Archive for November, 2010

Carbon count ‘good for business’

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Richard BlackBy Richard Black

Spools in a factoryReporting emissions did not tie businesses up in tape, the report found
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UK companies that measure their carbon emissions do not find the exercise arduous or expensive – and some say it brings benefits, a report concludes.

The report was commissioned by the government as it prepares to decide if emissions reporting will be mandatory.

Just over half the firms surveyed said reporting emissions carried a net benefit for their business.

The CBI welcomed the finding, affirming that it “strongly supports” emissions reporting because it helps cut carbon.

The researchers – from consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-profit organisation helping companies to count carbon – used a range of methods, including a survey of 155 companies, focus groups, interviews and reviews of information already in the public domain.

They found no direct tangible benefits from the act of reporting emissions; but, they relate, reporting emissions forces a company to measure them first, and that does bring benefits.

“Government needs to act now to introduce mandatory reporting”

Martin Baxter IEMA

Companies reported that measuring emissions produced an incentive to reduce them, through routes that include spending less on energy.

“Reporting drives the action of measuring, helping companies to identify opportunities for emission reductions,” said Joanna Lee, chief partnerships officer at CDP.

“It also helps companies set meaningful and achievable reduction targets, as well as advancing better risk management and increased awareness of new market opportunities.”

Most companies said the costs of measuring and reporting emissions did not meaningfully impact their businesses, with two-thirds spending less than £50,000 on the exercises.

The majority said the benefits outweighed the costs.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which commissioned the research, said it was encouraged by the findings.

“I am pleased to see that the many companies already voluntarily involved in reporting greenhouse gas emissions are finding the process beneficial to their business and investors,” said Environment Minister Lord Henley

“The next steps for government will be to consider the findings of the report. We’ll be announcing a way forward in early 2011.”

The Climate Change Act requires government to make emissions reporting mandatory by 2012, or to explain to parliament why it has not done so.

The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), whose own research shows that only 22% of FTSE-listed companies are fully reporting greenhouse gas emissions, urged the government to act swiftly, or risk being left behind by other countries.

“Government needs to act now to introduce mandatory reporting to ensure that UK businesses gain the benefits from embedding sustainability into their corporate strategy,” said Martin Baxter, IEMA’s executive director of policy.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Pentagon study ‘backs gay troops’

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Allowing gay troops to serve openly in the US military would carry only a low risk of hindering fighting ability, a Pentagon study finds.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Live – Tuesday football

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Arsenal host Wigan and Manchester United travel to West Ham for tonight’s Carling Cup quarter-final ties, while Carlisle and Sheffield Wednesday meet in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy northern semi-final.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Progress made in BBC pension row

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The BBC and journalists’ unions reach an agreement in principle to resolve a dispute over changes to staff pensions.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Make Your PowerPoints Pop!

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
This post is part of the Inspiration series, sponsored by Veer.com.

If you’re like me, you prepare a lot of PowerPoint presentations. I’ve been creating slide presentations for nearly 20 years. In that time I’ve learned a few things about how to make presentation slides useful and stimulating.

I won’t say my slides are works of art — I know they’re not. And for the first decade of my business career they were pretty boring. They were almost all text!   But over the years I’ve learned a few things about how to keep them functional, simple, yet visually stimulating.  Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Use an image at least every-other slide – Nothing is more boring than a slide presentation consisting of an unrelenting sea of text!   Images “open up” your slides and draw the viewer in.  Images stimulate our right brain (intuitive / creative side) while words stimulate our left brain (analytical side).  Thus, you give your slides more sensory appeal by including an image (or chart) on every slide — or at the very least, on every other slide.

Keep background images muted – I prefer plain backgrounds on my slides because they are easier to read — either white or other light color.  As a matter of personal preference, some people prefer a background image on slides, with text superimposed on top.  But a background that is too distracting will compete  for attention with the text over top it.  Then the slide simply becomes annoying. For example, imagine trying to read text superimposed over top of the following image:

I deliberately left in the Veer watermark so that you can see exactly how difficult reading text can be over top of a detailed image.  With all its detail and contrast — the word is difficult to spot, isn’t it?  Imagine trying to read bullet point after bullet point on top of a background like that.

Contrast that with starting with a muted image, perhaps a swirl or texture without a lot of contrast. Then make the image transparent so that it competes even less with the text. The following is an example of a muted texture image you might use for a background, that would not be nearly as distracting to read text over, as the nuts and bolts image above:

Use an image to balance a block of text next to it — A simple way to add images is to insert a relevant image either to the left or right side of a short block of bullet points.  The general size of the text should be balanced by the image.  This technique is easy for business people to do, because it doesn’t require advanced skills with graphics, yet it adds visual interest quickly to slides.  It works really well using stock photographs.  Awesome Presentations has a simple example of an image used to balance a block of text.

Bold, uncluttered images are best — A presentation slide is usually viewed at a distance and quickly.  Therefore, it is not the place for “busy” images or images with fine detailing.  Keep your images simple and recognizable at a glance.

Use relevant images — Now this should be obvious:  if you use a photograph or vector image, you’re going to want it to be relevant to whatever the slide is about.  However, I frequently see images on slides that seem to have little relationship to the topic.  When choosing images, look for a stock image site that has good keyword search, and lets you refine your search in many ways.  Today, there really is no excuse for not pinpointing a high-quality image relevant to the slide’s topic.

