Can technology improve business innovation?

Few would argue that software has crawled into virtually every nook and cranny of modern life, leading to more than a few prognostigators to claim that it’s now eating the world.

As it matures, the growth sectors of the software industry have long moved away from broad horizontal functions like productivity or document management and settled in niche areas like specific verticals or higher-order functions like enterprise resource planning (ERP), business intelligence, or customer relationship management (CRM). In short, software is finding its way into practically every aspect of our lives and continues to grow.

So it sometimes seems that just about anything can be improved by incorporating the latest high tech gadget or a new app that can solve that nagging little problem for your business. However, there do seem to be a few important challenges that are stubbornly resistant to the siren call of today’s startup mavens or enterprise software vendors. One of these, as it turns out, is the process of open innovation.

Yet even this vital functions, as we’ll see, can be aided and abetted by technology. In fact, one thing that we’ve learned about IT over the decades is that in general the more freeform and complex a problem is, the harder it is to deliver a pure technology solution. Innovation is really the classic example of this: Computers aren’t very good at creativity by themselves, but if one can combine the right type of supporting technology with a few ingenious people, then truly interesting outcomes can result.

For its part, the Internet itself has greatly accelerated general improvement in the field of innovation. By connecting millions of people with great ideas to new pools of resources that are able to help realize them, a pretty long list of impressive results have accumulated over the years. Of course, the darling these days in open innovation specifically is crowdfunding (which has led to the proverbial Cambrian explosion in related startups), where the concept is that anyone with a good idea can come to the community and try to convince them to fund their idea individually.

Open Innovation, Crowdsourcing, and Social Business

But this is just the latest in a long line of success stories: Crowdsourcing as matured in general to become a fairly repeatable and reliable process for harnessing innovation and creating outcomes hard to beat using just about any other method. This of course, is where the discussion about social business, another conversation about how to better connect to one’s stakeholders via social media for business purposes, intersects directly with today’s increasingly sophisticated world of open innovation.

Together, these two disciplines seem to be showing the power of people and networks in scale to drive great collaborative outcomes.

For some then, this story might appear to take on a familiar pattern: The consumer world en masse devises a better way to do something than the traditional business world by using the vast living laboratory of the Web, and it then becomes a leading new model for accomplishing said activity. This has happened with software development (open source), communication (social media), smart mobility and SaaS (consumerization), business models (collaborative economy), and perhaps now with innovation.

These days, it often seems like the enterprise is the last bastion to receive the latest in technology advances.

IT Departments Losing Control of Innovation

Unfortunately, there’s now growing evidence that the classical model of IT has also become quite challenged when it comes to delivering technology innovation to the business. A significant new survey of IT organizations by the Corporate Executive Board has found that IT departments are losing control of technology innovation within their organizations. Instead, the lines of business are picking up the slack, having far more capacity and urgency to apply new technology to their local challenges.

Indeed, this general loss of control by IT in recent years has essentially become the central narrative of the shifting role of the CIO, the recent ascendancy of the CMO, and the emergence of the chief digital officer (CDO), all in an attempt to grapple with the digital diaspora taking place within most companies today.

So what can IT departments do to get in front of the rapidly evolving open innovation story and bring the latest tools and techniques into the organization? Fortunately, the answer isn’t as complex as one might think, though it does require thinking about enabling the innovation process, rather than constraining the ingredients. That’s not to say there aren’t important ramifications to manage when it comes to a variety of related topics such as intellectual property control and information security.

External Innovation from Outside of the Enterprise

Building An Open Innovation Capability

We can summarize the landscape of new digital tools and techniques for open innovation into four specific buckets. These are platforms, communities, methods, and supporting functions:

