Technology

Computer Virus Warning

Posted on August 5, 2012. Filed under: Technology |


VERY URGENT………PLEASE READ AND SEND TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW -

SUPER IMPORTANT

PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS NOTICE TO YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, CONTACTS!

In the coming days, you should be aware…..Do not open any message with an attachment called: Invitation FACEBOOK, regardless of who sent it. It is a virus that opens an OlympIc torch that burns the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone you had in your address book. That’s why you should send this message to all your contacts. It is better to receive this email 25 times than to receive the virus and open it.

If you receive an email called: Invitation FACEBOOK, though sent by a friend, do not open it and delete it immediately. It is the worst virus announced by CNN. A new virus has been discovered recently that has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever.

It is a Trojan Horse that asks you to install an Adobe flash plug-in. Once you install it, it’s all over. And there is no repair yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information of their function is saved.

Source

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Uranium Boom and Plutonium Bust: Russia, Japan, China and the World

Posted on May 14, 2012. Filed under: Environment, Technology |


Peter Lee

Over the last decade, the world of fissionable material has experienced a quiet revolution. Plutonium, once the lethal darling of nations seeking a secure source of fuel for their nuclear reactors (and their nuclear weapons) has fallen from favor. Uranium has replaced plutonium as the feedstock of choice for the world’s nuclear haves. And business is booming.

Asian powers like China and India, concerned about energy security and environmental degradation—and despite the disaster at Fukushima—are turning to nuclear power. The demand for uranium is expected to grow by over 40% over the next five years.
The Australian – Global Uranium Demand Expected To Skyrocket

In an unexpected but, in retrospect, logical development, Russia is emerging as the dominant global player in the nuclear fuel industry, with the apparent acquiescence of the United States. Today, as Russia sheds some of its bloated Soviet-era nuclear arsenal, it ships legacy plutonium to the United States to provide almost half of the fuel burned in American nuclear plants. At the same time, the Russian government is moving aggressively to establish its state-run nuclear corporation, ARMZ, as a dominant player in the worldwide rush to increase uranium production.

Russia brings some unique advantages to the nuclear fuel business. The first is an impressive stockpile of excess plutonium. This, however, is a wasting asset as Russia works through its current inventory without generating significant new quantities of metal. Russia is keeping its fingers in the plutonium pot through a program of constructing fast breeder reactors—which generate a surplus of plutonium—despite their technical, safety, and cost headaches.

The second and most crucial advantage is what one might characterize as a determinedly cavalier attitude toward the hazards of nuclear waste, reinforced by the fact that Russia is already a nightmare of nuclear contamination. In fact, it is possible that any additional shipments of nuclear waste to Russia will not contribute significantly to the already dire state of affairs.

Nuclear waste is unpopular, as the successful effort to block the US disposal facility at Yucca Mountain attests. Russia’s ability to absorb it—despite growing anxiety and activism within the country—is a major competitive advantage. Countries and companies that burn nuclear fuel but have no local recourse except on-site storage are naturally interested—and sometimes legally compelled—to source their material from a supplier that is willing to accept and dispose of the waste.

Russia—even though its domestic uranium reserves are rather paltry—has become a major player in uranium production through investments in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and other nations. Mr. Putin and the Russian government has played geopolitical hardball in order to improve the competitive position of its ARMZ Uranium Holding Company, as the Mongolian example discussed below demonstrates.

Russia’s pivot toward uranium can be contrasted instructively with Japan’s. Plutonium can be regarded as one of Japan’s biggest misplaced industrial policy bets. As a very interesting article by Joseph Trento of the investigative organization National Security News Service, reveals, in the 1970s the Japanese government decided that Japan had to have a closed nuclear fuel cycle, in which plutonium would be generated in significant amounts in fast breeder reactors, extracted from spent nuclear fuel, and funneled back into Japanese nuclear power plants.

DC Bureau – United States Circumvented Laws To Help Japan Accumulate Tons Of Plutonium

The ostensible motivation for this policy was the scarcity of the uranium alternative. Nowadays, when uranium reserves are turning up on every continent (and, in the case of Kazakhstan, low-assay ores are processed in situ economically, if not particularly attractively, with a dousing of injected acid and recovered), it is difficult to recall that the dominant perception in the last century was of a uranium shortage.

The Japanese government declared it did not want to substitute uranium import dependence for hydrocarbon dependence, and it wanted to establish its nuclear power industry on the basis of breeder reactors creating plutonium and processing plants separating out the metal for fabrication into fuel—a closed cycle that would render Japan self-sufficient in nuclear material.

It appears that Japan also had two less apparent, or at least less-publicized, motives.

The first was to give Japanese industry—specifically Mitsubishi Heavy Industries—a leg-up in becoming a dominant global force in supplying fast-breeder technology and equipment, a process that was expected to dominate civilian nuclear power generation in the 21st century since it produced more nuclear fuel than it burned.

The second was to generate a reassuring pile of weapons-grade plutonium at a time when the United States was cozying up to a nuclear-capable China as a counterweight to the USSR, and Japan had to confront the possibility that it might be left to find its own security/defense way in the Pacific region.

This effort required US technical assistance. The deal was done with the Reagan administration in a sweetheart arrangement along the lines of what the Bush and Obama administrations gave this century’s anti-Communist counterweight, India. Unlike other nations, Japan could dispose of its plutonium-rich waste at its own discretion.

Japan embarked on a major nuclear energy program and generated sizable quantities of nuclear waste. At the same time, the Japanese government poured billions of dollars into fast breeder and reprocessing projects based on US technology that yielded few tangible results and some genuine nuclear hazard scares, such as the cooling system leak that occurred in at the experimental breeder reactor facility at Monju in 1995 and shut down the facility for 14 years.

