Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shirky: Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality

A persistent theme among people writing about the social aspects of weblogging is to note (and usually lament) the rise of an A-list, a small set of webloggers who account for a majority of the traffic in the weblog world. This complaint follows a common pattern we've seen with MUDs, BBSes, and online communities like Echo and the WELL. A new social system starts, and seems delightfully free of the elitism and cliquishness of the existing systems. Then, as the new system grows, problems of scale set in. Not everyone can participate in every conversation. Not everyone gets to be heard. Some core group seems more connected than the rest of us, and so on.

Prior to recent theoretical work on social networks, the usual explanations invoked individual behaviors: some members of the community had sold out, the spirit of the early days was being diluted by the newcomers, et cetera. We now know that these explanations are wrong, or at least beside the point. What matters is this: Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality.

In systems where many people are free to choose between many options, a small subset of the whole will get a disproportionate amount of traffic (or attention, or income), even if no members of the system actively work towards such an outcome. This has nothing to do with moral weakness, selling out, or any other psychological explanation. The very act of choosing, spread widely enough and freely enough, creates a power law distribution.

Shirky: Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Snap Fitness Center Franchise Opportunities

Our first club opened in 2004. Today, with more than 1,500 sold in the United States and Canada, we rank #1 on Franchise Market Magazine's Top 100 New Franchises* and #3 among Entrepreneur Magazine's Top New Franchises**.

A Snap Fitness franchise is easy to afford, easy to manage - 70% of our franchisees are absentee owners - and easy to market.
Snap Fitness Center Franchise Opportunities

Low Cost, High Value Makes My Model Work

Less is more! That's what I concluded after a two-year quest to design the ideal health club for a would-be owner like you.

I managed "big box" clubs for 20 years. Though successful, I questioned the work and capital needed to turn a profit. So, through analysis and trial-and-error, I down-sized, stripping costly amenities and keeping only the bare essentials that fit in low-rent, well-situated malls.

I cut labor by using a high-security, key-card system to let members come and go in a safe environment. And I emphasized good value and a low price.

My first test in rural Minnesota yielded 180 members in 30 days. From my point of view that was good enough financially. Pilots in larger markets got similar results. I realized I had a tiger by the tail - and a business model you can use to pursue your dreams.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Market.. Assets.. and Bankruptcy concept!!!! -

Once there was a little island country. The land of this country was the tiny island itself. The total money in circulation was 2 dollars as there were only two pieces of 1 dollar coins circulating around.

1) There were 3 citizens living on this island country. A owned the land. B and C each owned 1 dollar.

2) B decided to purchase the land from A for 1 dollar. So, now A and C own 1 dollar each while B owned a piece of land that is worth 1 dollar.

* The net asset of the country now = 3 dollars.

3) Now C thought that since there is only one piece of land in the country, and land is non producible asset, its value must definitely go up. So, he
borrowed 1 dollar from A, and together with his own 1 dollar, he bought the land from B for 2 dollars.

*A has a loan to C of 1 dollar, so his net asset is 1 dollar.
* B sold his land and got 2 dollars, so his net asset is 2 dollars.
* C owned the piece of land worth 2 dollars but with his 1 dollar debt to A, his net residual asset is 1 dollar.
* Thus, the net asset of the country = 4 dollars.

4) A saw that the land he once owned has risen in value. He regretted having sold it. Luckily, he has a 1 dollar loan to C. He then borrowed 2 dollars from B and acquired the land back from C for 3 dollars. The payment is by 2 dollars cash (which he borrowed) and cancellation of the 1 dollar loan to C.
As a result, A now owned a piece of land that is worth 3 dollars. But since he owed B 2 dollars, his net asset is 1 dollar.

* B loaned 2 dollars to A. So his net asset is 2 dollars.
* C now has the 2 coins. His net asset is also 2 dollars.
* The net asset of the country = 5 dollars. A bubble is building up.

