Watermelon and the heat

April 30, 2008

• Watermelon is not only great on a hot summer day; this delectable thirst-quencher is also beneficial for those suffering from conditions like asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and arthritis.


• Sweet, juicy watermelon is actually packed with some of the most important antioxidants in nature. Watermelon is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, notably through its concentration of betacarotene.

 

• Watermelon is also a very concentrated source of lycopene. Also found in olive oil, lycopene is also an antioxidant that helps ease inflammations that cause colds, joint pain and helps prevent cholesterol build up.

 

• For a great summer thirst-quencher, blend chunks of watermelon with a few ice cubes and a splash of lime juice. Serve with a fresh mint leaf.

 

• Because watermelon has higher water content and lower calorie content than other fruits (a whole cup of watermelon contains only 48 calories), it delivers more nutrients per calorie which is an outstanding health benefit.


Investing Strategies from Warren Buffett

April 29, 2008

An investor needs to do very few things right as long as he or she avoids big mistakes. “Warren Buffett .Buffett believes that successful investing is about having common sense, patience and independent research. Look into Buffett’s simple, yet intelligent mantras for investing and minting millions.

1. A frugal billionaire Buffett believes in simplicity. He advises investors to take easy decisions. Never buy when you are doubtful. Invest only if you understand the businesses well.

2. Focus on not losing money rather than making it. Don’t own any stock for 10 minutes that you wouldn’t own for 10 years.

3. A proponent of value investing, he believes that one must take decisions on his own. He doesn’t believe in listening to analysts or brokers. The best investing decisions come from one self.

4. Buffett advises to invest in ‘old economy’ businesses, companies, which have been around for fifty years and will continue to have a long innings.

5. We have often heard of people suffering heart attacks when markets crash. Well, Buffett advocates a sound temperament for stock market success.

6. You don’t need to be a genius to succeed in the stock markets. People who can stay cool will succeed in the long run. Always keep in mind the hidden costs, from commissions on active stock trading to high mutual fund fees.

7. Buffett always looks at businesses he can understand; look at the profits in the past, long-term potential of the company, good top level management of the company and companies that have a good value proposition. The strategy is to think about the business in the long term.

8. Invest in businesses with great management. Always keep a track of the management of the company. The top decision makers have a lot to do with the company’s performance.

9. One of Buffet’s biggest strengths is independent thinking. Many people go by what the experts says or what others do but belief in one’s own judgment is the key to stock market success.

10. Patience pays, says Buffet. He says one must not worry too much about the price of the stocks. What’s more important is the nature of business of the company, earnings capability and its future potential.

11. Don’t target just stocks, look at businesses. How a company performs is key to its stock market performance. You must know the track record of a company before you invest in it.

12. Prices keep changing. Don’t get worried by the ups and downs. Investing is all about creating wealth. It’s important to understand the value of a stock than its price.

13. Avoid hi-tech, complex businesses. Look for businesses that are set to diversify and grow.

14. Never be disappointed when markets fall. Take it as a buying opportunity. Buffet says one must have lesser number of investments with more money in each lot.

15. He advises to avoid diversification. Invest in companies with sound business models. Choose a few good ones and stay invested, it will give you the benefits.

16. Doing nothing pays at times! One must not jump at price fluctuations and take impulsive decisions.

17. Don’t get carried away by market forecasts. Ignore market swings and remain an investor with a good business sense.

18. Buffett advises to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. Buy when people are selling and sell when people are buying.

19. Make a list of companies, sectors that you find safe to invest in and try to stick to the list.

20. A sound business, strong management, good fundamental and low stock price should be a must-buy.

21. Try to ignore stock charts, says Buffett. They may not give the right indicators. A stock which may have done well earlier may not do so in future.

22. Buffet spends a lot of time on reading and more importantly thinking. Reading helps investors, so spend a lot of time reading about the stocks, companies and markets. A good investor must have a good knowledge base.

