Thursday, May 31, 2007

Drinking in Cascais

If you should find yourself at a lose end in Cascais, just outside Lisbon, you might want to try out the Beefeater.

Run by a couple of friends it's the Cascais Sports Bar of choice. All the usual options, draught and bottled beers and cider, large screen tvs and so on.

A menu with both Portuguese food and for those pining for home, cornish pasties and so on.

Germans, eh?

We Brits do have our views of the Germans but even with those, this story does seem a little odd:

A German mistook a subway entrance for an underground car park and her vehicle got stuck on the stairs, police said on Wednesday.

The 52-year-old drove her Volkswagen Beetle across the pavement in central Duesseldorf and into the entrance where it ground to a halt about five steps down, police said.

Police estimated the damage at around 1,500 euros ($2,000).

We're used to them being efficient, humourless, warlike even, but stupidity isn't one of the things we associate with them now is it?

Capella University

We're seeing some interesting changes in the world of online education these days.

The first is the way in which the faculty at the various schools is becoming more like that at the more traditional ones. For example, this adjunct faculty member at Capella University, Sara Orem PhD, has recently published Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change. This is an example of the sort of ground breaking academic research into human psychology that any orf the older colleges would be proud to be associated with.

The second is a change in the way that such online colleges are viewed by hte establishment. It used to be that only schools which had 50% of their students on campus could receive fenderally subsidized student loans. This restriction has now been lifted and all accredited schools can now use this facility.

This is a huge step forward inmaking education available to all.

This blog post is based on information provided by Blogitive. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Article Database

Yes, I know, this blogging lark is all about self-expression but here are times when that simply isn't enough. Everyone suffers from writer's block at some time or another and it's at those times that we might find ourselves in need of an Article Directory . Inspiration doesn't strike, there's nothing interesting in the newspapers, but our readers are still revenning for more to read. At thispoint you can go to the Article Directory and pick and choose from amongst the pieces there and then use them in your own blog (or, of course, email newsletter or whatever else it is that you are doing).

Such pieces are entirely free for you to use and while the quality can be variable there's always something to find that is well written and also of interest to your readers.

The reason people add their pieces to such an Article Directory might surprise you. There really are people out there who simply love to write, who gain great pleasure from the act of putting words on paper (or electrons on screen if you prefer) and one of the even greater pleasures is to find that people read them. That your ideas propagate out across the internet, if you wish.

Click through one of those links and check out what they have available for you. You'll almost certainly find pieces which are of interest to both you and your readers.

This is a sponsored post.

HYIP Monitor

Now here's a strange little site with some very interesting information in it. It's called HYIP Monitor but they prefer to be linked to as Adv which strikes me as ever so slightly strange.

Anyway, whatever their quirks about how they wish to be referred to they are in fact offering some very interesting information. They're a huge database of all of the fads and plans and money making opportunities that sweep through the web. You know the sort of thing, astrosurfing programs that pay out for either your own traffic or for traffic that you drive to a site via a link. HYIP programs and HYIP games.

At code for gold they've got what is probably the most important section too. It's all very well knowing who is going to pay you to do what, and it's certainly very nice to know how much they are willing to pay you for whatever it is that you are going to do, but what you really want to know is who is not going to pay you even if you do as they ask. That's right, some of these schemes are in fact fakes, scams, and that's what they have a section on.

So if you're thinking about trying out some of these plans, it's very much worthwhile checking out the site. You'll be able to find the plans you didn't know about and even better, find out whether the ones you want to join are likely to pay you or not.

This is a sponsored review.

Bid 4 Prizes

There's an interesting new site offering free gifts called Bid4Prizes. It's based upon a variation of the auction process: instead of the winning bid being the highest, it's actually the lowest bid which wins.

Aha, but there's obviously a catch to this, right? Such a sweepstake would quickly go bust as everone would bid one cent. And indeed there is acatch but it's one that just makes everything more interesting. It's the lowest unique bid that wins the item. Now that does make it interesting as you need to outgame everyone else to make the lowest bid that only one person does in fact make.

It's a fairly impressive list of prizes too: Apple iPhones, HDTV's and also straight cash prizes.

If you know your game theory this should be a really fun site to play around with so click through any of the above links to see how it works.

That Minty Taste

Well, not so much a taste actually, unless you're in the habit of licking your credit cards.

Amongst all of the competing offers for credit cards you need to work out which is the best one fo you: there are so many different variables that you need to decide which one best suits your needs. For example, do you have a large outstanding balance on your current card? If so, you might want to think about transferring to a 0% interest credit card which will sav you a great deal of money while you pay that off.

For example, the Mint credit card. They've also lowered their typical APR (that is, the rate they'll charge you for new purchases, not transferred balances) which is a saving of even more cash.

Worth clicking through the above link to see what they have to offer.

Disclosure Policy.

That Chinese Socialist Health Care System

I'm not sure that this woman is taking aim at the right people over this:

A Chinese woman's 64-year-old headache has ended after doctors removed a bullet that relatives said lodged in her skull when Japanese soldiers shot her during World War Two, state media reported on Monday.

Jin Guangying, now 77, lost consciousness after a Japanese patrol in Jiangsu province fired on her in 1943 as she went to meet her grandfather, a guerrilla fighter, the Beijing News said.

"When she came to, her head was wrapped in a bandage and she never realized there was a bullet lodged deep in her head," the paper said.

Later, she would regularly have headaches, foam at the mouth and "talk nonsense... like she had gone mad", the paper said.


Jin's relatives planned to seek redress for her more than 60 years of suffering.

"As her children, we will soon go to Nanjing to consult with relevant experts as to how to seek compensation from the Japanese government, and will definitely be seeking a public apology," the paper quoted Wang as saying.

Shouldn't they be planning to sue the wonderful Chinese Socialist medical system which left it undiagnosed all those years?

