The Eurozone Train Wreck Continues Into 2017

The European Union seems to be trying to hold itself together, but it is indeed wobbling itself apart like an aircraft engine with an unbalanced propeller and the vibrations are getting worse reverberating from one side of the continent to the other, where no nation is spared from the challenges which await – so what can we expect in 2017 you ask?

Well, “Brexit” has already had some effect on Germany and other nations are considering similar exits from the EU, which could quicken its demise. The recent Italian vote was problematic as is the condition of the Italian banks. Remember when Greece got caught short? Do you remember in 2014 what was going on in the EU? Let me remind you quickly:

MSNBC Money “China, France drag on global manufacturing revival,” published on February 3, 2014, written by Jonathan Cable and Koh Gui Qing which stated; “Manufacturers around the world enjoyed a solid start to the year as order books swelled, surveys showed on Monday, though a struggle for growth in China and a downturn in France took the shine off the overall picture. Euro zone factories had their best month since mid-2011 and, with unemployment near record highs, increased headcount for the first time in two years. They were led by a sharp pick-up in Germany and a revival among the states on the region’s periphery. But France, the bloc’s second biggest economy, remained a drag on the region.”

As an example Greece, when they entered the EU they had a bad credit rating and any loans would of cost them a lot in interest, when they joined the EU they effectively got the same rate on loans as Germany who as you probably know are very stable in the financial sector, so Greece took loans out at low interest rates for years.

Yah, Greece has always been a financial disaster like Argentina or Zimbabwe… now it’s all gone sour they are left with huge debts and so on, Italy and Spain are in the same boat and seeing as the UK loaned ALOT of money to Spain and others we are massively exposed to the crisis. Spain for example has more empty property (new builds) than the ENTIRE USA.

Real estate tanked in Spain, we all read about that in the WSJ, few in the US realized it was that bad. In 2008 China was challenged even after their 2008 stimulus as their municipals did elaborate growth projects, building for the sake of it?

Remember the original plan for the EU was to introduce one currency (which they did) and then introduce a EURO Government to manage it, the second part never happened and now the backlash is huge, and it doesn’t really matter that the 2008 crisis started in the US. The EU wasn’t doing that well before the crisis. And we shouldn’t blame the US for the crash, let’s not forget one of the enablers was AIGs London Office selling insurance often with guarantees in excess of 130% of face value on those mortgage bundles and credit default swaps.

Yes, we have some socialists in the US and when the capitalists and socialists get together or start using each other it is as if everyone loses their brains. So, the slow-motion train wreck and Eurozone melt-down continues, who is to say if it can continue for long without falling apart, and once that engine falls off the plane, its coming in for a very hard landing. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen in 2017.

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Think Outside the Marketing Box: 10 Quick, New Ideas for 2017

The holidays are upon us again. It’s the time of year for good cheer and some creative marketing ideas to end your year right.

If you’ve been in a marketing slump through the fall, try a few new and interesting ways to get a little more business for your small business:

  1. Create a personalized calendar to gift your clients. You can include inspirational quotes or advice for each month. Staying in front of them will solidify your brand in their minds for years and years to come.
  2. Give your customers a small gift of appreciation, like a customized sticky screen cleaner or promo handout. If you happen to give something that is useful and is well made, your customers won’t just thank you, they will be more interested in giving you referrals to other potential clients. Offer gift cards to give customers more flexibility for gifts. Be sure to place them near your checkout to encourage impulse buys. Starbucks or Amazon gift cards tend to be consistently well received.
  3. Take clients to a more personal lunch or brunch instead of throwing a larger, impersonal holiday party. Focus on having a good time and building rapport through not talking about business. They will take the gesture and thank you by becoming your biggest cheerleader.
  4. Host a day with Santa at your business where you provide free photos with the jolly old man. If your target market has kids, this will be a huge hit.
  5. Give holiday shoppers a free shoulder massage by hiring a masseuse for a few hours.
  6. Partner with other local businesses to give a package of coupons in each shopping bag. This is also a way to encourage sharing business ideas with your neighbors or setting up referral incentives with them.
  7. Sponsor a local event. This time of year many run clubs and other organizations hold holiday runs or New Year’s Day resolution runs or other events. Pick one you enjoy and sponsor it to get your name out. Pair with a local charity. Schedule an event where you and your staff volunteer with the organization. Offer discounts to your customers who volunteer their time with the same organization.
  8. Hold a customer appreciation sale during hours when you are normally closed to show your customers how much you appreciate their loyalty. Create a special invitation and think about giving them door prizes and small gifts for patronizing your business.
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The Future of Android Games, Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