Market.. Assets.. and Bankruptcy concept!!!! -

Monday, October 20, 2008

MIT Entrepreneurship Development Program

Entrepreneurship drives innovation and economic growth. It enables new ideas, novel approaches, and innovative technologies to reach the marketplace. Entrepreneurship underlies the competitiveness and prosperity that characterize the U.S. economy and the economies of many other democratic societies.

The Entrepreneurship Development Program (EDP) leverages MIT's culture of high-tech entrepreneurship to help entrepreneurs, corporate venturing executives, and others involved in entrepreneurial environments learn what they need to develop ideas into successful businesses, and how to increase entrepreneurial opportunities in their corporations, institutions, and regions. The course introduces participants to MIT's technology transfer system, entrepreneurial educational programs, and entrepreneurial network that have created more than 5,000 firms (so far) with combined annual sales of over $200 billion.

In lectures, visits to high-tech start-ups, and live case studies with successful entrepreneurs, participants learn to identify and evaluate opportunities for new ventures, how the U.S. venture capital investment process works, and how the venture creation process may vary according to country. Understanding how to build new companies from corporate laboratories or university-based science and technologies is critical to this process.

The program covers the entire venture creation process from idea generation to building viable businesses, with special emphasis on the nurturing roles of corporations, universities, governments, and foundations. Using MIT's entrepreneurial culture as a model, participants learn what they need to know to make high-tech startups successful.

Entrepreneurship Development Program

Home Sweet Office: Telecommute Good for Business, Employees, and Planet

That might sound a bit radical to those who swear by the office's supposed benefits, like camaraderie and face-to-face collaboration. But time and again, studies have shown that telecommuters are every bit as engaged as their cubicle-bound brethren — and happier and more productive to boot. Last year, researchers from Penn State analyzed 46 studies of telecommuting conducted over two decades and covering almost 13,000 employees. Their sweeping inquiry concluded that working from home has "favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent, and stress." The only demonstrable drawback is a slight fraying of the relationships between telecommuters and their colleagues back at headquarters — largely because of jealousy on the part of the latter group. That's the first problem you solve when you kill your office.

Home Sweet Office: Telecommute Good for Business, Employees, and Planet
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Father takes son to court for idleness

A father took his 20-year old son to an Islamic court in northern Nigeria for idleness, asking that he be sent to prison for refusing to engage in productive activities, state news agency NAN said Friday.

"He is not listening to words and he is bringing shame to my family. I am tired of his nefarious deeds. Please put this boy in prison so that I can be free," Sama'ila Tahir, a market trader in the northeastern town of Bauchi, was quoted as saying.

Tahir told the court that his son had refused to go to school and accused him of belonging to a criminal gang.

The court sentenced the son to six months in prison and 30 strokes of the cane -- which were immediately administered on the premises -- for being disobedient to his parents, NAN said.

Father takes son to court for idleness | Oddly Enough | Reuters

An Entrepreneur's Early Days

As the venture starts growing, the choices before the entrepreneur start increasing. There are many roads ahead. There is a world full of opportunity. Just like the teenager who feels he can do no wrong, so does the entrepreneur. This is, therefore, also the most dangerous period in the life of the entrepreneur.

As a teenager, one feels one can have it all. No one else knows more. The world is at one's beck and call. These crucial years lay the foundation for how adulthood will be. There is tremendous energy that lies within, waiting for an outlet. So, too for an entrepreneur. One has gone through the early, tough days, and there is a latent volcano waiting to explode on the scene. This is the time when the entrepreneur has to most careful for the choices one makes now will determine the course of the future. In business as in life, there is no Undo or Edit button.

Choices there are many recruiting the second-tier management team, the first markets to tap into, the partners to ally with, the activities to do. This is the time when temptation of doing everything is abundant. This is when judicious decisions need to be made on what not to do. This is the harder choice. Entrepreneurs naturally feel that they are capable of doing everything at the same time.