  1. Platforms for open innovation. New networked technologies, particularly ones based on social media, have greatly increased the richness and reach of innovation programs. While open innovation is possible without these tools, they can considerably reduce cost while increasing scale and scope. Leading examples include Spigit, IdeaScale, BrightIdea, OpenIDEO, and BrainBank, but there are many others.
  2. Open innovation communities. Beyond technology platforms, there are pre-existing for-profit and non-profit innovation communities for many disciplines and industries that can be tapped into to drive innovation programs. Well known examples include Innocentive, IdeaConnection, and NineSigma, to name just a few.
  3. Open innovation methods. There are two main axes here: Business function and collaborative method. The business function might be product development, software development, business development, marketing, sales, fund raising, and so on. That’s because each business function has a unique set of innovation concerns that often requires either special supporting platforms and/or particular communities that must be cultivated or tapped into. The second is the specific collaborative method to create the targeted innovation. This is often one of two major forks in the road in terms of creating the result: a) Either a single winning result from many individual contribution or b) one individual joint work product from many incremental contributions.
  4. Supporting functions. Although IT can help lead the business when it comes to open innovation, it must make sure the platforms, communities, and methods are supported by a robust set of business functions to protect the organization while enabling rapid co-creation. These include the smart and lightweight application of shared idea ownership (the best open innovation programs often ensure everyone who contributed can benefit), the security of the enterprise information that often must be shared for open innovation to be successful, and finally application and community selection and management.

While BYOD and BYOA are becoming the standard in many organizations and is putting more control in the hands of the business, the IT department still has a chance in relatively nascent areas like innovation to help the organization better cultivate new ideas and advances.

What’s even better is that even though innovation isn’t necessarily a core competency of the IT department, technology certainly is. As successful innovation becomes more dependent on the effective use of the latest social software and online communities, this might be one area where IT can lead the business effectively for the long-term, by providing a proven palette of tools, technologies, and supporting functions to make the business successful with open innovation as a standard part of the next generation of service delivery.

Backstory: A lot of this thinking was spurred by my recent session on social business and open innovation at Dreamforce 2013 in San Francisco for the innovation track of the conference. You can view the Slideshare deck, “How Social Business Is Reinventing Open Innovation” for more details. Thanks to Karthik Chakkakarapani at Salesforce for the invitation to speak.


CIOs lose hold of the purse strings as departments go it alone with tech projects

Digital diaspora in the enterprise: Arrival of the CDO and CCO

The evolution of enterprise software: An overview

Made on the Web, designed by us

Does technology improve employee engagement?

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Apple Maps’ worldview is now better than Google Maps’

It may have struggled with some quite high-profile errors in its early days, but Apple’s latest improvements to its Apple Maps platform have not only helped it catch up with venerable geospatial giant Google – but will make Apple Maps far more relevant in the long term.

Those are harsh and difficult words from someone who, like all of us, has marvelled for years at the utility of the Google Maps Web service and the immersive worldwide journeys made possible through the Google Earth application. But they are a reality that bears addressing.

Google will always hold the significant achievement of bringing the literally world-changing geospatial technology to the mass market, but Apple’s decision to incorporate its now-very-impressive Maps application into its Mavericks operating system reflects a significant change in the user experience that will give it far more clout in driving the standard for interactive consumer mapping into the future.

Some questioned whether including Maps in the operating system was a simply gratuitous nod to the increasing incursion of iOS user-interface tropes into the desktop Mac OS X environment.

Anyone so inclined should run up a full-screen instance of Maps on their 27-inch iMac, using Apple’s Magic Trackpad to spin, zoom and fly through 3D renderings of cities around the world. It’s a novelty on an iPhone, but on a 27-inch screen it’s literally an adventure.

Sure, you can do much the same with Google Earth, which has been available for Macs for some time. Both will also help you find your way to new places pinpoint accuracy, exploring a broad range of maps.

Maps is uniquely important in markets such as education, where maps are an everyday part of learning (and not just in geography). As today’s iPad and MacBook-wielding students become more and more accustomed to Apple Maps, they will come to believe that it is how all maps should look – and will question anything else they encounter.

In the long term, however, the overall quality and ubiquity of the Mavericks-era Maps application is going to make it the default go-to platform for most Mac users– just as it has become the default mapping app for an increasing number of iPhone and iPad users since Apple began substituting it for Google Maps.

I fully recognise that Mavericks’ market share in the scheme of things is relatively small, so it will take a while before Apple Maps dominates the world.

That said, Maps is uniquely important in markets such as education, where maps are an everyday part of learning (and not just in geography) and the ability to pull up and zoom through the maps students are discussing is invaluable.

As today’s iPad and MacBook-wielding students become more and more accustomed to Apple Maps, they will come to believe that it is how all maps should look – and will question anything else they encounter.

That’s where Apple’s vision will have really paid off – as it has already done by seeding iPads in schools to win over tablet users early in their lives.

