Tag Archives: Microsoft

Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life and plenty of money. He even got along well with his in-laws! So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished anhour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive.

Breathing. He started small by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk. He found it helped him relax. After three breaths became a habit, he expanded to a few minutes a day. He found he was more patient, calmer, more in the moment. Now he does 30 minutes a day. It restores his perspective while enabling him to take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions. Deep breathing exercises have been part of yoga practices for thousands of years, but recentresearch done at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital document the positive impact deep breathing has on your body’s ability to deal with stress.

Meditating. When Bill first heard about meditation, he figured it was for hippies. But he was surprised to find meditators he recognized: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff and Russell Simmons among them. Encouraged, he started with a minute a day. His meditation consisted of “body scanning” which involved focusing his mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe. Recent research at Harvard has shown meditating for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. In other words, the meditators had increased their emotional control and brain power!

Listening. Bill found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.

Questioning. This tool isn’t about asking other people questions, it’s about questioning the thoughts your mind creates. Just because your mind creates a thought doesn’t make it true. Bill got in the habit of asking himself “Is that thought true?” And if he wasn’t absolutely certain it was, he just let it go. He said: “Thank your mind for coming up with the thought and move on. I found this liberating because it gave me an outlet for negative thoughts, a relief valve I didn’t have before.” The technique of questioning your thoughts has been popularized by Byron Katie who advocates what she calls “the great undoing.” Her experience and research show there is power in acknowledging rather than repressing negative thoughts. Instead of trying to ignore something we believe to be true, questioning allows us to see our thoughts “face to face” so to speak and to discredit them because they are untrue.

Purpose. Bill committed to living with purpose. Not so much his life’s purpose. It was easier than that. He committed to purposefully doing whatever he was doing. To be doing it and only it. If he decided to watch TV he really watched it. If he was having a meal he took the time to enjoy the meal. There is research to support Bill’s experience. In “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” Gloria Mark and Armand Cardello cite evidence to suggest knowledge workers check email as much as 36 times an hour. The result is increased stress. Giving each activity your undivided attention ensures you’re in the moment and fully living that experience.

An important key for Bill in all of this was starting small—very small. It’s important because you can’t take on stress in a stressful way. Often we try to bring about change through sheer effort and we put all of our energy into a new initiative. But you can’t beat stress using the same techniques that created the stress in the first place.

Instead, the key is to do less than you feel you want to. If you feel like breathing for two minutes, do it for just one minute. If you are up for a day of really listening to people deeply, do it for the next meeting only. Leave yourself eager to try it again. What you want is to develop a sustainable habit: a stress-free approach to reducing your stress.

More like this? Get a free excerpt from Greg’s upcoming book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by subscribing here.


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Why Are Stocks Hitting All-Time Highs?

By Travis Hoium –

The year 2013 has been another great one for the stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  )  is up 22.8% for the year, and it appears that nothing can upend the market’s momentum. Sequestration hasn’t made a dent, the government shutdown was brushed off, and even continued weakness in Europe hasn’t affected U.S. stocks.

You can see below that, not only has the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a significant amount this year, but some of the most diverse and economically dependent companies have led the market. 3M (NYSE: MMM  ) has exposure around the world, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT  ) is a leader in all parts of tech, and Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) is dependent on businesses and consumers flying to increase profits. Yet, all three companies are up despite a pretty weak economic recovery.

^DJITR Chart

^DJITR data by YCharts

So, why is the stock market doing so well if unemployment is still 7.3%, and it doesn’t look like the recovery has reached all parts of the economy? Let’s take a look at what investors see.

The economy is improving
Believe it or not, the economy is getting better. Since the beginning of the year, the number of layoffs are down, the unemployment rate is down, and GDP is up.

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance Chart

US Initial Claims for Unemployment Insurance data by YCharts

These statistics may not be as good as we want, but they’re improving, and that will help drive profits.

Earnings are up
Long-term, what drives stock prices is earnings. On that front, we’re doing quite well. Let’s take a look at those same three companies, and see how earnings have trended over the past three years.

You can see below that there are some dips and dives, especially for Microsoft, which wrote down $6.2 billion in 2012 because of a botched acquisition; but, generally, the trends are higher.

BA Net Income (TTM) Chart

BA Net Income (TTM) data by YCharts

The good news here is that there’s still fuel left to drive profits higher. A total of 7.3% of Americans are still unemployed and, as they get jobs, there’s more money flowing through the economy.

There’s also $1.48 trillion of cash just sitting in the bank accounts of U.S. companies. When they see significant economic growth, they’ll put that money to work, giving another boost to the economy.

