Do you know what your employees are doing on the Web? At a minimum, they’re probably goofing off watching YouTube videos. At worst, they could be steering your company toward financial ruin. In this quick guide, I’ll show you how to keep an eye on employee Internet use and monitor just about everything else they do with their PCs.

I can already hear the groans of disgruntled readers as I type these words (and if you’re worried about privacy at work, you have ways to stop your boss from spying on you). But gone are the days when PC monitoring was an optional, draconian security measure practiced only by especially vigilant organizations. Today, more than three-quarters of U.S. companies monitor employee Internet use. If your business is in the remaining quarter that doesn’t do so, you’re probably overdue for a policy change.

Why You Should Monitor

Everything your team does on company time–and on company resources–matters. Time spent on frivolous Websites can seriously hamper productivity, and visiting objectionable sites on company PCs can subject your business to serious legal risks, including costly harassment suits from staffers who may be exposed to offensive content.

That doesn’t look like work to me. ActivTrak can give you a real-time look at employees’ screens.

Other consequences may be far worse than mere productivity loss or a little legal hot water. Either unintentionally or maliciously, employees can reveal proprietary information, jeopardizing business strategy, customer confidentiality, data integrity, and more.

And, of course, unchecked Web activity can expose your network and systems to dangers from malware and other intrusions. Even something as simple as a worker’s failure to keep up with Windows patches can be a threat to your business, so don’t think of monitoring as merely snooping.

Monitoring Software

Employee monitoring is just one facet of a larger discipline known as endpoint security, which includes everything from malware protection to policy enforcement and asset tracking. Large enterprise computing environments demand comprehensive endpoint-security systems, consisting of server software coupled with client software on each user’s machine, that can handle many of these functions at once. These systems tend to be complex enough to require the expertise of a trained IT pro. But in this guide, I’ll be looking primarily at simpler tools designed for smaller organizations.

For a small business, you have several good ways to achieve endpoint security. You can install a Web-hosted system that combines software on the PC with remote monitoring services to protect your computers and enforce compliance with company policies. You can combine a few complementary tools, such as a desktop security suite and professional tracking software. Or, if your company is very small and your budget is tight, you can adopt free tools à la carte.

Symantec’s cloud-based endpoint-protection service can monitor all of your company’s PCs with minimal setup time.

The most secure way to monitor PC use is to deploy a system that consists of a host, server, or appliance together with client-installed software. Unless you have a dedicated IT staff or the budget to bring someone in on a regular basis to check on things, a cloud-based service–such as Symantec.cloud or Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security–is probably the best choice. These services are relatively inexpensive and easy to set up compared with server offerings, and they give you the flexibility to set and monitor compliance with acceptable-use policies from a single management interface. They also deploy system security updates automatically, block malware, and protect sensitive files to prevent data from leaking out of your company. Better still, these hosted systems effectively protect laptops that frequently leave the office.

The cost for a hosted endpoint-security service is generally very low: A five-client license for Trend Micro Worry-Free will set you back less than $300 for two years.

If you’re not up for a total security overhaul and you just want to track user activity on a few systems, you have several affordable ways to go about it. Packages such as Interguard Sonar can monitor all e-mail and IM sessions, track and filter Web usage, log users’ keystrokes and program use, and capture screenshots on command for as little as $87 per user.

If you’re really on a shoestring budget, plenty of free and open-source tools can log PC and Web use. A freebie called ActivTrak, for instance, can keep tabs on which applications your staffers are using and which sites they’re visiting, complete with simple reports that give you a pretty clear idea as to how employees are spending their time on their PCs. A word of caution on stand-alone tools, though: Some antimalware utilities can quickly identify and disable stand-alone monitoring tools, so you may need to create an exception in your malware protection settings to ensure that ActivTrak can work properly on your systems.

Best Practices

It should go without saying that employee monitoring ought to be just one small component in a comprehensive strategy to protect your business and maintain productivity. Once you’ve made the choice to monitor, you should follow these general guidelines to ensure your success.

Be forthright: Nobody likes being spied on unwittingly. Unless you think someone on your team poses a serious threat that requires covert monitoring, it’s best to be up front with staffers about what you track and why. Many companies accomplish this with a simple statement in the employee handbook telling workers plainly that everything they do on company computers, including individual keystrokes, can and will be tracked. Letting employees know that their behavior is being monitored can serve as a powerful deterrent against unwanted online activity.