This is the time when the entrepreneur has to show more maturity that is normal, by deciding on the few things that need paramount attention. There will be multiple competing strands vying for attention. Resources are limited, opportunities do not seem to be. There is a sense that if one does not capitalise on something now, it will be gone forever. It is the world of Now and Must-Have for the entrepreneur. The choice must therefore be on What Not To Do simply because there is no way that everything can be done well at the same time.

E M E R G I C . o r g: TECH TALK: An Entrepreneur's Early Days

What to do now?

Unfortunately, we cant sit back and say, I am not going to do anything this year. We have to do something just to keep abreast with inflation. That means you have to earn 12% on your assets (liquid, fixed) to just stay where you are. (Assuming inflation stays at 12%).

No matter what the conditions are, there is always an opportunity to make some profit. Business is a natural extension to any given situation. Put me back into stone age. I am sure I will find something to make and sell.

Since we are domain agnostic and stick to the simple philosophy of "To Create Surplus", I don't see any problem in finding an opportunity. But the efforts are going to go up and the margins are going to come down. That's for sure. And that's the challenge.

Deevee One: What to do now?

'NO' is the answer

Note to self

Winners don't take 'NO' for an answer. There is one thing that I would like to add to it. Forget about winning, if you want to stop screwing yourself, learn to say 'NO' to people, in the right time, right way.

An adage comes to my mind...

"మొహమాటానికి వెళ్లి ముండ కడుపు తెచ్చుకున్నదని"

Is now the time for a Wall Street sequel? | Film |

I think you've rather misunderstood by the way .... which sadly indicates you've failed to understand the entire message of the movie!!! The point was that some of the companies that GG (in the real world, the Rowlands and Goldsmiths) raided had little wrong with them - crucially they WEREN'T "sick or dying," BUT they were not completely ruthless in maximising profitability (and therefore shareprice) to the very last fraction of a cent. They were companies taking a 'hey, we can all do well' attitude and therefore combined making reasonable (though not maximal) profits with being decent to their workforces, honest with their customers, respectful to the environment, etc.

What the GGs did was come along and buy up shares in the knowledge that by instead sh1tting all over the workforce, customers, environment, by taking a completely greedy, immoral and irresponsible stance they could up profitability and shareprice, thereby being able to sell-on the shares at a large profit.

The important message of the movie being that mature shareholder-owned corporate capitalism is fundamentally evil - that it CAN no longer act in any other way, it cannot be responsible, it cannot be "ethical" because as soon as any corporation attempts so to act, it fails to maximise profitability and therefore shareprice, thus exposing itself to being bought and any such approach expunged to make a profit on the shares. And that is why such opportunities today are, as you say, rare - because no-one would dare to try and run a corporation in anything but a wholly amoral 'shareprice-maximising at any cost whatsoever' way!

Is now the time for a Wall Street sequel? | Film |

Georgia Lottery Corporation

As with all other Georgia Lottery games, proceeds from Mega Millions will benefit education in the state of Georgia. Since its first year, the Georgia Lottery Corporation has returned over $10.1 billion to the state of Georgia for education. All Georgia Lottery profits go to pay for specific educational programs including Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship Program and Georgia’s Pre-K Program. More than 1.1 million students have received HOPE, and more than 940,000 4-year-olds have attended the statewide, voluntary prekindergarten program.

Official Home of Mega Millions

Knight News Challenge

The 2009 Knight News Challenge is year three of a contest awarding as much as $5 million a year for innovative ideas that develop platforms, tools and services to inform and transform community news, conversations, and information distribution and visualization.

Knight Foundation plans to invest at least $25 million over five years in the search for bold community news and social media experiments.

In 2008, 17 winners were awarded over $5 million dollars. Their projects were from around the world and addressed a wide range of issues.

If you want to know more about the Knight News Challenge, we suggest you start at the beginning and read every page on this site.

If you are a reporter writing about the Knight News Challenge, please visit our press room.

The News Challenge is an initiative of John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Journalism Program.