Mavericks’ long-term play: Mapping as a service

This lies at the crux of Apple’s decision to move Maps into Mavericks: the company has effectively staked its claim in the idea of what I might call Mapping as a Service (MaaS).

This is the concept of providing a consistent technology platform between desktops and mobile devices that will allow applications to just assume that a certain degree of mapping capability is available with a single tap. Rather than being an optional addon, geospatial capabilities become an intrinsic part of the user experience.

Sure, Google Maps and Google Earth offer many of the same features (I should also mention Bing Maps for completeness even though it’s rare as hen’s teeth outside the US). It’s still correct to say that Google Maps owns the Web-based MaaS world in applications where flexibility and detail count.

But if those tools are no longer the go-to platform for mapping – and most users won’t know or care about their capabilities if Apple Maps is doing the trick and beautifully so – Apple Maps will come to dominate this MaaS idea by doing what Apple does: redefining it.

Easy and default access to Apple Maps will redefine users’ expectations of mapping no matter how good Google’s offerings. Screenshot: David Braue

From now on, the operating system will simply assume access to detailed, glorious maps is available as a core service. This means they’ll be able to use OS calls to provide interactive mapping that is tightly bound to the application at hand – rather than forcing applications to jump into a Web browser for maps because there’s no guarantee Google Earth is installed on a particular user’s desktop.

Applications have to play to the lowest common denominator – and if the assumption is that there is no built-in mapping service on the target operating system, the application will either lose those features or find some inevitably-kludgy workaround.

This is where Google falls short: although its applications are capable, they are not bundled into mainstream operating systems in consistent ways. They may work well on both desktop and mobile devices, but people are by nature lazy and most will be more than happy with the default mapping solution on their devices rather than having to seek out and learn to use a new one.

Improvements in Apple Maps have made it beautiful, useful – and, more importantly, more accurate than ever. Screenshot: David Braue


Even Google’s recent overhaul of Google Maps may fail to compete against a good-enough default option, for the same reason. Google’s efforts at mapping the inside of buildings, the surface of the moon and anything anybody wants to map are certainly impressive – but if its tools aren’t an intrinsic part of users’ worldview, they will struggle to be more than marginally relevant.

The new problem with Apple Maps

There are problems in the fact that Apple Maps now looks so good and works so well.

First and foremost among these is the dependence on an image-serving infrastructure that – at least in Australia, where smooth access to such services relies on adequately uncongested trans-Pacific pipes – can often feel overloaded and make maps slow to appear and resolve to high resolution. I can only assume Apple will have learned its lesson from its early missteps, and continues to add capacity to prevent this from being a persistent problem.

More problematic in the long term is the fact that Google’s history of basically inventing this market means that Google Earth and its highly-expandable structure – made possible through its Keyhole Markup Language (KML) – long ago made it the platform of choice for serious maps users wanting to represent information in many ways. A raft of ancillary tools, like Google’s SketchUp, allow users to customise Google Maps in a range of ways.

Apple doesn’t yet support KML in Maps, which limits users to seeing only the views of the world that Apple wants them to see. This will be grating for many users, but perfectly fine for many others. But if Apple wants Maps to be taken seriously in the future, it will need to figure out a way to either join the KML brigade – and to do it well enough that it’s seen as more than a gorgeous toy – or, and this is the outcome I fear more, come up with its own data framework to compete with Google’s.

Apple does this sort of thing all the time, and it could probably work well in the long term – especially since it would build on a MaaS platform that will be available on every Mac from now on. But in the short term, it would feed user confusion as Apple tried to shoehorn its format alongside KML and users discovered the hard way just how well (or not) the company had succeeded. It would also isolate the Mac OS X and iOS-based MaaS experience from those on other platforms.

Would users mind? Not as much as you think.

This is all esoterica compared to the use that most people have for Maps, which pretty much range from finding directions (now as possible on the desktop as on the in-car smartphone-cum-GPS-replacement) to gloriously barnstorming some foreign city in full-screen, immersive glory. Once they come to expect these capabilities are available no matter what device they’re using, they will baulk at a worldview that offers anything less – or less easily.

What do you think? Are you still having problems with Apple Maps? Is its inclusion in Mavericks a good or bad thing? And: can Google meaningfully fight off its incursion given Apple Maps’ increasing profile on mobile devices and Google’s inability to deliver MaaS capabilities to compete?