Simulators in Strange Places

I think we're all aware that pilots train on simulators, yes? That it's a great deal cheaper to use some computing power than to allow them to take straight to the air in $100 millions' worth of kit?

What you may not realise is that the cost of said computing power has been coming down so rapidly that the use of such simulators is now extending to many more industries. For example, the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools ( has recently added the requirement to use simulators to the programs used to train the operators of such heavy equipment.

A great idea actually, as it'll save tonnes of money in the training process, thus making al the things built with such machinery cheaper for all of us.

Here's the full press release:

Paul Freedman, President of Simlog, visited the headquarters for NAHETS, the National Association of Heavy Equipment Training Schools, on Monday April 23, 2007. Freedman was awarded an associate membership in NAHETS and wasnpresented with a plaque from NAHETS president, Matt Klabacka.

Freedman granted an interview regarding the significance of simulators in the training of heavy equipment operators.

Nahets Simulator Heavy Equipment Training School Simulator NAHETS logo

According to Freedman, simulators are an essential element in the quality offered by heavy equipment training schools. “Simulators can never replace seat time; however, they do allow an individual the opportunity to enhance their skills”

Simlog was founded in 1999 to commercialize training simulation technology developed at CRIM, one of Canada’s leading research institutes in information technologies.

The Simlog website states:

Today, Simlog is a very special simulator company, for these three reasons:

1. Simlog has a unique product focus: Simlog is pioneering a brand new kind of simulator product called Personal Simulator which leverages the power of your PC to finally provide truly cost-effective training help for heavy equipment operators. Tangible recognition has come in the form of several innovation awards:
* Canadian Construction Association in 2006 for our Hydraulic Excavator Personal Simulator
* Construction Innovation Forum in 2004 for our Mobile Crane Personal Simulator

2. Simlog has a unique business focus: heavy equipment operator training in the crane and construction industries, forestry, and mining. We do nothing else. Practically, this means that you can count on Simlog for more and more simulator-based help to address your heavy equipment operator training needs!

3. Simlog has a unique instructional focus: because we are working in multiple heavy equipment industries, we’ve gained special insights into operator training challenges and instructional design for training simulation. Indeed, every Personal Simulator is developed in collaboration with leading equipment manufacturers, their distributors, owner/operators, and training professionals.

For more information read the nahets blog at

Disclosure Policy.

This'll Wake You Up

It's one thing to go to sleep wit a 5 lb pet moggies, it's another to wake up to a 150 lb one trying to make a meal of it:

An Israeli man wrestled a leopard to the ground after it entered his bedroom in a desert college and tried to make a meal of his pet cat.

"He jumped on the leopard and pinned him to the floor, then his wife called us so we could take it away," Amram Zabari, a local park ranger who rushed to the scene, said on Tuesday.

Arthur De Mosh, a 45-year-old tour guide at the college near Kibbutz Sde Boker in southern Israel, was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of the leopard trying to eat his cat.

He freed the pet, which survived the ordeal, from the leopard's clutches.

One of the only 10 leopards living wild in Israel, so they say: still, a story for the grandchildren, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Myrtle Beach Golf

Yes, you're a golfer, indulging yourself in the finest game known to man or woman. You're also a perceptive golfer, knowing just where the finest courses are, the best way to play them and in fact, you'd like to test your skills on these very finest courses.

Which means that you know that the reputation of myrtle beach golf is second to none and that means that it's high on your list of where you'f like to play next.

Which means that I've got good news for you. Get thee to and see what they can do for you in terms of organizing a trip to Myrtle Beach for you. They've got he full range of packages, the best accomodations and they'll even schedule your tee times for you.

Highly recommended and well worth clicking through wither of those links above as you start to plan your trip to Myrtle Beach for the golf vacation of a lifetime.

Disclosure Policy.

Organ Donor Show

Yes, they're going ahead with this organ donor show:

A Dutch broadcaster will air a show this week in which a terminally ill woman selects a recipient for her kidneys from three contestants, despite government calls for the programme to be scrapped.

Newspaper De Telegraaf said BNN would broadcast The Big Donorshow on Friday during which the 37-year-old woman will choose from three people with kidney problems.

She will make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversations with their families and friends. Viewers will be able to send text messages advising her during the 80-minute show.

Why don't they actualy make an interesting TV show about the subject? Iran has a paid market for kidneys. It also has no waiting list for them. Wouldn't that be interesting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Refinancing a Mortgage

There's a lot written about mortgages (or to be more accurate, a refinance mortgage loan) and I'm about to add to it.

Some 8 months back we remortgaged our place....seems kike and odd thing to do given that the original mostgage was almost paid off. But we wanted to get a second house. The best way to finance this was to extract the equity we had in the first one. That loan is now being paid off by hte rent that we receive on that first house. So, we're washing our face there.

We then used the money we extracted to buy another house elsewhere, as a place for us to actually live in (it get s complicated because it's in a different country which is one reason we remortgaged, but it doesn't change the basic point). The equity we withdrew was enough to pay to remodel the house as well, so that's just finished and we're now able to live here full time.

But the nett effectof all of this is that we're not really paying a rent or a mortgage anywhere. Well, we are, but that's covered by the rent we're receiving.

Pretty good really and there's a decent site full or articles telling you how you too can do things like this. Here's one on cash-out mortgages and another on upgrade mortgages.

One of the best ways tomake money is to make sure that your money is working for you. So click through to find out how you can do that.

Disclosure Policy.

CITES Extensions

Lord, save us from well meaning fools:

Fish and chips, coral jewelry and wooden musical instruments will take centre stage at a U.N. wildlife forum next week which seeks to curb the billion-dollar trade in endangered marine and tree species.

Commercially valuable species like the spiny dogfish and the porbeagle shark, the European eel, pink coral and rosewood and cedar trees -- all threatened by over-use -- feature high on the agenda of the June 3-15 meeting in The Hague.

