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March 21, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

Educational video increases knowledge

Educational video increases knowledge
An educational and motivational video, designed to increase emotional well-being and use of adaptive devices in low vision patients increased knowledge but did not change behavior or emotions, says Schepens Eye Research Institute researchers in a study in the March Issue of Optometry & Vision Science.

"While our video clearly succeeded in increasing patients' knowledge of macular degeneration and the availability of adaptive devices and techniques, it did not change their emotional response to their disease or motivate them to make changes that could improve their quality of life," says Dr. Eli Peli, senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and senior author of the study The Impact of a Video Intervention on the Use of Low Vision Assistive Devices. "These findings suggest that patients need more than a video to encourage them to make changes and improve their feelings about their plight," he adds.

More than one million Americans and millions more worldwide suffer from low vision caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which destroys the tiny center of the retina known as the macula. It is the leading cause of (legal) blindness among European-descended people older than 65 years. Without assistive devices and adaptive behaviors, sufferers of AMD are often unable to perform daily tasks such as reading, writing, driving, and face recognition, which can cause a loss of self-esteem, employment, independence and social interaction. Low vision patients experience emotions ranging from depression to despair and might even entertain thoughts about suicide. "And, while a number of useful assistive devices and adaptive techniques exist, patient and doctor awareness of these possibilities is alarmingly low," says Peli.........

Posted by: Nora      Read more         Source

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 05:20:55 GMT

When is Rebalancing Your Portfolio Appropriate?

When is Rebalancing Your Portfolio Appropriate?
I'm fortunate enough this year to have enough extra cash on hand to put some more money toward retirement, which will also let me pare down my 2006 tax bill. But I'm having a hard time deciding where to put it.

A few years ago my wife and I saw a financial planner. He suggested asset allocation formulas based on our age, income, etc. Then he suggested how those allocations might change over time. Basically he suggested we go from a riskier portfolio while young to a more conservative one as we get closer to retirement.

We followed his advice at first, but a perhaps predictable thing happened: a couple of our retirement "buckets" did very well, while others languished. Specifically, our riskier small cap funds did very well, while our large cap and international funds did only OK.

According to our financial planner, we should be rebalancing our portfolio over time to try to keep the allocation as close as possible to the percentages we discussed. That would now mean throwing more money at large caps, international, and now the dreaded bond funds in order to balance out how much money we have sitting in small caps.

You probably see where this is going. Why do I want to keep throwing money at the worst performing funds in order to try to craft a less risky portfolio, especially if the so-called risky funds continue to outperform the "safe" funds. If "safe" means lousy performance, I don't want to keep giving "safe" my money.

The theory of course is that the "risky" funds can go gangbusters for a while and then crash, while the "safe" funds are just that, safe. Lower-producing, but you won't lose your shirt.

There are two schools of thought on this, and maybe the school you're in depends on how risk-tolerant you are. For me, putting twice as much money into "safe" funds and still having less in them than my "risky" funds seems like lunacy.

I need a rebalancing scenario that I can live with, because the one that's been fed to me thus far isn't working for me.

How do you handle this issue?

Posted by: Justin McHenry      Read more     Source

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 05:18:01 GMT

Memory Fitness - Exercising Your Brain

Memory Fitness - Exercising Your Brain
I had the opportunity to hear Kathy Kilpatrick of Memory Fitness Matters speak last week. She offered a number of great suggestions for keeping our mind fit and our memory sharp.

She commented that when the Baby Boomers were in their 20s they didn't have problems with memory and yet 20-somethings today and even younger frequently lament their ability to keep everything in their brain that they need to. Why is that? Were our brains bigger?


Kathy shared that there are hundreds of reasons for memory loss - not all of which can be related to old age or dementia; we just have so much on our plates - so many balls in the air - that it's nearly impossible to keep everything straight without assistance.

