Archive for September, 2010
Who Is Taylor Swift?
Taylor Swift is one of America’s most popular country music singers and pop stars. Unlike many Nashville stars, she is also a singer-songwriter, writing many of her own hits singles.
With 4 Grammy Awards, 13 million albums and 28 million digital tracks sold, and a budding career as an actress (See How to Become an Actor for more information about becoming an actress.), this 20-year old blond beauty looks like she has staying power. In fact, Forbes Magazine ranked Taylor Swift as the 12th most powerful celebrity of 2010, with earnings around $45,000,000.
Taylor Swift Biography – Childhood and Early Career
Taylor Swift was born in December, 1989 in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, to a homemaker and stock broker. Taylor’s grandmother was an opera singer. Taylor Swift began writing at an early age, and she won a national poetry contest when she wa sin the 4th grade. Around the same time, she began singing at fairs, festivals, and karaoke contests. She gave a performance at Bloomsburg Fair in 2001. She began playing the guitar (See How to Buy a Guitar for more information.), which helped her in writing songs. Her inspirations were Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and her own grandmother.
In 2000 (at age 11), She traveled to Nashville and began to distribute demos of her music to every label in the city, but she received no attention. (See How to Get into the Music Business for advice on this subject.) She sang the National Anthem at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament at age 14, which garnered her some national attention.
Taylor rejected an artist development deal with RCA Records at age 15, but soon after signed to become a staff songwriter for the Sony/ATV Tree publishing house. (See What Is Music Row? for more information about being a Nashville singer-songwriter.) She was eventually “discovered” by Scott Borchetta, who signed Taylor Swift at age 15 to his Big Machine Records, a new label. She began working on her debut album, Taylor Swift, and it was only a matter of time (2006) before she would become a blockbuster country star.
Taylor Swift Hit Singles, Songs, and Lyrics
Below is a list of her hit singles, which have driven sales of her albums and data files. Beside each song is where the single peaked on the relevant Billboard’s country songs chart.
- Tim McGraw (#6)
- Teardrops on My Guitar (#2)
- Our Song (#1)
- Picture to Burn (#3)
- Should’ve Said No (#1)
- Love Story (#4 on Hot 100)
- White Horse (#2)
- Jump Then Fall (#10)
- Forever & Always (#14)
- Untouchable (#19)
- The Other Sides of the Door (#22)
- Superstar (#27)
- Come in With the Rain (#30)
- Today Was a Fairytale (#2)
What makes the chart success of songs like Untouchable, The Other Side of the Door, Superstar, and Come in With the Rain is their charted success was not as released singles, at least at first. Several were re-released as singles, once their popularity was understood by Taylor Swift’s label.
Taylor Swift Boyfriends – Joe Jonas and Taylor Lautner
Taylor Swift had a highly publicized romance with Joe Jonas of the famous Jonas Brothers musical act, but that relationship ended in November of 2008. The song Forever & Always is considered a reference to the Joe Jonas relationship, and she claims many of her songs are autobiographical. In 2009, she began dating Taylor Lautner, who plays the werewolf in the Twilight movies. The two Taylors have since ended their relationship, but are said to remain friends.
Taylor Swift’s Third Album – Speak Now
Taylor Swift is putting the finishing touches on her third album, Speak Now. Swift released one track off the upcoming album, “Today Was a Fairytale”, as an iTunes digital download. The song became a sensation online, charting as Taylor Swift’s 6th Top 10 hit. At present, she has had 23 songs in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
No doubt, when Taylor Swift’s next album is released, she’ll begin adding to her list of accomplishments, awards, and world records. She already holds the record for most digital downloads in the first week after release, and this is bound to be eclipsed when her next single is released. You can expect millions of sales, a Grammy nomination or two, and the continued support of millions of fans.
We’ve written a few other biographies of celebrities this week that you might also be interested in:
What Is Blockbuster Video?
Blockbuster Video is an American chain of DVD, Blu-ray, and video game rental stores. What started as a single movie rental store at a busy intersection in Dallas, Texas in 1985 eventually became the largest video rental store in the country. Blockbuster had incredible business success well into the early 2000s, but then online video rental stores like Netflix started gaining customers. Customers preferred the convenience of sending and receiving movies and games through the mail, and even when they attempted to create their own warehouse video system like that operated by Netflix and others, it never really caught on. As of September 23, 2010, the company is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Blockbuster is still headquartered in downtown Dallas.
Blockbuster Video Successes
Their company is often credited, rightly, with popularizing videotape recorders and VHS playback in the home. Blockbuster filled a need in the late 80s that no one else was involved in — people loved their VHS systems, but no widespread system existed to let them watch movies just once or twice rather than buying them.
Back in 1987, Blockbuster soared again after businessman Wayne Huizenga took control of the company and started to get aggressive. They expanded so often under Huizenga’s reign that customers often found new stores opening in their neighborhood seemingly overnight. Huizenga also spent a lot of time and money buying out Blockbuster’s regional competition.
Carl Icahn took control of ten percent of the company in the early 2000s, when it was first showing signs of trouble. Icahn got the ball rolling on Blockbuster’s entry into the DVD-by-mail business, and though Blockbuster never had nearly as many customers as Netflix, the DVD-by-mail service is still up and running, and had it worked, Blockbuster could have become at least competitive with Netflix.
Are Blockbuster Stores Still Open?
For the moment, your neighborhood store is probably still operating. There are stores closing around the country, leaving people wondering where to rent movies now, but many are in business as usual.
Unfortunately for fans of their stores, that won’t always be the case. The announcement of Chapter 11 bankruptcy carried with it some bleak news for the future — yes, there are still some 3,500 Blockbuster stores currently open in the U.S., but the odds that the “mounting losses, rising debt and better competition” will get any better for Blockbuster in the coming months are low.
A group of investors (led by billionaire Carl Icahn) is likely to order hundreds of stores closed in a last-ditch attempt to make a profit. This is terrible news for employees of Blockbuster — the Dallas, Texas company has almost 2,6000 employees, including 7,500 workers earning a full-time wage. As Blockbuster stores close, and if profits continue to drop, there could be a huge number of Blockbuster employees seeking jobs.
If the demise of Blockbuster looks anything like their old competitor, Hollywood Video, the future for these stores is dark indeed. Hollywood Video liquidated just a few months after declaring Chapter 11, and while that company’s website says they’re “in the process of exploring new ways of delivering entertainment”, it looks more like the end for Hollywood.
What Caused Blockbuster Video’s Decline?
Blockbuster points to several factors in explaining what happened to the company — low reserves of cash, a heavy debt load, and competitors who have built better models for distributing DVDs to customers. Think of your own video experience — how many times have you visited any retail store video rental chain in the last year? Now compare that to how much video rental you did, say, ten years ago — Americans just aren’t renting videos the way Blockbuster wants them to. People are watching movies online, or renting them through the mail, using “cable on demand” services and even video rental vending machine services like Redbox.
How bad is Blockbuster’s debt? The company claims they have about $1 billion in assets, but they also claim to be over $1.5 billion in debt. It will be nearly impossible for Blockbuster to gain back the customer base they once had. Eight years ago, Netflix boasted 1 million subscribers. Today, Netflix has well over 15 million members and climbing. How can you win back a customer base that’s found a new way to enjoy movies?
How Blockbuster Could Stay Alive
Though the odds are stacked against them, there is hope for the one-time video rental giant.
By filing for Chapter 11, Blockbuster will probably reduce its debt from $1 billion to about $100 million. They’re planning to pay off $125 million in debt through a financing program for bankrupt companies, and this money will be paid to suppliers, customers, and employees while the company reorganizes. Blockbuster is planning on spending about $40 million on rights to movies, money paid directly to movie studios to keep their stores stocked with current and new DVD titles.
All of those plans may work. Blockbuster could drastically reduce the price of membership in their DVD-by-mail program, holding a 6 month promotion (for example) that cuts rates in half or by some other dramatic amount. That could get them an influx of new customers upset about the rising prices at Netflix. Whether or not this temporary fix would hold with time is up in the air.
Another move Blockbuster could (and should) make immediately — close 1000 low-performing stores. If a store is performing poorly, closing it and focusing your effort on neighborhoods where movie rentals the old-fashioned way are still popular. Blockbuster has long had their fingers on the pulse of the neighborhoods in which they are franchised. Movie stock, classic titles, and video game saturation differ from store to store, reflecting the different dynamics of the neighborhoods in which they do business. They should use this information to trim the fat, and spend the savings on beefing up high performing stores and adding inventory to their online service.
Blockbuster Video is a household name brand — even if you aren’t a member, you know the name and you know what they do. Blockbuster is planning on revamping Total Access (the name of their video by mail service) to be less “mainstream”, including a wider variety of titles, classic movies, animations, foreign movies, indies, etc. The biggest knock on Total Access is that Netflix simply has a better, more eclectic collection, and making small changes like this to existing services could ensure that Blockbuster will be with us for another 25 years.
What Are the Top 10 Diamond Ring Websites?
There’s tons of information about diamonds and diamond rings online. There’s also no lack of sources for diamond rings on the Internet. We’ve sorted through the pile for you and found the twenty best websites about diamond rings. We’re also including ten blogs and informational sites about diamonds so you can do a little research before you go shopping for a ring. (And if your intended isn’t interested in diamonds, you might want to take a look at our article about How to Buy Emerald Engagement Rings.)
Here are the ten most popular online retailers.
1. Blue Nile
Blue Nile is the most popular online diamond retailer. Blue Nile sells more diamonds than the next three most popular websites combined. They do an amazing amount of business, and they’ve only been in business for just over a decade. Using their Diamond Search tool, you can see the price of the diamond change as you change its characteristics, so selecting a higher clarity, for instance, raises the price of the stone right before your eyes. Try it out right here.
The Shane Company has carved out a niche for themselves at the top of this list — they don’t sell as many rings as Blue Nile, but they offer a wider variety of stones. The website isn’t as slick and pretty as Blue Nile, but using their “design your own ring” tool was fun. Check out the Shane Company if you can’t find what you need at Blue Nile.
Diamond.com feels a little bit cheap, the colors make it difficult to see the diamonds as you shop for them, and I get the feeling their prices are too high. Still, they are the third most popular diamond retailer online.
I love the interface at Whiteflash.com — they’ve managed to find a background color that shows off the stones but isn’t downright ugly. It’s comforting to see the GIA certificate for a diamond I’m about to drop a few thousand dollars on. This is a feature that’s easily found at Whiteflash, but harder to find at other retailers.
I like Szul Online Jewelry because they are almost always holding a sale or offering a discount code. But they haven’t mastered this whole “build your own ring” thing yet — I’ve never been able to use their system. Glitchy website, but good prices if you catch them during a sale.
This is another easy to use and attractive retail website. They are best known for selling loose diamonds, which is a specialty market (which explains why they’re not higher on the list of diamond ring websites).
Adiamor’s been in business longer than Blue Nile or the Shane Company, but they don’t have the volume that their larger competitors have. Still, you can get free Fedex overnight shipping for diamond rings from Adiamor.com, so if you need one post-haste, they may be your store.
8. Diamonds USA
You can find great prices at Diamonds USA if you’re willing to wait for your shipment. They’re located in Eastern Europe, and your diamond ring can take up to two weeks to arrive to America. Still, do a quick search on their “build your own ring” tool and compare the prices to your local jewelry store.
Atlanta’s famous Solomon Brothers do a good deal of business online. The Brothers have been in the diamond business for a quarter century and that shows on their website. Lacking most of the modern features of other jewelry websites, the Solomon Brothers web presence is dated.
10. Union Diamond
Another Atlanta-based jewelry retailer, Union Diamond closes out the list of the most popular diamond retailers online.
Top Ten Educational Sites about Diamond Rings
When it comes time to buy your next diamond ring, do a little research ahead of time so you don’t get confused by terms like “clarity”, “color”, or “grade”. Here are ten great educational sites about diamonds and diamond rings.
1. Ring Envy
Easily our favorite diamond blog, Ring Envy is unique among websites about diamonds. It’s a simple concept — people post anonymous photos of their diamond rings and engagement rings. You can click randomly through rings as long as you want to. Use it for inspiration for your own ring purchase, or just drool in envy at the awesome rings.
The blog companion to one of the ten most popular diamond retailers online, the Diamonds USA Blog is updated regularly, and while it is more on the “diamond news” side of the spectrum, fans of diamonds and people shopping for diamonds should find a good read here.
Think of this one as “Engagement Rings for Dummies.”
Good information here — not the most attractive site, but easy to navigate.
Diamond news and blog posts categorized across two dozen different subjects.
A great blog based on an awesome concept — helping guys buy good diamonds by talking to them in language they’ll understand.
This may be the most pure “blog” of all the diamond blogs I’ve seen. Featuring writing on diamonds, the diamond industry, diamond shopping, and Celeb diamond rings and proposal stories, Diamond Writings is like the TMZ of diamond rings.
Though the Jewelry Mall Blog isn’t updated nearly as much as we’d like, their information is well-written and includes lots of good links to diamond sales online.
Less of a blog and more of a cool search tool for rings, the RingOBlog is an elegant little ring search engine complete with user reviews and a little bit of advice and news thrown in for good measure.
10. Diamond Blog
There’s plenty to read at this blog, just don’t expect much in the way of links to relevant buying information.
Also, a friend of mine recently launched a site about diamond earrings. It’s worth taking a look at too.
Megan Fox Profile
Megan Fox is a Hollywood actress and sex symbol who has appeared in such movies as Transformers, Jennifer’s Body, and Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.