The talks will also help shape the future of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), whose restrictions were once aimed at exotic species like leopards and parrots but are now focusing on more commercial species.

Look, banning the trade in valuable species does not perserve them. It simply encourages poaching and smuggling. What is needed here is property rights: that someone owns the resource and thus plans for its long term explaoitation, rather than leaving it vulnerable to hte tragedy of the commons. What's worse is that governments know this but they get railroaded byhhte idiots who don't.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Motor Insurance

Now here's something that's worth having a look at. It's always something of a pain having to deal with motor insurance as there are so many people out there offering it. You therefore end up trawling through vast numbers of offers trying to work out which is the best deal.

You also find that if you don't have a no claims bonus, you're going to get shafted on the price. Which is why you might want to check out CIS motor insurance . Yes, there's the usual no claims bonus for having driven for a number of years without having made any substantial claims. But, for those who do not have this there is an alternative, an introductory discount. So whether you're a new or an experienced driver, you can be sure that you're getting a new deal.

There's also a further 10% discount for buying online: Nnow you know that makes sense, getting extra money off when it's easier for you anyway. Click through hte above links to check it out.

Disclosure Policy.

Beating the Pirates

Now here's a way to beat the video and DVD pirates:

Malaysian cinemas have found a powerful new weapon in their fight against movie pirates -- military-style night-vision goggles.

After showing people to their seats, trained ushers are strapping on the goggles and scanning darkened cinemas around the country to spot anyone trying to make illegal copies of movies with hand-held video recorders or mobile phones.

The Motion Picture Association, which is training Malaysian ushers to catch the pirates, said cinemas had caught 17 people in the past two months, during which Hollywood studios released blockbusters like "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

"All of the cases were spotted with night-vision goggles," the association's Malaysia manager, Nor Hayati Yahaya, said on Friday. "Its very successful."

A great idea but one that won't last for very long. All it needs is for one of the pirates to set of a flash gun and those wearing the night vision goggles will be out f action.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Furnishing The House

As regular readers will know we've recently purchased a house down here and then had the builders in getting it all sorted out. New roof, new electrics, new floors, windows and wonder, although I'm having a good year, that we don't actually have any money. Still, it's not like spending money on a house is wasting it, right?

But having got all of these things done we now come to the much more contentious problem of actually furnishing it. As I work from home of course I need a decent stock of home office furniture
so that's the part of the site that I shall make my own task to sift through. There's so many options that it will of course take me some time.

The wife meanwhile can be pointed at the sections on living room furniture as I know that she wants to mae all of this a really rather grand place. There's one huge advantage to her doing all of this shopping online of course, which is that I don't have to wander around two paces behind her as we trek through store after store. The selection is vastly greater than any one bricks and mortar store could offer precisely because they are online.

So a heart three cheers for the online furniture store I say, for it means that I can stay here working, earning (at least some of) the money to pay for whatever it is my better half decides we should be getting to sit upon. Like a black leather sofa for example. although I will admit that a house with four cats, two dogs and five kittens might not be exactly the best place to have something so likely to get scratched.

So, if you find yourself in the same situation needing to furnish a house, I strongly recommend that you do the same. Point your browser through any of the above links and do all of your shopping the easy way, online.

Disclosure Policy.

Free Funerals!

Italians are used to the way in which politicians suck off the teat of the State while alive but this is going too far even for them:

A free funeral is not everyone's idea of a perk but some politicians in northern Italy's Veneto region defended Wednesday the right to expense their final send-off amid a public outcry about freeloading politicians.

Councilors elected to the regional government housed in a palace on Venice's Grand Canal have voted themselves 7,500 euros worth of funeral expenses, on top of generous pay, free lunches, parking, daily expenses and other extras.

"I don't think it's outrageous for Councilors to have their funerals paid for, as recognition for 10 or 15 years of public service," said Veneto regional council president Marino Finozzi of the right-wing Northern League party.

Tackling reports that Councilors voted the perk months ago under cover of night, he said it was "not true we approved it at night because we were ashamed. It just happened to be late."

Pure public choice theory, of course. Politicians do things that benefit politicians.

Motivational Articles

Roaming around the blogosphere, as one does, I was interested to come across this blog with its series of motivational articles for entrepreneurs . Now the thing is I've been an entrepreneur all of my adult life, ever since I left university. No, I've not gone on to make a fortune but I have been able to enjoy a very good lifestyle, do the things I wanted to do and travel extensively. My time has, in short, been my own while I've been in businesses as varied as newspaper distribution, the restaurant trade, exotic metals and writing.

So I have a couple of decades worth of experience in being an entrepreneur and so am in a god position to judge the advice that's being given.

The advice from this young entrepreneur all seems to be good, top notch even, from my point of view. The motivational articles are indeed full of good advice about what you might think about doing in order to gee you up for the work that lies ahead. The stress on self-discipline makes equally god sense, as when you're working for yourself there's no one standing over you with a whip, telling you to get on with it.

Further, you do indeed need to become better at handling criticism (everyone does) and starting a healthier lifestyle is similarly good advice for everyone, but especially the entrepreneur, who needs that extra energy to get a project off the ground.

All in all, a decent collection of articles with good advice for those considering starting up on their own.

Disclosure Policy.

Hawaii Beach Rentals

As we all get richer (no, do not believe those who tell you that incomes are not going up. It really is true that we've never had it so good. Just look at the increase in quality to see what I mean.) we're able to expand our tastes a little, to up the ante as it were.

Where once an affordable vacation might have been a weekend at Pismo Beach, of a drive a few hundred miles to see the folks, the rise in incomes and the fall in costs has means that something like a Kauai vacation rental is now a serious possibility.

In fact, if you look at this list of Hawaii rentals you can see that it's not just achievable, it's actually quite cheap. $300 to $400 a night might sound a lot, but when you think that most of these Kauai vacation rentals sleep ten or twelve people, the cost per person coms down to well below the rates of even the cheapest motels.