About Us | Knight News Challenge

The Hungry Scientist Handbook

The Hungry Scientist Handbook brings DIY technology into the kitchen and onto the plate. It compiles the most mouthwatering projects created by mechanical engineer Patrick Buckley and his band of intrepid techie friends, whose collaboration on contraptions started at a memorable 2005 Bay Area dinner party and resulted in the formation of the Hungry Scientist Society—a loose confederation of creative minds dedicated to the pursuit of projects possessing varying degrees of whimsy and utility.

Featuring twenty projects ranging from edible origami to glowing lollipops, cryogenic martinis to Tupperware boom boxes, the book draws from the expertise of programmers, professors, and garden-variety geeks and offers something to delight DIYers of all skill levels. The Hungry Scientist Handbook: Electric Birthday Cakes, Edible Origami, and Other DIY Projects for Techies, Tinkerers, and Foodies: Patrick Buckley, Lily Binns: Books

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Best of Open Source Software Awards

Best of Open Source Software Awards 2008
InfoWorld's 2008 Bossies recognize the top free and open products for business, IT, and personal productivity

Best of open source for collaboration
The InfoWorld Test Center picks the best for social networking, wiki, blogging, and groupware

Best of open source developer tools
The InfoWorld Test Center picks the top free and open source RIA platform, Ajax framework, business rule management system, version control package, object database, Web service test tool, and HTTP client library

Best of open source enterprise applications
The InfoWorld Test Center picks the best free BPM, CRM, ERP, e-commerce, business intelligence, project management, application management, and portal software

Best of open source in networking
The InfoWorld Test Center chooses its top picks for IP telephony, VoIP monitoring, log analysis, Wi-Fi scanning, server and network monitoring, and routing software

Best of open source platforms and middleware
InfoWorld Test Center picks the top free and open source operating systems, desktop and server virtualization, database, application integration, and data migration software

Best of open source productivity apps
The InfoWorld Test Center's picks for the top free and open source productivity apps include office suite, Web browser, image manipulator, sound editor, 3D modeling tool, and PDF creator

Best of open source in security
The InfoWorld Test Center picks the top free and open source firewall, IPS, network gateway, password cracker, penetration toolkit, application security, and disk encryption software

Best of open source storage software
The InfoWorld Test Center turns up the top free and open source offering for network and online backup, network attached storage, disk monitoring, and storage administration

InfoWorld Special Report 107881 Archives

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Islamic Relief USA - Ramadan - Zakah Calculator

Zakah (required alms giving) is a duty on every mature and sane Muslim once every lunar year. In giving Zakah, a person is purifying their property, as well as their heart from all forms of greed or selfishness.

Zakah is payable at 2.5% of the wealth one possesses above the Nisab. This is the minimum amount of wealth one must have before they are liable to pay Zakah. This is equal to 3 ounces of gold. As of August 29 2008, this is estimated to be $2,494.62.

Zakah is liable on gold, silver, cash, savings, investments, rent income, business merchandise and profits, shares, securities and bonds.

Zakah is not paid on wealth used for debt repayment of living expenses such as clothing, food, housing, transport, education, etc.

Islamic Relief collects and distributes Zakah to those Muslims who are most in need, in accordance with Qur'anic guidelines.

To work out how to calculate your Zakah, fill out the form below. Remember you only pay Zakah if the zakatable total exceeds the Nisab.

Islamic Relief USA | Ramadan - Zakah Calculator

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Massive destruction of money supply

Most major financial institutions are undergoing a major deleveraging process which decreases the overall debt to equity ratio in the economy. This leads to a massive destruction of money supply and a crash in the value of assets in the economy, which we are seeing a start of with continuation of decreased real estate, equity and commodity prices, and unavailability of loans even to the largest and most stable entities in the US. This value destruction definitely exceeds 5,000,000,000,000 dollars over the last 12 months at this point in time.