She is also a mainstay on “most beautiful” lists in magazines like Maxim and FHM, and is one of the most downloaded women on the Internet. Though she has never received wide acclaim for her acting skills, this brunette is known by every fan boy, and is widely considered one of the most desirable women in contemporary films.
Like many aspiring actors and actresses, Megan Fox got her start on television, with successful stints on tv shows like Ocean Ave. and Hope & Faith. She also has made lesser known appearances on televisions shows like Two and a Half Men and What I Like About You, as well as two made-for-tv movies.
I’m sure, like millions of others across America, I first remember seeing her on an episode of Two and a Half Men and thinking, “Who in the world is that hottie!” With her role as the love interest in the Transformers movies, Megan Fox made those otherwise unwatchable movies (if you’re an adult) extremely interesting, and we can only hope she continues to appear in what’s certain to be a long series of awful movies, though she claims she’s done with the Transformers movies, because she doesn’t want to be type-cast (chew on that one for a minute).
Megan Fox on Television
Here is a full list of television appearances by Megan Fox, who got her start in the 2001 made-for-television drama, Holiday in the Sun. As you might imagine, she tends to play the role of the smoking hot vixen, though that wasn’t always the case.
Megan Fox Television Roles
- Holiday in the Sun (movie) – 2001
- Ocean Avenue – 2002-03
- What I like About You – 2003
- Crimes of Fashion (movie) – 2004
- Two and a Half Men – 2004
- The Help – 2004
- Hope & Faith – 2004-06
Megan Fox Movies
Of course, what got the attention of the general public was Megan Fox’s roles on the silver screen. While she turned heads in the forgettable Bad Boys II, it was in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen that Fox began to get noticed by a wider audience, where she played the foil for star Lindsay Lohan. After a three year hiatus from Hollywood movie roles to accept a recurring role on Hope & Faith, she had her first starring role in a mega-hit, with the 2007 original Transformers movie.
Megan Fox Film Roles
- Bad Boys II – 2003
- Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen – 2004
- Transformers – 2007
- How to Lose Friends & Alienate People – 2008
- Whore – 2008
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – 2009
- Jennifer’s Body – 2009
- Jonax Hex – 2010
- Passion Play – 2010
It’s interesting to note that, for all the considerable attention and fame Megan Fox has received, she hasn’t really appeared in that many big name movies. One of her first vehicles truly for her, Jennifer’s Body, was a disappointment at the box office. Even some of her fans expressed difficulty getting through the entire movie, despite Megan being on-display throughout most scenes of the film. The Jonah Hex movie was another disappointment.
On the positive side, many actors have their duds, and Megan Fox is bound to continue to light up the screen for years to come, so she’s bound to have better results in the future. Once thing is for certain: she should be hot for some time to come, so expect to see her remain one of Hollywood’s most popular beauties, regardless of her box office results. Not everything about Megan Fox is based around films, though: she also appeared in the 2010 Eminem music video, “Love The Way You Life”.
Megan Fox Personal Life
Megan Fox has been in a long term relationship with Brian Austin Green (of 90210 fame) since 2004, when the two met on the set of Hope & Faith. (Brian was 30, Megan was 18.) Since then, they have been engaged twice, broke up for a while in 2009, and eventually married in 2010.
According to past interviews, Megan Fox has dabbled with bisexuality in the past, apparently “falling in love” with a female stripper when she was 18. She is also a fan of comic books, video games, and anime. In other words, roll it all together and she is a geeky fanboy’s perfect woman. Damn you, Brian Austin Green.
Who Is Michael Buble?
Michael Buble is a 35-year old Italian-Canadian singer who has won three Grammy Awards and has sold over 25 million albums globally. Michael Buble sings (see Learn How to Sing for more information about singing) in a number of different genres, from jazz and big band music to soft rock and easy listening songs. He has been active since 1996, and his singing career has also allowed Buble to take on roles as an actor, but he is most famous for hit songs like “Haven’t Met You Yet“, “Home“, and “Everything“.
Michael Buble Background
Michael Buble was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and has said he wanted to be a singer since the age of 2. As a child, he slept with a Bible, praying to become a singer, and gained an appreciation for jazz at the age of 5, while listening to his parents’ Bing Crosby records. Buble’s vocal talents first became known to his family when he was thirteen, as they heard him singing “White Christmas” on a holiday drive in the car.
Besides singing, he had a childhood interest in hockey, and had the standard youthful dreams of playing professional hockey, and his childhood heroes were Vancouver Canucks players like Gary Lupul, Patrik Sundstrom, Ivan Hlinka, and near-namesake Jiri Bubla. Michael Buble came from a working class background, though, so from the age of 14 and for the next six summers, he joined his father, a salmon fisherman, as a commercial fisherman. This involved trips on the water for two or three months at a time, and involved “deadly physical work”, in Buble’s own words.
Meanwhile, he continued to sing. He began appearing in local nightclubs at age 16, and his singing lessons were paid for by his Italian grandfather, Demetrio Santaga, a plumber living in a small town some 15 miles from Venice, Italy. This maternal grandfather inspired Buble with his own collection of jazz albums, and the singer has stated that Demetrio Santaga was the driving force in his pursuit of music. Even at that, Michael Buble says none in his family assumed he would become famous, and that even his grandfather assumed he would be opening up shows in Las Vegas. He never gave up hope of being a star.
Michael Buble Gets Noticed
When he was 18, Michael Buble won a local talent contest, but was disqualified after it was learned he was underage. The event’s organizer, Bev Delich, entered him in the Canadian Youth Talent Search, which Buble won. After this Bev Delich became his manager for the next seven years, though these years proved to be unfruitful in Buble’s search for a career in music. In these years, he sang at conventions, bars, clubs, corporate parties, and in malls, hotel lounges, and convention centers. He approached his singing career in a workmanlike fashion, appearing in talent shows and musical revues. He even delivered singing telegrams and portrayed a singing Santa Claus on more than one occasion.
Michael Buble’s Acting Career
In these years, Michael Buble also tried his hand at acting, appearing in the 1996 Death Game (also known as Mortal Challenge) on television, and also in an uncredited role on 2 episodes of The X-Files (1996 season). He first appeared on tv as a singer in 1997, during the Bravo! documentary Big Band Boom!, during the short-lived big band craze of the late-90′s. It was also in this year that Buble began appearing on the Vicki Gabereau national talk show on the CTV network.
Michael Buble made numerous appearances and, because the show was live, he even filled in once for a guest who canceled late. He also shared a guest role opposite Diana Krall, who at the time was already a Grammy nominee, and who was impressed by his performance. He also had a role in the movie Duets, starring Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow, playing a karaoke singer. He also appeared as a club owner in the 2001 movie Totally Blonde.
By 2000, Michael Buble had received two Genie Award nominations for songs in the film Here’s To Life!, and he was in the midst of recording three independent albums. These garnered little attention, and at the age of 25, he was considering a return from Toronto to Vancouver, where he expected to become a journalist.
Michael Buble and David Foster
Michael Buble sang at the wedding of ex Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who had heard Buble sing at a corporate gig. At the wedding, Buble met David Foster, the Grammy Award winning producer and influential record executive. Foster has had a hand in some of the biggest careers of the past 25 years, including Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Andrea Bocelli, and Josh Groban.
Foster was reluctant to sign him, though, because he didn’t know how to market his music. Foster agreed to produce Buble’s next album, if Buble came up with $500,000 to cover the cost of the album. After winning the support of Foster’s friend, Paul Anka, Buble was able to produce the financing. When Foster’s support became a reality, Bruce Allen agreed to become Michael Buble’s manager.
Buble’s debut album in 2003 was a Top 10 album in Canada, England, and South Africa, while it reached #1 in Australia. The album was only a marginally successful in the United States, though three of the singles appeared in the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks Top 30.
Michael Buble – It’s Time
In 2005, Michael Buble released his second album, which became a #1 album in Canada, Japan, and Italy, #2 in Australia, and #7 on the Billboard 200. It spent a record-setting 78 weeks on the Billboard Top Jazz #1 spot. Singles like “Home” and “Save the Last Dance for Me” drove this success. Buble went on to win four 2006 Juno Awards for his album, and the album took home the 2006 Grammy Award for the Best Traditional Pop vocal Album.
Michael Buble – Call Me Irresponsible
In 2007, Michael Buble released his third album, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and rose to #1 the very next week. This album made him a household name, as it sold 2 million copies in the U.S. market. Once again, the album was popular in both Australia and the United Kingdom, and eventually sold 5 million copies worldwide. Hits included “Lost” and “Everything“, for which Buble was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. That same year, Michael Buble won a Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy for Call Me Irresponsible.
Michael Buble – Crazy Love
Michael Buble’s 4th studio album (Crazy Love) continued this chain of success. The debut single, “Haven’t Met You Yet”, was a huge success, and Buble performed the song on the Oprah Winfrey Show. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard’s Canada Adult Contemporary list. This album remains strong, and he appears ready to garner more Grammy and Juno awards in the years to come.
In 2010, he won another Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album award for his 2008 live album, Michael Buble Meet Madison Square Garden, and it’s no coincidence that many songs on Crazy Love were performed live, because this has proven a highly successful format for Michael Buble. Michael Buble’s is hard to pigeon-hole as a pop singer, which is one reason David Foster was originally reluctant to sign him, but whatever Buble (who writes many of his own songs) is doing, the English-speaking public likes it.
What Are the Top 10 Mens Clothing Websites?
Men’s clothing doesn’t get nearly the attention that women’s clothing does. The stereotype about men’s clothing goes that men just don’t shop as much as women — and there’s some truth to this. Men’s fashion is not usually paid much mind at the haute couture level, either — the focus there is on pretty dresses and expensive women’s shoes.
But for men who care about clothes, there’s good news. More than a few online clothing retailers and websites are dedicated to men’s clothes. Here are the top ten men’s fashion retailers websites online.
The fact that Men’s Wearhouse is the most popular site for men’s clothing says more about men’s attitudes about clothes than anything else. While the most popular women’s clothing retailers include higher-end stores like BlueFly and JCrew, the men’s list is populated by less expensive purveyors. The Men’s Wearhouse website is pretty much identical to the clothing they sell in their retail stores, ranging from affordable suits to low-end luxury items, often at a pretty good discount.
To be fair, Brooks Brothers sells more than men’s clothing — they have child and women’s sections as well — but they’re best known for their suits. You can find reasonably priced items here, like no-iron shirts 3 for $150, but the Brooks Brothers clothing you know and love (like the 1818 line of suits) is far more expensive than the number one suit retailer, Men’s Wearhouse.
Offering higher-end men’s and women’s fashion, Kenneth Cole’s website is just as full of more affordable items (like signature Kenneth Cole dress shirts for under $60) as it studded by pairs of loafers for $300. The website is super easy to navigate, and the men’s clothing for sale here is probably not as expensive as you expect.
The retail version of this store (and the website itself) advertise the fact that Casual Male is for larger men by including the symbol XL after the name. The smallest size of clothing at CasualMale is “XLT”, for Extra Large / Tall. Sizes go up as high as 10X, some items a little larger, some smaller. This website is popular because of the large number of men who can’t find clothes that fit at other retailers.
Paul Frederick is along the lines of the Men’s Wearhouse — formal and business attire for men at affordable prices. These are high-quality clothes that most men can afford — 3 custom tailored Oxford shirts for $150, for instance. There’s usually a variety of price points to choose from. Dress shirts, for instance, run from $29 up to $100.
The website is not for the faint of heart — clicking on Undergear.com may get you some funny looks. Yes, there’s lots of pictures of men in underwear, and much of the underwear and clothing at Undergear is a little bit exotic. But for men who take their underwear as seriously as their outerwear, Undergear.com is there to help.
You could say that His Room is the higher class version of Undergear.com, though it is interesting to note that Undergear.com is more popular. Boxers, briefs, swimwear, and everything in between are on offer at HisRoom.com, modest in price and style. A purchase of $40 or more earns you free shipping, and with boxers at $20 a pop, you’re very likely to earn that discount.
Simple name, simple concept. Billing itself as “America’s premier tie store”, Ties.com breaks the top 10 men’s fashion websites without selling so much as a tee-shirt. All sorts of ties are available — novelty ties, skinny ties, bowties, tie accessories, and even tie racks and other storage devices. Average tie price here is $12, so you can stock up on ties without worrying about the bottom line.
Rochester Big and Tall is not nearly as popular as Casual Male XL, but their web presence is almost as strong. Clothing at Rochester’s website is available in fewer sizes than at Casual Male (usually Large / Tall through 6 or 7X) but you have a wider variety of brands, and even a good assortment of popular men’s clothing brands like Polo and Michael Kors.
Eddie Bauer sells “premium outdoor-inspired casual wear”. It is a distinctive brand that men recognize — there are even Eddie Bauer branded vehicles. You can find men’s clothing, accessories and even home furnishings. The style here is modern meets outdoors, perfect for Preppy types the world around.
Much like men’s clothing retailers, websites and blogs dedicated (or even addressing) men’s fashion are just not as common as those for women’s clothes.
Here are our top ten blogs and informational sites about men’s clothing.
The word “urban” in the title and the fact that the blogger is African-American may make some men shy about visiting The Urban Gentleman, but fear not. You don’t have to be a brother to appreciate the extensive writings on men’s style available here. The Urban Gent’s recent blog about his experience at Men’s Wearhouse was an eye-opener, complete with beautiful photos of the blogger at work buying suits.
