Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Education Builds Students Think, Act on their Own

The private sector and social service organisations have to donate towards cutting-edge information technology available to all school students, said Director of School Education P. Perumalsamy.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of a classroom block at Government Model Higher Secondary School, Lady Wellingdon campus under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, here on Monday, he said, “The Government has been focusing more on education through new initiatives. But the goal of education for all will be attained only with sustain of all stakeholders in the society.”

Member of Parliament Kanimozhi inaugurated the block of six classrooms. “The system of education should give the students an chance to think, and act on their own with creativity”. She advised the students to make proper use of the government contribution in education and health of the students.

Mr. Perumalsamy asked organisations such as the Madras Knights Round Table 181, which organized the function, to contribute for computerization of schools. He said mathematics lab would be set up in 100 schools this year. “We have established complaints against 116 schools for collecting capitation fee,” he said. “The Department of School Education has sent notices to the schools that have desecrated the rules,” he said. A free medical screening camp for school students was organized as part of the function.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A new charter of life for all on Net

The online gaming market began with single player and simple games and went on to encompass complex games, involving multi-players, creating, in the process, virtual communities.

Jekyll in real life wants to be Hyde in the virtual world. Very often, the real person behind the virtual persona is never revealed. The virtual avatar is often not linked to the real person, and it is more a fantasy of “what if.” This is a major challenge to advertisers, since the revenue model of online markets depends on advertising and subscriptions. With a low subscription to attract audience, and advertising revenues not really taking off, game providers need to become innovative.

Online gamers such as Second Life, Sim City and others have started taking these gaming platforms innovatively forward, selling their platforms and tools such as 3D animation to marketers across the world. Unlike communities evolving on their own, the innovative use of applications and platforms require additional software work and customisation to suit the needs of the real world companies. A number of software companies such as Anantara Solutions, eQuadriga and a few others in India have found a niche in this market.

S. Sundararaj, Partner and Founder-Team Manager of Anantara Solutions Pvt Ltd., which provides technology solutions to Second Life, says: “The virtual world is so similar to the world where we live. There are 16 million people who visit or live in this world. Second Life goes beyond gaming.”

Second Life is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab of the U.S. and is accessible through the Internet. Unlike a traditional computer game, Second Life does not have a designated objective. Nor does it have any traditional game play mechanism or rule. However, a vast majority of users look at Second Life primarily as an entertainment medium. Trends in the recent past indicate that users (including real-life companies) are adopting Second Life for more serious purposes with business and other real life benefits than for entertainment.

What Linden Lab is trying to do is to make available tools such as 3D animation and other platform components to real world companies for their business needs. These come at no cost for companies. However, it is not similar to Facebook, Orkut or a blog. A layperson will find it difficult to create his/her own site or construct a company on the Second Life platform; it needs software developers to create a company, says Leo Ananth, chairman and managing director, eQuadriga Software Private Limited.

Today, all Fortune 1,000 companies are using Second Life for promoting their products and brands. IBM and Intel have been using it for conducting virtual conferences and saving cost on travel and meetings. Many universities are conducting classes through it. In southern India, an automotive company has recently opened an office using this platform for promoting its brand and products.

“Second Life is evolving,” says R. Sivakumar, Managing Director (Sales and Marketing Group), Intel South Asia. Though Intel has used Second Life for virtual conference, it is a very nascent tool and will evolve in the future. However, many companies have started using this platform. For example, Time Warner Bros promotes its movie, I am legend, through Second Life. It has acted as a powerful medium for creating an awareness of the movie. Many international resorts are promoting their offerings through virtual media. L’Oreal has been selecting its models through this platform. IT major Wipro Technologies has set up its virtual innovation centre for testing services on Second Life in Bangalore, according to Vinayak Sharma, consultant of Anantara Solutions.

In this time of global recession, many have lost their jobs work in IBM or SAP offices due to Second Life. Most of the U.S.-based companies, which cannot afford to spend money on small jobs, have started outsourcing these jobs to the virtual world through Second Life.

Second Life, according to Mr. Ananth, is one of the best platforms available in the virtual world for companies to build their business. Second Life is different from other portals in that it provides banking facility and has its own currency, Linden dollar, in which the transactions and trading take place

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weight-Loss Surgical Treatment Cuts Cancer Risks in Women

Weight-loss surgery may help corpulent women lower their risk of developing cancer, Swedish researchers said.

They found women who had weight-loss surgery were 42 percent less likely to build up cancer during a 10-year study published in the journal Lancet Oncology.

Men in the study did not benefit, possibly because many cancers are driven by female hormones such as estrogen, they said, or basically because fewer men get weight-loss surgery.

