Monday, September 29, 2008

Pencil Vs. Pen

Choice Pencil:

Disposable pens are made of plastic, which doesn't biodegrade and
is hazardous when burned. Excepting the metal bit around the eraser,
pencils naturally dispose of themselves when you sharpen them.

Better yet: Fountain pen

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who is King Mouse or Keyboard ?

I consider myself to be a fairly fast typer, albeit it with two fingers. No matter how hard my teachers in computer classes at College classes would try, I never got the whole concept of touch-typing with all my fingers. However, I am sure that using my two fingers that I could now out type most all of my teachers. Although being able to type is an important skill I am not sure how important the ability to type fast is to people who choose a career in IT and focus on the Microsoft platform.

I was working in a cyber cafe yesterday with a friend of mine that works in IT but in the Linux space as a systems administrator. While I was finalising an upcoming Reporting Services course that I am delivering he was making changes to DNS for one of his clients. What amazed me was not the number of commands that he was typing but the sheer speed at which he was typing. When I asked what he was doing after feverishly typing for several minutes, he responded that he was still making DNS changes. As someone that worked as a systems administrator back in the NT 4 days, I know how easy it is to make a DNS change. Simply open DNS manger and with a couple clicks and typing a few IP addresses the change is made. In some ways I think that not working in a command line environment has meant that typing speeds have dropped, as there is no longer a need to type reams of commands to achieve something simple. Do you think fast typing is still a skill that a DBA should have?

Mouse is taking place of Keyboard but Keyboard is king!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You will proud to be an Indian....

A Pakistani man says...

The two Ambani brothers can buy 100 percent of every company
listed on the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) and would still be left
with $30 billion to spare. The four richest Indians can buy up all
goods and services produced over a year by 169 million Pakistanis
and still be left with $60 billion to spare. The four richest Indians
are now richer than the forty richest Chinese.

In November, Bombay Stock Exchange's benchmark Sensex flirted
with 20,000 points. As a consequence, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance
Industries became a $100 billion company (the entire KSE is
capitalized at $65 billion). Mukesh owns 48 percent of Reliance.

In November, comes Neeta's birthday. Neeta turned
forty-four three weeks ago. Look what she got from
her husband as her birthday present: A sixty-million
dollar jet with a custom fitted master bedroom, bathroom
with mood lighting, a sky bar, entertainment cabins,
satellite, television, wireless communication and a separate
cabin with game consoles. Neeta is Mukesh Ambani's wife,
and Mukesh is not India's richest but t he second richest.

Mukesh is now building his new home, Residence Antillia
(after a mythical, phantom island somewhere in the Atlantic
Ocean). At a cost of $1 billion this would be the most expensive
home on the face of the planet. At 173 meters tall Mukesh's new
family residence, for a family of six, will be the equivalent of a
60-storeyed building. The first six floors are reserved for parking.
The seventh floor is for ca servicing and maintenance. The eighth
floor houses a mini-theatre. Then there's a health club, a gym and
a swimming pool. Two floors are reserved for Ambani family's guests.
Four flo ors above the guest floors are family floors all with a superb
view of the Arabian Sea. On top of everything are three helipads.
A staff of 600 is expected to care for the family and their family home.

In 2004, India became the 3rd most attractive foreign direct
investment destination. Pakistan wasn't even in the top 25 countries.
In 2004, the United Nations, the representative body of 192 sovereign
member states, had requested the Election Commission of India to
assist the UN in the holding elections in Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
and Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan. Why the Election Commission
of India and not the Election Commission of Pakistan? After all,
Islamabad i closer to Kabul than is Delhi.

Imagine, 12 percent of all American scientists are of Indian origin;
38 percent of doctors in America are Indian; 36 percent of NASA
scientists are Indians; 34 percent of Microsoft employees are Indians;
and 28 percent of IBM employees are Indians.

