Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Foreign Currency

Don't Make These Foreign Currency Mistakes

Many travelers don't think about foreign currency exchange until they arrive overseas and have to take a taxi to their hotel. A little planning can help you avoid getting overcharged -- although it's getting more and more difficult, as banks and credit card companies are upping their transaction fees for foreign currency purchases. Here are our best money-saving tips to avoid getting ripped off on your vacation.

1. Don't forget to call your credit card companies and tell them about your travel plans. Fraud has become such a worldwide problem that credit card companies are on the alert for unusual activity, such as cash advances and purchases in foreign currency. Some companies, like Capital One, will even reject out-of-state charges if you don't alert them in advance. Also, ask what fees apply to foreign purchases ; most companies have recently begun charging up to 3 percent for international charges. Capital One and Schwab Bank do not charge a fee, and many credit unions charge either a low fee (1 percent) or no fee at all. Some debit cards have even begun charging a fee.

2. Don't forget to check foreign currency exchange rates online before you travel. If you know what the best exchange rate is, you'll know what to expect when you do a currency exchange. Get current information at sites like or, which even has photos of foreign notes to help you become familiar with them. Some sites, like, support a link with a retail currency exchange service, like Travelex, which operates exchange bureaus in over 100 airports in 25 countries. On a day when the exchange rate was $127 to=€100, Travelex was charging $137.

3. Don't change money at an airport kiosk. These currency exchange desks make a lot of money either by giving you a poor exchange rate or charging a fee, which can be a flat fee or a percentage of the dollar amount exchanged. If you must exchange currency here, get the minimum you need to get you to your hotel (unless it's a flat fee). The better option, though, is to withdraw money from an ATM---which may not be easy for arriving passengers to find, as they are often outside of the area where passengers clear customs, or in the Departures section of the terminal. Ask a local (perhaps someone in the Duty Free shop) or a seasoned traveler (like a flight attendant). Also, if you can get to your hotel by train or in a taxi that accepts credit cards, you may not even need foreign currency until you get into the city center, where you'll find a more favorable exchange rate at a bank (if you are traveling with cash).)

4. Don't use a credit card to get a cash advance without checking in advance what the surcharge will be. It may be more advantageous to use a debit card, but again, do check if any fees will be charged. (At one time, many debit cards did not charge a fee for this service, but some companies now impose fees.) If you make a cash withdrawal with a card, use an ATM run by a major overseas bank. Avoid freestanding ATMs at convenience stores---as is the case at home, these are more likely to charge a fee , and are more vulnerable to tampering. Credit cards will charge a fee for a cash advance, usually 3 percent (or more) of the amount withdrawn (typically with a minimum fee of say, $5), and you may get hit with an ATM fee as well. Also, the company's highest APR applies to cash advances (up to 20 percent), which kicks in from the date you withdraw the money (no grace period) until you pay off your entire balance.

5. Don't buy traveler's checks. So last century! Nowadays, they're more of a nuisance than a help. If you don't have a debit card, buy a prepaid Visa or MasterCard which is good at all shops, restaurants, and ATMs displaying the logo. This is also a great precaution if you're leery about using a debit card linked to your main bank account (and all your assets).

6. Don't assume you will have to exchange currency at all. If you are traveling to Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador, the British Virgin Islands, or Turks and Caicos, the U.S. Dollar dollar is the official currency. The almighty buck is also welcome in Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Jamaica and other tourist-oriented islands.

Savvy travelers plan for future trips

7. Don't spend all your foreign currency if you (or a friend) might take another trip. Keep enough foreign currency to get you through your next arrival. Euros do make it easy for travelers, as they are official currency of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. The Euro is also officially accepted in Andorra, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Kosovo, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin and widely accepted in Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, Morocco---and anyplace else where goods are sold at a bazaar.

8. Don't plan on changing foreign currency back into dollars. You'll lose even more on a second exchange, so if you're not planning another trip (and don't know someone who is), plan your cash expenses for the last few days. Remember especiallly to count taxi, tips, breakfast and airports snacks. If you end up with extra cash, you can spend it on duty free shopping on the ground or in the air. If you don't have a little coin collector at home, you can donate any leftover foreign currency to charitable causes with collection jars at the Duty Free shops, currency exchange desks, or even onboard your flight. British Airways is one of several airlines that collect for charity; over 16 years, BA's Change for Good collected over £27 million for Unicef. Their new program, Flying Start, aims to raise £8 million by 2013 for impoverished children in the UK and worldwide.

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100 things that you did not know about Africa

1. The human race is of African origin. The oldest known skeletal remains of anatomically modern humans (or homo sapiens) were excavated at sites in East Africa. Human remains were discovered at Omo in Ethiopia that were dated at 195,000 years old, the oldest known in the world.

2. Skeletons of pre-humans have been found in Africa that date back between 4 and 5 million years. The oldest known ancestral type of humanity is thought to have been the australopithecus ramidus, who lived at least 4.4 million years ago.

3. Africans were the first to organise fishing expeditions 90,000 years ago. At Katanda, a region in northeastern Zaïre (now Congo), was recovered a finely wrought series of harpoon points, all elaborately polished and barbed. Also uncovered was a tool, equally well crafted, believed to be a dagger. The discoveries suggested the existence of an early aquatic or fishing based culture.

4. Africans were the first to engage in mining 43,000 years ago. In 1964 a hematite mine was found in Swaziland at Bomvu Ridge in the Ngwenya mountain range. Ultimately 300,000 artefacts were recovered including thousands of stone-made mining tools. Adrian Boshier, one of the archaeologists on the site, dated the mine to a staggering 43,200 years old.

5. Africans pioneered basic arithmetic 25,000 years ago. The Ishango bone is a tool handle with notches carved into it found in the Ishango region of Zaïre (now called Congo) near Lake Edward. The bone tool was originally thought to have been over 8,000 years old, but a more sensitive recent dating has given dates of 25,000 years old. On the tool are 3 rows of notches. Row 1 shows three notches carved next to six, four carved next to eight, ten carved next to two fives and finally a seven. The 3 and 6, 4 and 8, and 10 and 5, represent the process of doubling. Row 2 shows eleven notches carved next to twenty-one notches, and nineteen notches carved next to nine notches. This represents 10 + 1, 20 + 1, 20 - 1 and 10 - 1. Finally, Row 3 shows eleven notches, thirteen notches, seventeen notches and nineteen notches. 11, 13, 17 and 19 are the prime numbers between 10 and 20.

6. Africans cultivated crops 12,000 years ago, the first known advances in agriculture. Professor Fred Wendorf discovered that people in Egypt’s Western Desert cultivated crops of barley, capers, chick-peas, dates, legumes, lentils and wheat. Their ancient tools were also recovered. There were grindstones, milling stones, cutting blades, hide scrapers, engraving burins, and mortars and pestles.

7. Africans mummified their dead 9,000 years ago. A mummified infant was found under the Uan Muhuggiag rock shelter in south western Libya. The infant was buried in the foetal position and was mummified using a very sophisticated technique that must have taken hundreds of years to evolve. The technique predates the earliest mummies known in Ancient Egypt by at least 1,000 years. Carbon dating is controversial but the mummy may date from 7438 (±220) BC.

8. Africans carved the world’s first colossal sculpture 7,000 or more years ago. The Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned with the head of a man combined with the body of a lion. A key and important question raised by this monument was: How old is it? In October 1991 Professor Robert Schoch, a geologist from Boston University, demonstrated that the Sphinx was sculpted between 5000 BC and 7000 BC, dates that he considered conservative.

9. On the 1 March 1979, the New York Times carried an article on its front page also page sixteen that was entitled Nubian Monarchy called Oldest. In this article we were assured that: “Evidence of the oldest recognizable monarchy in human history, preceding the rise of the earliest Egyptian kings by several generations, has been discovered in artifacts from ancient Nubia” (i.e. the territory of the northern Sudan and the southern portion of modern Egypt.)

10. The ancient Egyptians had the same type of tropically adapted skeletal proportions as modern Black Africans. A 2003 paper appeared in American Journal of Physical Anthropology by Dr Sonia Zakrzewski entitled Variation in Ancient Egyptian Stature and Body Proportions where she states that: “The raw values in Table 6 suggest that Egyptians had the ‘super-Negroid’ body plan described by Robins (1983). The values for the brachial and crural indices show that the distal segments of each limb are longer relative to the proximal segments than in many ‘African’ populations.”

11. The ancient Egyptians had Afro combs. One writer tells us that the Egyptians “manufactured a very striking range of combs in ivory: the shape of these is distinctly African and is like the combs used even today by Africans and those of African descent.”

12. The Funerary Complex in the ancient Egyptian city of Saqqara is the oldest building that tourists regularly visit today. An outer wall, now mostly in ruins, surrounded the whole structure. Through the entrance are a series of columns, the first stone-built columns known to historians. The North House also has ornamental columns built into the walls that have papyrus-like capitals. Also inside the complex is the Ceremonial Court, made of limestone blocks that have been quarried and then shaped. In the centre of the complex is the Step Pyramid, the first of 90 Egyptian pyramids.

13. The first Great Pyramid of Giza, the most extraordinary building in history, was a staggering 481 feet tall - the equivalent of a 40-storey building. It was made of 2.3 million blocks of limestone and granite, some weighing 100 tons.

