way, so an attack leaves no trace. It’s not even possible to distinguish malicious heartbeat requests from authentic requests without close analysis. So an attacker can request new pieces of system memory over and over again; it’s almost impossible for the victim to know they’ve been targeted, let alone to know what data might have been stolen.

Among the items that can be found in a server’s system memory are the keys to cryptographically secured connections and the certificates that allow servers to prove they are what they claim to be. An attacker who steals cryptographic keys could use them to decode and read encrypted data that had previously been intercepted; an attacker who steals certificates could use them to mimic a secure site and to intercept communications. In other words, your browser could be tricked into thinking that it’s connected securely to your bank and instead be connected to an intermediary that can read all the data flowing back and forth.

In the worst-case scenario, criminal enterprises, intelligence agencies, and state-sponsored hackers have known about Heartbleed for more than two years, and have used it to systematically access almost everyone’s encrypted data. If this is true, then anyone who does anything on the Internet has likely been affected by the bug.

But, before you panic, it is worth remembering that, at this point, we don’t know how close we are to the worst-case scenario. It is possible, though improbable, that the security researchers who exposed this flaw were, in fact, the first people to find it, which would mean that it has only been known about, and exploited, for a few days. (It was found, independently, by a team of security researchers at Codenomicon and Neel Mehta, of Google Security.) At the same time the bug was announced, a new, secure version of OpenSSL was released, and updating most of the affected servers is a straightforward task. Major services like Google and Yahoo have already patched the vulnerability. Engineers did not need to stay up all night in a mad scramble to make repairs, but, as one system administrator told me, the nature of the bug made this something more than a routine update. “It’s an update, a configuration change, and a notification to your users that there’s no way to know if their data was stolen or not,” he said. To be safe, identity certificates for servers and users must be revoked and then reissued. The fix, in other words, is both urgent and tedious, which is the worst kind of job for a programmer or system administrator.

As a user, what can you do to protect yourself? Not very much, unfortunately. The standard advice is to change your passwords, but if a service is still vulnerable then changing your password just makes it more likely that it will be the one sitting in a leaked chunk of system memory. It is also not easy to determine whether a particular service you use is still vulnerable. If a provider suggests that you change your password, it should be done immediately; otherwise, it may be better to wait a few days. If you have the option to enable two-factor security, which requires more than just a password, you should do so on every service where it’s available.

How did such a catastrophic bug remain undetected for two years? OpenSSL, which is used to secure as many as two-thirds of all encrypted Internet connections, is a volunteer project. It is overseen by four people: one works for the open-source software company Red Hat, one works for Google, and two are consultants. There is nobody whose full-time job it is to work on OpenSSL.

The project’s code is more than fifteen years old, and it has a reputation for being dense, as well as difficult to maintain and to improve. Since the bug was revealed, other programmers have had harsh criticisms for what they regard as a mistake that could easily have been avoided. Theo de Raadt, the project leader for an open-source operating system called OpenBSD, put it bluntly in a message to a mailing list: “OpenSSL is not developed by a responsible team.” The portion of the code where the bug was found is written in a programming language called C, which was first developed, at Bell Labs, between 1969 and 1973. C is a finicky and old-fashioned language that puts great demands on programmers to manage the use of system memory. No modern language would let this sort of memory leakage take place, because newer languages automatically manage memory use.

Unlike a rusting highway bridge, digital infrastructure does not betray the effects of age. And, unlike roads and bridges, large portions of the software infrastructure of the Internet are built and maintained by volunteers, who get little reward when their code works well but are blamed, and sometimes savagely derided, when it fails. To some degree, this is beginning to change: venture-capital firms have made substantial investments in code-infrastructure projects, like GitHub and the Node Package Manager. But money and support still tend to flow to the newest and sexiest projects, while boring but essential elements like OpenSSL limp along as volunteer efforts. It’s easy to take open-source software for granted, and to forget that the Internet we use every day depends in part on the freely donated work of thousands of programmers. If open-source software is at the heart of the Internet, then we might need to examine it from time to time to make sure it’s not bleeding.

