Thursday, January 25, 2007

Vacations, Vacations

As we shiver and freeze in the depths of the Northern Hemisphere winter of course our thoughts are turning to where we might go to warm up our bones. It doesn't seem to matter how high you turn the heating up, it's sunshine that's needed to actually feel warm again.

Which is why it's worth having a look at who feature all inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, places like Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

They'ev even got a special section devoted to Costa Rica all inclusive vacations. The site has thorough information on all the resorts, offers amazing discounts of up to 50% off the headline rates and the website itself is a joy to navigate.

I like their tagline too. As I sit here and freeze it sounds terribly attractive: ", where paradise is only a click away."

Explaining Low Pay for the Valuable

In a blindingly obvious piece of market research Reuters reports that most people are not in their dream jobs.

More than four out of five U.S. workers do not have their dream jobs, which most people describe as work that is fun, according to a survey released on Thursday.

Salary was one of the least important requirements of a dream job, cited by just 12 percent of respondents in the survey by, an online job site, and The Walt Disney Co, which is holding a contest in which winners can get a chance to work at a Disney theme park job for a day.

Having fun at a dream job was cited by 39 percent, with 17 percent saying making a difference in society was most important, the survey showed.

OK, so many would like a dream job, cash isn't the determinant of a dream job, so which jobs have the highest numbers of people in them that think they are dream jobs? 

Among professions, police and firefighters were most likely to say they have their dream jobs, at 35 percent, followed by 32 percent of teachers, 28 percent of real estate professionals and 25 percent of engineers.  


Fields with the least number of workers with dream jobs were accommodations and food services at 9 percent, manufacturing at 9 percent and retail at 10 percent.

The dream jobs are more dangerous, often require a great deal more training and so on but do not, necessarily, pay vastly better than the ones people don't like.

Because, of course, they are dream jobs: if people like what they're doing so much there is less need to bribe them with cash to do the job.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Struggling with moving into the new place I'm wondering whether I might buy can am atvs? We've got great weather down here, we get more hours of sunshine per year than anywhere else outside a complete desert and we're almost always warm.

Bike riding should be a joy here then. There's a couple of reasons why not of course, the local standard of driving being one and the standard of the local roads being another. But a trike or a quad would take care of both of those problems.

This is something I'm going to have to think over a little more. I'd really like to do something like that, call it my mid-life crisis if you wish. Then again, not sure if I'd actually get permission from my wife. That might be the largest problem really.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Gold Coins

It's a standard part of investment advice that you want to spread your risks: diversification in the jargon. You want to have some of your savings in cash, some in something very near to cash like certificates of deposit. You also want to have some bonds and some equities. A decent portfolio would also include exposure to commodities, which is why it's worth looking into the ways you can buy gold coins.

One simple way is to work with Monex. They're pretty much the experts in hte field and can provide, for example, the American Eagle. This is a gold coin with a face value of $50 (although it is legal tender it's not sensible to use it to buy things: the metal value is far higher) and the advantage of the coin over ingot is that there's a well developed market for them. You can also get 1/10 th of an ounce coins from them.

Those who invested in such coins a few years ago have more than doubled their money showing the value of having a diversified portfolio.

Honouring Prostitutes

I'm not quite sure what to say here. There's a difference between my view on prostitution (consenting adults may buy and sell as they wish) and actually going this far:

Amsterdam's red-light district will soon get a new attraction: a statue to honor prostitutes around the world.

The statue, designed by artist Els Rijerse, will likely be unveiled at the end of March, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

"In many countries, prostitutes struggle and people have no respect for them whatsoever. The statue is meant to give all those men and women strength," Mariska Majoor, a former prostitute who commissioned the statue, told ANP.

ANP said the statue, made of bronze, shows a woman who confidently looks out into the world.

Accept, yes, honour? Might not want to quite take that extra step.-

Zune Launching in Europe?

Microsoft has announced that it might launch the Zune MP3 player in Europe this year:

Microsoft corp. (MSFT.O: QuoteProfile , Research) is happy with the early sales of its Zune music player in the United States and it could launch the service in Europe before the end of 2007, its marketing director said on Saturday.

Jason Reindorp told Reuters that Microsoft was realistic about the challenge it faced in trying to crack into the digital music player market, dominated by Apple Computer (AAPL.O: QuoteProfile , Research) Inc.'s iPod.

"You couldn't get a more entrenched competitor," he said at the annual music industry Midem Net conference in France. "But we feel really good about the first steps that we've taken."

Reindorp said Microsoft was not yet ready to officially announce when it would launch the service in Europe but it could possibly be out before the end of the year.

Before you get too excited, there's something really rather wrong with the product. One of the features is that you can beam a song to someone else. However, many songs do not allow this feature: but you don't know which ones don't until you try to do so.

Really, not very good there, is it? 

Automotive Insurance

The US automotive insurance market is, contrary to what many believe, one of the most highly regulated around. Almost all of the States have their own insurance regulator and all are continually intervening in the market to insist upon the type of coverage allowed, the priocing, the no claims bonuses and even how it is priced geographically.