14. The ancient Egyptian city of Kahun was the world’s first planned city. Rectangular and walled, the city was divided into two parts. One part housed the wealthier inhabitants – the scribes, officials and foremen. The other part housed the ordinary people. The streets of the western section in particular, were straight, laid out on a grid, and crossed each other at right angles. A stone gutter, over half a metre wide, ran down the centre of every street.

15. Egyptian mansions were discovered in Kahun - each boasting 70 rooms, divided into four sections or quarters. There was a master’s quarter, quarters for women and servants, quarters for offices and finally, quarters for granaries, each facing a central courtyard. The master’s quarters had an open court with a stone water tank for bathing. Surrounding this was a colonnade.

16 The Labyrinth in the Egyptian city of Hawara with its massive layout, multiple courtyards, chambers and halls, was the very largest building in antiquity. Boasting three thousand rooms, 1,500 of them were above ground and the other 1,500 were underground.

17. Toilets and sewerage systems existed in ancient Egypt. One of the pharaohs built a city now known as Amarna. An American urban planner noted that: “Great importance was attached to cleanliness in Amarna as in other Egyptian cities. Toilets and sewers were in use to dispose waste. Soap was made for washing the body. Perfumes and essences were popular against body odour. A solution of natron was used to keep insects from houses . . . Amarna may have been the first planned ‘garden city’.”

18. Sudan has more pyramids than any other country on earth - even more than Egypt. There are at least 223 pyramids in the Sudanese cities of Al Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal and Meroë. They are generally 20 to 30 metres high and steep sided.

19. The Sudanese city of Meroë is rich in surviving monuments. Becoming the capital of the Kushite Empire between 590 BC until AD 350, there are 84 pyramids in this city alone, many built with their own miniature temple. In addition, there are ruins of a bath house sharing affinities with those of the Romans. Its central feature is a large pool approached by a flight of steps with waterspouts decorated with lion heads.

20. Bling culture has a long and interesting history. Gold was used to decorate ancient Sudanese temples. One writer reported that: “Recent excavations at Meroe and Mussawwarat es-Sufra revealed temples with walls and statues covered with gold leaf”.

21. In around 300 BC, the Sudanese invented a writing script that had twenty-three letters of which four were vowels and there was also a word divider. Hundreds of ancient texts have survived that were in this script. Some are on display in the British Museum.

22. In central Nigeria, West Africa’s oldest civilisation flourished between 1000 BC and 300 BC. Discovered in 1928, the ancient culture was called the Nok Civilisation, named after the village in which the early artefacts were discovered. Two modern scholars, declare that “[a]fter calibration, the period of Nok art spans from 1000 BC until 300 BC”. The site itself is much older going back as early as 4580 or 4290 BC.

23. West Africans built in stone by 1100 BC. In the Tichitt-Walata region of Mauritania, archaeologists have found “large stone masonry villages” that date back to 1100 BC. The villages consisted of roughly circular compounds connected by “well-defined streets”.

24. By 250 BC, the foundations of West Africa’s oldest cities were established such as Old Djenné in Mali.

25. Kumbi Saleh, the capital of Ancient Ghana, flourished from 300 to 1240 AD. Located in modern day Mauritania, archaeological excavations have revealed houses, almost habitable today, for want of renovation and several storeys high. They had underground rooms, staircases and connecting halls. Some had nine rooms. One part of the city alone is estimated to have housed 30,000 people.
26. West Africa had walled towns and cities in the pre-colonial period. Winwood Reade, an English historian visited West Africa in the nineteenth century and commented that: “There are . . . thousands of large walled cities resembling those of Europe in the Middle Ages, or of ancient Greece.”

27. Lord Lugard, an English official, estimated in 1904 that there were 170 walled towns still in existence in the whole of just the Kano province of northern Nigeria.

28. Cheques are not quite as new an invention as we were led to believe. In the tenth century, an Arab geographer, Ibn Haukal, visited a fringe region of Ancient Ghana. Writing in 951 AD, he told of a cheque for 42,000 golden dinars written to a merchant in the city of Audoghast by his partner in Sidjilmessa.

29. Ibn Haukal, writing in 951 AD, informs us that the King of Ghana was “the richest king on the face of the earth” whose pre-eminence was due to the quantity of gold nuggets that had been amassed by the himself and by his predecessors.

30. The Nigerian city of Ile-Ife was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler with decorations that originated in Ancient America. Naturally, no-one wants to explain how this took place approximately 500 years before the time of Christopher Columbus!

31. West Africa had bling culture in 1067 AD. One source mentions that when the Emperor of Ghana gives audience to his people: “he sits in a pavilion around which stand his horses caparisoned in cloth of gold: behind him stand ten pages holding shields and gold-mounted swords: and on his right hand are the sons of the princes of his empire, splendidly clad and with gold plaited into their hair . . . The gate of the chamber is guarded by dogs of an excellent breed . . . they wear collars of gold and silver.”

32. Glass windows existed at that time. The residence of the Ghanaian Emperor in 1116 AD was: “A well-built castle, thoroughly fortified, decorated inside with sculptures and pictures, and having glass windows.”

33. The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”, was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each with projecting wooden buttresses.

34. One of the great achievements of the Yoruba was their urban culture. “By the year A.D. 1300,” says a modern scholar, “the Yoruba people built numerous walled cities surrounded by farms”. The cities were Owu, Oyo, Ijebu, Ijesa, Ketu, Popo, Egba, Sabe, Dassa, Egbado, Igbomina, the sixteen Ekiti principalities, Owo and Ondo.

35. Yoruba metal art of the mediaeval period was of world class. One scholar wrote that Yoruba art “would stand comparison with anything which Ancient Egypt, Classical Greece and Rome, or Renaissance Europe had to offer.”

36. In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.

37. Thousands of mediaeval tumuli have been found across West Africa. Nearly 7,000 were discovered in north-west Senegal alone spread over nearly 1,500 sites. They were probably built between 1000 and 1300 AD.

38. Excavations at the Malian city of Gao carried out by Cambridge University revealed glass windows. One of the finds was entitled: “Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window glass, Gao 10th – 14th century.”

39. In 1999 the BBC produced a television series entitled Millennium. The programme devoted to the fourteenth century opens with the following disclosure: “In the fourteenth century, the century of the scythe, natural disasters threatened civilisations with extinction. The Black Death kills more people in Europe, Asia and North Africa than any catastrophe has before. Civilisations which avoid the plague thrive. In West Africa the Empire of Mali becomes the richest in the world.”

40. Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.

41. On a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 AD, a Malian ruler, Mansa Musa, brought so much money with him that his visit resulted in the collapse of gold prices in Egypt and Arabia. It took twelve years for the economies of the region to normalise.

42. West African gold mining took place on a vast scale. One modern writer said that: “It is estimated that the total amount of gold mined in West Africa up to 1500 was 3,500 tons, worth more than $****30 billion in today’s market.”

43. The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.

44. Mali in the 14th century was highly urbanised. Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: “Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated”.

45. The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 - 5 times larger than mediaeval London. Mansa Musa, built the Djinguerebere Mosque in the fourteenth century. There was the University Mosque in which 25,000 students studied and the Oratory of Sidi Yayia. There were over 150 Koran schools in which 20,000 children were instructed. London, by contrast, had a total 14th century population of 20,000 people.

46. National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.

47. Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger. Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about 700,000 surviving books.

48. A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends - he had only 1600 volumes.

49. Concerning these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years . . . Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.”

50. The Songhai Empire of 16th century West Africa had a government position called Minister for Etiquette and Protocol.
51. The mediaeval Nigerian city of Benin was built to “a scale comparable with the Great Wall of China”. There was a vast system of defensive walling totalling 10,000 miles in all. Even before the full extent of the city walling had become apparent the Guinness Book of Records carried an entry in the 1974 edition that described the city as: “The largest earthworks in the world carried out prior to the mechanical era.”

52. Benin art of the Middle Ages was of the highest quality. An official of the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde once stated that: “These works from Benin are equal to the very finest examples of European casting technique. Benvenuto Cellini could not have cast them better, nor could anyone else before or after him . . . Technically, these bronzes represent the very highest possible achievement.”

53. Winwood Reade described his visit to the Ashanti Royal Palace of Kumasi in 1874: “We went to the king’s palace, which consists of many courtyards, each surrounded with alcoves and verandahs, and having two gates or doors, so that each yard was a thoroughfare . . . But the part of the palace fronting the street was a stone house, Moorish in its style . . . with a flat roof and a parapet, and suites of apartments on the first floor. It was built by Fanti masons many years ago. The rooms upstairs remind me of Wardour Street. Each was a perfect Old Curiosity Shop. Books in many languages, Bohemian glass, clocks, silver plate, old furniture, Persian rugs, Kidderminster carpets, pictures and engravings, numberless chests and coffers. A sword bearing the inscription From Queen Victoria to the King of Ashantee. A copy of the Times, 17 October 1843. With these were many specimens of Moorish and Ashanti handicraft.”

54. In the mid-nineteenth century, William Clarke, an English visitor to Nigeria, remarked that: “As good an article of cloth can be woven by the Yoruba weavers as by any people . . . in durability, their cloths far excel the prints and home-spuns of Manchester.”

