Amit's Planet

November 02, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

har ek nazar idhar udhar... ik nayaa taraanaa

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

har ek nazar idhar udhar hai beqaraar mere li_e
mahafil kaa dil dha.Dak rahaa hai baar-baar mere li_e

huu.N mai.n 
ik nayaa taraanaa ik nayaa fasaanaa ik na_ii kahaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ek mast jawaanii huu.N mai.n

ruup kii raanii naam hai meraa dil ta.Dapaanaa kaam hai meraa
ko_ii kahe matavaalii koi kahe bholii bhaalii ko_ii kahe diiwaanii huu.N mai.n 
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

merii adaa_e.N mere bahaane ko_ii na samajhe ko_ii na jaane
ik pavan jhakolaa ek u.Dan khaTolaa ek yaad khaanii huu.N mai.n
ek ra.ng ra.Ngiilii ek chhail chhabiilii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:35 PM

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo a.Nkhiyaa.N do chaar kar lo
suno ye raat nahii.n hai ek tiin chaar kii
suno ye raat hai bas do dilo.n ke pyaar kii

dil hai diiwaanaa samaa suhaanaa 
uff ye jawaanii uff ye zamaanaa
jab tak hai.n jhuum sako jhuumate jaanaa haay re jhuumate jaanaa
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ra.ngii.n fizaaye.n mast hawaaye.n
kal kaun jaane aaye na aaye
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 

ulfat ke pyaale pii le pilaa le
kar de ye duniyaa dil ke hawaale
jii bhar ke pyaar kar lo 







Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:18 PM

ek raat kii ye priit

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

ek raat kii ye priit ek raat kaa hai giit
kahii.n to.D ke ye sapane ye raat na jaa_e biit

ai chaa.Nd na jaanaa so ai taaro na jaanaa kho
jo bhii ho so ho jag me.n ek bhor kabhii na ho

ye uu.Nchaa aasamaa.N ik baar jo kah de ho
to ye raat maa.Ng luu.N de ke dono.n jahaa.N



Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 01:06 PM

dil churaa luu.N

Album: Faraar / Dev Anand In Goa

dil churaa luu.N churaa luu.N dil me.n chhupii baat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii rah jaa_e.N malate haath

subah kii a.Nga.Daa_ii huu.N mai.n raat kaa huu.N mai.n Kvaab
duniyaa kii mahafil me.n huu.N mai.n apanaa aap jawaab
mukh dekhe to, dekhe to chandaa khaa_e maat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

muskuraake jidhar dekhuu.N khilane lage phuul
aane jaane waale raahii rastaa jaa_e.N bhuul
mai.n chaahuu.N to, chaahuu.N to din ko karuu.N raat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

bhole-bhaale suurat waale matavaale diladaar
bachake rahanaa phir na kahanaa kiyaa na Khabaradaar
ba.Dii hai zaalim, hai zaalim in naino.n kii ghaat
ba.De-ba.De dil waale bhii ...

Contributed by Anonymous

November 02, 2016 12:57 PM

October 29, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

raadhe tere aa.Nsuu pii ko rok na paae.Nge

Album: Sanskar

raadhe tere aa.Nsuu pii ko rok na paa_e.Nge
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur shyaam tere dau.De aa_e.Nge

itane hii dukh se man ko kar lenaa chuur nahii.n
tere gokul se mohan kii mathuraa duur nahii.n
suune aa.Ngan tere vRRindaavan ban jaa_e.Nge
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur ...

kabhii kabhii aa jaatii hai naino.n me.n tere namii
abhii pyaar me.n kamii hai tere tyaag me.n abhii kamii
kamii na ho to jaane vaale kaise jaa_e.Nge 
lagan ba.Dhaa le aur ...

Contributed by Anonymous

October 29, 2016 02:54 PM

October 23, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

koii samajhaave ye priit sakhii kyaa hai

Album: Lagan

koii samajhaave ye priit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave
dil muii kyaa hai, ye riit muii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

naar navelii nahii.n ye pahelii
buujh na paave ki priit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

bha.Nvaraa gaave kalii musakaave
koii batalaave ye riit sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

sab koii jaane mai.n nahii.n jaanuu.N 
ye man_har se le.n siikh sakhii kyaa hai
koii samajhaave

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

October 23, 2016 03:32 PM

October 20, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ek dil ka do jahaa.N se

Album: (Non-film)

ek dil kaa do jahaa.N se haath (?) uThaa sakataa huu.N mai.n
jiite jii lekin tumhe.n kyuu.N kar bhuulaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

chaa.Ndanii raato.n kii nii.nde.n zi.ndagaanii kaa sakuun
in Kazaano.n ko bhii tum bar (?) se luTaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

pyaar kii nazaro.n se mujhako tum agar dekhaa karo
chaa.Nd suuraj se bhii zyaadaa jagamagaa sakataa huu.N mai.n

Contributed by Prithviraj Dasgupta

October 20, 2016 11:14 PM

October 16, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ek din aur gayaa

Album: Door Ka Raahi

ek din aur gayaa haay roke na rukaa
chhaayaa a.Ndhiyaaraa
aaj bhii naav na aayii, aayaa na khevan_haaraa
ek din aur gayaa ...

kaalii naagin-sii ghirii rainaa kajaraarii
sahamii-sahamii-sii hai ye nagarii hamaarii
de ke aavaaz thakaa, o~ de ke aavaaz thakaa
man dukhiyaaraa, aaj bhii naav na aayii ...

phir vahii raat kaThin, chhup gay taare
abhii se bujhane lage diip hamaare
duur ba.Dii duur saveraa, duur ba.Dii duur ujaalaa
duur hai aashaao.n kaa phuul kinaaraa
aaj bhii naav na aayii, aayaa na khevan_haaraa ...

Contributed by Vijay Kumar K

October 16, 2016 06:17 AM

October 06, 2016

giitaayan - Recently posted songs

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii

Album: Navrang

naa raajaa rahegaa naa raanii rahegii
ye duniyaa hai faanii aur faanii rahegii

na jab ek bhii zi.ndagaanii rahegii
to maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

dikhaayegii raaNaa ke raN kii nishaanii
kahegii shivaajii ke praN kii kahaanii
bataaegii muGhalo.n kii baate.n ajaanii
us Gaddaar jayacha.nd kii zi.ndagaanii
ye aapas kii sab badGumaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

jo the desh dushman Ghulaamii ke raahii
lage pherane is vatan par siyaahii
videsho.n kii karane lage vaah-vaahii
gayaa desh haatho.n se aayii tabaahii
ye bhar-bhar ke aa.Nkho.n me.n paanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

fir swaata.ntra kaa aisaa sa.ngraam aayaa
ki har aadamii desh ke kaam aayaa
la.Dii viir jhaa.Nsii kii raanii bhavaanii
hazaaro.n ne laakho.n ne Jauhar jalaayaa
ye kurbaaniyaa.N Khud zubaanii kahegii
ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2

swaata.ntra kaa sa.ngraam nahii.n vo baGaavat thii,  yahii itihaas kahataa hai

(jalaa do)-2 ye itihaas jhooThe tumhaare
yahaa.n zarre-zarre pe sach hai likhaa re
zulam vo tumhaare sitam vo tumhaare
karo yaad uf kaaranaame vo kaare
ki patthar se aa.Nsuu kii dhaaraa bahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
ye maaTii hai tab se ki jab tum naa aaye
ye maaTii rahegii na jab tum rahoge
is maaTii ke niiche dabii hai.n kathaaye.n
jo Khud hii kahegii re tum kyaa kahoge
zamii.n aasamaa.N tharatharaa ke rahegii

ye maaTii sabhii kii kahaanii kahegii-2
 

Contributed by Saket Jain

October 06, 2016 12:37 PM

August 29, 2016

Brad DeLong - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Current Links

Most-Recent Must-Reads:


Most-Recent Links:


MOAR Must-Reads:


MOAR Links:

by J. Bradford DeLong at August 29, 2016 04:49 AM

August 27, 2016

Monevator

Weekend reading: Is passive investing worse than Marxism?

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

Dale Carnegie, writing in his famous book How To Win Friends and Influence People, stressed the pointlessness of criticizing people – because 99% of people will never believe they have done anything wrong, ever.

Among the evidence Carnegie cites is this quote from one self-delusional focus of the critics:

“I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”

The downtrodden joy provider in question?

The gangster, Al Capone.

Wise guys

If mob bosses, arsonists, and serial killers can go to their grave believing themselves to have done nothing wrong, then nobody should expect the gilded scions of the fund management industry to be any different.

Of course, I’m not equating an active money manager on a high six-figure income that’s accrued by tithing 2.5% a year from pensioners with a crook, or anything like that.

The fund managers I’ve met have all been very likeable, intelligent people I could happily spend hours chatting with.

They’re invariably driven, and as far as I can tell conscientious about their clients.

However the fact is they operate in a racket that has over the decades extracted trillions from the world’s more socially useful wealth generators – and that now that their bluff has been called they’re not going down without a fight.

A reminder. Active investing is a zero sum game. It cannot be otherwise. Because of higher costs, active managers in aggregate must under-perform the market and also cheaper index tracking funds.

For most people, then, the rational choice is to use index funds.

For most fund managers, the best use of their time would be in another job.

Of course back in the days when returns were higher and knowledge about passive investing was lower – or even non-existent – the industry grew fat on fairy tales about its prowess.

You know the sort of thing:

  • That a company had the winning managers (for a year or two maybe)
  • That index trackers were okay in bull markets but bad in bear markets (only because active funds must hold some cash for redemptions which saves them a tiny bit from the falls; asset class wise it’s still a zero sum game)
  • That fine, perhaps they couldn’t beat the market in aggregate but that skilled managers could nimbly get in and out of the market while everyday investors panicked and sold up (sounds good, but actually it’s active managers who clog the airwaves warning that bear markets will persist or bull markets will never end – so sell, sell, sell, or buy, buy, buy – and who under-perform due to their timing errors, whereas the evidence from the likes of Vanguard is its passive investors just keep on keeping on…)

As these justifications have been pervasively debunked – first from the fringes like the Bogleheads in the US and, well, Monevator in the UK, and latterly even in mainstream media – the industry is turning to more outlandish reasons why it deserves to continue in the future as it has in the past.

Such as, for instance, claiming that passive investing is effectively Marxism.

Reds in the head

Now this isn’t the first time that anti-capitalist charges against index funds have been raised – as one writer put it behind the FT paywall this week, as passive investing grows in popularity the tendency of it to be equated with communism seems to tend towards certainty – but this time it has made headlines.

Unfortunately, I can’t link to the original paper, snappily entitled: The Silent Road to Serfdom: Why Passive Investing Is Worse Than Marxism.

Produced by New York research house and brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein, as far as I know it’s only available to Bernstein clients.

So I’ve only read the media reports and seen it debated on CNBC.

But according to Bloomberg, the money shot quote runs thus:

“A supposedly capitalist economy where the only investment is passive is worse than either a centrally planned economy or an economy with active market led capital management.”

Now this is of course a classic straw man argument. We’re nowhere near all money being run passively, so the argument is moot. You might as well put out a paper saying that it’d be terrible if all money was invested by Smaug the Dragon from The Hobbit.

I suspect the authors actually know that, as according to comments I’ve heard even from its detractors, the paper itself is very detailed and a decent piece of research.

Perhaps it’s like one of those Buzzfeed articles you can’t help yourself with, where the headline is irresistible bait that lurks above a more interesting but less sensational piece of content that most would otherwise ignore.

Either way, the irony of suggesting that passive investors should go active and accept lower returns for an alleged common good – or else be labelled as communists – is hilarious and contradictory.

Passively invest for yourself, not for the masses

I expect to hear more of these sorts of complaints in the future.

The incumbents will, naturally enough, do almost anything to justify their position – including talking nonsense to criticize index funds, as I have read and also heard several doing on live television in the past few days.

Besides the standard flimflam, one money manager even argued that passive investing was bad because lower fees meant fewer jobs in finance and a smaller fund management industry – which was bad because it meant fewer taxes would be liable on their inflated incomes.

Hey, at least it’s honest.

The more esoteric debates about whether a world of say 90% passive investing are worth having, but only in the sense that various other philosophical mind games are fun diversions.

i.e. Not in any urgent sense until we’re at least three-quarters of the way there.

Even that revered font of good thinking, the financial journalist Jason Zweig, admitted as much this week in his comprehensive overview of where this latest missive fitted into the Passive Investing Is The Road To Damnation thesis.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Zweig wrote:

Economists showed long ago that in a market in which everyone has equal information, it must pay off for someone to make the extra effort to obtain superior information.

So active management is unlikely ever to disappear.

Though there are no clear harms yet from index funds, the rhetoric against them will keep escalating. Don’t be passive about this topic. Pay attention.

I believe there will always be more than enough active managers willing to take money off those who’d like to try to beat the markets to keep said markets efficient.

I mean, as most of you know, unlike my co-blogger The Accumulator I myself invest actively, despite fully understanding the theory behind why I shouldn’t.

Previously I’ve presumed I was just egotistical, addicted, or maybe in a hurry.

But now I have learned mine is a noble quest that serves to keep Marxism from the door, I’ll pay my trading fees with a glad heart.

Enjoy the long weekend!

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: Things change fast these days in the low stakes world of savings rates on cash. For instance, the new one-year bond from Charter Savings Bank being lauded as a table-topper by The Telegraph pays 1.46% – ahead of the competition, but noticeably lower than when I last wrote about such bonds here, which feels like two Saturdays ago. Act quick.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • The case for diversifying more by sectors, sort of – Schwab
  • Research highlights active managements shortcomings – ETF.com
  • Uber is nudging its drivers towards passive investing – Business Insider

Active investing

  • Neil Woodford to warn of £1 trillion pension black hole – ThisIsMoney
  • The giant of Tokyo’s stock market reveals its secrets – Bloomberg
  • UK manufacturing at two-year high after Brexit vote – Reuters

A word from a broker

Other stuff worth reading

  • UK retail investing fees stuck above 2.5% [Search result]FT
  • Row over misleading Help to Buy ISAs continues – Telegraph
  • How to beat the Help to Buy ISA “catch” – ThisIsMoney
  • Are we on the verge of a house price crash? – The Guardian
  • British economy escapes Brexit blow, for now – Reuters
  • Don’t be fooled – there will be damaging Brexit fallout – The Guardian
  • Families “broke” on £50,000 or more a year – ThisIsMoney
  • The risk of dying rich [US but relevant]Morningstar
  • Does your work have purpose? Does it matter? – Fast Company
  • How to tell you’re sitting next to an economist [Old-ish]The Economist
  • 20 big questions about the future of humanity – Scientific American

Book of the week: Occasional Monevator contributor The Analyst is raving about a classic investing tome he just read called 100 to 1 in the Stock Market. And when I say classic, I don’t just meant classic in the sense of it being a good read. I mean like when you buy a classic car or a classic watch, you’re going to have to pay up. First published decades ago, copies on Amazon currently run to £39.95 for the paperback or £49.95 for a hardback. Still, if 100-1 does teach you to identify 100-baggers as touted then it’d be cheap at the 100-times the price…

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every week!

  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”.

by The Investor at August 27, 2016 12:42 PM

Calculated Risk

Schedule for Week of Aug 28, 2016

The key report this week is the August employment report on Friday.

Other key indicators include Personal Income and Outlays for July, the Case-Shiller House Price Index for June, the August ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing indexes, August auto sales, and the July trade deficit.

----- Monday, Aug 29th -----

8:30 AM: Personal Income and Outlays for July. The consensus is for a 0.4% increase in personal income, and for a 0.3% increase in personal spending. And for the Core PCE price index to increase 0.1%.

10:30 AM ET: Dallas Fed Survey of Manufacturing Activity for August.

----- Tuesday, Aug 30th -----

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices9:00 AM: S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index for June. Although this is the June report, it is really a 3 month average of April, May and June prices.

This graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted National Index, Composite 10 and Composite 20 indexes through the May 2016 report (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The consensus is for a 5.2% year-over-year increase in the Comp 20 index for June. The Zillow forecast is for the National Index to increase 5.1% year-over-year in June.

----- Wednesday, Aug 31st -----

7:00 AM ET: The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) will release the results for the mortgage purchase applications index.

8:15 AM: The ADP Employment Report for August. This report is for private payrolls only (no government). The consensus is for 175,000 payroll jobs added in August, down from 179,000 added in July.

9:45 AM: Chicago Purchasing Managers Index for August. The consensus is for a reading of 55.2, down from 55.8 in July.

10:00 AM: Pending Home Sales Index for July. The consensus is for a 0.6% increase in the index.

----- Thursday, Sept 1st -----

8:30 AM ET: The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 265 thousand initial claims, up from 261 thousand the previous week.

ISM PMI10:00 AM: ISM Manufacturing Index for August. The consensus is for the ISM to be at 52.2, down from 52.6 in July.

Here is a long term graph of the ISM manufacturing index.

The ISM manufacturing index indicated expansion at 52.6% in July. The employment index was at 49.4%, and the new orders index was at 56.9%.

10:00 AM: Construction Spending for July. The consensus is for a 0.6% increase in construction spending.

Vehicle SalesAll day: Light vehicle sales for August. The consensus is for light vehicle sales to decrease to 17.1 million SAAR in August, from 17.8 million in July (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate).

This graph shows light vehicle sales since the BEA started keeping data in 1967. The dashed line is the July sales rate.

----- Friday, Sept 2nd -----

8:30 AM: Employment Report for August. The consensus is for an increase of 175,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in August, down from the 255,000 non-farm payroll jobs added in July.

The consensus is for the unemployment rate to decrease to 4.8%.

Year-over-year change employmentThis graph shows the year-over-year change in total non-farm employment since 1968.

In July, the year-over-year change was 2.45 million jobs.

A key will be the change in wages.

U.S. Trade Deficit8:30 AM: Trade Balance report for July from the Census Bureau.

This graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum, through June. The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

The consensus is for the U.S. trade deficit to be at $41.3 billion in July from $44.5 billion in June.

10:00 AM: Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories and Orders (Factory Orders) for July. The consensus is a 2.0% increase in orders.

by Bill McBride (noreply@blogger.com) at August 27, 2016 12:09 PM

A VC

Video Of The Week: Yancey Strickler at TOA 2016

Yancey Strickler, CEO and co-founder of Kickstarter, gave a keynote at Tech Open Air in Berlin last month.

He talked about some issues facing entrepreneurship and society today. It is an important talk.

by Fred Wilson at August 27, 2016 12:06 PM

Abnormal Returns

Saturday links: bad intentions

by abnormalreturns at August 27, 2016 12:00 PM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

India Real Time

Books: India’s Miniature Masterpieces

At first glance, the subtitle of eminent art historian B.N. Goswamy's "The Spirit of Indian Painting: Close Encounters With 101 Great Works 1100-1900" may suggest an exhaustive "A to Z" slog.

by Maxwell Carter at August 27, 2016 11:37 AM

The Art of Non-Conformity » 3×5

How to Earn 250,000 Frequent Flyer Miles in a Year: An Action Plan

In a previous post I explained how to kickstart your experience with miles and points that can be used for free travel. A lot of new readers (hey, new readers!) said this was helpful, so I wanted to delve into some more details.

As mentioned in that post, you don’t have to spend hours upon hours tracking deals and immersing yourself in forums. By setting aside just a few minutes each month, you should be able to earn more than enough miles to go anywhere in the world within a year or less.

Still, if you want to go above and beyond, it’s totally possible to earn even larger numbers of miles and points, which can be applied to, well, even more trips. This is especially relevant this week, with the news of a huge 100,000 point bonus now being available for the first time in a while.

Here are a few ways you can get to 250,000 miles or more in a year (yes, really!).




Pay attention to special promotions and opportunities. 


I don’t just mean “emails that the airline sends out,” because those aren’t usually the best opportunities. At least several times a year, a major opportunity arrives in which you can earn a lot of points and miles all at once. Some of these deals are the miles and points equivalent of a mistake fare, where the airline incorrectly prices a particular route very low.

When the right opportunity arrives, jump on it! Don’t wait too long, because just like mistake fares, the best promotions don’t last forever. Here are a few popular examples I’ve written about before:

and of course, the Dining Dash, which isn’t really a special promotion but rather something that we made up a few years ago and now complete every year as part of an annual challenge.

If you’re wondering where to find current offers, we have a service that can help!  Several years ago I founded the Travel Hacking Cartel, which has now served nearly 20,000 members since first opening. This is probably the easiest and least time-consuming way to make sure you earn a ton of miles, and you can get either a 14-day trial for $1 or two months free when registering for the annual plan.

—> Join the Cartel and Earn Lots of Miles 

But you can also manage on your own, by reading blogs, keeping up-to-date on various forums, and paying close attention. Either way works, so it just depends on how much time you have.




Get the right credit cards. 

Right now, the single biggest bonus is 100,000 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This offer puts all others to shame and is even better than the longstanding champ, Chase Sapphire Preferred.

As you continue your miles and points journey, you’ll likely want more than one card—because different cards are good for different reasons. Some are worth getting just for the signup bonus; others are best for ongoing spending, and others are best for the ongoing benefits they provide.

You can always see top recommendations for cards at our partner site, CardsforTravel.com. Some of the application links there are affiliate links, and others aren’t. I try to always recommend the best possible cards regardless of benefit to me.

The most frequently asked question I get about this process is “What does it do to your credit?” I’ve covered this topic many times over the years. The short answer is that by managing credit responsibility, you’ll actually improve your credit score over time.

The second more frequently asked question I get about it is, what about once you’ve had all the cards?

Well, it will take you a long time to get all the cards. If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident, there are more than a dozen high-quality ones worth your attention, and probably another dozen that are decent. If you’re elsewhere in the world, local offers vary, but there are usually at least a few decent products.

Either way, once you do get most of the better cards that you’re eligible for, new cards will come out—just as we saw this week. The travel hacking game isn’t ending anytime soon. Banks want to acquire new customers, and offering those potential customers miles & points is a proven strategy that will likely continue for several years at minimum.




Spend money … the right way. 

Whenever possible, once you have a good mileage-earning credit card, everything you buy should go on it. For best results, you’ll want to take advantage of category bonuses, where you earn double, triple, or even more points for spending in certain categories.

  • You can earn 2x points for all dining and travel spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred (now 3x points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve)
  • You can earn 3x points for all airfare spend on the American Express Premier Rewards card
  • You can earn 5x points for everything purchased at office supply stores on the Ink Plus card
  • and more—these are just a few examples. The point (no pun intended) is to be wise with your spending and you’ll earn a lot of extra points and miles.




    OK, so how can YOU earn 250,000 Miles in a year? 

    Maybe you don’t need to earn 250,000 miles in a year. But if you can get them, why not try? Consider it a personal challenge, like I’ve done for more than a decade.

    Just don’t forget to actually travel. Miles are only valuable when you use them!

    ###

    Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

by Chris Guillebeau at August 27, 2016 11:06 AM

Wired Top Stories

Canon’s 5D Mark IV Is Here, With 4K Capability and Improved Autofocus

Canon’s 5D Mark IV Is Here, With 4K Capability and Improved Autofocus
The versatile 5D Mark IV has plenty of useful upgrades compared to its well-loved predecessor. The post Canon's 5D Mark IV Is Here, With 4K Capability and Improved Autofocus appeared first on WIRED.

by Tim Moynihan at August 27, 2016 11:00 AM

Forget Self-Driving Cars. Let’s Make Self-Driving Living Rooms

Forget Self-Driving Cars. Let’s Make Self-Driving Living Rooms
The Tridika works like a self-driving car you can literally park alongside your apartment and use as an additional room. The post Forget Self-Driving Cars. Let's Make Self-Driving Living Rooms appeared first on WIRED.

by Charles Bombardier at August 27, 2016 11:00 AM

The Big Picture

10 Weekend Reads

The weekend is here! Pour yourself a mug of KickAss coffee, grab a comfy seat poolside lounger, and get ready for our longer-form weekend reads: • Holdout: If a private development wants your place, and you refuse to sell, there’s not much they can do (99% Invisible) • The iBrain is Here – And It’s Already Inside Your Phone…

Read More

The post 10 Weekend Reads appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at August 27, 2016 11:00 AM

Wired Top Stories

The Mystery of How Cancer Cells Barrel Through Your Body

The Mystery of How Cancer Cells Barrel Through Your Body
The subtle mechanics of densely packed cells may help explain why some cancerous tumors stay put while others break off and spread through the body. The post The Mystery of How Cancer Cells Barrel Through Your Body appeared first on WIRED.

by Gabriel Popkin at August 27, 2016 11:00 AM

naked capitalism

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

Subramanian Swamy targets GSTN again, to write to Amit Shah, BJP CMs - Economic Times


Economic Times

Subramanian Swamy targets GSTN again, to write to Amit Shah, BJP CMs
Economic Times
NEW DELHI: Sharpening his attack against GSTN, the company set up to create IT backbone for GST rollout, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy today said he will write to party president Amit Shah and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states to oppose its structure.

and more »

August 27, 2016 10:38 AM

RubyFlow

From monolithics to microservices.