For the record: Sabeer Bhatia created and founded Hotmail. Sun
Microsystems was founded by Vinod Khosla. The Intel Pentium
processor, that runs 90 percent of all computers, was fathered by
Vinod Dham. Rajiv Gupta co-invented Hewlett Packard's E-speak
project. Four out of ten Silicon Valley start-ups are run by Indians.
Bolly wood produces 800 movies per year and s ix Indian ladies
have won Miss Universe/Miss World titles over the past 10 years.

For the record: Azim Premji, the richest Muslim entrepreneur on
the face of the planet, wa born in Bombay and now lives in
Bangalore.India now has more than three dozen billionaires;
Pakistan has none (not a single dollar billionaire).

The other amazing aspect is the rapid pace at which India is
creating wealth. In 2002, Dhirubhai Ambani, Mukesh and
Anil Ambani's father, left his two sons a fortune worth $2.8 billion.
In 2007, their combined wealth stood at $94 billion. On 29 October
2007, as a result of the stock market rally and the appreciation of
the Indian rupee, Mukesh became the richest person in the world,
with net worth climbing to US$63.2 billion (Bill Gates, the richest
American, stands at around $56 billion).

Indians and Pakistanis have the same Y-chromosome haplogroup.
We have the same genetic sequence and the same genetic marker
(namely: M124). We have the same DNA molecule, the same DNA
sequence. Our culture our traditions and our cuisine are all the same.
We watch the same movies and sing the same songs. What is it that
Indians have and we don't?


Monday, September 22, 2008

US meltdown: 5 lessons for investors

The stunning collapse of Lehman Brothers and the crisis engulfing Wall Street is having an impact across the world. There could be several more developments over the next few months that might make things more difficult.

For investors, this is an important period to learn from such developments. This will ensure that they are not in a tough situation in the future. Here are five such important lessons.

Every investment has risk: Typically, during good times, investors tend to ignore the risk element in a paper and focus only on returns.

Investors in equities stand to lose their entire money, if the company goes down. The plunging shares prices of Lehman Brothers, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to one dollar proves that entire market capitalisations can simply get wiped out.

Even debt market products get badly hit on account of the write-down of the debt that they hold. So, a portfolio needs to be as diversified as possible to insulate a person for such situations.

Everything is interlinked: From the price of a stock to an insurance policy, everything is linked. A fall in the price of a particular stock in Europe could mean the overseas mutual fund, where you have invested, is likely to see a fall in its net asset value. Even an insurance policy with a domestic company, which has a foreign partner, can be adversely impacted.

The latter implies you will lose your premiums as well as your cover. While such risks cannot be avoided, a portfolio that contains only domestic stocks or an insurance company may sound safe, but there is no guarantee that it will not be impacted adversely.

Diversify, the only mantra for retirement planning: The result of all the financial planning is gauged by the final corpus that you are able to create for retirement.

A sufficiently-big nest will ensure that there are adequate funds during the sunset years. Many people, even those who are in the financial sector, make the basic mistake of putting all their eggs in one basket.

Many a time, employees buy shares of their own companies thinking that being an insider they are privy to the most-sensitive information. This could lead to a great risk, if suddenly something were to go wrong.

The solution again is diversification. Having exposure to local equities, international equities, debt, commodities together would be a better idea to create a sound portfolio that will weather tough times. And even within each of these areas, spread the money across investment options.

Treat your career like an investment: Most people do not pay the right amount of attention to their career or working life. Just like an investment that needs constant monitoring and analysis, there is a need to monitor the career in the same manner. Most people are shocked when they lose their jobs.

The better way is to be prepared for the worst. That will help to insulate you from any career related problem.

Also, concentration on issues like upgrading skills through training, attending conferences and seminars and networking will help to improve your career. Yes, all these cost money. However, the returns over the years are much more.

Save during good times: Most importantly, when the earnings are high, save well. Good times are not for ever. Creating a meaningful portfolio or a simple savings corpus would be of great help during bad times. Proper investments will ensure that there are reserves that can be used during emergencies.