The economic recovery may not be as fast as some had expected, but it’s happening slowly, and when it picks up steam, there will be room for profits to grow even more.

Flow of easy money
The final reason stocks are up significantly this year is the flow of easy money from the Federal Reserve. Not only are short-term interest rates near 0%, but the Fed is buying long-term bonds with an $85 billion per-month plan intended to keep interest rates low.

This pushes borrowing rates for companies down, and also pushes investors into stocks and away from low-yield bonds. The money flow alone is enough to push markets higher.

Foolish bottom line
It may not seem like a year when the market should be up as much as it is, but there are a variety of factors pushing stocks higher. The crazy thing about the stock market is that, short term, it may not make a lot of sense at all. Next year, we could see the economy boom, and stocks fall flat.

That’s why we tell investors to stick around for the long haul. There will be bumps along the road, but you won’t miss out on a booming market like we have had this year.



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The Varied And Virulent Breeds Of Hacker

hackersWhat is the one currency that is never devalued, destabilized, or inflated? Not gold, silver, or diamonds. Here’s a hint, although it may manifest itself on a computer screen or in a hard drive it is not even physical. In the modern world where everyone from the NSA to Edward Snowden to the crown prince of Nigeria wants to steal your data, it’s become obvious that information is the currency of the future. Sure, you can’t buy a big gulp by teaching the cashier at 7-Eleven how to solve a math problem, but anyone with a business can tell you that knowledge and data are the economic drivers of today and tomorrow.

Firewall? Please.

With knowledge commanding such a premium these days, it’s no wonder people are after it. The interconnectedness of our world just makes it tougher to hide the things that need hidden. The term hacker is certainly a loaded word, but the truth is all hackers aren’t third-world scam artists or guys living in their mom’s basement. Generally, a hacker is someone who tries to exploit weaknesses in a computer system. Accordingly, hackers are classified based on their motivations for exploiting those weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the types of hackers so you know what you’re up against.

Black Hat

If you’ve ever downloaded an attachment you shouldn’t have or replied to that lonely young woman in Russia, you are probably familiar with the concept of black hat hackers. In short, black hat hackers exploit weaknesses for personal gain regardless of laws or morals. Their techniques range from the usual stealing of credit card information to holding entire websites hostage until a hefty ransom is paid.

White Hat

White hat hackers are a lot like the white witch from The Wizard of oz. Except no one gets crushed by a house. White hat hackers usually contract with companies to expose and fix security threats before the black hats get to them. Many white hat hackers are even certified through the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants to prove they won’t steal your data.

Grey Hat

As you have no doubt guessed, grey hat hackers lie somewhere in the middle of the black and white hats. Grey hats usually hack into computer networks, then notify the administrator of the breach and offer to repair it for a small fee. Call it aggressive advertising or ransom, but it works.

Blue Hat

A blue hat hacker is broad term covering anyone outside a consulting firm who bug tests a system before it is launched. Blue hats are usually contracted by a company in addition to a standard security firm as an extra measure of safety. Microsoft actually hosts an annual Blue Hat Conference in which hackers and Microsoft’s developers exchange information and occasionally scream at one another.

Script Kiddie

Script kiddie (also known as “skiddie”) is actually something of an insult in the hacking world. Script kiddies are non-experts who use pre-packaged viruses that they downloaded (probably giving them a virus or six) from some sketchy website. While most legitimate hackers have a profound understanding of computers and programing, a skiddie is usually someone’s pale little brother with little to no knowledge of the concepts behind hacking. That’s not to say that they can’t completely wreck your computer system.


While all of the aforementioned types of hackers hack for personal gain, hacktivists are slightly nobler in their intentions. If black hat hackers are sneaky thieves, hacktivists are a loud and rowdy group of protesters. They use technology to get noticed and spread some sort of political, religious, or ideological message. You are probably familiar with the group “Anonymous” that has launched massive DDOS attacks against everyone from PayPal to North Korea. Anonymous is a great example of a group of hacktivists. They have used hacks to spread an ideological message.

Nation States

That’s right. Hackers aren’t all just unaffiliated loners drinking mountain dew and stealing your identity. Many states, including the good ‘ol US of A run hacking programs. In fact, the US recently claimed responsibility for a virus that attacked centrifuges in Iran, setting their nuclear program back by years.

Friend or Foe

Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, famously said “Know your enemy.” Not all hackers are your enemies, but it does help to know them. Unless you are a multinational corporation, odds are low that you will come in contact with the many varieties of hackers. All the same, be aware and use caution. Consider how valuable your data is and think about implementing some extra security measures. Sure, having a firewall might sound cool, but it can be broken by an experienced hacker in a matter of seconds.