The Style Nerds are three guys (and one gal) who blog constantly about the world of men’s fashion. No sooner had I learned about a new men’s clothing collection at H&M than the Style Nerds weighed in. Up to date chatter about all things related to men’s fashion, along with some awesome pics.
Saying “Well show you how to look good,” the geniuses behind Calculatus Eliminatus (Latin for ‘process of elimination’) turn men’s fashion blogging into something close to what’s going on in the world of women’s fashion. I’m not sure if some of the writers are female or what, but the fashion commentary here tends toward the bitchy side.
A rarity in the men’s fashion world — region-specific commentary. District Cut is a “DC men’s fashion blog”, but you don’t have to live inside the Betlway to appreciate their musings. Sure, there are some DC-specific items if you’re into that sort of thing, but most of the content avoids regionalism. Links to great sales, photographs of fashion events, and fashion commentary are the star here.
Esquire Magazine’s men’s fashion section is called The Style Blog, and it is crammed full of great content. You’ll love their “mustache of the day” (today’s was Jason Schwartzman) and fashion-on-TV recaps. Most of the content here is what you’d expect from a fashion blog — but it is easy to navigate and the writing is top notch.
Get Kempt is a blog dedicated to “world of men’s style / fashion / grooming” in their own words. You could think of Get Kempt as a more fashion-minded Maxim, a mens’ version of Gawker with less politics and more pictures of men steering sailboats. Style is more important than substance here, but there’s plenty of great advice on men’s fashion to be found.
Though Veritas is currently on something of a hiatus, there’s a giant archive of fashion tips and news to be mined.
Very “bro’d out” fashion advice here, with topics like “How Dudes Can Dress Up the H&M Autumn/Winter Collection”. This is maybe the “toughest” men’s fashion blog out there, if such a thing is possible.
Style Points has recently branched out to include other men’s topics like sports, the style writing and advice at Style Points is still a huge focus of the site.
A relatively new blog from Britain focusing on men’s fashion across the pond. Men’s fashion in America often draws from British fashion, so get a jump on American trends by checking out what’s hot in London men’s fashion.
Who Is Tiger Woods?
Tiger Woods is a world famous professional golfer (and a popular fantasy golf pick), whose sex scandal since November of 2009 has added a good deal of infamy to his personal biography.
Tiger Woods was born Eldrick Tont Woods oon December 30, 1975, to African-American Earl Woods and Kultida “Tida” Woods, of Thai, Chinese, and Dutch descent. From the time he was two years old, he was considered a golfing prodigy. When he was 3 years old, Tiger Woods appeared on The Mike Douglas Show, where he putted against legendary comedian, Bob Hope. He went on to appear in Golf Digest, as well as the hit tv show, That’s Incredible.
Tiger broke a score of 80 at the age of 8, and was already winning child tournaments by this time. He would win the Junior World Championships six different times. Tiger Woods became the youngest ever U.S. Junior Amateur Champion at the age of 15, and the first-ever repeat champion the next year (1992) at the age of 16. He attended college at Stanford University, where he was on their championship golf squad.
His first major professional tournament came when he was still at Stanford, at the 1995 Masters Tournament, where he finished an impressive 41st and was the only amateur to make the cut. In 1996, Woods won his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title, and won the NCAA Individual Golf Championship. After two years of college, Tiger Woods turned pro.
Pro Golf Career – “Hello World”
Tiger Woods was a sensation from the moment he announced his professional career in 1996. Before he entered a tournament, he signed a $40,000,000 endorsement deal with Nike and a $20,000,000 endorsement deal with Titleist, both records at the time. The hype surrounding Tiger Woods seemed to place impossible hopes on the kid golfer, as people were already talking about whether he was the greatest golfer ever. Amazingly, he not only matched, but surpassed, all expectations.
In April 1998, Tiger Woods won his first major (and first Masters Tournament), finishing an incredible 12 strokes ahead of the field, setting 20 Masters records and tying 6 other Masters records. In only 42 weeks of golf, he became the #1 ranked golfer in the world. This was an astonishing record, since the golf rankings take results from the past two years (or 102 weeks). This was just the beginning, as he went on to win 14 major tournaments, and has hopes of matching or surpassing Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major wins. Below are the winning Major Tournament results for Tiger Woods’ career.
- 1997 Masters Tournament
- 1999 PGA Championship
- 2000 U.S. Open
- 2000 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2000 PGA Championship
- 2001 Masters Tournament
- 2002 Masters Tournament
- 2002 U.S. Open
- 2005 Masters Tournament
- 2005 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2006 Open Championship (British Open)
- 2006 PGA Championship
- 2007 PGA Championship
- 2008 U.S. Open
This gives Tiger Woods 4 Masters championship, 3 British Open titles, 3 U.S. Open wins, and PGA Championships, showing his ability to win playing the “links” game of the Open Championship, in the extreme conditions of the U.S. Open tournaments, and on the venerable Augusta National golf course. While he has slowed down in his title wins as he entered his thirties, few would have bet against him breaking Nicklaus’s major tournament record when he reached 14 at the 2008 U.S. Open Championship. In retrospect, this event may have marked a turning point in Tiger Woods’ career – and life.
Tiger Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open in dramatic fashion, hobbling around the course, often appearing to strike the ball off of one leg. The next day, he announced he would undergo knee surgery which would end his 2008 season. Tiger Woods has yet to win another major tournament in over two more years of golf. Much of that time, golf was a secondary part of Tiger Woods’ life.
Tiger Woods Scandal
Late on Thanksgiving night in 2009, police answered a call to Tiger Woods’ neighborhood, where Woods had ran his car into a neighbor’s tree. Woods appeared to have facial lacerations, while the back window of his SUV was busted out. Furthermore, Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, was reported carrying a golf club, which she supposedly used to try to bust out the back window of the vehicle, hoping to free Woods from the car. This odd set of events led to rampant speculation that Elin Woods had chased her husband out of the house with a golf club, and possible struck him and/or his car with the club.
This was denied by the Woods camp, but stories began to appear of Tiger Woods’ infidelity, and the stories piled up day after day throughout December 2009. The National Enquirer and (especially) TMZ made a killing on the Tiger Woods scandal. Eventually, a list of alleged lovers grew beyond a dozen, and he was forced to announce he would take a break from his golfing career to encounter sex addiction rehab and spend more time with his family. Tiger and Elin were unable to work out their differences, and the two agreed to divorce, with Elin Nordegren receiving upwards of $100,000,000 in the divorce settlement. The divorced pair share custody of their two children.
Tiger Woods and Public Opinions
Everyone seemed to have an opinion about the Tiger Woods scandal. Gloria Allred got attention for her comments. The African-American community was apparently offended by Woods’ choice of “white lovers”. Polls consistently showed that the American public now listed him on their Top 5 most hated list of sports athletes. Several corporations canceled their endorsement deals, who had become a billionaire more from endorsement contracts than his on-field golf prize money (which was substantial, in its own right).
Virtually overnight, Tiger Woods went from one of America’s most loved celebrities to a man who had to hold a press conference to “apologize” to Americans offended by his conduct – though this was mainly public relations management to keep his remaining corporate endorsement contracts.
Return to Golf
Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major tournament since his return to pro golf in 2010. He did tie for 4th in the 2010 Masters and 4th in the 2010 U.S. Open, which just about any other golfer (besides maybe Phil Mickelson) would consider great results. The criticism was an indication of how dominant he had been in a sport that is among the hardest to dominate (because you have to beat 120 opponents at a time, instead of just 1, any given day). Tiger Woods seemed to digress as the golf season progressed, though, as Woods finished 23rd in the 2010 British Open and 28th in the 2010 PGA Championship. After the season was finished, he announced he would rebuild his swing for the third time in his career, which is a sign that his golf game has serious holes in it. He will be 35 when the next golf season begins, so it’s left to be determined whether he has the five more major wins in him to surpass Jack Nicklaus.
Whatever the case, Tiger Woods is among the best golf players ever to have lived. Certainly he is the most successful golf pro in a financial sense. But whether he ever becomes a beloved figure with the general public is in serious doubt. When you hear the name “Tiger Woods”, the first thing most people think about is “sex scandal”.
Looking at the lottery statistics from the hundreds and thousands of lottery drawings over the years lets you dissect and analyze which number combinations win the most, and why.
Once you start to see the winning patterns, you might not be able to guess which are going to be the winning number combination in the upcoming lottery drawing, but you can set a range of numbers that are (supposedly) more likely to win, statistically.
I’ve chosen to look at the Mega Millions and Powerball lottery games over the past 20 years or so, since those are the U.S. lottery games more people are likely to be familiar with. Keep in mind there is a fallacy inherent in the analysis of even/odd number combinations, because there are more combinations of numbers with 3 evens/3 odds, and therefore those are most likely to be drawn. Since there are more combinations, this does not necessarily mean the 3/3 even-odd combination you choose is any more likely than a 6-even, 0-odd combination is to hit.
Mega Millions Lottery Number Statistics
Below are the number of times that different Even/Odd number combinations have won in the 800+ Megamillions and Big Game lottery drawings over the years. While there have been more even numbers (2253) drawn than odd numbers (2107), you’ll notice that it’s highly unlikely that 6 even numbers or 6 odds numbers are going to be drawn themselves. If you want to play the odds, you want to select a nice mixture of odds and even numbers, either 4/2, 3/3 or 2/4. Of those, the 3 Even and 3 Odds combination is still way ahead of the next leading combination, with 81 more wins, which is nearly 10% of the entire sample. With over 35% of the wins coming with 3 odd and 3 even numbers, it’s probably a good idea to diversify.
- 6 Even Numbers + 0 Odd Numbers – 14
- 5 Even Numbers + 1 Odd Number – 75
- 4 Even Numbers + 2 Odd Numbers – 224
- 3 Even Numbers + 3 Odd Numbers – 305
- 2 Even Numbers + 4 Odd Numbers – 184
- 1 Even Number + 5 Odd Numbers – 63
- 0 Even Numbers + 6 Odd Numbers – 7
Mega Millions Lottery Statistics – Sum of Numbers Chosen
Another way to look at the lottery numbers is what those numbers add up to, if you add all 6 winning lottery numbers together. In this way, you can choose a range of numbers that adds up to an optimal amount.
I’ll list the number of winning lotteries alongside the numbers range (of the sum of 6 numbers), to show where you should be choosing numbers. (See this article on How to Pick Lottery Numbers too.) The second statistics, “Sum of the Numbers”, shows what range of numbers the additional of all six come to. So if the range is between 121 and 130, the additional of all six winning lottery numbers added up to a number within that range.
Wins — Sum of the Numbers
0 —– 15 to 30
10 — 31 to 60
13 — 61 to 70
18 — 71 to 80
26 — 81 to 90
50 — 91 to 100
63 — 101 to 110
69 — 111 to 120
97 — 121 to 130
93 — 131 to 140
99 — 141 to 150
79 — 151 to 160
82 — 161 to 170
77 — 171 to 180
46 — 181 to 190
21 — 191 to 200
16 — 201 to 210
9 —– 211 to 220
3 —– 221 to 230
3 —– 231 to 240
0 —– 241 to 270
The average sum of all the winning numbers comes to 140. But as you can see, the three ranges between 121 and 150 are the three to target, because while 121-130, 131-140, and 141-150 have roughly the same number of winning combinations, each of those three ranges are significantly higher than the next best number combination.
From analyzing these Megamillions lottery statistics, the best option is to select a number combination including 3 even numbers and 3 odd numbers, but whose sums come to right around 140 in total. For instance, you might choose 3, 14, 20, 29, 33 and 52 (52 not being for the yellow ball, of course), which adds up to 141. That’s just one of countless examples, but your range should be in that 131 to 150 category, and as close to 140 as possible, if you want optimal probabilities.
Powerball Lottery Number Statistics
In the case of the Powerball statistics, you’ll notice that the general outline of the statistics are the same. In Powerball, though, the odd numbers have been winning numbers a little more often, with 4046 odd winning numbers and 4024 even winning numbers. The odd numbers have been particularly successful for the actual Power Ball, with 692 winning odd Power Ball numbers and 653 for the even winning Power Ball numbers. But choosing 3 even numbers and 3 odds numbers remains the median statistic, while 4/2 in favor of the odds and 2/4 in favor of the evens have significant numbers of wins.
- 6 Even Numbers + 0 Odd Numbers – 15
- 5 Even Numbers + 1 Odd Number – 125
- 4 Even Numbers + 2 Odd Numbers – 314
- 3 Even Numbers + 3 Odd Numbers – 417
- 2 Even Numbers + 4 Odd Numbers – 344
- 1 Even Number + 5 Odd Numbers – 114
- 0 Even Numbers + 6 Odd Numbers – 16
Powerball Lottery Statistics – Sum of Numbers Chosen
For this analysis, I’m going to leave out the Powerball stats, which can throw off the calculations somewhat, since they are a separate selection process. So the following is only for the 5 non-Powerball drawn numbers.
Wins — Sum of the Numbers
1 —— 15 to 30
17 —– 31 to 60
15 —– 61 to 70
24 —– 71 to 80
59 —– 81 to 90
89 —– 91 to 100
111 — 101 to 110
131 — 111 to 120
152 — 121 to 130
164 — 131 to 140
137 — 141 to 150
137 — 151 to 160
107 — 161 to 170
69 —– 171 to 180
62 —– 181 to 190
37 —– 191 to 200
14 —– 201 to 210
7 —— 211 to 220
5 —— 221 to 230
1 —— 231 to 240
2 —— 241 to 250
1 —— 251 to 260
0 —— 261 to 285
Powerball Winning Number Statistics
Finally, here is a breakdown of which red Power Ball numbers came up as the winning number the most. I wouldn’t put much weight into the following statistics, though, because I see now reason to think any one number is more likely to be drawn than the next. It’s just that even a 1000+ drawings is too small of a statistical sample for the deviations to smooth out. The number “20″ is no more or less likely to be drawn than the number “5″, unless you believe there is a mechanical flaw in the balls that keep the 20 coming up more often (not likely).