55. The recently discovered 9th century Nigerian city of Eredo was found to be surrounded by a wall that was 100 miles long and seventy feet high in places. The internal area was a staggering 400 square miles.

56. On the subject of cloth, Kongolese textiles were also distinguished. Various European writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wrote of the delicate crafts of the peoples living in eastern Kongo and adjacent regions who manufactured damasks, sarcenets, satins, taffeta, cloth of tissue and velvet. Professor DeGraft-Johnson made the curious observation that: “Their brocades, both high and low, were far more valuable than the Italian.”

57. On Kongolese metallurgy of the Middle Ages, one modern scholar wrote that: “There is no doubting . . . the existence of an expert metallurgical art in the ancient Kongo . . . The Bakongo were aware of the toxicity of lead vapours. They devised preventative and curative methods, both pharmacological (massive doses of pawpaw and palm oil) and mechanical (exerting of pressure to free the digestive tract), for combating lead poisoning.”

58. In Nigeria, the royal palace in the city of Kano dates back to the fifteenth century. Begun by Muhammad Rumfa (ruled 1463-99) it has gradually evolved over generations into a very imposing complex. A colonial report of the city from 1902, described it as “a network of buildings covering an area of 33 acres and surrounded by a wall 20 to 30 feet high outside and 15 feet inside . . . in itself no mean citadel”.

59. A sixteenth century traveller visited the central African civilisation of Kanem-Borno and commented that the emperor’s cavalry had golden “stirrups, spurs, bits and buckles.” Even the ruler’s dogs had “chains of the finest gold”.

60. One of the government positions in mediaeval Kanem-Borno was Astronomer Royal.

61. Ngazargamu, the capital city of Kanem-Borno, became one of the largest cities in the seventeenth century world. By 1658 AD, the metropolis, according to an architectural scholar housed “about quarter of a million people”. It had 660 streets. Many were wide and unbending, reflective of town planning.

62. The Nigerian city of Surame flourished in the sixteenth century. Even in ruin it was an impressive sight, built on a horizontal vertical grid. A modern scholar describes it thus: “The walls of Surame are about 10 miles in circumference and include many large bastions or walled suburbs running out at right angles to the main wall. The large compound at Kanta is still visible in the centre, with ruins of many buildings, one of which is said to have been two-storied. The striking feature of the walls and whole ruins is the extensive use of stone and tsokuwa (laterite gravel) or very hard red building mud, evidently brought from a distance. There is a big mound of this near the north gate about 8 feet in height. The walls show regular courses of masonry to a height of 20 feet and more in several places. The best preserved portion is that known as sirati (the bridge) a little north of the eastern gate . . . The main city walls here appear to have provided a very strongly guarded entrance about 30 feet wide.”

63. The Nigerian city of Kano in 1851 produced an estimated 10 million pairs of sandals and 5 million hides each year for export.

64. In 1246 AD Dunama II of Kanem-Borno exchanged embassies with Al-Mustansir, the king of Tunis. He sent the North African court a costly present, which apparently included a giraffe. An old chronicle noted that the rare animal “created a sensation in Tunis”.

65. By the third century BC the city of Carthage on the coast of Tunisia was opulent and impressive. It had a population of 700,000 and may even have approached a million. Lining both sides of three streets were rows of tall houses six storeys high.

66. The Ethiopian city of Axum has a series of 7 giant obelisks that date from perhaps 300 BC to 300 AD. They have details carved into them that represent windows and doorways of several storeys. The largest obelisk, now fallen, is in fact “the largest monolith ever made anywhere in the world”. It is 108 feet long, weighs a staggering 500 tons, and represents a thirteen-storey building.

67. Ethiopia minted its own coins over 1,500 years ago. One scholar wrote that: “Almost no other contemporary state anywhere in the world could issue in gold, a statement of sovereignty achieved only by Rome, Persia, and the Kushan kingdom in northern India at the time.”

68. The Ethiopian script of the 4th century AD influenced the writing script of Armenia. A Russian historian noted that: “Soon after its creation, the Ethiopic vocalised script began to influence the scripts of Armenia and Georgia. D. A. Olderogge suggested that Mesrop Mashtotz used the vocalised Ethiopic script when he invented the Armenian alphabet.”

69. “In the first half of the first millennium CE,” says a modern scholar, Ethiopia “was ranked as one of the world’s greatest empires”. A Persian cleric of the third century AD identified it as the third most important state in the world after Persia and Rome.

70. Ethiopia has 11 underground mediaeval churches built by being carved out of the ground. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries AD, Roha became the new capital of the Ethiopians. Conceived as a New Jerusalem by its founder, Emperor Lalibela (c.1150-1230), it contains 11 churches, all carved out of the rock of the mountains by hammer and chisel. All of the temples were carved to a depth of 11 metres or so below ground level. The largest is the House of the Redeemer, a staggering 33.7 metres long, 23.7 metres wide and 11.5 metres deep.

71. Lalibela is not the only place in Ethiopia to have such wonders. A cotemporary archaeologist reports research that was conducted in the region in the early 1970’s when: “startling numbers of churches built in caves or partially or completely cut from the living rock were revealed not only in Tigre and Lalibela but as far south as Addis Ababa. Soon at least 1,500 were known. At least as many more probably await revelation.”

72. In 1209 AD Emperor Lalibela of Ethiopia sent an embassy to Cairo bringing the sultan unusual gifts including an elephant, a hyena, a zebra, and a giraffe.

73. In Southern Africa, there are at least 600 stone built ruins in the regions of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. These ruins are called Mazimbabwe in Shona, the Bantu language of the builders, and means great revered house and “signifies court”.

74. The Great Zimbabwe was the largest of these ruins. It consists of 12 clusters of buildings, spread over 3 square miles. Its outer walls were made from 100,000 tons of granite bricks. In the fourteenth century, the city housed 18,000 people, comparable in size to that of London of the same period.

75. Bling culture existed in this region. At the time of our last visit, the Horniman Museum in London had exhibits of headrests with the caption: “Headrests have been used in Africa since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. Remains of some headrests, once covered in gold foil, have been found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and burial sites like Mapungubwe dating to the twelfth century after Christ.”

76. Dr Albert Churchward, author of Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man, pointed out that writing was found in one of the stone built ruins: “Lt.-Col. E. L. de Cordes . . . who was in South Africa for three years, informed the writer that in one of the ‘Ruins’ there is a ‘stone-chamber,’ with a vast quantity of Papyri, covered with old Egyptian hieroglyphics. A Boer hunter discovered this, and a large quantity was used to light a fire with, and yet still a larger quantity remained there now.”

77. On bling culture, one seventeenth century visitor to southern African empire of Monomotapa, that ruled over this vast region, wrote that: “The people dress in various ways: at court of the Kings their grandees wear cloths of rich silk, damask, satin, gold and silk cloth; these are three widths of satin, each width four covados [2.64m], each sewn to the next, sometimes with gold lace in between, trimmed on two sides, like a carpet, with a gold and silk fringe, sewn in place with a two fingers’ wide ribbon, woven with gold roses on silk.”

78. Southern Africans mined gold on an epic scale. One modern writer tells us that: “The estimated amount of gold ore mined from the entire region by the ancients was staggering, exceeding 43 million tons. The ore yielded nearly 700 tons of pure gold which today would be valued at over $******7.5 billion.”

79. Apparently the Monomotapan royal palace at Mount Fura had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. An eighteenth century geography book provided the following data: “The inside consists of a great variety of sumptuous apartments, spacious and lofty halls, all adorned with a magnificent cotton tapestry, the manufacture of the country. The floors, cielings [sic], beams and rafters are all either gilt or plated with gold curiously wrought, as are also the chairs of state, tables, benches &c. The candle-sticks and branches are made of ivory inlaid with gold, and hang from the cieling by chains of the same metal, or of silver gilt.”

80. Monomotapa had a social welfare system. Antonio Bocarro, a Portuguese contemporary, informs us that the Emperor: “shows great charity to the blind and maimed, for these are called the king’s poor, and have land and revenues for their subsistence, and when they wish to pass through the kingdoms, wherever they come food and drinks are given to them at the public cost as long as they remain there, and when they leave that place to go to another they are provided with what is necessary for their journey, and a guide, and some one to carry their wallet to the next village. In every place where they come there is the same obligation.”

81. Many southern Africans have indigenous and pre-colonial words for ‘gun’. Scholars have generally been reluctant to investigate or explain this fact.

82. Evidence discovered in 1978 showed that East Africans were making steel for more than 1,500 years: “Assistant Professor of Anthropology Peter Schmidt and Professor of Engineering Donald H. Avery have found as long as 2,000 years ago Africans living on the western shores of Lake Victoria had produced carbon steel in preheated forced draft furnaces, a method that was technologically more sophisticated than any developed in Europe until the mid-nineteenth century.”

83. Ruins of a 300 BC astronomical observatory was found at Namoratunga in Kenya. Africans were mapping the movements of stars such as Triangulum, Aldebaran, Bellatrix, Central Orion, etcetera, as well as the moon, in order to create a lunar calendar of 354 days.