Filter proactively: Most good endpoint-security tools include Web and e-mail content filters that can block inappropriate sites and prevent users from sending or receiving files that can jeopardize your business. Use them. By limiting the ways your staffers can get into trouble, you can prevent problems up front.

Check reports regularly: There’s little point in generating usage reports if you’re not going to look at them. Take the time to at least spot-check the reports that your monitoring software generates so that you can identify potential problems early and take remedial action. Whatever you discover–whether it’s a time-wasting Website that everyone is watching this week or a single person who is addicted to solitaire–you can often fix problems with a simple e-mail that tells your team you know what’s up: “Just a reminder, people: Chatroulette is not an appropriate use of company time.”

— original source: http://www.pcworld.com

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People often find it strange that I’ve spent parts of six years studying skunk cabbage and that I’m an unabashed admirer of this plant. After all, skunk cabbage stinks and has no beautiful blossoms. But I’m not alone. A friend of mine was driving along the northern California coast and, being attuned to skunk cabbage through my influence, she noticed a well-fashioned wooden sign on the roadside she may have overlooked otherwise: “Skunk Cabbage Discovery Trail.”

The unknown comrade who made that trail has probably shared my experience that there’s much more to skunk cabbage than meets the casual eye. In this essay I can’t take you on such a trail—you’d have to come to our wetland boardwalk for that—but I can share with you some of the discoveries I’ve made on my journeys to skunk cabbage over the past years.

The Flowering Bud

To find the first spring plant in flower in our region—the edge of the Taconic range an hour southeast of Albany, New York—you have to get out before it feels much like spring at all. It’s March, the ground is still frozen, and frost comes nearly every night. The days are rapidly getting longer, but the spring equinox is still ahead. Walking through the woods, you see the grey and brown tree trunks, a coloring mirrored in the ground litter of leaves from the previous year. There is no green. Not only the temperature but the whole mood of the woods is cool.

Then you walk down to the edge of a meandering stream or, in my case, to a wooded wetland. Here, too, the ground is frozen, and patches of ice spread between groups of bushes and small trees (mainly red maples and alders) that dominate the wetland. In this still, quiescent world, little centers of emerging life are visible, the first sign of early spring. What I see are the four-to-six-inch-high, hood-like leaves that enclose the flowers of skunk cabbage.

Both color and shape are striking. Some leaves are completely deep wine-red or maroon, while in others this background coloring is mottled with patches or stripes of yellow or yellow green. The shape is hard to describe: it’s like a spiral, sculpted hood drawn around itself, leaving only a narrow opening on one side. I’ve often thought that if an artist were searching for an appropriate image of a gnome or dwarf, she would find it in these little figures emerging from the ground when everything else is still in a wintry sleep. Not only the colors, but also the specific shapes are manifold; some are pointed and strongly twisted, others rounder and squat. As my eye sweeps over the twenty or thirty plants before me, my gaze is brought into a spiraling movement when it tries to rest upon any single specimen. The deep color is warm, the sculpted form alive.

Looking at skunk cabbage on one of the first warm, sunny March afternoons (it’s maybe 50° F) with the light shining through the leafless trees and shrubs and illuminating the wetland floor, I often sense for the first time that spring is on its way. On such days I’ve even seen the first bees of the year flying in and out of the skunk cabbage hoods.

The hood is, in botanical terms, a highly modified leaf called a spathe. The spathe wraps around itself to form a space that encloses a spherical head of flowers, called a spadix (figure 2). The spathe functions as a bud that holds and protects the flower when it emerges out of the ground. But it is a bud that never unfolds. When the flowers are full in bloom, they are still enwrapped by the spathe. You can see the flower head only by peeking inside the narrow opening in the spathe.

The roundish flower head (about 2 cm in diameter) has a spongy consistency like the spathe itself. It consists of numerous small, tightly packed individual flowers (figure 3). They have no petals, which make up the showy part of the flower in most plants. Rather, they have four inconspicuous, fleshy, straw-colored sepals (which in many plants form the bud leaves enclosing the petals) that never really unfold.

The flowers “bloom” when the stamens grow up between and above the sepals and release their pale yellow pollen. Following this the style grows out of the middle of each flower to be pollinated by insects carrying pollen from other flower heads. All of this happens within the enclosing spathe. These first flowers of spring never leave their protective enclosure.