For information and entertainment purposes, though, I’ve included the following numbers
#of Wins Lottery Number
0 — 5, 49
1 — 2, 8, 24, 34, 40, 46, 54
2 — 3, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 26, 28, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 50, 53, 55, 58, 59
3 — 1, 6, 9, 16, 23, 25, 29, 32, 35, 37, 47, 48, 51, 56, 57
4 — 7, 11, 13, 17, 21, 31, 33, 39, 52
5 — 4
6 — 36, 38
7 — 10, 22, 27
8 — 20, 30
These numbers suggest you select 3 odd numbers and 3 even numbers when choosing to play the Powerball lottery, and have those 5 white balls add up to somewhere between 131 and 140 (135 being the median value). When it’s time to choose your Powerball number, use the numbers above to choose the “hot” numbers or the numbers that are “due”, or just select your own at random. (See Pick Lottery Numbers.)
Lottery Stats – Analyzing the Lottery
Once again, there is just a larger number of 3-even, 3-odd number combinations, so no one combination is likely to be more likely to hit than any other combination, even those with all evens or all odds. That’s the trouble with looking at any lottery statistics, as the numbers can be misleading, if you aren’t careful. In the end, the odds are tremendously against you ever winning the lottery, so I suggest you take a deep breath, choose the first six numbers that come to mind, and enjoy your chance at hitting the jackpot. (I prefer the easier odds and smaller payouts that are available at WorldWinner, personally.)
What Is a MacBook? How Does the MacBook Work?
A MacBook is a notebook computer made by Macintosh. The first MacBooks were released in May of 2006 as a way for Apple to transition from the iBook and 12-inch PowerBook laptop models into their new line that run on Intel processors. Despite being extremely popular (the MacBook is the fastest selling Macintosh to date), the unibody version of the MacBook has been the target of plenty of criticism. Even so, the MacBook was, at one time, the best-selling laptop computer in the USA for six months in a row.
The model known simply as “MacBook” represents the low end of the notebook range for Macintosh. It is Mac’s cheapest laptop computer, has one of the smallest screens of any Mac, and is encased in a (somewhat controversial) polycarbonate unibody shell. Because it is the low end Mac notebook, its audience trends younger — college students in particular.
The MacBook is 13 x 9 x 1 inches and weighs in at just under 5 pounds. This means the MacBook is a little larger and a little heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Pro (which weighs in under 4.5 pounds) but the difference isn’t really noticeable, and the MacBook fits comfortably in most shoulder bags or messenger bags.
The MacBook has the typical Apple aesthetic — the brilliant glossy white exterior is clean and bright all at once. The MacBook is very thin and light, and the all-white look makes the MacBook look almost friendly. The bottom panel of the notebook is held in place by 8 screws, and is covered in a rubbery material that prevents the device from slipping easily.
For more MacBook basics, see How to Use a MacBook.
Different Models of MacBook
There have been three separate designs of the MacBook itself — the original model was modelled after the iBook G4 and was encased in a combination of polycarbonate and fibreglass. The second MacBook style came out in late 2008 in a unibody aluminum casing. This version of the Macbook eventually became the MacBook Pro 13-inch version. The most recent MacBook redesign came out late in 2009 featuring that infamous unibody polycarbonate shell.
Aside from the MacBook, Macintosh makes four “higher end” models of notebook as well.
MacBook Pro 13 inch — This is the “high performance” version of the MacBook, using the exact same display down to the screen size. The biggest difference is the aluminum body and the option for slightly better performance (for an extra $400). This notebook model comes with either a 2.4or 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, and either a 250 or 320 G hard drive.
MacBook Pro 15 inch — Same as the 13 inch, only the screen size is larger and you can get up to a 500 G hard drive. Intel HD graphics kick in at the 15 inch level. MacBook Pro 15 inch models cost about $1,000 more than the low end MacBook.
MacBook Pro 17 inch — Larger screen, but otherwise identical to the MacBook Pro 15 inch. This is the most expensive notebook Macintosh makes.
MacBook Air — Advertised as the “thinnest and lightest Mac notebook ever,” the MacBook Air is a strange model. Offered at two price points, the MacBook Air model that costs the most is still much less powerful than even the cheaper MacBook. Many critics complain that the MacBook Air is typically Macintosh — style over substance.
The first thing you’ll notice about the MacBook’s keyboard is that it is not backlit. To get a backlit keyboard, you have to upgrade to a MacBook Pro. The MacBook uses an “island-style” keyboard that’s been heralded for how well it responds to touch, and how generally easy it is to use.
The touchpad on the MacBook is the same as on other notebook s– it acts as both touchpad and touch button. The trackpad on the MacBook is the largest in the industry at 4 x 3 inches, and as Macintosh is known for putting together great trackpads, you should not be surprised that the same is true here.
The MacBook has come under fire for a few different features over the years. The MacBook lacks two things that baffled critics — a FireWire port and an SD card slot. The lack of a FireWire port seems strange, considering that the first FireWire ports were in Apple devices. You can get a FireWire port with the MacBook Pro, but that means spending hundreds more dollars for something that should be on the MacBook in the first place.
If you’ve not spent time around a MacBook, you may not realize it, but the speakers are awful. The MacBook is quiet and the sound is noticeably “tinny”, pretty much demanding that you use peripheral speakers for even day to day activities like listening to music.
Other complaints about the MacBook included a great deal of attention on the frailty of the notebook itself. Customers complained that the USB ports are fragile and get bent out of shape easily, that the white unibody cracks from the slightest bit of pressure, and the bottom of the notebook itself gets worn out and stained from regular use. Macintosh has not had good luck with their white colored unibody cases, and it would be nice to see them take care of that with any new releases.
The new generation of MacBook has another strange problem — it gets extremely hot. The bottom of the laptop hits about 94 degrees at its hottest, but near the rear hinge of the MacBook, temperatures as high as 120 degrees have been recorded. Make sure your MacBook has plenty of air, especially when you watch videos or perform any other task that causes the computer to warm up.
This post is part of a series we’re doing on various gizmos and gadgets. Other posts in this series include:
- What Is an iPod? How Does the iPod Work?
- What Is an iPhone? How Does the iPhone Work?
- What Is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?
How to Use a Lotto Payout Calculator?
A lottery payout calculator is an online program used to determine how much of a lottery jackpot you will see, instead of the lump sum advertised as the jackpot.
Most lotteries offer an advertised jackpot that is hard to get your head around, if you’re an average working person who is used to thinking of money in terms of hundreds and thousands, and not the millions. Figuring out how much the government is going to withhold in taxes, or how much an annuity is going to pay, is hard to figure in your head.
Instead, you use a lottery payout calculator tool. All you have to do is go to a website with a lottery calculator, put in the amount of the lottery winnings you expect to have, and in a fraction of a second, the lottery jackpot calculator spits out the information you’re seeking.
Cash After Taxes
One number calculated is “cash payout after taxes”. While tax rates vary from one state to the next, you can get a good general idea of how much of the lottery proceeds you’re going to see, and how much the government is going to see. Let’s take a look at an example.
Imagine you win a lottery with a jackpot of $10,000,000. Then imagine you decide to take the “cash option”, where you get a lesser percentage of the jackpot up front, instead of an annuity for the next 30 years. All you have to do is put in the percentage the cash payout is (which you can find on the lottery’s official website) to see how much money you’ll actually take in-hand.
Percentage of Cash Payout
Let’s continue with this example, assuming the percentage of the cash payout you get in a lump sum amount is 55.4% (which is about average). The cash payout is therefore $5,540,000, which is what you really win with the cash option.
Taxes Withheld when Winning the Lottery
But that’s not all yours, of course. If you want to enjoy your big lottery win, you want to keep the state and federal governments happy. So you have to calculate how much of your cash payout you have to give to the government in taxes to make yourself legal. Let’s assume this amount is somewhere around one-third – we’ll say 32%.
If you take out 32% of $5.54 million, you give $1,772,800 to the various state and federal authorities. That leaves $3,767,200 in lottery cash payout after taxes.
Lottery Cash Payout after Taxes
So when you win a $10 million jackpot and take the cash option, you’re probably going to see a little over a third of that money in your checking account. Don’t be too upset, though. Somewhere between $3 million and $4 million should be more than enough to live on for the rest of your life, if you use good sense.
The problem is, many people who win the lottery don’t practice good sense. That’s why it’s good to have a firm idea in your head how much money is going to be yours. $3,700,000+ is a ton of money, but it’s not an infinite amount. If you blow your money on big houses and a fleet of cars, and then you make a few bad investments, you’re going to burn through that money real fast. So understand you have to have good sense.
Any good lottery payout calculator is going to come with lottery annuity payout calculator, too. This is the full payout over a longer period of time, usually 25 to 30 years time. Going back to our example, you see the full $10,000,000, but it gets paid to you in annuities over a long period of years.
Let’s imagine the full jackpot annuity is paid over 25 years. Then a lottery annuity payout calculator is going to give you the amount of the annuity you are paid each year, until the lottery has entirely paid you the ten million dollars. Lottery annuities tend to start paying one amount, and the amount goes up over the course of the years. For instance, it’s common for the first year’s payment to be in the $250,000 range.
If you assume the amount starts at $250,000 and continues to increase in gradual yet steady increments over the years, you are likely to get two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars in the first year, over $300,000 by year 7, over $350,000 by year 11, over $400,000 by year 14, over $500,000 by year 21, and all the way up over $597,000 in the 25th and final year of your annuity. So it’s like you have a really well-paying job for the next 25 years of your life, with raises every year.
Should I Take the Cash Payout Option or the Annuity?
That’s a great question. Most people choose the one lump sum payout, and if you are a good business person and you save your money well, you can turn that $3.7 million into more than you’ll receive over the course of the annuity. That’s “if” you are those things.
The fact is, most “rich” people who are polled do not live in mansions, drive expensive cars, wear designer clothes, and eat gourmet foods. Most millionaires polled claim they drive nice cars, live in reasonable (yet nice) homes, prefer jeans and t-shirts to double-breasted suits and Paris fashions, and avoid the obscenely expensive restaurants.
That is, rich people conserve their money. They know how hard it is to come by money, so they keep as much of it as they can. They don’t go on spending sprees. They don’t invest in whatever investment opportunity that pops into their knucklehead friends’ heads. Instead, they live comfortably, but not extravagantly, get a stock portfolio and a stock broker who helps them diversify their investments, then find a business they know and understand (or can learn) and invest the rest of their cash in their own business ventures, and otherwise handle their finances like someone with a perishable amount of money.
If you don’t think you’ll do that with on lump sum jackpot amount, then you should take the annuity. But that’s my two-cents worth. Let’s discuss lottery payout calculators again.
Calculating Jackpot Wealth
The lottery calculator helps you start to visualize what you’ve won in the lottery, or how much you hope to win. Instead of a vast amorphous amount of money, you see what the realistic figure after all the hype has died down and the I.R.S. has taken its share of the jackpot. A good jackpot payout calculator also offers you a breakdown of the kind of money you’ll see yearly as part of an annuity, and eventually lays out before you both options in easy-to-imagine terms. This lets you make a clear-minded decision about which lottery payout you need to take: an annuity or the lump sum payout option.
This post is part of a series of posts we’re publishing about the lottery. Other posts in the series include:
What is an iPod? How does the iPod Work?
An iPod is a portable media player, and tech phenomenon, designed and marketed by Apple. The device was another link in Apple’s pop-tech chain, starting with the cute and lovable iMac and ending, most recently, with the release of the iPad tablet device.
The iPod was the first mega popular mp3 player, the “gotta have it” gift for several years in a row now, and was no doubt responsible in some way for the transition from CDs to digital music. Apple’s line-up is now split into four models — the iPod Classic (with an internal hard drive), the iPod Touch (featuring a touchscreen), the iPod Nano, and the tiny one known as the Shuffle.
New models are as common in the fall as high school football. It seems like we hear word of a new model every fall. From the first release in October of 2001 to rumors of a new version this coming October, you’d think the guys at Apple had some sort of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.
But back to the point — how does the iPod store and play media? All models use some form of memory to hold onto your data. Most models, all except for the Classic, use flash memory instead of an internal drive. When the iPod Mini was still being built, it also used an internal drive, name a Microdrive mini hard drive. Other than that, expect nothing but flash memory. This tactic helps to shrink the device. For a while it looked like all Apple cared about was making tinier and tinier gizmos, but the popularity of the iPod Classic means that model may change.
What do you do with it?
The most obvious answer is — listen to music. Depending on the model you own, you can store anywhere from 2 GB up to 160 GB of music. Many models don’t just deal in music files. Just like many other .mp3 or digital music playing devices, you can use your iPod to store all sorts of data. A few models can play video and perform other functions. What you can do with your iPod has more to do with which model you choose.
See this article about How to Use an iPod for more information.
What are the different models?
Features: A massive amount of memory and a long battery life make this perfect for travellers.
Storage: 160 GB
Features: Multitouch screen, camera, HD video recording, and all the bells and whistles.