23. A good investor also needs to be efficient. Investors may have great capabilities but many do not make use of it. One needs to hone skills to meet the targets.

24. Good investors never rush to make money. They give time, thought and work on investment decisions. The mistakes that others make should be a lesson for you.


How to calculate your inflation

April 28, 2008

Rising prices take a heavy toll on the finances of families.  So, it is important to get an idea of how inflation has impacted you in reality. Of course, sitting with pen and paper to do this exercise yourself may not give you an exact figure, but it will definitely help to pin down items that have increased drastically and are hurting your budget. 

Regular Expenses

Start with a list of the regular monthly expenses. These would include vegetables, fruits, milk, food items and other items, which make the consumption part of the household budget. Then, there are regular expenses such as, newspapers, electricity, telephone bills, daily conveyance and salaries of maids and drivers. Also, for a family with small children, there will be additional expenses on stationery, books, toys and other material that have to be bought at regular intervals.  There are other expenditures on eating out and entertainment activities. All these numbers, taken together, represent your monthly expenses.

Once you have a fix on these numbers, keep on monitoring them every month, or at least, quarterly. Accordingly, you will get an idea of the expenses you should cut down, if required. 

Annual expenses

Every year, there would be certain expenses that would be a part of your regular outflow. In many cases, people forget to include these items in their calculations, but it’s important to remember that they constitute a very important part of budgeting.

For instance, the tuition fees paid to the school or college or private teachers might be paid once or twice a year. However, if the cost of education is rising constantly, it also becomes a part of your inflation.

Then, there are various festivals, where there would be purchases such as clothes and gold. Yes, it is a bit difficult to budget for them completely, but depending on your previous year’s experiences, you will be able to put some numbers to them.

A point to note is that you will need to break the yearly expenses to expenses per month. Only then you will arrive at the actual expenditure per month. Now with these two sets of numbers, you can start doing the calculations.   

Actual calculation

Now that there is an expense list, you can create a made-for-you index. While the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) gives weights to all the different kinds of items to come to a consolidated figure, you need to simply track the month-wise rise in prices.

However, though it’s the simplest way, there could be some anomaly in it because in some months there is a tendency that prices might shoot up for some time. For instance, during the months of April and May, you might see the electricity bill shooting up because of an extra levy in force. This might give the impression that the charges have increased. But in June, when this figure falls, it balances out the sudden rise.

A better way would be to compare year-on-year, so that the seasonal imbalances are wiped out. The change in the expense, overall, will give the real rate of inflation that is impacting your household.


World’s 10 best airports

April 26, 2008

According to Airports Council International’ ‘Best Airport Worldwide Quality Survey’ for 2007 the top spots went to three Asian airports — Seoul’s Incheon (serving 25-49 million passengers annually), Kuala Lumpur International Airport (15-25 million) and Singapore’s Changi Airport (25-49 million). Two other Asian airports, Central Japan (5-15 million) and Hong Kong (over 40 million), were picked as winners in the five annual-passenger traffic size categories. Other airports to feature in the list were Oporto in Portugal, Dallas Fort Worth in the US, Johannesburg in Africa, Guayaquil in Latin America & Caribbean, and Tel Aviv in the Middle East.

1. Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport, the ‘Winged City’, is located on reclaimed land approximately 32 miles from downtown Seoul, South Korea at a cost exceeding $5bn. The main passenger terminal is the largest in South Korea, measuring 496,000 square meter. It is 1,060m long, 149m wide and 33m high. Incheon Airport’s baggage handling system is designed to process 31,000 pieces of luggage an hour by using a centralized computer-controlled, automated tilt-tray system that sorts pieces of luggage with barcode readers. Arrival facilities include 120 immigration counters and 50 customs counters.

