Tuesday, 31 August 2010

iPod sales.

Music industry

• iPod sales drop to lowest quarterly number since 2006•


Sunday 29 August 2010

The slump in sales of Apple’s device is a concern for music industry which looked to the iPod to boost download sales.
The latest sales figures for the quarter to June showed 9m sold – the lowest quarterly number since 2006. In short, the iPod, launched in October 2001, looks to be in terminal decline. While Apple is unworried – sales of its iPhone and iPad are booming – the dropping figures for the digital music player market are a concern for another sector: the music companies.
music industry had looked to the iPod to drive people to buy music in download form, whether from Apple's iTunes music store, eMusic, Napster or from newer competitors such as Amazon. The problem for them is that digital music sales are only growing as fast as those of Apple's devices – and as the stand-alone digital music player starts to die off, people are likely to lose interest in buying songs from digital stores.
At the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) , which represents the worldwide music industry, a spokesman agrees that the growth of digital sales has slowed. Figures for 2009 released earlier this year show that while CD sales fell by 12.7%, losing $1.6bn (£1bn) in value, digital downloads only grew by 9.2%, gaining less than $400m in value. "The digital download market is still growing," said Alex Jacob, a spokesman for the organisation. "But the percentage is less than a few years ago."
But as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been closed linked to the device, are bound to slow too. The iPod has been the key driver: the IFPI's figures show no appreciable digital download sales until 2004, the year Apple launched its iTunes music store internationally (it launched it in the US in April 2003). Since then, international digital music sales have increased, exactly in line with the total sales of iPods and iPhones.
Now, though, Apple has much more profitable fish to fry, in the form of TV shows and films,
apps and ebook sales to its iPhone and iPad (and the iPod Touch, effectively an iPhone without the phone function). It gets 30% of the sale price on apps and ebooks, roughly the same as it does on music download sales, but those sales are expanding exponentially, while music downloads are not. In June Steve Jobs said there had been 5bn app downloads in just two years (and Apple earned about $410m from its 30% cut of sales). That compares with 10bn songs downloaded from the iTunes music store in seven years.
And as Mulligan notes, for a world of apps, a plain piece of music seems a bit limited. "You can download a song from iTunes to your iPhone or iPad, but at the moment music in that form doesn't play to the strengths of the device. Just playing a track isn't enough."
Yet there are still rays of hope. If Apple – and every other mobile phone maker – are moving to an app-based economy, where you pay to download games or timetables, why shouldn't recording artists do the same?
They are. Those in the forefront include the British singer Peter Gabriel, whose Full Moon Club app is updated every month with a new song. "Nine Inch Nails has been in the lead for a long time in terms of an app for delivering unique content, but they're isolated cases," says Mulligan.
Even so, the IFPI and BPI think the app model shows promise – as much as anything because it might be an effective way to reduce online piracy, still the main problem of the industry. Apps tend to be tied to a particular handset or buyer, making them more difficult to pirate than a CD.
It may be premature to predict the death of the iPod yet – but it's unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything that will revive it. And that means that little more than five years after the music industry thought it had found a saviour in the little device, it is having to look around again for a new way to grow – if, that is, one exists.



Cartoon of the day.

Monday, 30 August 2010

First and Second Conditional Tenses

  1. If I won a million pounds, I .....travel around the world.

  2. will


  3. If I ..... John, I'll give him your message.

  4. see


  5. What ...... you do if you found a wallet on the street?

  6. will


  7. I ..... visit the museum if I have time.

  8. 'll


  9. If you .... more exercise, you'd feel better.

  10. took


  11. If you .... in my position, what would you do?

  12. are


  13. If I pay for the tickets, ...... you go to the concert with me?

  14. would


  15. If I were you, I ........ buy that dress.

  16. won't


  17. If I ....... your book, I'll let you know.

  18. found


  19. What ...... you do if you didn't have to work today?

  20. would


Sunday, 29 August 2010

The secrets of a happy life.

The secrets of a happy life.
By Nick Powdthavee and Carl Wilkinson .
Published: August 28 2010 .

Many of us struggle to find real happiness. Why is that? Studies in psychology suggest that part of the reason is that most of us are very bad at predicting how we’ll react when faced with many of life’s experiences. Consequently, we end up making choices that are potentially harmful to our emotional well-being. According to Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, we tend to overestimate, by a long way, the extent and duration of the emotional impacts of, say, a pay rise, the death of a loved one, or even moving to an area that’s sunny all year round. This is simply because, when we’re trying to imagine how an experience will affect us emotionally, we tend to focus too much of our attention on the most salient features of the experience in question.
In our minds, Los Angeles = sunny weather; money = nice cars and luxurious holidays. In reality, however, the many other less salient features that we often fail to consider will have emotional consequences. Los Angeles, for instance, is actually thousands of miles away from our friends and family; we need to work harder in order to earn more. This explains why happiness often eludes us when we blindly follow our imaginations or what conventional wisdom tells us about what makes us happy.
So where should we look for happiness? New research in psychology and economics suggests the answer lies in what we already have – things like friends and family. The secret to being happy is simply to devote more of our time and attention to these happiness-rich and fulfilling experiences.
As the US rabbi Hyman Schachtel once famously said: “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.”
One of the most infamous findings in happiness research is that money doesn’t buy a lot of happiness – or at least not as much as we think it should. According to the economist Richard Easterlin, part of the reason for this is that we care a great deal more about what other people earn than what we do ourselves.
For those whose most basic needs are already met, money buys additional happiness only if it can lead to higher status in society, which is hard when everyone else is also getting richer over time. Since people’s comparison group varies from place to place, those living in more affluent areas of London, for example, would probably need to earn at least £200k a year to ensure that they are staying well ahead of most other Londoners – and even that might not be enough.
There are many benefits to being happy. Happier people tend to be healthier, live longer and earn more. They also tend to volunteer more, be better at relationships and smile more of what psychologists call “Duchenne” or genuine smiles. Less well understood is why happiness is contagious.
According to James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis, authors of the international bestseller Connected, people surrounded by many happy friends, family members and neighbours who are central to their social network become significantly happier in the future. More specifically, they say we will become 25 per cent happier with our life if a friend who lives within a mile of us becomes significantly happier with his or her life.