Obesity has long been known to raise the risk of cancer, and the verification continues to mount.

A study released on 23rd June in the Journal of the American Medical Association found people who were obese as young adults had twice the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, and particularly aggressive kind.

Weight-loss operations -- in which doctors change the digestive system's structure to cut the volume of food a person can eat -- have been shown to reverse diabetes and reduce the risks of dying from heart disease.

The Swedish study, led by Lars Sjostrom of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, equated 2,010 obese patients who had weight-loss surgery with 2,037 obese patients who got normal diet and exercise treatment.

Overall, they found the surgery helped people maintain a standard weight loss of 19.9 kg or about 43 pounds over 10 years. People in the diet and exercise group gained a normal of 1.3 kg or nearly 3 pounds during the study period.

The surgery cut the rates of cancer by a third, but women loved most of that benefit. Among women, there were 79 first-time cancers in the surgery group, and 130 among those who got standard treatment.

Dr. Andrew Renehan of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom said in a commentary the absence of an advantage in men could simply reflect the number of men who were in the study.

He said for women, the supreme cancer prevention effects were likely to be post-menopausal breast and endometrial cancers -- cancers receptive to hormone levels.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

June 21 : Wish U Happy Father's Day

I wish u Happy Father's Day to my father and to all.

Normally we are celebrating Father's Day June 21 of every year.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that has an official day on which fathers are honored by their children. On the third Sunday in June, fathers all across the United States are given presents, treated to dinner or otherwise made to feel special. .

The origin of Father's Day is not clear. Some say that it began with a church service in West Virginia in 1908. Others say the first Father's Day ceremony was held in Vancouver, Washington.

The president of the Chicago branch of the Lions' Club, Harry Meek, is said to have celebrated the first Father's Day with his organization in 1915; and the day that they chose was the third Sunday in June, the closest date to Meek's own birthday!

Regardless of when the first true Father's Day occurred, the strongest promoter of the holiday was Mrs. Bruce John Dodd of Spokane, Washington. Mrs. Dodd felt that she had an outstanding father. He was a veteran of the Civil War. His wife had died young, and he had raised six children without their mother.

In 1909, Mrs. Dodd approached her own minister and others in Spokane about having a church service dedicated to fathers on June 5, her father's birthday. That date was too soon for her minister to prepare the service, so he spoke a few weeks later on June 19th. From then on, the state of Washington celebrated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Children made special desserts, or visited their fathers if they lived apart.

States and organizations began lobbying Congress to declare an annual Father's Day. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson approved of this idea, but it was not until 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge made it a national event to "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and to impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." Since then, fathers had been honored and recognized by their families throughout the country on the third Sunday in June.

When children can't visit their fathers or take them out to dinner, they send a greeting card. Traditionally, fathers prefer greeting cards that are not too sentimental. Most greeting cards are whimsical so fathers laugh when they open them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

India: Swine flu cases from Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad climb to 44

New fresh cases of swine flu have been reported from Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, taking the total number of positive cases across the country to 44 on Thursday.

Five cases have been reported from Delhi, three from Bangalore and one case tested positive in Hyderabad on Thursday, a Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry official said.

All the patients are undergoing treatment in isolation services. Three of the isolated patients in Delhi had arrived from the United States, Japan and Australia.

The other two cases in Delhi have not traveled abroad and are family contacts of the two positive cases reported on Wednesday.

The cases in Bangalore have traveled from the U.S. and Thailand. The case in Hyderabad has traveled from the United States.

So far samples of 370 people have been tested; of which 44 have tested positive for swine flu.

Of these, only four are indigenous cases who got the infection from the positive cases that have come to India from abroad. The rest of the samples have been found negative for the virus.

Noticing When U are Happy

One or two people said,”Great!” I thought at the time how unusual that was. One woman was happy because she had just had her first grandchild. She was beaming and the whole world could share in her joy. Another one was just happy for no particular reason that she would name. I thought it odd because it was so atypical.

I think it’s great when we can say we’re happy and that we can acknowledge it. Sometimes I think people don’t want to say they are happy because not everyone at work is. Maybe someone has a health problem. Maybe it is that someone is dealing with a relationship problem at home. When we work with a lot of people, there are so many stories and inevitably some of those stories are sad, tragic or terribly unfair. It is part of our enviroment at work.

I also see that on the flip side, there are a lot of great stories. People are in love, they’re having children, getting a new puppy, hearing good news from old friends. Maybe we don’t hear these stories enough. Maybe we should celebrate the good news more often.