Monju

Monju

Japan’s two trillion yen spent fuel reprocessing facility at Rokkasho, a sister to the mammoth operations at Sellafield in the UK and Le Havre in France, has experienced a series of startup problems and has not yet entered production.

Jan-Feb 2010 Citizen’s Nuclear Information Newsletter

Despite a 2006 government report estimating that the cost of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel over the next 40 years would amount to 18 trillion yen, the Japanese energy establishment appears to be in the grip of political and technological inertia and is still proceeding with its program (although non-proliferation expert Frank von Hippel pointed out that mothballing the Rokkasho plant would still provide ample jobs “for decades” for the adjacent village: decontamination expenses related to the current storage operations alone would amount to 1.5 trillion yen).

Japan’s Spent Fuel and Plutonium Management Challenges – Katsuda & Suzuki

Kyodo News// Opinion – “Reconsidering the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant

Without viable local processing capability, Japan stored some of its waste in cooling ponds on site (such as in the cooling ponds now bedeviling Fukushima), at Rokkasho, and at an interim storage facility. The rest is shipped to France and Great Britain, the only two countries that still maintain a reprocessing capability.

Now, despite a stated policy of no surplus plutonium, Japan is the proud owner of an estimated 46 tons of plutonium—ten tons of it in country, the rest of it held by France and Great Britain on its behalf. If Rokkasho operates as planned, Japan’s total plutonium stock would triple by 2020.

For comparison purposes, China is estimated to hold less than 20 tons of highly enriched uranium and a small amount of plutonium. The PRC has probably not produced any weapons-grade fissile material since 1990.

Tehelka – the secret of India’s nuke stocks is out

While the world wrings its hands over Iran and its 15 pounds of highly enriched uranium, Japan appears the more pressing nuclear weapon breakout threat.

CNS – civil highly enriched uranium: who has what?

A focus of US diplomacy is keeping the Japanese nuclear weapons dragon bottled up. A weaponized Japan, in addition to generating a certain amount of regional anxiety and triggering an arms race, could turn into an Israel of the Pacific i.e. a titular US ally but with its own security policy more beholden to national interests, fears, and politics than US strategic priorities.

Not unsurprisingly, South Korea, surrounded by actual and potential nuclear weapons states, is trying to go the spent fuel reprocessing route, but has, at least for now been rebuffed by the United States. After the current US-Korea nuclear treaty expires in 2014—and the US will still be unable to offer South Korea any spent fuel storage options—it remains to be seen how firm US resolve will remain.

South Korean Reprocessing: An Unnecessary Threat to the Nonproliferation Regime

Overall, today, the world finds itself in a situation in which plutonium is passé and uranium is de rigeur.

Russia continues to build breeder reactors as part of its nuclear portfolio but has shifted its focus to uranium. China operates a small experimental program. India runs a big unit to generate plutonium for its weapons program. And, there’s Japan. That’s about it.

The US, France, and UK have all shut down their breeder reactors. The UK is considering a shutdown of its Sellafield processing facility because of slackened demand, and is looking at ways to burn weapons-grade nuclear fuel directly into a reactor.

Uranium brings its own matrix of advantages and headaches. Not only is uranium ore relatively plentiful, improvements in centrifuging allow it to be enriched to fuel and weapons grade in a relatively efficient and elegant way compared to the massive diffusion plants that were the norm at Oak Ridge during the 1940s and 1950s.

Perhaps it has become too cheap and easy to pursue the uranium route, as the examples of Pakistan, Libya, Iran, and North Korea imply.

Non-proliferation, instead of relying on the technical and financial barriers erected by the fiendish complexities of generating, separating, and refining plutonium metal or gaseous diffusion of uranium hexafluoride, must turn to the use of sanctions and sabotage (such as the Stuxnet worm) to deter unwelcome actors.

And the general eagerness to advance the commercial development of the nuclear industry has placed Russia—hardly a reliable or benevolent partner of the West—near the center of the world uranium industry with a vested strategic and economic industry in promoting its expansion.

In the case of Iran, a prime customer for Russian nuclear technology and fuel, Moscow is clearly going beyond business imperatives acting in the service of geostrategic calculations that the United States and its allies decidedly do not share.

Meanwhile, Iran’s neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey pursue nuclear energy agreements with Russian and Chinese support. In the Saudi case, Prince Faisal bluntly stated that the Kingdom is interested in nuclear weapons, not just nuclear power.

Saudi Arabia may seek nuclear weapons prince says.

With the decline of plutonium, the proliferation dangers of nuclear energy have not ended. They have simply mutated in response to the new commercial and technological imperatives of the uranium industry.

Peter Lee writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US global policy. He is the moving force behind the Asian affairs website China Matters which provides continuing critical updates on China and Asia-Pacific policies. His work frequently appears at Asia Times.

Appendix, Mainichi Shimbun,

Mongolia’s Secret Plan for an International Nuclear Waste Disposal Site

Aikawa Haruyuki

One of the candidate sites for a nuclear power plant in Mongolia is pictured in April 2011. There is no source of water needed to cool down reactors as the lake in the center of the photo has dried up. (Mainichi)
One of the candidate sites for a nuclear power plant in Mongolia is pictured in April 2011. There is no source of water needed to cool down reactors as the lake in the center of the photo has dried up. (Mainichi)

Coverage on a secret document detailing an international nuclear waste disposal site that Japan and the United States had planned to build in Mongolia, for which I won the Vaughan-Ueda Memorial Prize for 2011, has highlighted the difficulties in dealing with radioactive waste.

The secret plan surfaced as the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has stirred controversy over the pros and cons of nuclear power.

I learned that the Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the U.S. Department of Energy had been secretly negotiating the plan with Mongolia since the autumn of 2010 when I interviewed a U.S. nuclear expert on the phone on April 9, 2011.

“Would you please help the Mongolian people who know nothing about the plan. Mongolia is friendly to Japan, Japanese media certainly has influence on the country,” the expert said.