A sum of Rs 10,000 saved each month for 25 years growing at 15 per cent annually will give rise to a corpus of Rs 2.55 crore (Rs 25.5 million). All this money can be rather useful when the cash flow actually stops. Arnav Pandya

Friday, September 19, 2008

E-mail etiquette for your Mobile devices

  • Don't compose and converse at the same time. I’ve seen it many times, and so have you. Someone who is multitasking—talking on the phone, typing an e-mail, and who knows what else. (Yes, I’ve seen eating, drinking, and grooming.) "If you must answer or type a message, please excuse yourself," says Oliver Mims, who hosts the online etiquette series "Proper Ollie." "Do not type and carry on a conversation at the same time." And why not? It's just bad manners. You wouldn't imagine talking to someone on the phone and in person at the same time, would you?
  • Take your time—or better yet, wait. Related to the distraction problem above, if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a message hastily typed from a smartphone, you know what I'm talking about. The message is riddled with typographical errors and appears abrupt. "People are so anxious to answer on the spot that they sacrifice the quality of their communication, which wouldn’t be the case had they waited to respond," says Pamela Holland, co-author of "Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?"
  • Don't keep the device on 24/7. Even though being accessible all day and night can be good for business, it can ultimately be bad for you. In my earlier version of this column, short battery lives meant it was impractical to keep a smartphone powered "on" all day, but that's increasingly not the case. Just because you can be wired all the time, don't submit to the temptation. We all know the impact of "always connected" lifestyles on our personal health.
  • Mind your Ps and Qs. Technology can be a blessing and a curse. My PDA, for example, can finish words by trying to guess what I wanted to say. Pay close attention to this "helpful" feature, because it doesn’t always guess correctly. Ditto for automatic spell-check features.
Whether you’re sending or receiving e-mail from a mobile device, one rule holds true: If you're aware of your surroundings, and aware of other people, you're far less likely to offend anyone. That's how I see it.

"When people are mindful of being considerate and respectful of
those around them, they usually make the right social decisions."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Productivity Without E-mail

Over the last two days I have been focusing on prototype of a new Project. In order to ensure that I was not distracted I turned off all interruptions. Everything from e-mail to instant messenger and even my cell phone were turned off so that there were no external distractions at all. To be perfectly honest the last two days have been the most productive days that I have had for a long time. I know that much of my day can be spent sitting in Outlook, meaning that by the end of the day I feel like I have achieved nothing more that add a dozen or more tasks to my To Do list. The last two days have been a liberating experience; I have felt that by cutting the umbilical cord to my inbox I have achieved so much. Looking at the number of unread messages I now have, though, has taken the shine off breaking free.

I sometimes think that e-mail is more of a distraction then a productivity tool. I am a big fan of picking up the phone and calling someone. Often a phone call will only take a few minutes whereas an e-mail conversation can take numerous e-mails to archive the same result. Do you think that e-mail is productivity tool or just another distraction we can often do without?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tips to protect your WiFi from hackers

It could any one of us. Wake up one morning to discover that the Indian Mujahideen has hacked into our Internet account and sent out a chilling mail claiming responsibility for a terror attack on the nation.

The e-mails sent out in the aftermath of the Delhi and Ahmedabad blasts reveal that the Indian Mujhahideen hacked into unsecure WiFi networks to send out the terror e-mail.

Internet users could adopt the following methods to ensure that s/he is safe.
  1. Disabling the SSID broadcast. To some extent this makes it difficult for the hacker to detect the presence of a WiFi access point.
  2. Enable MAC address filter. Each network interface has a unique MAC address, by filtering it, one can to an extent control which machines can use the access point.
  3. Turn on WPA/WEP encryption. This ensures that traffic between a legitimate machine and an access point is not readable.
  4. Change default admin passwords for access points.
  5. Ensure access points are placed securely. In the centre of a room/office etc to minimise its signal strength outside the office.