84. Autopsies and caesarean operations were routinely and effectively carried out by surgeons in pre-colonial Uganda. The surgeons routinely used antiseptics, anaesthetics and cautery iron. Commenting on a Ugandan caesarean operation that appeared in the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1884, one author wrote: “The whole conduct of the operation . . . suggests a skilled long-practiced surgical team at work conducting a well-tried and familiar operation with smooth efficiency.”

85. Sudan in the mediaeval period had churches, cathedrals, monasteries and castles. Their ruins still exist today.

86. The mediaeval Nubian Kingdoms kept archives. From the site of Qasr Ibrim legal texts, documents and correspondence were discovered. An archaeologist informs us that: “On the site are preserved thousands of documents in Meroitic, Latin, Greek, Coptic, Old Nubian, Arabic and Turkish.”

87. Glass windows existed in mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found evidence of window glass at the Sudanese cities of Old Dongola and Hambukol.

88. Bling culture existed in the mediaeval Sudan. Archaeologists found an individual buried at the Monastery of the Holy Trinity in the city of Old Dongola. He was clad in an extremely elaborate garb consisting of costly textiles of various fabrics including gold thread. At the city of Soba East, there were individuals buried in fine clothing, including items with golden thread.

89. Style and fashion existed in mediaeval Sudan. A dignitary at Jebel Adda in the late thirteenth century AD was interned with a long coat of red and yellow patterned damask folded over his body. Underneath, he wore plain cotton trousers of long and baggy cut. A pair of red leather slippers with turned up toes lay at the foot of the coffin. The body was wrapped in enormous pieces of gold brocaded striped silk.

90. Sudan in the ninth century AD had housing complexes with bath rooms and piped water. An archaeologist wrote that Old Dongola, the capital of Makuria, had: “a[n] . . . eighth to . . . ninth century housing complex. The houses discovered here differ in their hitherto unencountered spatial layout as well as their functional programme (water supply installation, bathroom with heating system) and interiors decorated with murals.”

91. In 619 AD, the Nubians sent a gift of a giraffe to the Persians.

92. The East Coast, from Somalia to Mozambique, has ruins of well over 50 towns and cities. They flourished from the ninth to the sixteenth centuries AD.

93. Chinese records of the fifteenth century AD note that Mogadishu had houses of “four or five storeys high”.

94. Gedi, near the coast of Kenya, is one of the East African ghost towns. Its ruins, dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, include the city walls, the palace, private houses, the Great Mosque, seven smaller mosques, and three pillar tombs.

95. The ruined mosque in the Kenyan city of Gedi had a water purifier made of limestone for recycling water.

96. The palace in the Kenyan city of Gedi contains evidence of piped water controlled by taps. In addition it had bathrooms and indoor toilets.

97. A visitor in 1331 AD considered the Tanzanian city of Kilwa to be of world class. He wrote that it was the “principal city on the coast the greater part of whose inhabitants are Zanj of very black complexion.” Later on he says that: “Kilwa is one of the most beautiful and well-constructed cities in the world. The whole of it is elegantly built.”

98. Bling culture existed in early Tanzania. A Portuguese chronicler of the sixteenth century wrote that: “[T]hey are finely clad in many rich garments of gold and silk and cotton, and the women as well; also with much gold and silver chains and bracelets, which they wear on their legs and arms, and many jewelled earrings in their ears”.

99. In 1961 a British archaeologist, found the ruins of Husuni Kubwa, the royal palace of the Tanzanian city of Kilwa. It had over a hundred rooms, including a reception hall, galleries, courtyards, terraces and an octagonal swimming pool.

100. In 1414 the Kenyan city of Malindi sent ambassadors to China carrying a gift that created a sensation at the Imperial Court. It was, of course, a giraffe.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is Your PC Too Sick to Save?

Is Your PC Too Sick to Save?

What to look for
According to the experts, there are various signs that could spell trouble for your computer: It’s running awfully slowly and takes forever to open files and send emails, and there are strange sounds emanating from it. If your computer is overheated, it can also cause severe problems to the point of permanently damaging your system. Be wary of spyware and viruses, which can considerably slow down your PC. Sudden power outages during storms can also cause harm, and water damage can also prevent your equipment from functioning properly. However, this doesn’t always mean that you should kiss your PC goodbye and invest in a new one.

According to John Breeden II, Senior Technology Analyst/Lab Director at Government Computer News, “It’s not possible for a computer to become permanently damaged with normal use. You won’t get a virus which will destroy your hardware. It might kill your data, but physically, your system will be fine. If it gets put in water, that’s one thing, but if you’re just sitting it on your desk and working with it, odds are it will pretty much last forever.”

Steps to take

Breeden recommends steps to resolve your computer glitches. First, run a scan with some type of utility suite. “It may be that your computer is working fine,” he explains, “but just can’t handle what you’re trying to run on it.” Adding memory can also help. “Even if you meet the minimum requirements for software, things will still run slowly if you don’t meet the recommended specs. If you are too behind the curve, it may be time to buy a new system.” He cites a gaming system as an example because the software advances rapidly.

A program that Breeden highly recommends for fixing system errors is System Mechanic, which he explains is easy to use because “you don’t have to be technical to use it. You just push the ‘fix’ button, and it does its thing. You can, however, use it to really dig into a system if you’re technically inclined, so it’s the best of both worlds that way.”

A security engineer we talked to advises to watch out for unusual noises coming from your computer. Frequently, this spells trouble for the hard drive, at which point you might want to consider taking it to a professional who can then try to salvage your data.

According to our experts, the average lifespan for most computers is four years, but you can extend its life even further by adding more system memory, for example.
“What normally happens,” Breeden explains, “is that software gets more demanding over time, and that is what leaves computers in the dust. So your computer is still good until the software you need to use has become too advanced for it.” This can occur, for example, “when you want to buy an office suite or game, and your computer’s minimum specs are lower than the specs printed on the box,” Breeden says.

Precautionary measures
Most of the glitches users encounter are easy to fix. By taking a few simple precautionary measures, you can keep your computer up and running for a long time to come. Our experts weighed in with tips and suggestions. First, you can prevent spyware and viruses from infecting your system by investing in a good anti-virus program and continuously updating it. As the security engineer explains, the greatest danger that viruses and malware cause is usually the ability to steal credit card and other pertinent information. You also need to install the updates for your operating system (e.g., latest updates for Windows). In addition, steer clear of clicking on suspicious links, which may prove harmful.

The “formula”
Our security engineer also recommends using a formula to figure out if it’s time to ditch your old PC and invest in a new one: Take the original purchase price (say, $600), divide it by the years you've owned it (say, 2) and subtract the cost of 1 hour of computer support (say, around $85) = 215.

“When the computer repair amount starts to come close to the computer cost (original amount/years owned), or if you have to frequently repair the computer, it’s time for a new one,” he says.

More @|main|dl5|sec1_lnk1|171298


Bankruptcy filings are nearing the record 2 million of 2005, when a new law took effect that was aimed at curbing abuse of the system. Filings could reach 1.7 million this year, says law professor Robert Lawless, but few experts believe that debtors are now gaming the system.

Instead, concern exists about a growing number of Americans who need bankruptcy protection but cannot get any benefit from it or simply cannot afford to file. As their financial problems worsen, that hurts everyone because it can hinder the economic turnaround.

"It's shocking that we are back to the 2005 level," says Katherine Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa. "And the filing rate doesn't even begin to count the depth of the financial pain."

"It's shocking that we are back to the 2005 level," says Katherine Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa. "And the filing rate doesn't even begin to count the depth of the financial pain."

Bankruptcy laws changed in 2005 because filings skyrocketed and credit card companies and banks wanted to weed out deadbeat borrowers. The law made it harder — more expensive and more restrictive — for individuals to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which erases most debts.

Instead of seeking protection from bankruptcy, a number of debt-laden Americans have gone into a "shadow economy," or informal bankruptcy, according to some experts.
The signs are there: Student loan defaults and home foreclosures are rising, and bank card loan defaults have increased from 7.7% in March to 9.1% in April, according to S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default Indices. But during the same two months, bankruptcy filings fell by 4%.

Bankruptcy is supposed to provide a fresh start to people who are in serious financial distress. But only a fraction are filing, Porter says.

'My future is gone'

Carmen Gardiner, 25, a 2007 graduate of Louisiana State University, is weighed down by her private student loans. Her debt is now about $80,000, and her monthly payments are more than $600. Gardiner's undergraduate degree is in psychology. She lives with her husband, who is still in college, and earns $13 an hour at a call center in Atlanta. They have a 6-month-old daughter.

She hasn't defaulted on her student loan. But she doesn't see much hope. Bankruptcy would not discharge her debt.

"I'm completely sour about the whole idea of going to college," she says. "My future is gone before I have a chance to make one. But if I could discharge this using bankruptcy, it would be better than winning the lottery."

There is little information about unregulated private student loan debt. But during an investor meeting, Sallie Mae, the USA's largest private student lender, recently projected that 40% of $6 billion in subprime private student loans will default, according to Student Lending Analytics, an independent research company. That means 360,000 to 540,000 borrowers are likely to default on their loans, SLA said.

The only way that people with private student loans can get help in bankruptcy is if they can prove undue hardship. And to do that they have to go through a separate trial, which is an extra cost, involves witnesses, legal assistance and extra expertise, says Deanne Loonin, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

It is a huge barrier.

