Top 10 April Fools' Day Joke Web Sites

By Scott Spanbauer, PC World

Normally staid sites and individuals celebrate April 1 with weird, silly and elaborate hoax pages. Here are our favorite pranks of years past. Will anything make the list in 2008?

What is it about April Fools' Day jokes that we love so much? Perhaps it's that, in the midst of the crushing influx of information that many of us cope with daily, a well-constructed prank provides a welcome break. For a moment, we smile, even when the joke is a tried-and-true chestnut.Google has a strong tradition of sublime hilarity each April 1. Last year, the company announced two faux products designed to elicit a chuckle from unsuspecting (and suspecting) readers: Gmail Paper (6GB of messages, rendered as hard copy) and Google TiSP, a plumbing-based Internet service provider dedicated to harnessing the underutilized potential of the nation's "dark porcelain." (See PC World Senior Writer Tom Spring's complete slide show for a retrospective of Google's April Fools' and other fun inventions over the years.)In recent times, many other sites have pulled our collective leg with April Fools' pages marked by realistic graphics and ridiculous but deadpan copy. Here are 10 of our favorites. Just click the linked header for each entry to see the prank (or its fallout) come to life.

10. Facebook Funnies
Last year, Facebook users noticed some unusual entries scattered among News Feed updates, including the announcement of a new LivePoke feature, which invited users to dispatch a real live person to physically poke their Facebook friends (offer limited to first 100 members of a network). Another entry reported that Harry (Potter, not PC World's editor-in-chief McCracken) and Voldemort (more of a MySpace kind of guy anyway) had returned to their former relationship status as mortal enemies. Good work guys, and better luck next year on moving up our list.

9. Dead Fairy on eBay
In late March 2007, Dan Baines posted a Web page describing (and illustrating with detailed photos) the discovery of what appeared to be the remains of a "real" fairy. Baines claimed that the mummified fairy corpse was recovered along an old Roman road in Derbyshire, England, by a dog-walker who preferred to remain anonymous. The bones of its diminutive, humanlike skeleton were hollow, like a bird's, making it "particularly light," an anatomical peculiarity whose contribution to airworthiness was enhanced by the body's extremely leaflike -- uh, lifelike -- wings.

Over the next several days Baines, a magician and prop-maker, received hundreds of messages from credulous and (and in some instances worried) fairy-loving readers. To put their minds at ease, he revealed the hoax. Eventually Baines sold his creation on eBay for £280.

8. PodShave and PodShaveLady
Sometimes, a prank's premise is so plausible that you have to ask yourself: "Why isn't there a product like that?" When iLounge posted breaking news of a new video-playing iPod V from Apple on March 31, 2004, no one took the bait. The real video iPod, which was just around the corner, made too much sense for the iPod V prank to be funny.But wags at the now-defunct had more success with their electric-razor attachments for iPod Classic or Mini. Several Apple news sites, including PC World's sister publication Macworld, posted tongue-in-cheek reviews of these ersatz iPod accessories, leaving many wondering, "Does my back hair need grooming -- and can I dance to it?"

7. Wikipædia Brittanica
If we can believe Wikipedia's own Wiki page on the subject (at first unqualified, but subsequently clearly labeled as a joke), the popular user-created reference site was nearly absorbed by venerable dead-tree competitor Encyclopædia Britannica on April 1, 2005. Despite the promise of handsome severance packages for the founders of what was slated to become known as Wikimædia, the deal likely fell through -- perhaps due to the onerous financial burden it would have placed on contributors to the newly merged publications. Though future costs were estimated at an astronomical £99.97 for each page creation or edit, the new Wikipædia promised to offset them by offering contributors a chance to win a rare photo of Margaret Thatcher from her days on the burlesque circuit.

6. Water on Mars
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day tends to be a beautiful high-resolution image of a far-off nebula, one of the moons of Saturn, or perhaps a comet streaking through the heavens. But the most startlingly unexpected image in the Astronomy Picture of the Day archive may be a photograph dated April 1, 2005, that conclusively establishes the presence of water on Mars.In other space-related news, alert readers of the ordinarily factual Space Daily news site were surprised to learn on the same day that President Bush had canceled the Space Shuttle program.
Animated Tattoos
It was only a matter of time before someone achieved a technological breakthrough to lift body art above its humble drunken-sailor beginnings. That breakthrough was announced and documented on April 1, 2006, when the trusted HowStuffWorks Web site revealed the secret behind the animated tattoo -- the Programmable Subcutaneous Visible Implant (PSVI).

Warning: The article's graphic photos of the PSVI implantation procedure are definitely not for the squeamish.

Buoyed by the article's success, HowStuffWorks followed it up last April with another behind-the-scenes look at tech implantation: How Cell-Phone Implants Work.

4. Indescribably Geek-elicious
ThinkGeek, the Web-based retailer of "Stuff for Smart Masses," usually observes April Fools' Day by posting new products that not only serve as a catalyst for mirth, but often defy the laws of physics. Starting in 2002 with the Desktop Zero-Point Power Generator, which converted abundant and "naturally occurring" electromagnetic energy into 120-volt AC power ("less than 600 rem of residual ionizing radiation!"), ThinkGeek went on to offer CaffeDerm caffeine-delivering dermal patches (reminiscent of Nicarest smokable nicotine sticks, reported in the Onion back in 1998); a Buzzaire caffeine inhaler; a PC EZ-Bake Oven (fits in a 5¼-inch drive bay); wireless extension cords; the vinyl-ripping, 2-terabyte, 33-pound iZilla Media Monster digital media player; and a USB desktop tanning center.

But latter-day Edisons at ThinkGeek outdid themselves with the Screened Sphorb, a device so unbelievably awesome that its accompanying QuickTime video -- to say nothing of the attendant text description -- doesn't begin to capture its multifaceted brilliance. What self-respecting geek could pass up a product that lets you "mod elementals AND screen drive in twice the time using only half of the optional memory pods, while the other half waits to achieve a normalized state" -- for a mere $39.99? Best of all, legacy Sphorbs are fully engaged in the emulation process!
Caveat emptor: No matter what assurances ThinkGeek's Screened Sphorb page makes about availability, the item may remain on back order indefinitely (or infinitely).