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Australian government using wrong NBN rollout strategy, leaked report warns

Australia’s newly elected Coalition government is taking the wrong approach to rolling out its alternative national broadband network (NBN) strategy by planning it in two separate stages rather than completing the project in one go, the company building the network has warned in advice prepared for incoming communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Coalition went to the September 7 election with an alternative to the previous government’s fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) rollout – which would deliver direct fibre-optic connections to 93 percent of Australia’s homes and businesses by 2021 – with an alternative fibre-to-the-node (FttN) NBN to be built in two stages.

The government must minimise double-handling if it hopes to meet its NBN rollout deadlines, a confidential internal assessment has warned.

The first stage would use VDSL2 technology to deliver a minimum of 25Mbps services across the country by 2016; some 90 percent of premises would then be progressively upgraded to 50Mbps by 2019 using VDSL2 ‘vectoring’ technology, which delivers faster speeds over short distances over good-quality copper access network (CAN).

Noting that this approach “implies two truck rolls,” the NBN Co advice – prepared during the pre-election caretaker period by NBN Co at the request of the former Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), and intended to form part of the ‘Blue Book’ briefing given to help the new minister hit the ground running – indicates that the need to retrain the workforce of NBN Co and its many subcontractors would pose an additional significant risk to the rollout, which is already “unlikely” to hit its 2016 targets.

NBN Co’s analysis concluded that a two-tiered approach “would increase network rollout costs and end-user disruption” and needlessly delay the move to VDSL2 ‘vectoring’ technology, which Telstra and Alcatel-Lucent recently began testing.

“VDSL2 with in-cabinet vectoring is proven and commercially available today, so there is no need to delay a deployment to wait for the technology to come online,” the report warns.

“A number of successful trials have been conducted since 2010, and the technology is being deployed on a commercial scale in Austria and Belgium.”

NBN Co’s analysis suggested a two-tiered approach “would increase network rollout costs and end-user disruption” and needlessly delay the move to VDSL2 ‘vectoring’ technology. 

“NBN Co should deploy the best available xDSL technology in the FTTN network from the start of the rollout.”

The confidential report, parts of which were published this week by Fairfax Media, confirmed that the project was “unlikely” to meet Turnbull’s election 2016 goal and might only make its 2019 deadline if a long list of complex and significant issues was resolved within approximately the next 18 months.

Meeting such tight deadlines and the Coalition’s promise of a cheaper NBN would require as efficient a rollout as possible, the report warned, suggesting that a “significant” effort to remediate Telstra’s copper access network (CAN) for 25Mbps services, and further work to prepare it for 50Mbps, would involve duplication of efforts and should ideally be combined.

The previous government negotiated an $11b access arrangement to let it run its FttP cabling through ex-monopolist Telstra’s nationwide network of underground ducts. However, the rollout ran into trouble earlier this year after asbestos was discovered in pits into which equipment for the FttP network, leading Telstra to temporarily shut down its rollout until additional training and remediation work could be completed.

There have also been widespread concerns about the “dilapidated” state of the company’s nationwide telephone and xDSL infrastructure, which progressively expanded over the past century.

“Further remediation work may be required to increase speeds to 50Mbps,” the report warns. “Therefore it makes sense that the network is remediated once only to achieve the target of 90% of the fixed-line network to receive minimum download speeds of 50Mbps in 2019.”

Although the scope of necessary remediation of Telstra’s copper “cannot be accurately determined until NBN Co gains access to Telstra’s copper plant records and commences VDSL2 trials,” NBN Co warned that “significant network remediation will need to occur in the copper plant including the removal of bridge taps, poor joints and any other physical impairment that impacts performance.”

Turnbull has rubbished the NBN Co advice, confirming that he had read its contents but slamming it as a partisan, outdated document – despite evidence confirming it was prepared during the pre-election caretaker period.

The full Blue Book report, for which the NBN Co document was prepared, has been suppressed by Turnbull despite widespread calls for its release and his earlier promises that he was open to hearing the “unvarnished truth” about the NBN rollout.

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Sales of mirrorless ‘compact system cameras’ grow in a depressed market

The digital camera market is depressed thanks to the improvement in smartphone cameras, which do what most people need most of the time. Nonetheless, the market for CSCs (Compact System Cameras) — also called ILCs (Interchangeable Lens Compacts) or “mirrorless cameras” — is still growing, though not as rapidly as before. In fact, for the first time, CSCs now account for more than a quarter of digital camera sales and more than half the trade value of digital cameras, according a report from Futuresource Consulting.