So, why is happiness contagious? One reason may be that happy people share their good fortune with their friends and family (for example, by being pragmatically helpful or financially generous). Another reason could be that happy people tend to change their behaviour for the better by being nicer or less hostile to those close to them. Or it could just be that positive emotions are highly contagious.
In short, happiness is not only desirable for personal reasons; its pay-offs can also be of unimaginable value to society as a whole.



Cartoon of the day.

The US Supreme Court's recent ruling that a ban on handguns was unconstitutional sparked lots of debates and criticism. Here's a great cartoon on the issue.
thanks to:

Sell organs to save lives.

27 August 2010 .
'Sell organs to save lives' .

By Martin Wilkinson Ethics expert at Keele University .

Allowing the sale of organs will cut waiting lists
Martin Wilkinson, a visiting professor at Keele University and former chairman of the New Zealand Bioethics Council, argues that selling organs is the way forward.
When people's organs fail, their best hope - sometimes their only hope - is a transplant.
Transplants are not only effective treatment, they are worth the money too. But there are not enough organs.
Should the law be changed so that people could sell their organs? I think it should.
Permitting sale would mean more people could get the organs they need. People should not be stopped from selling their organs because they have a right to do what they want with their bodies when they would not be harming others.
And would allowing sale make more organs available?
The most basic economics lesson says that supply increases with price.
Basic economics is a bit too basic though. Perhaps few people would want to sell; perhaps people who would have donated now would not because, for instance, they are offended by the idea of money changing hands. In theory, the supply of organs could even fall if sales were allowed.
However, when Iran gave generous compensation to live kidney `donors', it not only met demand but shortened ts waiting list.
Of course, people in the UK may not behave like people in Iran, so it would be sensible to do some research into people's willingness to take money for their organs. Still, if the aim is to increase the supply of organs, it would be worth giving sale a try.
What about the ethical objections? Many take pride in the system of altruistic donation.
They do not want to replace altruism with commerce and they think society would find commerce repulsive. Many people die without giving any serious thought to donation. It is their families who agree and, when they agree, they are not donating their organs.
In any case, if organ sales would increase supply, it would not be altruistic to say: `we like altruism so much we will not allow sale even though more people will die as a result.'
As for society finding sale repulsive, there is no serious evidence that it would. Even if it did, people do all sorts of things with their own bodies that other people do not like.Legal battle
Punishing people for trying to sell their organs - which has happened in the UK - infringes on a right to decide what to do with one's own body.
People should be able to choose for themselves whether to sell their organs. But surely, the argument goes, it is the poor who would sell, and what choice would they have?
Well, the poor do have bad options, but it is a pretty strange policy that takes away the one option they may think the best, and punishes them for trying to use it. And that is what criminalising organ sales does.
The critics have a point, though. People who are desperate lay themselves open to exploitation and organ sellers are exploited and deceived in black markets now.
But the answer is to regulate the market, not to drive it underground. Selling an organ should no longer be a criminal offence.

Have your say: Would you sell your organs? Do you think others should?



Quiz: Confusing Words.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

What is Brad Pitt doing in New Orleans?

Daily chart: Brazil's success in agriculture.

Brazil's success in agriculture
Aug 27th 2010 | From The Economist print edition

OVER the past 35 years Brazil has transformed itself from a food importer into one of the world’s largest exporters. It is the first tropical country to join the big farm-exporting ranks (the rest have temperate climates). The country is now the world’s biggest exporter of five internationally traded crops, and number two in soyabeans and maize. None of the other big exporters has anything like this degree of diversification. Perhaps the most striking achievement has been the growth of soyabeans: soya is a temperate crop and Brazilian research scientists had to breed new varieties that would grow in the tropical cerrado, the savannah-like land where the farm miracle has taken place.

Cartoon of the day.

Today's tip: Movie

"The Ghost Writer'.

A ghost writer is hired to write the memoirs of a former UK Prime Minister. Little did he know, though, that nothing is as it seems. Fantastic film set in London and in the US that will certainly grab your attention and interest till the very end.

Friday, 27 August 2010


Today's topic: 'I don't mind'

When we want to emphasise that something does not matter we use '-ever' at the end of certain words.

  1. You are welcome to come and stay with us __________ you like.

  2. whatever



  3. It comes in three colours; choose __________ you prefer.

  4. whichever



  5. He always makes friends quickly, ________________ he goes.

  6. whenever



  7. . _______________ borrowed the dictionary should return it as quickly as possible.

  8. Whoever



  9. The teacher says I don't participate enough, but _______ I try to speak, someone interrupts me.

  10. whoever



  11. He says he's from Brookstown, ____________ that is.

  12. whatever



  13. ______you go, you can always make new friends.

  14. Whichever



  15. I don't care what we are going to do tonight, _____ you decide is fine by me.

  16. whenever



  17. Come and stay in my flat, _______ you like.

  18. wherever



  19. I don't know who did that but _______ did it must now apologise.

  20. whoever



Tuesday, 24 August 2010

An app millionaire.

Added On August 24, 2010
CNN's Richard Quest interviews Nikita Lutsenko, a young programmer from Ukraine who aims to be an app millionaire.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The boomerang generation.

The Boomerang Generation:

Listen to the podcast and answer the questions.

The boomerang generation.

  1. The boomerang generation consists of young people

  2. who are still living with their parents.

    who have finished college.

    who have come back home after college.

  3. What is the main reason?

  4. They find home cheaper to live.

    They don't have enough money to live on their own.

    They cannot live far from their parents.

  5. More..... move back home.

  6. men


    men and women equally

  7. Most of the young people complain about.....when they move back home.

  8. a lack of privacy

    a lack of independence


  9. According to the podcast, why is it so hard for them to move back home?

  10. They have already lived with their parents.

    They have already finished college.