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  •  License: Image author owned

The author of this article is Dylan Jones. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @JakabokBotch. When I’m not writing about hackers and their colorful hats, I’m usually analyzing the best risk mitigation assessment companies I can find.


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Facebook’s Advertising Is Starting To Spiral Out Of Control

Two weeks ago, Facebook FB -0.99%announced that it hit one million advertisers using the site for the first time ever.

And boy does it show.

Something has changed with Facebook in recent months, and it’s not just another redesign that has people up in arms writing chain letters and staging online sit-ins in the hopes of a reversion. Rather, the switch has been a dramatic increase in the volume of ads on Facebook, so much so that the site sometimes looks like a domain squatter landing page.

A common question asked of Facebook is whether it will be around five years from now, ten years from now, and so on. Though it’s seemingly a staple of life these days, the internet is fickle, and what once was popular can fall out of favor just as quickly. And Facebook appears to be trying its hardest to make that happen.

We can debate the functionality of the site another day. Facebook has tried to wear many masks in order to stay relevant over the past few years. It believes its chat and message systems can compete with Gmail. It was letting people upload videos and pictures before Vine and Instagram were cool, yet both are now more trendy than the site itself. You can follow celebrity or public figure posts now the way you would on Google GOOG -0.27% Plus. The site has even added Twitter’s hash tags now, so you can see what hundreds of other people who don’t understand their privacy settings are doing on #friday.

But this isn’t the topic of the day. Rather, it needs to be shown just how bad the advertising angle of Facebook is getting, particularly compared to its competition. All sites on the internet are in direct competition with each other, after all, and if one suddenly becomes overloaded with ads to the point of absurdity, the others will see their fortunes rise.

We’ll start out slow here with a few sites that are going after Facebook specifically. Here’s what the 100% ad free home page of Google Plus looks like.

Google can of course afford to do this because they make so much from advertising elsewhere, and truthfully, not that many people use G+ to make it worth their while to advertise. I’ve never been Google Plus’s biggest fan, but the lack of ads makes for a very clean, friendly homepage.

Then we have Pinterest (my fiancée’s homepage), also ad free:

Pinterest is still relatively new, and if it maintains its popularity, I imagine that one or two of these images may turn into ads someday. But still, it’s not much, and for now, there’s nothing intrusive at all.

Moving down the list, we have Twitter. Just like Facebook, there are sponsored Tweets in your view immediately when you pull up your homepage, but usually only one, and it takes up a tiny amount of real estate.

Then we have a site like Reddit, time-wasting capital of the internet. It too has a “sponsored” link across the top, and also a box ad on the side, though this time it’s advertising itself.

Here is Cracked, which I pulled to represent the millions of ad-supported internet blogs which do have banner ads, but again, they’re not taking over most of the screen.

And now we have Facebook:

The ad on my homepage is a “suggested post” from “JackThreads,” an outlet I’ve never heard of, nor one that Facebook claims is even liked by any of my friends to at least make it tangentially relevant to me. Perhaps I’m being shown it simply because I’m an 18-30 year old male in their target demographic, but that’s the only loose connection to me I can think of. Yet there it is, my number one news feed story, joining the fixed column of other ads on the right hand side of the page. As you can see, when I pull up my news feed, the amount of actual content I can see because of the ad is shockingly low.

I will admit it’s not always the case that an ad is my lead story when I pull up Facebook, but I’d say I see one a solid 40-50% of the time. And if it isn’t there immediately, it’s only a scroll or two down the list.

But it doesn’t stop there. Facebook has a secondary tier of ads based on pages you’ve dared to “like” over the years. Way back when, I listed some of my favorite TV shows on my profile so others could see what I was watching. Eventually, Facebook forced these “likes” to be linked to the actual brand pages of the show or product you were talking about, and as a result, any of their postings would not appear in your news feed. It’s what’s led to situations like this:

Yes, that’s right. My entire visible Facebook news feed is now 100% ads the moment I arrive on the site. I assure you this isn’t photoshopped. You could argue that it’s my fault for liking Parks and Recreation and Dexter publicly on my profile, and I could take them off if I wanted to, but I’ve hidden so many of these days “opt-out” ads at this point, I’ve just given up. I’m tempted to simply erase my interests from my profile altogether. And before you bring it up, I’m morally opposed to AdBlock as I make my living through (hopefully non-intrusive) internet ads. But I understand the appeal because of situations like this.

You see the point here. Facebook is going to start losing market share to sites that don’t treat their userbase like they’re products to be bought and sold. Advertising is absolutely a part of the internet, we all understand and accept that, but Facebook is starting to feel like it’s adopted ads as its primary purpose, losing functionality as a welcoming social network in the process.