Here are just a few of the tips she shared for keeping your brain fit:

1. Attitude - if you just succumb and say - oh that was a "senior moment" you are giving in but if you recognize that you have a problem remembering - take charge and DO something about it.
2. Hold a thought in your brain for 5-10 seconds. Thoughts that are pondered over are more likely to be remembered. If you think "oh, I need to pick up milk on my way home" then say it over in your head, picture a cow in your mind, or even better, use your cell phone to call and leave yourself a reminder message.
3. Be organized - that's a whole series of posts in itself, but the more organized you are, the more likely you'll be to remember what you need to. Bymulti-tasking - a bad thing - I wrote about this last week and now I've heard in three different places that although we all multi-task - it is NOT a good use of our time, nor is it productive.
4. Limit sugar from your diet, drink plenty of water and exercise - healthy habits help your brain.
5. Get enough sleep - too frequently we are trying to succeed on 4 or 5 hours of sleep - that may work for a day or two but prolonged lack of sleep will keep you from working at top form.
6. Meditate - that could mean yoga or it could mean a simple task like mowing the lawn that will stop the continuing tape in your brain from playing - clear your mind.
7. Humor - lighten up - breathe and take time to linger over life. You'll enjoy yourself more and be able to remember more!

For more information, check out Kwebsite and consider tuning in for one of her podcasts.

What ways do you help yourself remember?

Posted by: Deborah Brown      Read more     Source

Tue, 20 Mar 2007 05:13:45 GMT

Quality Questions Will Improve Your Sales Performance

Quality Questions Will Improve Your Sales Performance
Quality questions that cause us to evaluate and explain our feelings, opinions and ideas are powerful.

We can use questions to help create greater clarity, focus and excitement.

The power of a good question lies in the content of answers it draws out.

The answer to a quality question draws out the customers true intention. This will help us to better understand the customer/prospects perspective and needs.

Seven Questions To Improve Your Results
  • How would I describe my attitude toward myself?
  • If my performance stays where it is, what will I create?
  • Do I have frequent and recurring challenges in my life?
  • How often do I give less than 100%?
  • What prevents me from taking action? How does that make me feel?
  • What is the source of the problem?
  • What needs to change? How can I go about making that happen? When will I get this completed by?

Posted by: Greg Balanko-Dickson      Read more     Source

March 19, 2007, 10:08 PM CT

Happy Digital Characters Sell Products Better

Happy Digital Characters Sell Products Better Happy “Baldi” face that also speaks in a happy manner is a better salesperson than a sad face speaking sadly, regardless of a product's product's emotional tone. Images courtesy of Dominic Massaro.
Even in the digital world, people respond to the expression of a computerized face.

New Ohio State University research suggests that the simulated emotions of digital characters on web sites might have a real impact on the potential customers that view and interact with them.

The study, appearing in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, found that digital characters might be better merchants if they act consistently happy, even if the products they're selling-such as novels-are heart-wrenchingly sad.

Li Gong , an assistant professor of communication who conducted the research, believes his study of digital characters is important for many applications, especially electronic commerce, learning, and entertainment.

Many Web sites feature digital human-like characters, also called avatars or agents. These digital humans can help put a face on Web sites that sell products. Although the characters can "read" text with a certain emotion, such as happy or sad, they can't automatically detect emotion from sentence to sentence with today's technology. And that can affect how well they perform.

Gong's research suggests people are more influenced by happy characters.

Gong believes the work might also significantly impact the computer gaming industry, which uses countless computer characters. "People playing these games want characters to have emotion," he said. Gong believes the explanation for this desire is that "emotion is an indispensable element in human communication" and is becoming more essential as the use of digital characters grows.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 01:23:59 GMT

Accounting Shortage Leading to Outsourcing

Accounting Shortage Leading to Outsourcing
Shortage of skilled accounting staff is leading the companies towards outsourcing. Some state that bringing down costs is one of the reasons behind finance and accounting outsourcing followed by the shortage of accounting staff. A number of companies have started to move towards accounting outsourcing. Some of them even state that they are outsourcing for improving the quality of the financial and accounting services.

Due to this a number of local CPA firms are launching their rent a CFO services. It does not mean that everybody is going for accounting outsourcing, there are still a number of middle market companies which are not sure about accounting outsourcing and some of them feel that they might lose control over the outsourced process and are not even sure about the security too.

Though there is some skepticism but it is expected that in the coming years accounting outsourcing would blossom like anything.

