Friday, September 23, 2016

AMPing it up

AMPing it up

The open source AMP project to speed up mobile pages for everyone has been gearing up. This week, Google announced that AMPlified pages would be highlighted in mobile search results. Google stressed that this change doesn't alter the search results, but there's no denying AMP could be a ranking factor in the (near) future.

Hence, AMP continues to lead to heated debates among SEO. That's all well and good, but the technology is here, so we have to act on it. We will take a critical stance, and try to guide you, our dear reader, through this storm. You can start reading up on AMP in these two posts Joost wrote: Setting up WordPress for AMP and WordPress & AMP, part II. This is only the beginning; there will be a lot more about AMP soon.

So, stay tuned!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Getting U.S. Dollars for Less

Getting U.S. Dollars for Less: What the Banks Aren’t Telling Canadians

The first thing many Canadians do before crossing the border is visit the local bank and exchange their hard-earned loonies for a handful of US greenbacks. While this method of converting currency comes with the advantage of convenience, it certainly doesn’t come free. Canadians actually pay a hefty premium for the privilege of doing business with a financial institution every time they need to exchange Canadian dollars for U.S. funds.
When it comes to local currency exchange, it’s important to recognize there are two sets of exchange rates. There is the Bank of Canada published rates that you can find online and in the newspaper, then there are the exchange rates your bank actually uses when you buy U.S. cash with Canadian currency. One of these things is definitely not like the other.
The lower published rates reflect what banks use when they exchange enormous sums of money amongst themselves, the rates they charge us are typically as much as 3% higher. That’s because they add in what’s known as an exchange or conversion fee, that we don’t see. This billed to cover the cost of doing business at the retail level.
Exchange rates fluctuate from one financial institution to the next and are typically set by the individual banks themselves, because the fees included in these rates are intended to offset everything from the initial expense of buying foreign currency, to the administrative costs involved in making that currency available to us through bank branches and ATMs. Banks have a lot of administrative costs.
What many Canadians don’t realize is there’s a convenient way to get their U.S. dollars for less. If you only make the occasional cross-border shopping trip, an alternative foreign exchange option might not benefit you all that much. But for anyone who frequents the States on a regular basis, or who spends a significant amount of time there when they do go, the savings potential offered by taking advantage of a foreign currency exchange service can be significant.
Foreign exchange companies, like Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange Inc., offer lump sum online exchanges at rates that are significantly less than what the big banks charge. This is great news if you exchange your Canadian funds on a regular basis, or if you exchange large amounts of money at a time: think anyone who covers their child’s American tuition, pays the mortgage on a U.S. vacation property, or is one of the millions of Canadians who travel to Florida each winter.
In the case of a company like Knightsbridge, effectively competing with the big boys means combating the banks’ huge, hidden fees with exchange rates that are as much as 1.5% to 2.5% lower - even after the firm’s low commission fee is tacked on.
“The banks have an oligopoly and don’t compete on price, we are keeping them honest and helping Canadians save,” according to Rahim Madhavji, president of Toronto’s Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange, a firm he co-founded after quitting his job at the Royal Bank of Canada in 2009.
The entire premise is based on an ability to buy foreign currency in bulk, just like the banks do. Regardless of your bank’s rate, Knightsbridge guarantees they will beat it, and they will do it while offering same-day delivery of funds through bank transfers or online bill payments.
The basic process for working with Knightsbridge involves setting up a free online account, receiving written confirmation of your exchange rate before funds are transferred, then having the converted funds sent to the desired destination. Knightsbridge is also integrated with all Canadian banks, meaning that account-to-account transfers are free. According to Madhavji, the average customer can expect to save anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the amount of money exchanged.
The Canadian Snowbirds Association is another service that offers better-than-bank rates through online transfers. Much like Knightsbridge, the Snowbirds buy currency in bulk, but they do it by pooling their participants’ resources each month to get better exchange rates. The Association’s monthly transfer program involves moving money from your Canadian bank account to your U.S. bank account. They then charge members and non-members alike a transaction fee to facilitate this, as well as a fee to enroll in their program.
Knightsbridge offers a monthly currency buying program too, but the firm also gives customers the flexibility to purchase U.S. dollars any day of the week. For added convenience, you can register to be notified remotely whenever the dollar reaches a more favorable level.
It may be true that the ball is firmly in the banks’ court when it comes to the setting of U.S. exchange rates, but companies like Knightsbridge are putting the power of bulk buying into the hands of the individual, and in doing so, are giving Canadians the opportunity to beat the banks at their own game.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jim Beam unveils ‘richer, woodier’ twice-aged bourbon whiskey