Storage: 8 GB, 32 GB, or 64GB
Good for: music, movies, television shows, videos, games, applications, eBooks, audiobooks, podcasts, photos, web browsing, maps, video recording and editing.
Features: The Nano includes, oddly enough, a pedometer for exercising. The multitouch screen means the Nano is basically a lightweight iPod Touch.
Storage: 8 or 16 GB
Good for: music, audiobooks, podcasts, photos, FM radio,
Features: The Shuffle is made for people on the go. This is a very small device, “wearable” during exercise, and uses a button interface instead of a scroll wheel.
Storage: 2 GB
Good for: music, audiobooks, podcasts
How do I put music on my iPod?
You have to use Apple’s iTunes software to manage your iPod. The software is free, and it is really easy to transfer music and other files from computers directly to your iPod. Having said that, there are a few “open source” methods of transferring files to and from your iPod. Programs like Floola and Senuit allow you to move your data around without using iTunes, if you so choose.
You can use iTunes or any other compatible data transfer software to move photos, videos, calendars, games, contact information, e-mail settings, and Internet bookmarks to your iPod as long as those features are available on your device.
How much does the iPod cost?
Depending on what model you buy, you can spend less than $50 or as much as $400.
The iPod Shuffle is retailing for $49 as of this writing. The most expensive models of the Classic go for about $400. All other models are “mid-range”, from $149 to $299.
Your iPod will charge using a special USB cable that fits your specific model. You simply plug it into a computer and let the battery charge. The amount of time it takes to charge the battery is between three and four hours for a full charge, but iPods can do a “quick” charge (up to 80% power) in just two hours.
The display screen size varies by model — the iPod Shuffle has no display screen, the Classic has a 3.5 inch “widescreen”, and the other two models of iPod use either a 1.5 or 2.5 inch screen. All displays are either multitouch or LED backlit.
The Classic uses the old “click wheel” model, hence the name “Classic”, but the Nano and Touch models use a touch screen format. The iPod Shuffle uses buttons similar to what you’d find on the iPod Classic.
The brand is rife with add-ons and tools you can use to make your experience more enjoyable.
You can upgrade your iPod with a pair of headphones that includes a mic (for video shooting and editing), headphones designed by celebrities (like Dr. Dre’s “Beat” headphones for optimum bass sound). You can add colorful “bud covers” for your earbuds, buy a set of Bose noise canceling headphones, and even buy a pair of waterproof earbuds at the Apple store and at electronics retailers.
People want to protect their precious iPod, and Apple (and other companies) give them lots of ways to do that. Apple’s newest line of cases are made to look like socks. You can also find anti-glare film, leather folios, and all kinds of other jackets and shields for your new iPod.
If you can think of an accessory or gizmo for the iPod, it probably exists. There are USB power adapters that let you charge your iPod from a regular electric plug, splitters so two people can listen at once, and “travel kits” to optimize your iPod’s performance on the road.
This is part of a series of posts we’re doing about various gizmos and gadgets. The other posts include:
- What Is a MacBook? How Does the MacBook Work?
- What Is an iPhone? How Does the iPhone Work?
- What Is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?
What Are Powerball Numbers?
Power Ball numbers are the winning number combination in the Powerball lottery held twice weekly. (See How to Play the Powerball Lottery.) The Power Ball drawing is held every Wednesday night and Sunday night at 10:59 pm Eastern time at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida.
Powerball numbers are drawn at random from two different hoppers: the one with the 59 white balls and the one with the 39 yellow balls.
The white Power Balls are numbered 1 through 59. Each drawing, five of these balls are drawn, so you get 5 random numbers between 1 and 59, with no repeats. There is only one Power Ball drawn from among the 39 yellow balls, and this number is technically the “Powerball” which gives the lottery its name. That’s because the yellow power ball gives you bigger wins when it comes up with a combination of matching numbers that are less than six. All six numbers have to match the numbers on your ticket for you to win the Powerball jackpot.
The Power Ball Jackpot prize starts out at $20,000,000 for the first drawing. If there is no winner on the first drawing, then more money is added to the jackpot amount for the next jackpot drawing. This continues until a winning match is found, so the jackpot can roll over until it’s worth several hundred million dollars. The American record lottery prize is held by the Powerball lottery, coming in at a $365,000,000 jackpot.
Of course, if someone else has the same matching numbers, you must share the jackpot amount. In the case of the record prize amount, 8 different people had the matching Power Ball numbers, so the prize was split eight different ways. You should note that jackpots that get into the hundreds of millions begin to get major public attention, not just from the general lottery playing citizens, but from the local and national media.
This means many more people buy lottery tickets for the big jackpots – even people who don’t normally play the lottery. You can say that some people won’t buy a ticket for “only” $20 million, but they will buy a ticket for $200 million. Go figure.
Power Ball Numbers – Other Prizes
Powerball is not an all-or-nothing game, though. If you don’t win the big jackpot amount, but you still get several of the winning numbers, you win a lesser prize. The more balls you get, the bigger your winnings. This is where the yellow ball becomes more important than the other balls, because it activates more winnings. Below is a breakdown of the prize amounts in Powerball, along with the odds of winning that prize.
Powerball Matches Prizes Odds of Winning
All 5 numbers + Powerball Jackpot 195,249,054 to 1 odds
All 5 numbers (no Powerball) $200,000 5,138,133 to 1 odds
4 Numbers + Powerball $10,000 723,144 to 1 odds
4 Numbers (no Powerball) $100 19,030 to 1 odds
3 Numbers + Powerball $100 13,644 to 1 odds
3 Numbers (no Powerball) $7 359 to 1 odds
2 Numbers + Powerball $7 787 to 1 odds
1 Number + Powerball $4 123 to 1 odds
0 Numbers + Powerball $4 61 to 1 odds
Power Ball Megaplier Options
So you get periodic prizes, whether you win the big jackpot or not. There’s also a way to multiply your winnings on all but the Powerball jackpot and 2nd-prize amount, if you choose the Power Play option. For an extra dollar on the lottery ticket, you activate the multiplier option, which gives you the option to multiply your winnings on the seven lowest prize tiers by anywhere from 2 times to 5 times the original prize amount. Lottery players have to decide whether it’s worth it to them to spend extra cash on increasing their prizes on smaller prize amounts they are more likely to win, or whether they want to increase the chance (albeit only slightly) of winning the big Powerball jackpot prize.
Powerball began as a “Lotto America”, a cooperative effort of six less populous states and the District of Columbia to combine their lottery ticket-buying demographics to increase the size of their jackpots. The organization organizing Lotto* America drawings was the Multi-State Lottery Association, often shortened to MUSL. MUSL put together the District of Columbia (Washington DC) along with the states of Rhode Island, West Virginia, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Oregon, whose citizens had the opportunity to buy the Lottery* America tickets. The first drawing was held in February of 1988.
In the subsequent years, other states joined the Lotto America lottery system, including Wisconsin and Montana in 1989, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Indiana, and South Dakota in 1990, as well as Kentucky and Delaware in 1991. Besides Maine, these would be the states involved when the Lottery* America changed into the Powerball Lottery in 1992.
Powerball States Since 1992
Since Powerball changed its name in 1992, a whole new wave of states have joined the game. Many joined only in 2010, when a deal between the groups who run the Powerball and Megamillions lotteries came to an agreement to join forces (though this might prove temporary, or a complete merger might come about).
- Arizona Powerball (1994)
- Nebraska Power Ball (1994)
- Connecticut Power Ball (1995)
- New Hampshire Power Ball (1995)
- Louisiana Power Ball (1995)
- New Mexico Power Ball (1996)
- Colorado Power Ball (2001)
- Pennsylvania Power Ball (2002)
- South Carolina Powerball (2002)
- Virgin Islands Powerball (2002)
- Vermont Power Ball (2003)
- Maine Power Ball (2004)
- North Dakota Powerball (2004)
- Tennessee Power Ball (2004)
- Oklahoma Powerball (2006)
- North Carolina Powerball (2006)
- Arkanas Powerball (2009)
- Florida Powerball (2009)
2010 Powerball States
I mentioned earlier that there was an agreement between the Multi-State Lottery Association (Power Ball) and the Mega Millions consortium (Megamillions Lottery) agreed to sell lottery tickets in each others’ states. The two lotteries had long been viewed as competitors with their own turf, but they realized that people would buy a chance at a big lottery jackpot four nights a week, just as they would two nights a week. The states below came from the Megamillions states, but now sell Power Ball tickets. So if you live in those states, you can now get your own Power Ball numbers and start to compete for the big Powerball jackpot.
- Georgia Power Ball
- Illinois Power Ball
- Maryland Powerball
- Massachusettes Power Ball
- Michigan Power Ball
- New Jersey Powerball
- New York Powerball
- Ohio Power Ball
- Texas Powerball
- Virginia Powerball
- Washington Powerball
Power Ball Winning Numbers
Big multi-state lotteries like Powerball capture the imagine of people, because if you can collect those six magical numbers, you’ll be rich for life (if you handle your business, of course). Choose your Power Ball numbers, buy your Powerball ticket, choose whether you want a lump sum payment or a bigger amount over a 30-year period, and then hope your Power Ball numbers make you one of the lucky few.
This is part of a series of posts we’re publishing about various lottery subjects. Other posts in this series include:
What Is an iPhone? How Does the iPhone Work?
Apple’s iPhone is a mega popular Internet and multimedia capable cell phone — sometimes called “smartphones”, devices like the iPhone are a hybrid of a handheld computer or PDA computers and a cell phone. The iPhone was designed and marketed by Apple Inc. — a little tech company you may have heard of. The first iPhones hit the market in early January of 2007, which begs an obvious question: why didn’t Apple release the iPhone in time for Christmas? They couldn’t have pumped a few million units out two or three weeks ahead of schedule?
Apple’s iPhone works like a combination of many different items. Take a camera phone, with standard text messaging and voicemail capabilities, add a portable music and video player, an Internet browser with all the usual e-mail and web browsing abilities, and do it all on a Wi-Fi connection. Throw in a massive library of “apps” (applications designed specifically for the iPhone and other handheld devices) and you’ve got an idea of what the iPhone can do.
Like most new Apple products, the iPhone uses a “multi-touch screen” input system. This means a virtual keyboard (as opposed to the physical keyboard in front of a laptop) that you use with your fingers instead of an unreliable and difficult-to-get-used-to stylus.
The visual interface of the iPhone uses a “home screen” to list available functions. Think of the home screen as your laptop’s desktop — the home screen is essentially a graphic list of your various apps. iPhone users can perform multiple tasks at once, like using apps while making a phone call or watching a movie. There’s a built-in “home” button on the iPhone itself, so you can get to your home screen quickly. When you unpack your iPhone, the following apps will be available — Messages (text messaging), Calendar, Photos, Camera, YouTube, Stocks, Maps (through Google Maps), Weather, Voice Memos, Notes, Clock, Calculator, Settings, iTunes (this is the iTunes store), App Store, and in some models an app called Compass.
The purpose of the iPhone is to take phones to the next level. The ideal iPhone user will access email and social networking sites, make phone calls, watch videos, listen to music, and play a few app games along the way. That means the iPhone is not meant to be a computing powerhouse, but a convenience tool.
Where do apps come from?
To disseminate new apps, Apple depends on something called the “App Store”, launched a year and a half after the first iPhones. The App Store is stocked with more than 200,000 applications designed for the iPhone and approved for use by Apple. There’s no easy way to describe apps — some are games, some are for information or reference, some use GPS navigation to provide directions or maps, social networking tools like Facebook, and special apps designed as tie-ins with TV, movies, and celebrities. Apps can be whatever their designer wants them to be, as long as they meet Apple’s standards. That means no porn, etc.
What versions of the iPhone are available?
There are currently four models (generations) of iPhones, each accompanied by a release of a new operating system. Formerly called iPhone OS, the name was eventually changed to iOS so it could be used in other products like the iPad and iPod Touch.
The original iPhone line set the iPhone standard in terms of the seize of the screen, the hardware, etc. The release of the iPhone 3G married iPhone function to the powerful 3G cell network, and thew in something called A-GPS as well, used to locate the phone and help with features like mapping and shopping. The next version, iPhone 3GS, added the compass feature, pumped up the processor, provided a better (higher resolution) camera, and gave users the options of taking video as well as photo stills. The newest model, iPhone 4, uses a two camera setup to incorporate something called FaceTime video dialing, and to provide a higher-resolution display screen. That means it looks prettier. The iPhone 4 came out on June 24th, 2010.
How’s the phone quality of iPhones?
Like any quality cell phone, the iPhone lets you use audio conferencing, call holding, call waiting, merging, caller ID, etc.
The major complaints about the iPhone’s actual phone abilities revolve around two issues — side noise and call dropping. “Side noise” is what phone geeks call the thing that happens when you can hear your own voice on your phone, and it can be really annoying but doesn’t really interfere with calls. The issue of dropped calls is another thing altogether.
Call signals and quality (for many users) are sub-par using the iPhone. Yes, Apple released some firmware updates to improve call quality, but the problem seems to be with the AT&T phone service the iPhone uses, not the phone itself. Customers complained at launch that their reception was awful and they had lots of dropped calls. Depending on where you’re using your iPhone, you could have great quality or terrible. The best way to make sure you aren’t stuck with a very expensive phone with terrible call quality is to check out AT&T reception in your area before you buy.
iPhone Pros and Cons
Apple did a few things really well with the iPhone:
Multitasking – Being able to perform more than one application at once, like the iPhone 4 can do, is a big plus for Apple’s iPhone.