But in April, both the Senate and House introduced legislation to allow for private student loans to be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Before the bankruptcy law changed in 2005, only government-issued-or-guaranteed student loans were protected during bankruptcy.

"The high interest rates on private student loans have made them incredibly profitable for loan companies and saddled students with crushing debt," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who first introduced this legislation in June 2007.

Filers pay now or pay later

Only a fraction of those in serious financial distress are filing for bankruptcy, Porter says. In January, she and Ronald Mann, a professor of law at Columbia University, released a paper, "Saving up for Bankruptcy," that probed why that is happening.

For starters, it's simply expensive to file. Attorney and filing fees have risen, and under the new law additional forms, paperwork and attorney liability have added to the cost, Porter says. In the first two years after the law changed, the attorney fees for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy rose from $712 to $1,078, according to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. And the filing fees increased from $209 to $299.

Many debtors have no choice but to delay filing for bankruptcy. Some wait until they receive a tax refund, and others cash out their retirement savings to pay for a lawyer.

But postponing filing is not good for debtors. It's similar to delaying going to the doctor, because you'll just end up with more problems, says Lawless, professor of law at University of Illinois.

The system is not just more costly, it is more complex. It requires pre-bankruptcy credit counseling. It requires six months of income information and two years of tax returns. And if the debtor holds off filing, a lawyer has to continue to gather new information.

"The paper chase gets greater, and then the fee goes up," says William Brewer, a bankruptcy lawyer in Raleigh, N.C.
Hanging onto their homes
Another reason: Many Americans who are trying to save their homes do not file for bankruptcy. Under the bankruptcy law, filers can protect their summer home and yacht, but they can't protect their primary residence, says John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a non-profit organization.

That wasn't such a big issue when home values were rising. But during the recession, many homeowners are seeing values plummeting and their mortgage payments rising.

Home foreclosure filings have outstripped bankruptcy filings, Porter says. And foreclosure shows no sign of slowing down. In the first quarter of the year, foreclosure filings were 16% higher than the same quarter in 2009, according to RealtyTrac. And March was the highest month since RealtyTrac began issuing reports.
Cordell Brooks, 47, who lives in Temple Hills, Md., may soon lose his home to foreclosure. During the recession he was laid off from his job as a graphics designer. Since then, he has worked as a substitute teacher and now is a contractor with Prince George's County Housing.

"I've gone from earning $40 an hour to $17.50," he says.
Brooks, who has owned his home since 1989, applied for a federal program known as Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) but was turned down. He has few options. He doesn't want to file for bankruptcy. But even if he did, it wouldn't help him save his home.

"Bankruptcy is not very useful at solving this particular type of financial distress," Porter says.

Homeowners who applied for loan modifications could have been turned down if they also have filed for bankruptcy. But as of this month, a debtor who requests loan modification cannot be discriminated against because they have filed for bankruptcy, says John Rao, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, which specializes in consumer credit and bankruptcy issues. And that will help homeowners who are also overwhelmed by other debt.

Is it time for a change?

When the bankruptcy law changed in 2005, barriers were erected to prevent abuse. But it seems that many honest Americans who are in financial crisis are now running into obstacles. That raises questions about what can be done to prevent debtors from falling through the cracks.

Congress is considering legislation to help college graduates weighed down by private student loan debt. If passed, the legislation could roll back the bankruptcy law so that private student loans can be discharged.
The Treasury Department has agreed to revise the federal mortgage modification program so that people can't be turned down for HAMP just because they have filed for bankruptcy. But some say that this is just a Band-Aid. And now few homeowners are getting permanent mortgage modification.

The 2005 bankruptcy reform did not change mortgage debt. "Debt secured by a principal residence has not been dischargeable since 1978," says Philip Corwin, an outside bankruptcy counsel for the American Bankers Association.
Recent efforts to introduce legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages have failed. "If Congress had had the wisdom to pass that three years ago we would have forced all the parties to the table to work out reasonable solutions," Taylor says.

The financial industry says that the bankruptcy law is not causing the shadow economy. People can still file for it, and if they can't afford the fees at least the court filing fees can be waived, says Scott Talbott, senior vice president of the Financial Services Roundtable. And people with student loans who have undue hardship are able to get financial relief.

But undue hardship is extremely hard and costly to navigate, says Lauren Asher, associate director of Project on Student Debt. There is no definition in the bankruptcy code of undue hardship, and the court decisions on it have been harsh, Corwin says.

Free legal services have been cut back during the recession and are not available for many debtors. It would help to roll back some of the changes that have increased legal paperwork and risk of personal liability, Lawless says.

The bankruptcy problems are not likely to go away anytime soon. If Gardiner's career is stymied because she can't afford to go on to graduate school and is burdened with student loan debt, doors may be closed to her.

"Not going on with her career and being stuck in a low-wage job hurts everyone and drags down the economy," Porter says. "It is not surprising that the bankruptcy code is not a fit for the problems of today. The 2005 amendment was a move in the wrong direction, and I think it's time to think about redesigning bankruptcy."

More @

CONSIDERING BANKRUPTCY? Things you need to know:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Browser Security

One of the most basic ways to protect your computer from potentially harmful online content or malicious software is easy, fast and free. How? Just make sure your browser's security settings are set at the appropriate level.

But even if you use the highest security settings, you are only as safe as the actions you take online.

No matter which browser you use, always follow these top five security tips:

1. Delete spam messages without opening them or replying to them.
2. Use great caution when clicking on links sent to you in e-mail or text messages.
3. Do not open e-mail attachments unless you know the sender and you're expecting the attachment.
4. Create strong passwords. Use different passwords for your online banking accounts.
5. Make sure you use a firewall, as well as antivirus and antispyware software that is automatically updated.

What are the security settings on your browser? Here's how you can find out in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

How to check your Internet Explorer security settings:

1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Click the Tools button and then click Internet Options.
3. Click the Security tab.

You will see four security zones:

• Internet: The level of security for the Internet zone is applied to all Web sites by default. The security level for this zone is set to medium-high, but you can change it to either medium or high. The only Web sites for which this security setting is not used are those in the Local Intranet zone, or sites that you specifically entered into the Trusted or Restricted Site zones.

• Local Intranet: The level of security for the Local Intranet zone is applied to Web sites and content that is stored on a corporate or business network. The security level for the Local Intranet zone is set to medium, but you can change it to any level.

• Trusted Sites: The level of security for Trusted Sites is applied to sites that you have specifically indicated to be ones that you trust not to damage your computer or information. The security level for Trusted Sites is set to medium, but you can change it to any level.

• Restricted Sites: The level of security for Restricted Sites is applied to sites that might potentially damage your computer or compromise your personal information. Adding sites to the Restricted zone does not block them, but it prevents them from using scripting or any active content. The security level for Restricted Sites is set to high and cannot be changed.

As you move around the Internet, IE automatically changes the security zone as needed and sets your security level for each Web site by default, ranging from low or medium-low for a corporate Intranet site, to high for a restricted site.

How to view or change the security settings on Internet Explorer 7/8:

In addition to these default security levels, you can customize individual security settings.
1. Open Internet Explorer.
2. Click the Tools button and then click Internet Options.
3. Click the Security tab.
4. Click the "Custom level..." button.
5. At the bottom of the pop-up box, you can reset the security setting to something higher or lower. Settings that are not at recommended levels will be highlighted in red.
6. If you modify your security settings and want to change them back to the default level, follow the above instructions through step 4. Then click on the "Reset all zones to default level" button.

How to view or change the security settings in Firefox 3x:

To make sure your security settings offer you the most protection, do the following:
1. Open Firefox.
2. Click on the Tools button and then click Options.
3. Click on the Security tab.

Step 1: Make sure the first three blocks are checked:

• Warn me when sites try to install add-ons.
Firefox will always ask you to confirm installations of add-ons. To prevent unrequested installation prompts that may lead to accidental installations, Firefox warns you when a Web site tries to install an add-on and blocks the installation prompt.

• Block reported attack sites.

Firefox will check whether the site you are visiting may be an attempt to interfere with normal computer functions or send personal data about you to unauthorized parties over the Internet.

• Block reported Web forgeries.

Firefox will actively check to determine whether the site you are visiting may be an attempt to mislead you into providing personal information, often referred to as "phishing."

Step 2: Passwords

Firefox saves your passwords by default, but if anyone else ever uses your computer, turn this feature off to protect your password security. To do this:
1. Open Firefox.
2. Click on the Tools button and then click Options.
3. Click on the Security tab.
4. Uncheck "Remember Passwords for Sites."

If you share your computer with others, you can set a Master Password in Firefox.

This allows you to keep secure the username and passwords of Web sites you visit so no one else but you can access this information. To set a Master Password:

1. Open Firefox.
2. Click on the Tools button and then click Options.
3. Click on the Security tab.
4. Click "Use a master password." You'll be prompted to enter a password. (You can also follow these steps to change your Master Password.) A password-quality meter will judge the security of the password you have chosen.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you remember your Master Password! Without it, even you will not be able to access any of the information it protects or change the password.

Step 3: Warning Messages
1. Open Firefox.
2. Click on the Tools button and then click Options.
3. Click on the Security tab.
4. Click the Settings button that appears to the right of "Choose which warning messages you want to see while browsing the web."
5. At minimum, make sure the box is checked for "I am about to view a page that uses low-grade encryption."