So why not click through one of those links and check out what's on offer? It's affordable now, eminently so, to take your vacation in the Pearl of the Pacific.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Venetian Blinds

Now that we've got the builders out of the place (although they still need to come back and do the guttering) we face the next problem, how to decorate the place (as well as that ever fun problem, how to pay for doing so).

The wife (who is of course the person who must be obeyed around here) is arguing for venetian blinds which is certainly something I'm open to. In fact, when she gets back this afternoon I shall be getting her to click through that link to see what there is that Terry's Fabrics can do for us.

I'm rather torn myself between Roman Blinds, Roller Blinds and the aforementioned venetian blinds but as ever in such things no doubt I shall get what I'm told to get.

Anyway, if you have more choice than I do I suggest that you have a look at that site to see what's available. Even if you're not in the market right now it's always good to find out what is available, just for when you are.

Disclosure Policy.

Paying Your Taxes

You know, I'm not certain that this is the very most effective policy ever:

The Chinese capital has awarded 10 of the city's 387 taxpayers who each paid more than 1 million yuan ($130,700) in tax last year with certificates as a way of encouraging honesty, Chinese media reported.

One of the 10 -- including movie stars, real estate developers and artists -- paid 27 million yuan in tax, becoming the capital's highest taxpayer, according to the Beijing Times.

In total, the 387 people contributed 950 million yuan in tax last year, it said.

"The honest tax-paying behavior of these people will win them more opportunities and respect in their future work and life," the newspaper quoted Hao Shuobo, the deputy head of Beijing's Taxation Bureau, as saying.

I hand over many pieces of paper which are actually worth something and in return I get a piece which is worth nothing?

PPP Direct

Those nice people over at PayPerPost, the ones who make it easy to advertise on blogs (and also, of course, make it easy for bloggers to accept ads) have come up with another great idea.

Currently the marketplace is centrally run which is good in its way. It means that the bad bloggers and the bad advertisers are weeded out of the system. However, it's also possible that an advertiser want's to approach a blogger directly. If they do this, then why should they need to pay the 35% (much less than the other companies but still) fee just to handle the payment issues?

Why should PPP get such a sum when they're really not doing all of that much, given that blogger and advertiser have found each other directly?

So what they've done is launched PPP Direct (more details are here on their blog). To make it all very simple, as a blogger I can put a widget on my site. This marks me out, at first, as someone willing to take paid posts as advertisements. As and when an advertiser clicks on this widget we can converse and sort out exactly what it is that he wants. Length, links, pictures, tone and so on.

What PPP Direct is doing is providing that negotiation channel and also the most vital part, the payment mechanism. The charge is only 10%, of which half is swallowed up by credit card and paypal fees, so it's a very efficient system indeed.

Excuse me while I go and work out how to get a widget into my template will you, please?

Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Monex Deposit Company.

One of the things that you really ought to think about when planning your investment stragtegy is how would you protect your assets against inflation? Traditionally, this is where you should start to think about gold and other precious metals.

They tend to move counter-cyclically to inflation, so that if, for example, your bonds are going down in value as a result of either inflation or the high interest rates needed to beat it, your precious metals holdings will be going up in value at the same time.

Hopw you invest in physical lots though can be complicated. Which is why you might want to turn to the Monex Deposit Company. For over 30 years they've been helping their clients deal with this complex area. Click through the link above to find out more about what they can help you with.


We hear a lot about how these online games are becoming more popular. I've even seen people boasting that they are making a living playing them.

Which leads me to, having looked around a little at how this is done,Trickster Online .

No, this isn't a place to make money, rather, it's an online marketplace for the various things that you can get in the games. If you need a spell, or a character, or a piece to complete a set then this is the place to go where youcan swap it with one of the other players of such games.

The most important thing about any such market is the number of participants. That's where this seems to have a great edge, as there are over 30,000 registered members, ensuring a liquid market.

There's also a series of trickster forums and to tell you how to work the whole system, trickster guides.

Well worth having a look at.

Disclosure Policy.

An Efficient Police Force

Damn, don't you wish we could have a police force like this?

A nine-year-old German girl was so upset about having to tidy her room she put up a sign in her window urging passers-by to call police for help.

Pedestrians in the central city of Braunschweig saw the girl crying in the window, holding up a sign up saying "Help! Please call the police!" Next to her sat a small boy. Quickly alerted, officers rushed to the scene to discover the girl had argued with her mother about tidying her room and enlisted her two-year-old brother's aid to attract attention.

"The room looked like a battlefield," said a spokesman for local police on Monday. "Officers told the girl to tidy her room. When they came back two hours later to check, it was all cleaned up. And the mother and daughter had made up too."

Imagine, actually being able to get a nine year old to clean up her room.

So, the going to conquer cellulite next?

Executive Search

Trying to find the people you need to run your company or organization effectively can be a terribly difficult task. That's why it might be something that you should hire the experts to help you do.

The expert executive search firm is in fact AE Feldman Associates. They've been in business since 1967 so you can be sure that they know all of the ins and outs of the process.

Whether you're looking for risk management specialists, legal and legal support people, HR...they cover these areas with hte benefit of decades worth of experience.

They're aso very strong in the technology and communications fields.

So if you're looking to fill senior positions in any of tese fields, simply click through hte above link to see what they can do for you.

Comparing Mobile Phones

Thereare simply so many different operators, virtual operators, tariffs and so on available that it's almost impossible to work out which deal you should go for.

That's why this website is so useful, you can Compare the latest Mobile Phones on all the Major UK Networks, O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, Orange, Three and Virgin Mobile .

Should you buy monthly minutes? Go for a contract? Get special rates at special hours? They take you through the whole thing, all the different variations (tere are as many as 50,000 different possibilities) to make sure that you get exactly the best deal given your circumstances and desires.