Even after following the above precautions, your WiFI account could be compromised and hence, the things to look at are:

  • Monitor usage of the access point. Have a clear inventory and knowledge about the position of each access point.
  • Monitor the usage of the Internet link, to know what traffic is going out. For example, some corporate block e-mail providers like yahoo or hotmail. Hence, even if the access point is compromised, the hacker may not be able to use public e-mail systems.
  • Consider a specific security policy for wireless networks. For example, most companies primarily use wired networks in the office as the primary media. Access points are used in common areas like conferences rooms etc. Hence, strict policies can be deployed on wireless networks as compared to wired networks.

Role of Digital Forensics:

Digital Forensics means the analysis of electronic media to detect forgery or manipulation. It is used to identify possible culprits and also to gather legal evidence to be used for prosecution.

Digital Forensics is a highly-specialised area and if not done using the right skills and tools could lead to evidence being deleted or not usable in the court of law. It is similar to that of criminal forensics and hence needs special skills and tools. Hence, it would be advisable for companies to understand their responsibility and the do's and don'ts during a breach.

Public e-mails systems have limited information about its users and normally provide it to law enforcement agencies on special request. This information is picked up during e-mail ID creation, usage etc.

Most usual information picked up is the source of the Internet Protocol, which can be masked using techniques like using others' WiFi networks. Hence, unless e-mail providers enable higher security mechanisms like special authentication while creating users not much can be done. It is not easy for e-mail providers to do this as, by definition, these e-mail systems are free and open for people to use.

Pathetic handling of Delhi blasts' aftermath

Half an hour after the first blast in New Delhi on Saturday, the NDTV 24/7 telecast telling visuals that said it all. We just don't know how to handle the aftermath of the terror attacks which we don't know how to forestall.

Take, for example, the young woman in a yellow top and black trousers, hurt in the bombing of the Connaught Place's Central Park. She was shown being carried away, four persons holding a limb each to a police vehicle several yards away in Connaught Place. She was dripping blood, her head snapped back under its own weight and in agony.

No stretcher in sight, no ambulance within miles and crowds who should have scattered to safety and enable the police to do their job, such as the job they do -- ham-handed, impulsive, not to a drill that would maximise results.

One does not know what happened to the poor young woman. Such victims are threatened with death less because of the injuries but more due to the way she was handled by well-meaning but perhaps misguided people. We may actually be pushing up the death toll and bolster the designs of the terrorists. And the State owes something better to its citizens.

Cut to the train blasts in Mumbai on July 11, 2006. Scores of people, badly mauled, were seen carried away in bed sheets thrown at the impromptu rescuers from homes along the railway tracks. Persons with a limb torn away were carted away in auto-rickshaws by good Samaritans, the ride being given free.

Speed, one accepts, is of the essence. But the means also has to be proper so that the good intent does not translate to death or further complications. It is as if the disaster managers don't even know that there is something called the Golden Hour when best support is required, even before the person is reached to the hospital. That is why modern civilisations -- we are living in one, aren't we? -- has the concept called an ambulance.

This kind of speedy but amateurish shift of the hurt, dying and the dead has been seen in every location where the terrorist struck by seting off explosions -- Hyderabad, Bangalore, Jaipur , Ahemedabad and now Delhi. This mishandling and the delays in being attended to on reaching the hospitals, I bet, are the causes of several deaths. Or permanent damage to the body.


Because, we have just not got our act together, despite the country having had a high-powered committee, headed by Sharad Pawar to outline how disaster management ought to be because of his experience of handling the aftermath of the March 12, 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai.

Now cut to the scenes outside the various train stations in London after the July 7, 2005 train bombings. Not an individual who needed medical help was just carried away any which way. Fully equipped ambulances with paramedics on board moved in with stretchers and ensured that help was fully professional. Within minutes plastic tents for on-the-spot support was set up.

It is here that we fall short; grievously so, in fact.