2. Kuala Lumpur International Airport

KL International Airport is surrounded by four main cities of Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Seremban and Malacca. KL International Airport is close to Malaysia’s Administration Capital – Putrajaya. KLIA was voted as the World’s Best Airport for two consecutive years, in the 2005 (AETRA awards) and 2006 (ACI-ASQ awards). The airport is built on 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres – one of the world’s largest construction site) of agriculture land at a cost of about $3.5bn and commenced full commercial operations on June 28, 1998. From the air, the KLIA looks like a futuristic structure hidden in a remote jungle. Encircling the airport is a tropical forest.

KLIA boasts of the world’s tallest air-traffic control tower, the biggest column less hangar, biggest passenger lounge and the capacity for 25 million people a year. KLIA is the second airport in the world after Munich to have a special chamber to defuse explosives as part of its sophisticated fire-fighting systems.

3. Changi International Airport

Singapore Changi Airport is recognized as one of the best airports in the world. With 80 airlines serving more than 180 cities in over 50 countries, Changi Airport has established itself as a major aviation hub in the Asia Pacific region. Terminal 3 was built at a cost of S$1.75 billion and has an annual handling capacity of 22 million passengers, bringing Changi Airports total handling capacity (including Budget Terminal) to 70 million passengers per annum. In 2007, the airport handled a record 36,701,556 passengers, a 4.8 per cent increase over the 2006 fiscal year. This made it the 19th busiest airport in the world and the fifth busiest in Asia by passenger traffic in 2007.

The airport is one of the busiest cargo airports in the world, handling 1.89 million tons of cargo in 2007. With the impending arrival of the Airbus A380, the airport put into place modifications works costing S$60 million. These included the building of 19 gates capable of handling the large aircraft, eight of which are in Terminal 3. Baggage claim carousels, runways, and taxiways were expanded, and two new freighter aircraft stands and two remote aircraft parking stands were built. Two aircraft taxiway bridges spanning Airport Boulevard leading to the terminals also had shields installed on either side to shield the road from the jet blast.

On 11 November 2005, the airport became the first outside Europe to receive the A380 for airport compatibility verification tests, and was the first in the world to have an operational triple-passenger loading bridge fit for trials.

4. Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, since it was built on the island of Chek Lap Kok through land reclamation, and also to distinguish it from the old Kai Tak Airport. Terminal 1 of the HKIA is currently the second largest airport passenger terminal building of the world.

Terminal 2 of the Hong Kong International Airport, together with the Sky plaza, opened on February 28, 2007. Annual passenger and cargo throughput reached 47.8 million and 3.74 million tons in 2007, up 7.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent over 2006, respectively. As the world’s fifth busiest international passenger airport and most active worldwide air cargo operation, HKIA sees nearly 800 aircraft take off and land every day. Over 85 airlines operate at HKIA, linking Hong Kong with more than 150 locations round the world, including some 40 cities on the Chinese Mainland.

5. Central Japan International Airport

The Central Japan International Airport is located on a reclaimed island, approximately 2 kilometers offshore from Tokoname City, which is roughly 35 kilometers south of Nagoya. Thanks to its central location, visitors arriving at Centrair will find the rest of Japan easily accessible through the domestic air service network, the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), and the Tomei and Meishin Expressways. Planned as an international airport operating 24 hours a day, Centrair is the new gateway to all of Japan. In the passenger terminal building of Centrair, shops and restaurants surround the Center Plaza.

6. Ben Gurion International Airport

Ben Gurion International Airport is the largest and busiest international airport in Israel, with about 10.5 million passengers passing through it in 2007. The airport is near the city of Lod, 15 kilometers southeast of Tel Aviv. Ben Gurion Airport is the hub of El Al Israel Airlines, Israir Airlines, Arkia Israel Airlines, and Sun d’Or International Airlines. Ben Gurion International Airport started out in 1936 as Lydda Airport.

Ben Gurion Airport is considered one of the world’s most secure airports. The airport has been the target of several terrorist attacks, but no attempt to hijack a plane departing from Ben Gurion airport has succeeded. Terminal 3 is used for international flights, and Terminal 1 is used for domestic flights. The airport has three runways and is used by commercial, private, and military aircraft.

7. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

DFW International Airport is located halfway between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. DFW International is the world’s third busiest airport, offering nearly 1,900 flights per day and serving 60 million passengers a year. Voted ‘Best Airport in the Americas for Customer Service’ two years in a row by an Airports Council International survey of passengers, DFW provides nonstop service to 135 domestic and 38 international destinations.

The new international terminal (Terminal D) opened in July 2005. A new people mover system named Skylink, opened in spring of 2005 and is the world’s largest high-speed airport train system. Totally automated, Skylink trains run every few minutes and travel at speeds up to 35-37 mph. DFW is connected by shuttle bus to a commuter rail station just south of the airport. The Trinity Railway Express line serves both downtown Dallas and downtown Fort Worth. Dallas/FortWorth International Airport has five terminals. The airport is designed with expansion in mind, and can theoretically accommodate up to thirteen terminals totaling 260 gates!

8. Francisco SA Carneiro Airport

Francisco SA Carneiro Airport, also known as Oporto Airport, is the third-busiest airport in Portugal based on aircraft movements and also for passenger numbers (after Lisbon and Faro). The airport is situated 11km from the city of Porto. A new terminal building worth euro 108m opened in the fourth quarter of 2006. The new facility has increased the amount of space at the airport for check-in; there are two additional luggage carousels and more space for retail concessions and facilities such as coffee shops, bars and restaurants

9. OR Tambo International Airport

OR Tambo International Airport (formerly Johannesburg International) is the busiest airport on the continent – and the air transport hub of southern Africa. The airport caters for over 13 million passengers each year, and employs some 18 000 people. The airport was named the leading airport in Africa at the 2005 World Travel Awards, and won the Skytrax Best Airport in Africa award from 2002 to 2004 (coming second to Cape Town International in 2005).

The opening of a new, state-of-the-art domestic terminal in 2003 significantly expanded the airport’s capacity and facilities. The R450-million terminal development was accompanied by a R400-million upgrade of adjacent aprons and the road network feeding the airport.

10. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport

Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport, Guayaquil, Ecuador was formerly called Simon Bolivar International Airport. The airport, which has the newest terminal in Ecuador, was renamed after Jose Joaquin de Olmedo, a notable Ecuadorian poet, in 2006. Buses and taxis connect the airport to Guayaquil’s city centre. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport was named ‘Best Airport in Latin America’ by BussinessWeek Magazine.


What Gender is a Computer?

April 19, 2008

A student asked what gender is ‘computer’.’

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether ‘computer’ should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men’s group decided that ‘computer’ should definitely be of the feminine gender because:  

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine (‘el computador’), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.


Origin of Names

April 16, 2008

Mercedes

This was actually the founder’s daughter’s name.

 

Adobe

This came from name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock .

 

Apple Computers

It was the favorite fruit of founder Steve Jobs. He was three months late in filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn’t suggest a better name by 5 O’clock.

 

Cisco

It is not an acronym as popularly believed. It is short for SanFrancisco.

 

Compaq

This name was formed by using COMp, for computer, and PAQ to denote a small integral object.

 

Corel

The name was derived from the founder’s name Dr.Michael Cowpland. It stands for COwpland REsearch Laboratory.

 

Google

The name started as a joke boasting about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named ‘Googol’, a word for the number represented by 1 followed by 100zeros. After founders – Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page presented their project to an angel investor, they received a cheque made out to ‘Google’.

 

Hotmail

Founder Jack Smith got the idea of accessing e-mail via the web from a computer anywhere in the world. When Sabeer Bhatia came up with the business plan for the mail service, he tried all kinds of names ending in ‘mail’ and finally settled for hotmail as it included the letters “html” – the programming language used to write web pages. It was initially referred to as HoTMaiL with selective uppercasing.

 

Hewlett Packard

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard tossed a coin to decide whether the company they founded would be called Hewlett-Packard or Packard-Hewlett.