Disclosure Policy.

Drunk Driving a What?

Yes, one for the annals of the improbable:

A wheelchair-bound German stunned police when they pulled him over for using the road and found he was 10 times over the legal alcohol limit for drivers.

"He was right in the middle of the road," said a spokesman for police in the northeastern city of Schwerin Tuesday. "The officers couldn't quite believe it when they saw the results of the breath test. That's a life-threatening figure."

The 31-year-old told police he had been out drinking with a friend and was a little over a mile from home when a squad car stopped him as he passed through the village of Ventschow.

Police said that because the man was technically traveling as a pedestrian, he could not be charged with a driving offence.

Ten times the limit is indeed a life-threatening figure. I'd certainly need a wheelchair if I had that much booze...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Credit Cards and Insurance

Sure, almost all of us have a credit card, it's a necessary part and parcel of being in the modern wired world. It's tough to buy things online without one, just as an example.

However, there's a coule of things you really want to know about Credit Cards .

One is that you need to be sensitive to the possiblities of phishing. Click through for more, but essentially someone sends you a fake email, saying that you need to alter some details on your account. When you try, you're taken to a fake site where they steal you details and then spend all the credit on your card. You do want to read about how to protect yourself from this.

The second is that you get quite a lot of insurance when you pay for things with a card. Again, click through to read more. But, for example, if you buy a plane flight with a card you almost certainly won't need to also buy travel insurance. Didn't know that? Well, see why you might want to read the article?

Disclosure Policy.

Nekkid Tourists!

Yes, foreign countries are indeed foreign, they do things differently there:

A naked American tourist raised eyebrows when he went for a walk through a German city and told police he thought this was acceptable behavior in Germany.

"We have been having unusually hot weather here lately but, all the same, we can't have this," a spokesman for police in the southern city of Nuremberg said Tuesday. "The man said he thought walking around naked was tolerated in Germany."

Many Germans enjoy nude sunbathing which is allowed in public parks. The 41-year-old was carrying his clothes in a bag when police stopped him Monday evening after complaints from pedestrians.

The tourist was not under the influence of drugs, said police. They made him get dressed and pay a 200 euro ($269) deposit pending his investigation for indecent behavior.

Yes, differently, but perhaps not all that differently.

Ethical Loans

You'll have noticed the controversy over the idea of predatory lending recently. In both the US and the UK there's growing unease with the idea that banks might lend too much, hooking people into huge and long lasting loans .

Fortunately, it's now possible to bank with a company that is committed to avoiding this sort of thing, a bank with a proper ethical policy. From the way they deal with customers, to the investments they make and yes, the loans they make, the Co-Op bank is committed to a purely ethical approach to interacting with the world.

Click through either of those links to see how they can help you, aid you in meeting your financial needs

Disclosure Policy.

People Are Idiots

You cannot believe that people would do this:

Computer specialist Didier Stevens put up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a computer virus for people who did not have any.

Surprisingly, he found as many as 409 people clicking on the ad saying "Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!" during a 6-month advertising campaign on Google's Adword, said the IT security expert.

"Some of them must have clicked on it by mistake. Some must have been curious or stupid," said Mikko Hypponen, head of research at data security firm F-Secure.

There was no virus involved, it was an experiment aiming to show these kind of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent, Stevens told Reuters.

The thing is, however stupid people are, doesn't mean that everything shouldbe run by bureaucrats. They are just as stupid as us but with worse incentives.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Web 2.0 in India

It shouldn't come as all that much of a surprise that we're seeing some of the more interesting Web 2.0 applications coming out of places like India. For as we know the place is chock full of well trained engineers (personally I was working with offshoring to the country back in 1989 but that's another story) and as with any group of people trained up to the eyeballs in these new technologies some of them are going to have good ideas about their implementation.

One example is this site where you can get India Hyper Agreegated! It's called Indy Chai (and yes, "chai" is where we get our own word "char" from).

In one way it's simply a news aggregation protal, with the addition of the usual RSS feeds and so on. But that's not really all of what it is. The Web 2.0 part comes from the aggregation of course, picking up feeds from others and then editing them to provide the exact mix that youactually want. Further, it's not just the editor's mix that you have to accept. You can personalise it to provide the mix that you yourself want, no problems.

If you're interested in the news coming out of India, (Bollywood, cricket, politics, business, whatever) then this looks like a very interesting way of actually getting it in the format that you want.

This is a sponsored post.

CRM Software

When you look at all to many businesses from outside the incredibly frustrating thing is to see how much they're spending on attracting customers in in the first place and how much of that they're wasting by not dealing with them properly.

The answer is aways that they need to start using crm software. This is customer relationship management in the full phrase. Here's what hte problem is. Yes, people often do run very effective marketing and advertising campaigns, which brings the leads and contacts flooding in. But all too often there's no rigorous system to make sure that all of those contacts are properly dealt with.
Each inquiry needs to be logged, someone assigned to dealing with it and then followed throuh hte various processes. Do they need information? A sales call? A physical visit? After these, should the be followed up? Perhaps a draft contract prepared?

Without a system that tracks all of this it's far too easy for some (or many) of those expensively purchased initial contacts to be wasted.

If you haven't got such a system then you want to go here to see what AimPromote can do for you in the way of crm and thus increase your profits by leveraging your marketing spend.

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China and Private Equity

History, as we know, does not actually repeat itself, but there are often interesting parallels that can be drawn.

A huge shift in global capital flows is forecast after the Chinese government's acquisition of a $3bn (£1.5bn) stake in the sprawling US private equity group Blackstone, owner of Café Rouge restaurants, Madame Tussauds and Center Parcs.

The purchase, though substantial in its own right, is likely to be only the starting point of a $200bn foray into world stock markets and private companies by the communist government in Beijing.

