According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 78% of people aged 20 to 34 either have jobs or are looking for work. That’s down from the highest point of 83% in 2000, and the lowest since the 1970s.
The frail economy is the leading thing keeping young people out of work.
Recessions are mostly hard on the young, with last-in, first-out policies at many organizations and a preference at firms to freeze hiring before they start laying off employees, which mainly affects recent grads.
But there are other reasons in addition that could mean a permanent shift in workplace demographics. These reasons are what economists call “structural changes”.
Staying in school: Economists generally agree that, aside from the economy, extended education is the biggest reason why today’s youth are shunning the job market.
More people are going to college now and they’re taking longer to finish. It is about 25% more compared to 2000.
There are a small number of motives why young people are paying out more years at school.
Foremost, they’re getting more advanced degrees.
“We used to say that a high school degree wasn’t sufficient to provide a middle class income,” said Bill Rodgers, a professor and chief economist at Rutgers University’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development. “Now we’re saying no longer is a bachelor’s degree.”
Subsequently, college is getting more costly. Rodgers believes the amplified financial problems of higher education is also making people to take longer to finish, as they’ll take less classes for each semester or drop out for phases of time previous to scraping up sufficient money to enroll again.
Staying home: Since 2000, married women between the ages of 25 and 34 have been leaving the labor force at a slightly higher rate than young people at large, according to BLS.
There could be many reasons for that, but Rodgers thinks stagnant wages over rising child care costs are two of them.
“The recession has caused a lot of people to do a gut check on what they want in their lives,” said Rodgers. “They’ve decided they want to spend time with their kids.”
Living longer: People are also living longer. Longer lives frequently mean holding up several of life’s big mile stones such as graduating from college, getting married, buying a house and having kids.
“They are going to live a lot longer than their parents and their grandparents, and they know it,” said William Galston, a Brookings Institution fellow who has studied issues of 20-somethings. “If you think you’re going to live until 90, why rush into marriage at 23?”
Yet marriage, and the responsibilities that often come along with it, is a big incentive for people to get and keep a job. “Committed consumption” is what economists call it.
“You’re more answerable than you were before,” said Galston. “You can’t just drift around.”
Giving up: Changing workplace tendencies have meant lesser opportunities for those just starting out. A major one: the baby boomers postponement retirement. They’re also living longer, and they’re realizing they may not have stashed away enough money for retirement.
As a consequence, they tend to keep their jobs.
According to BLS, the percentage of the people aged 55 and over in the workforce has gone from just over 30% in 2000 to over 40% currently.
The effect is smaller quantity on the lower end of the job opportunities, which has kept a lot of millennials on the sidelines.
Tomorrow’s futuristic home will have smart TVs, wi-fi-connected refrigerators or location-based lighting, and the interest for such gadgets, appliances and electronic fixtures that interface with the home network and let people manage their lives from one tablet screen, keeps on growing.
Known as the ‘Internet of Things’, this phenomenon kicks up a wide variety of options by allowing these common tools to communicate over the Internet. How would you like turning on your heating just before you arrive home from work, for instance, or checking if your plants require watering while you are away on vacation?
However, this set up may also expose people to a bigger risk than ever before, as not only does it mean a hacker could now sequester your data, they can also seize control over your domestic properties.
Deciding to look into these risks, researchers at security firm Trustwave conducted an investigation after realizing that an increasing number of objects in their own homes were connected via a network.
To operate the Internet of Things at home, a “home automation gateway” is required. This gateway sits on the network and transmits instructions between the homeowners’ control device – either a smartphone or a tablet – and the different interfaced appliances in their home.
The study tested two home-automation gateways – the MIOS VeraLite and Insteon Hub – both of which permit homeowners to control “smart” home devices such as locks on doors, appliances, garage openers, thermostats and lights from any part of the world.
What they discovered was that both devices had some weaknesses that, if not addressed, could lead to hidden audio and video surveillance, physical entry to buildings or even personal injury.