CSC sales grew by more than 100 percent in 2012 but Futuresource says demand has softened in the first half of this year, and it is predicting year-on-year growth of just 6 percent to 4.2 million units. “This relatively weak growth suggests there is a lack of consumer education regarding CSC, and more favourable consumer preference for DSLR cameras. Demand for DSLR cameras has been driven by entry-level models becoming more affordable.”

For cameras with interchangeable lenses, the DSLR “remains by far the most popular format globally, with 80 percent volume share expected for 2013”, says Futuresource.

Overall, the report projects that shipments of digital cameras will fall by 24 percent to 86 million units in 2013. However, shipments of interchangeable lens cameras (SCSs and DSLRs) will grow by 5 percent to almost 21 million units.

ZDNet--Nikon 1 J2_2_lens (600 x 274)
CSCs are more versatile and provide better quality than fixed-lens compact cameras but are smaller and lighter than DSLRs. Photo credit: Nikon

Arun Gill, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting, thinks there is hope for the future.

“Although consumer demand for fixed lens cameras is falling across all regions, the rapid uptake of connected mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets means there are more camera devices in use than ever before,” says Gill. “And here’s the interesting part: as consumers’ experience of capturing mobile photos develops, their interest in photography is likely to increase. Now we’re seeing a growing base of photo enthusiasts, especially in less developed countries, who desire a high-end digital camera with advanced features such as larger optical zooms and bigger image sensors. This will provide an opportunity for further growth in higher end camera sales, particularly with interchangeable lenses.”

While sales of fixed-lens digital cameras are in steep decline in Europe, sales of higher value products such as bridge, premium (large sensor), zoom compact and water/shockproof cameras are increasing, according to the report. Gill also sees opportunities in emerging markets where “the growing middle class population will present an opportunity for interchangeable lens camera growth”.

The 34-page report contains projections up to 2017, by type of camera and by region, and can be purchased via

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8 reasons Lean IT now really matters to enterprises

Lean IT helps address some of the scaling issues organizations are having with Agile. 

Photo: HubSpot

That’s one of the key takeaways outlined by Steve Bell, Lean IT guru and co-author of Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation, who keynoted a recent lean confab in Paris.

Agile is a beautiful thing, encouraging that the walls between developers and users be torn down and that software be something everyone has a hand in designing and can be proud of. But as Stephen Younge pointed out here at this site a couple months back, Agile doesn’t scale well beyond small teams in small settings, and it is difficult to make it work in larger organizations.

Bell is bringing fresh thinking to the problem from the “Lean Startup” perspective, suggesting that Agile is scalable. Here are Bell’s eight reflections on how Lean IT is helping the enterprise:

1) Technology has the potential to play a transformative role in every product, service and industry. “Everyone is looking at IT suddenly, because it’s disrupt or be disrupted,” says Bell. “And the enabling factor is most cases is our capability to turn IT.” He cautions, however, that IT needs to “let go” of its technology-centered thinking and focus on the customer. “We’re so used to thinking about what we can do with this technology, this asset that we have, and we forget to ask what does the customer want.”

2)  Deliberate innovation is becoming necessary for survival. It’s time to make innovation part of everyday business, not just a one-off effort that occurs in the R&D department or development shop. Consider this, Bell asks: “If someone, anyone, anywhere in your company, including your suppliers and customers has an idea, what can they do with it? What are supposed to do? Send an email? Have a phone call? Call a meeting?”

3) Uncertainty can be your friend or enemy. Don’t try to control it with governance, budgeting planning or portfolio management. “The idea of planning a year in advance is absolute nonsense, and we all know it,” says Bell. “It crushes innovation.” IT leaders need to strike a balance between good governance and nurturing purpose-driven teams,” he adds, while noting that the situation will be different for every organization.