China has the world's biggest foreign exchange reserves, worth $1.3 trillion and growing by $1m a minute. Until now, most of this has been invested in safe but low-yield US treasury bonds. With the dollar slipping in value, policymakers in Beijing are diversifying into riskier but potentially higher-return private equity.

You see, something very similar happened back in the late 80s early 90s. Then it was Japan that had all the money: the gardens of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo were valued as being worth more than all of London. So various Japanese investors started buying those oh so cheap US assets: the Rockefeller Center, various Hollywood studios etc.

They found out the hard way that they had grossly overpaid. Will the same thing happen this time?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Which Furniture Store?

As the builders have left and we're now rolling around in the now expansive confines (as compared to the barn we spent the last two months in) of our renovated home my thoughts are naturally turning to not spending another dime on hte place. My wife's are equally naturally turning to what can she buy to fill said space. Furniture, of course.

Rather than allowing her to drag me off on an endless trawl of the shops I'm insisting that she does her research online. There's a good reason for this as well. A bricks and mortar store can only carry a limited range of stock, while an internet one can have one huge warehouse and actually carry everything. This lesser requirement to hold stock also means that they can sell the items much more cheaply...less is good, of course.

So I've been pointing her here, to look at bedroom sets for example. Once she's decided upon the bedroom furniture she can then go on and look for, say, leather furniture, perhaps leather sofas (although whether they are consistent with a house full of animals I'm not sure) and if I'm really lucky a peninsula desk for me. All of which she can do while I don't have to follow her around the stores going yes dear, no dear.

Which is really rather wonderful as it gives me an opportunity to stay at my desk and make the money to pay for the things :-)

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The Beast Within

Further proof, as if any were needed, that women can be strange creatures:

A 57-year-old Dutch woman who was attacked by a gorilla at a Rotterdam zoo said the ape was still her favorite even though she felt she was going to die when he bit her.

"I go to the zoo almost every day with my husband, and we're always going to see Bokito. I even have pictures and videos from Berlin when he was only four months old," the woman told Dutch mass-circulation daily Telegraaf.

"He is and remains my darling," the paper quoted the woman as saying from her hospital bed, where she is being treated for bite wounds and a broken arm and wrist. The 11-year old male gorilla burst out of its enclosure on Friday and went on a rampage in the zoo's cafeteria before being recaptured.

"I stood by the small apes in the Africa section when I heard a thud behind me. I turned around and there was Bokito. I had nowhere to go. He gripped me, sat on me with his full weight and began biting me," the woman told the Telegraaf.

Perhaps there is this something to their like of the beast within?

Credit Card Guide

It's a simple truism about this modern world that you do actually need to have a credit card. There are simply so many things you cannot do without one: like buying something online. This means that whatever your credit rating you need to find some way of getting hold of one of these pieces of plastic. It might be a debit card or a pre-paid card, but a card of some type you will need.

Which brings with it its own problems, for when offered credit it is all too easy to use it all and find oneself owing more than you can afford.

Which is why this little credit card guide seems to useful. Have a look through their different articles but I was taken with this one on how you go about choosing the right credit card and then this one discussing which types of credit cards are available.

If you need more information on this both necessary and vexsing subject I strongly suggest you click through one ofthose links to get more information.

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Getting the women together

This looks like a very worrisome trend in trying to get a world record:

Over 1,000 pregnant women in South Africa set a new world record Saturday for the largest gathering of women due to give birth -- and there were no early arrivals.

"We were a little bit concerned having all these pregnant women under one roof, but we are happy that none of them went into labor," said organizer Projeni Pather.

"We had taken measures just in case and had medical teams on stand by and nearby hospitals on alert," the exhibition director for Your Baby Show in Johannesburg said.

They got the record, for sure, and no one did give birth. But given hte cravings that pregnant women can have, is it actually possible to have enough chocloate ice cream in hte same place as well?

Friday, May 18, 2007


There's a lot of talk about Web 2.0 and not all of it is coming from consultants talking up their hourly rate. There's also a lot of talk about social media and again, not all of it is about people talking their own interests.

However, I think I've found the first social netowrking site that is in fact Web 2,0, a place where you can Mix, sync, and share your media . You can add video, blog posts, pictures, al in the same place.

I have a feeling this is going to be very popular amongst the younger crowd. Not so much for old farts like me, but there is a generation down there that doesn't realise that video, as an example, used to be an expensive, difficult thing to do online, or that bandwidth used to restrict how much we posted, or the pixel quality of photographs. As these people, gorwing up believin that all of these tools are simply there, to be used, I think that iGliss is going to grow substantially.

And good luck to them, of course.

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This is a little different: when I was in college all the arguments were about trying to get the authorities to provide free pregnancy testing on a voluntary basis....not compulsory:

A Chinese technical college for boarders has defended compulsory pregnancy tests for students as a responsibility to them and their families, local media reported Friday.

The college in Urumqi, capital of the far western region of Xinjiang, had tested new students for several years and would ask those who tested positive to leave, the Beijing News said, citing students.

"We are a closed boarding school. Every year we ask new students to take routine health checks. The pregnancy tests are just a part of that. This is a duty toward the students and families," the paper quoted an unnamed school official as saying.

The school, where girls aged 17 and 18 comprise 70 to 80 percent of new spring semester students, gathered "whole classes" of girls into a hall to pass urine samples on to doctors, the paper said.

But then this is indeed China, rather mroe authoritarian than most colleges.

Pet Insurance.

Given that we're now the caretakes fo two dogs, four cats (one with only three legs) and five kittens, perhaps this really is something I should pay more attention to: pet insurance .

Costs are rising strongly, as are the sorts of treatments that you can now offer: I'm not so sure that I would pay the quoted $5,500 to treat a dog for cancer but we certainly did pay for the kitten to have a gangrenous leg amputated, rather than just drowning it as people would have done not so long ago.

So, time I went and got a quote on this, don't you think?