This is not another post about application architectures but a software design instead. I bet you are a bit lost with the heading, keep reading, I will take you there. Read more

August 27, 2016 10:24 AM

Allisstatus

Governments still confused about culture

Burkinis — shapeless, full-bodied swim-suits worn by Muslim women — are in a quantum state in France. Like Schrodinger’s cat, a ban against burkinis exists and doesn’t exist simultaneously. Some 30 mayors of south-coast towns with attractive sea shores have announced a ban on burkinis on their beaches. Two mayors — of Nice and Cannes … Continue reading Governments still confused about culture

by Keith Hudson at August 27, 2016 10:22 AM

The Simple Dollar

How to Build Business Credit

Nearly all of us have heard of someone financing a small business on personal credit cards just to keep the doors open until they become profitable.

It’s a scenario that’s frowned upon by financial advisors and credit professionals alike, but it’s one that happens all the time regardless. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that more than 65% off all business owners use credit for business purchases, but only 50% of those cards are actually in the business’ name.

A much sounder approach to financing a small business begins with establishing good business credit early on, so that when a cash injection is needed there are better options available.

Developing credit history for a new business is not nearly as challenging as it may seem. “It’s easy for businesses to establish business credit, a lot of people just don’t know how to do it,” says nationally recognized financial advisor Chris Bridges, a certified consumer and business credit expert. “You have to get out there and get some accounts opened.”

Dedicated to raising awareness of credit and its impact on people’s lives, Bridges says it’s a matter of simply taking it one step at a time. If you’re wondering how to build business credit for your small business, here are some of the critical first actions recommended by finance and credit industry professionals.

Establish a Federal Employer Identification Number and Then a DUNS Number

This is a one-two punch that constitutes some of the basic, initial groundwork for a new business. A federal Employer Identification Number is used to identify a business entity. And it’s the number used to register with business credit bureaus such as Dun & Bradstreet.

A DUNS number, meanwhile, issued by Dun & Bradstreet, verifies the existence of a business entity globally. It’s also the number businesses are often required to provide when applying for corporate credit.

Don’t Neglect Your Personal Score

When it comes to lending money to a new small business, the business owners’ personal credit score is often part of the equation. It’s one of the few barometers of credit-worthiness available to banks and other lenders when a business is first getting off the ground.

“There’s a lot to be said about building business credit, but when you get down to getting funding, you will always have to use your Social Security number,” explains Bridges. “You can build business credit regardless of personal credit, but the two will eventually meet somewhere… And you want to position yourself to take advantage of opportunities. Good, strong personal credit will take you further as a small business, it will open up more financing opportunities.”

Act Like a Business

When advisors say act like a business, they mean establish accounts in your business’ name, not your personal name. This begins with simple things such as utility bills and leases. It also includes perhaps obtaining a credit card in your company’s name at such places as Staples, Home Deport, or Quill. Each of these small actions helps build your company’s credit profile and history.

“In the early stages, you might need to personally guarantee payment,” says Karim Chehade, Experian’s director of small business. “But the more you establish your business’ name and that information gets reported to us from creditors, the more likely it is you will be able to negotiate and secure better terms for financing, without having to offer personal guarantees.”

Start Early

Don’t wait to apply for business credit cards or credit lines with vendors and suppliers. It’s one of the first steps to take. Businesses with bragworthy credit histories and scores followed this important rule. And again, the simplest way to do this is to establish a store-based credit line.

An important note here. When selecting a company to establish a credit card or credit line with, make sure it’s one that reports to the credit bureaus. Otherwise, the line of credit is not helping to build your business’ payment history.

“Begin with a starter account, with a vendor or a supply company such as Quill or Fed-Ex. In 30 days you have to pay that bill and the information is reported to credit bureaus,” says Bridges.

Pay Your Bills On Time

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is critical, says Chehade.

“Stay current with all agreed-upon terms. It’s very simple, but our experience working with small business owners is that they have so much on their plate,” Chehade explains. “If there was one thing they had to do, I would say make sure they are paying their bills on time. If they are doing that, then the probability of having a negative report goes down.”

A Final Bit of Advice

Get into the habit of continuously monitoring your company’s credit profile, recommends Experian’s Chehade.

What constitutes regularly exactly? About once a month. Check your credit report every 30 days and correct outdated or erroneous information. You can also create alerts so that you’re notified by email of any changes made in your business’ name.

There is no magic number or specific timeline in terms of how long it takes to establish a credit history for your business. Obtaining a business credit card and business identification numbers are the quick part. Developing a specific (and good) credit score takes a bit longer. There needs to be a payment history that credit reporting agencies can use to establish your company’s score.

Bottom line, says Bridges? Get started as soon as possible.

“You’ve got to owe someone. That’s the main message here. You can’t establish business credit without opening at least one account,” she says.

Related Articles

The post How to Build Business Credit appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

by Mia Taylor at August 27, 2016 10:00 AM

I, Cringely

John Ellenby dies at 75

ellenbyI wouldn’t normally be writing a column early on a Saturday morning but I just read that John Ellenby died and I think that’s really worth mentioning because Ellenby changed all our lives and especially mine.

If you don’t recognize his name, John Ellenby was a British computer engineer who came to Xerox PARC in the 1970s to manufacture the Xerox Alto, the first graphical workstation. He left Xerox in the late 1980s to found Grid Systems, makers of the Compass — the first full-service laptop computer. In the 1990s he founded Agilis, which made arguably the first handheld mobile phone that wasn’t the size of a brick. Finally he set up a company in both New Zealand and San Francisco to do geographical mapping data before most of us even knew we needed it. The man pioneered four technology industry segments, putting him on the same level as Steve Jobs.

But where Steve Jobs was difficult and cranky, John Ellenby was elegant and funny. He could have been an even bigger success in business, I’m sure, but that might not have been quite as much fun. And John Ellenby was, above all, about fun.

One of the ideas I am broadly credited with is the analogy of a technology startup with a military invasion. It’s all in my book, Accidental Empires, about the commandos being followed by the infantry and then by the military police just as various cadres of developers and engineering types lead startups through similar stages of evolution. Well that whole idea for which I get a lot of chat group props was one John Ellenby and I developed during a lunch on University Avenue in Palo Alto. We worked the idea over like we were sitcom writers and by the time we were done it was ready for prime time and I’ll ever be grateful to John Ellenby for that. He helped me to be smarter and, I suspect, played that role for many others, too.

At heart John Ellenby was an engineer and a good one. I remember when Agilis introduced its handheld phone in 1991 or -92 it looked like any Nokia phone from 10 years later except it wasn’t 10 years later and I think we could argue that Nokia copied Agilis. The thing was a triumph of engineering for its time and a couple technical points really stood out for me. One was the phone had an Ethernet network running inside it to logically interconnect major components while keeping them otherwise isolated. I’m not sure that was the right decision but it was an interesting one in part because the Ethernet spec written by Bob Metcalfe didn’t allow for connections less than one meter long. How do you put a single Ethernet cable that size into a handheld device, much less several such cables? Ellenby emulated one meter of RG-58 coax, measuring its electrical characteristics then created a single interconnect component that was electrically identical to that piece of wire.

After Agilis, Ellenby moved to New Zealand and we stopped seeing each other regularly but I would reach out every couple of years to see how he was doing and we got together a few times for those wonderful lunches. He never changed.

Technology was interesting and fun but not to be taken too seriously according to Ellenby. At Xerox PARC, for example, the network naming service allowed users to name their machines (this was a first) so of course the machines acquired names like Gandalf and Frodo. Ellenby’s Alto was named Gzunda — “because it gzunda the desk.”








Digital Branding
Web Design Marketing

by Robert X. Cringely at August 27, 2016 09:56 AM

India Real Time

What RBI’s Raghuram Rajan Says About His Successor, Urjit Patel

In one of his last speeches as India's top central banker and first public comments on his successor, Raghuram Rajan offered a convincing endorsement of his deputy Urjit Patel, who is set to take over as Reserve Bank of India governor next month.

by Gabriele Parussini at August 27, 2016 09:51 AM

naked capitalism

Is Toothpaste Dangerous to Your Health?

The US relies on industry self-regulation of personal care products, thus exposing consumers to harms, in contrast to Canada, Europe, and Japan.

by Jerri-Lynn Scofield at August 27, 2016 09:25 AM

zooLert Habitat Tracker

Advaita Vision

Overview of Western Philosophy – Part 7

(Read Part 6 of the series.)

The Mind-Body Problem

Descartes’ separation of man into the two aspects of mind and matter also became the principal way in which Westerners subsequently viewed the world. Matter is extended in space, can be divided and so on, while mind is indivisible and seems to exist separate from the body, somehow outside of space. This is the theory known as Cartesian Dualism. Unfortunately, he was never able to explain how such completely different ‘substances’ were able to interact. The idea of an immaterial ‘little me’ somehow sitting in the brain (Descartes thought the soul resided in the pineal gland) and interpreting the information transmitted from the eyes and other material senses just did not make sense. How could this interface work? The so-called ‘mind-body problem’ has intrigued philosophers ever since and no universally accepted model of the nature of the self has yet emerged.

One of his disciples, a Dutchman called Arnold Geulincx, suggested that the mind and body were separately governed by God, who kept the two in synchronisation, like clocks. Thus, when we decide to do something and it happens, such as getting out of bed, there is no actual interaction between the two, no ‘willing’ as such, it is simply the consequence of the two being synchronised. A similar theory, called Occasionalism, was proposed by the French priest, Nicolas Malebranche. He said that neither mental nor physical events cause other events. Instead, what we call a cause is simply the occasion for God to exercise his will and instigate what we call the effect; there is no actual connection between the two events at all. All of this meant that life is strictly deterministic, with no place for free will and everything happening according to physical (or divine) law.

Malebranche also disagreed with Descartes’ claimed awareness by the mind of its own nature as a ‘thinking thing’. He thought that all that we could know objectively was that there was some sort of conscious activity; we could never actually know anything about the essential nature of the self that was doing the thinking – we can know that we are but not what we are. Furthermore, he said that our senses are unreliable for telling us anything about the true nature of things.

Yet another variation was proposed by the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, who was also an important geologist, mathematician and physicist. The book ‘Candide’ by Voltaire satirised Leibniz in the character of Dr. Pangloss for his proclaimed belief that God had created the ‘best of all possible worlds’. Since God is perfect, he argued, he would naturally do this. A world in which there is free will is bound to contain some evil but this must be better than a good one that does not allow free will.

Leibniz thought that everything, mental or physical, was effectively a separate entity, which he called a monad, which could not be affected by any other entity.  He said that some monads were ‘in harmony’ with others so that when an event occurs in one, for example an alarm clock going off, a harmonious event (or not) occurs in another, i.e. I am awoken by a ringing sound. It is not that the alarm wakes me up – the two events are not causally connected – but that there is a pre-established harmony between the monads. These monads are not matter, whose existence he denied, but effectively ‘souls’. ‘I’ am made up of innumerable of these things, though there is one dominant one, the mind, to which all of the others are subservient.

In effect, what Leibniz was saying was that everything does happen for a reason – there are no ‘accidents’ – but we cannot always know what those reasons are. Possibly reassuring, but then again is this really saying anything useful? Most modern scientists believe that everything will ultimately be explicable but, for the time being, the world can often seem to be a very chaotic place. And, whilst there remain so many unanswered questions, it will always be plausible to assert that many of them are unanswerable.

Leibniz was also the inventor of mathematical logic, which is made up of statements that can be analysed to determine whether they are true or false. This is in contrast with statements about the world, where we have to examine the facts to which they relate in order to find out whether they are true or not. Truths of reason are ‘necessary’ and it would be self-contradictory to deny them whereas truths of fact are ‘contingent’, they just happen to be so and might easily be otherwise. Much of the philosophy following Leibniz hinged on these observations. He was also responsible for formalising the proofs for the existence of God that had been spoke of at various times by earlier philosophers such as Aristotle and Descartes. These were later discredited in detail by Kant so I will not pursue them here.

Hobbes was one of a number of philosophers who simply concluded that Descartes’ initial separation of mind and body was wrong. He thought that so-called mental events were actually only combinations of matter in motion. The movement of matter in the brain, for example, actually is what we call ‘thoughts’. This laid the foundation for the re-emergence of materialism in the eighteenth century, a theory which gained more and more prominence as science ‘explained’ the functioning of the nervous system and perceptions etc. But it did not explain how the movement of chemicals around the bloodstream and electrical impulses in the brain could somehow appear in consciousness as the colour yellow or as the memory of a day by the seaside. A surgeon probing into the brain of a conscious patient would not find the smell of pear drops even though the patient might be sensing it.

Benedict Spinoza was the first major philosopher to tackle the problem of a lack of free will in the then-current thinking. He was unhappy with the consequences for moral choice, or rather the lack of it, and did not see where God might fit into such a scheme. He argued that God cannot be limited in any way since He is perfect and infinite. There cannot be anything that is not God. Therefore God must be both mind and matter; individual souls and objects are simply aspects of God. But he agreed that there is no such thing as free will; everything that happens is also part of God’s nature and could not be otherwise. Some things may appear evil to us but this is only because we are seeing them from our limited perspective. He recognised that we are driven by self-interest but believed that, once we realise that we are part of a single whole and not separate creatures, our behaviour will change. We will then act wisely,  and be happy even in the face of apparent adversity.

And this much seems logically reasonable. If we could be convinced that we are not isolated individuals, separate minds locked in discrete bodies but somehow one and the same, in a world that only appears to be distinct and hostile, then our attitudes might indeed be changed. Perhaps we do only behave selfishly and ‘wrongly’ because of an erroneous belief in our own separately motivated ego and, as a result, end up miserable and dissatisfied with life.

Spinoza also regarded time as being essentially unreal. (Kant later argued that time is merely a tool that the mind uses to try to make sense of ‘reality’, about which we can never have any objective knowledge.) If this is accepted then it does not make any sense to worry about the ‘past’ or ‘future’ – viewed from the perspective of God, all is timeless. This view also meant that any idea of living a ‘good’ life with a view to going to a ‘heaven’ after death was quite erroneous. Needless to say, this did not go down too well with the authorities and he was excommunicated from the Jewish faith and cursed with all of the curses in the book of the Law. Other Jews were forbidden to go within six feet of him and Christians simply regarded him as an atheist. (As will be realised by now, being a philosopher is often no joke!)

According to him, the idea of the world or our own life ‘getting better’ is meaningless. The amount of good and bad in total remains the same. We, too, should endeavour to see the world in this way, sub specie æternitatis, as he called it – under the aspect of eternity. And it is no use arguing that we can prevent future eventualities if we do something about them now for, as already pointed out, Spinoza believed that things would happen regardless – we are powerless to change anything. Once we understand all of this, we will no longer act out of desire or fear because we will know the futility of wishing things to be other than as they are.  Full intellectual understanding of all of this, which Spinoza called ‘love of God’, should be the ultimate aim of our lives.

Spinoza was one of the philosophers who specifically set out to discover whether there is anything that, once found or obtained, will provide continuous and supreme happiness. He acknowledged the traditional sources as being rich, famous and experiencing pleasures of the senses and conceded the danger of abandoning those pursuits and looking elsewhere. But he found that it was necessary to do so because the customary pursuits required so much energy that there was none left over for looking elsewhere – all are intensely absorbing.

In the case of pleasure, once it is satisfied, it is usually followed by misery and dulling of the mind so that, again, we are unable to think of anything else. With riches and fame, the more we achieve, the more we seem to want so that, again, our energy is tied up in the search. Riches frequently lead to envy of others, theft and even death. And modern status seekers in the workplace are well aware of the effort involved in seeking promotion, the back-biting and other devious skills that are involved. Over-indulgence in physical pleasures leads to ill health and early death. Obviously the supposed ‘good’ of these common pursuits entail clear ‘evils’. Accordingly, he decided to abandon them and search for his ‘certain good’.

Of all the Western philosophy I have researched, Spinoza comes closest to addressing what I believe ‘really matters’. His aim was to attain to ‘knowledge of the union existing between the mind and the whole of Nature’ and he deemed anything to be ‘good’ that helped him along this path to perfect his character.

To be continued…

by Dennis at August 27, 2016 08:01 AM

Seth's Blog

Expectation is the brand killer

There's a difference between speed and acceleration. This is hard for novice physics students to grasp. Velocity (speed) is how fast you're going. Acceleration is a measure of how quickly you're getting faster.

Brands today are built on relationships, and relationships of all kinds work solely because of expectation. That thing we're confidently hoping we're going to get from that next encounter.

The shift we're facing is that expectation isn't the speed (the quality, the value, the repeatability of an interaction), it's now become more like the acceleration of it, the change in what we expect.

And so advertisers and fashion houses and singles bars and Hallmark cards are built on promises. The promise of what to expect next.

The challenge: Expectations change. A few good encounters and we begin to hope for (and expect) great encounters. Sooner or later, our expectation for a politician or a motorcycle company or a service we regularly engage in goes up so much it can't be met.

When the economy is racing forward, people are engaged and satisfied. When it slows, when the good news slows down, people are even less satisfied than they were when they had fewer resources.

A common ridiculous expression is, "expect the unexpected." Of course, once you do that, it's not unexpected any more, is it?

Expectation is in the eye of the beholder, but expectation is often enhanced and hyped by the marketer hoping for a quick win. And there lies the self-defeating dead end of something that would serve everyone if it were a persistent positive cycle instead.

       

by Seth Godin at August 27, 2016 08:01 AM

Planet Python

Zero Hedge

Meditation May Be the Key to Becoming a Better Investor

Every once in a while I write about topics that seemingly have nothing to do with investing, but for those that are able to connect the dots, they will actually find great value in these seemingly unrelated topics to wealth building and preservation strategies. As it is the weekend, I'm releasing an article that we originally posted on our website  about the topic of meditation and investing on 19 August 2016. Again, to first read our articles when we release them, subscribe to our article feed here. Here is the entire article below.

 

Recently, I wrote about a behavioral phenomenon called the “It Won’t Happen to Me” syndrome that prevents many of us from separating perceived reality from actual reality, and I discussed how acceptance of false precepts about investing and self-preservation can lead us to make wildly irresponsible decisions that are dangerous to our self-preservation, including decisions to do nothing when one should act. One of the easiest things we can do on a daily basis that won’t cost us a penny, yet can help us achieve a tremendous level of clarity that allows us to separate the false paradigms and precepts that we have often already embraced from the staggeringly different reality that often exists, is the simple practice of meditation.

 

There are many different forms of mediation, including Zazen, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Kundalini Yoga, Vipassana meditation, and Transcendental Meditation (TM), just to name a few. I recommend TM or MBSR because it has been scientifically proven, in peer reviewed studies published in accredited medical journals, that one does not even need to believe in the beneficial effects of TM and MBSR to reap the beneficial rewards of practicing these forms of meditation. Though I’ve read a few articles and books about TM over the course of my lifetime, I personally believe that there are sufficient resources online to at least start practicing now. The important part of the equation is to start today, and to stop procrastinating. If you feel you need an instructor down the road, then you can seek out a local instructor down the road, but it certainly is not necessary, in my opinion, to spend thousands of dollars to receive a personal mantra from a maharishi, as is sometimes recommended, or to even spend hundreds of dollars taking an intensive course, whether online or in person, to receive the benefits of a daily meditative practice.

 

When I was younger and intensely training in martial arts as well as sparring regularly, my sensei would begin every class with a brief 5 minute period of Zazen meditation in which he would ask all of us to release all the work stresses that may have accumulated in our body from work conflicts experienced earlier in the day, to empty our mind to allow it to be receptive to learning whatever techniques we were focusing on that day, and to calm our mind to increase our focus during our training and sparring sessions. No matter how stressful any work matters I had dealt with earlier in the day had been, I always felt much better even after such a brief period of meditation. In fact, my Sensei encouraged all of us to meditate daily, so also supplemented this brief 5-minute period of meditation with a longer 15 to 20 minute daily session before I went to sleep each day.

 

However, back then, because I was unaware of the scientific research regarding meditation, I never connected the dots even though I had some remarkable experiences that I now attribute to my daily meditative practice. I can clearly recall one sparring session with a Muay Thai boxer during which everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, whereby I could sense every kick and every knee a fraction of a second before my sparring partner delivered them. However, each time, I easily moved out of the way or blocked his strikes. I literally felt as if my sparring fighter could not hit me. Another time, when engaged in a training session, I informed my Sensei before class that I had a fever, so I asked him to forgive me that day if I was a little slow in reacting to my training partners. In fact, just the opposite happened, and I was so sharp that day with my techniques that my Sensei sarcastically commented, “You should be sick every day!”

 

Later that evening, when I was trying to fathom the reason for my exceptional training session, I deduced that my better-than-normal display of skill that day was attributable to the fact that my sickness stopped me from thinking and put my muscle memory entirely in charge. In other words, my primordial instincts took over, allowing my “flow”, my “chi”, or whatever you want to call it, to be particularly strong that day. I felt a certain stillness that day when training that seemed to heighten all my senses, including my intuition, whereby I could predict my opponent’s strikes before he even threw them, very similar to my sparring session with the Muay Thai boxer. It’s odd that many people view people that practice daily meditation as “soft”, as I discovered that not only did daily meditation make me a much better fighter, but it also served to calm any fears and anxiety I had prior to, and during, my sparring sessions.

 

In fact athletes often call this state of mind as “being in the zone”. I’m sure fans of basketball can recall the 1997 NBA finals game between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, when Michael Jordan had the flu and was so sick that he couldn’t even stay upright on the bench. Despite his weakened physical condition, Jordan still dropped 38 points on the Jazz, in a virtuoso performance in which every point he scored was critical in an eventual 2-point win for the Bulls. Again, with Jordan that day, I think his physical disadvantage that day forced him to rely more on the mental aspects of the game, and this allowed him to more easily enter the “zone.”

 

And this zone is something that meditation replicates. Many people mistakenly assume that great ideas come from relentless work habits and an indomitable work discipline, but just the opposite is true. When someone is so tired from relentless work, there is no energy from which creativity and great ideas can be born. Great ideas are born during those moments when the mind is still and the clarity exists to formulate new and creative ideas. If the concept that ideas are born out of nothingness and spaces of calmness and clarity seems foreign to you, then allow me to use an analogy of physical fitness. There is a concept in professional sports called overtraining. This is when someone, whether a sprinter, a UFC fighter, a football player, or a soccer player, trains so relentlessly for such a long period of time that he does not allow his muscles to adequately heal and recover from his training sessions. When an athlete overtrains, this inevitably leads to sub-optimal performance during a fight or a game.

 

If you are a workaholic, and the days blend into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, and you never giver your mind adequate time to rest, chances are that you are going to have a mental breakdown. Furthermore, chances are that even though you give your mind time to rest during sleep, because you never refresh your mind with a period of calm and clarity during the day, that you may even suffer from frequent periods of insomnia. Can you imagine exercising every day for all hours you are awake, except meals, without every stopping? Most everyone would agree that this type of extreme unrelenting physical exertion is dangerous as it will lead to an eventual breakdown of the body and collapse. However, most people fail to take care of their mind in the same way they would their physical body. If you don’t give your mind ample opportunity to reset every day with a sustained period of calm, then eventually you are going to damage your mind.

 

Fortunately, just two 20-minute daily meditation sessions a day can cure this damage and even reverse the damage that has already been done. In fact, if you are one of those people that toss and turn all night and can’t shut off your mind, then you are an ideal candidate to start a daily meditation practice. According to Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a post-doctoral fellow at the NYU School of Medicine, meditation calms the mind to such a degree that its restorative effects can be greater than even deep stages of sleep. Robbins states that daily mediation offers some of the same benefits, cognitively and physically, from a recovery and a regeneration standpoint as stage-IV deep sleep. In fact, Robbins herself stated that she never was able to reach restful stages of sleep at night until she started meditating.

 

There are many peer-reviewed scientific studies that validate the following findings, but UCLA and Harvard studies are just two of many conducted studies that have proven the following. A daily meditation practice increases the grey matter volume in the brain, increases cortical thickness in the hippocampus, the region of the brain that governs learning and memory, and decreases the volume of the brain in the amygdala, the region of the brain responsible for producing fear, anxiety and stress. Many moons ago, when I was preparing to enter business school, I recall only having 2 weeks to study for the GREs (the graduate business school entrance exam) during a holiday break as I was already enrolled in another graduate program. Though many may believe 2 weeks to be an inadequate period of time to study for any scholastic exam, whether it is the GREs or another graduate level program exam, my daily meditation sessions provided me with great focus and memory retention for those two weeks and I felt surprisingly more than adequately prepared by the time the exam day arrived.