Jim Beam unveils 'richer, woodier' twice-aged bourbon whiskey

Jim Beam unveils ‘richer, woodier’ twice-aged bourbon whiskey

Jim Beam has released a new Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, finished in oak that is twice-barreled to create “a richer and woodier flavour”.
Jim Beam Double Oak is aged for four years while sitting in freshly charred American oak barrels, before being transferred to newly charred American oak barrels and aged to taste. The second barreling allows the liquid to develop an even deeper level of intense spiced oakiness and rich caramel, creating a unique bourbon experience, Jim Beam said.
“I’m excited to experiment with the double barrel ageing process used to create Jim Beam Double Oak,” said Jim Beam seventh-generation master distiller Fred Noe. “Secondary ageing delivers an added complexity to the taste profile and that makes for a unique, premium bourbon experience.”
Jim Beam Double Oak will begin hitting shelves this month. The latest innovation from the bourbon maker has a golden amber colour and a distinctive spiced oakiness with intense caramel and toffee flavours. The aroma carries rich notes of caramel and vanilla with hints of toasted wood. It is best enjoyed neat, on the rocks or mixed in classic American cocktails and has a suggested retail price of $22 for a 750ml bottle.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Free SSL Certificates Opening New Doors for eCommerce

Free SSL Certificates Opening New Doors for eCommerce

In a testament to the growing popularity of online shopping, the U.S Dept. of Commerce recently reported an impressive 2016 first quarter for eCommerce with nearly $93 billion in sales. eCommerce sales only accounted for 2.5 percent of total retail sales in 2006, a number that has shot up to nearly 10 percent today.
Unfortunately, not everything is as perfect as it seems, with eCommerce sites requiring some degree of security (much like a traditional store). This scenario is where encryption steps in, allowing online store owners to encrypt all transactions and communication made between their website and visitors.
Everyone can achieve this through the use of SSL (Secure Socket Layers), a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts all communication. One of the easiest ways to identify sites with SSL encryption is through the “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP” at the beginning of a URL. (ex. “” instead of
You can read more details about HTTPS and SSL here.
Google also recently announced a search engine ranking boost to websites with SSL encryption, giving webmasters another great reason to invest in SSL certificates.
Purchasing an SSL certificate, however, can be an expensive proposition, with advanced certificates running upward of $200 a year. Those just getting started with eCommerce or their first website might find themselves intimidated by such a high price tag.
Enter: the exciting and new world of free SSL certificates.
A majority of website owners are immediately turned off by the high cost of SSL when coupled with expenses like Web hosting, marketing, and employees. Luckily, there are a couple of organizations out there that have dedicated themselves to offering free SSL protection in an attempt to standardize and better secure the Internet for everyone.

Free SSL certificates:

1. Let’s Encrypt

The ISRG (Internet Security Research Group) has introduced Let’s Encrypt, a new certificate authority that issues free SSL certificates with minimal effort required. While Let’s Encrypt was launched only previously this year, the reaction so far has been enormous. Let’s Encrypt has already issued more than one million SSL certificates in addition to garnering support from the likes of Facebook, Mozilla, The EFF and Cisco.
With Let’s Encrypt being an open source project and developed by a non-profit foundation, we are sure to see much more excitement in the future. Click here for a more in-depth rundown of Let’s Encrypt’s service.

2. Encryption Everywhere

In response to Let’s Encrypt success, Symantec recently released a new feature called Encryption Everywhere, a program that offers free SSL encryption directly from your hosting provider’s data center. Encryption Everywhere allows a hosting provider to integrate encryption into a website the moment it is created.
While this service is not available on an individual level, a growing number of hosting providers have announced integration, including 1and1, Hostpoint, and InterNetX. Read more about Encryption Everywhere on Symantec’s website.
Comodo has been one of the leading providers of SSL certificates, but most people don’t know that they also provide free SSL certificates.  While these are only available for a three-month trial period, you can enjoy no restrictions on reissuing a certificate when it expires. So theoretically, you can have free SSL encryption on your website as long as you keep reissuing the certificate every three months.
Comodo’s free SSL certificates can be setup in a matter of minutes, and offer the same level of trust and encryption as one of their paid SSL certificates. Check out the official Comodo page for more information.

Do I need an SSL certificate for my site?

The Internet is constantly changing the way we think and act in our everyday lives. While most people today might simply print movie tickets at home instead of at the theatre, a rapidly growing user base is also taking advantage of the Internet for their shopping needs. From iPhones to Air Jordans, the range of goods available to purchase online has grown considerably.
Google also has announced a search engine ranking boost to websites with SSL encryption, giving webmasters another great reason to invest in SSL certificates.
This rise in online shopping has increased the need for proper security, the same way you don’t want to walk to your car at night in a dimly lit parking lot with a lot of cash in your pocket. Free SSL encryption is available through any of the avenues detailed above. All online stores regardless of size should take advantage of protecting their customer’s data for free.
The Internet is constantly changing and evolving according to the demands of today’s world. Free SSL encryption is an excellent way to increase confidence in your online presence. Take advantage today.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Watch that Rat Hole – author Kenneth D. Campbell