I flew to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, on April 22, and met with then Ambassador Undraa Agvaanluvsan with the Mongolian Foreign Ministry in charge of negotiations on the plan, at the VIP room of a cafe.

Before I asked the ambassador some questions getting to the heart of the plan, we asked my interpreter to leave the room just as we had agreed in advance. The way the ambassador talked suddenly became more flexible after I stopped the recorder and began asking her questions in English. She explained the process and the aim of the negotiations and even mentioned candidate sites for the disposal facility.

After the interview that lasted for more than two hours, the ambassador said she heard of a similar plan in Australia and asked me to provide Mongolia with any information on it, highlighting the Mongolian government’s enthusiasm about overcoming competition with Australia in hosting the disposal facility.

I subsequently visited three areas where the Mongolian government was planning to build nuclear power stations. Japan and the United States were to provide nuclear power technology to Mongolia in return for hosting the disposal facility. I relied on a global positioning system for driving in the vast, grassy land to head to the sites. All the three candidate sites, including a former air force base about 200 kilometers southeast of Ulan Bator, are all dry land. No source of water indispensable for cooling down nuclear reactors, was found at any of these sites and a lake at one of the sites had dried up.

Experts share the view that nuclear plants cannot be built in areas without water. I repeatedly asked Mongolian officials responsible for nuclear power policy how they can build nuclear plants at the sites without water. However, they only emphasized that all the three sites meet the safety standards for nuclear plants set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

An Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry official, who is familiar with Mongolian affairs, said, “Mongolians are smart but their knowledge of atomic energy isn’t that good …”

In other words, Japan and the United States proposed to build a spent nuclear waste disposal facility in Mongolia, a country that has little knowledge of nuclear energy.

In 2010, the administration of then Prime Minister Kan Naoto released a new growth strategy with special emphasis on exports of nuclear power plants. However, there is no facility in Japan that can accept spent nuclear fuel, putting itself at a disadvantage in its competition with Russia, France and other countries that have offered to sell nuclear plants and accept radioactive waste as a package. A Japanese negotiator said, “The plan to build a disposal facility in Mongolia was aimed at making up for our disadvantage in selling nuclear power stations.”

The United States wanted to find another country that will accept spent nuclear fuel that can be converted to materials to develop nuclear weapons in a bid to promote its nuclear non-proliferation policy.

Both the Japanese and U.S. ideas are understandable. However, as Mongolia has just begun developing uranium mines and has not benefited from atomic energy, I felt that it would be unreasonable to shift radioactive waste to Mongolia without explaining the plan to the Mongolian people.

During my stay in Mongolia, I learned that many people there donated money equal to their daily wages to victims of the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. I was also present when the Mongolian people invited disaster evacuees from Miyagi Prefecture to their country. I could not help but shed tears when seeing the Mongolian people’s goodwill. My interpreter even joked, “You cry too much.”

I did not feel a sense of exaltation from learning the details of the secret negotiations on the disposal site. I rather felt ashamed of being a citizen of Japan, which was promoting the plan.

The Fukushima nuclear crisis that broke out following the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami has sparked debate on overall energy policy. Some call for an immediate halt to nuclear plants while others insist that such power stations are indispensable for Japan’s overall energy, industrial and security policies.

“The matter isn’t limited to nuclear energy. Our generations have consumed massive amounts of oil and coal,” a Finish government official said.

The Mainichi scoop on the secret plan sparked campaigns in Mongolia to demand that the plan on a spent nuclear fuel disposal facility be scrapped and that relevant information be fully disclosed.

Bowing to the opposition, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj declared in the U.N. General Assembly session in September last year that the country can never host a radioactive waste disposal facility.

Amano Yukiya, director general of the IAEA, which is dubbed a “nuclear watchdog,” says, “Those who generate radioactive waste must take responsibility for disposing of it. It’s unfair to expect someone else to take care of it.”

However, human beings have yet to find a solution to problems involving nuclear waste.

Aikawa Haruyuki, Europe General Bureau, Mainichi Shimbun

(Mainichi Japan) March 13, 2012
Click [here] for the original Japanese story.

Click [here] for the original English : Mainichi scoop on Mongolia’s nuclear plans highlights problems in dealing with waste.


Recommended citation: Peter Lee, “Uranium Boom and Plutonium Bust: Russia, Japan, China and the World,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 18, No. 1.

Articles on related subjects

• Peter Hayes, Global Perspectives on Nuclear Safety and Security After 3-11 [here]

• Peter Lee, A New ARMZ Race: The Road to Russian Uranium Monopoly Leads Through Mongolia [here]

• Miles Pomper, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Stephanie Lieggi, and Lawrence Scheinman, Nuclear Power and Spent Fuel in East Asia: Balancing Energy, Politics and Nonproliferation [here]

• Richard Tanter, Arabella Imhoff and David Von Hippel, Nuclear Power, Risk Management and Democratic Accountability in Indonesia: Volcanic, regulatory and financial risk in the Muria peninsula nuclear power proposal [here]

• MK Bhadrakumar, Sino-Russian Alliance Comes of Age: Geopolitics and Energy Politics [here]

• Geoffrey Gunn, Southeast Asia’s Looming Nuclear Power Industry [here]

• MK Bhadrakumar, Russia, Iran and Eurasian Energy Politics [here]

We welcome your comments on this and all other articles. Please consider subscribing to our RSS feed, or following us via Twitter or Facebook.

Comments
Authors: For all articles by the author, click on author’s name. Peter Lee
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Computer Virus

Posted on October 10, 2011. Filed under: Technology |


Anyone-using Internet mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL and so on. This information arrived this morning, Direct from both Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who has Access to the Internet. You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail titled �Here you have it�If you open the file, a message will appear on your screen saying: ‘It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful, f*** you and die….’

Subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC. And the person who sent it to you will gain access to your Name, e-mail and password, etc. This is a new virus which started to circulateon Saturday afternoon. AOL has already confirmed the severity, and the antivirus software’s are not capable of destroying it.

The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself  ‘life owner’.

PLEASE SEND A COPY OF THIS E-MAIL TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS, And ask them to PASS IT ON IMMEDIATELY!

THIS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED BY SNOPES.

http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/hereyouhave.asp

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Cell phones and radiation: The 10 highest- and lowest-emitting models

Posted on June 3, 2011. Filed under: Health, Technology |


(CNN) — Cell phone users — a group that, these days, means practically everybody — are no doubt concerned about Tuesday’s news that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

The phones themselves aren’t necessarily harmful. It’s the radiation emitted by the phones — and absorbed by the human body — that troubles some doctors.

But when it comes to radiation levels, all phones aren’t equal. Below are lists of the models available from major carriers that emit the highest and lowest levels of radiofrequency energy.

How much radiation does your phone emit? Check our searchable table

A quick explanation of the numbers: They refer to the “specific absorption rate” or SAR, a common benchmark that measures the rate of radiofrequency energy your body gets from the phone. The lower the number, the lower the radiation exposure. For a phone to be certified by the FCC and sold in the U.S., for example, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram.

But keep in mind that these are only ballpark figures. Your actual exposure will depend on how you use your phone, your carrier and network-specific conditions. For example, when your connection is weak, your cell phone needs to send out more radiation to reach the cellular tower.

And there’s still no conclusive evidence that a phone with a higher SAR level poses a greater health risk — or any health risk at all — than a model that emits less radiation.

(These lists were compiled by the Environmental Working Group, a lobbying group that advocates on behalf of public health and the environment, based on data provided by the phone manufacturers. The data are up to date as of December, which means some newer models aren’t listed. For the group’s full list of phone models, click here.)

Lowest radiation levels:

1. LG Quantum (AT&T): 0.35 watts per kilogram

2. Casio EXILIM (Verizon Wireless): 0.53 W/kg

3. Pantech Breeze II (AT&T, AT&T GoPhone): 0.55 W/kg

4. Sanyo Katana II (Kajeet): 0.55 W/kg

5. Samsung Fascinate (Verizon Wireless): 0.57 W/kg

6. Samsung Mesmerize (CellularONE, U.S. Cellular): 0.57 W/kg

7. Samsung SGH-a197 (AT&T GoPhone): 0.59 W/kg

8. Samsung Contour (MetroPCS): 0.60 W/kg

9. Samsung Gravity T (T-Mobile): 0.62 W/kg

10. (tie) Motorola i890 (Sprint); Samsung SGH-T249 (T-Mobile): 0.63 W/kg

Highest radiation levels:

1. Motorola Bravo (AT&T): 1.59 W/kg

2. Motorola Droid 2 (Verizon Wireless): 1.58 W/kg

3. Palm Pixi (Sprint): 1.56 W/kg

4. Motorola Boost (Boost Mobile): 1.55 W/kg

5. Blackberry Bold (AT&T, T-Mobile): 1.55 W/kg

6. Motorola i335 (Sprint): 1.55 W/kg

7. HTC Magic (T-Mobile): 1.55 W/kg

8. Motorola W385 (Boost Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless): 1.54 W/kg

9. Motorola Boost i290 (Boost Mobile): 1.54 W/kg

10. (tie) Motorola DEFY (T-Mobile); Motorola Quantico (U.S. Cellular, MetroPCS); Motorola Charm (T-Mobile): 1.53 W/kg

Some other high-profile phones fared somewhere in the middle on the rankings. The SAR level of the Apple iPhone 4 was 1.17 W/kg (for the AT&T model; the Verizon model wasn’t listed). Exposure levels for the dozens of BlackBerry models varied widely.

CNN.com’s Jacque Wilson contributed to this story.

Source Article Here

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Free Content Vs. Paid Content: Is One Better?

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Technology |


The topic of content farms, and specifically, what search engines are going to do about them has constantly been in the news lately. As a result of this constant outcry from consumers, the search engines are being forced to step up their game against content farms.

Blekko and DuckDuckGo have actually banned Demand Media’s network of sites, including eHow and Answerbag, from their search results. Google has also taken action and released a Chrome extension that blocks content farms from its search results.

DuckDuckGo also recently promoted wikiHow’s content to its Zero-Click Info box, which is displayed above the first search result. While this move from DuckDuckGo may seem like a step backward to some, Jack Herrick, the founder of wikiHow, explained to WebProNews why it is not. According to him, wikiHow and eHow are two very different services.

He tells WPN that wikiHow’s content is user-generated and is very much like Wikipedia’s content model. eHow, on the other hand, is based on a paid model in which freelance writers are paid to write articles.

“When you get… maybe a dozen or two dozen people who have edited an article, each person passionate about the topic [and] contributing their knowledge, you end up with a very, very different product than if you pay a freelancer a few dollars to write an article,” he said.

Interestingly enough, Herrick actually ran eHow before it sold to Demand Media in 2006. Although the model is slightly different now, he said that eHow still has the paid model that it had while he was there. He also pointed out that he was faced with the situation of either producing a lot of very low quality articles or producing very few high quality articles. Because he wasn’t pleased with either of those options, he based wikiHow on an entirely different model.

“My goal for wikiHow, and what I’ve been trying to do for several years now, is build a how-to manual with every single topic and have every topic be the best possible page it can be – the single highest quality resource on the Internet for that how-to topic,” he added.

Herrick also spoke about the AOL/Huffington Post deal and the hype that it has been receiving in regards to paid content vs. free content. Although he doesn’t believe that one is necessarily better than the other, he does say that free content is often of higher quality than paid content is.

