What Do I Wear To Work?

This is a very interesting topic in today’s workplace.  What is the dress code these days for the office?  Most don’t really know.  Many companies still have a strict dress code and have only one “casual” day like on Friday.  But there are also a lot of companies who allow casual dress all the time.  Many would agree it has gotten a little out of hand.  It can be even worse in the summer when it gets so hot.

The bottom line from this USAToday article is if you wear it on the weekends or out to a club or at the beach, then you probably shouldn’t wear it to work.  That is a good thing for everyone to remember…

Casual dress days have spread in recent years, as the boom of technology and Internet companies led to a more relaxed atmosphere for corporate America. Even major companies without connections to technology found themselves offering casual days once a week or all summer to compete with the lure of hip Internet firms.

According to human resources consulting firm William M. Mercer, 90% of firms interviewed in a 2000 survey offer casual dress, up from 84% in 1998. Nearly two-thirds have casual dress year-round, with the rest limiting it to certain days of the week, typically Fridays, or the summer.

“A huge number of employers have casual dress, and based on surveys we’ve done, we haven’t seen a reduction,” said Anne Reustle, a senior consultant at Mercer in Philadelphia.

But as the push toward casual wear has grown, so has criticism that employees cross the line.

“It’s a lot worse in the summer. As the seasons change, so does the amount of fabric. As it gets warmer, clothes shrink,” said Barbara Seymour, a Los Angeles fashion expert and columnist for CareerBuilder.com.

Read more on this subject at USAToday.com:


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Starting A Small Business: How To Tips

starting small business

Small Business Tip

There is a lot to know when you start a small business.  There is much you can learn before you start and a whole lot more you learn along the way.  Most small business owners would probably agree that it is certainly a learning process.  Starting a business isn’t something you can completely figure out before you start.  But it is important to do your homework and learn as much as you can.Continue Reading Starting A Small Business: How To Tips

If Your Mortgage Lender Is In Trouble, Are You?

Many may have thought this or even asked this question.  If you have a mortgage with a lender that is not doing so hot and their stock price has tanked, does that hurt you?  The answer is no.  You are not really at risk although it could be an inconvenience but not really a risk.

The number 1 lender out there getting lots of attention is Countrwide.  There was an article on USAToday.com talking about Countrywide and this question of whether any one with a Countrywide mortgage would be in trouble…

The other thing to keep in mind is your mortgage is considered an asset on Countrywide's books. If the company were to run into severe financial difficulty, which, again, there are no indications of currently, your mortgage could be sold. It's not something to be afraid of. Mortgages are routinely bought and sold. You'll want to keep your paperwork to make sure all your information was transferred correctly and there could be some inconveniences, but other than that, it's really not a big deal.

But I want to stress, again, there are no signs that Countrywide is in danger of vanishing. In fact, there's been evidence to the contrary as the company has been able to raise money from outside investors to weather the turbulence in the housing industry.

Read the complete USAToday article at:


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The Outsourcing of Outsourcing in India

India has become the place for companies to outsource their work over the last several years.  Now Indian companies like Infosys Technologies are beginning to outsource some of their outsourcing work to other counties…

Some analysts compare the strategy to Japanese penetration of auto manufacturing in the United States in the 1970s. Just as the Japanese learned to make cars in America without Japanese workers, Indian vendors are learning to outsource without Indians, said Dennis McGuire, chairman of TPI, a Texas-based outsourcing consultancy.

In May, Tata Consultancy Service, Infosys’s Indian rival, announced a new back office in Guadalajara, Mexico; Tata already has 5,000 workers in Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. Cognizant Technology Solutions, with most of its operations in India, has now opened back offices in Phoenix and Shanghai.

Wipro, another Indian technology services company, has outsourcing offices in Canada, China, Portugal, Romania and Saudi Arabia, among other locations.

And last month, Wipro said it was opening a software development center in Atlanta that would hire 500 programmers in three years.

In a poetic reflection of outsourcing’s new face, Wipro’s chairman, Azim Premji, told Wall Street analysts this year that he was considering hubs in Idaho and Virginia, in addition to Georgia, to take advantage of American “states which are less developed.” (India’s per capita income is less than $1,000 a year.)