Apps – Everyone loves Apps. Whether you’ve a penchant for iPhone games, use Apps for reference purposes, or you depend on Pandora on your iPhone to keep you distracted at work, the App system pretty well has you covered.
Handheld Functions – The iPhone’s ability to put itself in energy saving mode when you hold it near your face (i.e. make a phone call) shows that they thought long and hard about how the iPhone will be used by real customers.
But as usual, Apple has really missed the mark on a few points as well:
No Flash — Sure, HTML5 is the new Flash, I read tech magazines too. But not allowing Flash functionality (even on the latest iPhone model) means shutting off a large portion of the Internet for iPhone users, and that’s a real drag.
App Store Management -- The fact that Apple is decidedly against opening up Apps not approved by Apple (also called “unsigned Apps) shows that they’re more concerned with following some strange moral code than in providing their users a better service. You don’t want porn on the iPhone? Too bad. Leave the policing up to parents.
Phone Issues — Even though many changes have been made to the iPhone software and hardware, many customers hate the AT&T service. I’ve seen plenty of iPhone users frustrated from dropped calls and poor reception. This has to change for the iPhone to grab hold of a larger market share.
This post is part of a series on gizmos and gadgets. Other posts in this series include:
- What Is a MacBook? How Does the MacBook Work?
- What Is an iPod? How Does the iPod Work?
- What Is an iPhone? How Does the iPhone Work?
- What Is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?
Tips for Checking Lottery Results
Learn how to check lottery numbers in a variety of different ways, so you don’t ever have that dread feeling that you might have won the lottery, but forgot to check your ticket.
Wait long enough to confirm what the latest drawing was and you’ll eventually lose your lottery ticket, so check the results of the local Lotto drawings soon, then get rid of your losing tickets.
You can check your lottery winnings through watching the television broadcast, checking the official lottery websites, through online lotto sites which post all the results nationwide, or through any number of publications. You can even get the number of the lottery organization and make a phone call (though I would not suggest that method, of course).
How to Check Lottery Numbers Online
Find your state lottery’s website and use it as your resource for online lottery information. The lottery ticket you bought should have provide you with all the information you need. There’s usually going to be a web address for the official website of the lotto game. At the very least, you should be able to get the official name of the lottery organizers, so you should be able to Google that name and find the site you’re looking for.
Once you find the online lottery website you need, match your ticket to the name of the game or games you played. Find the results, which should be posted within minutes or hours of the drawing. You can use this same web page to check results for previous drawings in the same game category. These are usually posted for all games that year, if not for all raffles for that game type.
While you’re on the lottery website, you should be able to learn all kinds of interesting information about upcoming lottery games through this same outfit. Learn about the posted names of recent lottery winners, special lottery events in the coming weeks and months, and new lottery games you can look forward to.
Lottery Results Online
You can also go to a lottery website which tracks all the lottery games played throughout the world, such as “The Lotter“. While these results may not be comprehensive, given the popularity of lotteries on virtually every continent, you should be able to find all lottery information you are likely to want – especially if you live in the “western nations”.
For example, if you want to learn about U.S. lottery games recently, all you do is point and click on “North America”. This should provide you with a list of all lottery jurisdictions, either by state (or country) or lottery game, making it easy to search for what you’re looking for. You can also search by continent or country. Going to a site like this gives you an overview of all the global lottery games. Even if it’s not legal to play in many of these lotteries (outside your native country, that is), you can still see how the rest of the country plays the lottery, and what the jackpot amounts are.
USA Today – Checking Lottery Results
The USA Today has a nice Internet coverage of the nationwide lottery games. When you go to the USA Today Lottery Page, you can learn about the lottery results in places across the country (or world), such as the Florida Lootery, Hoosier Lottery, or SuperLotto Plus in California. You can also find out about multi-state lotteries like Powerful and Megamillions, as well as multi-country games like the Euro Millions.
For U.S. and Canadian lottery results, there’s a handy interactive map you can use to locate the lottery game results and jackpots in your local state, or the next state over. Just click on your state to get the results you’re searching for.
Multi-State Lottery Sites
If you’re playing in one of the big multi-state lottery games like Megamillions or Powerball, you can go to any one of 40 different state lottery websites to find the results of your contest. As of 2010, 40 different U.S. states participate in the Megamillions Lottery, so you can find the results on 80% of the state lottery sites.
You’ll notice that people can also find the Powerball results on the New Jersey website. I chose the New Jersey lotto web address not because it’s special in any way, but because it’s your standard state lottery assortment. You can find pretty much the same information on most other official state lottery websites, at least for the big multi-state drawings.
Another idea if you can’t find the web information you’re searching for is to navigate to one of these sites, find their “links” page, and see what they link to. Often, the state lottery websites link to many other lottery sites, which is a good sign those are legitimate information or game outfits.
Along the same lines, you can go to the official Megamillions site or the official Powerball site for similar data. Both are likely to have information specific to their games, but also lottery news from other lotto games around the world.
How Not to Check Lottery Numbers
Avoid certain websites when checking your lottery numbers, though. Some lottery information sites are just preposterous in their information. Take “Lottery Forecasts”, which presumes to make predictions about lottery results and upcoming trends in the lottery games. They offer articles like “Winning Lottery Strategy & Techniques”, “5 Tips to Win More at Any Lottery”, and “Do Rich People Play the Lottery?” (they say “yes”).
All of these are there to convince you to spend more money on lottery games, presumably through links on their website. The last thing you need is someone insulting your intelligence by claiming to have found a method to win the lottery. If they could do that, the last thing they would be doing is sharing that information online, so lottery officials could close those loopholes. Why would they be wasting their time giving away that information, instead of entering every lottery possible, and eventually retiring to their own personal island in the tropics?
Just a word of warning about what to avoid in the online lottery industry.
Checking Lottery Numbers
There are plenty of ways to check the lottery results. Most lotteries have a live broadcast you can watch. The aforementioned official websites usually post videos of these drawings. Also, newspapers in the local areas tend to post lottery results the next day in the paper, much like what the USA Today does nationally, but only for a limited area. There are so many ways to check lottery numbers that you should never go long without having the answers to your lottery questions.
What is an iPad? How Does the iPad Work?
The iPad is a tablet computer produced by the marketing geniuses over at Apple. Unlike other tablet computers, the iPad was envisioned as the perfect tablet for people who work in jobs that involve audio and visual media — this is the tablet computer for people who already have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, and a subscription to Wired magazine. The iPad is meant for optimal display of books and magazines, media like movies and music, and a better slice of the web than is currently available in other Apple handheld products. Apple released the first iPads in April 2010 and went on to sell over 3 millions iPads in 80 days. It turns out that businessmen and other professionals like the iPad as much as the media geeks it was designed for.
What does the iPad look like?
The iPad weighs about 25 ounces, somewhere between a fancy smartphone and a laptop computer. Like Apple’s other big products, the iPhone and the iPod Touch, the iPad has a multitouch display. Most tablet computers before the iPad used the venerable stylus, which designers saw as more of a headache than it was worth. The iPad connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi or a 3G mobile data connection, and allows users to check out the web, load and stream music and videos, and run all kinds of software. Your iPad is easy to manage and “sync” with your computer — you do it the same way you sync an iPod, by connecting to iTunes with a USB cable.
The back of the iPad is a cool silver color, like a dull chrome, and features the omnipresent Apple logo. The front of the iPad is mostly screen, with a few buttons — “Home”, “Sleep”, “Lock Screen Rotation”, and “Volume”. Lots of accessories are available, from cases to larger keyboard ports, with the idea being that people could integrate the iPad into the technology they already own.
How does the iPad work?
It would be fair to say that the iPad shot for the moon when it decided to produce the iPad. The technical challenges Apple overcame in producing the iPad would be worthless if people couldn’t see a need for what is essentially a larger and more powerful iPhone, sans phone capabilities. Think of the operating system the iPad uses — Apple practically invented an entirely new OS, called iOS 3.2.2. The challenge here was in creating an operating system with functionality somewhere between a Macbook and an iPhone. Core applications were rewritten from the ground up, and Apple was charged with the task of reinventing the way their computers operate.
The buzz over the iPad was genuine — just like with the iPod, Apple fans were itching to get their hands on the new tablet device. And just like the iPod, Apple’s creation isn’t exactly a new idea. Apple hoped to turn the tablet computer market (healthy but not exactly robust) into something that people went nuts for. You could envision hip brightly-colored commercials featuring businessmen typing on their iPads to the soothing sounds of Michael McDonald.
Do iPads run iPhone apps?
All this is to say that Apple’s iPad works very much along the lines of other tablet computers, with some unique Apple twists. For starters, Apple’s library of nearly 200,000 iPhone apps was like having a built-in software library. They very wisely made that app library available to iPad users. All iPads run iPhone apps at their original size, meaning the smaller size of the iPhone screen, or in something called “pixel doubled mode” which makes the app twice the size of the original iPhone size. Apps run in pixel doubled mode very nearly fill an iPad’s screen, making them more user friendly. The other good news for app freaks — app developers have a way to build their app to take advantage of the iPad’s features, including screen size. One way the iPad works — imitating what works about the iPhone.
How does the Internet work on an iPad?
Apple has gone out of its way to let it be known that the “i” in the name “iPad” stands for “Internet”. One of the big draws to the iPad is its web surfing abilities — the Internet experience on an iPhone is not really ideal. The iPad’s larger screen alone should vastly increase the Internet experience. Though Apple’s marketing department also insists that using an iPad is like “holding the entire Internet in your hand”, it is still unclear what they meant by “entire Internet”. The iPad is not able to run Java or Flash applications, so its Internet powers are fairly crippled.
What the iPad can do: connect via Wi-Fi networks, use something called Skyhook Wireless to provide your location for help with apps like Google Maps, run A-GPS for GPS functions, and use a special insert on the back of the machine to improve 3G radio sensitivity, for better connections than with other wireless devices. If you want to go wired Internet, you’re slightly less in luck. Yes, iPad has a dock connector but it is devoid of either Ethernet or USB ports. Let’s just say wireless is what the iPad does best.
Can I read eBooks on an iPad?
Apple went out of their way to include eBook reading capability, advertising the iPad with images of people reading magazines, newspapers, and books and seemingly enjoying it. The eBook software on the iPad looks like a bookshelf or your personal library — if you want to buy more eBooks, simply flip the bookshelf over with your finger (more fun that it sounds) and you have an online book store at your disposal. Check out the New York Times bestseller list or browse by title and author.
How’s the iPad keyboard?
Of major concern to tablet or handheld device users — the keyboard input. The iPad uses an on screen keyboard that is much larger than their other most famous touch keyboard, the iPhone.
Setup your iPad in landscape mode and the keyboard is pretty much the same size as a laptop keyboard. There’s been few complaints of sensitivity issues. Most people’s problem with the keyboard interface is the lack of intuitive features. Many iPad users have had to build their own macros or voice input systems for certain keyboard functions. But for a touch keyboard, the iPad gets great reviews.
The iPad sold lots of units in a short time, just like the iPhone and the various incarnations of the iPod. Time will tell if the iPad format is successful or just a fad.
- How to Buy a Refurbished iPad
- What Is a Sony Portable Reader?
- What Is an Aztak EZ Reader?
- What Is Barnes and Noble’s Nook?
- What Is an iRex Digital Reader?
- Kindle Pricing
- Kindle Deals and Discounts
What is Figgy Pudding?
We sing about it every year at Christmas time, but few people know what it is. Figgy Pudding is mentioned once in a Victorian Christmas carol and the strange name (combined with the fact that most people have never heard of it) means there’s plenty of curiosity about this holiday treat. So what is Figgy Pudding?
In the English Christmas carol “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” Figgy Pudding plays a starring role. In the Christmas carol, a group of party-goers refuse to leave the home of their host until they are served Figgy Pudding. Part of our confusion over just what exactly Figgy Pudding is can be chalked up to miscommunication. When you hear the words “Figgy Pudding”, remember that the British use the word “pudding” in places where we in America would say “cake”. Recipes for Figgy Pudding have existed for hundreds of years — the earliest on record comes to us from the 15th century.
Not always a Christmas dessert, Figgy Pudding was added to Yuletide food traditions only recently, sometime in the 19th century about the time the song “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” was popularized. Why don’t more people at Figgy Pudding? This particular pudding takes forever to cook, contains weird ingredients, and depends mostly on heavy doses of saturated fat for its particular texture. Let’s look at the recipe.
Figgy Pudding Recipe
1 cup suet
1 cup citron
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons rum
1 apple peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 pound dried figs, ground or finely chopped
Grated peel of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large egg whites, stiffly beaten
Prepare a two-quart mold.
Cream together the butter and shortening, gradually adding sugar, egg yolks, milk, extract, apple, figs, lemon, citron, and orange peel. Add the next 6 ingredients, mixing well.
Fold stiffly beaten egg whites into mixture.
Pour into two-quart buttered bowl or mold and place into large shallow pan and steam for four hours.
Figgy pudding is nothing without its custard sauce, so here’s that too.
2 cups milk
1 large egg
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
Scald milk in saucepan, allow to cool.
Mix together remaining ingredients, except for butter. Add to cooled milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in butter, mixing well.
Serve pudding warm with custard sauce or sweetened whipped cream.
Modern Figgy Pudding Recipes
Steamed fig and plum spice cakes are still popular in many parts of the world, especially at Christmas time. While contemporary recipes may not be authentic figgy pudding, they are similar in flavor and texture to bread pudding with figs and spices. The three or four hours of difficult steaming in Figgy Pudding recipes means that most home chefs aren’t going to attempt to cook one.