“Sites like ours go the extra mile… you start with that $15 level and start adding volunteer contributions on top of it… adding a video, adding step-by-step images, adding tips that they’ve learned over years of doing this. It really can bring the quality level a notch higher, and I think that’s where wiki content can do something that other sites just can’t do,” he said.

Going forward, the mission for wikiHow is the same: to create the highest quality content for any topic on the Web in multiple languages. Currently, the site has just under 100,000 articles and has over 30 million unique visitors.

Source Article w/Vido

 

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What Not to Do with Landing Pages

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Technology |


Marketers and advertisers often make many mistakes with their landing pages, which is dangerous considering that they drive a lot of traffic to these pages. Tim Ash of SiteTuners, who speaks frequently about this topic, told WebProNews what these “deadly sins” are and why they are dangerous.

First of all, he points out that visual clutter is a problem. Flash and animations draw people’s attention but not to the point of conversion. Ash calls the graphic designers behind these creations “frustrated art school drop-outs.” Animations also present a problem since they often take a long time to load.

Another “deadly sin” that marketers make is giving their visitors too many choices. When there are links to a business’s partners, affiliates, and more, it does nothing but confuse the visitor. Instead of overwhelming people with these choices, Ash suggests putting just 2-4 options on a landing page.

Thirdly, one size doesn’t fit all with landing pages. Unfortunately, some businesses market through different channels but send all the traffic to the same landing page. This methodology doesn’t work because people are coming from different traffic sources and need landing pages that match their original intent or keywords.

“The best practice is really to have as many landing pages as you need with specific themes or background thought processes that the visitor might have,” Ash said.

A fourth “deadly sin” is when marketers put too much text on the landing page. In this age of technology, people have an even smaller attention span than they had before. For this reason, marketers need to keep it short, simple, and to the point. If they do need to add more information, they should put it in other links.

The last problem that Ash discusses is the sin of asking for too much information. As he explains, marketers often get greedy and try to get names, email addresses, and more for future use. However, he believes that marketers should only ask for the information that is necessary to complete the current transaction. According to him, users are more likely to spread word-of-mouth and influence by their own free will. He also said that if they are pleased with what they received, the chances are greater for them to visit again and even possibly give more information willingly.

For more on landing pages and how they can lead to conversions, check out Tim Ash’s Conversion Conference.

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Mechanical Serfdom Is Just That

Posted on February 5, 2011. Filed under: Business, Technology |


I spent a day crowdsourcing for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and all I have to show for eight hours in an online work marketplace is a measly $4.38

By Rachael King

It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I’m ready to make some money. The coffee’s kicking in and I’ve logged on to Amazon.com’s (AMZN) Mechanical Turk. It’s an online marketplace that matches workers with employers willing to pay on a per-piece basis for such tasks as verifying addresses, transcribing interviews, and translating text. 

I’m no stranger to grunt work. I worked my way through college. Early in my subsequent career, I held stints as an editorial assistant—which meant a lot of typing, photocopying, and schlepping lattes for editors in exchange for the occasional byline.

None of that could have prepared me for Mechanical Turk, which posts jobs—known as “Human Intelligence Tasks”—in a format that resembles a job board.

Read more

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Junk Email

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Technology |


You’ve probably seen this before but I guess it doesn’t hurt to pass it along to remind us all to check these things when we get them so that we’re not forwarding the tracking ones. 

By now, I suspect everyone is familiar with snopes.comand/or  truthorfiction.com for determining whether information received via email is just that:  true/false or fact/fiction.  Both are excellent sites.

Advice from snopes.com VERY IMPORTANT!!

1) Any time you see an email that says “forward this on to ’10’ (or however many) of your friends”, “sign this petition”, or “you’ll get bad luck” or “you’ll get good luck” or “you’ll see something funny on your screen after you send it” or whatever — it almost always has an email tracker program attached that tracks the cookies and emails of those folks you forward to.  The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of ‘active’ email addresses to use in SPAM emails or sell to other spammers.  Even when you get emails that demand you send the email on if you’re not ashamed of God/Jesus — that is email tracking, and they are playing on our conscience.  These people don’t care how they get your email addresses – just as long as they get them.  Also, emails that talk about a missing child or a child with an incurable disease “how would you feel if that was your child” — email tracking.  Ignore them and don’t participate!

2) Almost all emails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards.  All it was, and all any of this type of email is, is a way to get names and ‘cookie’ tracking information for telemarketers and spammers — to validate active email accounts for their own profitable purposes.

You can do your Friends and Family members a GREAT favour by sending this information to them.  You will be providing a service to your friends.  And you will be rewarded by not getting thousands of spam emails in the future!

Do yourself a favour and STOP adding your name(s) to those types of listing regardless how inviting they might sound! Or make you feel guilty if you don’t! It’s all about getting email addresses and nothing more.

You may think you are supporting a GREAT cause, but you are NOT!

Instead, you will be getting tons of junk mail later and very possibly a virus attached!  Plus, we are helping the spammers get rich!  Let’s not make it easy for them!

ALSO:  Email petitions are NOT acceptable to Parliament or any other organization – i.e. social security, etc.  To be acceptable, petitions must have a “signed signature” and full address of the person signing the petition, so this is a waste of time and you are just helping the email trackers.

Tips for Handling Telemarketers

Three Little Words That Work!

(1)The three little words are: ‘Hold On, Please…’

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company’s ‘beep-beep-beep’ tone, you know it’s time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting..

(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a ‘real’ sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times as quickly as possible. This confuses the machine that dialed the call, and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer!

(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get ‘ads’ enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these ‘ads’ with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those ‘pre-approved’ letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 44 cents postage, ‘IF’ and when they receive them back.

It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight.. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

One of Andy Rooney ‘s (60 minutes) ideas.

Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn’t get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back!
If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn’t on anything you send them.

You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 44 cents.

The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let’s let them know what it’s like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they’re paying for it…Twice!

Let’s help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that’s why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea!