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Using DHL to Smuggle Heroin

This doesn't sound like the most sensible thing anyone's ever tried:

Tajik police have arrested a woman for trying to smuggle heroin in a refrigerator through express delivery firm DHL, the interior ministry said Friday.

The DHL office in the Tajik capital Dushanbe grew suspicious after noticing that its transportation cost to Moscow exceeded the actual cost of the fridge by several times. It then called the police, said the interior ministry.

"We have arrested a 26-year-old woman who tried to send via DHL a refrigerator with a total of 17.4 kg of heroin hidden in its inner cover plate," said Interior Ministry spokesman Khudoinazar Asozoda.

Surely everyone knows that to do this properly, you need to have your own courier company, as we did?

Actually, true story on our part, but with rather a lot of caveats (medicinal, going to someone dying of bone cacer....)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cheap International Calling

It's true that the costs of international phone calls have fallen in recent years, but they'venot fallen as much as they could have done. To get the best deals you do need to dig around a little. Which is where Pingo comes in. They are a prepaid calling card provider, which means that you can get much cheaper rates than in other places.

You can also use their phone card coupon code to get even better prices, for example, these India calling card rates.

There's even special offers, like $10 of free Father's Day calls. Plus a $25 Free Merchant Gift Card Giveaway.

It's worth noting that Pingo is actually owned by a publically listed company, one on Nasdaq, so there's no worries over their finance and in fact, they're one of the largest carriers of international calls: that's what allows their prices to be so low, the fact that they're doing so much volume. Those low wholesale rates get passed along to you.

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The Tories Don't Like This

As I said yesterday this decision by hte Tories not to support Grammar Schools will benefit the only party which does, UKIP:

David Cameron faced an angry backlash last night as he declared that he would not be dragged into a "pointless debate" about creating a new generation of grammar schools.

He spoke out as senior party figures rounded on David Willetts, the shadow education secretary, for ruling out a return to selection under a future Tory government.

Mr Willetts said grammar schools were no longer offering an escape route for children from the poorest backgrounds.

He said the party would focus on expanding city academies, one of Tony Blair's flagship policies.

"We must break free from the belief that academic selection is any longer the way to transform the life chances of bright poor kids," he told the Confederation of British Industry.

Well, of course they're not producing results at he moment: there aren't enough of them!

Online Poker

While the Americans tie themselves up in knots over the moral and legal implications of gambling online we Brits are of course allowed to carry on to our hearts content. Which is why we're seeing poker rooms aimed specifically at us, of course.

So much so that there's good competition for your leisure time, as evidenced by this offer, Full Tilt Poker Bonus Code.

As and when you sign up you get a 100% bonus (up to $600 actually) of whatever sum you deposit to play with. They've got both high and low stakes tables so that sum could, if you were parsimonious, last you quite a long time!

They've also got enough activity going on that there's some $3 million a week in guaranteed tournaments.

This actually sounds like the sort of thing that my American business partner would enjoy, he being a poker maven. Just so unfair that he's not actually allowed, by his own governmnet, to do as he wishes, isn't it?

Disclosure Policy.

The Army Bottles it

This is something of a shame, the idea that Prince Harry will not be following his unit to Iraq. That's pretty much the end of his Army career then:

Prince Harry will not be posted to Iraq because the country has become too dangerous, the head of the Army announced yesterday.

Not all that sure I understand the thinking. Historically, that was in fact the function of royalty, especially Princes and even more so the spare to the heir. I think this is a dreadful mistake.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Free Dating

Yes, we know, the internet (more specifically, the web) has enabled all sorts of social networking sites to get up and running.

It's also been great for dating sites, for it helps to deal with one of the major economic problems that they faced in the dead tree world: cost. When such meet people activities were tried in print, they came up against the cost issue. It costs money to print and distribute magazines and newspapers, thus the actual amount of dating activity was less than pwoplw actually wanted.

The web allowed all of this to be done at much lower cost and is thus better....but then various business types realized that there was good money to be made out of this (the urge to sex is, after all, quite basic to humans) which meant that they charged for access to their sites. Thus there was still less activity going on than people wanted.

Which brings us up to date, with the recent launch of JustSayHi. This is entirely free, never costs anything, no, you don't have to even offer a credit card. Now, perhaps, we'll get the optimal amount of dating, as people no longer have to pay for the information.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Universal Studios Tickets

Orlando has been gaining ground as a tourist and travel destination for decades now (it's certainly a lot larger than it was when I last went there in the early 80s), so much so that it gets nearly 40 million visitors a year (more, would you believe, than the population of the largest State in the Union?).

The combination of the weather and Disney placing a park there has lead to what economists call a cluster...because people went there for vacations, more people open attractions, which leads to more people going on vacation and s on in a never ending reinforcement.

This has got to the stage now that there are at least 52 theme parks in the area.

All of which leads to one further problem. How on earth do you decide which to go to of all the competing places? Arabian Nights? Medieval Times? Where, above all else, is the best place to get the tickets? Well, that last thing is easy. Click through this link for Universal Studios Tickets.

Yes, of course they handle them for all of the other attractions as well so you can rest assured that you'll see all of the available opportunities and all at the very best prices too.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Buying a Nation

Ever wanted to go out and buy an entire country? Sure you have, who wouldn't want to own everything and everybody in a pace?

Well, now you can, at Buy a Nation.

OK, OK, it's not quite buying a whole country, rather, it's a variation on the pixel advertising schemes, were you buy ad size on a site proportional to the size (as determined by some fairly different metrics...Portugal is the most expensive country and guess which country the developer comes from?).

Seems like an interesting idea so click through that link to check it out.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tom Tom 6

Hey now, wait a minute, why didn't anyone tell me about this? The Tomtom 6 I mean?

Yes, OK, so I know all about in car sat nav systems and how useful they are (although that story in today's paper about the woman whose system put her onto a level crossing is slightly worrying) but the Tomtom 6 takes this all to a completely new level.