Maybe even if we don’t share it with our co-workers, we should acknowledge to ourselves and our friends when we feel things are going well. Maybe it’s a big project that you have finished and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Maybe it’s you can exercise longer than you could before, or even touch your toes. Maybe it’s you’re just feeling better about everything including work.

Notice when you’re happy, it might mean that you can look back in your journal in two or three months and see that a) you were happy and b) what you were doing that might have contributed it that euphoria.

That way if in July or November or even next May, if you’re in a bad place, thinking everything stinks, you’ll be able to go to your journal, remember writing about these good feelings you’re feeling and what you’re involved in now and go about re-creating it to see if you can recapture that great feeling.

A by-product might also be more esprit de corps at work. More people being happy can help elevate the morale of everyone.

Good Luck and remember ’smile’. It confuses people as to what you’re really thinking and it actually makes some of the people looking at you smile back.

Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin, in Manage Your Team’s Energy, Not Just the Work in Positive Psychology News Daily, write that “human beings are hard-wired to mimic the facial expressions and moods of those we come in contact with. Sigal Barsade, associate management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, claims we can unconsciously “catch” both good and bad moods. And you can “catch” these emotions in a matter of milliseconds according to Elaine Hatfield, psychology professor at the University of Hawaii and co-author of Emotional Contagion.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden showed people pictures of both happy and angry faces for a fraction of a second and observed how people reacted. When participants looked at pictures of happy faces, their own facial expressions mirrored the picture – they responded with a smile. Similarly when participants viewed pictures of angry faces, they responded with a frown.”

So smile and spread that virally, who knows you could start a pandemic of good will. Wouldn’t that be something?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ten Ways to Beat the Rising Cost of Health Care

It seems that in good times and bad, you can count on health-care costs to defy economic gravity. And it doesn't get much better when you hit 65 and qualify for Medicare. By one estimate, a couple retiring this year will need a cool quarter-million in savings just for medical expenses.

So for better or worse, managing your own health care has become an essential part of financial planning. Washington is hotly debating how to fix our high-cost health-care system, but in the meantime there are some things you can do to lower your bills without compromising on care. Here are your best strategies for easing the pain.

1. Before you say "ahh," ask "how much?"

Most of us still aren't used to the idea of talking money with a doctor. But you won't be shocking his delicate sensibilities. "The uninsured frequently ask for a discount or a payment plan, but most insured consumers don't realize that they can negotiate," says Ruth Levin of Continuum Health Partners, a New York City hospital system.

2. Don't just swallow high-priced prescriptions

Health plans have gotten picky about pills. About 77% of workers with a drug benefit face three or more price tiers - one cost for generics and higher charges for "preferred" and "nonpreferred" brands. If Prevacid isn't on your preferred list, it could easily cost you $300 a year more than a generic version of Prilosec.

3. Get your free money. Sign up for that FSA

Need any more proof that humans aren't as rational as economists assume? Look at flexible spending accounts, a benefit that can put hundreds of bucks in your pocket. About 80% of large employers offer FSAs, but a mere 22% of their workers enroll, according to the consultancy Mercer.

4. Look before you leap into a high deductible

Wish you could pay a lower monthly premium? Many firms offer you a choice between a traditional plan and one with low monthly costs but a much bigger annual deductible. But high-deductible plans aren't a good fit for everyone.

5. Max out an HSA (but use it wisely)

If your family's insurance deductible is higher than $2,300 you likely qualify for a health savings account, or HSA. Like FSAs, these accounts let you save pretax dollars for health costs. The key difference is that you get to keep your money there as long as you want. And so long as you use it to buy health care, you don't pay taxes when you withdraw it either.

6. Get in, get out, and pay a whole lot less

Physicians jam so many appointments into a day that it can be hard to squeeze in on short notice. And if you have to take your kid to an emergency room for a weekend illness, it could cost you a co-pay of $100 or more, especially if the insurer deems it a nonemergency. But there are easier, cheaper ways to get treatment for minor ailments.

7. Have an insurance game plan if you lose your job

You already know that you should have a cash emergency fund that covers six months' expenses. That figure should include insurance costs, because you don't want to let coverage lapse. Not only would you be vulnerable to huge costs if you fell ill, but if you let coverage slide for 63 days or more, your next employer doesn't have to immediately cover preexisting conditions.

8. Live healthier...Or else

Employers want you to be healthier, and not because they love you. They're trying to control their health costs, says Kathy Harte, a consultant at Hewitt.

Today nearly 90% of large employers offer some type of wellness program, including help with losing weight or quitting smoking, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Your company may even pay you - or charge lower premiums - for participating. Other plans are offering free access to a health-care coach, typically a nurse, who can offer one-on-one help for managing a chronic condition.