3. Beyond Buggy
Usually, the moderated posts on the Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems (a.k.a. Risks) focus soberly on news about security flaws in computer programs -- and the life-threatening unintended consequences of those programs. But around the first of April each year, Risks takes a decidedly silly turn, featuring satirical, sometimes macabre and possibly fictitious reports of technology gone wrong.

Examples from the April 1 2006, issue include reports about a motorist trapped in a traffic circle for 14 hours by his car's malfunctioning lane-keeping software; and about the announcement at Cambridge University of new full-scale mapping software (where 1 kilometer of the real world is represented by 1 km of the map) that had revealed errors in the location of actual roads and buildings. (Spokesman Lewis Carroll assured reporters that the maps would be annotated to reflect the real-world errors.)

Then there was a post about the "successful" evacuation of an Airbus 380 in 90 seconds. The latter quotes a statistics-enamored Airbus source, who downplayed reports of injuries during the record- (and femur-) breaking deplaning: "In a group of 853 people, the chances that one person has a broken leg and doesn't yet know it are substantial. The test showed that everyone came out at least as healthy as when they went in."

2. Opera SoundWave
The Web-browser business is highly competitive, and developers like the Mozilla Foundation, Microsoft and Opera are always trying to outdo each other with breakthrough enhancements. So it seemed like business as usual when, on April 1, 2005, Opera issued a press release announcing Opera SoundWave, described as an exciting platform-independent real-time technology for short- and medium-range interpersonal communication.The company stated that it had accidentally discovered SoundWave during an R&D study to speech-enable Opera's e-mail client, and included a link to a demo of the analog-signal-processing technology.

We hoped that continued healthy competition in the browser market would prompt further advances in Web-enabled communications, but Opera's ill-advised 2006 venture into stock photography was a disappointing follow-up.

1. Deer in Camouflage
On April 1, 2007, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' blog, "The PETA Files" (say it out loud), contained a brief entry regarding a new Minnesota-based anti-hunting group called Hunting is Downright Evil (HIDE), which had developed an ingenious new plan to protect local deer from hunters -- first tranquilizing them (the deer, not the hunters), then painting them with a camouflage pattern, and finally rereleasing them into the wild. It certainly gave a new twist to the term "deerhide."

Despite the telltale date right next to the blog post's title, dozens of commentators blasted away at HIDE, PETA and each other until sunset. Only at 5:44 p.m. on April 1 -- after a score of vitriolic denunciations of deer painting, hunt interference and "tree-huggin' idiots" -- did a lone voice finally interject: "Y'all know what day it is, right?"

Needless to say, most subsequent commentators persisted in not getting it. PETA was no newcomer to the art of the prank, either: In 2000, the organization announced plans to sabotage a Texas bass fishing tournament by knocking the fish out with tranquilizers. It's a joke, son.

Contributing Editor Scott Spanbauer moonlights as a college Spanish instructor and part-time Shinto priest. No, really.

[via MSN]

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Top Environmentally Friendly Cars

A new study highlights vehicles that are least harmful to the environment.
By the Editors of MSN Autos

Many auto manufacturers all over the world have been working to make vehicles that are not only more fuel-efficient, but also better for the environment in which we live. Research firm J.D. Power and Associates, based in Westlake Village, California, released its inaugural Automotive Environmental Index (AEI) study in fall 2006, which lists the top 30 environmentally friendly vehicles.

The new AEI study takes into account information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and consumers related to fuel economy, air pollution and greenhouse gasses for vehicles from the 2006 model year. Fuel economy accounts for about half the score.

Of the 30 vehicles that made the list, eight feature gas-electric hybrid powertrains. The hybrids include the Ford Escape Hybrid, Lexus RX 400h, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Toyota Highlander Hybrid. These four were the only SUVs to make the cut. No pickup trucks or minivans were considered environmentally friendly.
Only two vehicles that J.D. Power considers luxury models made the list—the Lexus RX 400h and Acura RSX.

Among automakers, Ford, Honda and Toyota had the most vehicles on the list, with six vehicles each from their various nameplates. General Motors and Volkswagen placed three vehicles apiece. The sole German automaker with vehicles on the AEI list, Volkswagen had the Golf, Jetta and New Beetle among the top 30. However, the diesel versions of these models did not make the cut.

"High gas prices, coupled with consumers becoming more familiar with alternative powertrain technology, are definitely increasing consumer interest in hybrids and flexible fuels," said Mike Marshall, director of automotive emerging technologies at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, the additional price premiums associated with hybrid vehicles, which can run from $3,000 to $10,000 more than a comparable non-hybrid vehicle, remain the biggest concern among consumers considering a hybrid. The AEI highlights several non-hybrid models available that help consumers reduce fuel use and emissions."

According to the study, there is high interest in hybrids and vehicles that run on alternative fuels such as diesel or E85. In fact, J.D. Power reports that less than 25 percent of respondents will only consider a gasoline-powered car for their next purchase.

But there are some misconceptions. Consumers purchasing hybrid vehicles expected a fuel-economy improvement by 28 mpg compared to a similar powered gas-only vehicle. Reality, however, showed hybrid buyers only gaining an improvement of 9 mpg. Diesel buyers were similarly disappointed, reporting a 12 mpg improvement when an improvement of 21 mpg was expected.

"One of the biggest challenges for alternative powertrains is that consumers often have unrealistic expectations for the fuel-saving abilities of these vehicles," Marshall said. "And particularly with hybrids, actual fuel performance often doesn't live up to the vehicle's EPA estimate. There is a real need to educate consumers about the technology and its benefits.
Managing consumer expectations and lowering the cost premium will be instrumental in accelerating acceptance."