There are other critical phases of post-terrorist attacks where we fail abysmally, though there have been a few instances of positive gains made in policing. Here is the brief, very brief, positive list:

One, the Indian security agencies have now learnt to zero-in on the suspect computers or their routers used to send out terror threats or claims owning up attacks and IP addresses are located.

Two, in Surat, bomb after bomb which did not go off were found and defused, bomb by bomb, without any untoward collateral damage.

However, and unfortunately, there is not much to be added to this list because, apart from Afzal Guru and those convicted in the Mumbai's 1993 blasts, how many terrorists have been brought to book? Even Afzal Guru's death sentence remains to be carried out.

Now, let us look at the negative list of our so called anti-terror policing.

In Surat, in their hurry to unload and defuse the bombs found in the cars left on Surat roads, the police obliterated every fingerprint on it. These prints would have been valuable to fixing the involvement of people who otherwise would get the benefit of doubt and be let off for want of evidence.

This sleight of hand is now a thing of the past because the Indian Mujahedeen has made it a habit to announce its ownership of the dastardly acts. Now, it has even started sending e-mails minutes the blasts it sets off, saving the police the task of speculating as to who did it.

Take again the failure of the close-circuit cameras set up on the toll plazas on the highways going out of Mumbai. They caught not a single car that was stolen from Navi Mumbai for use in Ahmedabad and Surat because, as a senior police official of Thane district adjoining Gujarat explained, 'They were all at angles to photograph trucks' and not cars which are low-slung in comparison.

Equally galling was the -- yes, well meaning but potentially hazardous -- way a constable grabbed the plastic bag containing a bomb from two rag pickers in Delhi on Saturday, using a stone to crush the clock that was a timer. He saved lives, but he may have jeopardised those in the vicinity. Who knows, instead of disarming, he may have even set off an explosion. Where, pray, were the bomb disposal squads?

Policemen just do not have the means to chase the clues, and my feeling is that if there are suspects who have been brought to courts, then they are those who have confessed because of the third degree and those confessions found their way to the charge sheets. The good old policing is just dead.

Therefore, I have a more humane suggestion. Before we learn to catch the terrorist and then use any law against them, let us learn to handle those innocents who fall victim to the terrorists. Or else, we would be only shadow boxing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What can Rs.3 do?

Have you ever wondered what Rs.3 can do?

A smoke for the chimneys called smokers perhaps, a strand of flowers for the women folk, a sachet of shampoo for most of us and maybe a few toffees for kidos but am sure we don’t add up a few of these 3’s to make our livelihood!

Quite stark isn’t it? To think people actually sell various things for Rs.3 and try and eke out a living. We in Mumbai have these frail ladies young, massively malnourished kids trying to sell us the ‘nazar’ mirchi and nimbus for Rs.3! What an irony that they are trying to ward off the evil spirits while trying to resurrect their own – just for Rs.3!

Ever imagined how many of those ‘3’s they have to sell to make a living, to feed themselves, their families and their hopes?

I was quite stunned when one I saw one of these ladies come to me, in pouring rain, shivering and eyes filled with hope to sell me one of those, my belief apart, have never bothered to buy one till that time. Laziness to take my wallet out, indifference to the ‘product’ and sheer apathy never made me buy one of those, but that day somehow I managed to take a tenner and hand it to her. Having strung the ‘nazar utaru’ on my car she came to me and I handed over the note, imagine my utter disbelief when she was trying to add up all the little change she had to give me back the balance. Only a tyrant could have taken that money back. I closed my window and could catch a surprised, confused but am sure expectant look on her face.