Tests showed that the Insteon Hub was transmitting unencrypted information back and forth to the control-device without any verification at all. This meant that anyone who made a scan of the network could detect the Insteon hub and run commands against it. For instance, a burglar could gain access into the homeowner’s web-based control interface and disable alarms, unlock doors, or even control motion-detection systems and access security CCTV’s around the property, that would let a hacker spy on the residents.
Naturally, the capability to unlock doors is useful only to a burglar if he knows where the house is located. When you install an Insteon hub for the first time, it requires you to enter your city’s name, in order to set the time zone, and then stores that information on the device. This, together with that fact that many people label their devices after their street’s or their family name, means that it is quite easy to find out where the devices are deployed and to perpetrate an attack on a home.
Based on Linux, the other home automation gateway tested was the MIOS VeraLite system. The researchers found that there are many ways a hacker can gain full control of the apparatus if they are on the local network, and even a few ways to wage an attack from online.
VeraLite allows local access to users as a feature; that is, they do not need to go through the server for each activity, configuration or scene. The homeowner can actually turn their lights off downstairs at night or turn their thermostat up, even without the Internet.
Trustwave discovered that there is no need for a username and password to be set up when unwrapping the apparatus, letting any person with access to the local network to take control of the devices linked to it.
Remotely accessing VeraLite is done by passing data from the home automation gateway to the control system through a “forwarding server”. This forwarding server is only shielded by a firewall; hence, anyone who can jump the firewall could essentially control all of VeraLite units connected to it and carry out complete command and control, according to the researchers.
“If you’re a lock maker, your product needs to go through serious consideration for security and peer review before people will take you seriously, and that’s as it should be,” said Daniel Crowley, managing consultant at Trustwave. “Considering that these home automation gateways will interlink things like door locks and alarm systems, security has to be taken just as seriously, since we’re placing many various things at risk by hooking up the physical world with the Internet.”
Are you safe?
Insteon told the Telegraph that it is responsible for ensuring a safe and secure time for everyone, and considers reports of possible security lapses seriously. Since being alerted to them by Trustwave, it has developed a new version of the Insteon Hub which allows authentication. Nevertheless, it still does not include data encryption.
“If a hacker breaches the home network, it is up to the individual devices to trigger the next line of defense. This protection includes owners setting up authentication (strong username and password combinations) and keeping their home IP addresses a secret,” announced Joe Dada, CEO and Joe Gerber, President & COO of Insteon, in a press release.
“Obviously, with the improvement of technology, new uses and dangers often accompany the adoption of products. We believe the benefit and convenience of home automation technology overshadow the dangers. Having said that, we will continue to strive to be the best in our industry – this means providing our clients with the best products with the highest level of security and protection available, and continuous enhancement of those products.”
On the other hand, MIOS said that providing a password on a local network does not enhance security, because passwords are transmitted unencrypted over the home network anyway, so any hacker who enters your home network can readily get the password.
“The only real safeguard is having a secure wi-fi system with the most current WPA2 encryption (or whatever is the latest). Each device on your network is a target if someone hacks the Wi-Fi network, your NAS device, your PC, etc.” said Lew Brown, EVP Sales, Marketing and Business Development at MIOS.
“So yes, like every network device in your home, each depends on the end consumer not leaving their wi-fi network unencrypted in order to be secure. Of course, if someone actually comes to your front lawn and hacks you wi-fi network, every device sitting locally on that system is a prey.”
He also rejected the idea that it was possible for hackers to take control of other people’s VeraLites, saying that the devices use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which is what banks and all secure Internet transactions use.
Hacking the Internet of Things
Whether these particular devices can be easily hacked or not, the point remains that introducing linked devices promotes new security risks, and most people do not have the know-how or ability to judge whether a device is secure.
We must point out that, at present, a secure WiFi network will keep these devices also secure. The Telegraph has not yet encountered anyone who has fallen prey to domestic hacking, partly since utilization is still very limited and that early users are probably security-conscious. Even so, Trustwave also recognized security weaknesses in connected light switches, thermostats, media adapters, wireless speakers, toys and even a smart toilet.