If enough people follow these tips, it will work —- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.

THIS JUST MIGHT BE ONE E-MAIL THAT YOU WILL WANT TO FORWARD TO YOUR FRIENDS

And when forwarding emails….put everyone’s name in ”Blind Copy”. If you don’t have ”Blind Copy” get someone to show you how to use it so people don’t see one another’s names and email addresses!

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Email Tips and Etiquette

Posted on September 30, 2010. Filed under: Technology | Tags: |


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Have you ever considered that every email you send makes an impression on someone?  Each impression plays a small, but important role in defining your personal brand.

Just as every product has a brand, so do each of us.  We’re all branding ourselves every day, in every way—by how we sound on the phone; by our appearance; by our level of physical fitness; by how we acknowledge people, and through our email communications.

If the people you have corresponded with via email over the last 30 days were surveyed and asked to describe your personal email brand, what would the results show?  Now take a minute to think about your goals and consider the person you need to become to achieve your goals. Would these survey results be consistent with this image?

My mentor Jim Rohn said, “For your life to get better, you have got to get better.” Improving your email brand is part of getting better.  Don’t ever allow yourself to think that something as routine as your email messages doesn’t matter—every thing matters.

As you read the 49-email tips contained in this special report, consider the refinements you can make to your email brand.

Creating Your Image

1.      Be friendly—Your demeanor in your online communication should be similar to how you interact offline. If you value your relationships, take an extra 15 seconds to type something friendly at the beginning and/or at the end of the email. It could be simple one-liners such as “I hope you had a relaxing weekend,” or “Thanks for all you do.”

2.      Take pride in your emails—Every email you send makes an impression and plays a small role in defining your brand. If email is your primary form of communication, what you say and how you say it will play a significant role in how you are viewed.

3.      Assume a formal tone—Always assume the highest level of business formality until a relationship dictates otherwise. Formality communicates respect.

4.      Be professional—If you want to be viewed as a professional, then make sure you present yourself as one.

Setting Up Your Email Address

5.      Select the right email provider—I strongly suggest that you get an email address from a national company and not one from your local utility company or cable service provider. If you have an email address tied to a local ISP or utility company, you could lose your email address when you move or change utility providers. Select long-standing, recognized companies with names that are easy to spell like Gmail or Yahoo that don’t have advertisements.

6.      Make sure your name is displayed properly—Most email programs have name recognition software intended to be a time saver. Set your email account up so your first name is first and your last name is last and avoid using initials. This allows people to quickly find you when typing in your name. There are several companies and individuals I communicate with where their names are reversed. It’s aggravating because when I send them an email I have to start typing their last name first for my email program to recognize the person.

7.      Design an email address that identifies you—A good one will include your first and last name. This will make it easier for people to identify you by your email and find your email address in their address books.

8.      Keep your signature files small—People will see your signature file whether it is big and bold or small and subtle.

9.      Don’t change your email address—If you get a new email address, don’t discontinue your old email account. Don’t inconvenience your contacts by asking them to change your email address. Just start using the new one and people will slowly convert to using your new email address. I have five email addresses and they all come into ONE email inbox. Current functionality of most email programs offers this simple organizational tool.

10.    Include alternative contact information—Anticipate that there will be times when the recipient of your email would prefer to talk on the phone. Consider including your contact information in your signature file as an alternate way of reaching you.

Identifying Your Subject

11.    Always type something in the Subject line—Show respect to your recipients by taking the time to summarize the subject of your email in a few short words. Neglecting this simple task may create a negative impression.  People may even delay opening your message.

12.    Update the Subject line as necessary—When the thread of your email correspondence has changed (which is normal and happens frequently), it’s time to update the subject line.

Formatting Your Message

13.    Keep your sentences short—Shorter sentences are easier to read and comprehend.

14.    Use punctuation—Punctuation has a purpose; it makes your messages easier to read and understand.

15.    Use sentence caseSentence case is the traditional use of capitalization and lower case letters. By now, most people know that using all capital letters is akin to shouting. By the same token, using only all lower case letters sends the message that you don’t care enough to hit the Shift key when needed. Both extremes are difficult to read.

16.    Write short paragraphs—Short paragraphs will be easier to read and will improve the likelihood of them being read. Try to keep them from exceeding three sentences and always leave a blank line (white space) between paragraphs.

Writing Your Message

17.    Use proper names—People love to hear and see their names. Take an extra two seconds to type out people’s full name—rather than just an initial. I have a friend by the name of Mark who said he is turned off when people don’t put forth the effort to type three more letters after the “M.”  I also recommend including a greeting before their names, like “Hi” or “Hey” or “Good Morning” or something appropriate for that person.

18.    Covering multiple topics—If your email covers more than one topic, separate the topics using numbers or bullets. This allows you to logically convey your thoughts and makes it easier for the reader to follow your topics and separately respond to each point. Your other option is to send separate emails for each topic or point you want to cover.

19.    Type the email first—When typing an important email, type the message first and then add the person’s name after you have proofed your message.  This will keep you from sending the email prematurely.

20.    Verify the spelling of all names—It’s imperative that you check and double-check the spelling of someone’s name and their company name before hitting the Send button. Nothing will offend someone quicker than seeing their name misspelled.

21.    Always put your name at the end of your emails—I can’t tell you how many people send me emails with email addresses that don’t identify themselves and don’t include their name at the end of the email. You can’t brand yourself much worse than that.

22.    Proof your emails—Never send an email without proofing it at least once.  If it is important, then read it two or three times to make sure you are proud.  Look for missing words and misspellings that aren’t necessarily picked up by the spell check function such as “there” versus “their.”

23.    Avoid acronyms—Even though you believe the recipient will know what an acronym means, avoid using it.  Acronyms can be misunderstood and can cause confusion. When in doubt, spell it out!

