Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How can you improve G+ Use?

How to Use Google+ Better

Are you a Google+ user? If so, you’re likely fairly new to Google’s latest attempt at a social network — or at least comparatively new to the beta users who joined Google+ when it first launched in June, 2011. Many of these early adopters have now had a chance to explore Google+ and discover the best ways to use this social network — many of whom are quick to say that it’s not really a social network, but more of a forum. If you’re new to Google+ and still finding your way around, here is some advice we’ve gleaned from other LockerGnome community members on how to not only use Google+, but how to use Google+ better.

Realize It’s Google+ — Not Facebook

How to Use Google+ BetterOne of the most common pieces of advice we heard when asked how new Google+ users could use Google+ better was that, as Google+ users Heavy Maniac and Adam Thompson said: “Google+ is not Facebook.” Adam continued to say that, as a result, “don’t try to use it as such!” Additionally, LockerGnome community member and Google+ user Derrick Wallner said, “Don’t expect it to replace or behave like Facebook. It’s not a collaboration of people who want to see pictures of your kids and you’re not going to find that girl you had a crush on in 8th grade to check out photos of her in a swimsuit.” Instead, he suggested to simply “share and find information on topics of interest.” This brings us to our next piece of advice on how to use Google+ better.

Connect with Others Who Share Your Interests

Google+ may be best defined as a social network, but its unique Circle feature allows users to connect with others based on niche topics or specifc interests. To continue the comparison to Facebook, Google+ userAdalgiso Mancini IV advised, “Don’t fret that your Facebook friends aren’t all represented here. [Instead,] fill your G+ circles with people who post about your interests, and you’ll never be dissatisfied.”

Adalgiso also recommended to “circle lots of people. There’s no harm in following hundreds or thousands of people. You can always go back through later and remove people.” He also suggested using Chrome extensions to make G+ features more accessible, thereby helping you use Google+ better, like Hangout Canopy, Better Circle Management, and Plus Minus.

Another LockerGnome community member on Google+, Brian Worhatch, shared Adalgiso’s recommendation to find other like-minded Google+ users, suggesting to “use the Search Google+Bar above [the Google+ content] to search for people and interests you have.”

Interact and Share

Once you have found other Google+ users with similar interests — and have added them to Circles to easily follow — be sure you are interacting with them. Marc Jansen, another Google+ user and LockerGnome reader, elaborates on this process:

“I think the most useful thing I can recommend is that they cannot wait for people to come to them. They need to start adding people to their circles right way, so that they do not appear to have a dead stream. After that, I think that they need to not be afraid to jump in and interact with complete strangers, because if you limit your interactions only to those you already know, your stream will still appear relatively still.”

Also, if you’re looking for exposure on Google+, Jeff Pettorino also suggets that “if you want to be an ‘influencer’ and not just a member, Public posts are a must. Limited posts have an exponentially lower impact.”

Update Your Profile

Finally, don’t forget about your profile, which many social network users tend to not take very seriously, but is a critical component of your Google+ activity. Mohammad Khatib recommends that the first thing a Google+ user actually does is “fill in their profile in order for others to add them or easily find them through searching.”Eduardo Chavez echoes this sentiment for existing users: “Fix your profile. Half of the time why I don’t circle back any of my followers is because I don’t know if they are spam or not. By writing a couple of things about themselves, [it] certainly helps distinguish real people from spam.”

Are you a Google+ user? What tips do you have for new Google+ users to use Google+ better? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swiss Parliament approves nuclear opt-out!

Parliament takes first step in nuclear opt-out - SwissInfo

The board shows the result of a vote in the House of Representatives for a gradual phase-out of nuclear energy
The board shows the result of a vote in the House of Representatives for a gradual phase-out of nuclear energy (Keystone)

by Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch


The government has won approval from a majority of the House of Representatives for a proposed gradual withdrawal from nuclear energy.

The house called on the cabinet to remove administrative hurdles for renewable energy projects and promote research in this field but also wants to curb the right of environmental groups to block the construction of wind- and hydro-power plants.