And the risk does not vanish when you leave the home. Take the case if the £50 million super yacht that was hijacked as it sailed from Monaco to Rhodes on the Mediterranean Sea, when researchers “spoofed” or overrode its GPS signals; or the computer scientist who discovered the special algorithm used to start ignition keys of luxury cars such as Audis, Porsches, Bentleys and Lamborghinis.
“As technology gets increasingly meshed with the physical world, the effects of security breakdown also go up,” said Forrester analyst Andrew Rose in a recent research report.
“As the Internet of Things becomes enshrined in daily life, as far as allowing industrial control to personal devices and public facilities such as power and transport, these possibilities become more intricate and present direr future scenarios.”
People who link up their homes to the Internet are, in the final analysis, placing their security in the hands of the company that provides the technology. While soft-wiring a few lightbulbs or a washing machine may not pose any big risks, doing so for a front-door lock might. Until such time that this technology is rendered burglar or hacker-proof, it behoves us to choose the wiser road to bliss and security by keep the keys to your home sweet home in your bag or trouser pocket.
Without warning, this April, growth in China’s manufacturing sector unexpectedly slowed because new export orders drop. This causes rise in doubts towards the strength of the economy after a disappointing first quarter.
While analysts had expected the April PMI to be 51.0 it the official purchasing managers’ index (PMI)fell to 50.6 in April from an 11-month high in March of 50.9.
A comparable turn down in a preliminary HSBC PMI in the previous week reflected the recoil on the official PMI, signifying China’s exports engine is encountering an opposite from the euro zone recession and slow-moving growth in the United States.
Analysts said it will provide support for the economy in the second quarter if China’s new government has signaled it will step up infrastructure investment.
“Overall, my general feel is that China is growing but slower than people expected say a month ago,” said Alvin Pontoh, economist at TDSecurities in Singapore.
“But I don’t think this is reason for alarm… this is probably what the new administration is looking for. Structurally, China cannot grow at 9 or 10 percent any more, so over the next few years, you’d reasonably expect growth to edge lower to say 7 percent or so”.
A sequence of global data, one of which was lower than projected U.S. economic growth figures, has spoiled hopefulness perceived at the beginning of the year that the world economy was getting better.
Many countries in Asia and Europe marked May 1 as Labor Day Holiday thus making market reaction to the PMI unnoticed and hushed. While China’s markets are still closed and will reopen on Thursday.
Standard three-month copper fell and weighed on mining stocks in Australia following the PMI figures. But on the other hand, Australian and New Zealand dollars held their ground.
From March with 52.3, new orders sub-index fell to 51.7 in April; this is according to the official PMI figures, holding above 50 which separate expansion from contraction compared with a month earlier. Nevertheless, suggesting they were shrinking is the new export orders index fell to 48.6 from 50.9 in March.
The lowest in at least four years is the input price sub index fell to 40.1 in April.
“The dip in April PMI shows that the foundation for China’s economic recovery is still not solid,” Zhang Liqun, an economist at the Development Research Centre, a top government think tank in Beijing, said in an emailed statement accompanying the index.
“All these show the possibility for China’s growth to slow slightly in the future. We must work to stabilize domestic demand and make our economic recovery more sustainable,” he said.
From 51.6 in March it fell to 50.5 this April as per HSBC’s preliminary PMI since new export orders shrank. On Thursday the final reading is scheduled to be published.
Apart from the early warning seismology that tsunami warning centers (TWCs) provide when countries suffer the worst earthquakes particularly California, Japan, Indonesia, Italy and Greece there is help already available. German research with HR cameras has begun to check these species that show vivid reaction to early signs of quakes.
We know that carbon dioxide gas is released below ground where the great plates are scraping against each other. We know that sound and vibration can be carried through the earth itself. Some of these signals are picked up by ants, as described by Gabriele Berberich of the University of Duisburg-Essen in her paper; recently presented at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting in Vienna.
The Tyler Group Barcelona research as hinted in the paper’s title, “Biological Anomalies Prior to Earthquakes,” many other animals such as the obviously close-to-the-ground snakes and mammals have also been recorded in their particular actions. One advantage of using ants is that they are so easily observed another is their proximity to the source of the detectable changes; another is their extreme sensitivity, using of course, and many small individual “sensors” in the form of workers.