The AEI is based on data from 4,000 consumers who plan to purchase a vehicle within the next two years.

Listed in alphabetical order, the top 30 environmentally friendly vehicles according to the J.D. Power study are:

Acura RSX
Chevrolet Aveo
Chevrolet Cobalt
Ford Escape Hybrid
Ford Focus
Ford Focus Wagon
Honda Accord
Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda Civic
Honda Civic Hybrid
Honda Insight
Hyundai Accent
Hyundai Elantra
Kia Rio
Kia Spectra
Lexus RX400h
Mazda Mazda3
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Nissan Sentra
Saturn Ion Scion xA
Suzuki Reno
Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota Prius
Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen New Beetle

In the market for a new car? MSN Autos is pleased to provide you with information and services designed to save you time, money and hassle. Click to research prices and specifications on any new car on the market or click to get a free price quote through MSN Autos' New-Car Buying Service.

[Source: MSN]

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Allowance breakdown: How kids are spending

America's youth will command more than $21 billion in pocket money by 2010, according to one study. Here's how they're dropping their cash.
By Abby Ellin

Karen Quinn, a New York City-based author, likes to think of herself as a progressive parent. A former lawyer and businesswoman, she paints, writes books (three novels to date) and tries to avoid pushing her two kids -- Sam, 15, and his sister Schuyler, 16 -- into gender-based pigeonholes.

But when it comes to money, she finds Sam and Schuyler are spending right along gender lines.
Both drop the biggest part of their weekly allowances on food -- fast food for Sam, who gets $80 a week, and Chinese and Japanese takeout for Schuyler, who is given $120. Movies are a close second. But after that, Sam's money goes to ring tones, music and videos; Schuyler spends her money on clothes and shoes.

"It's amazing that the gender stereotypes are so consistent," says Quinn. "I don't encourage them one way or another -- they can buy whatever they want. But it's been fascinating to see how they spend the extra cash."

As youth spending continues to rise, marketers and analysts are putting more effort into figuring out just what American kids are buying with their pocket money. And the results suggest that Sam and Schuyler's spending divide is typical.

A 2004 study conducted by TNS, an international market research firm, found that 79% of boys from ages 10 to 14 spend their money on games, compared with 42% of girls -- who prefer to buy CDs, books and clothes.

Gender differences aside, U.S. kids spend the biggest chunk of change on entertainment and technology: American kids spend most of their money on games (63% of all U.S. kids), clothes (31%) and CDs (27%), according to the TNS report.

"When shopping with their parents, kids are often allowed to make choices for themselves, increasing their overall spending power," says Keith Holzmueller, vice president of TNS' Research Insights Group.

Today's kids -- even those as young as 3 -- wield an enormous amount of spending power.
According to estimates in "The Kids' Market in the U.S.," a 2006 report from market-research publisher Packaged Facts, kids aged 3 to 11 comprise a U.S. population subgroup of 36 million that had a collective $18 billion in purchasing power in 2005. The report projects that kids will command $21.4 billion in discretionary spending by 2010, with annual family expenditures on kids' products set to reach approximately $143 billion.

And as the amount of money in kids' wallets increases, it falls to parents to figure out how to teach their kids to responsibly save, budget and spend their cash.

Six-year-old Gabriella von Esmarch wanted an iPod so much she could taste it. But with no birthday or holidays on the horizon, her parents told her that if she wanted it badly enough, she could buy it by herself with money she earned doing chores around the house.

Gabriella and her mother, Gina, a high-tech consultant in San Francisco, went to the store together to see how much it cost ($89). They counted how much money Gabriella had in her piggy bank -- $60 -- and came up with a plan together.

"We then told her that if she emptied the flatware out of the dishwasher, set the dinner table, cleared her plate after dinner, made her bed and put out her clothes for school, she could earn the money for her iPod Shuffle," her mom recalls. "I really wanted her to have that pride of ownership."

Frank McKinney, a Florida real-estate developer, teaches his daughter to not only save her $1-a-week allowance but to also make interest on it.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, an American entrepreneur currently living in Paunzhausen, Germany, is teaching her kids to earn their money and save it for things they truly want.

"In the beginning, the kids were keen on buying candy at the local store, and we allowed them to test their own financial limits and learn the value of money," Hohlbaum recalls. "They quickly learned how expensive things are. They no longer spend their money on frivolous things, but rather consider what the future might bring. They've become more discerning and are learning how to set priorities."

Recently, for example, the three of them went to a toy store. Her daughter, who is 8, bought herself a notebook for school and a necklace she really liked; Hohlbaum's 6-year-old son decided not to spend anything and save up for a very expensive toy.

"How many weeks will it take?" he asked his mother.

"If you don't spend anything, you can get it by Thanksgiving," she told him. He nodded, she was thrilled: "He's learning a sense of time, too."

[Source: MSN]

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What God says about your money

Once you've figured out what Christianity, Judaism or Islam preach about making and spending money, teach your kids early and often.
By Abby Ellin

Faiths usually offer parents very clear direction on child-rearing. Premarital sex, for instance? That's pretty much a no-no, no matter what deity you worship. Dietary rules can also be pretty straightforward -- no pork for Muslims and Jews, no beef for Hindus.

But when it comes to money, the picture is cloudier. What does the Bible or the Koran actually say about money? Does God want us to own a fleet of yachts? Or does he (or she) think suffering and hardship is noble?
Video: Does God want your kid to be rich?

Happily, the consensus among most religious leaders seems to be that the Almighty does not want you to live off food stamps and is quite happy for you to drive a Porsche. But Scriptures say that a portion of your earnings should be returned through gifts to charity and offerings to the church -- what some denominations call tithing.

Cantor Erik L. Contzius, of Temple Israel in New Rochelle, N.Y., is trying to instill these lessons in his 6-year-old son. Whenever the boy goes to Hebrew school, Contzius hands him a dollar to put in the tzedakah box for charity.
Video: Thou shalt not hoard your money

"If we teach it at a very young age to give, hopefully it will stick," Contzius says.