All the decisions taken in Wednesday’s marathon debate still have to be confirmed by the Senate at a later stage.

It could take several years before the necessary legal amendments will have been discussed by parliament. Voters are also likely to have a say on the issue at the ballot box.

Two weeks ago the cabinet decided to decommission Switzerland’s five nuclear power reactors by 2034, once they reach the end of their lifespan. It announced its intention to boost renewable energy resources and promote energy saving methods instead of building new nuclear power plants.


" We must not shirk from a decision over nuclear energy now. "
Eric Nussbaumer, Social Democrat

Change

The wide-ranging discussions in the House of Representatives – one of two parliamentary chambers – pitted the centre-left and members of the centre-right parties against the rightwing Swiss People’s Party.

The centre-right Radicals, considered close to the business community, abstained in a crucial vote over the cabinet proposal.

Supporters, mainly from the Social Democrats and the Greens, argued phasing out nuclear energy was desirable and realistic. Those unwilling to agree to a political sea change after the disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant of Fukushima were ignoring reality, they said.

“There is a world before Fukushima and a world after Fukushima,” said Roberto Schmidt of the centre-right Christian Democrats.

Speakers called for a sustainable energy policy and innovative solutions to spare future generations a nuclear disaster.

Notably the Radical Party drew a barrage of criticism for its refusal to back the government’s proposal.

“We must not shirk from a decision over nuclear energy now,” said Social Democrat Eric Nussbaumer.


" The cabinet might believe it has made the right decision. "
Hansruedi Wandfluh, Swiss People's Party

Criticism

However, opponents slammed the government’s proposal as irresponsible, unrealistic and damaging for the Swiss economy.

“The cabinet might believe it has made the right choice but it is mistaken,” said Hansruedi Wandfluh of the People’s Party.

Filippo Leutenegger of the Radical Party pointed out that refusing to replace the existing nuclear power plants with a more advanced technological generation was tantamount to a “ban on technology”.

Other speakers warned of price hikes for electricity which could have a serious impact on the competitive edge of the Swiss economy.

It was an illusion to believe that renewable energy resources could make up for the gap that would open up if Switzerland phased out nuclear energy, opponents argued.


Emotions

Energy Minister Doris Leuthard reiterated that the cabinet based its proposals on economic considerations and on general concerns of the population about nuclear energy.

She added there was potential for energy saving measures and for renewable energy resources which at the moment play a marginal role in Switzerland’s energy policy.

Leuthard said she had confidence in the power of innovation both from the research community and from Swiss companies.

“The government’s proposal for a phase out by 2034 gives us time to seek solutions with all players from the business community and from politics,” she said.

The cooperation of all sides involved was needed and a willingness for compromise and clear-headed decisions, she said.

The five-hour parliamentary debate was broadcast live on public television and saw a string of party-political and personal verbal exchanges. About 60 parliamentarians took part in the debate on more than 130 different detailed proposals.

Environmental issues, including nuclear energy, are seen as a key topic in the campaign ahead of October’s parliamentary elections.


Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch

Friday, May 6, 2011

Swiss Re Loss Beats Analyst Estimate

Swiss Re Loss After Japan, New Zealand Earthquakes Beats Analyst Estimate

Swiss Re Reports First-Quarter Loss of $665 Million

The logo of Swiss Reinsurance Co. at their headquarters in Zurich. Photographer: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images


Swiss Reinsurance Co., the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, posted a second consecutive quarterly loss after claims from earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan.

The net loss of $665 million compares with a year-earlier profit of $158 million, the Zurich-based reinsurer said today in astatement. That beat the average estimate for a loss of $1.03 billion of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The shares rose.

Swiss Re, which is bidding to regain the AA credit rating thatStandard & Poor’s cut in 2009, expects major first-quarter natural catastrophe pretax losses to be about $2.3 billion after the temblors in Japan and New Zealand. That may erode the company’s capital, which exceeded S&P’s AA requirements by more than $10 billion at the end of last year.