They are so many kids around who sell peanuts for a pittance, gees how many packets they have to sell to even earn Rs.20 a day as commission, you feel so dam helpless, you feel so guilty for having spent more on a meal than it actually deserves, you feel fortunate that you can have meal when and what you want – gosh we are so lucky! Three bucks, in fact even ten often mean nothing to us but it means so much to them, it can mean a decent meal at least on that day. I keep poking at my pockets to give these kids some money all the time, never mind the argument of “don’t encourage begging” and all that bull, the fact is that there is a boy/girl(old man/woman) who does not have food at that point, does not have clothes to protect him and am very sure he’d be playing, eating Maggi or Kellogs or watching Pogo if he had a choice. To hell with these arguments, he/she’s a child and deserves ALL our empathy at that moment and they deserve to be given that.

It is sometimes so easy to feel happy and make others happy too! Like when you give a dozen banana’s to a hungry chap or buy up all the peanut packets he has in his hand or ask the rate of what he’s trying to sell give him the money and not take the product, or give a brand new t shirt to somebody, boy there are so many ways …….next time you see somebody in need try and discover a way to feel happy, you cant start with as little as Rs.3, trust me!

And yes Rs.3 has so much more value to me now!!

Beware of counterfeit notes

To pay his son's school fees, Suryabhanu Pratap (name changed) withdrew Rs 5,000 from his private bank's automatic teller machine. A day later, the school called him to inform that they had found four fake Rs 500 notes in the amount deposited.

"I was scared and felt completely humiliated," says Pratap. He quietly went back to the school next day and exchanged the notes. Why didn't he inform the bank or the police?

Reading the signs

Serial numbers are printed with fluorescent ink, which can be seen when viewed under a ultraviolet lens

Floral design on the left side - half the denomination of the currency will be printed on the front side and the other half on the back side. If seen against bright light, the complete denomination appears

Just below the floral print, a mark is made in intaglio (a kind of printing, where the image is slightly raised) for the visually-impaired to identify the denomination. For the Rs 500 note, the mark is a circle, for the Rs 100, it is a triangle and a square for the Rs 50

Similarly, a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi, the RBI seal, a guarantee and promise clause, a Ashoka Pillar emblem on the left and RBI Governor's signature are all printed on intaglio

A band printed on the right side contains a latent image of the denomination of the banknote. The numeral appears when the currency is held horizontally at eye level

A wide security thread with inscriptions "Bharat" in Hindi and "RBI" runs through the banknote. The thread fluoresces on both sides in ultraviolet light

"I had no way to prove that the money was withdrawn from the bank ATM. I also did not want to get involved in any police investigations," Pratap claims. The notes were torn and thrown in the nearest ditch - a loss of Rs 2,000.

Banks, on their part, said that that it is in the "rarest of rare cases" that someone finds counterfeit notes in the money withdrawn from an ATM. "The notes to be deposited in the ATM go through a series of checks to be ATM-fit. Counterfeit currencies, if any, are detected during these checks," said Jitendra Balakrishnan, deputy managing director, IDBI Bank. However, though banks keep the record of the serial numbers of new notes being put into the machine, there is no record of older notes.

There has been huge rise in the number of counterfeit notes in the last one year. According to recent RBI data, the value of fake currency detected in 2007-08 rose by 137 per cent to Rs 5.5 crore (Rs 55 million) from 2.4 crore (Rs 24 million) in the previous financial year. And for hapless victims like Pratap, there is nothing much that can be done.

"The police can investigate with the bank only if the notes are in a series," Robin Matthew, a criminal advocate, says. Since the possession of fake currency is a criminal offense, even the possession of a single note can lead to serious trouble.

So what should you do when counterfeit currency is encountered? A senior RBI official says, "If the currency notes have come from the bank, either from an ATM or direct withdrawal, the customer should lodge a police complain and mention the source of the currency." After that, the currency is either destroyed or sent to RBI for further investigations, if the police are unable to establish the bank as the source.

When banks find counterfeits during a deposit, the teller confiscates it and destroys it in front of the customer. Later, an application is filed at the local police station giving the details of the currency and customer details, according to KVS Manian, group head, retail liabilities and branch banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank [Get Quote].