Seriously, why didn't I already know that I can get the complete maps of the UK and Ireland (with both voice and visual navigation) onto my mobile phone for only a smidgeon over £50?

Excellent looking idea I must say. OK, off now to ask the wife if I can spend that much on my new toy.

Hhhm. I wonder whether she'll let me upgrade to the Navman as well. Instead of?

Disclosure Policy.

Phil Workman

There are some good people out there after all:

A convicted murderer put to death in Tennessee this week got his last meal wish after he died.

Philip Workman had turned down the usual final meal of his choice traditionally offered the condemned, asking instead that a vegetarian pizza be given to a homeless person.

Prison officials refused to send out a pizza and Workman died Wednesday by lethal injection.

But news accounts of his request touched a nerve with the public.

Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas. Media reports said listeners to a radio station in Minnesota also ordered pizzas sent to another organization for troubled youngsters.

I've heard that one woman, Donna Spangler, was responsible for 150 of those alone.

Drug Treatment

Yes, regular readers will know that I'm all in favour of drug legalisation. It's my and your right to ingest whatever it is that we might wish to.

However, alongside that goes the knowledge that some people will become addicted to drugs: addiction removes the free choice part of the argument and thus means that those who wish to stop should be helped.

It's for that reason that I'm both in favour of legalisation and also of drug treatment

Check out what can offer in this field, they're a 28 day program in Michigan, treating people from across the country.

Disclosure Policy.

Men Buy More Expensive Handbags

There's something missing from this research I think:

Men are more likely than women to opt for a luxury brand when buying handbags -- and it's the label, not the price, that counts, according to a survey of wealthy shoppers.

The Luxury Institute on Tuesday said the demand for luxury bags remains strong, with about one third of 1,500 wealthy American shoppers surveyed buying a branded bag in the last 12 months.

"The luxury handbag is the accessory that defines the wealthy woman and is a major profit driver for luxury fashion brands," said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the New York-based researcher focused on wealthy consumers.

The Luxury Institute found that men were more likely than women to reach for a luxury label when buying a handbag -- 73 percent of men, compared with 50 percent of women -- and over three times more likely to choose luxury French brand Chanel.

Now maybe this is my Englishness showing through but males purchasing handbags is something of a sign of metrosexuality (at the least) while nearly all women buy them. So what we're seeing here is thatthe men are self-selecting as being those with higher disposable incomes. Yes?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Small Business Bookeeping

One of the right and royal pains of running a small business is trying to keep the bookkeeping straight. All of the laws and regulations about how much information you must keep and so on are written on the asssumption that you've got at least a full time bookkeeper, if not a whole department. When you have to do this yourself, over and above trying to find customers and service them this is obviously a severe drag on your performance.

You can indeed try to hire a bookkeeper but this can be very expensive, thousands of $ a month.

So the solution might well be to use Quickbooks

However, even that requires a large amount of record keeping as well as learining the system itself. The real solution is to outsource the work to someone who will do it for a reasonable price, like Accounting Paradise. You can see how they work here and look at their payroll services (very worthwhile) here.

Accounting is necessary, yes, but you're usually far better off getting someone else to do it so that you can concentrate on growing your business.

The SNP and Labour

This might be a serious mistake on the part of the Scottish Lib Dems. Rejecting out of hand a coalition with hte SNP over the idea of a referendum on independence.

The constitutional future of Scotland was plunged into crisis after Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen last night rejected Alex Salmond's offer of a share in a coalition government by demanding that the SNP instantly drop their demands for a referendum on independence.

The net effect is going to be either a minority SNP administration or a resumption of the Labour Lib Dem one. The latter would most certainly be seen as a rejection of the voters' desires and will cause the Lib Dems the same problems they had after they'd propped up Callaghan.

No, far better I think to have gone into hte coalition, allowed the referendum to take place and watch as the SNP lost it, putting the issue to bed for a generation or more.

Wilmington NC Real Estate

I have to admit that I've been very surprised that it has taken so long for people to start to use (and thus call forth the offering of) the services of buyers agents.

Buying a home is a classic piece of information asymmetry. The real estate agent is working for (and is paid by) the seller of the house, so both in law and in practice (despite the results from Freakonomics that of course there is an agent problem here and they're really working in their own interests) they are working for the interests of the seller.

As they arethe professionals who know and understand the market this puts you the buyer at something of a disadvantage.

So I'm interested to see that the wilmington nc real estate market does indeed support a buyers agent in the form of Coastal Carolina Properties. They act exclusively on behalf of the buyer (so that they take no listings for sales and thus can be fully on your side). This means that you have a professional who knows the market working for you, the buyer, rather than for the seller.

This corrects that information asymmetry and will alomst certainly get you a much better deal. Given that the wilmington nc real estate market is one of those still booming, as the region is one of the fastest growing in the country, this is most certainly something you'll want to look into.

Disclosure Policy.

Sarkozy Wins!

But I'm afraid I do have a certain problem with the headline here, that France faces a "right wing revolution".

France is on course for a Right-wing revolution after Nicolas Sarkozy secured an emphatic victory over his Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal, last night to become the country's next president.

Car horns sounded around the capital on the news that Mr Sarkozy, 52, who heads the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party, had 53 per cent of the vote against Miss Royal's 47 per cent, according to official exit polls.

Sarko might be right wing in French terms but then again, so was Jacques Chirac. So what's this revolution then? One slight right winger taking over from another?

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Dear Lucky Winner,
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iPod Giveaway

Looking for an iPod but don't want to pay for it?

Well, you're in luck, just go over here and you could be the lucky one to get one. 30 gig ipod give away! No Joke! .

There's one iPod being given away each day to those who register on the site so why not? They're also interested in you signing up for a free Web Billpay account but as you really want one of those anyway there's not harm in doing two things at once, right?

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