Via accountingweb

Posted by: Gautam      Read more     Source

Fri, 16 Mar 2007 01:19:51 GMT

OPEC Likely to Maintain Output Target with Oil Close to $60

OPEC Likely to Maintain Output Target with Oil Close to $60

Speculations are high that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may urge its members to comply with production limits when it meets today in Vienna to maintain crude prices around $60 a barrel. However, the organization’s ministerial monitoring committee has been seeking compliance with agreements at the group’s last two meetings to lower supplies by 1.7 million barrels a day. In the meanwhile, ahead of the meeting, comments by the ministers of Nigeria and Kuwait reflected satisfaction on the part of the organization.

OPEC that has reduced production targets to compensate for a predicted post-winter lull in heating oil demand is expected to decide production policy for coming months. The group is scheduled to meet in June again to decide future course of production. At the sidelines of the meeting, Kuwait’s Sheikh Ali Jarrah had indicated that prices between $50 and $60 a barrel for the OPEC basket of crude are acceptable for both consumers and producers.

However, Bllomberg has reported Jason Schenker, an economist at Wachovia Corp, in Charlotte, North Carolina, saying, ‘This meeting is not about cutting production but about the possibility of increasing production when summer driving season will affect demand. We will end up with crude oil prices in the upper range of $60 to $65 a barrel in the second and third quarter.’

On the eve of the meeting OPEC president Mohammed al-Hamli said that global oil demand this year seems to be healthy and expressed contentment with member compliance to previously decided production cuts. He further said that the organization was closely monitoring inventories that remained higher than average.


Posted by: Balendu      Read more     Source

March 15, 2007, 6:13 PM CT

Providing Poorest With Basic Sanitation

Providing Poorest With Basic Sanitation Jennifer Davis
Worldwide, billions of people lack access to a reliable source of safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities. To address the problem, the United Nations established the Target 10 initiative, which aims to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

Target 10 was launched in 2000 as part of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals initiative, a global effort by member nations "to meet the needs of the world's poorest." The target is based on data from 1990, when 20 percent of the global population lacked a safe source of drinking water and 45 percent had no access to sanitation facilities. Now, halfway to the deadline, experts warn that the United Nations is on track to achieve only part of the Target 10 objective.

"The target of reducing to one-half the proportion of people who do not have access to improved water supplies will probably be met," said Jennifer "Jenna" Davis, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and a fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. "[But] on the sanitation side, we're in big trouble. We're probably going to miss that goal by 500 million people."

Sanitation, the 'poor cousin'.

Today, more than 1 billion people worldwide live without a safe drinking water supply and more than 2.5 billion people don't have basic hygiene facilities, as per the United Nations. Davis, a participant in the U.N. Millennium Project task force, attributed the lack of success in reaching the sanitation target to a myriad of reasons, starting at the level of the individual. "If you have a lack of resources and you have to decide whether to invest in having clean water or in having sanitation facilities, you're going to be going for the water," she said. "It's a rational prioritization in the short term. Everyone can figure out a place to defecate if forced to do so."........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source

March 14, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Does God answer prayer?

Does God answer prayer?
Does God or some other type of transcendent entity answer prayer?

The answer, as per a new Arizona State University study reported in the March journal Research on Social Work Practice, is yes.

David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State University, conducted a comprehensive analysis of 17 major studies on the effects of intercessory prayer or prayer that is offered for the benefit of another person among people with psychological or medical problems. He found a positive effect.

There have been many studies on intercessory prayer, or prayer offered for the benefit of another person, said Hodge, a leading expert on spirituality and religion. Some have found positive results for prayer. Others have found no effect. Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.

Hodges work is featured in the March, 2007, issue of Research on Social Work Practice, a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of empirical research on practice outcomes. It is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious journals in the field of social work.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source

Wed, 14 Mar 2007 04:36:29 GMT

Be Proud

Be Proud
What are you going to put on your social networking page today? Will you be proud of it after you post it? Next week? Next year? In 5 years?

My point is that whatever you put out there on the Net will probably still be there for years to come, unless you delete it. You may think it's funny now but if you come across it on your site 5 years from now, will you be embarrassed? What about if your family or future spouse are browsing through your site and find it, will they be embarrassed for you?

Maybe you don't care right now. Maybe you just want to get your point across and make a statement, a bold statement. Maybe you just want to try to make a difference in the world, damn the consequences. Of course that's perfectly fine. After all you have the right to write about almost anything you want anyway, so why not.

Just be aware that 5 years down the road you might not feel the same way. Then what?

Posted by: Linda Roeder      Read more     Source

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