 

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3 Tips for Practicing Mindfulness in a Multitasking Workplace

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Google, eBay, Intel and General Mills offer classes on it. So do Harvard Business School, Ross School of Business and Claremont Graduate University, among other campuses. Mindfulness is not just a corporate trend, but a proven method for success.

Mindfulness – being focused and fully present in the here and now – is good for individuals and good for a business’s bottom line.

How can people practice it in a workplace where multitasking is the norm, and concerns for future profits can add to workplace stress?

“Even if a company doesn’t make it part of the culture, employees and managers can substitute their multitasking habits with mindfulness in order to reduce stress and increase productivity,” says Dr. Romie Mushtaq, www.BrainBodyBeauty.com, a neurologist with expertise in Mind-Body medicine and Mindful Living.

“The result that you and your colleagues will notice is that you’re sharper, more efficient and more creative.”

Dr. Romie says the physiological benefits of clearing away distractions and living in the moment have been documented in many scientific and medical studies.

“Practicing mindfulness, whether it’s simply taking deep breaths, or actually meditating or doing yoga, has been shown to alter the structure and function of the brain, which is what allows us to learn, acquire new abilities, and improve memory,” she says. “Advances in neuroimaging techniques have taught us how these mindfulness-based techniques affect neuroplasticity.

“Multitasking, on the other hand, depresses the brain’s memory and analytical functions, and it reduces blood flow to the part of the right temporal lobe, which contributes to our creative thinking. In today’s marketplace, creativity is key for innovation, sustainability and leadership.

Romie offers these tips for practicing mindfulness in a multitasking business:

•  Focus on a single task for an allotted amount of time. You might say, “For 15 minutes, I’m going to read through my emails, and then for one hour, I’m going to make my phone calls,” Dr. Romie says.

If your job comes with constant interruptions that demand your attention, take several deep breaths and then prioritize them. Resist the urge to answer the phone every time it rings — unless it’s your boss. If someone asks you to drop what you’re doing to help with a problem, it’s OK to tell them, “I’ll be finished with what I’m doing in 10 minutes, then I’m all yours.”

•  When you get “stuck” in a task, change your physical environment to stimulate your senses. Sometimes we bounce from one task to another because we just don’t have the words to begin writing that strategic plan, or we’re staring at a problem and have no ideas for solutions.

“That’s the time to get up, take a walk outside and look at the flowers and the birds – change what you’re seeing,” Dr. Romie says. “Or turn on some relaxing music that makes you feel happy.”

Offering your senses pleasant and different stimulation rewires your brain for relaxation, and reduces the effects of stress hormones, which helps to unfreeze your creativity center.

•  Delegate! We often have little control over the external stresses in our life, particularly on the job. How can you not multitask when five people want five different things from you at the same time?

“Have compassion for yourself, and reach out for help,” Dr. Romie says. “If you can assign a task to somebody else who’s capable of handling it, do so. If you need to ask a colleague to help you out, ask!”

This will not only allow you to focus on the tasks that most need your attention, it will reduce your stress.

“And who knows? The colleague you’re asking for help may want to feel appreciated and part of your team!”

While it is possible to practice mindfulness in a hectic workplace, Dr. Romie says she encourages business leaders to make it part of the company culture. Stress-related illnesses are the number one cause of missed employee workdays.

“Offering mindfulness training and yoga classes or giving people time and a place to meditate is an excellent investment,” she says. “Your company’s performance will improve, you’ll see a reduction in stress-related illnesses and you’ll be a more successful businessperson.”

About Dr. Romie Mushtaq

Dr. Romie is a mind-body medicine physician and neurologist. She did her medical education and training at the Medical University of South Carolina, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Michigan, where she won numerous teaching and research awards. She brings to healing both her expertise of traditional Western medical training and Eastern modalities of mindfulness. She is currently a corporate health consultant and professional health and wellness life coach at the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine in Orlando, Florida.  She is also an international professional speaker, addressing corporate audiences, health and wellness conferences and non-profit organizations.  Her website is www.BrainBodyBeauty.com.

 

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Is Corporate Culture Part of Your Business Plan?