    They have already lived on their own.

  11. What is the legal age to leave home in the UK?

  12. 16


    none of the above

  13. Most parents say that they have

  14. loved the idea.

    lost their privacy.

    not allowed their children to move back home.

  15. We understand that

  16. such thing is already common in other countries.

    such thing is happening in the UK only.

    none of the above

  17. Which of the factors below may be a cause?

  18. economic downturn.

    convenience of living with parents.

    lack of maturity.

  19. What is the consequence of the Boomerang Generation?

  20. Young people can't become fully independent.

    The government will rise the age limit to leave home.

    They will get married later in life.

Word of the day: ZEAL.


fervent or enthusiastic devotion, often extreme or fanatical in nature, as to a religious movement, political cause, ideal, or aspiration

Why Americans cannot enjoy holidays.

Why Americans cannot enjoy holidays .

Aug 19th 2010 .

As all the world knows, Americans find taking time off, let alone filling that time with leisure, painfully hard. One travel website, expedia.com, believes (what a surprise) that “everyone deserves and needs a vacation.” Indeed, it has compiled comparative international data on the scandal of “vacation deprivation”. These show that in 2009 the average American adult received about 13 days of holiday, whereas the average Briton enjoyed a luxurious 26. The average “working” Frenchman, infuriatingly, had 38 days. Worse yet, more than a third of Americans do not even take all the days they are allowed. Even when Americans do take time off, they find it hard to relax. But it seems pretty clear that something cultural—that famous Puritan fear of idle hands and easeful nights—is at work as well.
That is certainly the argument of “Working at Play”, Cindy Aron’s aptly named social history of vacations in the United States, which argues that Americans have found themselves trapped in a love-hate battle with their holiday and have made a point of filling their leisure with various sorts of work—religious, intellectual and therapeutic. The middle classes did not start to take holidays in a big way until the late 19th century, at a time when the values that mattered were still industry and discipline, and when leisure and idleness were perceived as sources of moral, spiritual, financial and political danger. Many a modern holiday resort, such as Martha’s Vineyard in Cape Cod, sprang out of a Methodist summer camp created to offer spiritual rather than physical comfort.
In times of economic downturn, Americans are even more careful before taking a few days off.
Fear is, they say, someone else will be sitting at their desks when they come back.


Vagueness in English.

The following notes are about vagueness in English.

Vague nouns:

1) The word thing refers to objects which aren't described - we don't know what the objects are, only that they exist! So in the sentence:

'There are a few things I'm not happy about.', we don't know what the speaker is unhappy about.

2) Bit often refers to a part or section of something. Both bit and thing can be used if we don't know the English word for something or if we've forgotten it -

e.g 'I've broken my stapler... I dropped it and the bit which holds the paper in place snapped.'

'I need that..to fix the tap but the bit is hard to use.'

3) The word stuff refers to more than one object. It is a non-count noun.

e.g. 'There's loads of stuff in the attic - can you have a look and see if any of it's yours?'

It can also be used to talk about ideas or words:
e.g. 'All this stuff in his speech about workers' rights... do you think he actually meant any of that? '

4) Some words allow you to give more detail than a quantifier but are still vague. You can use around and about to give a vague idea of a number. They can be used to give an idea of time or age too.

e.g. There are about two hundred people outside.

It must be around three o'clock now.He's about fifty, fifty-five maybe.

5) You can use the word odd to give an idea of a number (but not to indicate age or time). This is informal English.

e.g. 'Did you know there are loads of people outside? Must be 200-odd out there. '

'I have another 20-odd years to work before I retire.'

6) Slightly more formal, you can use or so in the same way.

e.g. 'There are thirty or so leaflets there. Do you think you could fold them for me?'

'It costs $20 or so.'

7) You can add -ish to give a vague indication of the time:

e.g. 'I usually get home about sevenish, maybe half-seven, depending on traffic.'

You can also add -ish to some adjectives. Used like this, it means 'a little' or 'slightly'.
e.g. She has reddish hair.He's a tallish guy... maybe 6 foot?
His teeth are yellowish because he smokes.

-ish is informal English and you can use it creatively. It can even be used on its own to mean 'a little bit'.
A: Are you hungry yet?

B: Ish. I could eat, if you're hungry.

8) sort of, kind of
These are useful phrases for giving a description of someone. They qualify a statement slightly, so if someone says
"She has sort of reddish hair ."
it is understood that this person's hair is not completely red - it might be a little bit brown. It is not the description that is vague here, but the colour itself!

In some contexts, the phrase means 'in some ways':
It's kind of crazy how they advertise jobs you can't actually apply for.

a. Did you like the film?

b. Sort of./Kind of.



Cartoon of the day.

Texting helps pupils to spell.

Texting 'helps pupils to spell'.
By Sean Coughlan .
BBC News education and family .

Children who regularly use the abbreviated language of text messages are actually improving their ability to spell correctly, research suggests.
A study of eight- to 12-year-olds found that rather than damaging reading and writing, "text speak" is associated with strong literacy skills.
Researchers say text language uses word play and requires an awareness of how sounds relate to written English.
This link between texting and literacy has proved a surprise, say researchers.
These latest findings of an ongoing study at the University of Coventry contradict any expectation that prolonged exposure to texting will erode a child's ability to spell.

Instead it suggests that pupils who regularly use text language - with all its mutations of phonetic spelling and abbreviations - also appear to be developing skills in the more formal use of English.

“ If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it ”
Dr Clare Wood

The research, part-funded by the British Academy, suggests that texting requires the same "phonological awareness" needed to learn correct spellings.
So when pupils replace or remove sounds, letters or syllables - such as "l8r" for "later" or "hmwrk" for "homework" - it requires an understanding of what the original word should be.
Instead of texting being a destructive influence on learners, the academics argue that it offers them a chance to "practise reading and spelling on a daily basis".
Using initials and abbreviations and understanding phonetics and rhymes are part of texting - but they are also part of successful reading and spelling development, they say.
"If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among young children, it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it," said Clare Wood, reader in developmental psychology.