 

I credit my meditation sessions for my ability to respectively score in the very top percentiles of everyone that took the GRE exam in the entire United States that year, with only two weeks of preparation. And this is the power of meditation. I have seen it work in my own life with great success in my martial arts training, my scholastic endeavors and my current business of SmartKnowledgeU. I only wish that I had understood the benefits more fully back when I was mentoring at-risk youth in Philly and when I was mentoring gang members in Los Angeles. Had I more fully understood the benefits of meditation back then, I would have started every one of my mentoring sessions with them with a period of meditation, as I truly believe that meditation would have allowed me to break through to many more of them.

 

If all the above data does not provide enough compelling evidence to convince you that meditation will provide much more heightened levels of clarity that lead to better and more profitable investment decisions, and thus compel you to start meditating, then perhaps this last reason will do so. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for her discovery of protective caps on chromosomes called telomeres, studied the effects of meditation on the length of telomeres. Blackburn reported that there was scientifically significant increases in the length of telomeres among those that meditated on a regular basis versus those that never meditated. Why is this important? Scientific studies have reported that people with longer telomeres have also demonstrated better cognitive ability, improved overall health, higher levels of satisfaction with life, and have had longer lives, than those with shorter telomeres.

 

At the very least, if everyone were to meditate twice a day for just 20 minutes per session, even if you have no desire to gain the inevitable clarity that will transform you into a better investor, the other extraordinary benefits of meditation are sufficient reason to do so, as they will benefit every other aspect of your life. As a result of more people practicing meditation, the world would transform into a kinder, more compassionate world with less angry people, and that is a development that none of us should ever oppose.

 

Fun fact of the day: According to Victor Hugo Criado Berbert, production manager of the 2016 Rio Olympic medals, the gold medals, though they each weighed 500 grams, only contained about 5.84 grams of gold. However, the “gold” medals each contained 494.16g of silver, making them by weight, by value, and by price, a gold-plated silver medal in reality. At today’s respective prices for a 1-troy ounce American Gold and Silver Eagle coin, the gold and silver contained in each gold medal would be priced at $266.07 of gold and $364.63 of silver for a total price of $630.70, assuming that the gold and silver used in the fabrication of the medals are 99.99% fine, which I haven’t been able to confirm. That’s a lot of training for a “gold” medal that doesn’t even contain 1/5 of a single troy ounce of gold and that, by every possible measurement metric, should truly be called a silver metal. That's also a lot of deception to cheat the "gold" medal winners out of a metal, that according to Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, is just a barbarous relic.

 

 

 

About the author: JS Kim is the Founder and Managing Director of SmartKnowledgeU, a fiercely independent wealth management consulting, research and education firm that focuses on building unique strategies centered around gold and silver assets to build a better tomorrow for everyone. We are excited to announce that we will be launching our SmartKnowledge Wealth Academy very soon. To receive two sample issues of our flagship Crisis Investment Opportunities newsletter, just send a request to ciotrial(at)smartknowledgeu(dot)com.

by smartknowledgeu at August 27, 2016 07:53 AM

Zed A. Shaw

Practicing Watercolor and Ink

I really like sketching with watercolor but damn is it hard. Watercolor is the inverse of other paints because it’s transparent so you build paintings from light to dark, using the paper as your white “pigment”. In other paint it’s easier to go from dark to light because the pigment is opaque.  The other thing making watercolor difficult is you have to controp the amount of water on thr paper vs. in your brush. If you don’t it will run and bleed around.

The easiest way to get used to this is to paint with just ink and water or any transparent black paint. To get back into it I did a copy of a painting from a watercolor book:


I just used an ink that’s fairly transparent and water soluble. I have a brush pen that makes it easy to paint, and then some little water brushes to change edges.

The way to think about these paintings is like this:

  1. Identify every shape that’s whitest white. Paint everything else with a very wash of light gray.
  2. Identify the shapes that stay lighy gray, paint everything else mid gray. Now you have your whites, light gray, mid-gray. It might be done here.
  3. Now identify all the dark shapes, paint those in. You should be done at this point.

The advantage of watercolor is you can control the edges on these shapes if you dry the paper or not between each layer of paint. If you have more water then the edges will be soft and out of focus. If you dry it then the edges will be hard and in focus.

Do these kind of monochrome paintings for a while and you’ll get the hang of water as an edge control and using layers of watercolor to build the painting. 

Next I tried a few with color, using mostly the same process. But, one thing I always never really figured out how work pen and ink into my watercolors so I tried that too. First try:


It’s like, some rocks and stuff. I don’t know.  Let’s try that again:


It’s some more rocks and an orange bush. Sure. That’s…close enough. Ok something with dark black so I can use the pen and ink without it being weird:


Nothing beats backlight on trees for dark silhouette shapes. Those are birds or mosquitos or something annoying and tiny.

I really like ink for drawing and a brush pen to do monochrome paintings, but still not sure about it in watercolors.


by zedshaw at August 27, 2016 07:32 AM

jwz

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. I am looking for someone with experience in . Zbrush + Rendering + 3D modeling ... . Hourly Pay . . Local to San Diego / Area . . If interested . please . send some info. . Thanks .

August 27, 2016 06:25 AM

Milliblog!

Jyo Achyutananda (Music review), Telugu – Sri Kalyanaramana

Aakupachhani chandamaamalaa has a buoyant sound and tune that is instantly appealing. Karthik and Ramya handle it like the pros they are. Suvarna, on the other hand, seems terribly templatized and ennui-inducing. Ditto for the title song that flows with its melody barely causing any impact, though there are shades of M M Keeravani in the interludes. Shankar Mahadevan aces the semi-classical, possibly-Kalyani based Oka lalana. Harini Rao’s other, modern, pop version of Oka lalana is equally captivating. Kalyani Malik to Kalyan Koduri to Kalyani Koduri and now Sri Kalyanaramana – but his music remains consistently pleasant and engaging.

Keywords: Jyo Achyutananda, Sri Kalyanaramana, Kalyani Koduri, Kalyan Koduri, Kalyani Malik

Listen to the songs:

by Karthik at August 27, 2016 06:15 AM

Zero Hedge

One World Currency introduced by The Cartel Settlement Coin

Well, it finally happened.  Mark your calendars for the year 2016 as 'the year' a real One World Currency has been announced.  But don't worry - as we explain in Splitting Pennies - Understanding Forex - MONEY DOESN'T EXIST.

How is it possible, you say - when we haven't heard about it in the news?  Let's start with the 'lead' story on this breaking event:

Big banks buckle down to build better bitcoin — RT Business

UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander and BNY Mellon have partnered up to create a new digital currency to facilitate intra-bank settlements, the FT reports. The cryptocurrency will use blockchain technology underpinning the Bitcoin.

Why is this different than any other Bitcoin startup - there sure have been many.  Because these are the banks that control the global currency market, also known as AKA 'the cartel' according to court documents.  

Checkout some of the stories leading up into this climatic moment:

Big Banks Band Together to Launch 'Settlement Coin' - CoinDesk

UBS Sheds New Light on Blockchain Experimentation

Settlement Coin Creators Seek to 'Liberalize' Central Banks With Blockchain - CoinDesk

8 Banking Giants Embracing Bitcoin and Blockchain Tech

‘Central banks looking at Bitcoin as real threat to dominance’ — RT Op-Edge

So why does any of this matter?  Central Banking policy has run the global economy into the ground.  Central Banks OWN $25 Trillion of Financial Assets.  $13 Trillion worth of Government Bonds in the world have NEGATIVE YIELDS.  The financial system as it is now, is on the path for implosion. 

Settlement Coin apparently is targeting 'back office settlement' to reduce costs which are about $80 Billion per year.  But why then does RT compare it with SDRs:

If implemented, the new cryptocurrency would be the first to be used officially between major financial institutions. The concept resembles the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR), introduced in 1964. Based on a basket of currencies (the US dollar, euro, the Japanese yen, pound sterling and the soon to be joined Chinese yuan this October), it is used to supplement the IMF’s member countries’ official reserve. As of March 2016, 204.1 billion SDRs equivalent to about $285 billion had been created and allocated to countries.

Has the world gone mad, and people don't understand the difference between "Blockchain" and "Bitcoin" and "Cryptocurrency" and "US Dollars" ?  We have to note here, RT needs to hire some "Forex Experts" to consult with their authors on this topic.

To clarify, the big banks are working on multiple blockchain projects, as well - most of them have filed patents for their own crypto currencies, most notably, Citi: 

Citi: Bitcoin is an Opportunity for Banks, Not a Threat - CoinDesk

Citibank Is Working On Its Own Digital Currency, Citicoin | TechCrunch

Citi Research released a 56-page report on bitcoin saying that it is not going to disrupt banks or credit card networks. It says there will be increased transaction costs for bitcoin to provide increased volume. As for the use of bitcoin in remittance payments, it says bitcoin’s advantage dissipates when the “last mile” cost of converting to fiat currency is considered. The report notes the growth of bitcoin mobile apps in developing countries but sees regulations rising that put them in question. It claims existing payment systems are generally efficient. The report also talks about Ripple and Ethereum as well as government-backed digital currencies. There is also an extensive summary of bitcoin’s legal status in different countries.

Once implemented, these banks have the means to quickly connect this new cryptocurrency "Settlement Coin" to their existing global network, as well as adding their own proprietary currencies such as "CitiCoin."

It will take some time before the cryptocurrency is even released, and still probably years before it's widely accepted.  What makes this week's announcement unique is that, for the first time the banks publicly announced they are making a new digital 'crypto currency' that isn't issued by a central bank, that can be implemented by them across and without borders, which is a perfect fit for a replacement of the US Dollar and other fiat currencies when they completely run out of QE steam.

But here's the real clincher, exposing this as a real One World Currency:

One of those resources is the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system used by central banks (it's typically reserved for high-value transactions that need to be settled instantly), and the other is central bank-issued cash.  Using the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) unveiled today, the five-member consortium that has sprung up around the project aims to help central banks open-up access to these tools to more customers. If successful, USC has the potential to create entirely new business models built on instant settling and easy cash transfers.  In interview, Robert Sams, founder of London-based Clearmatics, said his firm initially worked with UBS to build the network, and that BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank, ICAP and Santander are only just the first of many future members.  "Cash is a leg to almost every trade," said Sams, who previously worked for nine years as a derivatives trader with Sanctum FI, also in London. "In order to get most of the benefits of a distributed ledger in settlement, there has to be cash on a distributed ledger rail."  How transactions might be processed, and who will own the nodes, has also not been shared. But what we do know based on a statement from the company is that Clearmatics described the USC as "a series of cash assets" for currencies, including US dollars, euros, British pounds and Swiss francs.

For those who understand that it's monetary policy driving the value of currencies down, not supply and demand, there's no need to read between the lines - they spell it all out real simple.

For a quick primer for those who don't know, the Federal Reserve is the sole issuer of US Currency (not the US Mint, who prints notes and coins.)  The Federal Reserve is a private institution, owned by the banks.  It was previously thought that, the idea of a one world currency was preposterous, because, how would all countries agree on having a single central bank?  But here's the workaround - the Forex banks have a monopoly on the global monetary system.  So by forcing their central bank partners to use "Settlement Coin" in order to save on hefty settlement fees (and it will solve the problem of the recent SWIFT hacks as well - part of the plan??? )

A few scenarios here - one, the banks knew that if they didn't do it, some new players might do it.  Two, this plan was hatched long ago by some clandestine CIA op, starting with the release of Bitcoin, leading into the global one world cryptocurrency, all sponsored by Illuminati.  Three, central banks have legitimate concerns about security (such as because of recent hacks) and have no real way out of QE, they can't stop it and they can't continue it.  This is a parallel financial system in which assets can be transferred over to.

To learn more about Forex, checkout Splitting Pennies - the pocket guide to make you an instant Forex genius!  If you're a non-US citizen or Pension Fund looking for a real Forex investment with a proven track record, checkout Magic FX Strategy.  

by globalintelhub at August 27, 2016 05:12 AM

Andrew Tobias

Not One Of 45 Living Economic Advisers Supports Trump

Not Republicans, not Democrats, not Reagan Republicans — not ONE of the living members of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

But what do they know?  Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed King of Bankruptcy, will win so much we’ll get tired of winning.  He will win so much that more than 95% of black Americans, he says (“I promise you”), will vote to reelect him. And Mexico will pay for it.

Read it in the Wall Street Journal, here.

And if you can, click here.

Have a great weekend.

 

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by A.T. at August 27, 2016 04:02 AM

Zero Hedge

BleachBit Brags Of Wiping Hillary's Servers Clean With Claims It "Stifled FBI Investigation"

Yesterday we noted that South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy revealed that Hillary had used a software called "BleachBit" to wipe her servers clean.  Gowdy, appearing on Fox News, suggested that using a software like "BleachBit" undermines her claims that she only deleted innocuous "personal" emails from her private server.  Specifically, Gowdy told Fox News: 

“If she considered them to be personal, then she and her lawyers had those emails deleted.  They didn’t just push the delete button, they had them deleted where even God can't read them.

 

"They were using something called BleachBit.  You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails."

 

"When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see."

Now, the BleachBit team is using the whole controversy as a marketing tool with a note on their website entitled "BleachBit stifles investigation of Hillary Clinton."  The site even incorporates the now-famous Clinton gaffe where she asked reporters if they wanted to know whether she had wiped her servers clean "like with a cloth or something"  pointing out that "it turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth."

Last year when Clinton was asked about wiping her email server, she joked, "Like with a cloth or something?" It turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth.

The BleachBit team also points out that they have not been served with any warrants or subpoenas at this time even though it doesn't really matter because the "cleaning process is not reversible."

As of the time of writing BleachBit has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation. BleachBit is free of charge to use in any environment whether it is personal, commercial, educational, or governmental, and the cleaning process is not reversible.

Finally, BleachBit points out they're receiving overwhelming interest from folks looking to permanently erase yoga and bridesmaid emails and/or other similar incriminating information. 

Immediately when the story broke this morning, traffic to the BleachBit web site and download servers spiked. As the story went viral on Twitter, a second, larger wave of traffic came to the site. The new servers are fully handling the loads.

BleachBit

 

What can we say?  At least someone is "winning" as the entire American political system teeters on the verge of collapse after finally being revealed for the total sham that it is. 

 

The full statement as presented on BleachBit's website:

The IT team for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the open source cleaning software BleachBit to wipe systems "so even God couldn’t read them," according to South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy on Fox News. His comments on the "drastic cyber-measure" were in response to the question of whether her emails were simply about "yoga and wedding plans."

 

BleachBit is mentioned at about three minutes into this video that aired live on the Fox News television station.

 

Rep. Gowdy told Fox News:

 

She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridemaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.

 

Perhaps Clinton's team used an open source application because, unlike proprietary applications, it can be audited, like for backdoors. In response to the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013, privacy expert Bruce Schneier advised, "Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software," in an article in which he stated he also uses BleachBit. Ironically, Schneier was writing to a non-governmental audience.

 

@ThreatcoreNews compared the situation to the 18 minutes of audio erased from tapes from President Richard Nixon's Oval Office.

 

Last year when Clinton was asked about wiping her email server, she joked, "Like with a cloth or something?" It turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth.

 

As of the time of writing BleachBit has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation. BleachBit is free of charge to use in any environment whether it is personal, commercial, educational, or governmental, and the cleaning process is not reversible.

 

Immediately when the story broke this morning, traffic to the BleachBit web site and download servers spiked. As the story went viral on Twitter, a second, larger wave of traffic came to the site. The new servers are fully handling the loads.

 

Original Gowdy comments on Fox News:

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 03:40 AM

Paras Chopra's Blog

Welcome to India: a land where passion comes to die

I’ve lived in India all my life, and I’m not proud of my people. But I’m not giving up.

Here’s why.

Reality check for 1/7th of the world’s population

We Indians are 1.2 billion people on Earth. Yes, many of us are still extremely poor. But a lot of us in that fat middle and upper class have means beyond survival. Hundreds of millions of us have disposable incomes, we have weekends for ourselves when we go to movies and eat expensive popcorn. Yes, we have cars and ACs. Heck, now we even have Netflix, iPhones and Macbooks.

One would imagine that multiple hundreds of millions of this middle class will at least have a million passionate people. Or at least a hundred thousand people who aim for perfection in their chosen field. Or maybe ten thousand people who aim at being absolute best in the world. A thousand people who have dedicated their lives to making that tiny dent in the universe?… Read the rest

by Paras Chopra at August 27, 2016 03:24 AM

Planet Android

Honor 8 XDA Review: Capable & Powerful Little Flagship on a Budget

The Honor 8 is Honor’s newest flagship phone, now hitting the U.S. market and Europe at a competitive price-point. Offering excellent silicon and a glass and metal design for $400, the Honor 8 is in an interesting pricing bracket with even more interesting competitors.

Can this device honor its specifications and stay toe-to-toe with the new wave of affordable flagships?

In this review, we’ll take an in-depth dive into the Honor 8. Rather than listing specs and talking about how the experience felt, this feature attempts to provide a thorough look with contents relevant to our reader base. At XDA, our reviews are not meant to tell a user whether a phone is worth buying or not — instead, we try to lend you the phone through our words and help you come to the decision by yourself. Before getting started, let’s get the specification sheet out of the way:

Device Name: Honor 8 Release Date/Price Available Now, Starts at U$D 399
Android Version 6.0.1 Marshmallow (Emotion UI 4.1) Display 5.2 inch 1080p LTPS LCD (423 ppi)
Chipset HiSilicon Kirin 950: Octa Core, 4x 2.3GHz Cortex-A72 + 4x 1.8GHz Cortex-A53, Mali-T880 MP4 GPU Battery 3,000mAh, Charging at 9V 2A
RAM 4GB LPDDR4 (3GB variant outside USA) Sensors Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Proximity, Ambient Light, Electronic Compass
Storage 32GB | 64GB, microSD expandibility upto 128GB via hybrid SIM slot Connectivity USB 2.0 Type C, Dual nano-SIM slot, 3.5mm audio jack
Dimensions 145.5 x 71 x 7.5 cm (~72.5% screen-to-body) Rear Camera 12MP Dual Camera (Color + Monochrome), Laser Autofocus, f/2.2, 1080p @ 60fps
Weight 153g Front Camera 8MP, f/2.4

 Index

Design

The Honor 8 marks an important shift for Honor in the realm of build quality, in particular because of the materials transition from the tried-and-true aluminum to a full glass coating. This comes at a time where other OEMs are trying their hand at a similar design, especially after the success of Samsung’s glass devices. But the latter were so renowned precisely because of the level of precision and attention to detail that Samsung could achieve due to their bleeding-edge fabrication process. The Honor 8 thus has a lot to prove in order to duke it out head-to-head with the more expensive devices that sport glass backs and metal trims. How does the Honor 8’s premium build hold up against the rest and at its price?

20160815_145516(1) 20160815_145626

Let’s begin with the star of the show: Honor has tackled the challenge of producing a high-quality glass back design that feels both solid and comfortable, on a budget. The back of the Honor 8 has a slippery and clear glass coating, and it’d cover the entire surface if it wasn’t for the very subtle non-glass trim that serves as the interface between the metal edge and the actual glass pane. This facilitates the transition of materials, and Honor has made it flow rather seamlessly, as it’s only visible by keen observers. This creates the illusion of the glass back blending into the metal, and while visually it is just a trick, functionally it means that there are no sharp edges and the device is ultimately rather comfortable, with a slight curve that makes holding the phone very pleasant, even when holding it tightly (and you will often have to, more on this below). It’s also worth pointing out that there is no camera protrusion making this device extremely flat, and able to slide across tables at the slightest of angles.

The back is adorned by very tiny lines in radial patterns that allow the device to shine in interesting ways under sunlight.

The back is adorned by very tiny lines in radial patterns that allow the device to shine in interesting ways under sunlight, also virtue of a 15-layer construction, for an effect that’s rather original and seldom found outside of a couple alternatives. This is more evident on the blue variant, which produces different-hue blues that shine and bend across the surface. There’s also an Honor logo at the bottom, under the glass, in a silver font. Under it you’ll find the (rather tiny) text “powered by Huawei”, “Made in China”, and the Model number. Luckily the verbose part of the design is very small, and we’ve seen various devices hide all sorts of logos and certifications on their backs recently, so the Honor 8 isn’t alone here. That being said, this could be annoying to those that want a cleaner, more minimal design or dislike branding.

20160815_145505(1) 20160815_145618

Above the center you will find the fingerprint scanner, similar to the circular “Nexus Imprint” that won our affection in 2015. There are a lot of good things about this fingerprint scanner, so stick around for the UX-centric sections of this review to learn just what makes it one of the best implementations out there. The fingerprint sensor is not covered by glass and it’s a different hue than the rest of the back, but it doesn’t look out of place and the silver trim nicely compliments all the metal and silver on the device.

At the very top you’ll find the double camera setup (no Leica cameras means no Leica branding), a laser autofocus slit, and a dual-tone flash setup. The arrangement is quite attractive and is one of the main attention-grabbers of the device’s design, as many people asked me throughout my review period just what this phone was, and why it had two cameras. Once more we must mention the lack of protrusion, a rarity in today’s mobile world.

edgeThe trim along the edge of the device is one of the better-realized parts of the phone. The metal band has a slight grainy look to it that produces a gradient effect when hit by light. It is very sturdy and also has two sets of rather thin chamfers, on both the top and bottom. These are as shiny as you’d expect and they tie in well with the rest of the phone’s design. The antennae bands are all around the bottom and on the sides, with the top only holding an infrared port and a microphone. The bottom holds the USB type C port, the 3.5mm headphone jack to the left, and one speaker grille to the right.

The SIM tray can hold both a microSD slot and a nanoSIM, and blends seamlessly with the edge (down to the grainy pattern). In my opinion, the feel of the buttons are disappointing. I hope this is only limited to my review unit(s), but even though both buttons are decently clicky, they felt somewhat loose and the power button in particular could rock with very slight finger movement. I asked others that have an Honor 8 if they had this issue, and most did not. Buttons in phones typically have wide variation due to issues with fitting due to the imperfectability of the manufacturing process at such a scale, but this being one of my pet peeves I opted for using the fingerprint scanner click to turn off my screen (more on this in the Software UX section). I do feel like other companies provide more focusing on ensuring less variation, though, as I’ve never had such a loose power button out of the box.

20160815_145918(1)The front of the Honor 8 is conservative, if not a bit dull. It is well-executed nevertheless, and while there are no standouts, there are also no things to really criticize. The notification light is interestingly-placed on the right side of the speaker, which aids in minimizing the amount of elements on the front. The Honor branding at the bottom is clear, although I would argue capacitive keys (and the option to use them over software keys) would make better use of the bottom bezel. The top has the front camera and proximity sensor, as well as a speaker. The side bezels are thin for the 5.2 inch screen, and the black border around the display when it’s turned on is rather thin, resulting in an above-average screen-to-body ratio of around 72.5%. It’s also worth pointing out that the display is rather raised, more so than on other devices, which can often make it feel printed on. It’s technically 2.5D glass, but you won’t notice as the curvature at the very edge has a miniscule radius, so finding legitimate screen protectors shouldn’t be hard.

Software — User Interface

When I reviewed the Honor 5X back in January, the user interfaced packed with EMUI was one of the points that warranted more attention, as the experience resulting from Huawei/Honor’s aesthetic decisions is very different from what most users are used to through other skins, especially Stock Android. In a few words, EMUI is not the kind of UI you’ll easily grow to love if you are a fan of Stock Android, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things to love about its layouts, design elements and theming capabilities. We’ll take a look at each important System UI section and other areas of frequent interaction, avoiding subjective interpretation as much as possible.

Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-56-07 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-56-21 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-57-49 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-56-45

By default, EMUI is an interface that completely trails away from Google’s Material Design guidelines and opts for its own design language, bringing a completely different experience altogether. This is first seen with the launcher, which comes with no app drawer for organization. The launcher has big and vibrant icons in its 4-column default, but luckily you can modify its grid size. Huawei’s iconography is full of rounded squares with muted non-primary colors, and the wallpapers that come with the phone resemble those of other flagships, in particular Samsung’s latest devices as seen below. There isn’t much in the way of customization, other than changing transitions, homescreen looping and opting for badge icons for unread notifications on a few stock applications. Other than that, you can choose to auto align apps or shake them to realign manually.

Swiping down reveals an app, contacts and messages search menu, as well as your recently-used apps, It’s a simple setup that works well, and there’s a further-simplified alternative as well in the settings menu. The launcher is an aspect that many of our readers are quick to swap for Nova or Action Launcher,  but for users wanting to keep it Stock there won’t be any headaches in the EMUI built-in solution — if you can tolerate the lack of an app drawer and the overall design language. The app opening transition of stock is the now-dated Zoom-In of earlier Android days.