Carolyn Castleberry, a writer in Virginia Beach, Va., talks about this idea in her series of financial-empowerment books for women, based on Biblical principles.

"Proverbs 31 has been held up as a standard," says Castleberry, a mother of two who also writes a newsletter called "The Proverbs 31 Investor." The Old Testament passage -- which describes a virtuous woman as having a price "above rubies" -- is "about a woman who is a businessperson, a wife, she has a family, but she became an investor," Castleberry explains.
Video: What the Bible teaches

"She knew how to create passive income, she was a real-estate investor -- so she was providing for her family and also for generations, so she's a role model."

According to Castleberry, the Bible addresses the topic of money more than any other issue -- more than 2,000 passages discuss it. The No. 1 rule? "To tithe or give back," she says, quoting Malachi 3:10: "Bring to me the first of your possessions and I'll open up the skies of heaven."

The Bible also admonishes us to be good stewards of money (although here Christianity and Judaism differ from Islam, which forbids interest accrual).

A parable from Matthew discusses a boss who gave his three employees a certain amount of money.

Two of them invested it, while the third took his portion and buried it. When the boss returned, he was dismayed by the third man's actions.

"It wasn't enough," says Castleberry. "It's the whole 'use it or lose it' philosophy. So we need to learn to make money on our money."

But even if we've figured out what our God wants from us, how do we teach our kids?
Video: 9-year-old's money tips

"The Bible teaches us to train a child early, and when they are older they won't forget," Castleberry says. "I try to get kids focused on creating goals early, which comes from Proverbs 4:26: 'Know where you're headed and you'll sit on solid ground.'"

Steve Maxwell, 45, a commercial-real-estate investor, business owner and "financial fluency" teacher in Windsor, Colo., feels the same.

Maxwell's 15-year-daughter, Natalie, recently asked her father, a self-made millionaire and devout Christian, to teach a course on business and financial fluency for her and her friends. The group meets weekly and Maxwell gives them assignments: to start working on their financial statements, say, or to read a book on money and then teach the rest of the class.

He has encouraged each of his three kids to acquire a major asset, such as a business or property, while they are still in their teens. He, too, emphasizes the importance of giving back, mentioning a tenet from Proverbs 11:25: "A generous man will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

"My belief of that is that's not just talking about money -- you can be generous in lots of ways -- but it also does apply to money," Maxwell says.

Islam offers a slightly different perspective on finances, says Sohaib Sultan, 27, the Muslim chaplain at both Wesleyan University and Trinity College in Connecticut.

In addition to the prohibition on accumulating interest, he says, "the key teaching in Islam about money and finances is the idea of moderation -- the idea of balance, of maintaining a good livelihood for yourself but at the same time not being exuberant."

Sultan works with young children at the Muslim community center in Berlin, Conn., where he tries to teach them the importance of budgeting every month. "I want them to be very conscious of how they're spending their wealth," he says. "We try to instill the idea that we'll be held accountable to God for how we spend every penny."

Judaism sees spending as a way to share with others, says Allan M. Gonsher, an ordained rabbi in Kansas City.

"If you simply talk about money as dollars and quarters, then you really limit what money means in Judaism," says Gonsher, who devotes a chapter of his book -- "Allowance is Not a Bribe (And Other Helpful Hints for Raising Responsible Jewish Children)" -- to teaching children about money.

He recalls his grandmother always setting an extra plate at the dinner table so that there was room for a guest. "Money for us means bringing people into the family, helping people who don't have," he says. "That's a phenomenal concept that's related to money: Add another chicken to the chicken soup. Set up another plate. Pick up your clothes and take them to the Salvation Army."

[Source: MSN]

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Can you teach your kids to be rich?

Some characteristics of the wealthy are born, not bred. But there's plenty you can do to make your children smarter about money.
By Abby Ellin

If you're like most people, chances are you spend a lot of time thinking about your money. If you're a parent, you may spend even more time thinking about your kids' money -- or, rather, how to ensure they have some when they need it.

One of the great debates of parenting is whether it's possible to instill in kids the attitudes that will help them handle money well. Can you motivate a child to put his allowance into a savings account rather than spend it at the local toy store? Can you -- and should you -- inspire a child to dream of 10,000-square-foot homes and a sparkling new Porsche?

In short, can wealth be taught?

As in most nature/nurture debates, the jury's still out on this one. But there's a lot to think and talk about. Most experts believe the desire to amass wealth is the result of a friendly mixture of genes and gumption -- wherever that comes from. In other words, a lot of it is baked into the personality early on. On the other hand, experts also believe it is possible to teach your kids behaviors that will increase their wealth -- and that it's never too early to start. Best toys for minimoguls

When kids have both the inner drive and encouragement in the right direction, get out your calculator because the sky's the limit.

"Can wealth be taught? Absolutely. Are people born with a wealthy mindset? Absolutely," says Dr. Gabriela Cora, president of the Executive Health & Wealth Institute, a corporate consultancy in Miami. "I believe someone who is born with the inner motivation to succeed -- and encounters a fertile environment that enables the potential for accumulating wealth -- will find extraordinary opportunities."

Cora has identified three key characteristics that she believes most wealthy people possess: risk-taking, creativity and perseverance. Although these traits do have a genetic component, they can also be coaxed along and brought to the forefront.

What's more, studies show that kids want to learn about money. According to Charles Schwab's annual Teens & Money survey, 89% of teens say they want to learn how to make their money grow.

Trouble is, a lot of kids aren't getting the financial coaching they need. According to the Schwab survey, fewer than one in three respondents believe their parents or guardians are making sure their teens learn the basics of smart money management. And only five states require financial education, reports the National Council on Economic Education.

"What we all need to work on together -- and, I believe, rather urgently -- is elevating economics, including personal finance, to be the fourth 'R' in education: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic . . . and the real world," says Gary H. Stern, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and chairman of the education council.