“If we continue to do what we’ve done in the past, I’m sure the rating change will come,” Chief Financial Officer George Quinn said in a conference call with reporters today. “The impact of the first quarter’s disasters on our capital position was relatively small.”

Swiss Re almost tripled its dividend to 2.75 Swiss francs ($3.16) a share last year, after repaying a 3 billion-franc capital injection by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The shares rose 2.2 percent to 51.25 francs at 9:07 a.m. in Zurich. They have gained 7.1 percent this year, giving the company a market value of 18.9 billion francs. Larger rival Munich Re has dropped 2.3 percent this year.

Risk Management

“Swiss Re’s net loss is better than expected and confirms its improved risk management and solid balance sheet,” Stefan Schuermann, an analyst with Vontobel Holding AG in Zurich, wrote in a note to clients.

Spending on claims and costs as a percentage of property and casualty reinsurance premiums, the so-called combined ratio, worsened to 163.7 percent from 109.4 percent a year earlier following the first quarter’s disasters, Swiss Re said.

The first-quarter as well as last year’s natural catastrophes are expected to “accelerate price improvements,” Swiss Re said, adding that the April renewals of reinsurance treaties in Japansaw approximately 20 percent to 50 percent price increases for earthquake coverage and as much as 10 percent higher rates for non-earthquake exposed property policies.

“We remain committed to our five-year targets and are confident that we can deliver,” Swiss Re Chief Executive Officer Stefan Lippe said in today’s statement. “The impact of natural catastrophe losses in the first quarter creates an additional challenge but it will also accelerate the market turn we had previously expected in 2012/2013.”

Earnings Target

Swiss Re targets include an average annual increase in earnings per share of 10 percent over the next five years.

Aon Benfield, an arm of the world’s largest insurance broker, expects total losses for insurers and reinsurers to top $52.6 billion in the first quarter compared with $40.6 billion for the whole of 2010. The disaster in Japan may cost insurers and reinsurers $21 billion to $34 billion, according to catastrophe modeler Risk Management Solutions.

Munich Re said on April 20 it will report a “clearly negative” first-quarter result. The Munich-based company in March scrapped its 2.4 billion-euro ($3.6 billion) profit target for this year as it estimated about 1.5 billion euros in claims from Japan.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Swiss urge global rethink of nuclear power

Swiss urge global rethink of nuclear power - SiwssInfo

President and Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has urged the international community to set new priorities for the use of nuclear energy.

Addressing a summit in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Calmy-Rey recalled the “unspeakable suffering” at Pripyat – the town near the destroyed power plant – and parts of Belarus and Russia.


She also called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to reconsider its role following the accident at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, earlier this year.

Calmy-Rey was among government representatives from 50 nations discussing the safe use of nuclear power.




New questions raised about Switzerland’s energy strategy.

Switzerland is committed to increasing its financial aid for the victims of Chernobyl – in line with pledges by other countries according to an economics ministry spokeswoman. The Swiss contribution to an international programme is set at 1.15 per cent of the total.

To date, Switzerland has paid €27 million to projects, including the Chernobyl Shelter Fund, according to the foreign ministry.

Ukraine was hoping to raise €740 million (SFr952 million) in funds for new safety measures at the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster.


swissinfo.ch and agencies

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Internet Linked to Health in Adolescents

Internet Linked to Health in Adolescents - MedPage Today

Teenagers who are heavy users of the Internet -- spending more than two hours a day online -- appear to have an increased risk of depression as well as some somatic complaints, Swiss researchers reported.

On the other hand, they found a similar association with an apparent increased risk of depression among teens who didn't use the Net at all, according to Pierre-André Michaud, MD, of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, and colleagues.

The finding suggests that regular Internet use is now "normative behavior without major health consequence" but that physicians should be alert for extremely high or low levels of use, Michaud and colleagues argued online in Pediatrics.