Business People at Beach

Whether you’re launching a new business or wondering why your existing company isn’t performing as well as predicted, longtime corporate executive Larry Katzen suggests taking a careful look at your business plan.

Did you include a section describing the workplace culture and the steps you’ll take to foster that culture?

“When you look at why businesses fail, it almost always has something to do with the culture,” says Katzen, author of, “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” www.larrykatzen.com. “For nearly half of the startups that fail, incompetence is cited as the major cause, according to Statistic Brain. Tolerating – or not tolerating — incompetence is part of corporate culture.”

Katzen, a former managing partner at one of the world’s top five accounting firms, said his experience taught him a great deal about what kind of culture results in successful businesses. It was sadly ironic, he says, that Arthur Andersen, which held integrity chief among its values, was wrongly convicted of fabricated accusations related to the Enron scandal. The Supreme Court eventually exonerated Arthur Andersen, but the damage was already done.

“Today’s business leaders cannot leave culture to chance,” Katzen says. “They must decide what values and beliefs will form the foundation of their company, and they must ensure those values are integrated every day through example, communication, policy and incentives.”

He lists four cultural values and behaviors your company must have to be successful:

•  Integrity – from the top down. From the executive level to part-time support staff, each individual must adhere to a code of values and ethics that’s based on doing the right thing, Katzen says. “It’s absolutely essential that you and your managers make decisions based on honesty and fair play. When appropriate, take the time to explain to employees the reasoning behind big decisions, to reinforce that they’re made in accordance with ethical considerations.” Have a consistent, well-publicized policy for dealing with integrity breaches among employees, and a zero tolerance policy for breaches among management. Managers and executives who don’t adhere to company values will sabotage the culture.

•  A positive perspective at the executive level. The business leaders set the tone for the company, and if executives or managers have negative attitudes, especially in times of crisis, employees will, too. “You and your employees are not just doing jobs, you’re on a mission to improve people’s lives with the product or service you provide,” Katzen says. “The team that embarks on a mission with no hope of achieving that mission will not achieve it.”

•  Be a leader in the office and in the community. As a business leader, you should take an active role in working with organizations that benefit the community. Find ways to encourage employees to volunteer time as well, even if it’s a corporate project to which you allow each employee to dedicate a certain number of their payroll hours. “We’re all more gratified when we know we’re contributing something meaningful to the greater good,” Katzen says. “And remember – healthy communities grow healthy businesses.”

•  Make health and well-being a company priority.  Employees who exercise regularly, make healthy lifestyle changes and get regular checkups and vaccinations are doing you a big favor. They’ll be more productive and energetic and you’ll have less absenteeism. Make it easy for employees to schedule time for doctor visits, especially if you have a 9-to-5 office. Have health fair days, where employees can get free screenings and flu shots.  Reward trips to the gym, weight loss, smoking cessation and other healthy choices with drawings for prizes. And keep in mind, this is already a value among millennials – the teens to early 30-somethings who will soon make up half the work force. “They’ll enjoy being a part of that culture,” Katzen says.

Sometimes, Katzen says, CEOs with firmly held values conducive to an energetic, thriving workplace will naturally and unconsciously create a great corporate culture. But those who take time to think about the culture they want, spell out the details and exemplify and communicate them have a greater chance of success.

“Make it part of your business plan, because it’s as important as anything else in that plan.”

About Larry Katzen

After graduating from Drake University in 1967, Larry Katzen started working at Arthur Andersen and quickly rose through the ranks to become the Great Plains Regional Managing Partner. An honorable, hard-working man who devoted his life to Arthur Andersen, Larry was there from the company’s meteoric rise to its unjust demise. He stayed with the firm for 35 years, serving clients globally until 2002. He recounts his experiences in, “And You Thought Accountants Were Boring – My Life Inside Arthur Andersen,” (www.larrykatzen.com).

 

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4 Ways the Workplace Has Become More Dangerous

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Tips for Preventing & Handling Disaster
& Distress on the Job

Disgruntled employees, workplace bullies, active-shooter situations, illegal drug use, ex-spouses and dissatisfied clients – all can be found in a random sampling of the 2 million people affected by workplace violence in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“Of course, of the millions of reported cases, there are many more that go unreported; workplace violence includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site,” says Timothy Dimoff, one of the nation’s leading voices in personal and corporate security who has worked with the U.S. Army, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, corporations, universities and non-profit groups.