It’s simply a turn off to arrive on the landing page of a supposedly “social” site and see a screen that’s anywhere from 60% to 100% ads. Facebook needs to do some soul searching and figure out whether it needs to be serving the needs of its million advertisers or its billion users first.

I’ve reached out for comment to see if they agree.

Update: At my editor’s request, we’re getting meta with it.

Not so bad, huh?

But our homepage needs some work, if I can be self-critical.

And that autoplaying video ad needs to go. Welp, hopefully I still have a job here…



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The Five Most Famous Rivals in Advertising History

Print and television advertising sometimes has little to do with a company’s product. Popular ad campaigns need to do little more than paint one brand as sexier and younger than another to gain traction among consumers. Every industry has its share of advertising rivals. From small town car dealerships or local sandwich shops to global powerhouse brands, there is no battle too large or too small for a healthy ad war. Read our list below for some of the most epic campaigns in the fight for consumer loyalty.

Pepsi vs Coke

Generally labeled the “cola wars,” this famous rivalry has tried to influence the taste buds of caffeine lovers around the globe. Who knew that a fizzy, syrupy-sweet concoction could spawn such a bitter war? This rivalry was born over one hundred years ago, and it still rages today. One defining moment in this ad war was the 1975 Pepsi ad campaign, “The Pepsi Challenge,” which prompted Coca-Cola to embark on their failed New Coke venture. Pepsi has kept their image young and exciting with a host of celebrity endorsements, and their “Pepsi Generation” slogan. Coke has tended toward more family-friendly and global themes. In 2011, Pepsi famously co-opted Coke’s beloved polar bears for a fun ad of their own.

Audi vs BMW

The battle between these German motor corporations has sparked ad wars that brought Subaru and Bentley into the mix. The highlight of this rivalry is the 2006 “Car of the Year” ads. This battle was tipped off by BMW’s campaign that congratulated Audi for winning the South African Car of the Year 2006. The ad was signed “From the Winner of the Car of the Year 2006.” A veritable tennis match of rival ads followed this playfully antagonistic campaign.

Apple vs Microsoft

Apple entered the world of television advertising with a bang in the form of their famous “1984” commercial. In an attempt to gain ground in the personal computer market, the company launched their successful “I’m a PC” ad campaign in 2008. The spots featured a boring, middle-aged square (as the Microsoft PC) juxtaposed against the hip, fresh face of the Apple brand. Microsoft fought back with a similar commercial featuring one of their own employees, along with a series of “Laptop Hunter” commercials in which consumers were given cash to choose the better computer. Needless to say, they chose Microsoft.

McDonald’s vs Burger King

The battle for America’s burger of choice goes back decades, as these two monoliths have been fighting it out as far back as most consumers can remember. McDonald’s family-themed advertising has most recently been countered by Burger King commercials that feature edgy humor and more adult interests, including pop stars and celebrities like David Beckham and Mary J. Blige. It seems their advertising dollars are not yet giving them the edge, though, since McDonald’s continues to dominate the market.

Ford vs Chevrolet

These American auto-makers wage constant war for the title of consumer favorite in their popular truck lines. A defining incident occurred in a Chevy 2012 Super Bowl ad that featured a Silverado driving through the ruins of the predicted Mayan apocalypse. Ford’s attorneys immediately followed with an angry letter to GM management. However, they were told that there would be no Chevy apology until “the end of the world”.

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Kate Simmons is a fresh graduate and occasional blogger currently working for a company specializing in outdoor banners. She is mostly interested in topics related to advertising, business and education.



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Why You Should Consider MS Office 2010 Online Tutorials

When it comes to computer programs like Microsoft Office 2010, most people limit their use to MS Word to help them write down important data, and perhaps MS Excel to fill in some columns and cells. However, they most commonly stop at beginner levels and open documents only to do the task they can actually accomplish and, more importantly, in the manner that is known to them. Now, there is nothing wrong with writing anything in MS Word and saving the document, there are so many features that wait to be uncovered, and that can make your usage of this handy and popular program a whole lot easier.

Let’s say you need a 500 word article – without the feature called word count, what would you do? Count the words one by one? You can adjust Microsoft Word so that it can tell you how many words, characters or words with and without spaces your document has. It is much easier this way, right? Now, MS Office 2010 is an improved version when compared to the previous one, and you are able to see how many words you write without turning on the word count feature, but only by looking at the bottom left corner. Naturally, even this has to be turned on by clicking on the Status bar with your right mouse button.

Why Should You Consider MS Office 2010 Online Tutorials?