This is an interim report, based on a year-long study of 63 pupils in England, with the final report expected next year, but so far researchers have not found a negative association between using text abbreviations and literacy skills.
The use of text language "was actually driving the development of phonological awareness and reading skill in children", said Dr Wood.

Story from BBC NEWS:



thanks for the tip:


Saturday, 21 August 2010

What makes you happy?

Focus on cleft sentences with ‘What’

When we talk about things that give us pleasure we often wish to sound especially enthusiastic. Give some examples of things that give you pleasure using a few of the cleft sentence structures below. Note that we use cleft sentences to put extra emphasis on part of a sentence.
What I like is + gerund / noun / when …

What I really love is …
What I especially enjoy doing is …
What I like doing is …
What I couldn’t live without is …
What makes my day is …
What cheers me up is …
What I couldn’t possible give up is …
What makes me happy is …
What I would find difficult to give up …

thanks to:


Word of the day: Kindness.

1.noun, the practice or quality of being kind
2.noun, a kind, considerate, or helpful act

Quiz: Like or As

  1. It's raining again! I hate weather ...... this.

  2. like


  3. You are late ..... usual.

  4. like


  5. .....the manager, she has to make impotant decisions.

  6. like


  7. .....I was hungry, I went to a snack bar.

  8. like


  9. We heard a noise .... a baby crying.

  10. like


  11. .... you know, I am going to Ireland tomorrow.

  12. like


  13. We use our garage ..... a warehouse.

  14. like


  15. Some sports, ....motor racing, can be dangerous.

  16. like


  17. Some sports, such .... motor racing, can be dangerous.

  18. like


  19. .... always, Nick was the first to arrive.

  20. like


Third of adults still take teddy bears to bed.

Third of adults ‘still take teddy bear to bed’
More than a third of adults still hug a childhood soft toy while falling asleep, according to a new survey.

16 Aug 2010

More than half of Britons still have a teddy bear from childhood and the average teddy bear is 27 years old, the poll found.
Travelodge, the hotel chain, surveyed 6,000 British adults and found that respondents said sleeping with a teddy a “comforting and calming” way to end the day.
The survey also found that 25 per cent of men said they even took their teddy away with them on business because it reminded them of home.
Corrine Sweet, a psychologist, said cuddling a teddy bear was an ‘important part of our national psyche’.
She said: “It evokes a sense of peace, security and comfort. It’s human nature to crave these feelings from childhood to adult life.
“It’s not surprising, then, that taking a teddy bear on a business trip is popular. As a bedtime bear evokes feelings of home, warmth, and can help you nod off – just like in babyhood.”
The study also found that the traditional teddy bear was the most popular cuddly toy among adults, with Winnie the Pooh second and Paddington Bear third.



Keeping tourists happy in the UK.

CNN's Sasha Herriman reports on how British tourism officials are desperate to avoid insulting the tourists.

Word of the day: forbearance


1.noun, the act of forbearing
2.noun, self-control; patience

Cartoon of the day.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Quote of the day.

"It's not the years, honey - it's the mileage."

Indiana Jones

Quiz: Prepositional Phrases

How (and why) to stop multitasking.

How (and Why) to Stop Multitasking

By Peter on May 20, 2010
in Harvard Business

During a conference call with the executive committee of a nonprofit board on which I sit, I decided to send an email to a client.
I know, I know. You'd think I'd have learned.
Last week I wrote about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. Multitasking is dangerous. And so I proposed a way to stop.
But when I sent that email, I wasn't in a car. I was safe at my desk. What could go wrong?
Well, I sent the client the message. Then I had to send him another one, this time with the attachment I had forgotten to append. Finally, my third email to him explained why that attachment wasn't what he was expecting. When I eventually refocused on the call, I realized I hadn't heard a question the Chair of the Board had asked me.
I swear I wasn't smoking anything. But I might as well have been. A study showed that people distracted by incoming email and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQs. What's the impact of a 10-point drop? The same as losing a night of sleep. More than twice the effect of smoking marijuana.
Doing several things at once is a trick we play on ourselves, thinking we're getting more done. In reality, our productivity goes down by as much as 40%. We don't actually multitask. We switch-task, rapidly shifting from one thing to another, interrupting ourselves unproductively, and losing time in the process.
You might think you're different, that you've done it so much you've become good at it. Practice makes perfect and all that.
But you'd be wrong. Research shows that heavy multitaskers are less competent at doing several things at once than light multitaskers. In other words, in contrast to almost everything else in your life, the more you multitask, the worse you are at it. Practice, in this case, works against you.
I decided to do an experiment. For one week I would do no multitasking and see what happened. What techniques would help? Could I sustain a focus on one thing at a time for that long?
For the most part, I succeeded. If I was on the phone, all I did was talk or listen on the phone. In a meeting I did nothing but focus on the meeting. Any interruptions — email, a knock on the door — I held off until I finished what I was working on.
During the week I discovered six things:
First, it was delightful. I noticed this most dramatically when I was with my children. I shut my cell phone off and found myself much more deeply engaged and present with them. I never realized how significantly a short moment of checking my email disengaged me from the people and things right there in front of me. Don't laugh, but I actually — for the first time in a while — noticed the beauty of leaves blowing in the wind.
Second, I made significant progress on challenging projects, the kind that — like writing or strategizing — require thought and persistence. The kind I usually try to distract myself from. I stayed with each project when it got hard, and experienced a number of breakthroughs.
Third, my stress dropped dramatically. Research shows that multitasking isn't just inefficient, it's stressful. And I found that to be true. It was a relief to do only one thing at a time. I felt liberated from the strain of keeping so many balls in the air at each moment. It felt reassuring to finish one thing before going to the next.
Fourth, I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time. An hour-long meeting seemed interminably long. A meandering pointless conversation was excruciating. II became laser-focused on getting things done. Since I wasn't doing anything else, I got bored much more quickly. I had no tolerance for wasted time.
Fifth, I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable. When I listened to my wife Eleanor, I was in no rush. When I was brainstorming about a difficult problem, I stuck with it. Nothing else was competing for my attention so I was able to settle into the one thing I was doing.
Sixth, there was no downside. I lost nothing by not multitasking. No projects were left unfinished. No one became frustrated with me for not answering a call or failing to return an email the second I received it.
That's why it's so surprising that multitasking is so hard to resist. If there's no downside to stopping, why don't we all just stop?
I think it's because our minds move considerably faster than the outside world. You can hear far more words a minute than someone else can speak. We have so much to do, why waste any time? So, while you're on the phone listening to someone, why not use that extra brain power to book a trip to Florence?
What we neglect to realize is that we're already using that brain power to pick up nuance, think about what we're hearing, access our creativity, and stay connected to what's happening around us. It's not really extra brain power. And diverting it has negative consequences.
So how do we resist the temptation?
First, the obvious: the best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off. Often I write at 6 am when there's nothing to distract me, I disconnect my computer from its wireless connection and turn my phone off. In my car, I leave my phone in the trunk. Drastic? Maybe. But most of us shouldn't trust ourselves.
Second, the less obvious: Use your loss of patience to your advantage. Create unrealistically short deadlines. Cut all meetings in half. Give yourself a third of the time you think you need to accomplish something.
There's nothing like a deadline to keep things moving. And when things are moving fast, we can't help but focus on them. How many people run a race while texting? If you really only have 30 minutes to finish a presentation you thought would take an hour, are you really going to answer an interrupting call?
Interestingly, because multitasking is so stressful, single-tasking to meet a tight deadline will actually reduce your stress. In other words, giving yourself less time to do things could make you more productive and relaxed.
Finally, it's good to remember that we're not perfect. Every once in a while it might be OK to allow for a little multitasking. As I was writing this, Daniel, my two-year-old son, walked into my office, climbed on my lap, and said "Monsters, Inc. movie please."
So, here we are, I'm finishing this piece on the left side of my computer screen while Daniel is on my lap watching a movie on the right side of my computer screen.
Sometimes, it is simply impossible to resist a little multitasking.