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Traveling across Europe

Traveling across Europe

For those thinking about a tour of Europe the best way to do that is by train.

Here’s a list of train operators so you can check prices, do not get train prices from RailEurope as this is an agency that charges substantial fees in addition to the ticket prices.,
Paris-London-Brussels: . Tickets go on sale 120 days before travel.

France: but say you are from Great Britain. If you say you are from North America, you may get transferred to RailEurope with its higher prices. Tickets go on sale 90 days before travel.

Italy: but it is highly unlikely you will be able to book through this site, as it hardly ever accepts cards issued outside Europe. If you have problems, just buy the train tickets in Italy.
You will not get "screwed over" if you buy your tickets in Europe: the tickets will be at the published prices. However, many of the operators offer substantial discounts for advanced purchases over the net. The cheap tickets can sell out quickly, so get in early if you can.

I also recommend checking out the website of Rick Steves,, and his travel books.

Virus and Malware in Bidvertiser ads

Virus and Malware in Bidvertiser ads

Several days ago my website starting having a Malware and Virus . The reason Google told me : script of Bidvertiser contain virus and malware . I removed all ads of Bidvertiser in my site . And now ,my site works well . So, beware of Bidvertiser Ads. I tried contacting Bidverstiser and have not received any contact from them so I‘m posting it here, Do not use Bidvertiser you risk affecting your daily Traffic/Money and possible site banned by Google

Below is from my Google Help…

“Members of the Bidvertiser publisher network, a Google AdSense alternative have been seeing their sites flagged as dangerous to users’ computer. These webmasters are finding their legitimate websites serving users "Reported Attack Site" warnings instead of their actual websites.”

One of the Malware pages in question i seen was and

So be carefull out there or you will loose traffic to your sites

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ex-Googler Allegedly Spied on User E-Mails, Chats

Ex-Googler Allegedly Spied on User E-Mails, Chats

Google acknowledged Wednesday that two employees have been terminated after being caught in separate incidents allegedly spying on user e-mails and chats.

David Barksdale, 27, was fired in July after he reportedly accessed the communications of at least four minors with Google accounts, spying on Google Voice call logs, chat transcripts and contact lists, according to Gawker, which broke the story Wednesday.

Google has acknowledged that it fired Barksdale for violating company privacy policy, and acknowledged that it was the second such incident of its kind at the company. Nonetheless, the company insists that it maintains careful control over employee access to user data, and said it’s amping up its log-monitoring to guard against similar violations in the future.

The controversy comes as Google faces criticism over admissions that its street-view cars collected private content from Wi-Fi networks while roaming streets in the United States and several other countries. Google blamed the Wi-Fi collection on a “programming error” and a failure in oversight to catch the problem for three years.

The new reports of rogue employee demonstrate that Google is not immune to the ages-old problem of the corrupt insider, even as it gathers more sensitive data about Americans than most government agencies possess.

In the case of one 15-year-old boy Barksdale met through a technology group in Seattle, Washington, he allegedly tapped into the boy’s Google Voice call logs after the boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend. Barksdale then reportedly taunted the boy with threats to call the girl.

Barksdale also allegedly accessed contact lists and chat transcripts of account holders and, after one teen blocked him from his Gtalk buddy list, reversed the block. A source told Gawker that Barksdale’s intent didn’t appear to be to prey on minors for sexual purposes, but simply to goad them and impress them with his level of access and power.

The family of at least one victim complained to Google about Barksdale’s activity. After the company investigated, Barksdale was fired.

Google apparently did not report the incidents to law enforcement, although the employees could potentially have infringed federal and state statutes related to unauthorized computer access and stored communications, according to legal and privacy experts. Reuters quotes an anonymous source who says that “law enforcement was not called in after the Barksdale breach was uncovered, because one of the families involved asked to remain anonymous.”

Barksdale, based in Kirkwood, Washington, was employed as an engineer with the company’s Site Reliability team. The team members, as part of their responsibilities for troubleshooting technical issues related to the site and Google’s products, have access to users’ accounts. Apparently Barksdale exceeded this authorized access to spy on a group of specific people he’d met.

Another former site reliability engineer told Gawker that Google gives such engineers unfettered access and “does not closely monitor SREs to detect improper access to customers’ accounts, because SREs are generally considered highly experienced engineers who can be trusted.”

Google revealed to TechCrunch that a second Google employee had also been caught violating user privacy and was also dismissed. Google didn’t reveal any details about what or when this occurred, other than to say the other case didn’t involve minors.

Bill Coughran, a Google senior vice president of engineering, wrote in a statement that Barksdale was fired for “breaking Google’s strict internal privacy policies.”

“We carefully control the number of employees who have access to our systems, and we regularly upgrade our security controls — for example, we are significantly increasing the amount of time we spend auditing our logs to ensure those controls are effective,” said Coughran. “That said, a limited number of people will always need to access these systems if we are to operate them properly -– which is why we take any breach so seriously.”

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that although Google wasn’t obligated to report the issue to police, it probably should have done so anyway.

“To the extent that it impacts the interests of individuals outside the company, I don’t think it’s sufficient for Google to handle it as an internal matter, which is why there probably needs to be a criminal investigation to ensure that the safety and well-being of others has been protected,” he told Threat Level. “Google’s HR department can’t sign off completely on whether this individual has been appropriately sanctioned for his conduct.”

Mark Rasch, a former U.S. federal prosecutor, says that keeping the matter quiet was probably the wrong approach for Google.

“Violations of privacy are serious violations,” said Rasch, currently director of cybersecurity and privacy consulting at Computer Sciences Corporation. Rasch says that internal privacy breaches will increase as more and more employees and contractors have access to vast databases of consumer data.

Read More

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Interesting article about Tipping;

Tipping can be an awkward and uncomfortable situation for many people. How much is too little versus how much is too much? Is it customary to tip your garbage worker and you mailman? What about the guitar playing songstress at your local coffee shop? Luckily there are rules of thumb for the myriad of service industry professionals that rely on tips to get by. We spoke to Coupon Sherpa writer Kate Forgach, who spilled the beans on whom to tip, how much to leave, and what the unspoken rules are of tipping.

Most people know to tip 15-20 percent on dining out, but I think a few people would be surprised that its actually customary to tip your taxi driver 10-20 percent. Where do these numbers come from?
I combined a bunch of different things -- talked to a few professors at the University of Colorado and people within the service industry.

• Taxi: 10% to 15% is standard and 20% if the driver helps you with heavy bags.
• Limo: 15% to 20% of the total bill.
• Long-term parking shuttle driver: $1 to $2 per bag, if the driver assists you with your bags.

After writing this story, did you find that most people tend to undertip or overtip?

A lot of it depends on their age and whether or not they've worked in the [service] industry. People who have worked in the service industry tended to overtip and people who hadn't tended to not tip as much. But the big [varying factor] was with takeout. People who worked in that area would always tip for takeout and people who hadn't would normally not tip.

• Take-out food: 10% when you pay. Make sure you tip based on the entire check if you use restaurant coupons
• Mom & pop coffee shops: $1 if you're just purchasing a drink; 10% if you're running a tab or making a meal-sized purchase.
• Bartenders: 15% to 20% if you run a tab, $1 per drink if you pay each round.

Obviously, you'll save more on tips by running a tab but you're likely to drink more.

• Wait staff: 15% to 20% of the total.
• Chain coffee shops: 25 cents tossed in the tip jar, if they were nice and you feel like it. More if they made you a complex drink and served it pleasantly. Nothing if you got your own cup and filled it while all they did was take your cash.

As for tipping mail carriers, is it customary to only tip them once a year -- say at Christmas -- or on all major holidays?

No, just Christmas. The same with garbage workers. You can leave money or a gift. I always leave a six pack of locally brewed beer for garbage workers.

• Garbage collectors: $10 $15 per person but don't put the cash out with your trash.
• Newspaper carriers: $5 to $15
• Mail carriers: Government employees are prohibited from receiving money as a gift or gratuity, but the Postal Service tends to turn a blind eye during the holidays. A $5 to $10 tip is sufficient, unless your mail is delivered by a different carrier each day. Even better, write a letter of appreciation to the carrier's supervisor.

I think a lot of people -- myself included -- get annoyed at having to tip extra when I get my hair cut or colored. Why is it customary to tip an additional 15% to 20% on a service that seems like it should be a "pay and be done with it" situation?

I always felt like if it was a special hairdresser -- who does extra things -- it's always worth it. If you don't feel like you've got good service, then don't tip. I don't think you should ever tip if you don't feel the service was worthwhile. Or leave a penny -- that's the big insult. One penny says "you suck."

• Stylist: 15% to 20%
• Colorist: 15% to 20%
• Barber: 15% to 20%
• Shampoo tech: $1 to $2, depending on the length of the shampoo and if they gave
you a nice head and neck massage first.
• Nail technician: 15% to 20%
• Makeup artists: 10%

Do you think customers should be responsible for tipping another company's employees? Or do you think that this is a glitch in the system, and that employers should be responsible for paying their employees a higher salary, instead of expecting many of them to make their wages on tips. Does it put an unfair pressure on customers to make up the difference in wages?