“From demeaning jokes to sexual innuendos to genuine fear of shots fired at work, hiring managers and their bosses need to understand these problems of human nature and know how to react. In my decades of experience with law enforcement and as a security entrepreneur, I’ve seen the evolution of workplace violence and management often do not know how to respond.”

Dimoff, founder and president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., (www.sacsconsulting.com), which analyzes and overhauls security for large public and private facilities, reviews today’s problems and offers a path for conflict resolution and prevention.

•  Inadequate use of hiring tools: Know who you’re hiring! “I can’t emphasize this enough; this is the age of information, yet potential employees often provide falsified or misleading details,” Dimoff says. “With so many candidates and so much information available today, employers often overlook useful tools in a hurry-up effort to maintain productivity with a premature hire.” There are many resources, including drug testing acknowledgment and consent forms; fully understanding laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act, equal employment opportunity guidelines and military leave guidelines; and simply knowing how to ask revealing questions to applicants.

•  Workplace intimidation & cyberbullying: Bullying is not exclusive to the schoolyard; it can follow adults into the workplace, and even home via email, texts and social media. “The first and best thing employers can do is prevention, and you do that by creating a positive and fair company culture,” Dimoff says. “Next, implement a zero tolerance policy for bullying; encourage employees to document and report bullying, and take those accusations seriously. Hold occasional staff meetings so that employees are taught to recognize signs of bullying and everyone is reminded of the zero tolerance policy.”

•  Gun violence: It can happen at what appear to be the most secure places in the world, and it can happen to the most innocent among us. Nidal Hasan, the U.S. Army psychiatrist turned jihadi, shot 13 fellow soldiers to death at Fort Hood, Texas. Twenty first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School never had the chance to become second-graders. We hear story after story about shootings in movie theaters, parking lots and neighborhoods. Train managers to recognize and attempt to de-escalate the situation, which can include talking to the potential aggressor in an empathetic, non-judgmental way. Fail that, there are situations for which heroes are necessary.

•  Violence against women: Homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, according to OSHA. Of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides. Once again, this comes down to a zero tolerance policy for bullying and sexual harassment, applicable to all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel, such as an ex-spouse. A well-designed on-site security protocol can significantly reduce the risk of severe violence.

About Timothy Dimoff

Timothy Dimoff, CPP, founder and president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. (www.sacsconsulting.com), is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities in high-risk workplace and human resource issues, security, vulnerability assessments and crime. A former award-winning narcotics detective and SWAT Team member, Dimoff analyzes security for churches, businesses and other places where people gather, develops a customized plan for each, and implements it. He has multiple certifications, including as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP™), a designation that is recognized worldwide.

 

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ClickBank 3.0 Launch Adds New Features That Boost Sales Revenue For Online Merchants

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Digital entrepreneurs have more ways to drive growth with ClickBank 3.0 including Affiliate Finder, a data-driven tool matching online merchants with qualified affiliates

 

April 2, 2014, DENVER – ClickBank, the digital commerce & marketing platform serving tens of thousands of entrepreneurs and online merchants, today launched ClickBank 3.0 with a suite of new e-commerce features. ClickBank 3.0 includes an Affiliate Finder, which uses data to match entrepreneurs and online merchants to the best affiliates to promote their digital products. Also added to the digital platform to help online merchants increase sales: a new subscription management system, customizable purchase forms, and more.

“The launch of ClickBank 3.0 combined with Pytch, our mobile offering, is in direct response to the feedback we’ve heard from our online merchants as well as their customers,” said Matt Hulett, ClickBank Chief Executive Officer, who joined the company last year. “And the timing is perfect as the independent workforce is expected to rise over the next five years as more people aim to increase their personal success.”