One in Five Teens Suffer from Hearing Loss

Researchers haven't identified an exact cause for the increase in hearing loss, but many say that the growing number of iPods and ear buds are to blame.

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

More Evidence ‘Only Child Syndrome’ a Myth

A new study has come out that adds to the mounting evidence that ‘only child syndrome’ doesn’t exist. It suggests that only children are just as socially adjusted as their peers who have siblings.


“Well new research shows that there’s no such thing as only child syndrome, at least in middle and high school. Researchers found only children were just as likely as kids with lots of siblings to have social skills to get along with peers.” (KXAN)

A new study on only children aimed to see whether less developed social skills seen at the kindergarten age persisted through middle and high school.

We’re analyzing coverage from KXAN, The Wall Street Journal, Discovery News and CNN.

A Wall Street Journal article says ultimately how children act in school isn’t the best indicator of the size of their family.

“Parenting styles can affect whether you end up with a happy and secure kid—or an anxious basket-case.”

A writer for Discovery News explains where the only child stereotype comes from. She says new studies like this are needed, especially with more only children resulting from tightening finances and late in life pregnancies.

“The stereotype of a lonely, spoiled, bossy and maladjusted only child dates back to 1896, when an American psychologist named Granville Stanley Hall did a research paper on the subject. Despite major flaws in his study ... the stereotype has generally stuck around.”

But child psychologist Carl Pickhardt tells CNN he believes despite these studies parents still need to make a concerted effort to better socialize only children with children their own age.

“Parents really have to socialize their only children with same age kids. A lot of only children, because they are adultized – that is they peer with their parents, they are very good with adults. They work well with older people and they also work well with younger kids because they are in a control position. A lot of times unless they are adequately socialized they can feel kind of uncomfortable or out of step with their peers.”

So what do you think? Is being an only child a detriment?

Proverb of the day.

Every cloud has a silver lining.


Every bad situation has some good aspect to it. This proverb is usually said as an encouragement to a person who is overcome by some difficulty and is unable to see any positive way forward.

Word of the day: Specially or Especially

Especially and specially

specially - for a particular purpose
e.g. This shower gel is specially designed for people with sensitive skins.
e.g. This computer programme is specially for children with learning difficulties.
e.g. My father made this model aeroplane specially for me.

especially - particularly / above all
e.g. These butterflies are particularly noticeable in April and May, especially in these meadows.
e.g. You'll enjoy playing tennis at our local club, especially on weekdays when it's not so busy.
e.g. The road between Cairo and Alexandria is especially dangerous at night.
e.g. It is a bit nippy, but it's not especially cold for this time of year.




Should the English-speaking world adopt American English?

More than 1 billion people are believed to speak some form of English. For every native speaker there are at least three non-native speakers. English has become the universal language of business and commerce. Jacques Chirac, a former president of France, famously walked out of a 2006 EU meeting because someone, a fellow Frenchman, insisted on speaking English "because that is the language of business". English, it seems, has even invaded football pitches. The Brazilian referee for the recent England-United States match at the FIFA World Cup reportedly studied a lexicon of English-language obscenities.

With so many people using English, we wonder whether it is time to streamline English spelling. Might it make communication easier? Would it help avoid confusion? The Australians spell "labour" as the British do, but their Labor Party is spelt without a "u". Should the world adopt American English or British English? "Center" or "centre"? "Favorite" or "favourite"?



Ofcom report says technology multi-tasking is rising.

19 August 2010.
An Ofcom reports show that half of our day is spent using media and older people are catching up on the young.

The communications watchdog's Peter Phillips describes how trends are changing.

Ofcom report highlights 'multi-tasking media users':
The average Briton spends almost half of their waking life using media and communications, data suggests. The statistics from regulator Ofcom suggest people in the UK spend seven hours a day watching TV, surfing the net and using their mobile phones.