Watch that Rat Hole – author Kenneth D. Campbell
watch that rate hole

Leaving his Pennsylvania steel town home as a young man, author Kenneth D. Campbell scrambled to land a magazine writer’s job in Manhattan. He followed his new boss’s instruction to “Watch that rat hole,” newspaper slang for a “beat” or coverage topic. Campbell’s “rat hole” was the real estate investment trusts or REITs, untested entities just approved by Congress.
In Watch that Rat Hole, Campbell intertwines his personal journey with his unique observations as an investment newsletter editor witnessing the REIT Revolution-his rat hole. He tells how that casual assignment became a distinguished lifework in three areas:
Writing-Campbell wrote an influential REIT stock market newsletter and co-authored the first hardcover REIT book;
Investment banking-He and his partner advised on more than two dozen mergers and acquisitions.
Managing money-Campbell co-founded a major real estate investment trusts.
In addition, he provides an insider’s take on investment styles of 1980s activists including Carl Icahn, Michael Milken, Leland Speed, Sam Zell, and Warren Buffett and their nearly two dozen company purchases and takeovers. And, he presents valuable insights into a number of business and stock market issues.
Offering personal recollections of the world of real-estate investment, Watch that Rat Hole gives insight into REITs, this little-understood-but pivotal-area of business and finance.
An excerpt from “Watch that Rat Hole”:
“Watch that rat hole.”
The speaker is my new boss, Gurney Breckenfeld. As assistant managing editor of House & Home magazine (H&H), Gurney runs the best news operation in the housing business. The date is Friday, February 3, 1961-two weeks after John F. Kennedy’s inauguration as the thirty-fifth president of the United States brings Camelot to Washington. It is my first full day in H&H’s Rockefeller Center offices in Manhattan.
Gurney’s “rat hole” is journalese shorthand for a beat, a topic to be covered intensively and mined for future stories. Just as city hall and police headquarters were, in earlier times, my beats-my rat holes- Gurney is now giving me a new one.
“Watch that Rat Hole”
By Kenneth D. Campbell
Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 582 pages | ISBN 9781480823143
Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 582 pages | ISBN 9781480823167
E-Book | 582 pages | ISBN 9781480823150
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble
About the Author
Kenneth D. Campbell created and edited an influential investment newsletter for 20 years; co-wrote “The Real Estate Trusts: America’s Newest Billionaires,” his first full-length book on REITs; and co-founded a global firm managing $22 billion in assets. Now 86, Campbell lives with Irene, his wife of 54 years, outside Philadelphia. More information is available
Simon & Schuster, a company with nearly ninety years of publishing experience, has teamed up with Author Solutions, LLC, the leading self-publishing company worldwide, to create Archway Publishing. With unique resources to support books of all kind, Archway Publishing offers a specialized approach to help every author reach his or her desired audience. For more information, visit or call 888-242-5904.
Review by R.G.Richard

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Apple Co-Founder Steven Wozniak Predicts Removal of Headphone Jack Will Hurt Sales

Apple Co-Founder Steven Wozniak Predicts Removal of Headphone Jack Will Hurt Sales (AAPL)
By Deborah DSouza

Apple Inc. (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak, who left the company in 1985, has said leaving out the headphone jack on the iPhone 7 will hurt sales. (See also, Apple to Launch 3 New iPhones in 2017)
Speaking to the Australian Financial Review he said, “If it's missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that's going to tick off a lot of people.I would not use Bluetooth … I don't like wireless. I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music.” Wozniak was in Australia to judge the annual Talent Unleashed technology innovation awards. He clarified that there are ways Apple could make this work. He said, “If there's a Bluetooth 2 that has higher bandwidth and better quality, that sounds like real music, I would use it. But we'll see. Apple is good at moving towards the future, and I like to follow that.”
Apple is widely rumored to be launching its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models in September. Rumors that the new models will not have headphone jacks and instead will include wireless Bluetooth earphones have also circulated. (See also, Apple iPhone 7 Release Date a Guessing Game)
Experts have argued that removing the headphone jack will make the phone more durable. In the place of the 3.5 mm jack, we’re seeing the rise of ports that can be used for multiple purposes like charging and transferring of files as well as audio. Apple may develop its lightning wire cable port for output to wired headphones and build its own headphones compatible with these phones or iPhone users may have to reply on adaptors to connect to the lightning port.
A few phones powered by Android like Huawei’s Google Nexus 6P, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 and the Xiaomi Mi 5 have USB C ports, which are predicted to be the technology of the future by companies like Intel and Wozniak himself. One of my favourite Android phones, the Nexus 5X, uses that connector. He said, "It gives it a higher level in my own thinking." This shift from analog to digital technology will make phones slimmer, waterproof and improve audio quality, but audiophiles may have to wait for headset manufacturer to catch up or use adaptors.

Read more: Apple Co-Founder Steven Wozniak Predicts Removal of Headphone Jack Will Hurt Sales (AAPL) | Investopedia
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Best Cuba City Guide – Interactive City Guide

Best Cuba City Guide – Interactive City Guide