Screenshot_2016-08-18-01-04-12 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-58-01 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-58-47 Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-59-11

The notification pane brings back the background blur by default, but this can be themed away (more on that below). It’s worth noting that it’s not dynamic blur as seen in a few elements of other OEM ROMs, it uses a screenshot of your screen and does not blur animated video, but this saves CPU cycles for a rather mundane task (and the alpha is tuned so that the background is not very visible anyway). Notifications are right-biased as the left area has a timeline for you to click tell the time of arrival, and for some reason heads-up notifications cannot be swiped to the sides for dismissals (which one can get used to, but we question the intent). At the top you will find a “shortcuts” (toggles) tab, and at the bottom left there is a “clear all” button. Swiping to the right or tapping on the shortcuts tab shows toggles and the brightness-slider. The toggles setup standard affairs except for a screenshot button, and it’s also worth noting that screenshots have edit, scroll capture and share shortcuts on the screenshot animation, for you to quickly act upon what you capture.

Screenshot_2016-08-18-00-58-12The recents menu is laid out differently than on stock, with horizontal cards and previews and with a “clear all” trashcan at the bottom, as well as a free RAM counter. Scrolling is smooth, but not necessarily fluid by design as it tends to make the center-most tab sticky. You can access App Info by long-pressing, but there is no tool-tip or animation prompting you in the right direction. Swiping up clears the application, while swiping down locks it down and prevents it from being dismissed by the “clear all” button. On every press, the app in the center will be your last-used app, to make multitasking easier (no last-app navigation bar gesture by default).

The iconography of EMUI is big in size, and in no way minimal. The battery indicator is laid horizontally, and the battery percentage is put beside it. With no readily-available System UI tuner, there is little room for notifications (tip: disable carrier logo from the right side in the notification settings, giving you room for 3 more notifications). However, something I learned to appreciate is that app notification icons in the status bar feature small, colorful icons dictated by the notification itself. This way, a Hangouts message displays the avatar of the relevant contact at the top, which makes it easy to know what’s what in your status bar, and whether your notifications merit a swipe down and quick glance or read. Under another design language, this would look out of place, but EMUI is so different and it ultimately doesn’t clash within its scheme.

The settings menu is colorful and a bit disorganized. There is no battery section, for example, and to access it one must dig through a few menus (Advanced Settings -> Battery Manager -> Consumption Level), and then a few more to arrive to the screen-on-time number that we love to keep track off. Ignoring the organization issues, instructions and feature descriptions are easy to understand, with visual aids that help understand some features — and this is good, because there are many.

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The default color palette, iconography and blurry glass intrinsically clash with Material Design.

Applications also share the blurry glass and white clean look, and they have turned out easy to use during my review period. Of course, though, these can be replaced for different-looking alternatives. And the System UI itself has a useful theme engine that can help you change much of EMUI, including the notification bar and toggles color scheme, their icons, the settings menu iconography and palette, the launcher icons, and more. There are Stock Android themes, for example, which get rid of the blur in the notification panel. Ultimately, the layout is too different in most areas for this to feel remotely close to AOSP, and darker themes won’t make use of an AMOLED display given the phone’s LCD panel, but there are some themes worth trying out and this has personally helped me enjoy EMUI a lot more. The default color palette, iconography and blurry glass intrinsically clash with Material Design, but themes can minimize this by a large margin.

Software — Features & UX

EMUI is simply one of the most feature-packed user interfaces available. To jot down every tiny addition and functional advantage over Stock Android would take far more room than I am willing to allocate to this section, so I’ll focus on the fundamentals and every feature I believe users would care about. EMUI’s features change from revision to revision, so not everything is exactly as seen on the Mate 8, Honor 5X, and even the P9 from earlier this year. But in spirit, the ROM remains the same: it aims to offer everything you’d need, and then some.

SMARTKEYLet’s begin with my favorite feature: smart key. You might recall that in my Honor 5X review I noted that one of my favorite additions to the fingerprint scanner was the ability to use it for extra functions, like tapping to go back or swiping down for the notification panel. You can still swipe down to access the panel, and also press it to take pictures, answer calls and stop alarms, but the fingerprint scanner is an actual button now, allowing for quick access to apps or functions with the screen on or off.

The fingerprint scanner is an actual capacitive button now.

Honor allows you to customize the button with tools voice recording. screenshot shortcut, or launch applications, which you can bind to single press, double press and/or longpress. The option to turn the screen off is, sadly, not present by default.

Luckily, you can use any “Screen Off” app and trigger it that way, although there is no way to disable double-press meaning single presses will always have a slight delay while the phone waits for additional input. This became my go-to way to turn off the screen given the lack of a stiff power button. It’s also worth noting that the fingerprint scanner is really fast, frequently unlocking my phone by accident while I unnoticeably slid my finger across its back.

At the toggles, you’ll find a few useful options including screen recording, ultra-battery saving (you are probably familiar with the concept by now), a “floating dock” that acts like an impromptu PIE menu (back, home, recents, screen off and RAM clearance keys), and an “eye-protection” mode which filters blue light to give you a sort of “night mode” as seen on other popular devices.

Screenshot_2016-08-18-01-56-00You can customize the navigation bar, and also add an “open notification panel” key to the right. There are other shortcuts in the form of motion controls, such as flipping to mute, picking up the phone to reduce the sound of alarms or calls, raising the phone to your ear to start or end calls, or tilting the phone to swipe through launcher screens (why? I am not sure). Then, you have knuckle gestures.

With them, you can use your knuckles on the screen to capture a normal, scrolling (very useful) or cropped screenshot, or initiate screen-recording. You can also use your knuckles to draw letters in order to open applications (letters ‘c’, ‘e’, ‘m’ and ‘w’, so four shortcuts in total). These work surprisingly well for the easier gestures and scrolling screenshots, although the app shortcuts and cropped screenshots are not as fluid.

You also have one-handed UI settings, including a mini-screen view triggered by swiping across the navigation bar, and a shifting keyboard accessed by tapping an arrow during text input. Huawei also incorporated its own voice controls, including voice wakeup to find your phone (“Dear Honor”) and quick calling which allows you to call by saying a contact’s name after pressing volume down while the screen is off. You can also answer calls with voice control and quickly get on speaker mode.

Huawei also incorporates “smart headphone controls”, which is an interesting take on the ability to control music through wired headphones with 3 buttons (action, volume up and volume down). It changes the volume up behavior to favorite a song when double pressing, and enable or disable shuffle by doing the same on volume down. The action button is then used for playback control with multiple taps, too.

The Honor 8 also comes with a smart remote controller app for it’s IR sensor, which is increasingly rare in today’s smartphones. Adding remote controls is easy and after the setup you’ll be managing your home devices without hassle. Honor also includes a batch of easily-replaceable apps like its own clock and e-mail client, and sadly bundles some applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Booking.Com, News Republic, Lyft, and Shazam. Whether these are bloatware or not is up to you (to me, they surely are), but know that you can fully uninstall them.

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Suggestion: Look, but don’t touch.

You will also find a “phone manager” app that acts as a hub for your system health check-up. This includes quick access to “system optimization” to clear memory/cache (and kill backgrounds apps, of course…), a traffic manager to monitor your data (or add a lockscreen reminder), a “harassment filter” to block offensive keyword or specific phone numbers (triggered?), and a way to lock apps to your fingerprint or PIN so that others cannot access them. You can also choose which apps run while the screen is off, either protecting all or picking the ones you think won’t impact your battery life, or that have notifications you need. The system cleanup features are frankly useless, and Honor’s relationship with CleanMaster (affecting EU) makes me worry the company will further implement such systems. If you ask me, this an increasingly-annoying trend with OEMs skins.

Finally, there is the oh-so-important battery consumption section, which is missing from the settings for whatever reason. From here you can enable ROG power saving, which makes the phone run at 720p — something I really don’t recommend, given the savings are marginal and the pixel density drops from 423 PPI to 282 PPI, which makes a significant difference.  

Then you’ll have a power usage firewall for power-intensive apps (and notifications can warn you when apps are draining too much battery in the background), your battery history, and power plans. This last bit is very important and we’ll expand upon them on the battery and performance sections, but basically you can opt for a Smart profile that adjusts CPU and network usage for a reasonable balance, a Performance mode which allows the CPU to stay at higher frequencies, and an Ultra mode as mentioned earlier.

Performance

Kirin-950-and-kirin-940-specificationsThis phone comes with a rather impressive processing package for just $400. It is true, however, that at that bracket you begin to see devices sporting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820. But the Honor 8’s processing solution is different than that of most competing chipsets, as it’s comprised of HiSilicon’s Kirin 950, the same chipset we saw in the Huawei Mate 8. Huawei released this chipset in late 2015, with just enough room to claim the performance crown for CPU prowess. The Kirin 950 packs an octa-core big.LITTLE configuration with four efficiency-focused A53 cores clocked at 1.8GHz, and four A72 performance-oriented cores.

The latter are the star of the show, as the Cortex A72 core is designed to provide up to 50% faster performance-per-MHz than the A57 cores which dominated in 2015. These cores are not only faster, but significantly more power-efficient, but the fiercest competition has also gotten up to speed with the Kryo cores in the Snapdragon 820. Coupled with the 16nm process size, the specification sheet sets high hopes for the SoC. The Honor 8 shares a similar GPU to that of the Exynos 8890, the Mali-T880. There is an important difference, however, as the Honor 8’s Mali-T880 MP4 features 4 cores as opposed to the Exynos 8890’s 12, although these have higher individual clock speeds as well. While this is the weaker aspect of the SoC, we found it still packs a worthy punch. So, how does the Kirin 950 as a whole measure up to the competition?

CPU & System

The Kirin 950 found in the Honor 8 benefits from the big.LITTLE architecture that began truly shining in the past couple of years. With smart global task scheduling to decide the utilized core arrangement at any given time, chipsets under this setup can achieve some impressive multi-core performance. This is precisely what we see with the Kirin 950: its single core performance as reported by benchmarks is lower than the competitions, but multi-core performance surpasses Qualcomm’s latest and greatest. When it comes to CPU-centric tasks in benchmarks like AnTuTu, the Kirin 950 does an excellent job at beating the Snapdragon 820 found in devices like the OnePlus 3. Overall, the CPU side of things is one of the better aspects of the Kirin 950 and the Honor 8 in general, as this is one of the main items to look forward to when looking for excellent performance.

Basemark OS II 2.0 - Overall Basemark OS II 2.0 - System Basemark OS II 2.0 - Web Basemark OS II 2.0 - Graphics Basemark OS II 2.0 - Memory PCMark -- Work Performance PCMark -- Web Browsing PCMark -- Video Playback PCMark -- Writing PCMark -- Photo Editing

While the Kirin 950 does great in abstract tests with discrete computations, it also does an excellent job at real-world oriented tests such as basemark OS II and PCMark. It does not achieve as high a score as its Huawei-branded brethren, but it still shows respectable results — OS optimizations play a big factor in this benchmark, and the overall score surpasses the average achieved by devices like the Galaxy S7, but does not quite reach the level of the OnePlus 3. The average is weighted down by the writing and photo-editing tests, though, and the latter is understandable given the devices’ less-powerful graphics capabilities. BaseMark OS II shows a similar story, but all in all this phone can compete with some of the most expensive and decked-out phones in the market for half the price, which is nothing to scoff at.

geekbench 3 smart geekbench 3 performance

IMG_0300Performance over time is particularly excellent on the Honor 8, but here we must begin differentiating between the two power profiles the Honor 8 comes with, “smart” and “performance”. The former offers a more-balanced approach to CPU scaling, whereas the latter focuses on squeezing out the Kirin 950 with less regards for battery life and thermals.

That being said, both modes output very solid results although with a different behavior: ‘smart’ does not necessarily peak under initial pressure, whereas performance maintains its peak potential for longer, and extremely well at that. On the CPU side, neither of the power plans sees significant throttling, and what’s more, the maximum temperature for the Geekbench endurance test was only 32.8°C | 91°F — far lower than what we saw on other chipsets. This is likely a result of both the A72 cores and the small process size, and the efficiency ultimately carries onto the real world as well, as the Honor 8 is extremely cool to the touch in every situation sans intense camera usage.

GPU & Gaming

The GPU side of things is sadly the more underwhelming aspects of this processing package. The Mali-T880 MP4 GPU outputs results that are more than enough to carry the Honor 8’s 1080p screen well, and on-screen tests reflect this well. However, when put up against devices with newer chipsets on either on-screen tests or benchmarks that natively render at 1080p, the Honor 8 is left far behind, not just by 2016 devices but also much of what we saw in 2015 as well. Truth be told, the Mali-T880 MP4 is hardly commensurable with the Mali-T880 MP12 or the Adreno 530, but once you travel back to the Adreno 420 found in the Snapdragon 805, you begin finding similarities in peak performance.

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen) GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen) 3DMark Sling Shot 3.1 Extreme Unlimited (Overall)

Albeit disappointing when looked at a flagship perspective, it ultimately means little for the real-world user experience due to the 1080p display. Unsurprisingly, though, the Honor 8 also fares rather well under pressure on the GPU side, but only on performance mode. Running a 10-consecutive 3DMark test on both power plans showed “smart” losing over 25% of its initial performance and reaching close to 37.8°C | 100°F in the process, whereas on ‘performance’ not only was the initial (and peak) score higher, but it also only lost 8% of it by the end of the run despite reaching nearly the same temperature. This is also something we noticed when running other benchmarks and while gaming. GFXBench, where the peak on “smart” was lower than the initial score on ‘performance’. Sadly, the latter loses closes to a third of its peak framerate.

3d mark smart 3d mark performance

Interestingly enough, we didn’t find the lower graphics performance to be disappointing at all when gaming and measuring through GameBench, neither in terms of framerates nor in throttling. In fact, the Honor 8 manages to mostly-top the framerate of most complex 3D games today, and in our tests we only saw very small and contained periods of severe throttling which lasted only around 5 seconds at a time per 10 minute gameplay session, predominantly on GTA: San Andreas. Other than those short-lived framerate losses, the Honor 8 is capable enough of performing excellently at most games out today even at maximum settings, a feat that is not limited to latest-generation SoCs like it once was. Truth be told, the level of GPU performance of late 2014 chipsets very-nearly allowed for maxing out games like Asphalt 8 then, and it still does today. If you do have any issues, the 720p mode will certainly give you the necessary boost to achieve a maximum framerate at the expense of effective pixel density.

gamebench-WARHAMMER gamebench-ASPHALT gamebench-DEADTRIGGER2 gamebench-GTA

Despite the more-than-acceptable gaming performance, though, the GPU of the Kirin 950 remains the weakest link of the processing package due to lower peaks and worse sustained performance during intense stress than other flagship chipsets, and gamers looking to remain future proof, or people who need the phone for other GPU-intensive applications, should first try and calculate the mileage they’d get out of this device. Last but not least, there is a 720p resolution mode for power-savings that has the by-product of increasing GPU performance, but as pointed out later in this article as well, it simply isn’t worth the pixel density trade-off, particularly when gaming or doing other visual experiences.

RAM & Storage

The 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM that this review unit ships with was more than apt at the kind of tasks that I threw at it. The phone can easily store around 12 to 14 applications in memory, and also multiple heavy 3D games, without killing background processes. Even then, cached reloads are rather fast thanks to the SoC and storage solution. I have experienced some quirks with memory management where applications had to reload from cache despite no interaction with power-saving prompts or features, and it’s worth noting that by default the system kills non-whitelisted background applications upon locking the screen, so be sure to tweak those settings.

These kind of practices and the trend of adding “system tuners” (often powered by companies like CleanMaster) shouldn’t exist in the Honor 8 or any of today’s smartphones, frankly, and you should most certainly ignore anything suggesting you to kill applications simply for using them (which has happened with Hangouts and other applications). Finally, while 4GB of RAM is still a standard in 2016, 6GB RAM devices like the OnePlus 3 and Axon 7 do come at cheaper or similar prices. Users outside of the United States can opt for a further-cheaper 3GB variant, but that might be too big a sacrifice for those looking to keep the phone for a few years.

Honor 8 Sequential Random
Read Speed 246.9MB/s 39.5MB/s
Write Speed 94.4MB/s 27MB/s

The storage of the Honor 8 is barely commensurable with the higher-end solutions out there, and sadly, alternatives at this price-point like the OnePlus 3 and Axon 7 managed to offer UFS 2.0 for impressive theoretical and real-world file transfer speeds. That being said, only the latter has microSD support like the Honor 8, and the ability to couple 64GB of storage with up to 128GB on a microSD card is a good synergy for the dual camera on this device. There is no adoptable storage in the settings, though.

Real World Performance

The Kirin 950 is simply a remarkable SoC for real-world applications. One would think that the tremendous feature quantity of EMUI would mean that the experience would be bogged down, cluttered, and ultimately laggy. Luckily, reality couldn’t be further from such a grim scenario, a far cry from the all-too-familiar bloated ROM scenarios Android was known for in its infancy, and that some OEMs still continue today, with the recently-released Note 7 showing embarrassing performance in comparison. While EMUI on the Snapdragon 615 of the Honor 5X meant frequent stutters and odd delays, Honor must have done some optimization with Huawei’s in-house SoC, as EMUI flies no matter the power profile you choose, and regardless of the changes made to Android.

Screenshot_2016-08-25-23-58-35Scrolling lists is not just as good as any other flagship, but better, and I’ve found very few slowdowns or stutters while browsing news feeds or Play Store listings. GPU Profiling reveals rather solid scrolling performance all-around, both in the System UI and inside applications. Activities launch quickly, too, and the phone is very snappy not just because of the SoC, but also because of above-average screen latency. Lists flow fluidly under the finger, and actions respond instantly, so general in-app performance is a joyful experience.

The phone’s fluidity carries over to app opening speeds and app-switching. Both hot and cold app opening times are up there with the best of 2016 from competing chipsets, and the 4GB of RAM are able to hold, on average, 14 to 16 applications in memory at once. That being said, there is a dark side to EMUI’s memory management once the screen turns off: by default EMUI kills applications that are not whitelisted to run in the background while the screen is locked, likely to save battery. Once you tweak this setting, though, the phone behaves properly for your favorite apps. If you do get this device, it is paramount that you inspect these settings given that background notifications on standby can be indefinitely delayed,

During regular usage, the phone keeps a consistent temperature around or under 29°C | 84.2°F, and the bulk of the heat is concentrated on the top-left corner of the device (looking from the back), meaning you do not get in immediate contact with it would the phone happen to get hot. Once more, we must point out that there are two power profiles, “Smart” and “Performance”. For nearly every real-world application, both share the same level of performance. The bulk of my review period was done on the “performance” setting, and I haven’t noticed any significant issues with heat management nor battery drain. The Honor 5X needed to be under the “performance” plan to achieve reasonable speed, but the Honor 8 does just fine on the default setting.

Screenshot_2016-08-21-14-12-47There is also the previously-mentioned ROG power-saving feature, which lowers the screen’s resolution to 720p for increased efficiency. It is true that 720p would mean less stress on the GPU in particular, with lower-quality assets being rendered and cached. That being said, there is no real-world performance gain from this outside of gaming, and many 3D games allow you to specifically set rendering resolution from within their settings anyway. Moreover, dropping the pixel density to 282 PPI makes a significant difference in visual fidelity, which is immediately noticeable if you choose a crisp 1080p wallpaper for your homescreen. The option is certainly nice to squeeze extra performance or battery in a pinch, but for most applications both savings are miniscule.

Monitoring background activities and RAM consumption once again reinforces the idea that EMUI does not waste away its resources, nor is bogged down by useless processes. The processor scaled predictably with the A72 cores spiking upon opening applications working together while scrolling.

There is little else to detail: all things considered, the Honor 8’s real-world performance is remarkable for a device at its price-point, and for a phone running such a feature-packed and aesthetically-modified user interface. It offers flagship performance, hands-down, and it even surpasses other (much, much more expensive) flagships we’ve tried out this year. The impressive CPU, capable storage solution and decent-enough GPU coupled with Honor’s optimizations, such as a touted proprietary file system, result in a pleasant experience through the entire operating system no matter what goal you need to accomplish using your smartphone.

Camera

As you would expect from the Honor 8’s dual-camera setup, this is one of the better-aspects of the device. At the $400 bracket, it’s rather hard to find phones with above-average cameras, and the Honor 8 builds its hardware and software around trying to stand out in that space. While we’ve seen OEMs constantly try to catch up with camera giants like Samsung – who has slowed down its camera evolution, likely due to small competition – it is arguably a much harder task to do on a budget. Can the Honor 8 stand up against more expensive devices? Depends on what you look for, but the Honor 8 takes after the P9 to offer detail through capture hardware, and flexibility through software.

cam

Let’s start with the camera UI and UX. The Honor 8’s EMUI features a very traditional approach with a shutter button on the right side as well as a gallery shortcut (and the gallery has a camera shortcut by sliding the image album down) and a “switch to video” button. To the left you will find extra options depending on your shooting mode, such as switch to the other camera, filters, flash, or the shallow depth of field mode (more on that later). There are also 3 “tabs” you can access by swiping around the viewfinder: one for shooting modes (including pro photo and pro video, beauty mode and video, panorama, HDR, Good Food, timelapse, light painting and nightshot). The other panel allows you to change resolution, enable a grid, configure a timer, enable smile capture and object tracking, and also default image adjustment like brightness, saturation and contrast (for auto-mode).

When it comes to camera speed, the Honor 8 doesn’t disappoint. The camera app opens really fast, usually in less than 400ms, and it can also be launched from the lockscreen at the same speed. There is also a quick snapshot feature, by double pressing the volume button when the device is off — the phone will instantly launch the camera and grab a picture of whatever it is pointed at, then display the time it took to capture it (typically less than a second). Focusing speed is also above average for the price, although automatic focusing still takes over half a second to find the new target. Taking pictures in both burst mode and through button spam is fast and reliable, with no odd delays. However, the camera does not have auto-HDR, which is what usually slows down other phones. One would argue that it would be a negative point for those used to intelligent HDR (or HDR+) that compliments auto-mode, but the dynamic range of the Honor 8 is already better than most of its competitors without enabling the setting.

Dusk Daylight Daylight Close up Dusk Night time Food Mode Night Time Food Food on Food Mode Colors Up close Daylight Overcast Daylight Daylight Selfie Beauty Selfie

Going further into image quality, the 12MP main camera is aided by a 12MP monochrome camera that assists in obtaining more information regarding light and contrast, which the Honor 8 uses by merging the two images and producing one sharper result. The company claims it allows for up to 3 times the light in low-light situations, and while we definitely see a low-light improvement over similarly-priced smartphones, it still is outperformed by devices like the Nexus 6P and Galaxy S7 Edge. Nevertheless, detail retention is good, macro/focusing distance allows for good close-up shots, and exposure management is one of the better ones I’ve seen — I’ve never had the kind of severe blowup that plague budget devices. Color is also very good, a notch on the saturated side, although HDR does make a noticeable difference.

Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3 Galaxy S7 Edge Honor 8 OnePlus 3

Occasionally pictures show very apparent oversharpening (particularly with fuzzy textures or grass), and various shooting modes are simply not worth using due to post-processing issues. Every now and then, the device will ask you to keep the device steady to gather additional data and get a better shot, and Night Mode has you do this for multiple seconds, usually with blurry results. When compared to the OnePlus 3 and Galaxy S7 Edge, it’s rather clear that the Honor 8 fits in the middle. Low-light performance and light capture is better than on the OnePlus 3, like Honor’s claims would imply, but still not up to par with Samsung which has focused on this specific aspect for the past two years.

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The camera can produce some seriously good-looking depth of field and background blur effects, though, virtue of its dual camera setup. Like we first saw with the HTC M8’s dual camera setup, this phone also allows you to alter the focus point and depth of field after the shot has been taken. Unlike other devices, though, this is done very, very well, and the results can be really surprising. There is no odd artifacting or contour issues around the target’s edges, the blur effect looks natural and better than what you find in OEMs’ software solutions. The selfie camera is sharp with a relatively-high 8MP resolution, and I found it better than what’s found in other phones in this bracket.

Video is decent on the Honor 8, although I did find some issues with image distortion when enabling object tracking. There is no 4K recording, but there is 16:9 stereo 60FPS video at FHD, which doesn’t look quite as smooth as you have to turn down the framerate in order to get stabilization. There is significantly less macroblocking than on the OnePlus 3, a direct competitor at this price-point, even at just FHD resolution, and audio is loud with a slight distortion. There is also X4 slow-motion recording at 720p, document scanning, and Pro Video, so you do have a few options to play with if you need them. But that’s about it, as video is the most unremarkable part of this camera. If you are looking for great stills, though, you won’t be disappointed.

Display

The Honor 8 packs an unassuming 5.2 inch 1080p LTPS LCD display, LCD being common solution in this price bracket. The 1080p resolution does just fine on such a small screen size (by today’s standards), and with the display being LCD and not an AMOLED pentile panel, you ultimately get a higher effective pixel density due to the equal number of red, blue and green pixels (instead of an uneven matrix of subpixels). While many of us have grown increasingly used to AMOLED displays on flagships, this screen solution is not inadequate for both the price and the screen size; opting for 1440p AMOLED would have increased costs for a small increase in effective clarity, and a 1080p AMOLED panel would have resulted in lower pixel density.