Along with a visually stunning new look and feel, ClickBank 3.0 provides entrepreneurs and online merchants with a single digital destination to manage their sales and marketing operations. No other payment processing service or affiliate network currently on the market provides online merchants with the same range of features as ClickBank. That means online merchants using ClickBank have more opportunities to drive sales than on any other digital commerce and marketing platform, and they can begin using these new features today:

  • Affiliate Finder. Online merchants using ClickBank can tap one of the largest affiliate networks in the world in 2014, according to Revenue Performance, and easily find relevant marketers who can help drive more traffic to their site thanks to today’s launch of Affiliate Finder. Now online merchants can be matched with qualified affiliates that can best promote their digital products, thus generating more traffic and sales on their sites.
  • Subscription Management System. Online merchants can now offer their customers flexible subscription options, which are all effortlessly managed within the ClickBank dashboard. Subscriptions can be changed, suspended, extended or reactivated via the new ClickBank dashboard, which was designed from the ground up for entrepreneurs and online merchants of paid lifestyle-centric content in the areas of health and wellness, relationships, wealth creation and more.
  • Advanced Custom Order Form. ClickBank now provides a highly customizable customer order form for online merchants, helping keep a consistent brand presence throughout the purchase cycle. Online merchants using other payment processors often have little to no control over their brand presence on the order form at the time an online sales transaction takes place. But with ClickBank, online merchants can now add images, testimonials and even change the layout of their order forms to increase brand recognition and ultimately drive conversions.
  • Automatic Upsell. Only with ClickBank can online merchants earn affiliate commissions from consumers at checkout, further boosting their revenues. Once an online purchase of a digital product is complete, ClickBank will automatically recommend other digital products targeted to that consumer on the confirmation page. ClickBank has extensive visibility into the entire transaction process, and digital products recommended are based on historical event data collected over the past 15 years, such as related products viewed or purchased by consumers.

ClickBank 3.0 launches almost one year after Hulett took his post as CEO of the digital platform company. Since joining ClickBank, he has successfully lead new growth strategies for the digital platform company by strengthening and expanding end-to-end experiences for online businesses and their customers.

“We’re excited to open up even more business opportunities for online merchants in 2014 and beyond with the launch of ClickBank 3.0,” Matt added.

ClickBank serves entrepreneurs and online merchants offering digital goods and educational content with a full suite of digital commerce, sales and marketing tools designed specifically to help them increase revenues. The ClickBank platform, which has one of the most reliable and simple e-payment systems in the world, has already paid out more than $2.5B in the past 15 years to its clients.

For more information about ClickBank 3.0, please visit: www.ClickBank.com.

About ClickBank

ClickBank is all about helping entrepreneurs worldwide reach their financial goals. By combining its digital commerce and marketing platform with its global marketing network, ClickBank has helped hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs create, manage and sell digital products (e-books, how-to videos, audiobooks). From getting in shape and dating advice to learning how to start a business, ClickBank’s digital products are some of the hottest selling products online, which is why ClickBank consistently ranks as one of the most highly trafficked e-commerce platform with 30,000 digital transactions per day across 190 countries. For more information, visit www.clickbank.com.

 

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The Fashion 3D Virtual Dressing Room, Double Robot w iPad, and Chanel Holographic Book

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As seasons change so do wardrobes and room arrangements and fans of both style and future tech have found the perfect solution thanks to the Fashion 3D located in the FLUX Innovation Lounge at the offices of Engage Production Ltd  http://fluximpact.com/#!/home.

“We’ve received very good feedback from the retail brands involved including Alexander McQueen, Diesel, DKNY, Hackett and Jimmy Choo from the Virtual Style Pod that was in Dubai,” says Steve Blyth, managing director of Engage.  Fashion 3D is built by Engage, with partnership with Space3D,” said Steve Blyth, managing director of Engage.

 The Fashion 3D scans the shopper and reflects back a 3D virtual image of the customer wearing the high tech full-body image which allows them to “try on” high fashion outfits, the clothing appears on image of the user’s body in a 360-degree virtual reality display of the styles of their choice. Gone are the days of wrestling in and out of clothing, coping with crowded changing rooms and wondering if the new style is going to look good . Fashion 3D allows a shopper to achieve in minutes what would normally take hours in a process notorious for turning customers off to shopping. The Fashion 3D provides a fresh and exciting alternative to the traditional dressing room, engaging visitors and empowering them to shop at a higher level of style and trend setting.