9. Avoid Medicare mishaps

Medicare has become a bit baffling. Besides traditional coverage, you can choose private plans called Medicare Advantage. And then there are all those new drug programs.

10. Cut vision and dental costs too

Your company may offer you optional vision benefits, which might seem pretty attractive. But run the numbers before you sign up. Add up the amount you spend on contacts, glasses, and optometrist visits each year. Then calculate how much you'd save with the plan's benefits. Some people find that the coverage costs about the same, or sometimes more, than they save. And remember, you can also pay for vision through your FSA or HSA.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Exercise: Keeping safe and Injury-free

Important exercise safety tips

  • See your doctor for a sports physical before you start a sport.
  • Don’t exercise when it is really hot and humid out. You do not want your body to overheat or get dehydrated. Also, if you live in an area with high air pollution, exercise early in the day or at night and avoid congested streets and rush hour traffic.
  • Drink water before, during, and after exercise or sports competitions. Read more about the water your body needs.
  • Make sure you warm up and stretch your muscles for 5 minutes before and after workouts to make your muscles more flexible. It is easer to get hurt if your muscles are not stretched. It is also important to increase the intensity of your workout gradually. If you exercise intensely right away, you could risk getting hurt. Check out tips on how to stretch before exercising.
  • See a doctor or let your parents/guardian know if: 1) You are in severe pain, 2) you see swelling around where you got hurt, or 3) The pain gets in the way of sleep and activities. Don’t jump back to your regular exercise after getting hurt because you could get hurt again. Follow your doctor’s orders for how to care for your injury and when you can be active again. This includes following instructions for use of pain medicine.
  • Follow the rules of the game! The rules are there, in part, to keep you safe.

Using the right equipment

When you exercise or play sports, it is important to use the right safety equipment.

Helmets are needed for sports such as baseball, softball, biking, snow skiing, and rollerblading. Make sure you wear the right helmet for the sport you are playing and that it is not too loose. Also make sure that the helmet you wear for biking has a sticker from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which means that it is safe for this activity.
Mouth guards protect your mouth, teeth, and tongue. You should wear a guard if there’s a chance you could get hit in the head while taking part in activities such as volleyball, basketball, or martial arts. You can find mouth guards at sport stores or your dentist. It will also help keep your mouth safe to take out your retainer.

Special eye protection is needed for sports such as ice hockey, soccer, and basketball. Goggles and face masks should fit snugly and have cushion for a comfortable fit. If you wear glasses, you need to get fitted for guards that fit over your glasses. You could also buy special prescription goggles, which cost about $60 or more. These guards and goggles are made with a special plastic called polycarbonate (say: pahl-ee-kar-buh-nayt). This special plastic will not hurt your eyes.

It is important to wear the right footwear for your sport. Check with your coach or an athletic shoe salesperson about what shoes to wear.

Wrist, knee, and elbow pads can help prevent broken bones when you are inline skating/rollerblading, skate or snow boarding, or playing sports such as hockey.
Over-exercising and how it can hurt you

Exercise is a very important part of being healthy. But for teens who exercise too much, it can become an addiction and lead to physical and emotional harm. Some teens use extreme, repeated activity to lose too much weight. For these girls, exercise helps them to control a powerful fear of being "fat."

How do you know if your exercise habits are unhealthy? Here are some signs:

  • Feeling irritable if you can’t exercise
  • Making exercise your highest priority
  • Exercising when injured
  • Planning your life around exercise

Over-exercising can hurt your body. Working-out too often can lead to:

  • Pulled muscles
  • Stress fractures
  • Knee trauma
  • Shin splints
  • Strained hamstrings
  • Ripped tendons

Missed Period

A missed period also is a concern for girls and women who over-exercise. Your body needs a certain amount of fat to function and to have regular periods. Eating right and exercising is important for having a healthy body, but some girls take it too far. Too much exercising or very strict dieting can use up your body fat and delay your period, or cause it to stop until you gain some weight back. Not having menstrual periods is called amenorrhea—a sign that hormone patterns have changed. Women who suffer from anorexia and elite women athletes who train seriously for competition often have amenorrhea.

Over-exercising also can harm your emotional health. It is linked to:

* Depression
* Eating disorders

Sometimes, teens over-exercise along with having an eating disorder such as anorexia. People with anorexia take extreme steps to lose weight, including not eating at all. This combination puts your health in danger.

If you think that you may be over-exercising or have an eating disorder, talk about it with someone you can trust. Talk to a school counselor or nurse. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to bring it up. If you think that your friend may have one of these problems, help them find someone to talk to. Be supportive and let them know you care about them.