24.    Be clear and concise—Say what you need to say as clearly as you can say it, using the fewest number of words possible. No one likes long or confusing emails that they have to read more than once.

25.    Use discretion when you copy people on emails—Make sure you are only copying people who need to be in the know.

26.    Don’t use text lingo—These are emails, not text messages. Spell things out.

Sending Emails

27.    Keep attachments to a minimum—Unless you are sending an attachment that is requested or expected, it’s best to ask permission before sending any large files. When you do, be mindful of its size. Learn how to compress or zip your attachments so that your email does not take up unnecessary bandwidth.

28.    Use “bcc” for multiple recipients—If you want to send an email to a large group of people, it’s important to keep your email addresses private.  To do that put your name in the “To” field and put everyone else’s address in the “Bcc” field (blind carbon copy). This will keep your email clean. It also prevents someone from pressing Reply All and wasting everyone’s time with a response that should only be directed to you.

29.    Don’t assume privacy—Email is not a confidential means of communication. Regardless of any disclaimers, it is not safe to assume that your email will not be read by someone other than the intended recipient.

Responding to Emails

30.    Respond quickly to emails—If you don’t return emails in a timely manner, you will run the risk of destroying your reputation, losing your friends’ respect, and reducing your market value. Most people expect an email response within 24 hours. If you can’t return your emails within 24 hours, make those times the exception and not the norm.

31.    Acknowledge emails—If you receive an email that you’re not prepared to respond to for whatever reason, at least respond to the email by sending a short message acknowledging the email and indicating when you will respond.  You don’t want to leave people wondering if you received their message.

32. Return confirmation emails—When you schedule a call or appointment with someone and they confirm the time with you, take the extra few seconds to return the email to say “Confirmed.”  People don’t like wondering if the appointment is firm.

33.    Know when not to press Reply AllIf your response to an email is only directed to the person who sent the email, then don’t press the Reply All button. Respect the time of the other parties and don’t make them read and delete your email.

34.    Provide a complete response—When you receive an email that asks multiple questions, be sure to address each subject or question asked. It frustrates people when they have to reply to your reply because you didn’t take the time or care to provide a complete response. I often respond to each point individually by using a different color font or numbering the items.

35.    If you are going to take the time to read an email, respond at the same time—One of my time management tips is anything you can do in less than two minutes, do it immediately. It will require more of your time to come back and read the email a second time before responding.

36.    Keep your inbox clean—During blocks of time I’ve allocated to returning emails, I will first scan my messages for anything appearing urgent. I then start with the oldest email and work my way through the list reading and responding to each email in the sequence in which it was received. This keeps me from overlooking messages and allows me to keep my inbox clean.

Calling versus Emailing

37.    Know when to pick up the phone—If there is something upsetting to you, pick up the phone and call the other person.  Don’t send emotional emails that scar the relationship and cause you regret. Emails are like words carved in stone—you cannot retract them.  If you are at all upset or aggravated, a good guideline is to wait until the next day before sending your message. When you read it the next morning, you’ll have gained a more balanced perspective.

38.    Don’t limit your communication to email—Email is a great way to efficiently communicate, but don’t rely on it exclusively. Set a goal to talk to people at least once for every ten email exchanges. Relationships are best built in-person, second by phone calls, and third by the written word. Take full advantage of the first two if you want the relationship to grow.

39.    Use the recipient’s time zone—When you are scheduling an appointment or a phone call, avoid confusion by using their time zone.  This will keep them from trying to convert your time to their time zone, and it will reduce potential misunderstandings.

40.    Know when to schedule a call—If your email is going to be long or complicated, just send a short email requesting a time to talk live.

Forwarding Other Emails

41.    Be careful what you forward—Everything you forward is a reflection of your personal brand. Don’t forward things unless you believe they will provide value, make someone smile, or enrich their lives.

42.    Tell recipients why you are forwarding it—When you forward an article, email, or blog post, take an extra 15 seconds to explain why you are sending it. Don’t make your reader guess your intent.

43.    Never forward hoaxes—If it claims free or easy money, warnings of any kind, or contains the phrase, “If you care about X” and tells you to forward it, it’s a hoax. Aside from being annoying, forwarding hoaxes sends the message that you are vulnerable.

Using Special Features

44.    Use your out-of-office reply—Learn how to use your out-of-office reply feature. It lets people know when they can expect a response from you if you are not available to answer email. Be sure to set it so that the message gets sent only once to each unique sender.

45.    Never recall a message—Contrary to popular belief, the Recall feature does not prevent your original message from being sent. Sending a recall message only draws attention to your mistake. If a correction needs to be made, send a second email or call.

46.    Don’t use an email authentication program—I sent an email to a lawyer I was looking to hire requesting an appointment. I received one of those email validation requests so that my email would be forwarded to him. I deleted the email and found a new attorney.

47.    Do not abuse the ‘high importance’ designation—Save your priority or high importance flags for truly urgent matters. Overusing may send an undesirable message that your needs are greater than those of your recipients. Also keep in mind that many people do not pay attention to this designation. If I am sending an urgent email, I will type URGENT in caps in the Subject line along with the subject of the email.

Controlling Spam and Spam filters

48.    Turn off or down your spam filters—Some email providers allow you to turn off the spam filtering process entirely, and others give you the opportunity to lower the sensitivity level. I would rather take an extra second to delete a spam message rather than miss an important email that ends up in my spam or junk mail folder. This also saves me time from having to check my spam folders.

49.    Dealing with spam—Don’t complain about it. Just remove it. This is 2010.  We all get tons of spam.  Changing your email address is not the answer.

Do you have any email tips not included in this report?  If so, please share them below this post.

Every email you send makes an impression and plays a role in defining your personal brand.

Click here to visit the site and/or comment on this post.

About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 29 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are listed #33 in America’s top 100 podcasts.)