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“The idea is to get people to engage with the technology,” said Andy Hasoon, Engage’s commercial director. “What we have here are augmented and virtual reality companies to show what the latest technology can do for business.”

Engage designs and produces branded technology concepts for its clients, with a view to enhancing customer interaction. They have worked with several famous companies such as Bloomberg, Sky, Chanel, Porsche, Ferrari, Nike and Visa.

Visitors see and experience fashion and business technology from Fashion 3D to the Double Robot, built on Segway technology, with an iPad allowing a client to “tour” a shop or venue virtually – they are showcased at the FLUX Innovation Lounge in London . Visitors can also expect 18-foot (5.5-m) touchscreens, holographic cabinets and immersive environments. There is the Chanel Virtual Book which looks like a book – it’s leather-bound and has real pages – but it’s actually a virtual magazine created by Chanel. Chanel commissioned Engage to create a digital page turner, but wanted something different, something unique to the Chanel brand. Engage developed a virtual book with a difference – incorporating real paper. Virtual content is displayed on the pages via an overhead projector, activated by a sweep of the hand – innovation writ large in a beautifully realized Chanel book. There are currently installations in central London and at Heathrow Terminal 3, with plans for more. http://www.vimeo.com/89607131

A projector above the book beams down pages from the magazine which are delivered over the Internet. Interactive sensors respond to movement, so when you move your hand over the book, the pages appear to turn. Because the pages are held on a server at Chanel’s head office, the book can be updated remotely, just like a website. The Virtual Book was created for Chanel and is currently installed at London Heathrow Airport.

About Engage Production Ltd.

Engage are Technology and Communication Architects – a boutique design house of innovation architects, technology alchemists and envisioning conductors who orchestrate ‘Communication Experiences’ using interactive technologies. www.engageproduction.com

 

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America’s Horniest States

​We know what you’re thinking: horniest state? How are they going to count all those animals?

So yes, while it’s true that doing the legwork on this piece was quite arduous, finally answering one of those long-nagging questions made it all worth it.

 

 

The first thing to know is that horns and antlers are completely different things. For starters antlers are temporary, whereas, like herpes, horns are forever. Therefore it would have been scientifically inaccurate for us to include such antlered animals as deer, caribou and elk. That said, we’re happy to report that we’ll be publishing a follow-up piece, “What Are The Antleriest States?” next week. Please check back for it.

As it turns out, there are only five horned animals native to the U.S. — bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goat, muskox, and bison — and they all reside in either Alaska or the West. It’s a scientific fact that any state east of Texas is not the least bit horny.

Our findings include:

• Not only is Alaska obsessed with smoking porn, but it also happens to be the horniest state in the union. Just under 80,000 wild bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and muskox call the Last Frontier home.

• Colorado, known not for smoking porn but smoking pot, is the second horniest state. The largest bighorn sheep population calls the Rockies home, along with a growing number of potheads with bongs strapped to their foreheads.

• It’s only fitting that Montana, with its strong ranching roots, comes in at third. The Treasure State is of course home to part of Yellowstone National Park, where the nation’s largest natural bison population resides.

Frankly we had no idea what to expect when we began our research. We assumed all states were equally horny, except perhaps Kansas or Nebraska. But we were blown away by the horny numbers, and we hope you were too. Now back to our study on the adverse effects of caulk blocking.

 

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3 Steps for Turning a Real Estate or Business Sale into the Ideal Retirement

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Financial Experts Share Common Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Throughout life, we encounter a number of “financial impact points” — pivotal events with the potential to make our dreams come true, say financial advisors Chris Snyder and Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo, co-authors of “Exiting Strategies: The CEO’s Seven Critical Steps To Cashing-Out of a Business, Managing and Preserving Wealth.”

“The sale of a business or real estate is one of those,” says Chris Snyder, co-founder with Ashoo of Pillar Wealth Management, (www.pillarwm.com). “With the right planning, it can become your ideal retirement.”