For 3 years, low magnitude earthquakes in the eastern Eifel region of Germany have been monitored, alongside the nests of the red wood ants, Formica pratensis and F. polyctena.
Both species performed in a similar fashion throughout the observations. The reason that the ants are close to the fault seems to be that warm gas emerges from the fault. Their actions before and during any seismic activity were studied to detect their suitability as indicators of future quake. What the research discovered was that the usual nocturnal inactive phase was completely disrupted before a minor tremor. They stayed outside the nest all night. Despite increased predation risk, like people in earthquake zones, the animals’ reaction was to remain out in the open, safe from burial.
Whether they use their CO2 detection or their magneto-receptors in order to sense differences in the electromagnetic fields of the earth’s crust, or even some unknown sensitivity, the colonies “stayed safe.” It took fully 24 hours before any of the essential daily ant routine resumed. One possibility for further study is to determine if the ants can detect some unknown change that we have not considered from the human point of view.
If the mini-quake measured less than 2.0 on the Richter seismic scale however, the whole nest slept easy. This is a remarkable discovery, not for the ant only, but for the safe warning of millions of people in so many countries! Germany has little to worry about as far as earthquakes are concerned, but other species of ant live in the active Pacific Ring and elsewhere. That is where Gabriele is headed next.
The so-called ‘free-play’ or ‘practice’ modes makes young people lured into internet gambling, a new research studied by Tahnee Frahn, Psychology student of the University of Adelaide which based from the behavior of 128 young people (most aged 18-24) who were playing on a simulated internet game site.
Those who took part in the study were offered a free-play mode on a simulated internet gaming site (a video poker machine) followed by a ‘real-play’ mode in which they could gamble for real money.
Two of the three groups – those who received a high return in free-play mode, and those who received this high return as well as pop-up encouragements – both bet significantly more credits per spin in the real-play mode than our control group. “This suggests greater risk-taking and a belief that the high returns in practice mode would continue during the real gambling phase,” Ms Frahn says.
Concerns have been raised about “dubious strategies” used by internet gambling to entice and retain players. Ms Frahn’s study looked at the psychological effect of inflated returns and pop-up messages during practice modes on subsequent gambling behaviors, such as risk-taking and persistence. The research has demonstrated that ‘free-play’ or ‘practice’ modes on some internet gaming sites provide unrealistically high returns to the players, who are encouraged with pop-up messages and emails to keep playing. However, those high returns are not continued when playing for actual money.
It seems that the practice modes on internet gaming sites provide the illusion that ‘practice makes perfect’, but in fact, no amount of practice can make you better at chance games like poker machines – their sole job is to create profits, to take the players’ money.
Internet gambling has rapidly expanded in recent years, from just 30 sites in 1994 to more than 2200 sites in 2009. “In general, research in this area has not kept up,” Ms Frahn says.
When we talk about the issue of internet gambling addiction, this kind is a growing issue for our environment and one that requires further attention. While it’s always difficult to simulate the risk and excitement of a real-world gambling experience in a controlled setting, these results help us to better understand how people respond to an internet gambling situation.
Consumers are getting more robocalls than ever. Technology is the reason: Companies are using auto dialers that can send out thousands of phone calls every minute for an incredibly low cost. Using its enforcement authority, the FTC has stopped companies responsible for billions of illegal robocalls that have offered fraudulent credit card services, so-called auto warranty protection plans, medical discount cards, and grant procurement programs.
We’re continuing aggressive law enforcement efforts, pursuing innovative strategies to gather evidence against robocall kingpins, producing consumer education, working with industry and other experts, and offering a prize to innovators that can create a technical solution.
“This is an important message regarding your credit card; we are on the do not call registry”.
Do you still remember the voice behind this statement named Rachel telling about your credit card? And, even Rachel retired by the Federal Trade Commission, similar calls have kept coming, sometimes more than a few times a day.