A couple of times I’ve been lucky enough to see spathes growing up through a thin layer of ice, the ice melted around the spathe in a circular form. This is an indication of skunk cabbage’s remarkable capacity to produce heat when flowering. If you catch the right time, you can put your finger into the cavity formed by the spathe and when you touch the flower head, your finger tip warms up noticeably. Biologist Roger Knutson found that skunk cabbage flowers produce warmth over a period of 12-14 days, remaining on average 20° C (36° F) above the outside air temperature, whether during the day or night. During this time they regulate their warmth, as a warm-blooded animal might!

Physiologically the warmth is created by the flower heads breaking down substances while using a good deal of oxygen. The rootstock and roots store large amounts of starch and are the likely source of nutrients for this break down. The more warmth produced, the more substances and oxygen consumed. Knutson found that the amount of oxygen consumed is similar to that of a small mammal of comparable size.

We must imagine that as the spathe grows out of the usually frozen ground, the flower head heats up and the warmth radiates outward. While in this heating phase, the flowers bloom, releasing pollen and being pollinated by insects. Not only can you see the first insects flying around between skunk cabbages, but you also find beetles and spiders crawling around within the warm enclosures of the spathes. You can even discover a spathe opening veiled with a spider net.

The flowers also release a noticeable odor at this time. On a calm day coming down to the wetland you can smell a lightly pungent, somewhat skunk-like odor. If you put your nose to the opening of a spathe, the scent is markedly stronger. Small flies and other insects are attracted to the flowers by the smell. These creatures are in part the same species that are attracted to carrion—decomposing flesh. Some of the typical volatile organic compounds released by a decomposing carcass—with graphic names like putrescine and cadavarine—are also formed by the flowers of some members of the Arum family (Araceae), to which skunk cabbage belongs. Whether skunk cabbages emit precisely these or other related compounds has not yet been investigated.

Due to the warmth production, a constant circulation of air in and out of the spathe occurs. From the flower head, warmth is generated and the air moves up and outward, while cooler air is drawn into the spathe. A vortex is formed with air streaming along the sculpted, curved surfaces of the spathe. In a habitat with numerous skunk cabbages, a microcosm of flowing warmth and odiferous air is created in which the first insects of spring fly.

This is the world of skunk cabbage over a number of weeks in March and sometimes into April: on the one hand, the enclosed, protected life just peering out of the still wintry earth, and a flower that remains in a bud; on the other hand, the active, warmth-, movement-, and scent-emanating organism that creates a unique environment for the first stirrings of insect life. Skunk cabbage mirrors the quality of early spring—flowering at ground level in a bud that doesn’t open, while at the same time helping to create the environment for its own development.

Rapid Unfolding and Decay

When the spathe emerges out of the ground, there is often the tip of a large bud next to it, sticking an inch or two out of the ground (figure 4). This bud contains all the leaves that will develop on the plant and is often already visible in the fall. Only when the spathe slowly begins to wilt does this tightly-packed bud of leaves begin to grow. It grows longer than the spathe and is shaped like the tip of a spear. Then, when the days begin to get noticeably warmer at the end of April and into May, the bud unfolds rapidly. It’s clear that skunk cabbage now needs outer warmth to develop. The bright green leaves unfold in a beautiful spiraling pattern. Each leaf is rolled in upon itself and at the same time enwraps the next leaf. It’s the closest thing to an archetypal process of unfolding you can imagine.

— original source: http://natureinstitute.org


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Travels with…The VALiens and thevaliens.com

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lonesome autumn

lonesome autumn


Is Mr Manchester United the biggest fan in the world?FOOTIE NUT: Is Mr Manchester United the biggest fan in the world? [THE SUN/NEWS SYNDICATION]

Zdravko Levidjov, 50, spent six years and 15 court hearings in his native country of Bulgaria fighting to be allowed to change his name.

When finally he was granted permission police still refused to put United as his surname on his national ID card.

So in protest, Mr United did what any true footie fan would do and got the club’s logo tattooed slap bang in the middle of his forehead.

Mr United – who speaks no English – said through a translator: “Now whenever someone asks my name, I point to my forehead and smile!

“The tattoo’s my ID card. People don’t look at me in a funny way, they look in admiration.

“It makes me stand out and proves my loyalty to United.”

SUPERFAN: The Bulgarian has legally changes his name to Manchester [THE SUN/NEWS SYNDICATION]

“I did think of having it on my arm, but that wouldn’t have the same impact”

Mr United

He added: “I did think of having it on my arm, but that wouldn’t have the same impact.”

The former builder lives with his mum and cat, named David Beckham, in a flat filled to bursting with posters, flags, scarves and every piece of memorabilia ever made for the team.