Unfortunately, sellers often make fundamental mistakes: They underestimate how much money they’ll need for their retirement; they overvalue their business or property; and they often fail to properly invest the proceeds in a diversified portfolio of equities, bonds and money markets for income.

How can you turn your business or property sale into your ideal retirement? Snyder and Ashoo offer these tips:

1.  Determine the retirement lifestyle you desire, and how much money it will cost.

If you don’t know how much money you’ll need, you can’t identify how much you need to net from the sale, Ashoo says.
“How many homes will you have? Do you see yourself traveling? Creating a charitable organization?”

Create a detailed list. How much money will it cost you each year? If you retire at 55 or 65, odds are good you’ll enjoy a 30- to 40-year retirement.How much will you need for that length of time?

“When you meet with your wealth manager, insist on running that number through 1,000 different ‘launch’ scenarios – what we call a ‘space shuttle’ analysis – to test whether it will meet your expenses under a wide variety of market and world conditions,” Ashoo says.

“You can’t rely on an Excel sheet analysis based on fixed rates of return and fixed expenses for the rest of your life. It’s a sure way to financial disaster because there’s no such thing as zero risk.”

2.  Get an objective valuation of your business or real estate.

Very often, Snyder says, he and Ashoo work with clients who have a vastly inflated idea of how much their business or property is worth. When they decide to sell, they either can’t because no one will pay what they’re asking, or they get far less than they expected.

“People often attach an emotional value to the asset, particularly a business or legacy real estate,” Snyder says. “Hire a merger and acquisition professional to provide you with a real market valuation for your business, or a real estate appraiser to do the same for property.”

If the value isn’t where it needs to be, you may need to make some lifestyle changes or hold onto the asset longer.

Another caution: “If you performed step 1 thoroughly and you are confident you need $15 million for your retirement and someone offers you $20 million, take it,” Ashoo advises. “Don’t hold out for $23 million just because you think that’s what it’s worth.”

3.  Invest the proceeds prudently and in a way that will generate income.

Once your real estate or business is sold, you need to build a diversified portfolio of equity, bonds and money markets that will balance your risk and generate an income, Snyder says.

“Modern portfolio theory holds that 93 percent of the return on your investment is based on your mix of these asset classes,” he says
Adds Ashoo: “But prudent investing entails not accepting more risk than is required to achieve your retirement lifestyle.” Don’t rely on a simple risk questionnaire to make that determination for you, the two say.

Again, have your wealth manager run your portfolio through a “space shuttle’’ analysis to test how it will perform under many different conditions.

About Chris Snyder and Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo

Chris Snyder and Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo are co-founders of Pillar Wealth Management, (www.pillarwm.com), of Walnut Creek, Calif., and co-authors of numerous published works including  “Exiting Strategies: The CEO’s Seven Critical Steps To Cashing-Out of a Business, Managing and Preserving Wealth,” available as a free download at their website. The two specialize in customized wealth management advice to affluent families. Their unique five-step consultative process for new clients ensures they have a deep understanding of clients’ goals. The two have a combined 51 years of experience.

 

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Credit Union Re-finances Fox Theatre Redwood City

Fox, Redwood City HDRa-L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

San Jose, CA (January 23, 2014) —Technology Credit Union (Tech CU) announced this week the credit union has funded a $4.5 million commercial loan for the historic Fox Theatre building in downtown Redwood City. As the credit union continues to grow and diversify its real estate loan portfolio, Tech CU is focusing on lending to owners and developers of commercial real estate throughout the Bay Area and its adjacent counties. This most recent loan was provided to Fox Theatre owners Eric and Lori Lochtefeld, who purchased the property out of foreclosure in 2010 with plans to renovate and bring it back to life by turning the theatre into a mixed-use property with 6,000 square feet of retail, 10,000 square feet of office, and 20,000 square feet of theater space for live performances and private events.