For its part, Infosys is building a whole archipelago of back offices — in Mexico, the Czech Republic, Thailand and China, as well as low-cost regions of the United States.

The company seeks to become a global matchmaker for outsourcing: any time a company wants work done somewhere else, even just down the street, Infosys wants to get the call.

Read more from this recent The New York Time article:


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More Subprime News (Not Surprised)

Well, it is no surprise that another financial institution is getting out of the subprime home lending business.  The latest news comes from Lehman Brothers, a leader in packaging subprime mortgages into securities.

Of course, by shutting down this arm of their business, they are also laying off employees.  The subprime shake up isn't done yet…

“Lehman Brothers announced today that market conditions have necessitated a substantial reduction in its resources and capacity in the subprime space,” the firm said in a news release.

Lehman’s decision to shutter the lending unit, BNC Mortgage, makes it the latest casualty in the subprime mortgage meltdown that started earlier this year and rippled into the broader credit markets starting in late July.

In recent weeks, several mortgage companies that specialized in risky home loans have stopped making loans, shut down or encountered other distress. Also today, Accredited Home Lenders, a subprime lender based in San Diego, stopped making loans through brokers and laid off 1,600 people, more than half of its staff. Earlier this month, Lone Star Funds, a private equity firm, pulled out of a deal to buy the company for $400 million.

On Monday, Capital One Financial shut down its GreenPoint mortgage business, which specialized in making loans to people who did not fully document their income and assets. And Aegis Mortgage, which is controlled by Cerberus, the private equity giant, filed for bankruptcy protection, last week.

If you would like to learn more, visit The New York Times article:


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The Afternoon Yawns…

Unless you are one of those rare individuals, you probably experience the “afternoon dip.”  Most people do experience this after lunch some time however some feel it more than others.  Many workers may feel some guilt, thinking they are lazy for getting tired in the afternoon.  But it is a fact that most do experience the strong urge to just go to sleep in the afternoon.

The key is learning to manage it.  Some can take a quick 20 minute “power nap” and feel refreshed and ready to work.  Others need more time and a long nap isn't possible.  So some look to the good old fashion coffee for the answer.  That works for some.  Others may get up and move around and some even slip off to the gym during this time.  But not everyone's schedule allows for that.  The real key is finding what works for you.  Don't try to ignore it or think you are lazy.  Just figure out a solution.

One piece of advice that this article from The New York Times gives is to not work on your toughest projects during this time.  This is a great time to work on things that don't require as much focus.  Maybe just arranging your to-do-list and schedule will be the answer you need.

There is some great information on this matter on the The New York Times website.  You can read the complete article at: 


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Streaming Video More Popular Than Ever

When I think of streaming video I still sometimes have flash backs of a few years ago when I was connected on those crazy dial up connections!  Streaming wasn't fun back then.  But today with broadband taking over, it is quite different!  Many companies are starting to offer all kinds of shows and movies through streaming video.  And it will only grow from here.  It just makes sense that in the future everything we watch will be via the internet.  What's a TV?  Maybe we will still call the TV a TV but how it gets its content will be much different.  You can already start to see that…

However, the potential of new streaming video services — fast, full screen and in sharp resolution — is unleashing a torrent of movies and television shows, much of it aimed at narrowly defined audiences that can’t find niche programming even on cable systems with 500 or more channels.

The Independent Film Channel is streaming 22 short films called “Trapped in the Closet” by the R&B recording artist R. Kelly. The Jewish Television Network, a nonprofit television production and distribution company, is streaming music videos by Jewish performers, cooking shows and Israeli news programs. The network is also planning to stream religious services during the High Holy Days in September, the sort of broadcast that would be hard to find on mainstream television.

“There is extreme interest in streaming because it simplifies the process of getting video to the consumer,” said Ross Rubin, the director of industry analysis for the NPD Group, a market analysis company.

Streaming video, unlike downloads, never resides on a viewer’s computer. It usually cannot be replayed as a downloaded file can be, which is another reason that content creators like it.