Frank McKinney echoes that sentiment. McKinney is a 43-year-old self-made millionaire who dabbles in ultra-high-end real estate for the mega-rich in Palm Beach County, Fla. He is actively teaching his 9-year-old daughter, Laura, about managing wealth. He tries to exhibit the behaviors he wants her to mimic.

"You can't tell a kid to 'Do as I say, not as I do,'" he says. McKinney feels it's crucial for kids to see parents budgeting -- both time and money -- as well as socking money away and not spending gobs of money on unnecessary items. Debt is a 4-letter word

So, for example, he maintains a "priority sheet" in order to keep his life balanced and on track. And Laura, in turn, keeps one for herself. The two are working together on the concept of risk vs. security. For instance, Laura has some McDonald's stock; together they've been discussing whether she should hang on to the stock and potentially make a lot of money or sell the stock now and invest the proceeds in a totally safe account.

The elder McKinney includes his daughter in business events. His latest project is building the most expensive "green-certified" home ever built -- a $29 million spread in Manalapan, Fla. Laura was at his side throughout the groundbreaking ceremony. She is also active in his philanthropic endeavors.

"She clearly understands my commitment: To whom much is entrusted, much will be expected," he says.

The McKinneys make sure that family plans reinforce the right priorities. On Christmas morning, they first go to church as a family; only later do they come back and open up gifts, to make sure the emphasis is on the holiday and not on the presents.

Former minister Steve Miller has tried to impart similar lessons to his seven sons, who range in age from 13 to 27.

Miller and his wife, Sheri, felt it was important to show their kids how to watch expenses. They try to set a good example by living way beneath their means.

"Just like talking to your kids about sex, I believe there should be many discussions, not just one biggie," says Miller, founder of Legacy Educational Resources, a nonprofit outside Atlanta offering information on personal money management (

And the Millers put their guidance into practice. Three years ago, each of their children received a $5,000 inheritance. Rather than spending the money individually, however, the entire family decided to invest in foreclosure houses. "That way everyone gets to learn a skill and you get to see your money grow," says Miller. So far, they have bought and sold five houses together.
Every time they profit from the sale of a house, they go out to a steakhouse to celebrate.

The Millers have gotten used to thinking about the consequences of money decisions.

"I tell them that they can't compulsively buy all the latest fashions and get ahead financially," Miller says. "When one of my sons felt the pressure, as a sixth-grader, to purchase an outrageously expensive tennis shoe, I calmly told him that I'd pay up to $35, the price for a normal tennis shoe of good quality. If he wanted to upgrade to the 'coolest shoe,' he could pay the difference from his own money." Talking with your kids about money

Not surprisingly, his son made do with the cheaper shoe and has avoided outrageously priced designer clothes ever since.

Of course, not all of the Miller sons share their father's savvy financial instincts. Some are big savers and simply need guidance on how to manage and invest their increasing wealth; others would rather empty their pockets in one splurge. Some are ambitious; others work as little as possible -- just enough to keep food in their mouths. What this means is that Miller must coach each one separately, tailoring his financial discussions to their individual needs.

Nan Andrews Amish, a business consultant in San Francisco, believes that the best thing a parent can do is to make finances relevant to a child's world.

"Buying stocks may not make sense for many kids, but trading baseball cards or saving for that computer may," she says. "Trading on eBay may, (or) paying attention to trends in shopping may. When they're old enough, tracking paper portfolios with an incentive can build interest."

Most parents understand that they shouldn't force their own ambitions on a child. If young Jane dreams of being a letter carrier, police officer or peace broker, psychologists say, encourage her to follow her passion -- all the while teaching her the basics of money.

That's exactly what Miller did with his son Benji, now 19. Benji was never a straight-A student, but he loved cars. At 12 he began taking auto mechanics classes; by age 18 he had finished a one-year certificate in mechanics. After a few months he got a job at a shop and began making about $500 a week. Granted, it doesn't sound like a lot of money -- but he lives at home and has no expenses. His father told him that if he invested his money he could live at home rent-free.

"By 24 -- a time when most kids have debt -- he will have accumulated $140,000, and that's by being a mechanic," Miller says.

For her part, Dr. Cora believes the best thing a parent can do to teach kids about wealth is to expose them to the habits of mind that lead to success.

"Teach them to think like an entrepreneur -- to create new opportunities, rather than to just think about money," she says.

[via MSN]

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Dating & different religions?

By Margot Carmichael Lester

In Amos 3:3, it’s asked “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” We asked a few faithful folks to answer this question for daters who ascribe to different doctrine. Our commenters are:
  • Rabbi Lev Baesh, director, Resource Center for Jewish Clergy,
  • Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, an interfaith minister
  • Alana Klein, director of communications and publications, Marymount Manhattan College; she and her fiancé are of different faiths
  • Stephen Miller, Christian expert/writer, ONE: The Digital Dialog
  • Pastor Bob Moeller, host, For Better, For Worse, For Keeps
  • Dorette Saunders, senior editor, education unit, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society
And here’s what they said:

Q: When we start dating someone of a different faith, what’s the first thing a person should do?

Sanders: Open up and educate each other as to your faith practices. Does an Episcopalian really know what a Mormon believes? Does a Jew understand Catholic teachings? Can an unbeliever uphold the values of a Christian? In order to coexist harmoniously, couples may either agree not to bring up religion or agree to respectfully disagree. The problem with the latter is that such a response will eventually put a strain on their relationship as it becomes more solidified. Or in other cases, one party compromises to the point where his or her “faith” no longer looks the same. It is for this reason that the Bible, in its wisdom, knowing the stresses of everyday life, cautions that we should not be yoked unequally.

Miller: Listen to each other with an open mind. There are wise teachings and doggone dumb teachings in every major religion. As you talk, it’s OK to disagree. You can count on disagreeing. A lot. But there’s no need to be judgmental. That’s God’s job, not ours.