However, the average person actually squeezes in the equivalent of nearly nine hours of media and communications by multi-tasking on several devices.
The statistics come from industry sources and a survey of 1,138 adults.
The report also suggests that traditional media is holding its own.
Television still dominates people's media habits, with the average person spending around 3.8 hours watching television every day, it says.
"For the first time we have mapped the totality of communications use over one day," said Peter Philips of Ofcom.
The annual Communications Market Report says that the average person spends around 15 hours 45 minutes every day awake. Of this time, it says, the average person spends seven hours and five minutes "engaging in media and communications activities".
However, it found that most people are able to cram in even more by multi-tasking. For example, the report found that adults aged between 16 and 24 appeared to consume the least, spending just six hours and 35 minutes a day on the phone, laptop, radio or television.
But by multitasking - effectively using two or more devices at once - the survey found that young adults were able to squeeze the equivalent of nine hours 32 minutes worth of consumption into that time.
"They are taking up more and more communications activities but fitting them into the same amount of time," said James Thickett, director of market research and market intelligence at Ofcom.
The news about our multi-tasking media lives has been met with a mixture of shock, indifference - and just a hint of moral panic”
He said this was largely due to the rise in the mobile internet and the use of smartphones.
The report says that the number of people using their phone to surf the web currently stands at 13.5m people. This has almost tripled since 2008, when the figure stood at 5.7m.
Concurrently, the use of mobile data has exploded, the report said, increasing by 240% between 2007 and 2009.
It suggested that, in part, much of this increase had been driven by one site - Facebook - which accounts for 45% of all mobile web use in the UK, followed by Google at 8%.
"All of the others have less than 4% market share," said Mr Philips.
Facebook also dominates fixed line broadband use. The report says that social networking now accounts for nearly one-quarter of all time spent online, with Facebook accounting for the majority of traffic.
The majority of users of the site - and other networks - are between 16 and 34, although Ofcom said that there was a growing trend for older people to also sign up to the services.
But despite the rise in new ways of accessing content, the report says that traditional media, such as TV and radio still dominate people's media habits,.
"TV still plays a central role in people's lives," said Mr Thickett. "We are watching more than at any time in the last five years."
Yet, despite the growth in online TV services and devices that allow people to record television, most shows were watched via traditional live broadcasts.
Although listening has gone down slightly, the number of people able to access radio services was at an all time high, at 91%.
"It is still a very important medium for people," said Mr Thickett.



Thursday, 19 August 2010

Short Story: The Christmas the lights went out.


The Christmas The Lights Went Out.