Mobile gaming has come a very long way since the introduction of crude & simple games like Snake and Pong which were available on early Nokia phones. Mobile processors and graphics are now as powerful as desktop computers were just a few years ago. Older generations still remember lugging around a Game Boy or Game gear and begging their parents for another game. New generations literally have access to 100’s of thousands of games on their mobile device.

In short, mobile gaming has exploded in just a few years time. In the month of July 2016 there were 63.1 million arcade games downloaded & games in the “strategy” category generated $195M revenue. In a recent study over 37% of mobile app users with 30 minutes of free time choose to play games over any other activity. We’ve all seen it and we’ve all done it ourselves, whether its waiting for an appointment or sitting at the airport, we pull out our mobile device and jump into a quick game to kill the time.

So what does all of this mean for the future of android gaming? For starters, the massive amounts of revenue and user interest in android gaming has bolstered continuous innovation and fierce competition in the global marketplace. For example, just 12 months ago, top executives were saying they didn’t see any major benefit to augmented reality. With the release of Pokemon Go and estimates citing as much as $500 million in revenue in just 60 days, I think we can all agree augmented reality is here to stay. Virtual reality is another area that has been picking up steam in recent months. You can now buy virtual reality headsets at local gas stations for a mere $30. Or if you’re on a budget you can purchase Google Cardboard for as little as $7.00. There are still only a limited number of VR enabled games but that number is increasing daily. Not only that, as more and more people experience VR we are sure to see a blockbuster release sooner or later.

Let’s take a look at some real life examples of recent game releases. Dawn of Titans which was recently released on Google Play was in development for over 2 years. This is akin to the development cycle of a mid-level PC game release on Steam. The game features mass controlled troops, world building elements and impressive graphics. A few years ago this would be considered a major release for the Android platform. These days this is just another drop in the massive pond. With over 2.4 million apps and games currently listed on Google Play it’s become harder and harder to stand out. This is actually good news for gamers as developers are working harder and faster to create new innovative titles to attract users.

I firmly believe that both Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) titles are going to gain more traction in 2017. Major developers who can pump out triple A content can’t be left in the dust while indie developers pump out AR and VR enabled games. They will be forced to port existing titles and come up exciting new ways to interact with the mobile devices.

There are many gimmicky games available that utilize the phones microphone, gyroscope, camera and accelerometer. However, these sensors combined with AR and VR could bring a whole new experience to gamers. Imagine walking through a recreated 3D world that represents your neighbourhood, immersed in full virtual reality, and using your phone as a targeting device to defend against waves of zombies. This is already possible with the technology that is available, it just needs to be packaged in a user friendly way that people can enjoy. Combining meticulous graphics with well thought out virtual reality experiences would be impressive indeed. If you’re familiar with PC based virtual reality demo’s you already know how immersive the experience can be. It’s only a matter of time before these same experiences make their way to our mobile devices en masse. And to think, only 30 years ago we were playing Mario on our beloved Nintendo consoles. Let’s not even mention the Virtual Boy that burned your eyes after 2 minutes of playing tennis. Android games and mobile games in general have come a long ways since then and they will continue to push barriers even further in the near future.