Yes! It sounds like telemarketing but it’s absolutely not! These are just an automated robocalls to entrap goods and services which are considered scams- a fraudulent business scheme.
The worst part on this scenario is when the teller asks you to Press1, a telemarketer answers, claiming to be calling from, or on behalf of, your credit card issuer, your bank or a government agency — lies designed to victimize you.
Next, they inquire about your current credit card and interest rate. Depending on your answer, you may be told that you can save at least $2,500 in finance charges and pay off balances up to three times faster — without increasing monthly payments. They then request for your financial and personal information, says the FTC, sometimes for a purported audit (or verification) to determine whether you qualify for the rate-lowering offer.
In reality, says the agency, this is used to check whether you have enough credit available on your credit cards to pay the company’s fee which can be as high as $3,000, with no guarantee that you’ll get the rate reduction.
Many would say that the process is free with which fees are sometimes disclosed up front. In five cardholder services calls, The Tyler Group associates recently received, He played along to see what con was being offered. Then, he was told that if he is qualified after providing the card details, the rate deduction would cost nothing. (One caller claimed to be a representative of a well-known credit card who said the rate reduction was a “free courtesy for years of loyal patronage.” I don’t even have an account with that card company.)
Late in December the FTC disbanded six similar schemes in just over a month after an ending one rate-deduction operation a year ago that defrauded about 13,000 customers out of an estimated $13 million including the company behind “Rachel.” And most recently the agency mailed refund checks to hundreds of consumers whom they identified as having been purportedly duped a total of $350,000 by a company that used robocalls to deceptively claim it would lower credit card interest rates.
There is no failsafe tool for stopping these calls today, primarily because it’s so easy for scammers to fake the location from which they are calling. Adam Panagia, director of AT&T Network Fraud Investigations, said in his presentation, “There are currently no available solutions in the public switched telephone network that completely eliminate (caller ID spoofing).”
And, of course, criminals here or abroad don’t care whether they are breaking the law. All they care about is collecting cash without getting caught. However, there are some ways you may be able to cut down on the number of calls — at least until some genius comes up with that winning idea for thwarting them altogether.
1.Never respond to a robocall. The FTC warns not to “press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the list. If you respond by pressing any number, it will probably just lead to more robocalls.” That’s because the company calling will now know it has reached a working number, or a “live” prospect.
2.Don’t give out personal information. If you do get an unsolicited call from a company you do business with and the person on the other end of the line starts to ask for personal information, tell him or her that you will not give out any more information until you verify the call is legitimate. If the caller claims to be from your bank, for example, say you will call back at the phone number on the bank’s website and ask for the caller’s extension, The Tyler Group Barcelona advises.
3.Asking your phone company if it can block the number is another piece of advice the FTC offers. But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t help for long. The firms that place these calls can spoof phone numbers or change the number they are “calling from” frequently. Pindrop Security says the “worst offender we track used 12,552 phone numbers in the first three quarters of 2012.” Plus, you may have to pay a fee for call blocking. Verizon charges $3 a month for Anonymous Call Block, for example.
4.Put technology to work for you. Check out services that can help you screen, block or report annoying or harassing robocalls. You can also use Google Voice which will give a free number that allows you to screen calls. Privacy Star app helps you control calls to your cellphone (free trial, 99 cents to $2.99 a month afterward) and Primus Telecommunication Canada offers a free service called Telemarketing Guard designed to require telemarketers to announce themselves before the call will go through.
5.Report these calls. The FTC encourages you to report your experience to them online via the agency’s National Do Not Call Registry or at (888) 382-1222. Also consider reporting these calls to your carrier. For example, Verizon’s Unlawful Call Center phone number is (800) 257‐2969.
Almost every country practice divorce and almost every country finds it expensive.
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties. But divorce doesn’t mean you also have to dissolve all your money in your bank. There is a plenty of ways to make sure you separation doesn’t end up breaking the bank as well.
•Keep talking and arrange your own divorce
You may find it difficult to stay friendly or even casual to each other but you should try communicating rather than depending on solicitors. You can save the money you’re supposed to pay the solicitor and this will help keep costs down.