I think it is wrong that it happens like that. In Europe, they receive a good living wage and they don't expect a tip. But, as long as that system is in place, there's not much we can do. But to not tip because you say the system is wrong is penalizing the wrong person.

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Friday, September 3, 2010


In the new movie "Lottery Ticket," the rapper Bow Wow plays a sneaker salesman from a poor part of town who has to survive a three-day weekend after his neighbors find out he's holding the winning numbers.

But for financially troubled consumers, the size of the jackpot may not matter: Five years out, people who win $150,000 are just as likely to declare bankruptcy as those who win less than $10,000.

That's according to a new study by researchers at the University of Kentucky, the University of Pittsburgh and the Vanderbilt University Law School. The paper appears in a forthcoming issue of the Review of Economics and Statistics.

"I've always been interested in whether you could solve people's problems to some extent by giving them additional cash," says Mark Hoekstra, assistant economics professor at Pittsburgh, who co-authored the paper with Kentucky's Scott Hankins and Vanderbilt's Paige Marta Skiba. "And anecdotally you always hear these things about lottery winners -- someone wins a bunch of money and the story doesn't end very well. But we weren't aware of any real empirical evidence on whether this was true."

The researchers identified 35,000 people who won between $600 and $150,000 in Florida's Fantasy 5 lottery game from April 1993 through November 2002. (They eliminated the 153 people who won more than $150,000). They cross-referenced that list with people who filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petitions in Florida five years prior to winning the lottery and five years afterward. Then they compared people who received $50,000 to $150,000 to those who won less than $10,000.

They found 1,943 winners -- or 5.5 percent -- declared bankruptcy within five years of taking home the jackpot. While the bigger winners were 50 percent less likely than small winners to file for bankruptcy within 24 months, they were more likely to file for bankruptcy three to five years after winning. The net result is that within five years, large winners were just as likely to file for bankruptcy as small winners.

'Found Money'

Moreover, when people who won $25,000 to $150,000 did file for bankruptcy, their net assets were just $8,000 higher than those who had won less than $1,500. Bottom line: The median big winner took home $65,000 in cash. That would be enough, on average, to pay off all unsecured debt or to boost the equity in new or existing assets. Instead, the big jackpots simply evaporated.

"The fact that winning a large sum of money only postponed bankruptcy rather than prevented it didn't surprise me too much," says Hoekstra. "But I was struck by the fact that when the recipients of large sums did file for bankruptcy, they didn't have much of anything to show for the winnings they had received. It didn't go toward a house, paying down debts or buying assets that were worth something a few years later. We couldn't find any evidence that five years earlier, these people had received what would be, for many people, a life-changing amount of money."

What happened? Hoekstra says he can only speculate. "We know quite a lot about lottery winners' finances once they file for bankruptcy, but we certainly don't know what they were thinking when they won the money," he says. "It's possible that people in our sample weren't used to dealing with large sums of money, and thus they may not have used it wisely."

Mental accounting may also play a role. "We treat 'found money' differently than money we earn. So if you find $20 on the sidewalk, you may decide to blow it on a nice dinner, whereas if you earned it you wouldn't have done that," Hoekstra says. (And lottery winnings are the ultimate "found money.") Other possible suspects: A lack of financial literacy or a surplus of impatience -- some people would rather have fun today than be financially secure five years in the future.

The researchers also found that while large winners lived in somewhat more expensive houses than small winners, they were no more likely to own a home outright, and had no more equity in their homes than small winners. This suggests that larger winners were not strategically planning their bankruptcies and gaming the homestead exemption in Florida bankruptcy law, which allows filers to keep their primary residence. If this were the case, winners would have bought a home for cash or paid off their existing mortgage prior to filing, in order to keep some of their assets out of bankruptcy.

What Policy Makers Can Learn

The study has policy implications for governments deciding how to help heavily indebted people who are struggling during economic downturns, Hoekstra says. It appears the simplest solution -- giving them cash -- doesn't enhance longer-term financial stability, and only postpones, rather than avoids, bankruptcy. The lottery findings are consistent with a 2007 research paper that showed consumers initially used their 2001 federal rebate checks to reduce debt, but eventually debt returned to its pre-rebate level.

"Our research suggests that perhaps there is something more systematic about the types of people who get themselves into financial trouble -- and the appropriate policy prescription for helping them out is going to be considerably more complex than giving them additional resources," says Hoekstra.

In addition, the findings challenge the assumption that bankruptcy is caused primarily by major financial shocks.

"Winning the lottery undid any negative shock (that previously occurred) for the large winners, and they still ended up filing for bankruptcy," Hoekstra says. "That is inconsistent with the idea that the only people who file for bankruptcy are those with negative shocks such as divorce, job loss or health issues."

Finally, if you're one of those people who fantasizes that winning the lottery will fix your financial woes, it's time to stop dreaming and get a real handle on your money. "Our results suggest that people in financial trouble shouldn't expect that winning $100,000 will cause a lasting impact in their finances," Hoekstra says. "On average, that doesn't appear to happen."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


YouTube stars who made over $100,000

Provided by the Business Insider.

There are 10 independent YouTube stars who made over $100,000 in the past year, according to a study done by analytics and advertising company TubeMogul.

From July 2009 to July 2010, TubeMogul used their viewership data to estimate the annual income for independent YouTube partners, which they define as anyone who is not part of a media company or brand.

Here's how they got their estimates:

* Revenue only comes from banner ads served near content (we ignored pre-roll or overlay since we can't easily isolate by publisher).
* Since YouTube banner ads have a two-second load delay, we estimate 2.59% of viewers click away before an ad loads based on separate research.
* Ads were served near all videos that loaded (since there are partners, this is generally true).
* CPM for the banner ads was $1.50 (Google auctions a lot of this inventory off; we rounded this 2009 estimate down to be conservative).
* YouTube is splitting ad revenue with partners 50-50.

Basically, take their views from the past year, assume a few don't stick around long enough for an ad to load, divide that number by 1,000, multiply by $1.50 and divide that number in half.

Conservative estimates? Sure. But with that math, you get a pretty decent estimate of how much these YouTube celebrities are making from just the banner ads on their channel. So, without further ado, here are the highest earning YouTube stars!

1. Shane Dawson – $315,000

Shane Dawson is so popular that he is three different YouTube channels. His most popular channel consists of his comedy skits and music video parodies. Dawson created a second channel as a vlog and for a separate series called "Ask Shane," and his third channel only has videos taken from his iPhone.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 431,787,450

2. The Annoying Orange – $288,000

The Annoying Orange is a comedy web series that takes place in a kitchen and is about talking fruit. Dane Boedigheimer is the mastermind behind the series and is also the voice of Orange.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 349,753,047

3. Philip DeFranco – $181,000

Philip DeFranco uploads a new video onto YouTube every Monday to Thursday for his show – The Philip DeFranco Show. His video blogging topics range from politics to pop culture.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 248,735,032

4. Ryan Higa – $151,000

Ryan Higa makes comedy skits and is a video blogger who turned into a viral star with his "How to be Gangster" and "How to be Ninja" videos. Even though he doesn't upload as many videos as his fellow YouTube celebrities, Higa is still the top dog at YouTube with over 2.6 million subscribers.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 206,979,909

5. Fred – $146,000

Lucas Cruikshank plays "a lonely six year old named Fred" who uses his mom's video camera and posts videos on a YouTube channel. As the second most subscribed to YouTube channel, Lucas Cruikshank's immensely popular Fred character even has a movie coming out backed by Nickelodeon.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 200,656,150

6. Shay Carl – $140,000

As a radio DJ, Shay Carl started making comedy skits and put them on YouTube for the world to see. He claims to have held 20 different jobs before settling down with his DJ and YouTube gigs.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 192,309,247

7. Mediocre Films – $116,000

Greg Benson created Mediocre Films initially for a sketchy comedy TV series called "Skip TV." The show lasted for one season, and now Benson makes low budget comedy videos for the web.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 159,030,703

8. Smosh – $113,000

Smosh is the comedy duo of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, and with over 1.7 million subscribers, they make up the 5th most popular channel on YouTube. They first shot to viral fame with their "Pokemon Theme Music Video" which became YouTube's most viewed video in Spring 2006. However, due to copyright reasons, the original video was removed from YouTube.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 154,936,876

9. The Young Turks – $112,000

The Young Turks is a political talk show that also airs on Sirius Satellite Radio. Founded and hosted by Cenk Uygur, The Young Turks talk show and their vast viewership has proven that the Internet can be a viable broadcast platform.
July 2009 - 2010 Views: 153,807,362

10. Natalie Tran– $101,000

Under the user name of communitychannel, Natalie Tran is the most subscribed to YouTube user in Australia. Like most others on this list, she is a video blogger and occasionally uploads comedy skits.

July 2009 - 2010 Views: 138,871,829

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From computer tech to social worker,retail,overseas etc...

HOSPITAL IN TEXAS hiring hospital related jobs

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Different locations (states)mainly in the south Virgina, TX all kind of positions tech etc..administrative careers, tech jobs

U.S. Government jobs different states most people know about this site. Just apply and see what happens might take months so apply to many as possible.

National Park position

GAP retail corporate administrative positions and entry level few states like San Francisco , NY Chicago

Coast guard

Different states non profit and various

Retail entry to high end administrative different states

Job search portal different states

Jobs worldwide

Careers in Africa

Non profit jobs etc..

