Friday, March 30, 2012

TaxACT low-cost web-based tax preparation: Prices Increase April 1: Lock In Now

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Date: Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:54 AM
Subject: Prices Increase April 1: Lock In Now

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Downton Arby's

Downton Arby's - Yahoo!

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The Recession (according to GCFL)

The Recession

The recession has hit everybody really hard...

* My neighbor got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

* CEOs are now playing miniature golf.

* Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

* I saw a Mormon with only one wife.

* If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient
Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

* Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned
their children's names.

* My cousin had an exorcism but couldn't afford to pay for
it, and they re-possessed her!

* A picture is now only worth 200 words.

* McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

* The Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas is now managed by
Somali pirates.

* When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to
share a room.

* A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

Received from LeoDaVinci.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Humor in interviewing/work, courtesy of Ask Annie (A CPA and a tax analyst walk into a bar...)


Ask Annie


A CPA and a tax analyst walk into a bar...

February 13, 2012. 11:29 AM ET

Number crunchers who enjoy a good joke are more likely to succeed, says a new survey. They may even make more money.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Accounting and the professionals who practice it don't strike most people as a barrel of laughs. Yet it seems that number crunchers who know how to lighten up are in demand.

That's according to Accountemps, a finance-and-accounting staffing firm whose researchers recently asked about 1,400 chief financial officers, "How important is an employee's sense of humor to fitting into your company's corporate culture?" An overwhelming 79% said a little levity is "very" or "somewhat" important. Only 20% said it doesn't matter at all.

"All work and no play can erode employee morale," observes Max Messmer, Accountemps' chairman, adding: "Job candidates should let their personality shine through when they meet with prospective employers. An interview is no place for a standup comedy routine, but it is the right time to show hiring managers you are approachable and will be easy to work with."

Another survey, this one by Accountemps' parent Robert Half International, suggests that lightening up might even help with higher starting pay: For candidates with the right skills and great cultural fit, about 40% of CFOs are more willing to negotiate bigger salaries than they were a year ago. Only 5% of CFOs said they're less flexible on compensation for top candidates than in 2011.

Messmer advises accounting mavens that "it's okay to laugh at yourself. Share a funny story. Kick off meetings with an amusing anecdote to put everyone at ease," before getting down to business.

A comptroller, auditor, or compliance officer cracking up the room? Well, maybe. In defiance of the stereotype of accountants as humorless drones, the Internet is awash in accountant jokes, most of them on accounting websites, and thus presumably written by finance types themselves. Like this one: How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb? Let me run some numbers on that and I'll get back to you.

Or this one: A surgeon, an accountant, and a lawyer are debating whose profession goes back the furthest. The surgeon says, "God made Eve out of Adam's rib, so obviously surgery came first." The accountant disagrees. "Before that, God created the universe by bringing order out of chaos," he says. "That's accounting." Then the attorney speaks up. "I've got you both beat," she says. "Answer me this. Who created the chaos?"

Actually, that's more of a lawyer joke, isn't it? The verdict is still out on whether jocularity makes for better jurists.

Filed under: Ask Annie, Contributors

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About This Author
Anne Fisher
Anne Fisher
Contributor, Fortune

Anne Fisher has been writing "Ask Annie," a column on careers, for Fortune since 1996, helping readers navigate booms, recessions, changing industries, and changing ideas about what's appropriate in the workplace (and beyond). Anne is the author of two books, Wall Street Women (Knopf, 1990) and If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? (William Morrow, 2001). She also writes the "Executive Inbox" column on New York City entrepreneurs for Crain's New York Business.

Email Anne

New job? Get a head start now - Ask Annie

Ask Annie


New job? Get a head start now

February 17, 2012. 5:00 AM ET

About 40% of executives who change jobs or get promoted fail in the first 18 months. One way to avoid that is to lay some crucial groundwork before your first day.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: I'm starting a new job in about two weeks as head of a somewhat troubled division at my current employer's biggest competitor. It's a larger role than I've had so far in my career, and I'm pretty excited about it, but it comes with some significant challenges, since the business I'll be running has been hit hard by the recession and the European debt crisis, revenues and earnings are down, and morale is in the tank.

The CEO who hired me said everyone there is expecting me to "hit the ground running." I've got some ideas about what needs to be done right away, which I talked about in interviews (and which presumably got me hired). But on the theory that there's no such thing as too much information, I'd appreciate any thoughts from you and your readers about what works, and what doesn't, in this kind of situation. --Parachuting In

Dear P.I.: It's fortunate that you have two weeks before your official start date because, according to executive coach George Bradt, you'll need every minute of that to get off to the strongest possible start. "The best way to build your team, take charge, and get great results fast is to create time by starting earlier than anyone thought you would," he says. "This one idea can make or break a new leader's transition."

Bradt is basing that partly on his own decades of experience as a senior manager at Unilever (UN), Procter & Gamble (PG), and Coca-Cola (KO), and partly on his work with 600 job-changing managers since 2002 as principal of PrimeGenesis, the executive coaching firm he started in 2002. Bradt is also co-author of a new book you might want to check out, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan (Third Edition).