20160826_103125 greyscale

As it stands, the 423 ppi of the Honor 8’s display is a good balance, and a good way to avoid the criticism that devices like the OnePlus 3 received for their 1080p AMOLED panels (granted, pixel density on that device suffered more due to its larger screen). This display also gets plenty bright, enough to be readable in direct sunlight in most scenarios, and decent contrast also helps.

1080p 720p

By default, this screen features blue whites and imperfect blacks. The latter is an issue you simply cannot solve, and sadly the blacks only get worse when viewed at an angle — not only do they get brighter as most LCD panels do, but it also gets a significant red tone to it. Colors are saturated without looking overly-vibrant, with reds and greens being much deeper than the sRGB standard. The gradient and transitions are well delimited on both colors and greyscale, though, with no noticeable banding nor other oddities.  Greyscale in particular could be better, but the limitations of the display technology mean it has to conform to sub-par performance here.

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Viewing angles in general are OK: when viewed from the sides, there is little color distortion. It’s when you view the display from the top, bottom, or corners where noticeable loss is found, and at extreme angles the screen gets much warmer, with blacks in particular getting very red as pointed out above. This does not help the display get the “sticker” look that other panels achieve, but it’s worth pointing out that the display is quite raised in comparison to others, making it seamlessly blend into the bezel, and when coupled with its excellent latency, it makes the experience very pleasant as interaction feels precise.

colortemperatureThe display is surrounded by a few millimeters of black bezel as seen on most other devices, but this is only noticeable on the white variant of the phone. It doesn’t quite interfere with the viewing experience, and it is not the worst offender around (especially at this price point).

Honor also focused a decent amount on the software options and customization of the display. Other than the much-dated daydream (picture screensaver), you can improve eye-comfort by filtering out the blue light of the display through “eye-protection”, very much like the increasingly-popular “night modes”. This mode also adjusts according to environmental light, similarly to Apple’s solution, in order to always provide a good viewing experience — I’ve personally used it for a while, and it grew on me better than other night mode solutions. You can also customize color temperature through a handy color circle, or choose from the warm or cold presets.

This is an average display no matter how you cut it. Color reproduction is decent, but not on target, contrast and blacks suffer from the ever-present backlight, and viewing angles are average. This is not a device built for media consumption, as those factors paired with the small display mean you’ll find a much better media experience somewhere else. When put into context and when considering the price, very few devices (such as the Axon 7) manage to bring a more impressive display. This one is no show-stopper, but at the very least one can argue that the form factor is not designed around media consumption either way.

Battery Life & Charging

The Honor 8 packs a rather-standard 3,000mAh battery, which might initially turn off those that are spec-hungry. However, and as we always note in our reviews, battery capacity is not a deciding factor for a phones’ battery life. For example this is the same battery capacity that the Note5 and OnePlus 3 brought to the table, both of which had good battery life despite bigger (or higher-resolution, in the Note5’s case) displays. Most importantly, the Honor 8 comes with ARM’s A72 and A53 core design, the former promises better efficiency (15% over A57) and the latter is specifically designed for minimal drain. Huawei might be an expert in modems, but it’s also true that Qualcomm’s modems are considered the cream of the market, and frequently sought after. How HiSilicon implementation performs will thus be another significant factor.

pcmark

Honor 8 PCMark Work Battery Life
Min. Brightness (Smart) 9 h 55 m
Med. Brightness (Smart) 7 h 57 m
Max. Brightness (Smart) 5 h 5 m

Running PCMark on low, medium and high brightness shows a significant delta between brightness, much larger than what’s found on other devices like the OnePlus 3. On medium brightness and the “smart” balanced profile, the device can reach 8 hours of endurance on this test, quite a solid feat for its capacity, much like the level of efficiency we found on the Galaxy Note5 under the same conditions. Lower brightness didn’t improve this number much, while maximum brightness put it at just above 5 hours. Temperature, scores and drained remained excellently consistent through, denoting no signs of throttling nor abnormal drain. Other battery benchmarks also put it above the average, most likely due to the ARM-based setup that is a step up from some of the most efficient chipsets of 2015 on the CPU side of things.

Screenshot_2016-08-13-00-29-12 Screenshot_2016-08-13-00-29-21 Screenshot_2016-08-14-00-35-02 Screenshot_2016-08-14-00-35-14 Screenshot_2016-08-15-22-23-34 Screenshot_2016-08-15-22-23-40 Screenshot_2016-08-16-23-34-58 Screenshot_2016-08-16-23-35-10

This efficiency truly carries onto the real world, as the Honor 8 can easily power through a day of my usage, no matter the mix of connections I go through nor the camera usage I make the device endure. I’ve commonly reached 5 hours of screen on time, and consistently achieved over 4 hours, with my typical usage of document editing, chrome browsing, social media like twitter and reddit, hangouts, GPS navigation and a lot of YouTube (although less than on other devices, due to the screen’s constraints). I have noticed, however, that while WiFi efficiency is excellent, the battery’s active drain is significantly increased during LTE usage, more so than with competing devices.

wifi-2 lte-1 awake-bad

I’ve found no unusual wakelocks nor issues with awake times as seen in the graphs below, and it feels like Honor takes this very seriously — perhaps too seriously, as you’ll see. While idling, it wasn’t uncommon to find really low idle drain, between 0.3% to 0.8% per hour while left on either WiFi or LTE overnight. During more-active hours with more movement and less extended sleep time, though, idle drain can surpass 1.5% hour and well into 3% during a day of constantly-fetching notifications on LTE. It must also be noted that most of my review period has had a Gear S2 smartwatch connected to the device.

The Honor 8’s charging situation, though, is not quite as impressive and borders on standard affairs in today’s market. It has a 9V/2A charger that can take the device from 0% to 100% in about 1 hour and 40 minutes, with the traditional slow-down cutoff at around 80%. It’s a good-enough solution, and surpasses the offerings of much more expensive devices, although it is a step back from the $400 OnePlus 3 and its Dash Charge technology. If you haven’t experienced Dash Charge, though, you will find the Honor 8 to charge as adequately as any other smartphone.

protectedappsThe Honor 8 also comes with a plethora of power-saving options, some of which are actually worth checking out. First we have the power plans which we have discussed above, smart and performance. If the estimates presented in the menu are anything to go by, you won’t gain much by choosing smart over performance, but as we’ve noted, performance is much better at what it’s supposed to do, and I also found it better at handling background notifications. You also have an “ultra” power saving option, which keeps the basic call and messaging features but disables much of the smart portions of your smartphone. This can double your remaining battery life, but is meant to be reserved for sticky situations where an active phone is paramount. Finally, you have the ROG power saving mode which lowers the phone’s resolution to 720p, and thus also improves GPU performance. We don’t recommend this option for day-to-day usage as the drop in screen sharpness is significant, and battery savings will likely be minimal as well unless GPU-intensive tasks are at play.

Sadly, it also comes with intrusive power saving options (shown above) that you should disable or minimize as a priority. One of these features kills background applications when the screen is off unless they are added to a whitelist, which not only messes with your notifications, but also reduces real-world performance by having you reload commonly-used but not-whitelisted applications (for example, my Gear S2 would lose connection as the phone would simply kill the companion app until I picked up on it). There is a power usage firewall as well, although this one prompts you to close applications rather than doing it without you asking, and you can circumvent the notifications too. After proper configuration of these issues, I was able to get my extra services working properly and I still kept getting excellent sleep times and battery life, so like many OEMs, Honor probably went overkill in ensuring longevity with their device.

Audio

The audio of the Honor 8 is also one of the more-average aspects of the phone with no real merit nor downfalls. The bottom-firing speaking can’t get too loud when compared to other devices at this price-range, and its location makes it unappealing for media consumption. Then again, this is not a media consumption device, and thus the speaker is adequate for the form factor. Distortion at higher levels is clearly there, but subtler than worse offenders at this price point; the audio is a bit tinny, though. That being said, the peak volume itself is high enough, but overall the audio feels rather hollow.

The microphone of the Honor 8 is standard affair too, with no real issues for camera recording nor voice calls. The Honor 8 does not have much in the way of software tweaks for the audio itself, although there is the aforementioned playback controls extension for headphones. Wired audio quality through the 3.5mm jack is, once more, not very impressive. All things considered, this is not an aspect of the phone you should be excitedly looking forward too.

Thoughts on Development and Future Proofing

Development on the Honor 8 is a clear work in progress. While the Kirin 950 is great for performance, it is not very good for development. The kernel sources for the platform, the documentation and many other things that developers need to get working AOSP ROMs on Kirin devices are currently not available. This means that development on devices with the Kirin SoCs see very little original development, and certainly no AOSP ROMs. Very talented developers have tried and failed, and until something changes, we won’t see CyanogenMod or other popular ROMs like we get to see on Honor’s Snapdragon devices, like the Honor 5X. This is problematic given that EMUI is one of the biggest turn-off factors for significant parts of our userbase.

We are completely aware of this, and we are working with Honor to find a solution. The good news is that they are so far willing to cooperate and embrace the developer community, and we have forwarded them an extensive list of requests which is currently being reviewed by their research and development team. If all goes well, a turning point for the Kirin platform could be approaching, allowing development to expand on Huawei and Honor devices. These companies are HiSilicon’s direct beneficiaries and are also some of the largest smartphone companies in the world, with Huawei currently being the 3rd largest player in the smartphone market, only behind Samsung in the Android space. Working with Honor and Huawei towards opening the Kirin platform would then allow millions of users to access new customized software, and ultimately benefit our community.

Leaving the sources situation aside, the Honor 8 will be easy to unlock with an official method, the same used for other EMUI devices like the Honor 5X. I’ve done this process before, and it’s easy enough, but if you don’t like filling forms or waiting, do know that you can unofficially unlock the bootloader as well. After that, rooting and getting recoveries in place shouldn’t be too big of a problem — standard affair. Xposed, too, is available for Kirin devices. While there are ways in which the software of the Honor 8 can be modified to improve without outright replacing EMUI, AOSP ROMs will remain a goal for the rest of the device’s lifespan. We encourage developers to keep track of our efforts to convince Huawei and Honor to open up the Kirin platform to the world.

As for future-proofing, the Honor 8 comes with the necessary specifications to ensure a few years of comfortable usage, with only a couple of aspects like the GPU and storage sticking out. Moreover, Honor promises guaranteed updates for two years, with 12 months of guaranteed feature updates with the possible extension to the full 24 months, and then support for further critical bug or security patches after that. We hope that Honor stands true to this promise, as other OEMs recently have not, and do manage to deliver timely updates to the Honor 8 and other devices.

Conclusion

The Honor 8 comes at one of today’s most competitive price brackets, with devices like the OnePlus 3 and Axon 7 bringing serious heat to the kitchen. The existence of other affordable flagships of such caliber make it much tougher to recommend the Honor 8 universally, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a key demographic that the device can specifically target. Indeed, while the 3 phones share much in common – powerful internals, premium designs – they offer different experiences for different people, and this is ultimately what will be the biggest deciding factor.

The Honor 8 does indeed pack flagship hardware, and while the base model’s 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM available outside of the US does fall short against OnePlus and ZTE’s mighty offerings, the more-marketed 4GB variants offers enough hardware to deliver a flagship experience. There is also one key difference that might allure different demographics, and that’s form factor. The Honor 8 is a small device, the bezels are adequate and in-hand feel is solid. For those looking forward to enjoying a smaller screen, the 5.2 inch screen Honor 8 will be one of the few attractive options in this bracket. Sadly enough, the smaller form factor has been increasingly abandoned and for $400, aiming at the 5.5 inch form factor is likely a much safer bet for OEMs.

If you are looking for a pretty phone, the Honor 8 should catch your eye. Those wanting for a powerful smartphone with plenty of features will find both good and bad in the Honor 8.

The design of the phone does achieve a premium feel, and it does not sacrifice usability nor much in the way of durability in doing so. There are good design elements such as the lack of camera protrusion, seamless transitions, interesting light-reflecting patterns which ultimately make the Honor 8 stand-out (and slide away) among competitors, but the glass back is prone to fingerprints on some variants, and while the device is sturdy, drops or significant scratches will render the device much uglier and/or less practical than it’s supposed to be. But Honor has achieved a good construction with traditionally expensive materials here, with a degree of execution that we wouldn’t expect until we reach the higher flagship price brackets. If you are looking for a pretty phone, the Honor 8 should catch your eye with no need for this review’s explanation of its design.

That said, those wanting for a powerful smartphone with plenty of features will find both good and bad in the Honor 8. The device is plenty fast, with one of the most efficient CPU’s in the market in both peak and prolonged performance. The Honor 8 is further optimized to be fast and fluid, and I can honestly say that it stands up to the OnePlus 3, Nexus 6P and other real-world performance giants in this particular regard. The amount of features that EMUI offers is indeed staggering, but the software is not for everyone. It is one of the furthest-from-Stock ROMs out there, and those who cannot tolerate OEMs meddling with Google’s vision would definitely find a lot to be offended about here. There are theming and customization options, but none of them can make the Honor 8 look quite like Google’s Android. Too many elements have been too modified to be restored through themes, and conflicting items and design languages remain even when pushing theming to its limits.

While the audio-visual experience of the Honor 8 isn’t particularly impressive – and nobody really expects that out of such a small screen – the camera is one of the most noteworthy aspects of this device. It is capable of very impressive stills, although video has some way to go. But the quality you get in your pictures out of the dual camera setup is competitive across the breach between its price bracket and the more expensive phones. The Honor 8 is simply one of the better devices out there for camera stills, and the many features it brings ensure you have enough options to play and create with.

But then we have the fact that, at the moment, the Honor 8 does not have the best development potential. This is simply a shame given the prowess of its processing package, its attractive and somewhat-niche form factor, and the fact the EMUI is one of the main deferring factors for enthusiasts. But we can confirm that Honor has been listening to our claims, and that they tell us they would like to embrace the developer community of XDA. We cannot make conclusive statements yet, but know that we will be working with Honor in order to make the Honor 8 – and subsequently, other Honor devices as well – more developer-friendly, easier to tinker, and a better canvas for the community. Once more, we have forwarded our requests for the opening and documentation of the Kirin platform, and we suggest you follow that development closely when considering the Honor 8 — we will keep you updated.

The Honor 8 is indeed worthy of the flagship title — it’s good looking, it’s powerful, it’s capable.

In summary, the Honor 8 is indeed worthy of the flagship title. There is no clear-cut shortcoming in the hardware that would make the average consumer give it a second look — it’s good looking, it’s powerful, it’s capable. It’s what runs through its silicon that makes the Honor 8 less of an instant pick when the competition aims to target similar audiences through other means. The OnePlus 3 in particular has garnered a spectacular and merited response, but its userbase does not fully overlap with the Honor 8’s. If you are looking for a smaller form factor with capable specifications and a solid camera, the Honor 8 is one of the few options left at that bracket, and certainly the best one you can get. It’s when users prefer bigger form factors or have no preference, or really value Stock Android or the already-established development potential of other brands, that the calculation becomes muddier for the Honor 8.

I can personally say this: it is a nice device with very little to hate as far as hardware goes, and while I am not the biggest fan of EMUI, it has become more tolerable and flexible than in the past — enough to entice me to keep using this phone after my review period, particularly due to the small form factor. It’s not a phone I would pick for work or as an all-purpose smartphone precisely due to the small screen, though, but it’s certainly a good mostly-uncompromised smartphone. EMUI was and remains one of the more controversial points about this device, as is development. But for the price, the Honor 8 is still extremely competitive, in many ways surpassing its fiercest opponents, yet sadly trailing behind in the key aspects that make phones like the OnePlus 3 such a hit with our community. Development for the Honor 8, and all future Kirin devices, is something we will be working towards with Honor; as it stands, the Honor 8 is still a great piece of hardware that is worthy of the flagship title. But as we say in every review: whether it is worthy of your wallet is only something you, the customer, can truly decide.


Honor 8 Store PageXDA Honor HubXDA’s Honor 8 Forum >>

by Mario Tomás Serrafero at August 27, 2016 03:06 AM

(Update – Verizon Too) A Rooted Build for the Note7 on Sprint Has Been Released

Update – It did not take long for it to expand to other variants.

The Verizon Note7 has also been rooted using the same below leaked build. There are some important differences so be sure to follow the instructions. You also will be dumping all Verizon features and essentially running a “Sprint” phone since they share the same basic hardware. If that could have issues with connectivity, applications, etc down the road is yet to be seen. If you are ready to jump in just go through the link and get started, be sure to thank your local XDA devs for never failing to surprise.

– Verizon Source

– Sprint Source


Original Article – Say it ain’t so, hardly a week after release the Samsung Galaxy Note7 has been rooted for Sprint users, in a manner of speaking.

Super Leaky Bros. and XDA Developer Freeza posted late yesterday that root was achieved. However, root is only available on a Userdebug build that was leaked and publically released yesterday afternoon. The upcoming build PH3 is an update to the currently shipping PGC build and carries the August security patch.

What is a Userdebug build? Freeza explains:

Well, it is a version in the Samsung testing phase, like engineering, except not as good, that allows the software team to test updates before presenting them to carriers. It includes many more binaries than the stock ROM for debugging purposes.

They also go on to explain you will not be able to use Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or update to any officially available software versions and your data will be wiped. Full Root and Xposed functionality is supported, however since the bootloader remains locked, it does not support TWRP. This comes with a side benefit, you will not trip Knox either.

Further, there is a lengthy process to getting this build on your phone which involves usage of ODIN, ADB and following a series of very specific instructions. As always, it is highly likely that you could wind up into a non-booting state if you fail to follow the instructions precisely so read through it a number of times prior to flashing.

This does not mean custom ROM’s are coming any time soon. The bootloader is still locked restricting modifications to the kernel and recovery. As long as those remain locked, we will only see modifications of this sorts of Userdebug builds that leak out. But if root is achieved through other methods, you know where you will hear about it first!

What about other carriers? Forum moderator bajasur states “I believe the equivalent Tmo files are out in the wild…”

So Sprint Note7 users will you be running these Userdebug builds for a taste of root? What about other carriers, is it worth it to flash and run one of these builds on your daily driver for root? Let us know in the comments!

by Daniel Marchena at August 27, 2016 03:00 AM

Zero Hedge

Introducing America's Winningest Political Candidate: "Lesser Evil"

Authored by Ben Tanosborn,

Why, I am constantly being asked by my overseas peers, do you Americans have such affection for a creepy old pretender, a political candidate who’s been around forever, and all he has done is have his way with you?  Does the “me-or-else” political ultimatum award Lesser Evil license to govern and rape?  Whether dressed as Tweedledee or as Tweedledum, Lesser Evil righteously appears to so think; adding one more rosary bid in our march towards the 2016 presidential election… just as it happened in 2012 and, as I tap into my memory, to all other quadrennials before then. 

Enter the protagonists this year playing the part of Lesser Evil: Clinton and Trump; both well experienced in deceit, one consistently showing signs of being a truly consummate sociopath, while the other disguises a different strain of the same affliction reasonably well.  Both candidates pied-pipering away to their immutable, loyal following which approximate in each case almost a quarter of the electorate; leaving us, the remaining half-plus, trying to determine who of these two becomes our least distrusted psychopath to lead America  in all domestic and foreign affairs:  our faithful but not so beloved Lesser Evil, of course.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans have party memberships which come close to having a reasonable cross-section of the population in the two critical areas that divide the nation: race and economics… not remotely!  And that fact alone, like never before in America’s history, poses insurmountable problems in governing, and brings a constant impasse which does not lend itself to negotiation, much less compromise.  It also adds serious impediments in selecting, or compromisingly-accepting, leadership that can be respected, if not accepted, by a society with a true common ground.

Hillary’s ascent to the Democratic nomination is a vivid example of how a likely-to-lose general election candidate – had the GOP nominated a sane conservative – prevailed over Honest Bernie.  Not only was the DNC unequivocally proven to be in Hillary’s safe pocket, something for which there has been little to none media/public outrage, but the scoundrelous Clintons also had the old clique of black community and church leaders in their fist, totally and irrationally influencing the primary vote.  And I say irrationally on the basis that Bernie Sanders would likely have proven to be a far superior advocate for blacks on all fronts.  Sad bottom line for the Democratic Party: had black voters equally supported Hillary and Bernie, and the party elite not cast their preference for Hillary Clinton before the primaries, Senator Sanders would have walked away with the party’s nomination hands down, not Clinton. Sanders, who had been “allowed” entrance to the primaries by the Democratic hierarchy as a political side show, tainted with the political scarlet letter in the US – S for Socialist, just could not be permitted to represent the Democratic Party in what its hierarchy likely saw a suicide candidacy.  So Sanders was mercifully put to pasture as a party’s beast of burden, not as a racehorse.

In similar vein, had the bigopat crowd (angry bigoted patriots) not found a pied-piper in born-again Republican Trump, a non-conservative self-serving billionaire, a conservative nominee would have emerged from the ranks of the Republican career politicians; in much the same fashion as Hillary’s crown had been placed on Bill’s political queen.  Not that it would have made much difference in America’s non-democratic binary politics!  Once again, much-raped America will always have a prospective escort, old-and-creepy Lesser Evil, to take her to the Quadrennial Cotillion.   

I have often been told by my peers overseas, mostly in a discreet and constructive way that our lack of civic/political involvement in government might have inflicted on us our just deserts.  But if we have been politically indigent in the past, perhaps due partly or wholly to our privileged economic condition vis-a-vis much of the world, circumstances thrust upon us, while unprepared and in full force against the whirlwind of globalization need to be reevaluated and changed.  Politicians of both parties have been extremely careless and derelict in their approach to globalization.

To summarily complete the division in America, traditional politics (politicians) also fail to acknowledge the strident racial disharmony which still permeates the nation.  Such racial disharmony is treated in the same blind-deaf-mute way we treat the existence of the metric system; hoping that they both hopefully disappear, effortlessly in our part.

The political duopoly in America simply does not work; nor does it offer hope, a future for a cohesive society.  It may have reasonably worked in the past because of our very gifted, blessed economic advantages… but those advantages are either gone or exiting fast.  If we are looking for a brighter, more optimistic future for all, and not just 20 percent knights and squires in our population, America needs to bring to the political table OTHER people and ideas, not just continue with the same Demo-Repugnancy, that will enlarge our political wisdom and give us a pathway to reach physical and economic well-being as well as provide a moral compass for all.

A corporate media that would force bringing Greens and Libertarians to the presidential debates in 2016 would forever find its penitential-redeeming place in America’s history.

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 02:30 AM

"Subramanian Swamy" - Google News

Subramanian Swamy comes to the rescue of AskMe employees - DNA - Daily News & Analysis


Daily News & Analysis

Subramanian Swamy comes to the rescue of AskMe employees - DNA
Daily News & Analysis
Around 4,000 employees of Getit Infoservices Private Ltd, which operates e-commerce businesses under AskMe brand and is on the verge of closure, have got a ...
Government should step in to prevent Ask.me from shutting down ...Times of India

all 2 news articles »

August 27, 2016 02:27 AM

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

basic computing help needed (Cardiff)

Need entry level computing help in my home (cardiff). I use a PC but also have many apple devices (iphone, ipad, etc). I need someone 2-3 hours a week on weeknight evenings to come to my home help me do basic computing tasks - search web, make purcha [...]

August 27, 2016 02:08 AM

Boy Genius Report

These ‘Captain America: Civil War’ bloopers will brighten up your weekend

Captain America: Civil War Bloopers
Next week is going to be exceptionally busy, with Apple slated to reveal the iPhone 7 and Sony preparing to announce a slim PS4 alongside a "high-end" PS4. For those of us who cover the worlds of technology and entertainment, it's important to relieve as much stress as possible the weekend before big events, which is why I'm watching this new Captain America: Civil War blooper reel on repeat.

(more…)

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by Jacob Siegal at August 27, 2016 02:00 AM

Zero Hedge

How The Hillary 'Victory Fund' Uses State Democratic Committees To Launder Money To The DNC

Is the Hillary Victory Fund using state democratic committees to launder donations from wealthy individuals to the Democratic National Committee?  Evidence gathered by Bloomberg would certainly seem to suggest so.

So how does it work?  Campaign finance laws specifically restrict the amount of money any single person can give to individual candidates ($2,700), a party's various state committees ($10,000) as well as a party's national committee ($33,400).  In theory, therefore, that would imply a person would be capped out at $46,100 if he contributed the max his Presidential candidate, his party's national committee and his party's state committee.  But, that's just a narrow "interpretation" of the "intent" of the campaign finance laws and Hillary isn't really all about "intent"...just ask FBI Director Comey.   