For young folks jobs training program and stipend

GOOGLE is hiring tech related etc. different locations including overseas

Different states and countries various position


Social Services jobs, counseling, social worker, administrative, sometimes computer techs

NEIMAN AND MARCUS CORPORATE AND ENTRY LEVEL RETAIL different states(locations)¶ms=Kr-bdt54dNfFXnNLoLNJc5lpPv1cc0-S5mIhQHNr.ZO7fteOs0WuVQy4h1KicBza&oas=Ha6KxFBcisFkuYDla76DAQ

Hospital positions California

Hospital positions. I did not check this one

Hospital jobs different states

Online Forex brokerage company computer related based in El Segundu California

IBFX online brokerage company in UTAH tech related

Walmart various positions corporate to entry level to trucking to overseas positions



ANALYST TYPE FINANCIAL POSITIONS$ja=p&source=PS:Google:trading%20careers

Jobs in AFRICA

Radio Shack including corporate

KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken corporate general manager positions is the resource for finding volunteer, employment, and/or internship opportunities at non-profit and non-governmental organizations. With literally thousands of job/internship postings, and a catalogue of (approaching) 100,000 organizations, provides an extensive look of what opportunities are available at non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) both domestically and internationally.

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State Employment Sites:

Six Questions You Should Never Ask at the Interview

Candidates who ask these questions don't remain candidates for long
John Kador, author of "301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview"
What were they thinking? Whenever I talk to human-resources professionals or recruiters, I always ask them to tell me the worst question they were ever asked in a job interview. How could any applicant actually believe questions like these are in his interests?

Unfortunately, job seekers continue to ask dumb questions every day. These questions demonstrate poor judgment and effectively ensure their rejection.

It's hard to generalize about such stunningly bad interview questions, but they all are "me" questions. These are questions that appear to put your needs before those of the employer. The best interview questions focus on what the applicant can do for the company, not what the company can do for applicant.

-- Get ready for your interview. Know what the job pays.

Be certain that the questions you ask don't raise barriers or objections. For example, don't ask, "Is relocation a necessary part of the job?"
The very question raises doubts about your willingness to relocate. Even if the person selected for the position is not tracked for relocation, the negativity of the question makes the hiring manager wonder whether you are resistant in other areas as well.

If the issue of relocation is important to you, by all means ask, but go with a phrasing that reinforces your flexibility, not challenges it. A good approach: "I'm aware that relocation is often required in a career and I am prepared to relocate for the good of the company as necessary. Could you tell me how often I might be asked to relocate in a five- or 10-year period?"
Here are five more bad questions you might be tempted to ask and what hiring managers will think when they hear them:

What you ask: Is job-sharing a possibility?

What they think: Possibly, but does this mean you can't give us a commitment for full-time work?

What you ask: Can you tell me whether you have considered the incredible benefits of telecommuting for this position?

What they think: Why do you want to get out of the office before you have even seen it?

What you ask: I understand that employee paychecks are electronically deposited. Can I get my paycheck in the old-fashioned way?

What they think: You are already asking for exceptions. What's next? And are you afraid of technology?

What you ask: I won't have to work for someone with less education than I have, will I?

What they think: You clearly have a chip on your shoulder. Why should we take a chance that you don't have other interpersonal issues?

What you ask: The job description mentions weekend work. Are you serious?

What they think: We're serious about the job description. We're suddenly less serious about you.
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7 Things Your Boss Should Never Say to You
So, bosses, are you listening? Here are seven things you, as a boss, should never say to your employees:

1. "I pay your salary. You have to do what I say." Have you not heard? It's the 21st century. Threats and power plays just do not cut it anymore (and they were always a terrible way to manage). Yes, you pay people's salaries but that doesn't mean you're their lord and master. You are their leader, however. Leaders lead by inspiring, teaching, encouraging, and, yes, serving their employees. Good leaders never need to threaten. So keep your word, set a good example, praise in public, criticize in private, respect your employees' capabilities, give credit where credit is due, learn to delegate, and when you ask for feedback don't forget to respond to it. (Another sentence to be avoided: "Do what I say, not what I do.")

2. "I don't want to listen to your complaints." Hey, boss, you have this backwards. You do want to listen to employees' complaints. That's part of your job. You should be actively seeking feedback, even negative feedback. It may be annoying, even painful, but that's why you get the big bucks. Complaints point to where your processes and practices need improvement. And even if a problem absolutely can't be helped, allowing your employees to vent can go a long way toward restoring morale and building loyalty.

3. "I was here on Saturday afternoon. Where were you?" This kind of "subtle" pressure to work 24/7 is a good way to burn out your employees. You won't get that much more productivity out of them, and you will destroy morale. You may choose to work seven days a week. That's your call. But your employees shouldn't have to. If you observe that they are working way more than their job descriptions call for, consider that maybe it's because you're overloading them. Look for ways to fix this problem.

4. "Isn't your performance review coming up soon?" Maybe you're trying to motivate an employee to do a better job. Maybe this is just a ham-handed way to remind underlings of who has the power. Who knows. Either way, a statement like this is not only tacky and passive-aggressive, it's ineffective. If you really want to motivate people, consider giving them a stake in the success of your enterprise. Show employees you value them. Let them know what they have to gain by doing a good job. The results may surprise you.

5. "We've always done it this way." Want to crush your employees' initiative? This is a good way. News flash: Your employees may actually have a pretty good idea of how to do their jobs. Maybe they know even more than you. Your job as boss is to encourage them to have the energy and motivation to be innovative. In fact, employees who come up with better ways to do things should be celebrated and rewarded. (Hint: Cash is nice.)

6. "We need to cut costs" (at the same time you are, say, redecorating your office). Nothing breeds resentment more than asking employees to tighten their belts while you, to their eyes, are living it up. Even if the office redecoration can be totally justified in business terms, or the budget for it was a gift from your uncle, it still looks hypocritical and is demoralizing. Being sensitive to other people's feelings is good karma. Leading by example is the best way to lead.

7. "You should work better." Managers need to communication expectations clearly, to give employees the tools they need to do a good job, to set reasonable deadlines, and to offer help if needed. When giving instructions, ask if they understand your instructions. Don't assume. You may not be the stellar communicator you think you are. If your employees are making mistakes, or not performing up to par, consider that maybe it's because you're giving them vague instructions like "you should work better."

The bottom line is that in the workplace respect, a little tact, and a good attitude go both ways.

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Jobs that earn over 30$ an hour
1. Finance
Career: Loan officer
Average hourly wage: $30.39
Loan officers help people navigate the process of borrowing money for houses, cars, education, and more. Though there are no formal education requirements for loan officers, an associate's degree in finance can help qualify you for these positions, particularly if you want to become a mortgage loan officer.

2. Diagnostic Medical Sonography
Career: Diagnostic medical sonographer
Average hourly wage: $30.60
Sonography is mostly associated with ultrasound technology used to see how babies are developing in utero. An associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography can teach you how to use the medical equipment that directs high-frequency sound waves to diagnose many medical conditions in addition to pregnancy. Job opportunities are expected to grow by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018.

3. Nursing
Career: Registered nurse
Average hourly wage: $31.99
Registered nurses administer medications, monitor patients, assist doctors, provide medical care, and more. To prepare yourself for a career in nursing, you can complete an associate's degree in nursing, which will qualify to take a state licensing exam--a prerequisite to becoming a registered nurse. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of jobs for registered nurses is expected to grow by 22 percent. Many states are offering grant- and loan-repayment programs for nursing education, and hospitals are also offering signing bonuses to new nurses.

4. Applied Science
Career: Nuclear technician
Average hourly wage: $32.07
Nuclear technicians operate nuclear testing and research equipment and help with research initiatives, and around half of them work for utility companies. An associate's degree in applied science or in nuclear-science technology should qualify you for the job, which will also likely require on-the-job training. This industry is expected to see average growth as nuclear-energy technology develops.

5. Nuclear Medicine Technology
Career: Nuclear-medicine technologist
Average hourly wage: $32.91
Nuclear-medicine technologists use radioactive drugs and special cameras that detect those drugs to diagnose diseases. An associate's degree in nuclear-medicine technology teaches you radiation safety, imaging techniques, and how to use various diagnostic computer applications. Around two-thirds of nuclear-medicine technologists work in hospitals, and the rest work in diagnostic imaging centers, laboratories, and physicians' offices.

6. Fashion Design
Career: Fashion designer
Average hourly wage: $35.78
Fashion designers are responsible for the bad, the good, and the ugly trends. The job requires planning and research skills, as well as being able to make predictions based on the fashion market. Fashion designers are also responsible for envisioning and sketching designs, selecting fabrics and colors, and managing the production of clothing, purses, shoes, sunglasses, and more. An associate's degree in fashion design, artistic talent, and a good eye can qualify you for careers in fashion design.

7. Computer Programming
Career: Computer programmer
Average hourly wage: $35.91
Though computer-programming jobs don't necessarily require formal education, they do require you to know how to create code and have an understanding of programming languages--the specific languages depend on the job. If you need a refresher course or want to learn from scratch, an associate's degree in computer programming, computer science, information systems, or math can qualify you for some computer-programming positions.

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