Steaming a Figgy Pudding is a matter of using the right tools. Much like working with chocolate, making a Figgy Pudding generally means filling one bowl with the pudding mix and placing that bowl inside a larger structure partially full of boiling water. This cooks the pudding with indirect heat, low and slow like a backyard BBQ. This cooking method can be seen on a smaller scale in desserts like panna cotta.
Traditional Figgy Pudding Recipes
The most common and most traditional version of figgy pudding is similar to a kind of carrot cake — the base is essentially the same, although in the case of Figgy Pudding, it is normally blended with a custard. Chopped figs, dates, or other tough fruits are added in the interest of flavor and texture — the dates and figs are traditionally chopped rather than left whole.
The spice mixture in a traditional Figgy Pudding are also similar to a carrot or spice cake. Combine cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg and you’ve got a very traditional Christmas flavor. The part of the Figgy Pudding that many people shy away from — heavy cream, sugar, eggs, and whole milk — are necessary to build a proper custard, though they add a massive amount of unhealthy fat. Traditionally, Figgy Pudding is spiked with some sort of alcohol for flavor — usually cognac or rum.
Altered Forms of Figgy Pudding
You can get really fancy when making Figgy Pudding. (See Gourmet Food for more information.) Many people in the UK purchase or make fig-infused breads to make breadcrumbs for Figgy Pudding. This expensive step adds a mild flavor to the mixture. You don’t have to use fig-infused bread, but it is traditional, so if you’re going for authenticity, this item is a must have.
The addition of something called suet in traditional recipes causes many people pause — suet is animal fat gathered from around the animal’s kidneys. Though most recipes for Figgy Pudding no longer include suet, a true Figgy Pudding must have it. Using butter or shortening in place of suet is a perfect way to update the dish for today’s kitchens, but suet gives the pudding its texture. A suet and fig cake steamed over an open fire — is there anything that says “Christmas” with more authority?
Why Do the Carolers Demand Figgy Pudding?
It is hard to say why exactly an obscure dessert like Figgy Pudding gets top billing in a popular Christmas carol. We know the dish had been popular for a few hundred years before the song was written, and we know that it had only recently taken up its place as the go to Christmas dessert, but why the writer of the carol included such a strong reference to the stuff is unknown.
In three or four hours, and after using a lot of odd ingredients, you can appease your carolers with a delicious British Figgy Pudding. Steaming is the only way to go, and though it is time consuming (not to mention extremely hot work), you have to remember that steaming was the main method of cooking in Britain before regulated heating systems became a reality.
Classically speaking, the reveal of a good traditional Figgy Pudding was a big moment at Victorian Christmas feasts. At the time of the reveal itself, the Figgy Pudding could be a solid dessert (and a huge success for the cook) or it would be soggy and ruined. Much like Christmas celebrations, a Figgy Pudding either works or it doesnt.
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What Is a Cauliflower Ear?
Cauliflower Ear is a medical diagnosis involving permanent scarring and damage to the external appearance of the human ear.
Also known as hematoma auris, perichondrial hematoma, and Traumatic auricular hematoma (say those three times fast), this condition is most common among certain types of athletes. Cauliflower Ear can be seen in the facial structures of wrestlers, boxers, rugby players, and a few other athletes whose ears are exposed to damage.
What does Cauliflower Ear look like?
Let’s just say the name of the condition is quite descriptive. Cauliflower Ear makes the human ear resemble nothing if not a cauliflower. When a patient has Cauliflower Ear, one or both of their ears shrivels up and begins to fold in on itself. Combine that with a pale appearance to the skin, and you’ve got the origin of the term “Cauliflower Ear”.
Why do wrestlers get Cauliflower Ear?
Though wrestlers are most susceptible to this condition, athletes of all varieties have to deal with this condition. Why? Any time the human ear takes a direct hit, there is the possibility of a small blood clot developing underneath the skin. These blood clots are called hematomas, hence the complex scientific names for this condition. When that blood clot begins to grow, the skin of the ear pulls away from the cartilage. This disconnects skin from cartilage, causing an extreme reduction in blood flow to the ear.
The ear has been shown to be one of the most vulnerable parts of our body, especially when it comes to blunt force trauma. Wrestlers’ ears are constant targets, and even when a wrestler isn’t intentionally hurting another wrestler’s ear, the ear is fixed to the head in such a way that it is even more vulnerable to accidental trauma.
Why does Cauliflower Ear happen?
The cartilage of the ear is only connected to blood through the skin that is attached to it. Without the connection between skin and cartilage, the cartilage itself is starved of blood. Accumulated, localized swellings of blood can cause infection and swelling, further starving the ear cartilage of nutrition. This causes death of the cartilage, and occasionally further infections. When left untreated, these hematomas and small infections cause the dying cartilage to pull away from the skin and fold over on itself, forming a shriveled looking outer ear deformity.
What happens to untreated Cauliflower Ear?
When the cartilage of the ear dies, there is scarring. The deformity that results from this scarring is nearly impossible to “fix”, at least from a cosmetic perspective. The loss of blood supply causes the skin of the ear to appear pale — hence the white appearance of the Cauliflower Ear. Some patients have reported luck with cosmetic procedures (if they catch the condition early enough), but far too often there is nothing that can be done to correct Cauliflower Ear.
Is there any treatment for Cauliflower Ear?
As already reported, in some cases a simple cosmetic surgery has been used to halt the spread of deformity or even to undo it altogether. Unfortunately, our ears are very vulnerable to infection. If a hematoma has developed as a result of ear injury, the hematoma itself must be treated, even in cases where the patient doesn’t care about the appearance of his ears. Lots of things can happen if these blood clots are left untreated — the ear drum can get infected and rupture, and you can even have some hearing loss from the effects of Cauliflower Ear. How is it treated?
Treatment for Cauliflower Ear complications includes the draining of blood from any hematomas, antibiotic treatment to take care of infections, and surgery to connect the skin to the dying cartilage underneath. This three step process can put an end to Cauliflower Ear symptoms, but may not return the ear to a normal appearance.
The treatment itself almost always takes the form of a small incision, compression, and antibiotic medication.
How likely is deformity from Cauliflower Ear?
When a doctor gets the chance to treat Cauliflower Ear before it gets too bad, permanent deformity is far less likely today than it was twenty years ago. The problem is that most cases of Cauliflower Ear don’t present until they’re too far gone to fix. A delay of even a few days between injury and diagnosis causes difficulties for patient and doctor — the longer a patient waits to have treatment, the more likely permanent disfigurement becomes. Insufficient blood flow to the cartilage in our ears can cause permanent damage in a matter of days.
Is Cauliflower Ear preventable?
Since many wrestling and other sports teams now require protective headgear or even helmets, cases of Cauliflower Ear are less common today. Proper use of safety equipment, and regular visits to the doctor post ear-trauma, mean that Cauliflower Ear is certainly preventable.
The best way to handle a potential case of Cauliflower Ear is to see a doctor or (even better) an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist if you suspect your ear has been damaged.
What Is a Pot Belly Stove?
A pot belly stove is a type of wood burning stove (used either to cook or to give off heat) that is made of cast iron. Pot belly stoves are generally freestanding (not attached to any structure) and are normally vented through a wall or up out of a ceiling. The term itself, “pot belly stove”, comes straight from the look of the stove itself. Pot belly stoves are shaped like barrels, bulging out in the middle resembling a pot belly on a person. The pot belly stove is now mostly an antique item that stands in for old-school America and the look of the old country store. Where people still have pot belly stoves they are mostly antiques and used for their look more than their function.
Why were pot bellied stoves made of cast iron?
Cast iron is basically a strong iron that is also made up of 3 to 4 percent carbon and less than 6 percent silica. This mixture is ideal for stoves because it is strong and can also handle extremely high temperatures without affecting the metal itself. Cast iron is literally “cast” in molds and then heated up to super high temperatures for long periods of time. The casting process changes the carbon in the iron into graphite and gives the cast iron its most desirable properties, such as strength and resistance to heat.
Where were pot belly stoves used?
In old days, a pot belly stove would be used to heat a large space. You could find them in stores, train stations, schoolhouses, churches, etc. The pot belly stove is good at heating up large areas, and were well-constructed of heavy-duty cast iron. Pot belly stoves allowed people to gather around them and warm up while they shop, attend church or a prayer meeting, or wait on a train to arrive. Even though the pot belly stove was meant to heat large spaces, some homes on the American frontier used them to ward off the intense cold. They provide better warmth than a fireplace and last longer as well.
How did the design of pot belly stoves differ from regular stoves?
The only real difference between a pot belly stove and other types of cast iron stoves (with names like “box stoves”, “parlor stoves”, etc) is the shape of the stove itself. The design of the pot belly stove has more to do with the style of the times than with function — the pot belly look just appealed to people back then. Yes, the pot belly stove has a familiar bulging barrel shape, but claw feet are another hallmark of pot belly stoves. At the front of the pot belly stoves, there is usually a heavy hinged door for feeding in wood and cleaning out the ash after a fire. But outside of the pot belly shape and the claw feet, there isn’t much different about a pot belly stove.
Do people still use cast iron pot bellied stoves?
Modern heating techniques have made the use of the pot belly stove something of a novelty. Antique pot belly stoves still exist, and there are even manufacturers making replicas of popular pot belly stove designs. If a person is building a farmhouse or an addition to their home in a frontier style, the inclusion of a pot belly stove is a no-brainer. You don’t have to go the route of an expensive antique — a replica pot belly stove will work just fine.
In some cases, older homes may still have their original pot belly stove in place, and it may still work with a few simple cleaning procedures. You can even convert your old pot belly stove to a gas or electric hookup, so you can use a real piece of Americana to cook meals and heat a room or two.
If you’re looking for a pot belly stove to complete your home’s look, prepare to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Replica pot belly stoves aren’t much cheaper, as they are usually still made of cast iron which is a heavy and expensive material.
Pot belly stoves are a piece of the American past that can still be functional, either as design tools or heating equipment. The look of a pot belly stove is familiar to anyone who’s spent any time watching old movies — when you want a frontier look, there’s nothing that says “America” more than a pot belly stove.
What Is Christmas Tree Flocking?
Christmas tree traditions are different from family to family. Some families drive out to Christmas tree farms and select their own tree, still others buy artificial trees either because of allergies or simply because they’re easier to set up. What goes on the tree is different, too — from simple hand-made ornaments to elaborate light shows, you can find as many different styles of Christmas tree as there are families on your block.
Some people love the look of a snowy Christmas tree — this white “snowy” or “icy” look is accomplished with Christmas tree flocking. Christmas tree flocking is a kind of “artificial snow” effect that people apply to their Christmas tree. In some cases, the person selling the tree offers the options of flocking right at the retail site. There are also Christmas tree flocking sets you can buy and apply the flocking however you want it.
Christmas tree flocking: real or artificial trees?
Regardless of what kind of tree you want in your home, the convenient artificial tree or the traditional live Christmas tree, you can use flocking to create a cool winter-y effect. Flocking kits have improved over the years, so that in many cases the flocking looks like real snow. What kind of Christmas tree flocking you use determines the look of the flocking itself, and flocking ingredients vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. There are Christmas tree flocking mixtures you can mix and apply at home, pre-flocked artificial and even real trees, to professional flocking sprayer services that spray your tree with flocking for you.
What is in Christmas tree flocking?
The basic ingredients of flocking are the same with a few additions to the mix depending on the kind you buy. Many flocking manufacturers and Christmas tree farms use a flocking material chiefly composed of cellulose, water, wax or spray adhesive and, in some cases, a fire-retardant ingredient.
Nursery or Christmas tree farm based Christmas tree flockers usually use a spray applicator device attached to a long hose when they flock their trees, the hose is attached to a main reservoir full of premixed Christmas tree flocking. Whether or not you can find flocking services in your area depends on if the “flocked” Christmas tree look is popular where you live. Some parts of the country, notably in the South, do not flock their trees as often as their neighbors to the North.
History of Christmas tree flocking
The use of Christmas tree flocking mixtures that are put together and applied at home started in the 1940s. Lots of retailers sold Christmas tree flocking kits that used a vacuum cleaner (by then a fixture in American homes) to max and apply the flock itself. The flocking was powdery white, but was also available in pastel colors — blue and pink being the most popular. For families who couldn’t afford the mixture or wanted to make it at home, a combination of soap flakes, starch, and water (plus a little food coloring to give the tree an extra kick) made a nice dusting of Christmas tree flocking without much expense.
These days, Christmas tree flocking kits are sold in craft stores, home improvement stores, and specialty Christmas retailers. These modern flocking kits usually include ornaments as well as flocking, and depend on glue to help the customer “design their own” flocking style. Christmas tree flocking is more popular these days on holiday garlands, making a nice seasonal decoration for mantels, doorways, and wreaths at Christmas time. If you flock your Christmas tree, flocking your garlands makes the look really come together.
Other Christmas tree flocking options
More than just choosing a real or artificial tree, Christmas tree flocking options include lots of variables. You can buy artificial trees with Christmas tree flocking spray already on them, and there will be many different styles of pre-flocked tree, from totally white and snow-y to a simple glaze that looks more like ice. There is also the size choice — from flocking on just a few branches of a small tree to a fully flocked and gigantic artificial beast. Since most flocking yellows with age, it is best to flock your tree or buy your flocked tree within a couple of weeks of Christmas.
Is Christmas tree flocking “green”?