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How to Get What You Want in 2017

It is almost 2017 and time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions but the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that so few people actually achieve them. Why is this and what can you do to make sure you actually get what you want in 2017?

1. Write Down Your New Year’s Resolutions and Set SMART goals

The first step towards achieving what you want is to actually write it down and turn resolutions into goals. An unwritten resolution is quickly forgotten and unless you have some written, specific goals chances are you are just going to be wandering. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. In other words, say exactly what you want to achieve, by when and have ways of measuring how you are getting along. 2. Develop Habits and Consistency

Another problem that often occurs with New Year’s resolutions is that people do not form habits and develop consistency in those actions that are going to get them there. For instance, if you want to lose weight, it needs to become a habit to exercise and eat healthy foods. They say it takes 21 days to develop a habit but it is actually better to consistently stick to it for 63 days to ensure that the habit is well entrenched into your lifestyle before taking any breaks. Not all habits need to be done every day but you do need to be consistent in doing those things that will get you towards your goal.

3. Track and Measure

Set smaller goals and ways of measuring how you are making progress towards your major goal and then track these. Start by tracking those habits that it will take to get you there – how many times have you exercised this week for example. As you are tracking you will see how even the small steps count and will be more motivated to keep moving towards your major goal.

4. Stay Positive

Your mindset has a huge role to play in whether you are going to achieve your goals or not. Always try to remain positive and think positively. Focus on what it is you want but don’t beat yourself up over setbacks or slip ups, you will get times where things don’t go perfectly or you may have a setback but just keep going and you will get there.

Instead of just setting some New Year’s Resolutions for this next year why not turn them into actionable goals, develop habits that will help you achieve them and track these consistently. Keep positive and all the best for achieving whatever it is you want to achieve in 2017.

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How Does the Ford GT Stack Up?

How will it compare to the competition?

The GT is by no means a Shelby GT 350 R, not even close. Besides the over $350,000 jump in price and the additional 100 or more horsepower. The new GT is even more track-focused then the previous ones. And the mid-engine layout, combined with the GT’s carbon-fiber construction it much more than a muscle car and more of a Super car.

Even though Ford has not decided on a specific horse power, the new GT with 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 will produce more than 600 horsepower. Standing up well to the Corvette Z 06 and its’ 650 horses. Now Ford says it is working on the power-to-weight ratios to be the best of any production car. Even if they can’t hit the ratio of the Koenigsegg One with its 2.2 lbs / hp and make it to the range of the McLauren P1 with its 3.5 lbs / hp. Even with its aerodynamics the approx. 3500-lb Corvette Z06 may be a little overweight to held ground with the new GT Priced like a Lamborghini Aventador

Knowing it’s expected price range points to the real competition of the new 2017 GT. Granted the Lamborghini Aventador is packing 691 horse power, but outweighing the Corvette Z06 in curb weight by another 500 pounds, it may have a hard time keeping up with the new GT on the track. When you consider the Aventador holds twice the cylinders as the GT’s twin-turbo V6, and the fact that the Aventador is a naturally aspirated V12 all wheel drive, you can expect it to be faster off the line.

It will be interesting to see how the GT compares to the McLaren 657LT the car that feels like a competition vehicle. Weighing in at less than 3000 lbs, the 657 is pretty light, but the GT will probably weigh less. The Mc Laren 675LT is also a limited-production car, with only 500 units slated to built and cost about $50,000 less than the Lamborghini.

Then there is the Ferrari F12tdf with a price point just under $500,000 with a substantial increase in power. Touting a 6.3-liter V12 with 770 horsepower hitting 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. The Ferrari will be a head over the GT by more than 100 horsepower, but the based on Fords claims the GT should be much more light weight. With Ford skipping a hybrid-electric system, it will be something to pit the new and severely less expensive Acura NSX with its hybrid tech and all-wheel drive against the new GT and its focus on light weight. With the NSX and its 573 horsepower will it be enough to hold its own against the GT? Time will tell.

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