Tom Jankowitz took his coat off and threw it onto the seat in the airport lounge. He sat down and opened up his laptop computer, keeping one eye on the small television which showed the departure times of all the flights from the airport.
Tom Jankowitz was tired. Tired and bored. It was Christmas, nearly. Tom hated Christmas. He only remembered that it would be Christmas tomorrow because there were Christmas decorations all over the airport, and he could see the date on the small television showing the departure times of all the flights. “December 24th” it said. “Happy Christmas” said all the notices in the windows of the shops. The shops were closed now. It was late. Tom was going home. He had been to a business meeting in New York and had to take a plane back home. The meeting had been difficult. He had decided to close a lot of his company’s offices. A lot of people were unhappy about his decision, but he didn’t care.
Tom thought that he would rather spend Christmas on his own in a hotel room with his computer. He didn’t really want to go home.
Anja Kohonen carefully checked the potatoes roasting in the oven, made sure the wine in the fridge was cold and that there was a bottle of champagne for later. She carefully checked the candles on the Christmas tree, as she didn’t want them to set fire to the tree. She looked out of the window. The snow was starting to fall again. She looked at her watch again.
Guy Domville finished his beer and walked out of the hot, smoky pub into the cold night air. He thought about getting a taxi home, but knew it would be difficult to find one at this time of the evening, especially on Christmas Eve. Anyway, because it was a clear, crisp night, he thought he would enjoy the walk home. It was late, and dark, and cold. There weren’t many people on the streets. A man came walking towards him. The man was only wearing a t-shirt. He looked like he was freezing cold.
“Are you all right?” Guy asked the man.
“I’m freezing” the man replied. Guy took off his coat, and gave it to the man.
“There you go!” said Guy. The man looked very surprised, but took the coat, put it on and went on his way. 
“Thanks!” he shouted as he left. Now it was Guy who was freezing. He had no idea why he had just decided to give his coat to a complete stranger. Perhaps because it was nearly Christmas. Perhaps it was because Guy hadn’t given presents to anyone else this Christmas. Perhaps it was because this year he had no one to give any presents to.
Leila came out of church into the night. It was much colder than she expected. Every other time she had been to stay with her grandmother it had been very hot. She had no idea it could get so cold out here in Damascus, out here on the edge of the desert. That was OK though. She didn’t think that Christmas in a hot place would seem right somehow. Christmas had always been cold for her. She was happy to be here in such a beautiful place, with her mother and her grandmother. It was a shame her father wasn’t there, but she hadn’t heard from him in months now. Rudolf Lenk was bored. Very bored. It was Christmas Eve, and he was stuck in an office, surrounded by computers, completely on his own. Rudolf could think of nothing more boring than this. It was only boredom, thought Rudolf later, that made him do the stupid thing he decided to do.
Rudolf Lenk pulled a plug out. It was only a little plug. It wasn’t even hard to pull it out. That was all he did. He pulled a small plug out of a small socket. And then.
And then.
And then.
Rudolf Lenk watched the lights go out. At first he watched the lights go out in the office where he was. Then he looked out of the window and watched all the lights go out in the town where he was. And then he imagined what was happening.
Allacrossthe world,onebyone…the lights were going out.
Tom Jankowitz hardly noticed as the television screen with the departure times on it flickered, then went off. He looked up just in time to see it before all the lights in the airport went off, too. For a few moments there was light coming in from the big window which looked out onto the runway of the airport, but then all the lights on the runway went out as well. Soon, everything was totally, completely and utterly black. The only light came from the tiny little lights on the wings of the aeroplanes, and the light from his own portable computer screen. Soon, there was an announcement:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we regret to inform you that there seems to have been a power cut. All flights for the moment are cancelled. Thank you”.
A man sat down next to Tom.
“Looks like we’re not going anywhere tonight” he said. Tom didn’t reply, but nodded in agreement. Not going anywhere, he thought. Not going anywhere. I’m not going anywhere. Not tonight, not ever. The only places I ever go are offices of GlobalPower International. He looked at the light coming from his computer screen. Some numbers looked at him. Numbers were the only thing that he was going to see on Christmas Day. Some numbers, and his computer. Is that all there is to it? Nothing, thought Tom, is going anywhere.
In one second, everything went from light to dark for Anja. Her house, filled with light and warmth and the smells of cooking, went black. The only light and the only warmth came from the big fire that she had started. She looked at the fire which continued burning, filling the room with warm light. It looked good. It made her feel happy. It reminded her of when she was a child. She looked out of the window and saw that it was dark for as far as she could see. The flickering light from the fire illuminated the snowflakes that were now falling heavily outside. She wondered if anyone was coming to join her this evening.
It was completely quiet on the streets outside. Guy thought it was strange. Usually these streets were full of busy people. Now they were completely empty. The snow that had fallen looked like a carpet. Outside looked like inside. Walking home, lost in his thoughts and the snow, Guy hardly noticed that all the streetlights had gone out. The darkness around him was the same as the darkness he felt inside him.
Sometimes he could see into the windows of the houses that he passed. Most of the houses were dark, but some people had lit candles. The candles looked beautiful, he thought. They made the people’s houses look warm and friendly and cosy.
Guy felt sad that he was now going back to a house where no one had lit any candles. He didn’t want to go home. His flat was empty. It would be the first Christmas without his daughter and his ex-wife. He thought about how hot it would be where they were, and wondered what Christmas would be like for them. He hadn’t spoken to his daughter in over three months.
Guy didn’t want to go home. He thought about how his wife always said he worked too much, that he never took time to do the simple things in life. Now here he was, walking along the streets where he usually went to work, doing nothing. He decided that he would leave his job with GlobalPower in January. He wanted to walk these strange empty streets forever. Or at least until he could see his daughter again.
Leila looked up at the night sky so full of stars. She thought she had never seen so many stars in the sky when she lived in London. The city was so dark, it made it easier to see the sky. She walked with her mother along the narrow streets of the Christian quarter of old Damascus, all decorated for Christmas, and lit now with candles. She was happy here with her mother and grandmother, but she still missed her father, even though he hadn’t called.
Rudolf Lenk realised what he had done with a shock. He put the plug back in its socket. He hoped nobody would have noticed what he had done.
And Very Very Slowly One By One. The light sacross the world came back on again.
Like a breath at first, like a tiny whisper which nobody could hear which grew and grew and grew, like the first ripple out in the sea which will become a gigantic wave, like the spark which lights a candle which can start a fire, like the first falling snowflake of a giant storm, like the first star which appears in the night sky and makes enough light for you to be able to see another, and then another, and another and more and more until the whole sky which covers the whole world is hung with starry, illuminated fruit, light connected to light until at midnight, the darkest point of the night the whole world was full of bright bright light.
Tom Jankowitz watched the lights going back on again in the airport and heard the sound of people cheering. He cheered as well, and smiled at the man who was sitting next to him. He felt like someone had turned a light on in him too. He was looking forward to being home. “I’m going somewhere” he thought. “I’ve got somewhere to go.”
Anja got up, and turned the lights that had come on off again. “I like the dark” she thought to herself. “I like the dark and the fire, just like this. That’s how I like it”. She curled up next to the fire, and fell asleep.
Guy was looking for a tiny piece of paper he remembered having put in his pocket months ago. It was so dark out here that he couldn’t see anything. His hands were so cold that it was difficult to find anything in his pockets.
Then, suddenly, everything became light. He realised that he was standing under a streetlight that had just come on again. He found the tiny piece of paper in his wallet with a long number written on it. The number had faded, but he could still read it. He found some one pound coins in his other pocket. He found a phone box, but the phone didn’t work. He walked some more until he found another phone box. He picked up the telephone receiver and heard the bleeping sound. It worked. He put the money in and began to dial the number.
Back at home in their flat with her mother and her grandmother, and all the other Syrian branch of her Anglo-arabic family, Leila heard the old phone ringing. Who would be calling at this time of night? She ran across the room to answer it.
Rudolf Lenk was writing a note on a piece of paper. He addressed the note to his boss at GlobalPower International and left it on his desk. “Yes, it was me” he wrote. “And no, I don’t want my job anymore. Oh, and by the way, happy Christmas!”



British Trivia.

Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of World War II, to raise the morale of the British public in the case of invasion.

It has been a word of wisdom to different generations.

note: to carry on = to go on, to continue, to keep doing something


“I learned long ago, never wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.”

by George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The latest Big Mac index.

The latest Big Mac index
Jul 22nd 2010 .

Exchange rates an especially sensitive topic. A weaker currency improves the competitiveness of a country by making exports cheaper. It also encourages domestic consumers to switch from expensive imports to domestic goods. The Economist’s exchange-rate scorecard, the Big Mac index, shows that currencies continue to be cheap in the developing world but overvalued in Europe.

The index is a lighthearted attempt to gauge how far currencies are from their fair value. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), which argues that in the long run exchange rates should move to equalise the price of an identical basket of goods between two countries. Our basket consists of a single item, a Big Mac hamburger, produced in nearly 120 countries. The fair-value benchmark is the exchange rate that leaves burgers costing the same in America as elsewhere.
Asia remains the cheapest place to enjoy a burger. China’s recent decision to increase the “flexibility” of the yuan has not made much difference yet. A Big Mac costs $1.95 in China at current exchange rates, against $3.73 in America. The Brazilian real is one of the few emerging-market currencies that is trading well above its Big Mac benchmark. With interest rates high—the policy rate now stands at 10.75%—Brazil has attracted lots of attention from yield-hungry investors. Burgernomics suggests that the real is overvalued by 31%.