Since some Christmas tree flocking is made from little more than cellulose and wax, you can find “green” versions of flocking you can apply yourself. Look for Christmas tree flocking that does not contain a flame retardant (and make sure your Christmas tree is not a fire danger by keeping it away from hot lights) and read the other ingredients. Many Christmas tree flocking sprays you can use at home don’t advertise the fact that they’re “environmentally friendly”, but they are anyway.
How to Pick a Lock
If you find yourself locked out of your home with no way to get back in, you’ll wish you knew how to pick a lock. Losing a key to a padlock can be a pain in the butt — why pay the high prices of locksmiths to have your locks opened for you? Most people have no trouble learning how to pick a basic lock — most locks in your home are simple pin-and-tumbler locks that are extremely easy to pick if you have the know-how and the right lock picking tools. Using a simple pick and tension wrench (you don’t need actual picks and wrenches — most of the time you can use everyday items as substitutes) you can go through the simple steps of picking a lock and eventually get that tough lock wide open.
Lock Picking Tools
You can buy lockpicking sets from catalogs and even in some hardware stores, but you don’t have to buy an expensive tension wrench to pick your lock. If you find an object laying around your home that is strong enough to apply pressure to the lock and thin enough to fit into the end of the keyhole, you’ve got yourself a tension wrench. Make sure the object you choose to use as a tension wrench isn’t extremely thin — your tension wrench should not be able to go all the way in to the keyhole. A tension wrench substitute needs to be small enough to give you lots of wiggle room for the picks you’ll be using. Some people take a small Allen wrench and file it down to fit into the keyhole, or if you own a thin lipped flathead screwdriver, you may have a perfect tension wrench without even knowing it.
Lock picks are easy to come by — safety pins and paper clips have been used for years to pick locks. To turn a paper clip into a perfect lockpicking pick, just straighten out the clip itself and bend it 90 degrees at one end. Using needle-nose pliers to bend the clip is ideal, as you need a really firm 90 degree angle. Bobby pins are also a good pick substitute — just cut off the “ball shaped” parts at the ends, bend the bobby pin into a right angle, and you’re all set.
Once you’ve got your tension wrench and pick substitutes ready, just slide the tension wrench into the lower portion of the keyhole.
Now you need to figure out which way to turn the cylinder inside the lock so that it unlocks. If you are used to opening the lock with a key, you probably have some idea which way the key turns. If you don’t know which way to unlock, use your tension wrench to apply gentle pressure to the lockcylinder itself, first in a clockwise motion and then counterclockwise. Even though the cylinder is still locked and won’t open, you can get a feel for which way the cylinder wans to turn. Wait for the cylinder to move about a fraction of an inch before deciding this is the proper way to turn. Some locks, especially padlocks, will open in either direction.
Apply a little bit of pressure to the tension wrench in the correct direction (the one that opens the lock), and hold the wrench there for a second. Depending on what kind of lock you’re using, you’ll need to use different kinds of pressure. This is where the patient part of picking a lock comes in — patiently keep trying the lock until you feel the right amount of pressure.
There’s a part of a lock called the “plug” — this is the cylinder you’re trying to move. Slide one of your picks into the upper part of the keyhole so you can feel the lock pins. While you hold your pick in the keyhole, you can probably press gently upwards and feel the individual pins with the tip of your pick. Go ahead and try to push one of the pins all the way up to the top of the lock casing. Once you find the toughest pin to push up, you’re in business. If all of the pins feel weak, you don’t have enough pressure on them from the tension wrench.
Found the stubborn lock pin? Push it up until you hear a click — this is that pin “setting”. Apply just enough pressure to that pin to counteract the heavy downward pressure of the lock spring. Your goal with all of this pushing is to move the top of the pin completely out of the lock cylinder. That way, when you stop applying pressure to the pin, the cylinder will be misaligned, and the upper part of the pin won’t fall back down into the lock. This is called “setting” the upper pin.
Keep applying gentle pressure with your wrench and continue pushing the pins up one by one until you hear them “set”. Your pressure on the cylinder must stay steady, otherwise the pins you’ve already set will fall back down into the cylinder and you’ll have to start over again.
Finish pushing up and setting all the pins, and you’re nearly there. Now use your tension wrench to turn the cylinder gently in the proper direction and the lock should pop right open.
A Final Tip
If you want to learn to pick locks in seconds, practice your “raking” or “scrubbing” skill. Raking is a technique used by lock pickers to prepare the pins for opening, and if done properly it can save you a ton of time picking your lock. To rake your lock’s pins, just insert your pick all the way to the back of the keyhole without the aid of a tension wrench. Now comes the raking part — quickly pull your pick out, “raking” it upwards against the pins while applying gentle pressure with your wrench at the same time. Ideally, raking these pins should pop the lock right open, but most of the time even the best lock pickers have to rake three or four times before the lock pops.
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Publish Your Book
The world of book publishing may seem impossible to break into, but the truth is that anyone can have their book published. If you’ve done the hard work — writing a book — then the rest of your task is easy. Trust me — there are so many publishing companies out there who want to publish good work, that sorting through them to find a publisher is like shooting fish in a barrel. Publishing a book is not easy, but if you take the proper steps, you can publish your book in no time.
The editors at AskDeb have worked in the publishing industry (both digital and print) for over a decade, and we’ve seen thousands of wannabe authors make the easy transition into “published writer”. Even though you may have heard that bookstores are having trouble with their traditional business methods, there is still interest in publishing new work. The publishing industry in America is very much alive.
The Internet has become a top-notch venue for publishers both large and small who want to expand their author list or find new talent. For writers who don’t want to go the traditional route of publication have turned to websites like Etsy and eBay to sell their books on their own, usually one copy at a time. For these writers who have never made a dime off their writing in the past, selling forty or fifty copies of their book over the course of a few weeks is a huge financial return on their hard work, and because of the ease of use and the democratic nature of the web, you should expect authors to continue going this route for publishing. An author’s ability to publish and sell their own work combined with that same ability granted to small presses means there are more publishing opportunities than ever before. The lesson is — if you have written a good book, getting it published is simple.
There are four things every author should be doing right now in order to get their book published.
1. Read All Day Long
Even though you’ve finished your book, you still need to be a voracious reader. We’re not talking about inspiration here — you need to read to find out about publishers, literary presses, and publishing opportunities.
If you triple the amount of books you read on a daily basis, you’re more likely to find out about new publishers that could be interested in your new work. But don’t just read books — lots of magazines publish excerpts or short stories, and successful writers have used these opportunities for years as a jumping off point for their career.
While you read, be sure to write down the names of ten publishers, magazines, or editors who you think would respond positively to your work. If you find a book that you like, that is similar to your own book, figure out who published that book and write their name down. Research these names, find out when they read unsolicited submissions, and try to tailor your book to that press.
All new writers should be well-versed in the names and styles of publishers and small presses. You should be familiar with publishers who are based in your region or even in your city. If there’s a university nearby, find out about their publication history. All major universities have what is called a “university press”. These college presses are usually more willing to publish young writers or experimental material.
However you decide to handle it, you need to find the names of ten publishers you’d be willing to do business with.
2. Narrow Down Your Search
Using that list of ten publishers that you found through your own reading and research, look them up in a copy of the most recent writer’s market for your genre. These books are available for perusal at your local library, or you can buy a copy for yourself. Either way, look for your genre (“Poet’s Market”, “Short Story Market”, etc) and the current year. There’s no use looking up details that were valid five years ago.
While you’re researching, narrow down your list of publishers to just five. This will make your submission process a targeted attack, rather than a random grab out of nowhere.
While looking up a publisher’s details, you need to realize that some imprints may have folded in recent months, some may not be accepting submissions, or a publisher may not want an unsolicited submission without a query letter first. These are the easiest publishers to eliminate from your list.
The purpose of focusing on just five potential publishers for your book is that it forces you to create a concrete idea of what your book is. Instead of spreading your efforts around among ten different editors, you can concentrate on the names of just five people who have the power to publish your book.
3. Package Your Book Correctly
“Packing” your book doesn’t just mean wrapping it in a book mailer and plunking your home address down on the front — once you have worked out which five publishers you’ll be targeting with your book, you need to prepare a unique copy of your book that is specific to each publishing house. Some publishers will want multiple copies of your book to spread around the editing floor, while others are looking for simple excerpts to determine if they want to read more, and many newer publishing houses would prefer it if you sent the text of your book in an email or as an attachment. The point of focusing on five unique publishers is that you can prepare five tailor made copies of your book to fit the style that each house prefers.
4. Keep Trying
This last step in the process of publishing your book is the most important — don’t give up if you get rejected the first time. If your first five publishers reject you, pick five more presses to share your genius with. There are hundreds of stories of authors who were rejected by hundreds of publishers before they found the right house. Rejection at this early stage of your career is good for you — it teaches you to accept criticism and makes victory that much sweeter when you finally do find the right publisher.
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How to Get a Patent
Every family has the story of “the invention that got away” — in my family, that story tells how crazy Uncle Tom worked twenty hours a week in his basement workshop and came up with a device that could measure the speed of a passing baseball. Everyone in the family ridiculed him, Tom never sought a patent, and ten years later (in 1954) the patent for the radar gun was awarded to a guy who has to be just filthy rich by now. Whether or not this story is true is not the point. There are examples throughout history of inventors whose names fell by the wayside — who remembers that Mahlon Loomis was the first person to demonstrate wireless communication in 1862? We all know the name Guglielmo Marconi, “inventor” of the radio.
These cautionary tales exist for a reason — the lesson is, patent your inventions properly or you’ll end up like Mahlon Loomis. If you have an invention, a design idea, or even a scientific idea that you feel is unique and worthwhile, it is time to secure a patent.
What is a patent?
Don’t get a “patent” confused with a “trademark” or a “copyright”. A patent is similar to these two things, but a patent has a specific meaning. A patent for an invention means the US government grants the property rights of an invention to the inventor who seeks a patent. Patents are issued by the Patent and Trademark Office.
New patents last for twenty years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States. Patents are not issued until certain fees are paid. What types of rights do patents grant? According to Federal law, a patent grants “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” your patented invention in the United States or importing their version of your invention into the United States. According to that language, a patent is not the right to make or sell your invention, but the right to keep other people from making, selling, or importing that invention.
How much does it cost to get a patent?
There’s no easy answer to this question. Every patent process is a little bit different, and depending on how you file your patent, the price could change dramatically.
A patent is not terribly expensive, especially for people who plan to market their invention and make big money on it. Here’s a breakdown of the fees associated with filing a patent.
USPTO filing fee: $165
USPTO patent search fee: $270
USPTO examination fee: $110
Grand total paid to USPTO — $545
If you are successful with your patent application (if the USPTO Patent Examiner says that you have an allowable application) you’ll need to pay an additional $755 fee to the USPTO to have your patent issued.
In total, the fees paid to the USPTO would be $1,300 for a successful patent application.
But there are other fees you’ll need to pay in some cases. For instance, if you plan to hire a patent attorney to draw up and present your patent to the government, that lawyer’s fees will be somewhere in the $10,000 – $20,000 range. Preparing and filing your patent yourself can instantly save you those fees, but there are good reasons to hire a patent attorney if you don’t feel comfortable filing on your own.
Getting a Patent
1. In some cases, you’ll first need to prepare a professional drawing of your invention.
2. Now it is time to conduct what is called a “patent search”. Most people will hire a professional patent agent or patent attorney to perform this task, but you can pay the USPTO directly and perform the search yourself and save money in the process.
3. If you’re going to hire a patent attorney, now is the time to do it. A patent attorney will represent you in front of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Yes, this is expensive, but patent law is notoriously complicated, and hiring a patent attorney to save you time and trouble could be an investment in the future of your invention.
4. Read and review the PTO website for instructions and fee schedules. There are a million special rules that govern patents — but in a nutshell, you need to know that there are three basic types of patents.
-Utility patents involve any “new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof”
-Design patents are “new, original, and ornamental” designs for a product
-Plant patents are what they sound like — patents for new, asexually reproduced “distinct . . . varieties of plant.”
I’m not sure what that “plant patent” thing is all about, but the point is you have to classify your invention along lines like this throughout the PTO patent process.
5. Once you’ve got all the paperwork prepared, either by yourself or your lawyer, it is time to actually “apply” for a patent. You’ll file an appropriate application and pay the application fees required by the PTO. Here’s what the PTO says about a good patent application — “A patent application should include a written document which comprises a specification (description and claims), and an oath or declaration, a drawing in those cases in which a drawing is necessary and filing, search, and examination fees.” This is the basic format of the document your patent attorney can put together for you. You may also need to hire a design firm or prepare a design yourself — in some cases, the PTO will required that you present a working model of your invention.
6. After you’ve filed for a patent, you can start using the term “patent pending” when you talk about your product or invention. This is a real world way of letting people know that your device is recognized by the US government as your own, and it could help you fight a legal battle later if someone tries to break your patent. As long as your patent is still in the pending stage, the only official language you can use is to say “Patent Pending” on the packaging.
7. Unfortunately, the end of the patent acquisition process is a waiting game. The PTO has been known to take years approving a patent, which is why it can be important to properly use the phrase “patent pending” in connection with your invention or product. The “average time” for a patent application from filing to approval is around eight years. As one famous inventor said, “You can get old” waiting on the patent office to come through.
Properly patenting your invention, product, or new idea is crucial if you plan on making money off that item. Without a patent, counterfeiting and plain old theft can get between you and the profits from your great new invention. Don’t be the crazy Uncle Tom of your family — gather a little cash and file for your patent before you lose your chance.