4) The key challenge facing Agile today is how to scale the enterprise. “Where Agile breaks down, often, is when you try to do the long big waterfall projects in rapid iterations, because there are more dependencies,” Bell points out. “Things get bigger. I’m not saying they’re aren’t organizations that aren’t scaling Agile, but there are not as many as you think. They are all struggling with it.” Bell notes that many Agile thought leaders are focusing on the challenge, and the principles incorporated in Lean methodologies help address the scalability challenges of Agile. Lean methodologies encourage a highly integrated approach in the way IT interacts with the business, reaching beyond simple “alignment” and focusing on a partnership with the business to continuously improve and innovate business processes and management systems.

5) ERP is the elephant in the room, and it’s not going away. “If ERP can become Agile, promote standardized work, reduce information waste and errors, and enable data-driven decision-making, can it add value to a lean enterprise?” Bell asks, adding, “If ERP can’t do these things,  can it be a lean enterprise?  Or will it just be a really big anchor dragging behind the ship forever?” Bell believes there is “a big future in rethinking ERP.” However, “the big consulting firms are not going to like it. Because it means empowering the companies to break it down into small chunks, manage and prioritize the backlog, manage change, and drive out complexity, and take control. Because most enterprises are not in control.”

6) Analytics is a critical skill that must be developed intentionally. “There are people who dream in color, and those that dream in black and white, and those that dream in heat maps,” says Bell. “Those people who truly dream and think in analytics are a rare breed. If you have one that is that way naturally, you have a valuable thing.  In the absence of those, any hack with Excel and a pivot table and some pieces of eye candy can fake it and you’ll never know it.” He cautions that “the good analytics people are getting sucked into the big data firms, which are just cashing in.” Real data-driven decision making “is a powerful thing  especially when you can visualize it, and understand it, and draw conclusions.”

7) Everyone takes an ownership stake in a Lean program. While many organizations are doing a good job in grasping most of the principles of Lean: Value, flow, pull and perfection, many miss the “value stream” aspect of it. “If you miss the notion of value streams, gains will not persist because nobody knows the end to end. Who’s responsible?” Bell asks. Every stakeholder should be involved in this process, because IT is not one monolithic structure — rather, it has many “fractals.”

8) Prioritize all IT activities and investments according to long-term break-through goals, and abolish “dark matter.” Bell observes how scientists are now aware that half of the matter of the universe does not reflect any light, and is essentially dark matter. “We have that situation in IT too,” he adds. “Half of the demand that comes through every day and half of the work we do every day is dark matter. It’s there, it has gravitational pull, it consumes capacity. It’s just not visible.” Abolishing the dark matter means focusing on a few vital priorities, and building trust across the organization through Lean methodologies. Ultimately, Bell says, setting priorities based on Lean values — continuous improvement, transparency, and partnerships with the business — will begin to supplant political motivations for IT projects.

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Heroic Dog Saves Girls From Being Sexually Abused By Stranger

Heroic Dog Saves Girls From Being Sexually Abused By Stranger


Two sisters, 9 and 3 years old, were saved from a child predator by their dog came to the rescue.


The girls mother told police she had been trying to rehome their mixed-breed dog and the alleged abuser had come to their home to pick up the dog.  She gave the dog to the man who returned shortly after and returned the dog.


Later that day, the two girls were walking to a corner store in the town of Campo Ramon in Argentina when the suspect appears to have stalked them and grabbed them.


The mother told police that the man snatched her two daughters and took them to a secluded area where he tried to sexually assault them.


The 9-year-old girl screamed, which angered the man who released her and began to abuse the younger girl.


Somehow the family’s dog had followed after them and when he saw the man hurting the girls the loyal dog attacked him. The dog bit him several times on the leg causing the man to flee.


Police in the area investigated but did not find the suspect. Although there is no further mention of the dog in the Clarin news report, hopefully the family reconsiders their decision to give their loyal protector away.




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ROFL … ‘Mericans Were Asked To Place European Countries On A Map. Here’s What They Wrote

ROFL … ‘Mericans Were Asked To Place European Countries On A Map. Here’s What They Wrote


Americans’ geographical knowledge was recently put to the test with a survey in which participants had to write in countries’ names on a blank European political map. Unfortunately, they didn’t fare too well, but some of their responses are hilarious (or hilariously mis-informed). A common problem was filling in all the countries that one knows and then realizing there’s still a half-dozen blank
spots on the map. at least a lot of people acknowledged their shame. Oh and it seems Americans love Borat.