The Fox Theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened in 1929 under the name, “The New Sequoia Theater” as a place to show motion pictures and, in 1950, was renovated and reopened as a live performance venue. Throughout its 85-year history, the theater has remained an iconic spot in the Bay Area, having recently hosted such key figures as President Barack Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, authors Caroline Kennedy and George R.R. Martin (“Game of Thrones”), singer/songwriters Colbie Caillat and Ben Harper, and a slew of classic Broadway musicals. The theater has been in continuous operation for almost nine decades through reinvention, and in its latest form, the Lochtefelds are anticipating the Fox will reach its 100-year milestone.

“This financing opportunity is unique because the theater is such an important landmark on the Peninsula,” said Niki Wong, SVP of Commercial/SBA for Tech CU. “As a local lender, we appreciate being involved in supporting the preservation of an historic property, while also seeing the business opportunity Eric and Lori envision for the future.”

“Tech CU’s lending team structured the refinancing of this property to the benefit of our business model and investment strategy,” said Eric Lochtefeld. “They were also flexible and efficient in dealing with the paperwork and getting the loan funded — something we greatly appreciate.”

Tech CU’s commercial real estate loans can be used for real estate acquisition and refinancing, including: owner-occupied and investor-owned office, mixed-used properties, warehouse, light industrial, retail and multi-family properties. For more information, visit www.techcu.com/commercial or contact Tech CU at 800.448.1467.

ABOUT TECHNOLOGY CREDIT UNION

www.techcu.com

Founded in 1960 by the employees of Fairchild Camera and Instrument Semiconductor Division, Tech CU has served the high tech workforce in Silicon Valley for more than 50 years and today has 70,000 individual, non-profit and business members and more than $1.7 billion in assets. The financial institution is recognized as one of the best managed and strongest in the country, as indicated by Tech CU’s 5-star rating from Bauer Financial, the nation’s largest independent rating service for banks and credit unions. Tech CU’s members have access to 65,000+ surcharge-free ATMs nationwide, online and mobile banking, 10 full-service branches throughout the Bay Area, and comprehensive mortgage, wealth management and commercial banking services.

 

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Promotional Sports Items That will Make Your Brand a Winner

Promotional items are a great way to promote your company or brand, but when it comes to choosing what type of items, there is a huge amount of choice. If you are stuck for ideas on what marketing strategy to use next, why not give sports promotions items a go. Not only are they extremely easy to source, they have an element of fun and team spirit that can benefit your brand in numerous ways.
Some of the main benefits of choosing sporty promotional items are:
● They are easy to source and there is a huge amount of range.
● They cover a large variety of different budgets. Small, cheaper items can be great for mass distribution and more expensive items will create the wow factor.
● They are usually fun items that your customers will appreciate and keep.
● These items are often used in public places so are perfect for exposure.
● They can create a team spirit within your company. Team golf days or fun runs are a great way to promote your brand and get your employees together.
The Top Picks For Sports Related Promotional Items Are Below.
GOLF GEAR
Golf can insinuate a sense of class and elegance for your company making branded golf balls and tees a great promotional item. Not only can they be used for your employees on a team golf day, your clients will appreciate the usable gift and unknowingly promote your brand while they play.
SPORTS BAGS
Sports bags are one of the most commonly used promotional products to promote a brand. Not only are they relatively cheap, they are very usable, large enough so that your brand is ery visible and they become a walking billboard for your company in public places.
SPORTS CAPS
Sports caps are even more popular than bags when it comes to promotional products. What makes a cap a great choice is the low cost of production and potential for mass distribution. Much like bags, they very useful,
are often worn in public and in the direct eye-line of everybody else.
BALLS AND FUN STUFF
It’s really important not to lose sight of the fun stuff when choosing a sports based promotional item. Balls, cricket sets or even fun pool items can be given away as free gifts when purchasing something else. Your customers will be grateful and your brand will come across as fun loving and positive.
THE LITTLE THINGS
Very small promotional items can sometimes be over looked however they play an important part when it comes to marketing your brand. Items such as sweat bands or drink bottles are extremely cheap to produce which gives you the potential for mass production. Imagine the impact your free gift will have if you handed out 10, 000 of them out at the cricket or a big sporting event!
“Tim has been working on as a branding expert for several years at CustomGear helping businesses promoting their brand through innovative promotional products. “

 

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