So, the Hillary Victory Fund has come up with a clever way to use state democratic committees (of which there are 33) as money-laundering tools to effectively increase the amount that can be contributed to the Democratic National Committee from $33,400 to $363,400 (it's only like 1,000% more than intended). 

How do they do it?  Well, the rules say that a single person can only contribute $10,000 to any one State.  That said, they don't restrict people from contributing $10,000 to multiple states.  Moreover, there are no restrictions on transfers of funds from Democratic State Committees to the Democratic National Committee.  See where we're going with this? 

Effectively the Hillary Victory Fund acts as a "bundler" which collects large donations from wealthy investors.  Per the diagram below, contributions are then maxed out to "Hillary For President" and the "Democratic National Committee."  Any remaining funds are then spliced up and sent in $10,000 increments to the 33 different State Democratic Committees.  That said, the state committees simply act as flow through entities which subsequently pass the contributions from the Hillary Victory Fund along to the Democratic National Committee.  Isn't that neat? 

The beauty of this system, of course, is that once the money is aggregated at the Democratic National Committee it becomes very "flexible."  The DNC can then use that money to support Hillary and/or any of a number of contentious races in any state it wants (e.g. battleground states). 

Hillary Victory Fund

 

At this point, you're probably thinking this is just another Hillary conspiracy theory...surely none of this can be proven, right?  Well, actually it's pretty easy to track and is happening fairly regularly in the Democratic Party.  Bloomberg provided the following example tracking a $343,400 donation from hedge fund manager, Donald Sussman, which was made to the Hillary Victory Fund on March 25, 2016.  In April, the maximum of $33,400 of Sussman's donation was transferred to the Democratic National Committee.  Then on April 25, 2016, another $10,000 (again the per state maximum) of Sussman's money was transferred to the South Carolina Democratic State Committee along with $169,000 of money from other donors.  Wouldn't you know it, that very same day the South Carolina Democratic State Committee passed the full $179,000 on to the Democratic National Committee.  Almost like the donation caps never existed!

 

Hillary Victory Fund

 

In fact, Bloomberg found that 83% of all money distributed by State Democratic Committees to the National Committee originated from donors that had already maxed out their $33,400 contributions to the DNC.

Hillary Victory Fund

 

That said, as Robert Kelner of Covington & Burling points out, what the Hillary Victory Fund is doing isn't technically illegal. Sure, it probably violates the "intent" of the law but we're not gonna split hairs are we?

“I’m not aware of any case law or regulations that would prohibit a state party from transferring to a national party committee funds raised through a joint fundraising committee,” Robert Kelner, an election law expert at Covington & Burling said. “But as a practical matter, it does appear that the DNC may be using Hillary Victory Fund as a mechanism for allowing donors to give more to the DNC indirectly than would otherwise be permitted directly.”

Oddly enough, Bloomberg pointed out that there is no evidence of similar activities within the Republican National Committee.

There’s no sign that the Republicans are following the same strategy. Donald Trump’s joint fundraising committee has yet to transfer any money to the 11 state Republican parties that are part of the arrangement.

So there you go folks.  Don't you feel proud to be an American?

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 02:00 AM

76-Year-Old Veteran Kills Himself In VA Parking Lot After Being Denied Treatment

Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,

A 76-year-old military veteran killed himself outside a Long Island Veteran Affairs facility Sunday after being denied treatment. He was reportedly seeking help for mental health issues at the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center but was turned away, an unfortunately common experience plaguing veterans seeking healthcare in recent years.

According to the New York Times, two people connected to the hospital spoke about the incident on the condition of anonymity. They explained he had been frustrated that he was unable to see an emergency-room physician for reasons related to his mental health,” the Times reported.

He went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one anonymous source said.And then he went to his car and shot himself.

Peter A. Kaisen of Islip, New York, committed suicide in the parking lot of the Northport facility, where he had been a patient. He was in the parking lot outside Building 92, the facility’s nursing home, when he shot himself.

One of the Times’ anonymous sources questioned why Kaisen had not been referred to Building 64, the mental health center at Northport.

The staff member said that while there was normally no psychologist at the ready in the E.R., one was always on call, and that the mental health building was open ‘24/7,’” the Times reported.

 

Someone dropped the ball. They should not have turned him away,” the source said.

Christopher Goodman, a spokesman for the hospital, said there “was no indication that he presented to the E.R. prior to the incident,” and the Times was unable to determine whether there was an official record of his visit to the VA on Sunday.

The Northport center has faced heightened scrutiny since the Times reported on mismanagement at the facility in 2014, but the problems at Northport are problems of the entire system.

Just last month, an Iowa military veteran suffering from PTSD and substance abuse killed himself after being denied treatment by the VA. He reportedly made an appointment seeking treatment but eventually posted on social media that he was turned away “even though he requested it and explained to a doctor that he felt his safety and health were in jeopardy,KWQC, a local news outlet reported.

One veteran who drove to a Seattle VA last year with a broken foot was denied assistance walking from his car to the hospital entrance, a distance of a few feet. He was told to call 911, instead. One gun-wielding veteran with PTSD was shot and killed by police in Maricopa County, Arizona, last year after he was turned away from the VA hospital when he sought treatment for a mental health emergency. He had routinely called suicide hotlines for help but never received the full attention he needed.

Veteran suicides in the United States are a chronic problem. Though some argue the relatively recent figure from the VA that 22 veterans kill themselves per day is inflated, veterans still face a suicide risk higher than the rest of the American population. As USA Today has noted:

In 2014, veterans accounted for 18% of all suicides in the United States, but made up only 8.5% of the population. In 2010, veterans accounted for 22% of U.S. suicides and 9.7% of the population.

Further, a more recent analysis by the VA found that in 2014, 20 veterans killed themselves per day. Politifact, an independent fact-checker, has confirmed this figure. While rates of veteran suicides appear to be declining, the figures are still troubling.

Even absent mental health issues like depression and PTSD, veterans are dying waiting for regular health care. A VA whistleblower revealed last year that 238,000 out of 847,000 veterans died after submitting requests for treatment they never received. An audit in 2014 found 57,000 veterans were waiting more than 90 days for an appointment with the VA.

The United States government, politicians, and the media often express compassion and gratitude for veterans. To their credit, some lawmakers recently attempted to allow veterans to use cannabis as an alternative treatment in an amendment to a budget bill — a move Congress ultimately blocked.

But in spite of failed and often unwieldy efforts to reform veterans’ health care, the VA’s systemic failures continue to leave veterans feeling ignored and abandoned by the very institutions that still claim to value them.

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 01:45 AM

Stunning Maps Depict Collapse Of Obamacare "Coverage" In 2017

Remember when Obama toured around the country telling everyone that Obamacare was going to increase competition and lower premiums?  If not, here is an example to help jog your memory (comments taken from Obama remarks delivered at Prince George's Community College on 9/26/13):

Now, this is real simple.  It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans, side-by-side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak -- (laughter) -- same way you shop for a TV on Amazon.  You just go on and you start looking, and here are all the options.

 

It’s buying insurance on the private market, but because now you’re part of a big group plan -- everybody in Maryland is all logging in and taking a look at the prices -- you’ve got new choices.  Now you've got new competition, because insurers want your business.  And that means you will have cheaper prices.  (Applause.)

Well, as we've pointed out numerous times things are not really playing out as Obama had hoped with premiums skyrocketing (see "Obamacare On "Verge Of Collapse" As Premiums Set To Soar Again In 2017") and "competition" collapsing (see "Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Warns Obamacare "Very Near Collapse"").

The two maps below prove that point beautifully by illustrating the epic collapse of Obamacare coverage in just 1 year.  A collapse that will leave a stunning number of people across the country with only 1 option for health insurance.  Meanwhile, healthcare shoppers in Pinal
County, Arizona will actually be left with no options in 2017 as all carriers have abandoned service there. (charts per the New York Times)

 

2016 healthcare insurance carriers by county:

Obamacare 2016

 

2017 healthcare insurance carriers by county:

Obamacare 2017

 

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to insist that all is well with the Affordable Care Act.  Per the New York Times:

The Obama administration says it is too early to evaluate competition in the Obamacare markets for 2017. Marjorie Connolly, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said: “A number of steps remain before the full picture of marketplace competition and prices are known. Regardless, we remain confident that the majority of marketplace consumers will have multiple choices and will be able to select a plan for less than $75 per month when Open Enrollment begins Nov. 1.”

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 01:41 AM

TmoNews

T-Mobile refreshes Software Updates page for Android 7.0 Nougat

Following last year’s launch of Android 6.0, T-Mobile refreshed its Software Updates page to name 17 devices that would be updated to Marshmallow. Now that Android 7.0 is out, T-Mo has done the same for Nougat. T-Mobile’s Software Updates page is now Nougat-ified, complete with a Nougat theme and several devices that are expected to be updated to Android 7.0. The nine phones that are currently listed on T-Mo’s Nougat update page are: HTC 10 ... [read full article]

The post T-Mobile refreshes Software Updates page for Android 7.0 Nougat appeared first on TmoNews.

by Alex Wagner at August 27, 2016 01:30 AM

Wired Top Stories

Security News This Week: Hillary Clinton Didn’t Delete Her Emails, She Super Deleted Them

Security News This Week: Hillary Clinton Didn’t Delete Her Emails, She Super Deleted Them
Each Saturday we round up the news stories that we didn’t break or cover in depth at WIRED, but which deserve your attention nonetheless. The post Security News This Week: Hillary Clinton Didn't Delete Her Emails, She Super Deleted Them appeared first on WIRED.

by Lily Hay Newman at August 27, 2016 01:30 AM

Zero Hedge

The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up On Empire

Submitted by Mike Whitney via Counterpunch.org,

The main architect of Washington’s plan to rule the world has abandoned the scheme and called for the forging of ties with Russia and China. While Zbigniew Brzezinski’s article in The American Interest titled “Towards a Global Realignment” has largely been ignored by the media, it shows that powerful members of the policymaking establishment no longer believe that Washington will prevail in its quest to extent US hegemony across the Middle East and Asia. Brzezinski, who was the main proponent of this idea and who drew up the blueprint for imperial expansion in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, has done an about-face and called for a dramatic revising of the strategy. Here’s an excerpt from the article in the AI:

As its era of global dominance ends, the United States needs to take the lead in realigning the global power architecture.

 

Five basic verities regarding the emerging redistribution of global political power and the violent political awakening in the Middle East are signaling the coming of a new global realignment.

 

The first of these verities is that the United States is still the world’s politically, economically, and militarily most powerful entity but, given complex geopolitical shifts in regional balances, it is no longer the globally imperial power.”

 

(Toward a Global Realignment, Zbigniew Brzezinski, The American Interest)

Repeat: The US is “no longer the globally imperial power.” Compare this assessment to a statement Brzezinski made years earlier in Chessboard when he claimed the US was ” the world’s paramount power.”

“…The last decade of the twentieth century has witnessed a tectonic shift in world affairs. For the first time ever, a non-Eurasian power has emerged not only as a key arbiter of Eurasian power relations but also as the world’s paramount power. The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power.” (“The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives,” Zbigniew Brzezinski, Basic Books, 1997, p. xiii)

Here’s more from the article in the AI:

“The fact is that there has never been a truly “dominant” global power until the emergence of America on the world scene….. The decisive new global reality was the appearance on the world scene of America as simultaneously the richest and militarily the most powerful player. During the latter part of the 20th century no other power even came close. That era is now ending.” (AI)

But why is “that era is now ending”? What’s changed since 1997 when Brzezinski referred to the US as the “world’s paramount power”?

Brzezinski points to the rise of Russia and China, the weakness of Europe and the “violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims” as the proximate causes of this sudden reversal. His comments on Islam are particularly instructive in that he provides a rational explanation for terrorism rather than the typical government boilerplate about “hating our freedoms.” To his credit, Brzezinski sees the outbreak of terror as the “welling up of historical grievances” (from “deeply felt sense of injustice”) not as the mindless violence of fanatical psychopaths.

Naturally, in a short 1,500-word article, Brzezniski can’t cover all the challenges (or threats) the US might face in the future. But it’s clear that what he’s most worried about is the strengthening of economic, political and military ties between Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the other Central Asian states. This is his main area of concern, in fact, he even anticipated this problem in 1997 when he wrote Chessboard. Here’s what he said:

“Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America’s status as a global power.” (p.55)

 

“…To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” (p.40)

“…prevent collusion…among the vassals.” That says it all, doesn’t it?

The Obama administration’s reckless foreign policy, particularly the toppling of governments in Libya and Ukraine, has greatly accelerated the rate at which these anti-American coalitions have formed. In other words, Washington’s enemies have emerged in response to Washington’s behavior. Obama can only blame himself.

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has responded to the growing threat of regional instability and the placing of NATO forces on Russia’s borders by strengthening alliances with countries on Russia’s perimeter and across the Middle East. At the same time, Putin and his colleagues in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries have established an alternate banking system (BRICS Bank and AIIB) that will eventually challenge the dollar-dominated system that is the source of US global power. This is why Brzezinski has done a quick 180 and abandoned the plan for US hegemony; it is because he is concerned about the dangers of a non-dollar-based system arising among the developing and unaligned countries that would replace the western Central Bank oligopoly. If that happens, then the US will lose its stranglehold on the global economy and the extortionist system whereby fishwrap greenbacks are exchanged for valuable goods and services will come to an end.

Unfortunately, Brzezinski’s more cautious approach is not likely to be followed by presidential-favorite Hillary Clinton who is a firm believer in imperial expansion through force of arms. It was Clinton who first introduced “pivot” to the strategic lexicon in a speech she gave in 2010 titled “America’s Pacific Century”. Here’s an excerpt from the speech that appeared in Foreign Policy magazine:

“As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region…

 

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

 

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”

(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

Compare Clinton’s speech to comments Brzezinski made in Chessboard 14 years earlier:

“For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… (p.30)….. Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. ….About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for 60 per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources.” (p.31)

The strategic objectives are identical, the only difference is that Brzezinski has made a course correction based on changing circumstances and the growing resistance to US bullying, domination and sanctions. We have not yet reached the tipping point for US primacy, but that day is fast approaching and Brzezinski knows it.

In contrast, Clinton is still fully-committed to expanding US hegemony across Asia. She doesn’t understand the risks this poses for the country or the world. She’s going to persist with the interventions until the US war-making juggernaut is stopped dead-in-its-tracks which, judging by her hyperbolic rhetoric, will probably happen some time in her first term.

Brzezinski presents a rational but self-serving plan to climb-down, minimize future conflicts, avoid a nuclear conflagration and preserve the global order. (aka–The “dollar system”) But will bloodthirsty Hillary follow his advice?

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 01:30 AM

Mugabe Orders Arrest Of "Rats We Call Athletes" After Zimbabwe Wins No Olympic Medals

It appears Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was banking on a precious metal inflow from Rio to fix his nation's ailing economy as he has ordered the arrest of all 31 Zimbabwean Olympic athletes arrested and detained for daring to return home with no medals.

Zimbabwe which is one of the countries in the Olympics without a medal presented a team of 31 athletes. The closest any of the athletes came to win a contest was at the 8th position.

As PMNews Nigeria reports, Mr. Mugabe who is incensed with the team’s performance told the Police Chief to arrest all the team members and detain them.

“We have wasted the country’s money on these rats we call athletes. If you are not ready to sacrifice and win even copper or brass medals (referring the 4th and 5th positions) as our neighbors Botswana did, then why do you go to waste our money” he said.

 

If we needed people to just go to Brazil to sing our national anthem and hoist our flag, we would have sent some of the beautiful girls and handsome guys from University of Zimbabwe to represent us.”

 

He added that, the money invested in the team to represent the country could have been used to provide amenities and build schools.

 

This situation is like an impotent man who is married to five women, what is the essence? I will make sure we share the cost across board for all of them to pay back to government chest even if it takes 10 years to recoup, now it turns out to be a soft loan we have given them to go and visit Brazil as tourist, they are useless” he concluded.

While we doubt Mugabe ever cared much for the Olympic spirit, with this one act (and we are still having trouble believing Mugabe actually did this) Zimbabwe's dictator has doomed his country to having no future olympians at all.

When (or if) any of these Zimbabwean athletes get out of jail, maybe it's time to emigrate to Singapore?

Infographic: Some Athletes Are Chasing Huge Gold Medal Bonuses | Statista

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 01:15 AM

The Big Picture

2 Performances, 47 Years Apart

A friend emails: In 1957, The Diamonds had a hit with “Little Darlin” 47 years later, they were requested to perform at Atlantic City… Watch the 1957 performance, then the performance that took place 47 years later (2004). The Diamonds are a Canadian vocal quartet that rose to prominence in the 1950s and early 1960s…

Read More

The post 2 Performances, 47 Years Apart appeared first on The Big Picture.

by Barry Ritholtz at August 27, 2016 01:00 AM

Zero Hedge

Japanese Government Squanders Pension Funds On Failed Stocks As Losses Reach $130 Billion In Past Year

Nearly two years ago we wrote about how the largest pension fund in the world had been hijacked by political hacks in what would be a futile effort to prop up stocks in the "first failed Keynesian state, Japan."  The post came in response to Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund announcing that it would slash its fixed income portfolio to double its target allocation to domestic and foreign equities, in essence, going outright long Central Banks.       

Once upon a time, the world's biggest government pension fund, Japan's $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund, or GPIF, was apolitical, and merely focused on preserving the people's wealth.

 

Then everything changed, and with the reckless abandon of a junkie on a crack cocaine binge, aka Abenomics, the GPIF management was kicked out, and its entire mandate was flipped from preserving wealth, to gambling on #Ref! P/E stocks, in hopes of recreating the wealth effect of the super-rich (the only problem: Japan has reached its breaking point and the higher the USDJPY, and thus the Nikkei rises, the more the BOJ directly destroys its economy with an already record number of bankruptcies due to the plunging Yen getting recorder).

 

Worst of all, the GPIF became nothing short of the latest political pawn in what is now the the first failed Keynesian state, Japan.

 

Unfortunately, for Japan, and its tens of millions of pensioners, the only news here is simple: the entire country is now held hostage by Japan's last-gasp attempt to prove Monetarist and Keynesian policies work. Because, said otherwise, "Abenomics better work, or else all your pensions are toast."

Then, last month after the GPIF reported it's biggest fiscal year loss since the "great recession", a mere 5.3 trillion yen ($53 billion), we asked whether the pension fund had finally learned it's lesson.  Would fund managers finally resort back to their original goal or preserving retiree wealth or continue in their failed efforts to prop up Japanese stocks.  Alas, we concluded that maintaining the status quo was the most likely path forward.  

So with Abenomics careening off the cliff and headed for a traumatic death, and with Kuroda having become the laughing stock of central bank circles, has Japan finally learned its lesson? Will the GPIF rotate out of money-losing stocks and back into bonds which are currently trading at record high prices? According to Morgan Stanley, the answer is not a chance, for the simple reason that as a result of an upcoming asset rebalancing, the GPIF will have no choice but to buy even more money-losing stocks.

Which brings us to today and the announcement of further staggering losses on the $1.3 trillion portfolio of the GPIF.  Today the pension announced it lost 5.2 trillion yen ($52 billion) in 2Q 2016, or roughly 4% of their 129.7 trillion yen ($1.3 trillion) in assets.  Not to rub it in too much, but that brings the rolling 4Q losses to an aggregate of nearly 13 trillion yen or $130 billion.

Japan Pension

 

As Bloomberg points out, GPIF held 21 percent of investments in local stocks at the end of June, and 39 percent in domestic bonds. Overseas equities made up 21 percent of assets, while foreign debt accounted for 13 percent. Alternative investments were 0.05 percent of holdings, down from 0.06 percent at the end of March. GPIF targets allocations of 25 percent each for Japanese and overseas stocks, 35 percent for local bonds and 15 percent for foreign debt.

Therefore, GPIF returns are not terribly surprising given that ~21% of assets, or $275BN, are allocated to Japanese equities which haven't performed all that well over the past year.  In fact, Japanese stocks are down about 22% in the past 12 months which represents about $60BN of losses or 4.5% of GPIF assets.  

 

TOPIX

 

In case you're the "hopelessly optimistic" type, the Wall Street Journal points out the GPIF has no intentions of admitting failure and reverting back to a reasonable asset allocation model that might have some hope in preserving pensions for Japan's retirees.  No, as deputy director-general of investment strategy, Shinichiro Mori, points out, the GPIF will maintain the status quo as "stock markets are on a recovery trend.

Shinichiro Mori, the GPIF’s deputy director-general of investment strategy, said that in the current quarter, strong U.S. jobs data for June helped stock markets and Brexit fears have subsided.

 

The markets have since restored stability, and I believe stock markets are on a recovery trend. In the meantime, the exchange rate, the dollar/yen rate, is still flat. We are going to carefully monitor its movements going forward,” Mr. Mori said.

 

Mr. Mori said it would be hard to achieve the target for investment return by investing primarily in domestic bonds because their yields are low and there is a risk of bond prices dropping from current high levels. The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yielded minus 0.075% in Friday afternoon trading. Bond yields and prices move in the opposite direction.

 

“In the short term, there is greater volatility in return rates for our portfolio, but since we invest for the long term, it’d be easier to achieve the investment goal required for the pension system” with the current allocation, Mr. Mori said.

Well, if at first you don't succeed...

by Tyler Durden at August 27, 2016 01:00 AM

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

Work From Home Customer Service Reps

BMF-NC Contracting is looking for Customer Service Reps to work Remotely for Fortune 500 Clients. As a Client Support Professional, you will be responsible for servicing clients by taking inbound customer support, billing and basic technical support [...]

August 27, 2016 12:56 AM

Philip Greenspun's Weblog

Can someone explain why Hillary Clinton and her fans are upset about the EpiPen price?

My Facebook feed is alive with Hillary Clinton fans complaining about the price of an EpiPen and also about the high income of the CEO of the company that makes the EpiPen. Here are some samples:

It’s one thing for a new experimental drug to be expensive to pay for all the failed attempts. Makes perfect sense. But buying up long established technology that by all rights should have come off patent by now and price gouging consumers is just hideous and I don’t think you want to be defending that kind of behavior? The original epipen patent is from 1977. Patent lengthening is one of many games pharma companies play to extend their monopolies as long as possible. As for regulation preventing competitors, safety matters, otherwise any snake oil salesman could sell you a would be epipen (see e.g opioid epidemic). So making blanket claims against regulation doesn’t really help here. This is a specific example of this problem and it could be solved by the government treating it as an unfair monopoly and forcing them to break it up by e.g. licensing their remaining patents to competitors.

[after a commenter pointed out that competitors couldn’t get FDA approval for their devices] Maybe, but we still have anti-trust laws. Whether the market or government regulations prevent competition is irrelevant. At some point the greater good requires the destruction of the monopoly.

[after a question about why there isn’t competition] Various alternatives have been tried but none have passed regulatory muster. Free-market zealots like to depict this sequence of events as “government regulations killed the competition.” Consumer safety advocates might use a different spin on the same phenomenon: “government regulators prevented inferior and potentially unsafe alternatives from hurting consumers.” Who’s right? Who cares? If there is a monopoly, and if the current product is the only version deemed safe and effective, nothing prevents the government from forcing the monopoly to break apart. Two companies selling the identical product could still drive down prices, just as is the case with e.g. automobiles (is a Honda Accord really that different form a Toyota Camri?). The original patent expired long ago, but follow-on patents allow the monopoly to artificially continue. The drug itself is dirt cheap but a rapid and safe delivery mechanism is critical to efficacy.

Monopoly is defined by pricing power. In this case the company happens to be abusing the patent system. But that’s irrelevant. The evidence is not that they have a patent, the evidence is that they are price gouging, and that no reasonable competition exists or can come into existence quickly enough to prevent them from price gouging. The government is under no obligation to protect your monopoly just because you have a patent. The government can decide that you have recouped your investment and profit and are now just exploiting the patent system at the expense of consumers.

Friends who love to complain that women don’t get paid as much as men (i.e., that you could make near-infinite money by starting a company that hired only women) then began to complain about Heather Bresch, the CEO of Mylan, getting paid $19 million in one year. Yet their complaint was not that, like virtually all other American women, underpaid. Apparently, despite having successfully moved Mylan to the low-tax Netherlands via an inversion, Bresch was overpaid.

[Given her family connections to the rich and powerful, could she have made more money without working at all? Wikipedia says that she has four children so let’s assume she wanted four children and had each of those kids with a different father, thus maximizing child support profits. Assuming that she keeps $10 million after taxes each year, she needs to get $2.5 million from each father in order to match her Mylan income. If she could have had sex with four men, each earning $14.7 million per year, in Wisconsin, for example (child support is 17 percent of gross income, without limit), she could have matched her most recent Mylan compensation.]

Hillary Clinton says “I am calling on Mylan to immediately reduce the price of EpiPens.” (statement)

How can we explain this? The same folks who want The Great Father in Washington to regulate drugs are now objecting to a company being compensated for navigating the regulatory labyrinth? People who think The Great Father in Washington should give out monopolies via patents object to whatever particular monopoly enables the EpiPen to sell at a high price? So an official such as Hillary Clinton should decide which patents should have economic value and which should not?

