Tweet What do you do if the power is out, but you need to charge your cell phone to make an emergency phone call? In this episode of DIY Hacks & How To’s, I show you how to tap the power flowing from your phone line. There is a small amount of electricity that is [...]
Archive for May, 2009
(Via MacUpdate – Mac OS X.)
Common around the world, including in Europe, such a tax — called a value-added tax, or VAT — has not been seriously considered in the United States. But advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity.
‘There is a growing awareness of the need for fundamental tax reform,’ Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in an interview. ‘I think a VAT and a high-end income tax have got to be on the table.’
A VAT is a tax on the transfer of goods and services that ultimately is borne by the consumer. Highly visible, it would increase the cost of just about everything, from a carton of eggs to a visit with a lawyer. It is also hugely regressive, falling heavily on the poor. But VAT advocates say those negatives could be offset by using the proceeds to pay for health care for every American — a tangible benefit that would be highly valuable to low-income families.
The VAT has advantages: Because producers, wholesalers and retailers are each required to record their transactions and pay a portion of the VAT, the tax is hard to dodge. It punishes spending rather than savings, which the administration hopes to encourage. And the threat of a VAT could pull the country out of recession, some economists argue, by hurrying consumers to the mall before the tax hits.
What would it cost? Emanuel argues in his book that a 10 percent VAT would pay for every American not entitled to Medicare or Medicaid to enroll in a health plan with no deductibles and minimal copayments. In his 2008 book, ‘100 Million Unnecessary Returns,’ Yale law professor Michael J. Graetz estimates that a VAT of 10 to 14 percent would raise enough money to exempt families earning less than $100,000 — about 90 percent of households — from the income tax and would lower rates for everyone else.
And in a paper published last month in the Virginia Tax Review, Burman suggests that a 25 percent VAT could do it all: Pay for health-care reform, balance the federal budget and exempt millions of families from the income tax while slashing the top rate to 25 percent. A gallon of milk would jump from $3.69 to $4.61, and a $5,000 bathroom renovation would suddenly cost $6,250, but the nation’s debt would stabilize and everybody could see a doctor.
Sounds like it will cure blindness, get my sheets whiter than white and make me a hit with the ladies! What can’t a VAT do? If it’s this good, why not go all the way and make it 100% so the government can do everything for us?
(Via Dvorak Uncensored.)
Apparently, some folks in the UK haven’t yet realized that no database is fully secure, and any large database of info will almost certainly be abused at some point. In what appears to be a stunningly bad idea, the UK has put together a giant database including info on every child in the UK. The goal is for it to be used by childcare professionals, but you can bet it will be misused quite soon. As internet law expert Michael Scott notes: ‘Who thought this was a good idea? And why?’
British physicist Stephen Wolfram today officially launched his new, massively-hyped search engine, Wolfram Alpha. Now for the inevitable letdown; and for the hard questions more journalists should have been asking weeks ago.
Wolfram Alpha has, inevitably, been repeatedly compared to Google. Of course: just like the fatally overhyped search engine Cuil, Wolfram Alpha was previewed for sympathetic press, who, with help from all sorts of other media, quickly raised expectations to unmeetable levels (a long and storied tech-industry tradition).
Wolfram is attempting to almost magically deduce useful, precise information from the mess of information that is the World Wide Web. That’s a task that has thus far eluded even the scientist who invented the WWW itself, Tim Berners-Lee, who has spent more than a decade on a crusade to do basically the same thing through a system he calls the ‘Semantic Web.’
In its present state, Wolfram Alpha excels at providing information people don’t care about, like ‘How far will the Earth be from the Sun tomorrow?‘ or ‘the average body mass index of a 40-year-old male, whether the Eiffel Tower is taller than Seattle’s Space Needle, and whether it is high tide in Miami right now.’ Try asking something more complicated and you get an error message like the one at left (Google might get this one wrong, but at least it tries!)
Will Wolfram Alpha ever improve? Sure, but it’s hard to imagine it ever improving enough to be truly useful; human language itself lacks the precision to enable what Wolfram is attempting. Or so it would seem. As social tech professor and author Clay Shirky has written, ‘Actual human expression must take into account the ambiguities of the real world, where people, even those with real taste, disagree about what is interesting or affected…’
For now, people of real taste disagree about the fate of Wolfram Alpha. But those sorts of opinions have a way of converging as a startup’s fate becomes more clear.
(UPDATE: Comments enabled; they were off due to a tech glitch.)
It’s all across the world wide web, people want to know how to make money with websites. People especially want to know how to make money using online advertising. This is because, it’s often assumed that putting a few ads on a website requires less work than other means of monetization.
The first thing to note is that just throwing Google adsense or any other advertising on your blog isn’t going to make you much money. Just like you won’t sell products if you don’t have a customer base, you won’t earn money from advertising if you don’t have customers coming to your site. Having a few hundred people visit your WordPress blog each week won’t cut it.
The first way to monetize from ads on your WordPress blog actually has nothing to do with advertising, but everything to do with content. If you’re not offering something fresh and new, then users won’t continually come to your web site. You have to offer fresh content or products to first get people on your site. This may be posting several blog posts a day, selling products or running contests. Find a niche, and work on building a presence on that niche before even thinking about putting advertising on your website.
Once you’ve got a following to your blog, start researching about possible advertising tools out there. Many people do Google Adsense, but it is difficult for it to pay off. There are many other methods of advertising on your WordPress blog including:
- Affiliate Ads. These are often the best advertising method because you can choose affiliates that are geared toward your targeted audience.
- Brokered Ads. This type of advertising only works if you have a high volume of visitors. Advertisers go through a broker to have their ads display on your site. This cuts down on the work you have to do such as billing, ad size and technical issues.
- Text Link Ads. Text link advertising is important if you have a high page rank and your blog is properly optimized. Once again, you can use a broker or sell the ads yourselves.
- Contextual Advertising. These are your basic adsense-type ads that display ads based on keywords on a page or your blog’s category.
Above I’ve discussed some of the different advertising methods that you can implement on your WordPress blog. Is there an advertising method you’ve had success with? Later, we’ll feature some of the wordpress plugins that are available to help monetize your blog.
(Via Tutorial Blog.)