Using the Internet is now a commonplace activity among young people, the researchers noted, raising health concerns that have primarily focused on heavy users.

To examine the issue, Michaud and colleagues turned to the 2002 Swiss Multicenter Adolescent Survey on Health, a nationally-representative survey of teens ages 16 to 20 years in either high school or vocational school.

More than 7,200 participants -- 3,906 boys and 3,305 girls -- were divided into four categories according to the intensity of their Internet use.

Heavy Internet users were defined at those who were online two or more hours a day, regular Internet users were online several days a week for less than two hours a day, and occasional users logged in no more than an hour a week. The fourth category was Internet nonusers -- teens who reported no Internet use at all in the month before the survey. For multivariate analyses, the regular users were regarded as the reference group.

Michaud and colleagues also asked about participants' perceived health, depression, overweight, and somatic complaints like headaches, back pain, and insufficient sleep.

The researchers found there were more heavy Internet users among the boys -- 7.3% versus 2.2% among girls -- but a similar proportion of nonusers, at 16.4% among both sexes.

Most boys and girls were either regular or occasional users -- 44.9% and 31.4%, respectively, for boys and 41.5% and 39.8%, respectively, for girls.

Multivariate analysis showed a U-shaped relationship between Internet use and some health issues, the researchers reported. Specifically:

  • Male heavy users and nonusers both were significantly more likely to report depression, with relative risk ratios of 1.36 and 1.31, respectively.
  • Girls at all levels of use reported significantly more depression than regular users, but the heavy users had the highest relative risk ratio, at 1.86. Nonusers and occasional users had relative risk ratios of 1.46 and 1.24, respectively.
  • Male heavy users were 78% more likely to report being overweight than regular users. The relative risk ratio was 1.78, with a 95% confidence interval from 1.07 to 2.95.
  • Male nonusers were significantly more likely to report frequent back pain, with a relative risk ratio of 1.87.
  • Female heavy users were significantly more likely to report insufficient sleep, with a relative risk ratio of 1.91.

Michaud and colleagues cited some limitations to their study, noting that young people not attending school were not assessed, which may limit that applicability of the study results.

The authors also cautioned that the data were collected in 2002 -- before the explosion of multimedia technologies that have made Internet access easier.

The study also did not look at the effects of specific activities online, they reported. Its generalizability was also limited by the data being collected only among adolescents in Switzerland.

The study had support from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, Université Laval, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec and its foundation, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The authors said they had no relevant financial relationships to disclose.


Primary source: Pediatrics


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Swiss net international investment position nears 2007 high

Tax privileges

Foreign companies moving head offices to Switzerland inflate figures

The Lake Geneva region is drawing a growing number of foreign companies for their head offices

Switzerland, which has one of the world’s highest net international investment positions (IIP) in relation to GDP, saw this climb back nearly to 2007 levels in 2009. Its net position rose by CHF95 billion to CHF764b in 2009. Foreign assets climbed by CHF95b to CHF 3,177b. Assets “were still considerably below the level of 2007″, says the Swiss National Bank (SNB).

The figures were released Tuesday morning 14 December by the SNB.

Net IIP is the difference between a country’s external financial assets and liabilities. IIP equals domestically owned foreign assets and foreign owned domestic assets.

“In relation to GDP, the 2009 net investment position increased from 123 percent to 143 percent year-on- year—a very high figure by international standards. At the end of 2007, this key figure was 149 percent,” the SNB notes in its press release. Hong Kong traditionally has a very high figure, above 300 percent, while the United States, for example, was -24 percent, Ireland -58 percent and Greece -75 percent in 2008.

Foreign companies account for nearly half of direct investment

Foreign assets include direct investment, portfolio investment and reserve assets. Direct investment alone rose by CHF85b, with foreign companies moving to Switzerland, included for the first time in these figures, accounting for nearly half that amount, CHF38b. Direct investment rose for two reasons, says the SNB: Swiss companies invested in subsidiaries abroad and foreign companies moved their headquarters to Switzerland.