Readers: Why is it that Mylan can charge a high price for these EpiPens? Why aren’t there profits sufficient to attract competitors competent to romance the FDA bureaucrats into approving a substitute?

by philg at August 27, 2016 12:52 AM

Wired Top Stories

Boy Genius Report

Report: Spotify punishes artists who give exclusives to Apple Music

Spotify Vs Apple Music
With Apple working overtime in an effort to attract new subscribers to Apple Music, and steal away users from Spotify in the process, the company has doubled down on artist exclusives as a marketing strategy. Over the past few months, Apple has successfully managed to convince a number of big name artists like Drake and Frank Ocean to release new albums exclusively on Apple Music. Predictably, Spotify isn’t a fan of Apple’s business strategy and has reportedly begun retaliating against artists who opt to release exclusives on Apple Music. According to a recent report from Bloomberg, artists who get into bed with Apple may discover that their content becomes harder for users to find on Spotify.

(more…)

Trending right now:

  1. Does it even matter that last year’s iPhone 6s is so much faster than the new Galaxy Note 7?
  2. Apple’s iPhone 8 will feature the radical redesign we’ve been waiting for
  3. Solid source says he knows exactly when Apple will release the iPhone 7

by Yoni Heisler at August 27, 2016 12:30 AM

FFFFOUND! / EVERYONE

Wired Top Stories

craigslist | computer gigs in san diego

Cool computer gig using the power of social media (San Diego)

We will pay $17 an hour for you to use your social media accounts to post positive opinions about our products. Very simple gig, decent pay, not long term position.

August 27, 2016 12:14 AM

Low End Box

QuadraNet – Xeon X3220 Dedicated Server w/ DDoS Protection – Los Angeles, USA

Adam from QuadraNet sent in an offer for their Intel Xeon X3220 Dedicated Server located in Los Angeles. The offer includes 3Gbps of QuadraNet VEST DDoS Mitigation. You can also upgrade to their Asia-optimized network for an additional $5/month.

QuadraNet is a datacenter which has been operating since 2001. QuadraNet operates its own datacenter facilities with its own network infrastructure (AS8100), equipment and IP space. They started under the brand “OC3 Networks,” OC3 Networks acquired MultiPoint and then a subsidary brand to focus on dedicated servers was started under a brand named PacificRack. All these brands eventually came together merged into one, “QuadraNet.” They are well-known and popular in LowEndBox/LowEndTalk community as they are used by many VPS hosting providers.

They accept payments using Credit Cards, PayPal, Checks, and Wire Payments. Another freebie is any US residents who order can choose to receive a FREE 8GB USB stick or Mouse Pad – to request one, email sales [@] quadranet.com after placing your order. As always, kindly read their Terms Of Service and Service Level Agreement before ordering.

—————–

Xeon Dedicated Server – Limited Time Offer

  • Intel Xeon X3220 Quad Core – 2.4Ghz, 8M Cache, 1066FSB
  • 8GB RAM
  • 500GB SATA 7.2k RPM HDD
  • 10TB Traffic
  • 100Mbps Uplink
  • /29 IPv4
  • /64 IPv6
  • KVM over IP, Remote Power Control
  • $39/month
  • INCLUDES: Noction Intelligent Routing Platform Enabled Network
  • INCLUDES: 3Gbps Detect & Mitigate QuadraNet VEST DDoS Protection
  • [Order Now]

—————–

For those interested, QuadraNet Los Angeles Network consists of the following carriers:

  • GT-T/TiNet — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • PCCW/BTN — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • ChinaUnicom — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • Cogent Communications — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • Telia — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • NTT — Transit — 2 x 10Gbps
  • China Telecom — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • AboveNet/Zayo — Transit — 1 x 10Gbps
  • Equinix Exchange — Peering — 1 x 10Gbps
  • Any2Exchange — Peering – 1 x 10Gbps
  • Host.net — Peering — 2 x 10Gbps
  • HiNet Taiwan — Peering — 1 x 10Gbps
  • Plus hundreds of additional network peers

—————–

Network Information:

QuadraNet, Inc Datacenter, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Test IPv4: 198.55.111.5
Test IPv4 Asia-optimized: 204.152.218.25
Test IPv6: 2607:fcd0:0:a::2
Test File: http://repos.lax-noc.com/speedtests/100mb.bin

by Ishaq at August 27, 2016 12:13 AM

Scott Hanselman

What is Serverless Computing? Exploring Azure Functions

There's a lot of confusing terms in the Cloud space. And that's not counting the term "Cloud." ;)

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Services) - Virtual Machines and stuff on demand.
  • PaaS (Platform as a Service) - You deploy your apps but try not to think about the Virtual Machines underneath. They exist, but we pretend they don't until forced.
  • SaaS (Software as a Service) - Stuff like Office 365 and Gmail. You pay a subscription and you get email/whatever as a service. It Just Works.

"Serverless Computing" doesn't really mean there's no server. Serverless means there's no server you need to worry about. That might sound like PaaS, but it's higher level that than.

Serverless Computing is like this - Your code, a slider bar, and your credit card. You just have your function out there and it will scale as long as you can pay for it. It's as close to "cloudy" as The Cloud can get.

Serverless Computing is like this. Your code, a slider bar, and your credit card.

With Platform as a Service, you might make a Node or C# app, check it into Git, deploy it to a Web Site/Application, and then you've got an endpoint. You might scale it up (get more CPU/Memory/Disk) or out (have 1, 2, n instances of the Web App) but it's not seamless. It's totally cool, to be clear, but you're always aware of the servers.

New cloud systems like Amazon Lambda and Azure Functions have you upload some code and it's running seconds later. You can have continuous jobs, functions that run on a triggered event, or make Web APIs or Webhooks that are just a function with a URL.

I'm going to see how quickly I can make a Web API with Serverless Computing.

I'll go to http://functions.azure.com and make a new function. If you don't have an account you can sign up free.

Getting started with Azure Functions

You can make a function in JavaScript or C#.

Getting started with Azure Functions - Create This Function

Once you're into the Azure Function Editor, click "New Function" and you've got dozens of templates and code examples for things like:

  • Find a face in an image and store the rectangle of where the face is.
  • Run a function and comment on a GitHub issue when a GitHub webhook is triggered
  • Update a storage blob when an HTTP Request comes in
  • Load entities from a database or storage table

I figured I'd change the first example. It is a trigger that sees an image in storage, calls a cognitive services API to get the location of the face, then stores the data. I wanted to change it to:

  • Take an image as input from an HTTP Post
  • Draw a rectangle around the face
  • Return the new image

You can do this work from Git/GitHub but for easy stuff I'm literally doing it all in the browser. Here's what it looks like.

Azure Functions can be done in the browser

I code and iterate and save and fail fast, fail often. Here's the starter code I based it on. Remember, that this is a starter function that runs on a triggered event, so note its Run()...I'm going to change this.

#r "Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage"
#r "Newtonsoft.Json"
using System.Net;
using System.Net.Http;
using System.Net.Http.Headers;
using Newtonsoft.Json;
using Microsoft.WindowsAzure.Storage.Table;
using System.IO; 
public static async Task Run(Stream image, string name, IAsyncCollector<FaceRectangle> outTable, TraceWriter log)
{
    var image = await req.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync();
    
    string result = await CallVisionAPI(image); //STREAM
    log.Info(result); 
    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(result))
    {
        return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest);
    }
    ImageData imageData = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<ImageData>(result);
    foreach (Face face in imageData.Faces)
    {
        var faceRectangle = face.FaceRectangle;
        faceRectangle.RowKey = Guid.NewGuid().ToString();
        faceRectangle.PartitionKey = "Functions";
        faceRectangle.ImageFile = name + ".jpg";
        await outTable.AddAsync(faceRectangle); 
    }
    return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "Nice Job");  
}
static async Task<string> CallVisionAPI(Stream image)
{
    using (var client = new HttpClient())
    {
        var content = new StreamContent(image);
        var url = "https://api.projectoxford.ai/vision/v1.0/analyze?visualFeatures=Faces";
        client.DefaultRequestHeaders.Add("Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key", Environment.GetEnvironmentVariable("Vision_API_Subscription_Key"));
        content.Headers.ContentType = new MediaTypeHeaderValue("application/octet-stream");
        var httpResponse = await client.PostAsync(url, content);
        if (httpResponse.StatusCode == HttpStatusCode.OK){
            return await httpResponse.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();
        }
    }
    return null;
}
public class ImageData {
    public List<Face> Faces { get; set; }
}
public class Face {
    public int Age { get; set; }
    public string Gender { get; set; }
    public FaceRectangle FaceRectangle { get; set; }
}
public class FaceRectangle : TableEntity {
    public string ImageFile { get; set; }
    public int Left { get; set; }
    public int Top { get; set; }
    public int Width { get; set; }
    public int Height { get; set; }
}

GOAL: I'll change this Run() and make this listen for an HTTP request that contains an image, read the image that's POSTed in (ya, I know, no validation), draw rectangle around detected faces, then return a new image.

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log) {

var image = await req.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync();

As for the body of this function, I'm 20% sure I'm using too many MemoryStreams but they are getting disposed so take this code as a initial proof of concept. However, I DO need at least the two I have. Regardless, happy to chat with those who know more, but it's more subtle than even I thought. That said, basically call out to the API, get back some face data that looks like this:

2016-08-26T23:59:26.741 {"requestId":"8be222ff-98cc-4019-8038-c22eeffa63ed","metadata":{"width":2808,"height":1872,"format":"Jpeg"},"faces":[{"age":41,"gender":"Male","faceRectangle":{"left":1059,"top":671,"width":466,"height":466}},{"age":41,"gender":"Male","faceRectangle":{"left":1916,"top":702,"width":448,"height":448}}]}

Then take that data and DRAW a Rectangle over the faces detected.

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
{
    var image = await req.Content.ReadAsStreamAsync();
    MemoryStream mem = new MemoryStream();
    image.CopyTo(mem); //make a copy since one gets destroy in the other API. Lame, I know.
    image.Position = 0;
    mem.Position = 0;
    
    string result = await CallVisionAPI(image); 
    log.Info(result); 
    if (String.IsNullOrEmpty(result)) {
        return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.BadRequest);
    }
    
    ImageData imageData = JsonConvert.DeserializeObject<ImageData>(result);
    MemoryStream outputStream = new MemoryStream();
    using(Image maybeFace = Image.FromStream(mem, true))
    {
        using (Graphics g = Graphics.FromImage(maybeFace))
        {
            Pen yellowPen = new Pen(Color.Yellow, 4);
            foreach (Face face in imageData.Faces)
            {
                var faceRectangle = face.FaceRectangle;
                g.DrawRectangle(yellowPen, 
                    faceRectangle.Left, faceRectangle.Top, 
                    faceRectangle.Width, faceRectangle.Height);
            }
        }
        maybeFace.Save(outputStream, ImageFormat.Jpeg);
    }
    
    var response = new HttpResponseMessage()
    {
        Content = new ByteArrayContent(outputStream.ToArray()),
        StatusCode = HttpStatusCode.OK,
    };
    response.Content.Headers.ContentType = new MediaTypeHeaderValue("image/jpeg");
    return response;
}

 

Now I go into Postman and POST an image to my new Azure Function endpoint. Here I uploaded a flattering picture of me and unflattering picture of The Oatmeal. He's pretty in real life just NOT HERE. ;)

Image Recognition with Azure Functions

So in just about 15 min with no idea and armed with just my browser, Postman (also my browser), Google/StackOverflow, and Azure Functions I've got a backend proof of concept.

Azure Functions supports Node.js, C#, F#, Python, PHP *and* Batch, Bash, and PowerShell, which really opens it up to basically anyone. You can use them for anything when you just want a function (or more) out there on the web. Send stuff to Slack, automate your house, update GitHub issues, act as a Webhook, etc. There's some great 3d party Azure Functions sample code in this GitHub repo as well. Inputs can be from basically anywhere and outputs can be basically anywhere. If those anywheres are also cloud services like Tables or Storage, you've got a "serverless backed" that is easy to scale.

I'm still learning, but I can see when I'd want a VM (total control) vs a Web App (near total control) vs a "Serverless" Azure Function (less control but I didn't need it anyway, just wanted a function in the cloud.)


Sponsor: Aspose makes programming APIs for working with files, like: DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF and countless more.  Developers can use their products to create, convert, modify, or manage files in almost any way.  Aspose is a good company and they offer solid products.  Check them out, and download a free evaluation.


© 2016 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

by Scott Hanselman at August 27, 2016 12:11 AM

Dilbert.com Blog

The Face of Persuasion

As regular readers of this blog know, both Trump and Clinton have chosen fear as their persuasion tool. Trump wants you to fear terrorists and criminals because he thinks he can make a persuasive case that he’s the solution to those fears. Clinton asks us to fear Trump himself, offering herself as the solution to that fear.

So which fear is stronger, persuasion-wise?

Trump makes us fear dangers that are unlikely to have a personal impact on most of us. It is deeply unlikely that any one specific person in America will die in a terror attack. And if we stay away from high-crime areas, the odds of getting murdered are low too. So Trump’s fears have an abstract quality about them.

Clinton cleverly makes the public fear Trump having access to the nuclear codes. That’s a danger that could – in Clinton’s telling of it – kill us all. By that point of view, if you buy what Clinton is selling, Trump is a danger to you personally

On top of that, the risks that Trump discusses have no human faces. We don’t know what the leader of ISIS looks like. We don’t know the specific person who might someday shoot us in Detroit. We don’t know the face of the terrorist who might blow up a building we are in. Trump’s danger is faceless and nameless, at least in our minds.

Clinton, on the other hand, cleverly defined Trump as the biggest risk to the survival of the country. Not only does Trump have a face, but we see that face multiple times a day to remind us. That’s an enormous persuasion advantage for Clinton. She is selling a fear that has a face, and it’s a fear she says could kill you personally, as opposed to killing strangers.

Trump is selling a faceless, abstract flavor of fear. That has far less potency than Clinton’s approach because humans are wired to give extra emotional weight to human faces. 

Fear is the most  powerful persuasion tool, and Clinton has the stronger position there. I still predict Trump will win in a landslide, but he needs to solve for this first.

You might like my book because it is shaped like a trapezoid.

August 27, 2016 12:09 AM

Wired Top Stories

GOOD

Never, Ever Ask For A Lemon Slice In Your Cocktail Again

Image via Pexels

If you frequent dive bar happy hours, then you know it takes a lot of lemons and limes to make a $5 well cocktail drinkable. As it turns out, those citrusy wedges might be contaminating your beverage with all kinds of bacteria you never knew existed.

According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers found nearly 70 percent of lemon slices sampled from 21 different restaurants had some degree of microbial growth. The researchers found that all of the microbes discovered on the lemon slices had “the potential to cause infectious diseases at various body sites.”

But that study was published in 2007, which makes it pretty dated in the rapidly changing restaurant industry. Which is why ELLE reached out to author and clinical microbiology professor Philip Tierno, PhD, in an effort to get to the bottom of this dirty lemon mystery. Tierno told ELLE that in every case he’s tested citrus wedges for microbial growth, he and his team have “always comes up with evidence of contamination from the skin, respiratory secretions, and fecal matter.” Gross.

Though the issue goes far beyond unsettling your stomach. According to Tierno, pathogens such as E. coli, enterococcus, staphylococcus, and the norovirus have been found on citrus skins. So, how do these potentially fatal germs get on our fruits and ultimately in our drinks?

Tierno explains it to ELLE this way:

“People are touching the lemon in your glass, handling it, cutting it, placing it in a container or a cup, or a glass; and then picking up those slices at a later point in time and dropping them into a drink and putting them on the rim of a glass. You can easily see how those lemon slices and lemon wedges can be contaminated.”

Throw bad or non-existent hand-washing practices into the mix and you’ve got a cesspool of bacteria just waiting to flavor your gin and tonic. Think about it, how often do you really wash your citrus fruits before eating or juicing them at home? According to the FDA, this is a big mistake as you’re not only increasing your chances of getting a food-borne illness, but ingesting pesticides as well. 

That being said, Tierno doesn’t necessarily suggest you do away with citrusy garnishes altogether. “Pay attention,” he says, and take note whether your bartender uses a clean cloth or a filthy rag to wipe your glass—that’s a dead giveaway cleanliness isn’t his or her top priority.

And if you’re a real germaphobe, you always have the option of mixing yourself a margarita with freshly washed, organic lemons and limes at home. Then again, sometimes it’s exhilarating to live on the wild side.

by Kate Ryan at August 27, 2016 12:00 AM

August 26, 2016

Calculated Risk

August 2016: Unofficial Problem Bank list declines to 184 Institutions

This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources.

Here is the unofficial problem bank list for August 2016.

Changes and comments from surferdude808:
Update on the Unofficial Problem Bank List for August 2016. During the month, the list declined by a net 12 institutions from 196 to 184. The net change of 12 institutions results from 14 removals and two additions. Assets dropped by $2.3 billion to an aggregate $56.5 billion, with $350 million of the decline coming from updated figures for the second quarter. A year ago, the list held 282 institutions with assets of $82.7 billion. This week, we were anticipating for the FDIC to release second quarter industry results and an update on the Official Problem Bank List, but that will have to wait until next month's update.

Actions have been terminated against SpiritBank, Tulsa, OK ($767 million); Tennessee State Bank, Pigeon Forge, TN ($641 million); First American State Bank, Greenwood Village, CO ($279 million); First National Bank, Camdenton, MO ($206 million); Cornerstone Bank, Overland Park, KS ($159 million); Friends Bank, New Smyrna Beach, FL ($104 million Ticker: FRIE); New Jersey Community Bank, Freehold, NJ ($103 million); GSL Savings Bank, Guttenberg, NJ ($91 million); RepublicBankAZ, N.A., Phoenix, AZ ($90 million); and FirstSecure Bank and Trust Co., Palos Hills, IL ($61 million).

Several banks merged to find their way off the problem bank list including Hopkins Federal Savings Bank, Baltimore, MD ($229 million); Harvard Savings Bank, Harvard, IL ($142 million); and The Bank of Oswego, Lake Oswego, OR ($61 million).

In the very hard to believe category, another bank headquartered in Georgia -- The Woodbury Banking Company, Woodbury, GA ($22 million) – found its way off the list through failure. Since the on-set of the Great Recession, 91 institutions headquartered in Georgia have failed. Of the 352 institutions open at year-end 2007 in Georgia, 91 or nearly 26 percent have failed, which is more than four times the national failure rate of 6 percent. It begs the question, how is it possible for there to be any banks left in the state that could fail.

Nationwide, since the on-set of the Great Recession, 533 institutions with assets of nearly $4 trillion have failed or received open-bank assistance. To put this in context, there were 8,544 institutions with assets of $13.1 trillion open in the U.S. at year-end 2007. Thus, 6.2 percent of institutions that held 30.3 percent of assets have failed or received open-bank assistance. In comparison, from 1980 through 1994, a period most consider as the most severe banking crisis since the Great Depression, 9.1% of institutions holding nearly 9.0% of assets failed or received open-bank assistance. So while the failure rate is lower in this episode, the share of assets is significantly greater. In the 1990s, the FDIC produced comprehensive research (“History of the Eighties”) to understand the causes of that crisis and identify ways to limit a future crisis. In response, FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer spearheaded the formation of a new division to identify emerging systemic risks in the industry. In a 1996 speech, FDIC Chairman Helfer said “Neither we nor the industry we supervise can afford being so wrong again. The speed of technology and the rapid innovations in the marketplace mean that trouble could come quickly and in large numbers. We need to avoid being that wrong again by monitoring trends more broadly and taking specific action on the information we receive.” But somehow the FDIC’s division designed specifically to identify a widespread banking crisis got it way wrong. The lack of a major research effort by the FDIC to understand what went wrong in this current episode should be concerning to all industry observers.

by Bill McBride (noreply@blogger.com) at August 26, 2016 11:49 PM

TmoNews

T-Mobile band 12 LTE spotted in Arkansas, New York, and other states

UPDATE: Added a couple of band 12 sightings in Idaho and Pennsylvania.   T-Mobile often touts its Extended Range LTE (aka band 12) coverage, which offers improved reach and better building penetration than other LTE coverage. And recently, several folks have spotted T-Mobile’s Extended Range LTE coverage in their areas. Here’s where T-Mobile’s band 12 LTE coverage has been spotted lately: Magnolia, Ark. Opelika, Ala. Victorville, Calif. (carrier aggregation) Troy, N.Y. Albuquerque, N.M. [read full article]

The post T-Mobile band 12 LTE spotted in Arkansas, New York, and other states appeared first on TmoNews.

by Alex Wagner at August 26, 2016 11:45 PM

GOOD

Maine Governor Paul LePage’s Homophobic Tirade On A State Rep

via Twitter

Maine Governor and big-time Donald Trump supporter, Paul LePage, wants you to know he isn’t a racist, although he is. Earlier this week, he drew fire after claiming 90 percent of the drug dealers arrested in Maine are “black and hispanic.” When asked to clarify his comments he doubled down on them saying, “Let me tell you something: Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers. You ought to look into that!” But if you call LePage a racist, he won’t stand for it. Democratic State Representative Drew Gattine allegedly did just that and LePage responded by calling him a homophobic slur.

Mr. Grattine, this is Gov. Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You… I need you to… Just friggin’. I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.

LePage didn’t stop by leaving Gattine a homophobic voicemail, he told a reporter he’d like to shoot him in an old-fashioned duel. “I wish it were 1825 and we would have a duel,” he told the Portland Press Herald. “That’s how angry I am. And I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you; I would not be [Alexander] Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward.”

Grew Gattine via Twitter

Although LePage has called him threatening names and wishes he could put a bullet between his eyes, Gattine still taking the high road. “Obviously that message is upsetting, inappropriate, and uncalled for,” Gattine said. “It’s hard to believe it’s from the governor of the state of Maine, but again, we need to stay focused on the drug problem we are facing here in Maine and cannot allow this story to be about the governor’s inappropriate and vulgar behaviors.”

by Tod Perry at August 26, 2016 11:35 PM

Boy Genius Report

Verizon is best carrier, report says

1472220142575
Verizon dominated as best overall carrier, according to a testing firm that closely tracks carrier performance data. Verizon swept all six performance categories, the first time that’s been done since RootMetrics began testing the entire U.S. market in 2013, the firm said this week.

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by FoxNews.com at August 26, 2016 11:30 PM

NYT > Economy

Yellen Sees Stronger Case for Interest Rate Increase

The Federal Reserve chief, in a speech, pointed to gains in the job market and economic outlook. But the Fed is not expected to act before December.

by BINYAMIN APPELBAUM at August 26, 2016 11:27 PM

Wired Top Stories

How Adam Nimoy Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spock

How Adam Nimoy Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spock
Leonard Nimoy's son started making a film with his father about Spock. After the elder Nimoy passed away, the documentary became a movie about his legacy. The post How Adam Nimoy Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Spock appeared first on WIRED.

by Geek's Guide to the Galaxy at August 26, 2016 11:00 PM

Boy Genius Report

Sprint proves it doesn’t understand what ‘unlimited’ means

Sprint's Unlimited Plan
Sprint and T-Mobile both recently released unlimited data plans that aren't actually unlimited -- you can use a whole bunch of data, but you are limited to streaming SD-quality video and slow speeds for gaming. As part of a new plan that Sprint is offering you can now pay $20 a month more to stream video in full HD and game faster. This plan is called Unlimited Freedom Premium, which pretty much goes to show that Sprint didn't understand the meaning of the word "Unlimited" in the first place.

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by Chris Mills at August 26, 2016 11:00 PM

GOOD

Meet America’s Top Sports Stamp Collector

In the beginning, postage stamps kickstarted the Olympics. Athens was preparing to host the first modern games in 1896 but was short on funds. The city still needed a rifle range, a cycling track, and facilities for nautical sports. Greece issued 12 commemorative stamps to fund construction.

As the modern Olympics movement bloomed, the stamps tradition grew. Host and non-host countries have memorialized the games on postage for over a century, producing an indespensible historical archive—as well as a community of devoted collectors, called philatelists.

Mark Maestrone

Former landscape architect Mark Maestrone is the longtime president of Sports Philatelists International and the editor of SPI’s Journal of Sports Philately. He’s also the vice president of the International Olympic Committee’s newly minted collectors association, established this summer to support the world’s aficionados of Olympic stamps, coins, and pins.

Maestrone’s own collection, which includes thousands of stamps, focuses on men’s gymnastics uniforms and snowboarding. His gymnastics exhibit recently earned honors at the decennial World Stamp Show in New York. During Rio’s closing ceremony, GOOD talked to Maestrone about stamps in the digital age, the historical importance of collecting, and how trademark rules shut down Olympic stamps in America.