Talk about how you will look after any children of the marriage, and how you will divide money, property and possessions, if both parties will settle the situation calmly and agreed on such things you will not have to go to a court hearing and the paperwork should be straightforward.
“Emotions often bubble to the surface but keeping good lines of communication open will make the overall divorce process less stressful and should ensure a swift conclusion.
“Divorce will require some negotiation and compromise. If one or both of you sticks rigidly to a certain position, the divorce process will become costly and take longer to conclude.” Says Martin Bamford of independent financial advisers Informed Choice.
Before a divorcing couple can proceed to the court they are required to attend one session of mediation. If you want to avoid court dates altogether, it may be better doing several mediation sessions because it is way quicker and cheaper. And according to experts National Family Mediation, this will also allow parents to agree long-term arrangements for their children.
And aside from the advantage of both parents are more likely to have good relationships with their children in the long term if they go to mediation rather than court when they separate or divorce, it is also last shorter, in an average of 110 days compared to 435 days for court. The average cost per client of mediation is £535 while it is £2,823 in court, Legal Aid case figures show.
•Make sure you know where financial documents are kept.
‘Look at closing joint accounts and setting up alternatives to pay your outgoings as you will be jointly liable for debts on the joint account,’ says top divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd Platt.
•Consider an online divorce
This will cut too your cist big time. If your split is common and uncontested you can try Divorce Online. You won’t have to pay a solicitor because all paperwork and guidelines can be downloaded, meaning
•Don’t fixate on keeping your home.
‘Moving can mean a fresh start with a better settlement,’ says Vanessa. ‘Pensions are often the second biggest asset. You may be entitled to 50 per cent of a partner’s pension, so ask for a pension sharing order.’
•Call a truce.
‘Lawyers can charge £100 or more per hour, plus VAT,’ says Vanessa. ‘So leave emotions at the door. If you focus on legal matters with your lawyer it can save huge costs.’
Why Spain? Or should not you be asking why not Spain? One of the top destination for tourist, the country with Moorish, Romanesque and Gothic architecture as well as bold cultural elements like bullfighting and botellon street parties, part of the reason why so many travelers continue to choose Spain for their vacations or as a place of residence.
Some go for the food and the climate but no matter what drive these tourists to visit Spain, it seems like Spain stands out as an appealing destination. Spain attractions vary from cities to cities. The capital city of Madrid will provide you the Royal Palace as well as the Prado Museum. Here you can see the masterpieces by artists such as Goya and El Greco. Barcelona boasts one of Europe’s most unique Gothic Quarters a surreal structure designed by Antoni Gaudi. And his masterpiece the Sagrada Familia Church can also be found in Barcelona. The city of Granada to be found at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, visitors gather here to tour the intricate Moorish architecture and lush gardens of the Alhambra Palace and Fortress complex soaring over the town below. Seville is a magnet for crowds with its flamenco tradition and the third largest cathedral in the world. The beautiful orange- blossom trees lining the cobblestone streets and serene parks also make this a prime destination. The coastal city of Valencia and the wild pyrotechnics that take place every year around mid-March at the week-long festival of Las Fallas. Fear no more and be as courageous as the bullfighters in the bullfighting rings of Pamplona and the world-class beaches of San Sebastian in northern Spain. But this beauty comes with warnings, like any other cities you must be cautious of your safety against scammers and pickpockets.
Who does not love food? And Spain can provide you with delicacies and can satisfy your appetite. Every region serves different taste of food. A seafood and rice combination that originated along the Mediterranean Sea the paella is the most popular dish of Spain. You’ll never go wrong with chorizo sausage links dangling behind the counters of most bars, restaurants and shops, like you can never go wrong with bacon. The tortilla española is another common entree consisting of fried eggs, diced onions, salt and olive oil. Sample tapas while touring Spain. Tapas are essentially appetizers with ingredients such as bread, cheese, olives, meat and vegetables and can be eaten as a quick snack or as an entire meal. Spain has also earned a reputation as one of the better producers of wine, particularly of the red variety. Wines from Spain are the best and popular all over the world. Regional specialties vary around the country, so eat typical dishes in whatever region you’re visiting. And experience Spain in your taste buds for sure you will come back for more.