The growing number of foreign companies moving to Switzerland, many of them from the UK, has drawn fire from British media, most notably with the planned move of Cadbury’s, for tax reasons, in 2011.

The number of employees of Swiss subsidiaries abroad fell by 28,000 in 2009, for a total of 2.63 million, the first such decline since 2003.

The SNB notes that

“by comparison with other countries, Switzerland has relatively high levels of direct investment abroad. This is evident from the ratio of Swiss direct investment abroad to nominal gross domestic product (GDP), which amounted to 164 percent at the end of 2009. In the Netherlands this ratio amounted to 107 percent, while in Ireland it was 85 percent. As recently as 1990, Switzerland had a ratio of 28 prcent and lagged behind both the Netherlands (36 percent) and Ireland (31 percent) (source: Unctad, World Investment Report 2010).”

Income from direct investment abroad rose to CHF53b, up sharply from the 2008 figure of CHF8b, thanks in large part to the banking industry’s recovery.

Derivatives out of favour, high Swiss share prices find investors

Swiss shares held by investors abroad jumped by CHF82b to CHF555b as a result of higher share prices. By contrast, foreign investors scaled back their holdings of Swiss debt securities, notes the SNB. Derivatives and structured products lost favour, and their fall nearly offset the rise in foreign assets.

Swissinfo video on foreign companies moving to Switzerland for tax purposes

Nissan, Yahoo, Chiquita – many multinational companies are moving their European headquarters to Switzerland. Here they pay much lower corporate taxes than in other countries. The international holdings have privileges that not even Swiss firms enjoy. (SF Eco - swissinfo.ch)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Google offers new tools to grow businesses globally

New tools to grow your business globally - Google Blog

Srinidhi Viswanatha from Global Advertisers team has posted a really interesting blog that has attracted my whole attention because it offers you to better understand Merton's Matthew effect, a particular explanation of the law of success!


Imagine you're a men's tailor in Bangkok, and you sell custom suits to travelers passing through Thailand. You start a website to sell your suits online and begin to notice that the majority of your website traffic comes from overseas. How do you respond to this international demand?

Businesses of all sizes face a number of obstacles when they want to expand internationally. First, they must identify the right market to sell their products or services, such as custom men's suits. Then they have to create versions of their website and ad campaigns in the language of the market they want to reach. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they need to reach new customers who may be interested in their products and services.


Starting today, businesses can access a number of new resources from Google to help them overcome these obstacles and start growing internationally. We're launching a new website, calledGoogle Ads for Global Advertisers, which will serve as a central hub for Google's tools and tips for businesses looking to expand to foreign markets. This website pulls together resources for businesses to find the right market for their products and services, translate their websites and ad text, find new customers with relevant online ads, and understand options for international payment, shipping and customer service.


We're also introducing Global Market Finder, a new free tool to help businesses identify markets with high demand for their products or services. The Global Market Finder automatically translates your keyword—for example, [business suit]—into 56 languages and then uses Google search trends data to see where in the world people search for your product or service. It helps businesses evaluate new markets by showing the volume of local searches, estimated price for keywords and competition for each keyword in each market. With this tool, businesses can answer questions like "how competitive is this market?", "how does demand in one country compare to demand elsewhere in the world?" and "how much would it cost to start advertising in this new market?" You can read more about these new tools on the Inside AdWords blog.


Google has already helped hundreds of thousands of businesses reach customers in foreign markets. From a mosaic company in Lebanon to a bespoke shoe retailer in Sydney, a tech support company in India and a bed and breakfast in Poland, tools like AdWords have helped businesses reach new customers and drive traffic to their websites. We think our new website and tools will encourage even more businesses to expand internationally, whether you're a small business testing a single market for the first time or a mid-size company advertising your products to an entire region.

After all, there are more than 1.9 billion consumers online. Wouldn't you like to add some of them as customers?

For all micro-bloggers who are using twitter, Sponsored Tweets and MyLikes are great ad tools as well, I recommend to all of you!

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