June 9th, 2009
07:44 AM GMT
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June 9th, 2009
07:34 AM GMT
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I try very hard not to become a geek about phones. Really I do. Unfortunately I am failing big time. Whether it’s the new Palm Pre or the new 3rd gen iPhone 3GS (S for speed as we keep being told!) I am taking an unhealthy interest in how we all keep in touch. And I am not sure why.

The fact is a phone is a gadget pure and simple. It serves a useful purpose. So why do we all have this love hate relationship with our phones? Why do we swear we can’t live without our favourite model and yet claim we would never touch That One with a 10-foot pole?

Our phones have become our cameras, our photo albums our diaries and our mailboxes. They have wormed themselves into our lives in a way only seen perhaps by the landline and motor car.

Now the smart phone lines are being drawn – Palm’s new Pre, Apple with a new iPhone (and yes all other manufacturers inbetween.)

Of course, Unfortunately while many of the latest models are only available in the United States, the rest of us will have to beg and borrow to try out these new machines for some time yet. This always seems somewhat ironic since the U.S. is probably the slowest of developed nations in its mobile telephony! Features that have been available for years elsewhere are only just now becoming "the norm."

The rest of the world isn't worthy yet of Palms largesse. Palm won't even tell me when they will launch the GSM version in Europe – very odd!

Sometimes I wonder if all this technology isn’t a touch too far. Teenagers who live for their phones? workers who caress their blackberries? Have we become so dependant that we have forgotten what the purpose is – to keep in touch!

Admit it. You love your phone! Now you join in!



June 9th, 2009
03:08 AM GMT
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HONG KONG, China – My colleague Ali Velshi likes to say that there are three ways to secure your financial future – by winning the lottery, marrying a millionaire, or managing your finances.  Managing your finances would appear to be most practical – unless, of course, you are a student of Ms. Lisa Johnson Mandell.

Lisa is an American dating guru.  She recently held a class in Hong Kong giving tips based on her book "How To Snare A Millionaire."  Snagging a sugar daddy is one of the best investment decisions you can make, she assured me.  She should know, she said, because she is married to one. She has had 50 marriage proposals – at least a dozen of the men came with seven-figure salaries, she told the room of aspiring spouses.

So how do you snare a millionaire?

This is the advice she gave to the 98 women and two men in attendance.  (Well, more like one man – the other fled the meeting during the first break. The poor guy didn’t know what he had signed up for.)

Do’s

Be the prize.  Lisa suggests women wear bright-colored dresses and walk around in “power” (read: stiletto) heels.  Men were programmed to hunt, she says.

Be approachable.  While walking, make eye contact and smile.  When interested in someone sitting across a room, think (but don't say aloud), “Oh, baby, oh, baby, you are the hottest thing I have ever seen, and we need each other bad.”  If you can do that (without snorting your drink with laughter), supposedly like a tractor beam, your target will wander over and ask, “Excuse me, did we just have a moment?”

Be at the right place, at the right time.  To Lisa, that means hang out where the rich boys are - cigar bars, full-service apartments, bar areas at expensive steak restaurants, posh hotel lobbies.

Don’t's

Don't talk too much.  On the first date, no mention of children, former lovers, emotional hang-ups, the state of your finances or his.  Don’t prattle on about the finer details of your overqualified resume – he might be inclined to hire you, rather than date you.

Don't be nervous.  Exude confidence.  If you don't know what to talk about - don't.  Ask him more questions about himself, Lisa says.  He'll think you understand him even more.

Don't jump in the sack.  She says most women would want to sleep with a millionaire right away.  So you need to play hard to get.

Lisa cannot quantify how successful her advice is and admits that it could sound mercenary.  However, she blames the stigma on society's double standards.

Men and women were wired, she believes, to behave this way.  “From the cave man days way back when, we had to mate with the men who were the most successful.”  Those would be the best hunters, she explained to me.  “These days that kind of success often equates to wealth.”  She says men, in turn, are engineered to pursue beautiful women because beauty indicates good health.

“Nobody looks askance at men because they want a beautiful wife,” she points out.  “But if you say, 'Go out and find a rich husband', it sounds awful.”

What she preaches, she says, is different from gold-digging.

Gold-diggers are women who “want to separate the man from his money,” Lisa explains.  “Someone who wants to marry a successful man is just normal.”

True, perhaps, though not all women define success in terms of dollars.

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Filed under: BusinessChinaSign of the times


June 9th, 2009
01:36 AM GMT
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FARIDABAD, India — Power goes off as we drive into Harjit Singh's factory in this dusty industrial zone on the outskirts of India's capital New Delhi.
 
Singh, who makes fasteners and nuts for automobiles, turns to a heavy-duty generator lying in one corner of the factory floor as his workers struggles to switch it on. An elderly employee surrounded by idle machines continues his work with a handheld metal file.
 
In energy-deficit India, factory-owners like Singh – classified as micro and small enterprises – suffer routine power droughts like this. Still, these small companies manage to account for 39 percent of the manufacturing output and one-third of the country's total export.
 
The Indian government says this sector, spread over 12.8 million enterprises, employs an estimated 31 million people – a labor intensity four times higher than large enterprises.
 
But Singh says it is in a crisis now. "We are facing a business crunch, a major business crunch due to the economic slowdown," he laments as his machines rumble to life as power is restored.
 
He tells me that manufacturing activity has dropped considerably because of falling orders. Singh is caught in what he calls a "debt-trap" because costly banks loans to keep the business running.
 
His biggest worry is a permanent shutdown caused not by shoddy power, but by the financial crisis. In the past year he laid off 20 of the 38 workers. His sales are only one-fifth his 2007 volume. "I can’t help it, I can’t survive. I have to survive on the bare minimum," he remarks.
 
The trouble on Singh’s factory floor belies rosy headlines in the Indian press. "Get, set, grow," read a headline for the Hindustan Times. "Good news: At 6.7%, GDP grows more than expected," said a Times of India headline the same day.
 
But for Singh, it's unclear what lies ahead. He hopes the government will promote more bank loans for his ailing automobile sector, tax concessions and a curb on Chinese imports to keep his business from closure.

 "Something has to be done immediately; otherwise we’ve had it," he says.



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