This has the sad side effect of limiting the ability of companies to compete upon price: it is also true that many companies have pulled out entirely from some of the most over-regulated States, to the detriment of the consumers.

What this means is that there's an awful lot of non-price competition (a more wasteful and less efficient kind of competition, of course). Geico, for example, produces a series of guides to things like teenage driving. It's great information, very useful, packed full of good advice.

It's just that if there weren't the restrictions on competition by price consumers might be even better off.

Bush's New Health Plan

Oh dear, looks like he's making precisely and exactly the wrong decision:

President George W. Bush on Saturday proposed tax breaks to make health insurance more affordable to the nearly 47 million Americans who lack it and suggested removing some tax benefits for the most expensive employer-provided health care plans.

Health care is emerging in opinion polls as a top concern among many Americans as private health insurance costs soar, putting a burden on workers and companies.

The president, looking to gain momentum for his domestic agenda that is at risk of becoming overshadowed by the Iraq war, will include the health proposal in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Typically, if you offer a tax subsidy you'll increase demand for that thing. This is known to make such things more expensive. Better would have been to abolish the tax subsidy on employer paid health insurance. When people pay the full cost of something then we get the socially optimal amount of it.

18 Lane Highways

Reuters opens this piece on an 18 lane highway in Texas with this question, what does this say about Texans' view of the environment:

As President Bush readies a new plan on global warming, environmentalists say an 18-lane highway going up in Houston speaks volumes about how people in his home state of Texas view the planet.

Between 2003 and 2009, $2.7 billion of state and federal money will have been plowed into expanding 23 miles of Interstate-10 in west Houston to as wide as 18 lanes in some stretches of the city's main east-west road.

"It is a concrete monstrosity," said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in the Texas city who fought the expansion of "I-10" and lost. "It probably shows as much as anything the philosophy of development here."

It probably shows that Texans think that there's plenty of environment to go around. Which, if you lived in Texas, you would probably believe too. There's huge areas of it that are nothing, where a highway greatly improves the scenery.

Peter Belisi

Here's an interesting tale of how a business,, started. Working as a bartender in Palm Beach Peter Belisi wondered how to create a sense of style consistent with the wealthy crowd around him: but without having to spend the money of that wealthy crowd.

He hit on the idea of using a single accessory, the tie, to make his mark. Priding himself on never wearing the same one twice he quickly garnered a reputation as someone with style, someone to be consulted as to what was in fact style.

Since then he's been able to build on that, using his own innate sense of taste, and build the business into something which is now a byword for the place to go for for stylish and high end accessories.

It's an inspiring story of how to use a particular talent that you have to get ahead: or if you want to use the economic words, we should all try and find what we're least bad at. There's plenty of bartenders out there, but only Peter Belisi had the style.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Broadband Offers

Post 1

Easy ways to find the cheapest broadband offer

How do you decide which broadband provider offers the right package for you with so many to choose from and such competitive prices on the market these days for high-speed connections?

You may not need a huge download limit or a best UK broadband internet deal, if you only use your broadband Internet connection to surf the net a little, check your emails, and do a little online shopping. You need to be aware and know exactly what download limit you will require, or you could pay more than you have to simply because of an Internet service provider’s adverting. "Unlimited Broadband" is one of the ISPs favorite advertising lines and some of these so-called "Unlimited" download limits will have a fair usage policy (which is usually not well advertised and hidden amongst the small print). The advertising can make you believe that you need something, when you really don’t need at all.

In this day of heavy competition between ISP providers, Cheap UK broadband deals are very changing. You mustn’t assume that because you have seen an advertisement somewhere, either on the radio or TV, that it will be the offer you get. You will need to check out the latest deals and prices before signing up to any contracts. Better still, read what other people have to say about their experiences and recommendations on various review sites like: UK ISP reviews

You may also consider checking out the latest deals when it’s time to renew your existing contract. There are always special offers on for anyone making the switch to a new one, so there’s a good chance that you could find a better ISP than the one you’ve currently got.

Online Shopping

Why is it better to shop online?

Online shopping makes you wonder if we will ever have to leave home to do our shopping again, but there are still people who want to go out and do their shopping in the stores, for various reasons. What are the advantages and disadvantages of high street and Shopping sites on the Internet?

Because there are much lower overheads for online retailers most products can be found online cheaper than that of the high street. But then, some high street shops may have clearance deals and in store offers that you can only buy if you go into the store. Another bonus is the reward shopping websites where you can get cashback on your UK shopping, without paying any extra money as well.

If you tried to visit every high street shop to compare cheapest prices, it would be very time consuming, where if you use an online price comparison website, you can compare the products and the prices, to find the best deal in no time at all.

One huge plus of high street shopping is the face-to-face interaction with another human being, because if something goes wrong, you can always return your goods to the shop. However, if you choose a reliable online retailer that offers a no quibble exchange policy/guarantee, this should not be a problem at all.