Q. What if we’re afraid that dating someone outside our faith will diminish it?

Brockway: My philosophy is that love between two people adds a dimension of holiness to our world that cannot be categorized by religion or culture, and that a temple can be created wherever there is love. I believe in soul mates, and I feel that the couples who are meant to be together have the ability to see each other through the eyes of the soul. That allows many feelings about differences to melt away. Or at least allows them to walk together without having to agree on all things spiritual.

Q: And what if friends and family object? How can a couple handle that?

Baesh: “When trapped, be gracious.” I just learned this from a rabbinic colleague. The best way to show that your faith is of value in the world and that you support your partner’s faith is to be the person your faith calls you to be. People will always judge and evaluate from their personal place and sometimes from fear. Often people who object are worried about other things. Listen and ask deeper questions, or sit back and let them vent—and love them. Continue your relationship by answering questions they have and asking questions you have. Invite them to join you in celebrations. It’s the best way to see it’s not as scary as they imagined it to be.

Klein: Have faith in each other. Religion didn’t bring the couple together; other forces did. During difficult times it’s important to remember that special connection you and your partner have, what brought you two together, and why you love each other.

Q. And what if two people find that they just can’t walk together?

Moeller: Say something like this: “I have truly benefited from getting know you. However, because my spiritual beliefs are such a meaningful part of my core identity, as I trust they are to you, and because we differ substantially on those beliefs, I don’t think we should pursue this dating relationship any further. It is because of this mutual genuine respect for each other that we should give each other the freedom to pursue someone who more closely shares our core beliefs. Thank you for the opportunity to meet you and be enriched by your life. But we have different destinations in mind, and we need to give each other the space to pursue those spiritual goals with all that we are.”

Baesh: [Early on,] know where faith fits in your life and rate it on its relative importance to other aspects of life, so that when entering the dating world you know where you are coming from. Learn about other faith traditions when you find they are important to the other person. But if it’s a deal-breaker, don’t head down a path that will bring about regret when the relationship will have to be severed after years of trying to make it work.

Freelance writer Margot Carmichael Lester also writes the Ask Margot advice column. Send your faith-based dating queries to her at

[via MSN]

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The crazy way we met!

By Christine M. Coppa

Most of us have those strange almost-met-someone moments: Stuck in rush-hour traffic, you make eyes in the rearview mirror at the cutie behind you… or walking your sister’s dog while she’s out of town, you find the pup, well, strongly drawn to a poodle whose owner is adorable… Often, these incidents don’t lead anywhere, but for some of our lucky readers, they were the start of something very, very good. Read their inspiring stories, and be open to meeting your next honey in a most unusual way.
We met at a party we weren’t invited to!
“My best friend’s brother was having a gala graduation party. She invited me last minute to keep her company, like the day of—seriously. My guy was also invited the night before—also a last-minute attendee. He met my friend’s brother out at a bar. And her brother, after a couple beers, boasted: ‘Come to my party tomorrow night, open bar!’ This wasn’t the type of party you just show up to. It was white-glove service and the invitations were printed, like wedding invites! There was a champagne fountain and a dessert show in the middle of the dance floor. When I got there, I didn’t even have a seat card. I saw an empty seat at my now-husband’s table and asked if I could sit there. He said, yes… four years later, I said ‘I do!’”
—Liss Gallotta, 25, Riverdale, NJ

He replied to my profile…which I didn’t post
“I was dating someone my friends hated. You know the story: ‘He’s not good enough for you, you’re too kind-hearted for such a jerk!’ So without telling me, they put me on MSN Dating & Personals to prove a point—that there was someone better out there for me. They totally went behind my back—I mean, I was in a relationship! All the incoming emails responding to my profile showed up as spam (which I immediately deleted). Somehow, one email got through, from a guy named Rich. For some reason, his email fascinated me and I agreed to meet him for a casual cup of coffee. That day, everything just clicked—we knew from day one, we were meant to be together—forever. We talked and laughed and I think by the end of the date we were finishing each other’s sentences. We've even talked seriously about eloping! I guess my friends were right—my ex wasn’t good enough for me!”
—Sara Govatos, 26, Weehawken, NJ

We were trapped on the subway together
“Last year, around 8:30 a.m., I got on the subway as usual. I had my non-fat latte and new issue of Vogue in tow and was looking forward to a thirty-minute commute uptown. The train approached the first stop, but came to a halt underground between stops. I sat there calmly for 5 minutes, but as it approached 9 a.m., I began to worry. The conductor came on the loudspeaker and said there was a small fire at the next stop, and our train was being detained. That’s when Tony, a handsome guy in a suit across from me, let out a sigh of disgust. I responded, ‘At least it’s Friday!’ He smiled, and we started chatting. The train finally continued on, but before we parted ways he asked for my number. We had dinner at a brick-oven pizza place that evening and things took off from there!”
—Gianna Catrone, 30, New York City

I was being set up with his friend
“My friend Joanne was dying to set me up with her pal John’s friend. Joanne has good taste, so I let her play matchmaker. I didn’t know anything about the friend but I had heard John’s name enough in the past to feel comfortable. John told Joanne that he had a friend for me—he said, ‘He’s smart, funny, good looking…’ I trusted his taste so I gave Joanne my number to give to John to give to his friend. When John called to sell his friend to me, we ended up on the phone for hours. We ended our conversation with the agreement that I’d go on a blind date with his friend the next night. But, when my doorbell rang the next night, I was surprised to see John there with flowers! He said that ‘I was just too good to giveaway to some other guy.’ And I have to admit I was glad he did take that initiative!”
—Kristina Katsoulas, 28, Long Island, NY

We met at a wake
My boss’s mother passed away, and I attended the service. I didn’t really know anyone there, except for a couple of the guys in I.T. I felt funny signing the condolence book but figured I ought to. The woman ahead of me turned and handed me the pen. She said: ‘I hate signing in to these kinds of things… I don’t know what to say about my ex’s great aunt.’ I smiled and said, ‘I don’t know what to say either—my boss’s mom.’ Later, after talking with my boss, I saw that woman again, off in the corner alone. I said something really corny like, ‘Come here often?’ and we both stifled a laugh. We ended talking amongst lily plants. We’re still together and we joke that our first date was a funeral—can’t get worse than that!”
—Peter Smithers, 34, Pittsburgh, PA

Christine M. Coppa is a New York City-based freelance writer.