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Who Is Watching You? Nine Industries That Know Your Every Move

Posted on September 26, 2010. Filed under: Technology |


Don’t kid yourself. Real privacy no longer exists in this country.

We’ve long had government organizations collecting data that paints a pretty clear picture of what we do with our time. The Internal Revenue Service knows everything about what you earn and any major transactions you make. It can access every bit of information it needs to determine how much money you should be sending on April 15.

The most important gatherer of personal information in the country is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It keeps a database of over 90 million fingerprints, which can be accessed by other law enforcement agencies. It also has an extensive database of DNA, the most specific marker of personal identity. The bureau’s ability to collect information expanded following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It now tracks a large portion of mail, cell phone traffic and Internet activity of people it deems suspicious.

Thanks to advances in technology, however, there are also now numerous private enterprises that track and record your every move. Although they don’t usually give out this information, there are often worrisome leaks and security breaches where they inadvertently release sensitive information about their customers. Taken together, these industries have data on where you are, who you are communicating with, how you are earning your money, how you are spending that money, as well as the hobbies and interests you are pursuing.

We examined a large number of organizations to find the most intrusive firms and industries. Here they are, ranked by the number of people they track:

1) Credit Rating Agencies
With each firm having files on over 200 million people, the three credit bureaus — Equifax (EFX), Experian (EXPGY), and TransUnion — know not only your credit history, but also have the data to project your credit future. The companies collect a history of all credit use by an individual, including payment of bills, mortgages, and credit cards. The agencies also track the frequency with which a person applies for credit. That information is used to determine a person’s credit risk through a credit score. These scores are produced using secret algorithms, ensuring that the bureaus know much more about you than you know about them.

Sponsored Links

2) Cell Phone Service Providers
As cell phone popularity has increased and technology has evolved, cell phone companies have come to possess a wealth of information about their customers. Covering over 90% of the American population, cell phone providers can tell who you call, when you call, how often you call certain people and what you say in your text messages. With GPS, they also now know where you are whenever you have your phone. As smartphones become the equivalent of miniature computers, cellular companies can also track personal behavior, such as use of multimedia and wireless e-commerce transactions.

3) Social Media Companies
In its ascent to Internet superpower, social enterprise Facebook has amassed an enormous amount of user information. Who your friends are, what you like, and what photos you are in are all information that the company has access to. That, however, is not the full extent of it. Facebook also tracks which profiles you view, who you communicate with most often, companies and causes you support, your personal calendar, and a great deal of personal information about your friends and family. Perhaps most surprising, Facebook can access much of the information you may have deleted, including photos and status updates, from their servers.

4) Credit Card Companies
There are currently 610 million credit cards owned by U.S. consumers. In an economy dominated by credit, the amount of power held by credit card companies, such as Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) and American Express (AE), should not be surprising. They know their customers’ credit scores, credit histories, what they buy, when they buy, and when they are likely to default on their payments. The interest rates charged for credit fluctuates based on their analysis of individuals’ ability to pay back the debts they incur. Some of the information kept by credit card companies can help consumers, however. Algorithms that study buying patterns, for instance, are used to detect fraud.

5) Search Engines
Every search you perform on Google (GOOG) goes into the Internet giant’s database, which it uses to keep a profile of your habits and interests. The search engine also keeps track of which links you click on during your search and which advertisers you visit. Google uses your interest profile and search history to place targeted ads in your browser. Perhaps most disturbingly, Google uses its Gmail service to monitor the content of your email in order to place targeted advertising in your email account. Google also keeps records of account and credit card information for everyone who uses their “Checkout” service, tracks which videos people watch on YouTube, where people are planning to visit, and what they plan to do there. Google’s location-based map systems also allow the search company to know where people are in real time through the use of smartphones and other GPS-enabled devices.

6) Retail Chains
Wal-Mart (WMT) uses data-mining services to collect and store information for all its customers in a central location. This allows it to determine the purchasing behavior of people who shop in its stores or on its website. It also optimizes inventory distribution by determining which products people are most likely to buy in the future. In August, Wal-Mart began installing Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) in their underwear and jeans, which lets them track items and customers around the store. This means they are able to determine how much time someone who buys a specific pair of pants spends in each aisle. Wal-Mart plans to use this data to reorganize displays and further control inventory. The retail giant also sell this information to thousands of other businesses, who use consumer profiles for advertising and demographic research.

7) Casinos
Casinos like the Wynn Resorts (WYNN) are increasingly using “loyalty cards” to monitor the behavior of their patrons. The Wynn “red” cards are used in place of tokens, and allow the casino to keep track of which machines and tables each gambler visits on a regular basis, the path they take during their visits (using RFID chips), and even how often and how much they are willing to lose before giving up. When a slot machine in Wynn detects a gambler is close to his breaking point, it will issue a small payout in order to keep him spending money.

8) Banks
Large banks, such as Bank of America (BAC), Chase (JPM) and Citibank (C), have access to customer account information, which includes savings, employer payroll deposits, and the time and date of ATM and teller visits. They track transfers made by account holders to third parties. A bank also knows your income, your salary, and your balance, moment-by-moment. Perhaps among the most confidential data a bank keeps is how often people move money in and out of accounts. Banks know how much you save each month, and often exactly how those savings are invested. Banks use this information to assess the risk of giving you a mortgage or loan, and they are legally allowed to use data-mining companies to check your website activity.

9) Life Insurance Companies
About 140 million households currently have life insurance. In order to apply for life insurance, applicants generally must disclose their health history. This includes incidence of heart disease, height, weight, smoking habits, and often includes full records from your doctors. Perhaps more invasive, life insurers seek disclosure of hospitalization for mental illness, use of illegal drugs, and whether or not you have had to file for bankruptcy. Insurance companies use a national prescription database to determine whether or not you have ever been prescribed medication. And certain high-risk professions and hobbies usually have to be disclosed.

See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/9DZWCW

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