He said he first fell for the charms of the Red Devils when in 1999 they won 2-1 against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

He said: ““My favourite player is Beckham. In the side now, it’s van Persie.

“I should say Dimitar Berbatov, as a countryman, but he wasn’t in their class.”

The bachelor has been to Old Trafford once in 2009 after saving up for three years.

— original source: http://www.dailystar.co.uk


I’ll say it loud and I’ll say it proud – I steal from grocery stores!

It’s not that I have 7 starving children at home that I have to provide for and welfare doesn’t give me enough aid to do so. It’s not that I have a debilitating illness that keeps me from holding a steady job and my disability checks aren’t large enough to put dinner on the table. It’s not that I lost all my money in the economy that George W. Bush built.

No, I steal from grocery stores because I can.

Right after college, I had this roommate that worked at a Whole Foods precursor in Miami. While getting his master’s degree, he earned extra cash ringing up overpriced gourmet meals, organic vegetables, vitamins, soaps, and other crap upscale health food stores charge insane amounts of money for. He and I made a deal. Every day or so, I would go in there and fill up a shopping cart with the most expensive shit in the place. Then, when I went to checkout, he would ring up $10.43 or some other sub-fifteen dollar sum. No questions asked.

In return, I would share the spoils with him when he got home. We’d barbecue Maine lobster and Kobe beef, we’d dip Beluga caviar and goose liver pate, we’d drink French wine and Belgian ale. It was glorious. Eventually, my roommate quit his job and he’s now a high school principal. The store we robbed was acquired by Fresh Market for some crazy sum. I didn’t get caught, my roommate didn’t lose his job, and the store didn’t go out of business. Truly, a victimless crime.

Later, when I moved out to Colorado, I got a job as a janitor at Eldora. At that time, I actually was hungry and I didn’t have food (I spent my whole salary on weed and booze). One of my fellow janitors used to work at King Soopers. He told me that they had a policy – they would never prosecute anybody for eating inside the store. It was like this unspoken rule – anything consumed under their roof was free. For the rest of my tenure as a janitor, I spent most of my off time at King Soopers eating. Shit, I brought dates there. I hosted business lunches there. When my parents were in town, I took them out to dinner there. Not once did I get in trouble.

From those two experiences, I learned a few valuable lessons. First, for the most part, nobody notices when you steal from grocery stores. Second, except in extreme cases, nobody will punish you for stealing from grocery stores. Third, stealing from grocery stores hurts no one. And fourth, food stolen from grocery stores tastes really, really good.

So now, even though I no longer need to steal from grocery stores, I do it as much as I possibly can. And why not?

With my limited knowledge of economics and accounting, here’s how I see it: Grocery stores know that people are going to steal from them. Subsequently, they mark up their prices to account for the presumed theft. That means that the people that don’t steal pay for the people that do steal. Doesn’t seem fair to me! I’m not going to let bums and indigents benefit from these one-sided policies at my expense. I want my piece of the pie — if that pie is made by Safeway, even better.

When I go shopping, I immediately order some prosciutto and imported cheese from the deli. I make my way to the bakery where I grab that fancy bread, the stuff Mitch Hedberg talks about. I get the non-Kraft mustard from the condiment aisle and the organic lettuce and tomatoes from the produce section. I then consume a free delicious sandwich as I shop. That’s just the beginning. Soon, I’m devouring eggs and donuts and Jello and pizza and meat, sort of like Belushi in Animal House. I eat everything I can. Hey, it’s not like I’m gonna be arrested.

Next, I stuff small, but expensive items like olive oil, chopped garlic, macadamia nuts, and filet mignon inside potato chip snack packs, cereal samplers, fabric softener boxes, or anything with a little excess room in the packaging. Chances are, nobody will expect me to hide these products (macadamia nut theft is not yet a major epidemic). So, I pile them away. I also slide non-perishable items like razors, deodorant, early pregnancy tests, and Magnum XL Condoms into my jacket pockets. I don’t really look like a thief (no mask, no striped shirt, no large sack over my shoulder), so nobody imagines that I have the Fort Knox of toiletries on my person.

Then, I throw large products like kitty litter, Gatorade, and toilet paper on to the bottom rack of the shopping cart. Upon checking out, no one ever looks at the bottom rack. They think you’ll be honest and alert the checker to what’s there. Honesty’s for suckers. I just pretend that whatever’s beneath eye level doesn’t exist and I walk out of the store saving forty or fifty bucks. I rarely get caught doing this, but when I do, I claim ignorance. It’s an obvious oversight because I, much like most checkers, don’t look that low. Anyway, they got some fucking nerve charging twelve bucks for a 16-pack of toilet paper. It goes in your ass. It shouldn’t cost that much.