Article courtesy of Happen magazine,

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Alaska Fishing Vacation

One of our most popular voyage options, the Alaska Fishing Vacation and Sightseeing Cruise allows you to enjoy the phenomenal fishing we have here in Southcentral Alaska, in combination with our extraordinary scenery and wildlife.

Alaska is truly a fishing paradise and Southcentral Alaska is the mecca of that glory. Here we have everything to make your Alaska Fishing Vacation and sightseeing cruise unforgettable - the muscle burning, rod bending halibut, all five species of line peeling, reel screaming salmon, our ravenous predators of the deep, lingcod, numerous species of delicious rockfish and the powerful, fast and furious salmon shark. Add to that our breathtaking scenery - including magnificent glaciers, cascading waterfalls, and the aurora borealis, our incredible wildlife comprising everything from majestic marine mammals to dazzling birds and stunning land animals, you will have a vacation that is beyond compare.

Imagine cruising through magnificent deep water fjords, watching the mighty orcas and the acrobatic humpback whales as they frolic in the pristine waters of Prince William Sound – and then testing your angling skills with our athletic silver salmon! Our chef will expertly prepare your catch for you that evening while you and your family and friends enjoy gazing at an awe-inspiring tide-water glacier calving into the sea!

Explore black sand beaches, hike through untamed wilderness guided by our highly skilled and knowledgeable crew or take a walk through our northernmost temperate rainforest. Relax with family and friends in a breathtaking cove, then step out on the back deck to “wet a line.” FISH ON! You land a 60 pound halibut as bald eagles circle overhead to enjoy the show. The next day the overwhelming beauty continues to dazzle you as we cruise along, while the Dall Porpoise swim playfully alongside the bow.

We watch the Stellar Sea lions as they haul out onto rocky islands while we fish for some delicious lingcod and rockfish. As we cruise to our anchorage for the evening we spot bears dining on the plethora of pink salmon burgeoning from a nearby stream. You go to sleep that night thinking of the wonderful adventures you have shared; looking forward to tomorrow’s exciting explorations!

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How Do You Want To Advertise Online

By Tsuyoshi E. Suzuki

Online advertising is often more cost effective than offline media, where seconds of exposure on TV can sometimes cost a few thousand dollars. Banner advertising has been popular 10 years back. It is powerful and immediate. The internet has become an essential component of any ad campaign. It is growing more than traditional advertising, and includes both search marketing and search engine optimization, which both tap into consumers' seemingly limitless demands for finding information on the Internet. In one eMarketer forecast, search engine marketing alone is speculated to climb to almost $6.5 billion this year, and to reach more than $10 billion by 2009.

Real-time reporting can be queried on any campaign parameter. Ad networks are critical for aggregating audiences. But if they're disconnected from the rest of the market, they can hinder efficiency and profitability because they offer limited supply and demand. Its AdLearn technology, which maximizes advertising revenues across the network, learns from the results of previous campaigns and gets smarter with each advertisement placed.

Advertising cannot compete with sales promotion and direct marketing activities in generating short-term (less than one year) sales effects. But in the long-term, the cumulative force of good advertising. Adopting online advertising into the political marketing mix has been a long-term process. In 2007 and 2008 political campaigns reached a breakthrough, incorporating online advertising as part of their campaign equation from day one. Advertisers are also considering ways to send relevant ads to mobile phones, though many people want to get free data or free calls in return for watching ads on cell phones.

Search engines will forever be linked in a type of partnership arrangement with corporate websites, through what others say about your business online, and how your company name, brand, and website are displayed in the search engine results pages. This is even more of a true statement when considering many of the large companies have numerous divisions and/or separate websites each targeting a particular market segment. Search Engine Advertising is now the world's fastest-growing advertising market. This year in the both the United States and United Kingdom it will eclipse newspaper advertising in total ad spend. Search and other partner sites with the Sponsored Search program. Connects businesses and customers online.

Internet services grew and so did resources. What fell out was the business idea, companies that were not built on a lot of solid ground. Internet advertising exceeded $17 billion in 2005. It has now surpassed billboards, magazines and cable in spending. It grew at an annual clip of 18% from 2001-2006 and only cable TV (10%) was close to a double digit growth rate. Other channels basically kept pace with GDP growth (about 3%), with newspapers (1%) and radio (2%) most negatively affected.

Online advertising is widely regarded as the most effective direct response medium, and achieves higher response rates than traditional direct mail ad campaigns, for a fraction of the cost. It is about getting the right product in front of the right audience. It's about the ultra niche markets talking directly to their target client base.

Tsuyoshi E. Suzuki is an Expert Internet Marketer. Making money easy. Use this web traffic generator, you can get very targeted visitors to any kind of websites for FREE! Making money internet Now!

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Internet Marketing - Why is Web 2.0 Essential to Your Business?

By Daegan Smith

How many popular sites do you know? Do you have any reasons why they became what they are today? Web sites such as Flickr, Propeller, Digg, MySpace, StumbleUpon are the only few of the many sites popping all over Internet. Most of these sites tag any kind of content like audio, video, graphics, articles, photos, etc. The difference with these social bookmarking sites to a conventional search where you acquire inclusive results for key words, these sites produce results based upon what other people labeled and have crated their popularity by casting their votes. If your Internet marketing business uses Web 2.0, you'll likely gain a lot of members thereby increasing your profits.