The Big Mac numbers should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. They are not a precise predictor of currency movements. The bulk of a burger’s cost depends on local inputs such as rent and wages, which tend to be lower in poor countries. Consequently PPP comparisons are more reliable between countries with similar levels of income.



What do you think?

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Monday, 16 August 2010

CNN's Carol Costello reports on the presence of domestic violence in pop culture.

Popularly unpopular.

August 12, 2010.
Facebook: Popularly Unpopular.
Why does the most popular social network rank next to last in a customer satisfaction survey?
By Arik Hesseldahl .

Popularity doesn't always equal affection. Take Facebook. Five hundred million people use it, but a survey conducted by ForeSee Results found that among 30 websites it tracks, Facebook ranked second from the bottom for customer satisfaction. It was also among the lowest 5 percent of all 223 companies ForeSee tracks.

Perhaps it's a variation on the concept of "satisficing." The word "satisfice," coined in 1956 by the Carnegie Mellon economist and psychologist Herbert Simon, combines the words "satisfy" and "suffice," and is meant to describe how consumers make choices following a path of least resistance. In the case of social media, you go where your friends are.

Facebook isn't the only satisficing option out there. The most popular smartphone in North America is Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry. According to research firm Gartner (IT), it still commands 41 percent of the smartphone market, vs. 22 percent for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone. Yet a survey by research firm ChangeWave Institutional Research found that only 30 percent of BlackBerry owners were satisfied with their device, vs. 55 percent two years ago.

Drops in satisfaction surveys can be reversed, and once-popular items can become popular again. After all, what technology product has been more universally used and loathed than Microsoft (MSFT) Windows? A May 2010 survey by ForeSee found that after a period of decline, more users are happier with Windows in 2010—76 percent—than in any previous survey period. If Microsoft can turn it around, anyone can.



See what is popularly unpopular in Brazil:


US shoppers lose taste for retail therapy.

The BBC's Caroline Hepker reports from New York.

Watch the video here, please.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Jennifer Aniston.

Jennifer Aniston says women are realizing they don't need to settle with a man to have a child.

One-minute World News.

Watch the one-minute world news summary from BBC here, please.

Watch the three-minute world news summary from SkyNews here, please.

Report suggests English sport has defied recession.

14 August 2010 .

Report suggests English sport has 'defied recession'.

Sport now plays a bigger part in England's economy than at any time for the last 25 years, according to a report for Sport England.
The study by Sheffield Hallam university said sport now accounted for 2.3% of all consumer spending and 1.8% of employment.
It said football was the largest contributor, but that all sports were helping to boost the wider economy.
Sports goods and TV subscriptions have fuelled the boom, the report found.
Researchers found consumer spending on sport was up by 138% in real terms between 1985 and 2008 to £17.3bn.
It also revealed that the number of people with sport-related jobs had grown during that time to 441,000 - 1.8% of all employment in England.
All this suggested that over the last 25 years sport has been transformed from a past-time to big business, said BBC sports editor David Bond.
Now the government's challenge was to try to use sport's economic power to make the nation more active, our correspondent added.
Mihir Warty, director of strategy and research at Sport England, said it was apt that the report had been released on the first day of the new Premier League season.
"Football is a huge part of it, and it is fantastic to see that sport in general has been growing so much faster than the overall economy," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"A large part of the growth has been driven by the explosion of media rights, and certainly the Premier League has had a massive effect."
He said the Premier League had helped drive a five-fold increase in sportswear sales.
"But even beyond football, people are more and more seeing sport as part of their everyday lives, it really has moved from the back to the front pages of newspapers, and that has had a major effect on the economy."
Mr Warty added that sports' boost to the wider economy had also been helped by a big rise in investment from the public sector, from Sport England itself, to local authorities, and the spending on the London Olympics.
However, while the report says football has been the main driving force behind the increased contribution sport makes to the economy, the former chairman of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney, warned that all was not well with the finances of many professional clubs.
"Although the money in the game has never been greater, debts are rising all over the place because clubs are spending more than they are getting in, and that is a bad business recipe," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"You have to ask the question, is the FA capable of imposing or working with the leagues to impose a framework that seriously gets to grips with the problem? In my opinion, it sadly isn't.
"At least you have to explore the possibility of a regulatory framework."
He added that while fans wanted their clubs to be successful, they also wanted them to be sustainable.
"Fans want the prospect of being able to cheer their team next year and the year after," said Lord Mawhinney.
"If you don't get the balance right between success and sustainable then eventually it is tears."



How world economy is recovering from the recession.

How world economy is recovering from the recession. The latest quarterly GDP data shows some countries growing strongly, but others are still suffering.

Check it out here and click on the country to check how they are recovering from recession.


Ideas for modern living: kindness.
On taking the pulse of kindness in today's world…

Sunday, 8 August 2010 .

Does modern society suffer from a deficit of kindness? In a recent book Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor argue that it is an unfashionable, endangered virtue. They attribute this to the ascendancy of free-market individualism and the lack of trust it engenders, which creates "a life of overwork, anxiety and isolation".
Kindness is rarely invoked in public rhetoric. The voguish word for our hard times is "fairness". When everyone must bear their "fair share" of economic pain, kindness is likely to be regarded as a luxury, perhaps even as a form of sanctimony or self-interest. Kindness tends to be outsourced to specific groups, such as care workers delivering "care packages", or reduced to the scripted concern of the customer-server relationship: "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"
But in our daily lives, some say, there is no evidence that kindness is in decline. Each era creates its own types of kindness. If, as philosophers from the Greek Stoics to Rousseau have insisted, we have a natural empathy with our fellow human beings, then kindness will surely survive the temporary setback of hard times. After all, we all need the milk of human kindness.

by Joe Moran


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