If I don’t have anything in the bottom rack, I head to the self-service checkout line. They expect us to ring up our food ourselves and not steal? Crazy! I pretend to run things over the scanner and make that little beep sound with my mouth. I’m the Larvelle Jones of shopping. When I “accidentally” miss some items, nobody knows any different. I love exploiting trust!

Over the years, I’ve stolen tens of thousands of dollars worth of food. I make a good living and, for all intents and purposes, I shouldn’t steal anything. Well, I steal from grocery stores for reasons that go beyond frugality and avarice. I like to stick it to The Man. Yes, as the owner of a business, I could be perceived as The Man, but not The Man that owns grocery store chains. There’s a Man hierarchy and I fall lower on that totem pole. Plus, in my business, I get it stuck to me all the time. I have clients that won’t pay and employees that take advantage of my generous PTO policies. It’s time for some payback! Stealing from grocery stores is my way to get paid, biatch!

On another note, in the grocery store parking lot, I don’t appropriately put away my shopping cart. I just leave it dangling in the middle of the road and go on my merry way. You might think I do this to be an asshole. However, I actually do it out of benevolence. That’s right! If I put my shopping cart in the designated shopping cart depository, the retards and the Mexicans and the old people whose job it is to collect carts won’t have a job. I just can’t have that on my conscience. See, I’m not all that bad.

— article from: http://www.theironmike.com

Zoology with: Pig

Posted: August 25, 2014 in Mammals
Tags: , , ,

A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig and its ancestor, the common Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa), along with other species; related creatures outside the genus include the babirusaand the warthog. Pigs, like all suids, are native to the Eurasian and African continents. Juvenile pigs are known as piglets.Pigs are omnivores and are highly social and intelligent animals.

The pig looks like a massive animal, from the massive body, stocky, covered with hair (bristles) and a small curly tail. Suffice it to say that the pig fattening exceeds the 150kg, has a short neck and legs equally short and slender fingers ending in 4 unghiute. The muzzle is typically piggish, with nose to the disc, crushed (griffin) and totally hairless; the eyes of the pig are very small while the ears appear large and drooping forward. The pig does not have a good view but on the other hand uses a hearing and sense of smell superfine; the mouth is very powerful and equipped with sharp teeth, sharp canines and molars particularly robust. The pig is omnivorous and is able to track down, bulbs, tubers and truffles from under the ground; not surprisingly, this animal (if trained) has been successfully used in the search for truffles.
The pig loves (and needs) wallowing in the mud with which it protects against parasites.
The pig is played twice a year, in spring and autumn, respectively, with a gestation of 15 weeks leading to the emergence of 4-10 piglets (piglets), which wean at 3 months with a weight of about 25kg.

Despite the similarities and the negative meanings assigned to today, pig represented (in almost all cultures) a determining factor for the survival of man. The first graffiti appearing pig farms date back to 40,000 BC
In fact, Greek mythology mentions that Maia (May, as well as pork) was one of the seven Pleiades or lesser gods, while the Romans soventemente offered a sacrifice of pigs (and other animals) to the gods, hoping for their benevolence. Unfortunately, at the same time svanimento of republican virtues of Rome, the advent of professional armies and slavery to employment working in the countryside, the pig lost all prestige and, although the Christian religion he redeemed the Jewish and Muslim taboos, I joined anyway significance negative: lust. Among other things, readers will be more prepared for the topic already aware of the episode of Jerash; according to the scriptures (and even before the advent of the Mosaic law and Mohammedan), Jordan (Jerash), Jesus exorcised some demons that infested the bodies of Christians and confined them within a few pigs in the pasture (which ended early suicide in the lake below).

—- article from wikipedia & myinterestingfacts.com —


Okay, so now you’re confused, right? First I said the most expensive bottle ever was about $160K and now at number two I’ve listed one that cost almost twice that. Three sheets to the wind? Not at all. See, this bottle of red that sold in 2007 was a large bottle, not a standard-size. But take a look down below at the price per glass and you’ll see which is truly the more expensive of the two. Had this giant bottle been a standard 750 ml bottle, it would have only sold for $51,783. (By the way, 1945 is considered one of the very best vintages of the 20th century and Mouton-Rothschild one the world’s greatest clarets. If you ever happen upon a bottle, don’t drink it!)

Price per glass: $8,631

— original source: http://theweek.com