To learn more on this subject, read the complete article below from The New York Times:


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Homeowners Defaulting On Loans

Home mortgage lenders are going through some rough times right now.  There is a big increase in homeowners who are defaulting on their loans.  The challenge is many home buyers bought homes thinking that the prices would continue to increase at the rates that they were increasing.  Many buyers had adjustable rate mortgages and paid little or no money down so as the interest rates on their adjustable rate mortgages went up and their home price dropped making it harder to sell, it made it hard to keep up with the payments. 

Subprime lenders have felt the biggest hit but it has really hurt them all…

Problems in the mortgage market spread deeper and farther afield yesterday.

Trading in the shares of a large mortgage company was suspended yesterday, and the nation’s largest insurer of home loans said its stake in a business that underwrites and invests in mortgage securities may be worthless. Earlier, a German bank acknowledged that its investments in American loans have deteriorated.

The developments are the latest indications that the housing slump will affect a broader segment of the mortgage industry and that the problems will last longer than many officials had suggested earlier this year. Just last week, the nation’s biggest home lender, Countrywide Financial, acknowledged that defaults on second mortgages to prime borrowers were rising quickly.

The New York Stock Exchange never opened trading in shares of American Home Mortgage yesterday after the company said late Friday that it would suspend its dividend and was facing “significant margin calls” from its banks.

Already down 70 percent for the year, shares in A.H.M. fell 39 percent in premarket trading, to $6.39.

To learn more on this subject, read the complete article below from The New York Times:


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The Stock Market Plunged Today!

It was a bad day for all the major indexes today.  It was one of the biggest drops this year.  The worries over the subprime lending market along with other issues caused a big hit to the stock market…

Investors who had been able for months to largely shrug off discomfort about subprime mortgage problems and a more difficult environment for corporate borrowing finally decided it was time to sell after the Commerce Department issued another disappointing home sales report.

Feeding the plunge were concerns that higher corporate borrowing costs will curb the rapid pace of takeovers that had driven stocks higher this year. Investors also feared the sluggish environment for home sales and continued defaults in subprime loans would spur debt defaults and weigh on corporate earnings.

“Worries that have been out there for the past couple of years are coming to a head right now,” said investment strategist Edward Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research Inc. “It's show time.”

The Dow plunged 311.50 or 2.3%, to 13,473.57 after falling 449.77 in earlier trading. The close was its worst since the 416.02 it lost on Feb. 27, when a drop in the Shanghai stock market rattled world exchanges.

Read the complete article on USAToday.com if you would like to learn more:


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The Troubles with Getting Africa Online

We live in a great country.  It is easy to take our easy access to the internet for granted.  We complain when our internet connection “goes down” for a short time or when we can't get our wireless working at someone's house.  And when the wireless doesn't work, that means we actually have to plug in to a wire and sit in one place!  That is so terrible!  But as we are complaining about these silly issues there are people in countries in Africa who would just love to be able to afford to get online.  Most people can not afford it yet as the costs are just too high.

There have been many attempts to help bring Africa up to speed but it seems more important issues like hunger and AIDS take priority.  The Rwandan government has made some aggressive moves to help their country have more access to the internet and lower the cost.  And while they have made progress, it is not what they had hoped…

Attempts to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to the masses have made little headway on the continent. Less than 4 percent of Africa’s population is connected to the Web; most subscribers are in North African countries and the republic of South Africa.

A lack of infrastructure is the biggest problem. In many countries, communications networks were destroyed during years of civil conflict, and continuing political instability deters governments or companies from investing in new systems. E-mail messages and phone calls sent from some African countries have to be routed through Britain, or even the United States, increasing expenses and delivery times. About 75 percent of African Internet traffic is routed this way and costs African countries billions of extra dollars each year that they would not incur if their infrastructure was up to speed.

“Most African governments haven’t paid much attention to their infrastructure,” said Vincent Oria, an associate professor of computer science at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a native of the Ivory Coast. “In places where hunger, AIDS and poverty are rampant, they didn’t see it as critical until now.”

Africa’s only connection to the network of computers and fiber optic cables that are the Internet’s backbone is a $600 million undersea cable running from Portugal down the west coast of Africa. Built in 2002, the cable was supposed to provide cheaper and faster Web access, but so far that has not happened.

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