Use a single image and few/no words for impact — If you really want to drive home your point, try using a single image taking up the entire slide, with few or no words.  In other words, you convey your point visually, instead of using text and bullets.  This can make a point powerfully.  It’s especially powerful when such a slide is mixed in with other slides that have bullet points on them — it’s a nice break.  For an image to cover the entire slide, go for a medium or large size image, and make sure it’s a horizontal image (not a vertical image).

Of course, I didn’t learn all of this on my own.  Here are tips on presentations from two other resources, that you may find helpful, that I’ve learned from:

The 10/20/30 Rule - Guy Kawasaki says PowerPoint presentations should have 10 slides, last 20 minutes and be in 30-point font. His tips are meant for entrepreneurs seeking investment from venture capitalists. And while I do have many PowerPoint presentations that are more than 10 slides and last longer than 20 minutes, I find his simple rule easy to remember and a good general guide. If you interpret his rule to mean (1)  keep the number of slides limited;  (2) allow 2 minutes per slide; and (3) keep the font large — you’ll be doing your audience a favor.

1-Minute Billboard Test — Vivek Singh of All About Presentations has an interesting test, where he asks you to think about  slides as being like billboards.  He has a self-test on his site, where he asks you to imagine you are glancing at a billboard while driving and you have exactly 4 seconds for the image to make an impression — what stands out after 4 seconds?  While there is no right or wrong answer, by taking his self-test you realize the importance of de-cluttering your slides.  So, when choosing and presenting images and text on a slide, keep it simple. “Busy” slides need not apply.

What about you? Share your tips about creating visually powerful presentation slides in the comments below — love to hear from you and draw on your expertise.

* * * * *

To see more inspiring images check out our Images for PowerPoint Presentations Album on Veer.

From Small Business Trends

Make Your PowerPoints Pop!

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Finnish Fortum Committed to Just 1% of Bulgarian Belene NPP

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

At the time being Finnish energy company Fortum is only committed to 1% of the project company for Bulgarian Belene NPP, said Executive Vice President Anne Brunila speaking to Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency).

The contract for creating a Belene project company was sealed Tuesday evening by the Bulgarian National Electric Company (NEK), Russian Rosatom, Finnish Fortum, and French Altran Technologies.

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Icy temperature triggers benefits

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

As temperatures remain consistently below zero, payments have been triggered for the poorest to help with heating costs.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Bulgaria, Russia, Third Parties Seal Contract on Belene NPP

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The Bulgarian and Russian sides signed Tuesday evening a contract creating a company to construct Belene NPP, committing to the project whose fate was not clear up to now.

The contract consists of two agreements, one signed by Russian Rosatom, the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Finnish company Fortum, the other by Rosatom, BEH and French company Altran Technologies.

Earlier Tuesday Bulgarian energy Minister Traicho Traikov announced that Finnish state-owned Fortum and French consulting firm Altran Technologies are willing to participate in the Belene NPP project.

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Obama hails summit’s ‘good start’

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

President Barack ObamaAhead of the meeting Mr Obama announced a pay freeze for federal workers
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President Obama is to meet Republican and Democratic leaders on Tuesday for talks on issues to be tackled in the year’s final session of Congress.

Key items on the agenda include extending Bush-era tax cuts and the New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Republicans said ahead of the talks they were opposed to any tax increases

The meeting has been dubbed the “Slurpee” summit following a remark Mr Obama made during campaigning for the US mid-term elections.

Speaking about efforts to repair the US economy, Mr Obama described Democrats working to “dig the car out of the ditch” while Republicans sat back “sipping on a Slurpee [iced drink]“.

‘Shared responsibility’

Mr Obama was expected to call for bipartisan co-operation in Tuesday’s meeting at the White House, which comes after the Republicans made big gains in the mid-term elections.

“We now have a shared responsibility to deliver for the American people on the issues that define not only these times but our future and I hope we can do that in a cooperative and serious way,” Mr Obama said on Monday.

Among the top issues expected to be on the table is whether, or how, to extend the soon-to-expire tax cuts pushed through by President George W Bush and the Republicans in 2001 and 2003.

Mr Obama favours extending the lower rates for middle class Americans while letting them lapse for households earning more than $250,000 (£160,854).

Republicans favour extending them at all levels, a move opponents say will add billions of dollars to the federal budget deficit.

The Republicans want to “make sure no one gets a tax hike while we’re trying to create jobs in the private sector,” House Republican Eric Cantor said on Tuesday.

Pay freeze

The meeting between the president and congressional leaders from both parties will also discuss the fate of the New Start nuclear arms reduction treaty Mr Obama signed with Russia in April.

Mr Obama and the Democrats and a host of top former national security officials from both parties have called for the US Senate to ratify the treaty, a step necessary for it to take effect.

But the top Republican handling the issue, Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, has said it will have to wait until after January when the new Congress is sworn in and Republican numbers are strengthened.

Also on the agenda will be an effort to slash the federal budget deficit, expected to exceed $1.3 trillion this year. On that issue, Mr Obama on Monday announced a pay freeze for federal workers.

Among those expected to attend the White House summit are Vice-President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Republican leader John Boehner, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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Uefa bans and fines boss Mourinho

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho is banned for two Champions League matches, the second of which is suspended for three years, after being found guilty of improper conduct by Uefa.

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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