It is getting to the point where some states are facing bond defaults because they cannot borrow at reasonable terms. Giant corporations like GE are facing a real prospect of bankruptcy because they cannot borrow working capital despite having a 22:1 asset to debt ratio. If the US Government were not trying to counter this by pumping money into the economy we would surely be looking at the stark reality of a depression.

The US dollar is appreciating greatly vs. the Euro, because at least the US realizes the problem and are acting with concerted vigor. The EU's economic policy is total shambles with individual countries acting unilaterally rather than in concert, and the refusal of central banks to lower interest rates. Some analysts think this may get bad enough to destroy the Euro as a currency. At the very least it has put an end to any talk of the dollar losing it's special place as the international reserve currency. Some small countries like Iceland, Ireland and Greece are on the edge right now. Iceland's problems are so bad that they are having difficulty importing food.

There is no practical limit to the ability of the US Treasury to pump money into the economy by loans against hard assets. The question is how much and how fast is needed to accomplish the desired effect, and can it be done without overshooting on the other side.

Enterprise Software Sales Dried Up In September

High Rate of H-1B Visa Fraud

A report released Oct. 8 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals that 13% of petitions filed for H-1B visas on behalf of employers are fraudulent. Another 8% contain some sort of technical violations.

Fraudulent cases include instances in which the visa worker was not working or had never worked at the specified location on the application. Technical violations involved situations in which the worker was paid at or below the prevailing wage, which companies are required by law to pay.

In other cases, the job duties were significantly different from the position listed on the visa petition. This could involve misrepresenting the skill set required or the location of the job. Accounting, human resources, business analyst, sales, and advertising occupations are more likely than other categories to involve fraud, according to the study. Other areas in which violations were found include computer-related occupations, and art and managerial jobs. "Until we make a conscious effort to close the loopholes, we're going to see continued abuse where people coming to this country on H-1B visas are working at Laundromats," said Grassley in a statement. He was referring to situations in which companies misrepresent what type of work the visa holder will do.

In the study, visa workers with only bachelor's degrees were subject to higher fraud or technical violation rates (31%) than those with graduate degrees (13%). Fraud and violations were more common for companies employing 25 or fewer employees and with annual gross income of less than $10 million.

High Rate of H-1B Visa Fraud - BusinessWeek

Goldmine Bug DNA May Be Key to Alien Life

"The fact that the community contains only one species stands one of the basic tenets of microbial ecology on its head," says Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, who was not involved in Chivian's DNA analysis but whose team made the initial discovery that there were microbes living in this particular fissure two years ago.

Evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson says the discovery is so important he will at once begin to mention it in his lectures on biodiversity.

Community of one

A community of a single species is almost unheard of in the microbial world. It means the ecosystem's only species must extract everything it needs from an otherwise dead environment.

"Virtually all other known ecosystems on Earth that don't use sunlight directly do use some product of photosynthesis," says Pilcher.

Deep-sea vent communities, for instance, are too far down to directly use sunlight but they do use oxygen dissolved in seawater, and that oxygen is produced by photosynthesising plankton at the surface.

Chivian's analysis shows that D. audaxviator gets its energy from the radioactive decay of uranium in the surrounding rocks. It has genes to extract carbon from dissolved carbon dioxide and other genes to fix nitrogen, which comes from the surrounding rocks. Both carbon and nitrogen are essential building blocks for life as we know it, and are used in the building blocks of proteins, amino acids. D. audaxviator has genes to produce all the amino acids it needs.\

ABC News: Goldmine Bug DNA May Be Key to Alien Life

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A look at the modified cash basis Accounting

Modified cash basis financial statements use a combination of cash basis and accrual basis financial reporting. These financial statements report all accounts from cash transactions and from all other sufficiently supported modifications that were adopted. Reviewed or auditied modified cash basis financial reports should include the same items required of GAAP financial statements. Distinction among modified cash basis, cash basis, tax basis and accrual basis accounting is made.