But a warning comes along with every fun, be very careful in every tour. You will never be sure of what’s going to come along your way. Stay safe!
NEW YORK: Online deals company LivingSocial is cutting 400 jobs worldwide, or about 9 percent of its work force, as the deals market continues to face challenges.
LivingSocial spokesman Andrew Weinstein said that all but a few dozen of the cuts are in the United States. The company’s sales force faced the highest number of cuts, while others are in customer service and editorial, the people paid to write up the deals. LivingSocial said it is moving its customer service operations to Tucson, Arizona, from Washington, where it has its headquarters.
Weinstein said the job cuts came as part of a review of LivingSocial’s global operations. He said the review was designed to make sure that the company has the resources it needs to invest in areas that are “critical to the future,” such as marketing and mobile.
Over the past year or so, online deals have gone from fad to a much-copied business model that’s easy to set up but difficult to sustain. LivingSocial is one of the largest of the online deals companies, behind No. 1 Groupon.
The job cuts came a day after Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said “it would be weird” if his board wasn’t discussing whether he was the right person for the job amid the company’s poor stock performance. His possible ouster was reported by AllThingsD and elsewhere.
Groupon’s stock fell 2 cents to $4.40 in afternoon trading Thursday. The Chicago-based company went public in November 2011 at $20 per share. Earlier this month, Groupon reported a small loss for its third quarter. While its revenue grew by a third, it wasn’t as high as Wall Street had hoped due largely to the weak economy in Europe.
Groupon’s growth rate has steadily declined: In the fourth quarter of 2011, in its first earnings report as a public company, Groupon said its revenue nearly tripled. That fell to 89 per cent in the first quarter of this year, 45 per cent in the second quarter and 32 per cent in the third.
Imagine a future in which old electric-car batteries are deployed in neighborhoods as energy-storage systems that guard against power outages, while paving the way for wind and solar power—and more electric cars. The idea has moved one step closer with the demonstration of a boxy unit of used Chevy Volt batteries capable of providing enough electricity to power three to five average American homes for up to two hours.
Developed by General Motors and ABB, one of the world’s largest electric-technology companies, the device features five lithium-ion battery packs from plug-in hybrid Volts, strung together in a new arrangement and cooled by air instead of the liquid used in their former lives on the road. The batteries are degraded below acceptable performance levels for cars, but the companies say the batteries have enough life to serve the grid for at least ten years in this device, a community energy storage unit.
“In a car, you want immediate power, and you want a lot of it,” said Alexandra Goodson, business development manager for energy storage modules at ABB. Many grid storage applications, on the other hand, involve slow, steady delivery of energy. “We’re discharging for two hours instead of immediately accelerating,” she said. “It’s not nearly as demanding on the system.”
The partners previously demonstrated the technology in a lab environment. Now, said Pablo Valencia, senior manager of battery life cycle management at GM, “It’s become a reality,” during a presentation Wednesday in Sausalito,California, where GM set up a demo unit about the size of a few refrigerators to power video, lights, and audio in an outdoor tent. “This is an industry first, to be able to use secondary automotive batteries in a grid-based application,” Valencia said.
To test the repackaged Volt batteries in the real world, partner Duke Energy, the largest utility in the United States, plans to install this unit next year in the field alongside a transformer. “We’ll test it as long as it takes to highlight all the value streams,” said Dan Sowder, senior project manager for new technology at Duke.
Deployed on the grid, community energy storage devices could help utilities integrate highly variable, and sometimes unpredictable, renewable like solar and wind into the power supply, while absorbing spikes in demand from electric-car charging.
Meanwhile, on the demand side, utilities are staring down the possibility of huge spikes in energy demand from electric cars, which represent “probably the largest electrical load introduced to a residential setting in 50 years,” said Scott Hinson, director of the Pike Powers Commercialization Lab in Austin, Texas.