An official letter is sent to the customer, whose notes have been destroyed, with the serial numbers. There is no mechanism to ensure that the customer gets his money back and nor are there any guidelines or rules to protect the customer from this problem. "The game is all about passing the buck. So, whoever is in possession of the fake currency, is the culprit," a senior banker said requesting anonymity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beef Vs. Chicken

Choice: Chicken
If you're a carnivore with an eye toward environmentalism, your best
bet is to eat more chicken. According to a 2005 study published by
Earth Interactions, cattle accounts for over 67 times more non-CO2
greenhouse gas emissions, including methane gas and nitrous oxide,
than its feathered counterpart. Not only that, but one pound of beef
also requires a significant amount more feed and water to produce
than an equal weight of chicken.

Go whole hog: Become a vegetarian.

Getting A Millionaire's Mindset

Let's face it; we all don't make millions of dollars a year, and the odds are that most of us won't receive a large windfall inheritance either. However, that doesn't mean that we can't build sizeable wealth - it'll just take some time. If you're young, time is on your side and retiring a millionaire is achievable. Read on for some tips on how to increase your savings and work toward this goal.

Stop Senseless Spending
Unfortunately, people have a habit of spending their hard-earned cash on goods and services that they don't need. Even relatively small expenses, such as indulging in a gourmet coffee from a premium coffee shop every morning, can really add up - and decrease the amount of money you can save. Larger expenses on luxury items also prevent many people from putting money into savings each month.
That said, it's important to realize that it's usually not just one item or one habit that must be cut out in order to accumulate sizable wealth (although it may be). Usually, in order to become wealthy one must adopt a disciplined lifestyle and budget. This means that people who are looking to build their nest eggs need to make sacrifices somewhere - this may mean eating out less frequently, using public transportation to get to work and/or cutting back on extra, unnecessary expenses.
This doesn't mean that you shouldn't go out and have fun, but you should try to do things in moderation - and set a budget if you hope to save money. Fortunately, particularly if you start saving young, saving up a sizeable nest egg only requires a few minor (and relatively painless) adjustments to your spending habits.

Fund Retirement Plans ASAP
When individuals earn money, their first responsibility is to pay current expenses such as the rent or mortgage expenses, food and other necessities. Once these expenses have been covered, the next step should be to fund a retirement plan or some other tax-advantaged vehicle.
Unfortunately, retirement planning is an afterthought for many young people. Early doing means you can contribute less money overall and actually end up with significantly more in the end than someone who put in much more money but started later.

Improve Tax Awareness
Sometimes, individuals think that doing their own taxes will save them money. In some cases, they might be right. However, in other cases it may actually end up costing them money because they fail to take advantage of the many deductions available to them.
Try to become more educated as far as what types of items are deductible. You should also understand when it makes sense to move away from the standard deduction and start itemizing your return.
However, if you're not willing or able to become very well educated filing your own income tax, it may actually pay to hire some help, particularly if you are self employed, own a business or have other circumstances that complicate your tax return.

Renting Versus Buying
At some point in our lives, many of us rent a home or an apartment because we cannot afford to purchase a home, or because we aren't sure where we want to live for the longer term. And that's fine. However, renting is often not a good long-term investment because buying a home is a good way to build equity.
Unless you intend to move in a short period of time, it generally makes sense to consider putting a down payment on a home. (At least you would likely build up some equity over time and the foundation for a nest egg.

Buying Expensive Cars
There's nothing wrong with purchasing a luxury vehicle. However, individuals who spend an inordinate amount of their incomes on a vehicle are doing themselves a disservice - especially since this asset depreciates in value so rapidly.
How rapidly does a car depreciate?
Obviously, this depends on the make, model, year and demand for the vehicle, but a general rule is that a new car loses 15-20% of its value per year. So, a two-year old car will be worth 80-85% of its purchase price; a three-year old car will be worth 80-85% of its two-year-old value.
In short, especially when you are young, consider buying something practical and dependable that has low monthly payments - or that you can pay for in cash. In the long run, this will mean you'll have more money to put toward your savings - an asset that will appreciate, rather than depreciate like your car.