One of the things that should urge you to consider online tutorials is the fact that you will use all the programs with MS Office much more easily. You will have better performance, and avoid those awkward ‘shortcuts’ in order to perform a fairly simple task. At the same time you will be able to manage your time much better, and have more time for other task in your daily schedule.

Reason Number Two – Professionals Know What They Are Doing

Although the joy that comes from discovering what a particular feature is used for on your own is immeasurable, getting an online tutorial to help you get a hold of MS Office 2010 is a much easier task. It is less time-consuming, as we have already mentioned, while the actual best thing about this tutorial is that training providers in this department have the knowledge to teach you in the way that will suit you. They are trained to help you learn everything there is to know about this program in a way that you can appreciate. As you make progress, the training will become more difficult, but only to the extent that you are able to follow it, and understand what a certain level of knowledge requires of you to know.

The Online Training Provider

Finally, there is the biggest advantage you should not take out of consideration, and this is the fact you are participating in an online course. This means that you don’t have to leave your home, and you will still get the knowledge you require. This will bring you another benefit, and you will have more time to practice, explore, and expand your gained knowledge.

MS Office is used by millions across the world. Having advanced knowledge of MS Office can be considered an asset. This article has been wrriten by Richa for a company engaged in offering online Microsoft Office 2010 training



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The Benefits Of Using Skype In Business


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Video communication is not just something you see in sci-fi films anymore; it is now all around us. Over 400 million people around the world have opened a Skype account, and around 30 million people use it concurrently. In 2005, Skype was sold to EBay for $2.6 billion – and then in 2011 Skype was sold to Microsoft for $8.5 billion. This gives a huge indication of the rate at which Skype is expanding; invading workplaces everywhere around the globe.

Even though Skype plays a big part in people’s personal lives (being able to contact family/loved ones who are far away) – it also plays a big part in the world of Business. Companies around the world are beginning to wake up and smell the Skype; beginning to understand the true power of the online communications giant. Here are the top benefits of using Skype for business.

Reducing Costs

On Skype, if you call another Skype user it is completely free – and the same applies for the video call functionality. If you are looking at Skype’s ‘no fee’ service; instant messaging & screen sharing are also free to use. However if you want to call a landline or mobile does indeed offer lower rates than other phone services; in 2007 Skype conducted a survey which revealed 95% of companies using Skype had reduced costs on telecommunications. Skype also offer a premium service which can be seen to benefit companies through extra features.

Premium Service

Choosing the premium service can be to the advantage of a company. With the premium service the user is entitled to zero advertising, live chat customer support, 30% off a HD webcam…and most importantly group screen sharing & group video calling.

Group screen sharing & group video calling are perhaps necessities for a business in the contemporary workplace, for sharing work with colleagues couldn’t now be easier; creating a more efficient workplace. In a survey of 250 companies which use Skype, a whopping 80% remarked that it improved employee productivity. Client proposals can be created online, designs and files can be pinged around from one employee to another – faster than ever before. On top of this, with Skype’s group calling it eliminates the need for another service’s conference calls – again, reducing costs.

Building Relationships

Creating relationships within your business is important; whether it be with colleagues, bosses, clients or even consumers. Face-to-face interaction is the best way to forge & nurture relationships, which is why Skype is seen as a completely valuable tool within a modern day business. Building lasting relationships through your business will always be financially rewarding in one way or another. By utilising Skype, you’ll be taking positive steps towards ensuring bridges are being built internally & externally through your business.

New-Age Interviews

It is becoming common practice through many industries to use Skype as a method of interviewing. Interviews can sometimes be a costly practice for companies, having to pay for travel & accommodation for many potential employees. However using Skype, interviews can be conducted to gain a very good idea of an employee without them having to travel; wasting time & money. Skype interviews also allow the employee to feel more comfortable, since they will perhaps be operating from their home environment and will not have to worry about getting nervous in a waiting room with potential sweaty palms.

The only downside to Skype is that sometimes you may experience some lag on calls (delay), or even calls which are rejected/broken up midway through. Also, there is plenty of information on the internet regarding security of your company; that privacy is potentially an issue with Skype. However, if you read up on being secure whilst using Skype; you should have nothing to fear. In the coming years, Microsoft, who now own Skype, will be seen to be doing their very best to keep Skype security-safe.

All in all, with so many different features Skype has to offer – it will able to help your business in one way or another. Reducing costs, increased efficiency and relationship building are just some of the ways Skype’s services could have a positive impact on your business. Skype is the future, and the future is now.

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Many thanks to Ladbrokes Online for their assistance in compiling together this article and helping us understand how communicating and interacting online helps further businesses.



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