A look at the modified cash basis. (Accounting)
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Science News Rating The Rankings

The single best school in the country is Penn State. Then again, maybe it’s Princeton. Or perhaps Johns Hopkins, or Harvard, or Notre Dame …

Each of these schools could legitimately claim to be on top, according to a mathematical analysis, posted recently on, of the data U.S. News & World Report uses to generate its influential and controversial rankings of American undergraduate institutions. It all depends, the researchers say, on what your priorities are.

The magazine uses seven key factors in its ratings, including things like percentage of alumni who donate, acceptance rates for admission, and spending per student. Lior Pachter of the University of California, Berkeley and Peter Huggins of Carnegie Mellon University reasoned that all these factors are probably relevant to the quality of a university, but one student might value a university with a low student-faculty ratio, for example, while another might care more about research funding. Was there a way to analyze the data, they wondered, that wouldn’t rely on an arbitrary selection of priorities?

Techniques they’d developed for a completely different problem — aligning gene sequences to understand evolutionary changes — could be adapted to do just that, they realized. Biologists commonly analyze the differences between the DNA of two closely related creatures in order to understand how they evolved. To do that, researchers first have to decide how to line the two gene sequences up, identifying the segments that are identical and the places where DNA has have mutated or moved around or been deleted. But this alignment requires some guesswork: How likely, for example, it is that a gene will have mutated, and how likely is it that it simply will have been deleted? Biologists have little basis for deciding that, Pachter says, just as U.S. News has little basis for deciding how important one of its factors is for a particular person.

Science News / Rating The Rankings
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Monday, October 06, 2008 : Who is Marina - HotForWords?

Who is HotForWords? Her name is Marina Orlova, she’s 27 and she’s a philologist! Now you might be asking what the heck is a philologist? Well, it’s someone who studies linguistics and etymology.. and in Marina’s case.. she has applied her Philology degrees to specializing in word origins.

Marina has two degrees - Teaching of Russian Language and World Literature Specializing in Philology and the Teaching of English Language Specializing in Philology from State University of Nizhni Novgorod Region in Russian Federation, graduated 2002 and taught English to high school students for 2 years.

Marina burst in on the scene in mid 2007 launching her YouTube channel HotForWords, where she takes requests from YouTube viewers for words to discuss, and she releases 5-7 videos each week discussing the origins of these words, in a fun and playful manner!

Marina is the #1 Guru on YouTube, she’s consistently the most watched channel on ALL of YouTube as well - just ahead of Universal Music Group and the NBA, her videos are seen over five million times each week (She is currently at 117,522,384 video views on YouTube alone and counting!), she hosts a bi-weekly radio show on Maxim Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio, she’s currently writing a book on how to use etymology in everyday life - yet nobody really knows much about Marina, other than what her channel states - that she is from “The Capital of the Republic of Lexicon” and her hometown is “Etymologia”

HotForWords : Who is Marina - HotForWords?
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Bank robber hires decoys on Craigslist, fools cops

But here's the hilarious twist. The robber had previously put out a Craigslist ad for road maintenance workers, promising wages of $28.50 per hour. Recruits were asked to wait near the Bank of America right around the time of the robbery--wearing yellow vests, safety goggles, a respirator mask, and preferably a blue shirt. At least a dozen of them showed up after responding to the Craigslist ad.

"I came across the ad that was for a prevailing wage job for $28.50 an hour," one of the unwitting decoys, named Mike, said to the NBC station. As it turns out, they were simply placed there to confuse cops who were looking for a guy wearing a virtually identical outfit.

Bank robber hires decoys on Craigslist, fools cops | The Social - CNET News
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Friday, October 03, 2008

Form W-8BEN given at time of opening a bank account

If you are on H-1B, you are a resident alien for tax purposes. Fill form W-9 instead. I think this is for interest income, which needs to be reported. And taxed! I think they will send a 1099-MISC at the end of the year.


W-8BEN is to declare you are exempt from US taxes.