Don't Sell Yourself Short
Some individuals are extremely loyal to their employers and will stay with them for years without seeing their incomes take a jump. This can be a mistake, as increasing your income is an excellent way to boost your rate of saving.
Always keep your eye out for other opportunities and try not to sell yourself short. Work hard and find an employer who will compensate you for your work ethic, skills and experience.

Bottom Line
You don't have to win the lottery to see seven figures in your bank account. For most people, the only way to achieve this is to save it. You don't have to live like a pauper to build an adequate nest egg and retire comfortably. If you start early, spend wisely and save diligently, your million-dollar dreams are well within reach.

by Glenn Curtis

Glenn Curtis started his career as an equity analyst at Cantone Research, a New Jersey-based regional brokerage firm. He has since worked as an equity analyst and a financial writer at a number of print/web publications and brokerage firms including Registered Representative Magazine, Advanced Trading Magazine,,, and Prudential Securities. Curtis has also held Series 6,7,24 and 63 securities licenses.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Google Chrome, Google's Browser

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Google Chrome is Google’s open source browser project
  • The browser will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine called V8, built from scratch by a team in Denmark, and open-sourced as well so other browsers could include it. One aim of V8 was to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser, as it’s such an important component on the web today. Google also say they’re using a “multi-process design” which they say means “a bit more memory up front” but over time also “less memory bloat.” When web pages or plug-ins do use a lot of memory, you can spot them in Chrome’s task manager, “placing blame where blame belongs.”
  • Google Chrome will use special tabs. Instead of traditional tabs like those seen in Firefox, Chrome puts the tab buttons on the upper side of the window, not below the address bar.

  • The browser has an address bar with auto-completion features. Called ’omnibox’, Google says it offers search suggestions, top pages you’ve visited, pages you didn’t visit but which are popular amd more. The omnibox (“omni” is a prefix meaning “all”, as in “omniscient” – “all-knowing”) also lets you enter e.g. “digital camera” if the title of the page you visited was “Canon Digital Camera”. Additionally, the omnibox lets you search a website of which it captured the search box; you need to type the site’s name into the address bar, like “amazon”, and then hit the tab key and enter your search keywords.
  • As a default homepage Chrome presents you with a kind of “speed dial” feature, similar to the one of Opera. On that page you will see your most visited webpages as 9 screenshot thumbnails. To the side, you will also see a couple of your recent searches and your recently bookmarked pages, as well as recently closed tabs.

  • Chrome has a privacy mode; Google says you can create an “incognito” window “and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer.” The latest version of Internet Explorer calls this InPrivate. Google’s use-case for when you might want to use the “incognito” feature is e.g. to keep a surprise gift a secret. As far as Microsoft’s InPrivate mode is concerned, people also speculated it was a “porn mode.”
  • Web apps can be launched in their own browser window without address bar and toolbar. Mozilla has a project called Prism that aims to do similar (though doing so may train users into accepting non-URL windows as safe or into ignoring the URL, which could increase the effectiveness of phishing attacks).
  • To fight malware and phishing attempts, Chrome is constantly downloading lists of harmful sites. Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed. Plugins the user installed may escape this security model, Google admits.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shut Down Vs. Leave Your Computer Running

Choice: Leave it running

Every time you power up a computer, it's like giving the device a minor
heart attack. Electricity surges through delicate circuits, flash-heating
them and causing expansion. Immobile hard drives quickly spin up
from a stop to speeds exceeding thousands of rotations a minute.
Rebooting several times a day is a good way to wear out your
machine fast and considering the nasty,Eco-unfriendly process
required to make a new PC, the green thing to do is to keep the one
you have as long as possible. Besides, in stand-by mode, modern
PCs don't consume much power anyway. Please Ditch that
old tube monitor for an energy-efficient LCD model.