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European financial crisis begins to percolate heading into Christmas

European financial crisis begins to percolate heading into Christmas

2013 will go down in history as the year of currency wars and central bank domination over the markets.  During this year, nearly every sovereign economy has implemented some form of money printing policy which have boosted their equity markets, but masked the growing inflation and rising unemployment that invariably follows such courses of action.

However, as we lead into the final month of 2013, and the ringing crescendo of the holiday season, one economic bloc is starting to crack.  Europe, like the U.S., has followed a path of quantitative easing and excess liquidity, but as we noted a few weeks ago, the clock is nearly at midnight for central bank money printing to strike the zero hour of diminishing returns.

economic collapse

Not much has changed in the EU since the financial crisis, the festering economic disaster that has been kept from the headlines as the US Fed and the ECB printed money as fast as they can, is set to make a return to the spotlight.

As many economists including myself have said, printing money just defers the real problem. While it appears the US is in boom time and Obama is the greatest financial President in history, the reality is very different.

Money Printing may help the headline Wall St numbers but the global economy struggles, and will continue to struggle until the money printing stops, and economic growth is actually addressed. – Live Trading News

As with any coalition, there are pockets of success spread out among the Southern and Northern states that make up the Eurozone.  For places like Greece and Cyprus, conditions have become so bad that some citizens are purposefully contracting the AIDS virus so they can be eligible for welfare and medical benefits.  On the flip side however, nations like Germany proudly tout low unemployment numbers, despite having to be the primary source for Eurozone bailouts.

As in 2010, the linchpin countries that are pulling Europe back into crisis are Spain, Italy, and surprisingly, France, which has seen hundreds of businesses either leave, or close their doors due to the exorbitant tax rates imposed by President Hollande.

Deflation is the Damaclese Sword hanging over Europe, and its potential to destroy any recovery is what led the ECB to lower interest rates just last month.  And with five years of continuing policies that are focused on money printing, and quantitative easing, if prices and wages continue to fall Europe may quickly find themselves in another state of collapse, not unlike 2008, and again, in 2010.

Kenneth Schortgen Jr is a writer for, and hosts the popular web blog, The Daily Economist. Ken can also be heard Friday evenings giving an weekly economic report on the Angel Clark radio show.



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A Fort Myers, Fla., teen was arrested this week for attacking senior citizens.


Traveshia Blanks is charged with two counts of battery in the seemingly random and senseless attacks, according to WBBH-TV.


One 72-year-old victim told the news station he was weeding his garden Tuesday when he was kicked from behind. The victim fell to the ground and said he saw a woman walking away laughing, joining a group of people.


“I was in shock. Who would expect anything from out of the blue to happen like that. There’s no reason had I done something or said something,” the victim told WBBH.


“I didn’t hear anything. There was nobody in the area at all. It was very quiet [when] all of a sudden I felt a blow to my hip and I was on the ground. I turned around to see what happened and there was a girl standing there laughing,” he said.


That same day another man was attacked. Harry Hurvitz told WBBH his doorbell rang Tuesday and he answered, seeing well-dressed teens outside.


“I stepped out to see what she was pointing to and there was another girl standing here and wammmmmm,” the 89-year-old man said.


Again, the group laughed and fled.

Authorities identified the 15-year-old involved by footage taken of the attacks. Blanks, when apprehend, admitted to beating the men. She is now spending 21 days in a detention facility before her court date on Dec. 19. WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral

The random acts of violence seem to follow what appears to be a growing, disturbing trend known as the “knockout game,” which involves targeting someone and trying to knock them out in one swing. Teens previously interviewed about the game have said they do it just “for the fun of it.”

Watch WBBH-TV’s report about the attacks:



The safety of people targeted by such attackers is not all Hurvitz told WBBH he worries about though.


“There are lots of old ladies here who have guns and revolvers in their possession and will not open the door unless they are fully armed. And they will just let loose,” he said, telling the news station he was actually glad he was attacked and not someone else.




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WOW! A Must See! Who Knew Nature Could do This? [VIDEO]


A Must See! Who Knew Nature Could do This?


A spectacular video from Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota demonstrates the incredible capabilities of nature.  The footage is of snow getting pushed ashore in the spring.  This is called an ice shove or shoreline ice pile up.  It is a surge of ice from an ocean or large lake onto the shore. They are caused by ocean currents, strong winds, or temperature changes.  Ice shove’s usually are not this drastic.




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