 

Intel

Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore wanted to name their new company ‘Moore Noyce’ but that was already trademarked by a hotel chain so they had to settle for an acronym of INTegrated ELectronics.

 

Lotus(Notes)

Mitch Kapoor got the name for his company from ‘The Lotus Position’ or ‘Padmasana’. Kapoor used to be a teacher of Transcendental Meditation Of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

 

Microsoft

Coined by Bill Gates, to represent the company that was devoted to MICROcomputer SOFTware. Originally christened Micro-Soft, the ‘-‘ was removed later on.

 

Motorola

Founder Paul Galvin came up with this name when his company started manufacturing radios for cars. The popular radio company at the time was called Victrola.

 

Oracle

Larry Ellison and Bob Oats were working on a consulting project for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). The code name for the project was called Oracle (the CIA saw this as the system to give answers to all questions or something such). The project was designed to help use the newly written SQL code by IBM. The project eventually was terminated but Larry and Bob decided to finish what they started and bring it to the world. They kept the name Oracle and created the RDBMS engine. Later they kept the same name for the company.

 

Sony

It originated from the Latin word ‘sonus’ meaning sound, and ‘sonny’ a language used by Americans to refer to a bright youngster.

 

Sun

Founded by 4 Stanford University buddies, SUN is the acronym for Stanford University Network. Andreas Bechtolsheim built a micro computer; Vinod Khosla recruited him and Scott McNealy to manufacture computers x-udd on it, and Bill Joy to develop a UNIX-based OS for the computer.

 

Yahoo

The word was invented by Jonathan Swift and used in his book ‘Gulliver’s Travels’. It represents a person who is repulsive in appearance and action and is barely human. Yahoo! Founders Jerry Yang and David Filo elected the name because they considered themselves Yahooligans.


How to calculate your inflation

April 14, 2008

Rising prices take a heavy toll on the finances of families. So, it is important to get an idea of how inflation has impacted you in reality. Of course, sitting with pen and paper to do this exercise yourself may not give you an exact figure, but it will definitely help to pin down items that have increased drastically and are hurting your budget.

Regular Expenses
Start with a list of the regular monthly expenses. These would include vegetables, fruits, milk, food items and other items, which make the consumption part of the household budget. Then, there are regular expenses such as, newspapers, electricity, telephone bills, daily conveyance and salaries of maids and drivers. Also, for a family with small children, there will be additional expenses on stationery, books, toys and other material that have to be bought at regular intervals. There are other expenditures on eating out and entertainment activities. All these numbers, taken together, represent your monthly expenses.

Once you have a fix on these numbers, keep on monitoring them every month, or at least, quarterly. Accordingly, you will get an idea of the expenses you should cut down, if required.

Annual expenses
Every year, there would be certain expenses that would be a part of your regular outflow. In many cases, people forget to include these items in their calculations, but it’s important to remember that they constitute a very important part of budgeting.

For instance, the tuition fees paid to the school or college or private teachers might be paid once or twice a year. However, if the cost of education is rising constantly, it also becomes a part of your inflation.

Then, there are various festivals, where there would be purchases such as clothes and gold. Yes, it is a bit difficult to budget for them completely, but depending on your previous year’s experiences, you will be able to put some numbers to them.

A point to note is that you will need to break the yearly expenses to expenses per month. Only then you will arrive at the actual expenditure per month. Now with these two sets of numbers, you can start doing the calculations.

Actual calculation
Now that there is an expense list, you can create a made-for-you index. While the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) gives weights to all the different kinds of items to come to a consolidated figure, you need to simply track the month-wise rise in prices.

However, though it’s the simplest way, there could be some anomaly in it because in some months there is a tendency that prices might shoot up for some time. For instance, during the months of April and May, you might see the electricity bill shooting up because of an extra levy in force. This might give the impression that the charges have increased. But in June, when this figure falls, it balances out the sudden rise.

A better way would be to compare year-on-year, so that the seasonal imbalances are wiped out. The change in the expense, overall, will give the real rate of inflation that is impacting your household.