How did you start collecting postage stamps?

I got into it young. We were living in Iran at the time. My father was in the foreign service. I was just a little kid. We were down on the Gulf in Qaem Shahr, which was right near one of the big oil refineries. My folks had an Iranian friend. One day, he gave me a cigar box with old Persian stamps in it. That started it off. I just thought they were very cool.

What makes a good stamp collection?

Rarity is one factor. You do have to tell a story. You have to follow certain rules. The quality of your material has to be good quality. It’s fun to just be able to delve into Olympic history and find a little known fact about some athlete you’ve never even heard of before, and somehow connect them to a piece of philately.

What role do stamps play in sport history? Do you view yourself as an archivist?

A little bit, maybe. I think philatelists all have a certain responsibility to take care of the material they have. It’s a finite group of materials and you want to make sure it’s properly archived, available to the next generation of collectors. Stamps are very ephemeral. You have to take care of them. They’re not like Olympic pins, or something like that, which are pretty much indestructible.

What happened to Olympic stamps in the U.S.?

The U.S. Postal Service has what’s called the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. They decide [what] should be subjects for stamps in any particular year. We never even really had to approach the CSAS to ask about an Olympic stamp. It was just an automatic thing. Now we don’t have that flexibility anymore.

The problem is, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USPS butt heads. The USPS did not want to pay for the right to use the Olympic rings or the Olympic logo. The USOC controls those rights in the United States. We have to figure out how to reconnect both sides. If the USOC is expecting money, how much are they going to get from the postal service? What do they want? Blood from the stone?

What’s next for the Olympic collecting community?

We just started a new section of our website, which we think is going to be our most important work. We’re going to offer a catalog of every single resource around the world, no matter the language, that has to do with Olympic collecting. Right now, 500 pieces of reference material from Warsaw are in our catalog. We’re asking our member associations to send us their catalogs and materials. Eventually, we want to have a central library for Olympic collecting.

by Tosten Burks at August 26, 2016 11:00 PM

swissmiss

Lesser Life

“do not choose the lesser life. do you hear me. do you hear me. choose the life that is. yours. the life that is seducing your lungs. that is dripping down your chin.”
― Nayyirah Waheed

by swissmiss at August 26, 2016 10:55 PM

Paul Krugman

Germany’s Drag

The remarkably large effect of bad macroeconomic ideas.

by By Paul Krugman at August 26, 2016 10:44 PM

Wired Top Stories

Sr Bachchan

DAY 3070

Jalsa, Mumbai                  Aug  26/27,  2016                  Fri/Sat  3:31 am



Birthday - EF - Rohit Kumar Bhutoria

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Its another birthday today and we wish Rohit a very happy birthday .. with wishes for happiness always from the Ef of this Blog .. love



I have but little to say and write ..

But each time I have said that it has taken enough numbers of the page count to finally end the Blog ..

Maybe this time I shall refrain from the normal and do the unusual .. make it short .. naaah .. that would not be me and that would not be the expectation from the Ef ..

Last night was a ringer .. I mean it ended at around 4 this morning and then I was back at work by 7 am .. which meant that whatever I was doing , I was doing out of a blurred and heavy head .. and I wonder if the results of that work showed up the way my head was .. will soon find out ..

But back from that morning outing made way for some domestic essentials and then it was back to the board room .. the studio .. 

Studios are fascinating experiences .. they provoke you .. that microphone staring at you in bland expectation, netted and covered in screens to prevent apprentice amateur singers .. haha h singers ..? Singers like me to prevent that blow of breath to be controlled, else the speakers blurb burst in a thud and the recordist shall politely talk back at you and gently push you either away from the recording mike , or simply ask you to leave the studio ..

It is a pretty intimidating atmosphere inside one of these ‘rooms’ padded from the outside world, crowded with gadgetry that make no absolute sense at all, and surrounded by several people that do ; all looking at the subject of their interest - the probable singer, and increasingly developing condescending looks within them like :

“ ab ye gaana gaane aaye hain .. !!!??”

Which in simple terminology works out to : ‘So this idiot is going to sing now ?’ and reeking of sarcasm in every breath of their supercilious air .. !!

So despite the intimidating atmosphere, a painstaking effort is made to get what comes out in song or near to it, on to the mike and hope and pray that those insulated enclosures do not suddenly snap open and the head of the manor comes charging out, guiding us out of range of this portal of creative singers and musicians .. !!

At times though one flukes it and what comes out for the mike seems to gather approval from that head shaking, occupied in other traits in the control room, gang .. they are the masters .. they know the tricks, the machinery, that shall make one in tune with the best in the world .. and they oblige and give that much needed thrust in a direction which kind of permits you access to the computer that has , within complicated buttonery, captured your vocals .. !!

And the moment you hear it .. you wish the earth would part and you could somehow disappear within its depths ..

BUT .. eureka .. the gang nods approval after a great deal of fixing and fidgeting on the large control machine they operate and finally a smirkish half smile suddenly forms upon them that had pushed you in in the first place … 

And all works out fine .. though not without certain remarks that never allow one to step into a zone they would feel comfortable in .. no sireeeeee .. never !!

Back with a small pendrive carrying those essential moments of the mike and the room .. you push your own controls on the lap top, cover the noise by sound protective head phones and listen in to the mess that one has just created and wondering, how on earth did they ever pass such utter rubbish .. !!

So there .. the story of the day and now a tormented night .. the sleep induction has long passed its prime .. we are awake to the issues and practices and grounds of work that stares into our faces and we try to live all that transpired, with a more gentle and reassuring look  ..


Some Twitter and FB moments later, we stare at our page and search the stored areas of your machine whether there is something pictorially that one could put up here ..

There is none .. and thank God for that .. I do look a sight .. 

Do not believe .. okaaayyy .. have a look ..

Damn … the screen in front of me came to life and warned me that the picture I was about to put was so darned UGLY that the system was rejecting it, in order that better sense prevailed .. they say it is far to large in size and needs to be squished a bit … bit squishing is not my pastime .. its the only time I have .. so ok .. we go without one tonight ..

OHHH ..

Just looked up at the clock and its past the 4 am mark ..

And tomorrow is a joint venture of the family .. both the wife and me in front of the camera … so better get in shape else there shall be fire and brimstone .. !!

Amitabh Bachchan told you it would not be a short one

August 26, 2016 10:38 PM

Boy Genius Report

Britney Spears returns to promote her new album on Carpool Karaoke

Britney Spears Carpool Karaoke
If there is a viral late night talk show segment more consistent than Carpool Karaoke, I haven't seen it. Month in and month out, Late Late Show host James Corden continues to send the internet into a frenzy with his latest celebrity guest, from artists such as Gwen Stefani and Adele to First Lady Michelle Obama. This week's guest: Britney Spears. Although each and every one of the guests has been greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm, Britney Spears brings more nostalgia with her than anyone who has ever appeared on the segment before.

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by Jacob Siegal at August 26, 2016 10:30 PM

Wired Top Stories

While You Were Offline: Are You Aware of Hillary Clinton’s ‘Vagenda’?

While You Were Offline: Are You Aware of Hillary Clinton’s ‘Vagenda’?
It feels like we say this kind of thing too often, but this past week online was kind of awful. Catch up here. The post While You Were Offline: Are You Aware of Hillary Clinton's 'Vagenda'? appeared first on WIRED.

by Graeme McMillan at August 26, 2016 10:30 PM

Gapingvoid

without doubt, nothing is possible

without-doubt-nothing-is-possible

 

So you’re having doubts. You know, about that thing.

That big thing that you risked everything for.

That big thing you left your safe position in the big company to go pursue.

That thing that happens to be your big dream, the one thing that you always swore you’d go after one day.

And here we are, you’re having doubts.

That maybe it’ll never be good enough. Or even worse, that maybe you, yourself will never be good enough.

That maybe risking everything to pursue this was a big mistake, after all.

That maybe all the inner voices telling you that you are crazy were right all along.

Well, I say, “Good!”

Because these are the feelings you’re supposed to be having, at this stage of the game.

If you weren’t feeling like this right now, frankly, that would be a much bigger problem.

That’s what doubt is for. It keeps you on your toes. And you need to be on your toes right now.

Welcome to the dance. Enjoy.

The post without doubt, nothing is possible appeared first on Gapingvoid.

by Saskia Larricchia at August 26, 2016 10:30 PM

NYT > Your Money

Wealth Matters: Real Estate Strikes Out on Its Own in the Stock Indexes

Experts differ on whether real estate’s move out of the financials category to its own classification will benefit individual investors.

by PAUL SULLIVAN at August 26, 2016 10:12 PM

Boy Genius Report

Simple free app enables Android 7.0’s hidden Night Mode

Android Nougat Features
Truth be told, no one really knows whether or not features like "Night Mode" actually help you sleep better at night. Although the jury is still out, there's no question that reducing the amount of blue light cast be your smartphone's display is easier on the eyes in the dark. Apple introduced its "Night Shift" feature in iOS 9, allowing users to automatically or manually cut out a configurable amount of blue light from their screens. Google's newly released Android 7.0 Nougat operating system has a similar feature baked in, but for some reason Google decided to keep the feature hidden in its new release. Of course, you knew that third-party developers Android developers wouldn't let this sweet new feature stay hidden for long.

(more…)

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by Zach Epstein at August 26, 2016 10:00 PM

GOOD

Man Proposes To Girlfriend With An Ingenious Time Capsule Trick

via YouTube

A wedding proposal is one of the most memorable moments a couple’s life together. In heterosexual couples, the job usually falls on the man to come up with a clever way to present a ring and ask, “Will you marry me?” while bowed down on one knee. But some guys go above and beyond by proposing in an unforgettable way that makes the rest of the male population look bad. Recently, Canadian Troy Reddington did just that by proposing with a magic trick that would make Penn & Teller proud. 

Five years ago, Jennifer Storrar and Troy Reddington—who were dating at the time—took a trip to a campsite on Eagle Lake in South River, Ontario. During their stay, the couple buried a time capsule. Three years later, Reddington came up with an ingenious plan. He went back to the campsite, dug up the capsule, and replaced its contents with a note. “It kind of struck me that this would really work,” Reddington told CTV News. “I’m not ready to get engaged yet but when I am, this is what I want to do.”

Last May, Reddington knew it was time he proposed. So he returned with Storrar to the campsite and asked her to dig up the time capsule. Initially, she was upset when she realized its contents were missing. Then she opened the capsule and found a note that said: “Will you marry me?” Reddington emerged from behind her with a ring and got down on one knee. Storrar couldn’t believe her eyes and began to cry. But through her tears she was still able muster a simple, three-letter response: “Yes.”

Since the video of the  proposal was posted on YouTube in June it has received over 52,000 views. Reddington says most of the feedback he has received has been positive although some guys are a bit jealous of his creativity. “Most comments that I’ve received from men are ‘Thanks for ruining it for everyone else,’ ” he says. The couple intends on getting married in the next two to three years, after they save up money to buy a home. 

Here’s video of the couple’s trip to the lake and the proposal which begins at  5:43. 

 

by Tod Perry at August 26, 2016 09:55 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Schneier on Security

Friday Squid Blogging: Self-Repairing Fabrics Based on Squid Teeth

Really:

As shown in the video below, researchers at Pennsylvania State University recently developed a polyelectrolyte liquid solution made of bacteria and yeast that automatically mends clothes.

It doesn't have a name yet, but it's almost miraculous. Simply douse two halves of a ripped fabric in the stuff, hold them together under warm water for about 60 seconds, and the fabric closes the gaps and clings together once more. Having a bit of extra fabric on hand does seem to help, as the video mainly focuses on patching holes rather than re-knitting two halves of a torn piece.

The team got the idea by observing how proteins in squid teeth and human hair are able to self-replicate. Then, they recreated the process using more readily available materials. Best of all, it works with almost all natural fabrics.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

by Bruce Schneier at August 26, 2016 09:30 PM

Ooma Blog

Decir ¿Bueno?: Ooma Premier Suscriptores en los Estados Unidos Ahora Pueden Disfrutar de Llamadas Gratis a México

International_Facebook_Ads_v7_MexicoNuestro servicio Ooma Premier acaba de conseguir incluso mejor con la adición de llamadas ilimitadas a teléfonos fijos y móviles en México. Llamar gratis a México se une a los muchos avanzos de características que ofrece Premier como listas negras de tele vendedores, 911 texto y alertas de llamada, correo de voz a correo electrónico, multi-ring, detección de llamadas y mucho más.

Los clientes Ooma Telo colocan decenas de miles de llamadas a México cada mes y ahora los suscriptores de Premier pueden disfrutar de estar en contacto con cualquier persona en México gratis.

Además de llamar gratis a México los suscriptores de Premier ya disfrutan de llamadas ilimitadas a teléfonos fijos y móviles en Canadá. Para los clientes que llaman a nivel internacional, Ooma les ofrece tarifas bajas todos los días sobre una base por minuto a los países en todo el mundo y para los clientes con llamadas de frecuencia a partes de mayor coste Ooma’s Plan Mundial por $17.99 por mes ofrece llamadas ilimitadas a más de 60 países en todo el mundo.

Construido sobre una plataforma de tecnología innovadora, Ooma’s servicio de teléfono inteligente de hogar combina todas las características de un teléfono tradicional de casa con características de seguridad inteligentes en el hogar que las familias han llegado a esperar:

• Aviso de Nido hace que los clientes de Oomas se sientan más seguros por mantener los alertados en su dispositivo móvil cuando protegen su nido: humo + Carbon Monoxide™ alarma detecta la presencia de humo o fuego.

• 911 y el 911 texto de alerta, proporciona mayor tranquilidad porque pueden acelerar comunicaciones durante una situación de emergencia de hogar, especialmente para aquellos más vulnerables, como niños y ancianos. Las posibilidades de poder encontrar a una víctima basada en GPS de su teléfono por despachadores del 911 pueden ser tan bajas como 10% en algunas partes del país y un teléfono inteligente de hogar como el de Ooma le da a los padres tranquilidad sabiendo que despachadores llegarán a sus casas rápidamente en caso de emergencia, sin el alto costo.

• Función de bloqueo de llamadas protege a los consumidores contra el spam y robocalls, incluso hasta los que no están bloqueados por la Lista Nacional De No Llamar, como caridades y llamadas de política. Con las Elecciones Presidenciales de 2016, se espera que los consumidores recibiran un récord numero de llamadas molestas robocalls durante los próximos meses.

¿Curiosidad por saber qué otros trucos Ooma Telo puede hacer? Haga clic aquí para saber más.

The post Decir ¿Bueno?: Ooma Premier Suscriptores en los Estados Unidos Ahora Pueden Disfrutar de Llamadas Gratis a México appeared first on Ooma Blog.

by Team Ooma at August 26, 2016 09:29 PM

RubyFlow

Building Rails API's With JSONAPI and JSONAPI-Resources

An article bringing together all the pieces I needed to understand how everything works. It finds the middle ground between specification and rote tutorial.

August 26, 2016 09:28 PM

How to Create a Polymorphic Whodunnit on PaperTrail

PaperTrail’s versioning and whodunnit to track auditing is fantastic. However, it falls apart if you have multiple user classes, such as Admin and User. Read on to keep your auditing trail clean and exact.

August 26, 2016 09:14 PM

Low End Box

Is It Possible to Use Your VPS as a Virtual Workspace?

Converting your virtual private server into a fully functional virtual workspace can be achieved under the right circumstances. The general idea behind converting Linux into a virtual workspace is to perform the following two steps:

  1. Install and Configure the GUI
  2. Install and Connect to your VPS with VNC

The Basics of Installing a GUI

You have a couple options as far as installing a GUI for your VPS.

Let’s assume you have Ubuntu. You will want to ensure that you have the necessary resources available on your system to perform this install.

To install the full fledged Unity desktop, open your command line and type:

> sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Since this VPS is likely a low end box, you probably won’t need the extra features that come with the full fledged desktop.

To install the GUI without bloatware such as Libre Office and others, so you might want to install a lighter version of Unity desktop using the following command:

> sudo apt-get install –no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop

The Basics of Installing a VNC on your VPS

Now that your desktop environment is installed, lets focus on how to gain access to your new virtual workspace.

Virtual Network Computing, better known as VNC, is a connection protocol that gives a remote operator the ability to send keystrokes and mouse clicks over a network connection allowing the user to interface with a graphical desktop environment on the remote server.

In order to install VNC, simply type the following commands:

> sudo apt-get update

> sudo apt-get install tightvncserver

To complete the VNC server’s initial configuration, use the vncserver command to set up a secure password:

> vncserver

The vncserver command completes the installation of VNC by creating default configuration files and connection information for your VPS to use.

Configuring VNC on your VPS

We must tell our VNC server what commands to perform when it starts up.

These commands are located in a configuration file called xstartup. We will first need to stop the VNC server instance that is running on port 5901:

> vncserver -kill :1

Let’s now back up the original in case we need it later:

> mv ~/.vnc/xstartup ~/.vnc/xstartup.bak

Now we can open a new xstartup file with nano or vim and insert these commands into the file so that they are performed automatically whenever you start or restart your VNC server:

#!/bin/sh

export XKL_XMODMAP_DISABLE=1

unset SESSION_MANAGER

unset DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS

[ -x /etc/vnc/xstartup ] && exec /etc/vnc/xstartup

[ -r $HOME/.Xresources ] && xrdb $HOME/.Xresources

xsetroot -solid grey

vncconfig -iconic &

gnome-panel &

gnome-settings-daemon &

metacity &

nautilus &

gnome-terminal &

gnome-panel &

gnome-session &

To ensure that the VNC server will be able to use this new startup file properly, we’ll need to grant executable privileges to it:

> sudo chmod +x ~/.vnc/xstartup

To easily control our new VNC server, we should set it up as an Ubuntu service. Open a new service file in /etc/init.d with nano or vim:

> sudo nano /etc/init.d/vncserver

The first block of data will be where we declare some common settings that VNC will be referring to a lot, like our username and the display resolution.

#!/bin/bash

PATH=”$PATH:/usr/bin/”

export USER=”your-user”

DISPLAY=”1″

DEPTH=”16″

GEOMETRY=”1024×768″

OPTIONS=”-depth ${DEPTH} -geometry ${GEOMETRY} :${DISPLAY}”

. /lib/lsb/init-functions

case “$1” in

start)

log_action_begin_msg “Starting vncserver for user ‘${USER}’ on localhost:${DISPLAY}”

su ${USER} -c “/usr/bin/vncserver ${OPTIONS}”

;;

stop)

log_action_begin_msg “Stopping vncserver for user ‘${USER}’ on localhost:${DISPLAY}”

su ${USER} -c “/usr/bin/vncserver -kill :${DISPLAY}”

;;

restart)

$0 stop

$0 start

;;

esac

exit 0

Make this service script executable, so that you can use the commands that you just set up:

> sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/vncserver

Now can start your VNC server instance with the following command:

> sudo service vncserver start

Don’t forget to add the new service on your startup using the following command:

> sudo update-rc.d vncserver defaults

Now you will be able to connect to your remote server using any VNC client. In case you have a firewall installed on your VPS, make you poke a hole in the configuration to have port 5901 open.

by SysAdmin at August 26, 2016 09:09 PM

Core77

A Hyper-Realistic Look at Our National Parks, Instagram Reimagined for Windows 95 and Behind the Design of a Long Overdue Memorial

Core77's editors spend time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite stories from the World Wide Web.

The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks

Advanced technologies like VR can be quite isolating, sometimes making you feel as if you're venturing further and further away from reality (I only tried Google Cardboard for the first time a few days ago and it completely tripped me up). On the other hand, these technological advances in some cases can make us feel even more in touch with our world. In celebration of the National Park Service's 100th anniversary, Google Arts & Culture has created a beautiful series of immersive HD and 360 degree films that give us a hyper-real, almost superhuman look at some of the best and brightest of America's national parks.

—Allison Fonder, community manager

How Design Heals History

This recent profile of the life and work of Alabama-based lawyer and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson is both moving and inspirational—his decades long dedication to bringing justice to prisoners on death row is unparalleled. But it is his most recent project to spark a public conversation around the history of lynchings and its legacy in the American South that highlights the way that design can be a poetic and powerful vehicle for reconciling our relationship with history.

—LinYee Yuan, managing editor

Remembering a Design Legend

This week we're remembering designer, urban planner and editor Jane Thompson, who passed away on August 23rd. Thompson was the founding editor of Industrial Design magazine (later known asI.D.) and a strong advocate for women in the architecture and design fields. Her long career took many interesting turns, and as journalist Alexandra Lange points out in Architect magazine's tribute, "Any one of her careers, as an editor, as a planner, and more recently as an advocate and historian, would have been enough to make her a legend."

Rebecca Veit, columnist, Designing Women

Instagram 20 Years Ago

Russian designer, Misha Petrick reimagined Instagram as a Windows 95 .exe program, and I couldn't be more intrigued. #foodporn would not have been appealing 20 years ago...

—Emily Engle, editorial assistant

August 26, 2016 09:06 PM

siteInspire

Boy Genius Report

How is this 60-inch Samsung 4K TV less than $1,000 on Amazon?

60-inch 4K TV Price

Wait, is it Prime Day again? Did Black Friday come early this year? Amazon is selling the Samsung UN60KU6300 60-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV for under $1,000, which is just crazy for a TV this good. This new-for-2016 model features a gorgeous display that Samsung has become well known for, and it also has all the smart features you might need. It also has a 4.4-star rating from 320 customer reviews, so you know you're getting way more TV than you pay for if you take advantage of this killer deal.

(more…)

Trending right now:

  1. Does it even matter that last year’s iPhone 6s is so much faster than the new Galaxy Note 7?
  2. Solid source says he knows exactly when Apple will release the iPhone 7
  3. The holy grail: Hack Pokemon Go so you can walk anywhere, no jailbreak required

by Maren Estrada at August 26, 2016 09:00 PM

GOOD

Everyone Is Suddenly Wearing Purple For The Best Reason

Image via Get Regional on Twitter

On Friday, citizens around the world gave the expression “wearing your heart on your sleeve” a whole new meaning. By rocking their favorite purple shirt, people from all walks of life showed their heartfelt support for LGBTQ youth around the globe. 

“Many of us feel isolated, so Wear it Purple Day is a way to bring together thousands of supporters' voices and show our peers they are not alone,” the organizers of the event, Wear It Purple, explained on their site. 

Friday marks the 6th annual Wear It Purple Day, originally started by two Australian students to support LGBTQ young people with mentorship programs and community engagement. This year’s event has already had some spectacular support from celebrities, politicians, police, and more. According to Out in Perth, more than 120 businesses, 193 schools and 21 universities and colleges took part in 2015.



“Every young person is unique, important and worthy of love. No one should be subject to bullying, belittlement and invalidation,” Wear It Purple said in a release. “We believe in a world in which every young person can thrive, irrelevant of sex, sexuality or gender identity.”

by Stacey Leasca at August 26, 2016 09:00 PM

Daring Fireball

Steven Levy, Behind the Scenes on Apple’s AI and Machine Learning

Lengthy profile on Apple’s AI efforts by Steven Levy, for Backchannel:

Probably the biggest issue in Apple’s adoption of machine learning is how the company can succeed while sticking to its principles on user privacy. The company encrypts user information so that no one, not even Apple’s lawyers, can read it (nor can the FBI, even with a warrant). And it boasts about not collecting user information for advertising purposes.

While admirable from a user perspective, Apple’s rigor on this issue has not been helpful in luring top AI talent to the company. “Machine learning experts, all they want is data,” says a former Apple employee now working for an AI-centric company. “But by its privacy stance, Apple basically puts one hand behind your back. You can argue whether it’s the right thing to do or not, but it’s given Apple a reputation for not being real hardcore AI folks.”

This view is hotly contested by Apple’s executives, who say that it’s possible to get all the data you need for robust machine learning without keeping profiles of users in the cloud or even storing instances of their behavior to train neural nets. “There has been a false narrative, a false trade-off out there,” says Federighi. “It’s great that we would be known as uniquely respecting user’s privacy. But for the sake of users everywhere, we’d like to show the way for the rest of the industry to get on board here.”

This is the crux of the whole piece, to my mind. The AI community is largely focused on privacy-invasive data collection and doing the computation in the cloud. Apple’s approach protects privacy by keeping the data (and performing the computation) on the device.

The other interesting angle in the piece is about most researchers wanting to publish their work, whereas Apple is attracting those who are more interested in the products themselves. But Apple is allowing their researchers on differential privacy to publish their work.

by John Gruber at August 26, 2016 08:51 PM

Spotify Is Burying Musicians With Apple Music Exclusives

Lucas Shaw and Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Spotify has been retaliating against musicians who introduce new material exclusively on rival Apple Music by making their songs harder to find, according to people familiar with the strategy. Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won’t be able to get their tracks on featured playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people, who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world’s largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn’t alter search rankings.

Hardball.

by John Gruber at August 26, 2016 08:37 PM