How Web 2.0 improves your business?
Social interaction and bookmarking sites marked as Web 2.0 also include wikis, podcasting sites, blogging, and video sites. So what makes these sites used by a good number of people? Those sites differ from the rest because the content in them can all be user generated. Just like Flickr and Facebook. Like what happened to YouTube, when it was purchased by Google, the number of people who visit has greatly increased. Sites such as BlinkList,, or Scuttle allow you to tag web pages, blog posts and any other written content. Google Video and Flickr allows you to share your photos to other members of these sites.

How Web 2.0 works for your business?
For example, when you visit a Web 2.0 site and you observed a blog entry, do you notice that at the end of the post, there is a bookmarking button? When you become a member of sites like this one, you are required to complete your profile and allow you to post anything unless it breaks the site's rules. After your post, do you notice you are obliged to describe your post and tag the fitting keywords? Yes, that's how it basically works. When people look for information in search engines, tags are generally helpful. People find immediately the written content they may be looking for. In addition, what makes this sites so cool is that they are open to anyone who views them. Moreover, if you don't want any other people who can view your content, you could possibly do so by setting your profile to private.

Applying Web 2.0 to you Internet marketing business
Web 2.0 is indeed an amazing marketing method for your Internet marketing business. If you create your own Web 2.0 site, make sure your rules are properly imposed by all members so it continues to run and attract more people into visiting it. Or, if you wish to start your own internet marketing business immediately without creating your own Web 2.0 site, you may tag your posts and that of the others. Just make sure you follow the rules so you won't be banned from the site. When people look for key words and have found any of the words you tagged, they'll see your products and services. If these people purchase any one of what you sell, then you generate sales. What's more, it doesn't cost you anything. Thus, when you go about joining an Internet marketing business, make sure you are using Web 2.0. There are many people who seem so far at making their online business successful. That's because they are not using Web 2.0. Make sure you're not one of them. is an Expert Online Marketer "Learn How To Make $85,147,717 Per Month While Quickly AndEasily EXPLODING Your Network Marketing Organization by 7,141 People Without EVER Buying Or Calling a Single Stinking Lead?" Get Your Free MLM Wealth CD Now!

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Earn Profits And Future Financial Security

By Amit Malhotra

Money rules the world, they say - many of us accept this hard-core fact and try to make money in several ways. However, investment is the most accepted means of saving money. What if you get a chance to save as well as make profits from your small investment -- sounds cool. Yes, stock trading provides you the option of saving as well as moneymaking option in the best possible way. The other advantages associated with such trading method are that you can manage your funds online.

Online trading today has opened a new vista for investors. This Internet based trading is cool and safe. Though it is a computer-based system, you do not require computer knowledge at all.
Many new investors however, ask this common question whether they need computer knowledge or not. The trading Websites are so intuitively designed that you can understand each and every thing in just few minutes. Moreover, the video instructions available on the site make things much easier for first time visitor.

Stock trading companies play a very crucial role in the whole trading procedure. That's why industries involved in trading are doing their best so as to compete with others in the market.
New features like advanced trading tools and security systems are being added on the website. More and more features are being offered by companies just to attract new investors. In this competitive marketplace, investors are getting impeccable services at a very minimal commission rate.

In addition to various services, these websites also offers valuable stock content such as articles, blogs, newsletters, etc. Stock quotes with charts are displayed in an efficient manner. And, with advanced trading tools, traders can easily analyze the market for successful trading. What investors need is an online account. Open an account today and start trading now.

Stock market is the only platform where one can make money in a very short period of time.
But, to avoid subtle risks associated with the share market, one needs to be more cautious.
Those investors who are steadily reaping the benefits from trading are aware of the risks the market poses. And, it is their knowledge and the comprehensive market analysis that help them in taking the right decision at the right time.

You can also be a successful investor provided you learn about the market. Since, learning is a continuous process, you should learn always. Learn how to analyze the data and charts, get familiar with the changing market moods and move forward. However, online financial experts are also there to help you. Discuss with them and plan intelligently.

Investment today is very important for every class of people. It not only helps save your hard earned money, you also feel secured financially in future as well. If you are financially sound, you are mentally sound as well. So, invest now and live happily all through your life. Trading however, provides dual benefits: a secured future financial security and profits. So, what are you waiting for - open an account online on the best trading company websites and start trading from today.

Open an account with SogotradeIf you are new to Sogotrade:Online stock trading investment

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What is So Unique About a Community Website

By Naman Jain

Community websites are the most happening thing on the Internet these days. They are an exciting and interesting medium of connecting with people. They allow surfers not only to connect with people from across the globe, but they also serve the purpose of building contacts with people who can help them in their professional front too.

Coming to count the benefits of a community website, the most important factor that comes to mind is the ability of these websites to pull immense traffic. Why do you think these websites are doing so well on the Internet. And why they have millions of visitors every day? One simple reason for this is 'user generated content'

The community website design is such that they allow people to write on these websites. This is helpful since, the website owners does not have to take the pain of uploading fresh content everyday. The content keeps pouring in automatically and in large numbers which increase the content quantity and also the ranking of the website on the search engines. The higher the rank of a website the greater are its growth prospects.

Apart from content. The designing aspect of these websites too is quite an essential aspect of their creation. The Community Website design is generally quite casual and friendly. They work upon making Online interaction an easy and enjoyable affair for people.

These social websites benefit from the number of members they have on their website. Hence, the community website designing is created keeping in mind the fact that they should be able to attract more visitors to register with them and become a regular user of the website.

The professional aspect of community websites too is a great USP of these portals. The website helps people to expand their business network and to popularize their business worldwide. Here too a lot depends on the design aspect of these community websites. The social portals generally have a very informal outlook. They are more of a Online social platform where people meet, interact and discuss. This concept is now being used widely and businesses to are making way into these portals. They too socialize, interact and discuss affairs with the masses and make use of their suggestions and ideas in their business.

About the Author- Naman Jain is an expert in Internet marketing, presently working with Rupiz Media, one of the leading internet marketing company, offering online marketing services, SEO services, banner advertising and search engine marketing over the globe.

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