Online Coupons

Try and save money – Use Discount vouchers or online coupons

When shopping online, you may have noticed a box at the checkout stage asking for a promotion or a voucher code. A lot of the online shops and services offer discount voucher codes or online coupon codes. So it may be worthwhile checking if you can get some money off the price by using a discount voucher for your shopping. So how do you find these discount voucher codes when you want to shop online?

You can find these codes on the Internet shopping forums and free UK stuff websites. There are so many of these sites online; you only need to search for them. One thing you need to make sure when you put these discount voucher codes in the check out is to see if there is an “update price” or other button so the discount is applied to your purchase. Do not buy from a shop just because they offer a discount code. You should also compare UK prices before you decide which shop is cheaper.

Make sure you have found the right site, which is offering the latest up to date codes. Once you have checked the expiry dates, try to apply the code at the check out, and make sure you get a new total with the money off being discounted. Sometimes the voucher codes may not work or have expired and you might have to try a different one.

If you are a regular online shopper, you can join one of the established ‘freebie’ websites, where you can find free stuff as well as the online discount vouchers & coupon codes. Be sure to only sign up to reliable sites, as some websites can bombard you with emails, if they don’t have a proper privacy policy.

Broadband Wireless

Going wireless with your broadband connection

Cheap wireless broadband Internet has made life so much easier for laptop users, whether at home or away from home. Once you have gotten used to a wireless connection, you might not want to use wires ever again! But are there any problems with wireless connections?

With the image and file sharing websites growing in popularity more and more, it is hard to live with a dial-up Internet connection. Even if you live in an isolated or remote area, there are ways of getting cheapest UK broadband ISP. You can get broadband via satellite and many mobile companies offer facilities for you to connect via your mobile phone.

As with anything these days, the prices of UK wireless broadband modems are dropping and you can usually find a decent router for under £50 in most shops. Some cheap broadband deals will come with a free modem when signing up to a contract.

The main problem you can encounter with a wireless connection compared to a wired broadband network is security. You will need to make sure your connection is encrypted to stop other people using your connection. The encypting is not as hard to do as it sounds, and most routers and ISP modems come with instructions of how to do it. If you require any assistance, your UK broadband internet provider will be able to help you. And guide you through the process.

One of the common mistakes people do when they go wireless is to buy the cheapest available equipment, without doing any research. It is always worth reading broadband ISP consumer reviews on wireless equipment before parting with your money. Remember, a reliable connection is more important than saving a few pennies on equipment.

Mobile Phone Deals

Finding the best mobile phone deals – Some advice

Mobile phones are getting better all the time. Not necessarily cheaper, as the mobile handset manufacturers are trying to make you pay pretty much the same price for the Cheap UK mobile phones by adding more features, making it look better etc., However, if you are not fussed about the latest handset, you can still get some really good deals on slightly older models or not so popular models. If you shop around for the best mobile phone deal, it is even possible to get the handset of your dreams by choosing the right deal. The most important thing when you choose your next phone is to comparison of mobile phone offers and deals by using a comparison site and then buy, rather than buying a phone in an impulse.

One thing which you have to do at the outset is to have an idea of the amount of talk time you need. Decide if you really need off-peak minutes or not. If you are a heavy phone user, it is probably worthwhile going on a monthly contract. Monthly contract phone deals also offer you free or cheap UK mobile handsets. You are also likely to get a latest one. If you are a light user, you will end up paying a price for the handset, but could save money on monthly line rentals if you go for a pay as you go deal. Getting a SIM free mobile phone is always expensive, but it is worthwhile considering it if you want the flexibility of using it on any mobile network of your choice. What is worth bearing in mind is that even handsets which are locked with networks can easily be unlocked without much costs involved.

Most people who are crazy after a particular phone end up paying extra if they do not shop around. You may also want to consider reading mobile phone UK handset reviews written by other customers who have used a particular handset. If you ever get tempted to buy a mobile phone insurance with your handset, it is worth bearing in mind that most of these so called insurance policies are not worth their money and you have to make sure you read the small print carefully.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Solving the Spanish Flu

This is really quite fascinating at The Register. It looks as if someone has finally worked out what it weas that made the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak so dangerous:

A Canadian lab reconstucted the Spanish flu virus from human tissues preserved in the Alaskan permafrost and infected macaque monkeys. Their findings were reported on Thursday in the journal Nature, and should give a better view of how the virus killed humans than earlier work with infected mice.

It turns out that the H1N1 Spanish flu virus (the current bird flu threat is from H5N1, the nomeclature derived from the proteins which coat the virus) killed 50 million by over-stimulating their immune system, causing the lungs to inflame and rapidly fill with liquid. Lead author Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin said: "Essentially people are drowned by themselves."

That then explains why it was so lethal amongst the young and healthy:

So a young, healthy person with a young, healthy immune system would be a ripe victim for the 1918 strain. Associated Press reports co-author Michael Katze, of the University of Wahington, said: "It was the robustness of the immune system that helped victimize them."


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


So, was the problem I was having posting to this blog all about the other computer, or something to do with blogger?