His mission is to lower the failure rate among executives newly hired or promoted into big jobs, which research shows has stood at about 40% for at least 15 years now.

"New leaders who miss the opportunity to get a head start, before their official start date, often find out later that organizational or market momentum was working against them even before they showed up for their first full day at the office," Bradt says. Gulp. Borrowing a term from the product-development world, Bradt calls the time before you're officially on board the "fuzzy front end." Here are four ways to make the most of it:

1. Meet with critical stakeholders as soon as possible. "Identify the people in the company who can have the most impact on your success in the new job," Bradt advises. "These include your direct reports, critical support people, peers, potential allies, and even the person who wanted your job but didn't get it." Call or visit each of these folks, even just for a quick chat or a cup of coffee. It sounds simple but, Bradt says, "It always makes a huge difference. It's a game changer."

2. Have a plan for listening and gathering information. "Different stakeholders will have different views of the same situation," Bradt notes. Asking for their perceptions and suggestions "is not a search for the One Truth. Rather, it's an exercise in understanding people's views, both on what's going well and what's not and why, so that you can work effectively with each of them. Come into these conversations with an open mind and actively listen."

While you're at this, try to find out about what Bradt calls "shadow metrics" in the organization you're joining, meaning key measures of how things are going that may not be evident at first glance: "What are the key measures of success along the way? How are they tracked, and how can you get access to them?"

3. Craft your message. How are you going to present your ideas -- the ones you believe got you hired -- on where the business needs to go from here? "Part of preparing to lead is thinking through the messages you want to send, right down to details like whether your office setup will be informal and open-door or more formal and structured," Bradt says. People will be watching closely and talking to each other about you, he adds: "Everything communicates, and not always what you intended, so be careful."

4. Start making a hundred-day plan. The knowledge you gather before you officially start "should help you begin to put things in context and decide what you want or need to do on your first day, during your first week, and in your first three months," says Bradt. "It's important not so much to learn everything there is to know before you show up, which would be impossible anyway, but to have a plan in place to learn more."

Granted, this is a lot of work. "People tend to resist doing all this because there's usually a time squeeze involved in changing jobs, where your old employer wants you to stay as long as possible, and your new one wants to rush your start date," Bradt notes.

"It's also very common to want to take at least a short vacation to rest and recharge between jobs," he adds. But tempting as it might be to sit on a beach and unwind for a few days, if you really want to start strong, you just haven't got time.

Talkback: What helped you most in starting a new management job? If you've ever had a new boss come in from outside the company, what did he or she do well at the start, and what do you wish had gone differently? Leave a comment below.

Filed under: Ask AnnieContributors

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

'Huffington Post' Employee Sucked Into Aggregation Turbine | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

'Huffington Post' Employee Sucked Into Aggregation Turbine

Horrified Workers Watch As Colleague Torn Apart By Powerful Content-Gathering Engine

FEBRUARY 2, 2012 | ISSUE 48•05
The Huffington Post started using the turbine in earnest when the creation of actual original content was deemed cost-prohibitive.
NEW YORK—Shocked and saddened witnesses at the Huffington Post's news-aggregation facility have confirmed that employee Henry Evers, 25, died Wednesday after being sucked into the website's powerful news-repurposing turbine, where his body was immediately torn to pieces.
The 200-ton content-compiling device, developed by Greek multimillionaire and site co-founder Ari­anna Huffington, sucks up original articles from around the web with its massive rotor assembly, re-brands them with the Huffington Post name, and then spits them back out on the company's home page.
Enlarge ImageHow The Huffington Post Content-Aggregating Turbine Works
Workers said that when the machine ground to a halt at approximately 11:30 a.m., Evers reached inside to dislodge a particularly thoughtful 700-wordChristian Science Monitor essay on the unrest in Syria that had become jammed.
Apparently unprepared for the aggregator mechanism's quick restart, Evers was gruesomely dismembered by its rapidly spinning blades, which soaked the room in blood and unprocessed news content.
"I heard this grinding noise, and then I saw all these Washington Post stories, sexy pictures of people in the workplace, and celebr­ity anti-vaccine editorials start to back up on the factory floor," said Huffington Post editor Emily Paxton, who monitors an array of computer screens displaying news sites like and then presses enter on a keyboard, sending the content into the turbine, which through sheer axial force posts each piece on with a 30-word introductory paragraph. "Before I could stop him, Henry had his arm crammed way down in there. He pulled out an article, smiled, and the next thing I knew, he was sucked headfirst into the rotary casing."
"We couldn't shut it down," continued Paxton, adding that the smell of mutilated remains mixed with raw Internet media was gag-inducing. "If we had, it would have taken a full day for the technicians to reset it, and we couldn't risk missing a breaking story on Brody Jenner."
Since The Huffington Post was founded in 2005, its headquarters has consisted of two rooms: Arianna Huffington's spacious, lav­ishly appointed office overlooking New York City, and the windowless 10,000-square-foot subterranean warehouse that houses the turbine. More than 700 low-wage workers, known as writers, clock in every day, and, dressed in their Huffington Post hard hats and coveralls, work in dark, unsafe conditions to ensure the machine runs smoothly and constantly churns out content.
Enlarge Image'Huffington Post' writers following a typical 16-hour turbine shift.
Operating at 5,100 rpm, or the equivalent of 2,500 online articles and videos per minute, the turbine uses its massive power to sweep the Internet for stories or photos that ensure receives enough page views and mouse clicks to appease advertisers.
Though Evers had worked with the com­pany for 11 months, reports indicate he was unaware the turbine often overheats and malfunctions when tasked with posting an article of more than 400 words.
"Evers was pulverized," said Aaron Thomas, a spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "There was no way to identify him. No dental remains, no hair samples, just eyewitness reports and 17 cell-phone camera videos that the turbine immediately threw up on the site under the tags 'Funny' and 'OMG.'"
"In a way, though, maybe it's a good thing he was ripped to shreds and killed," added Thomas, later saying that because The Huffington Post didn't provide Evers with health insurance, he wouldn't have been able to afford his hospital bills, anyway. "Working the HuffPo turbine is no way to live."
According to sources, editor-in-chief Ari­anna Huffington appeared shaken after the incident, asking if the turbine was broken, if it would need to be replaced, and if the horrific accident would affect the posting of a "Worst Hair In Hollywood" celebrity feature.
"When you harvest as much content as we do, there are bound to be some fatalities," Huffington said in a statement. "That's just part of the job."
Representatives from the website said that to honor Evers' memory, they planned to post a slide show titled "25 Funniest Animal Photobombs We Think Henry Would Have Loved" as early as tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Revenge of the robotics nerds: They're in demand - Fortune Management

Revenge of the robotics nerds: They're in demand - Fortune Management:

Revenge of the robotics nerds: They're in demand

March 20, 2012: 2:06 PM ET

It's no surprise that Amazon is buying robotics maker Kiva Systems. These days, that approach is easier than trying to hire your own experts.robotic_arms

FORTUNE -- By now, everyone has heard plenty about the dearth of skilled job candidates in high-tech fields like cloud computing and mobile apps. Meanwhile, another skills gap has quietly grown into a yawning chasm. The shortage of people who know how to build, program, maintain, and repair robots has gotten so severe that, in some parts of the country, qualified candidates can practically write their own ticket.
Consider: The number of online help-wanted ads seeking robotics expertise shot up 40% in the first two months of 2012 alone, according to research firm Wanted Analytics.
Demand is particularly strong in the Detroit area, especially for engineers and technicians who can operate the programmable logic controllers, called PLCs, that run whole automatic robot systems on assembly lines and in warehouses.
"I would hire at least 20 more full-time PLC programmers if I could find them," says Andrew Valentine, an executive at an engineering firm in Lake Orion, Mich., who has worked in robotics and PLC training since the 1980s. Valentine has already hired 16 PLC programmers in the past year, but "it's hard to compete against the automakers, who soak up 70 to 80% of the scarce talent that's available."
The irony there is that the car companies' travails in 2008 and 2009 are partly responsible for the shortage. When General Motors (GM) and Chrysler went broke and laid off thousands of workers, large numbers of robotics experts left the industry -- and Michigan -- altogether. "We had a great talent pool here, but they're in other places doing other things now," Valentine observes. Even now that hiring has picked up again, he adds, "those people aren't coming back."
Another reason why robotics mavens are so scarce has to do with the nature of the work itself. Lack of a four-year engineering degree isn't an obstacle to getting hired: The basic skills can be learned in so-called mechatronics programs, which combine specialized programming classes with training in electrical and mechanical engineering. Offered at many colleges and trade schools, the curricula usually take two years to complete. Increasingly, out of desperation, companies are offering this type of training to their current employees.
But once trained and hired, most robotics specialists at engineering firms spend anywhere from two to six months designing and building a system, and then must go with it to the client company that bought it. "The client could be anywhere in the world, and you may have to stay there for two years or more," Valentine says. "It's great for a young, single person who likes to travel. But after a while, a lot of people get tired of living out of a suitcase."
In the Washington, D.C. area, the second hottest U.S. market for robotics talent, "the biggest demand comes from government, especially the Defense Department, but there is a lot of private sector activity too," says Thomas Crabtree, a senior vice president at consulting giant Booz Allen Hamilton. "It's very competitive."
Booz Allen hires robotics experts to work with its military clients on a wide range of projects, from unmanned submarines and aircraft to robots that can dismantle a handmade bomb. To try and ensure a steady stream of talent, the company is taking the long view. It's a major sponsor of a nonprofit organization called First Robotics that runs workshops and contests designed to get high school kids interested in, and familiar with, robotic technology.
In First Robotics' annual competitions, going on right now all over the U.S. and in 55 other countries, "the students have six weeks to design, assemble, and test a robot, and there's a heavy emphasis on teamwork," says Crabtree. "The program instills the skills and the values we want in our future employees." By sponsoring First Robotics and building relationships with schools, he adds, "we're hoping that, when these kids get ready to enter the work world, they'll think of us."

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