Archive for December, 2017

Libby App Connects eReaders to Business Titles from Most Major Metro Public Libraries

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Libby App Connects eReaders to Business Titles from Most Major Metro Public Libraries

When was the last time you thought about going to your local library to check out a book?

The Libby app connects local libraries and the thousands of eBooks and audiobooks on their digital bookshelves 24/7.

The Libby app is developed by OverDrive. To date, more than 39,000 libraries and schools in 70 countries are part of the service. A catalog of over 2 million eBooks, audiobooks and videos are in the collection covering fiction and non-fiction titles across every imaginable subject.

Small business owners looking to learn or brush-up in a particular field can find thousands of business and business-related titles to read. In the US and Canada, Libby connects readers with libraries in major metropolitan areas. This includes the New York Public Library, Boston Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Toronto Public Library and many others.

Improving Your Knowledge Base

The internet has dramatically improved the way we learn, but public libraries are still important repositories of knowledge. What digital technology has done is make the books in libraries available to a wider audience.

The New York Public Library, for example, has more than 300,000 ebooks, audiobooks and videos available with OverDrive. This includes 7,625 books on business, 1,167 on finance, 367 on economics and many other topics related to business.

As free apps go, Libby has got to be one of the most resourceful tools out there. USA Today and Google Play have said as much by naming it one of the best apps of 2017.

Getting the Libby App

After you download the Libby app on your Android or iOS smartphone or tablet, (or on your Windows PC) all it takes is your library card to start borrowing books. If you happen to have an Amazon Kindle, the books you borrow on Libby can be sent to the device. The Kindle option is only available in the US.

Once you have the app, it will help you find your local library and even get you a card using your mobile phone number. You can sign into multiple libraries using one or more cards.

When it comes to reading or listening to the books, you can stream or download them. And best of all, the company says it will always be free.

Image: Libby

This article, “Libby App Connects eReaders to Business Titles from Most Major Metro Public Libraries” was first published on Small Business Trends


What Apple’s Battery Mea Culpa Can Teach Your Small Business About Transparency

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Apple Apologizes for Slowing Your iPhone

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) officially admitted it was slowing down iPhones as their batteries age. The reasoning for this move by the company makes perfect sense, but it was the execution which will cost Apple in terms of money and a black eye on its reputation and brand.

Apple Apologizes for Slowing Your iPhone

In its apology and explanation of how aging batteries affect iPhone performance, Apple was thorough and didn’t mince any words.

“We apologize” the company said. “We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

For many small businesses still using the older iPhones, the optimization steps Apple has taken can be seen as a positive. Again, this depends entirely on how you feel about not being told it was taking place.

The steps Apple took were to dynamically manage the maximum performance of the batteries to prevent a shutdown of some system components when needed. It started with iOS 10.2.1 and it now includes iOS 11.2 for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE as well as iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Making Amends

The company said it is taking the following steps to, “Regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions.”

Firstt it is lowering the price of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50, from $79 to $29. This goes for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later needing battery replacements. The offer will start in late January and end in December 2018 globally.

There will also be an update to the iOS software in early 2018 giving users increased visibility into the health of their battery life. This will allow them to see if the condition of the battery is affecting performance.

Details of the plan will be provided in the near future. You can follow the progress on

What Can You Learn From Apple’s Mistake?

First of all, it is almost impossible to hide anything in today’s digital ecosystem. Transparency is the way to go. If you let your customers know what you plan on doing regarding the products and services they purchase from you, it won’t come back to bite you in the future.

You have to be proactive in the way you communicate with your customers. You have social media, websites, email and SMS to make this possible. Had Apple been upfront about what it was doing, the company wouldn’t be where it is now. Omitting a simple explanation will prevent customers from questioning the hard-earned reputation of your brand. Don’t let it happen to you.

Image: Apple

This article, “What Apple’s Battery Mea Culpa Can Teach Your Small Business About Transparency” was first published on Small Business Trends


The BlueCart Report Keeps Restaurants and Hotels on Top of Consumer Trends

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The BlueCart 2017 Hospitality Food Procurement Trends Report Keeps Restaurants and Hotels on Top of Consumer Trends
BlueCart recently introduced a report spotting purchasing trends in the hospitality industry. The 2017 Hospitality Report is designed to help restaurants, hotels and suppliers gain a competitive advantage by revealing the food and drink that’s most in demand.

It’s the first time BlueCart has issued such a report, but small businesses in this market will certainly want to take note.

2017 Hospitality Food Procurement Trends Report

“Our hope is that by providing this data to the public on a regular basis through these reports, it will allow businesses to stay up to date with what is popular in the marketplace and where they may want to focus their attention based on these potential emerging trends,” Konstantin Zvereff, BlueCart CEO, says in a press release.

The company says it compiled data from the report tracking sales among its users over the last three years. BlueCart is a wholesale procurement platform for businesses and buyers in hospitality.

“The goal of this report is to provide operators and distributors a top-down look at the market landscape, motivating operators and distributors to make better decisions and successfully grow their business,” writes Will Harmon, a marketing associate for BlueCart, on the company’s blog.

In it, BlueCart finds that seafood sales over the last three years increased more than four times over. Bakery sales are up 437 percent. Non-alcoholic beverages rose 249 percent but produce sales dropped by 41 percent.

Sales numbers could be skewed because this is the first time the report has been published and more data could have been presented later in the survey’s time window. It does identify trends, however.

Harmon adds, “Possible emerging trends include farmed salmon and shrimp demand rising, decreased sales in alternative cuts of chicken, and products that allow an “on-the-go” lifestyle surging in popularity.”

BlueCart provides a network of suppliers for the businesses using its service, which is available as a mobile app. As many as 37,000 businesses participated by submitting data for the report. To view the full BlueCart report, you can download it by following this link.

Image: BlueCart

This article, “The BlueCart Report Keeps Restaurants and Hotels on Top of Consumer Trends” was first published on Small Business Trends


Small Online Stores Will Spend $2.62 for Every $1 of a Fraudulent Transaction

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Online Fraud Trends Report from Strips: Small Online Stores Will Spend $2.62 for Every $1 of a Fraudulent Transaction

One fraudulent online order can cost a small retailer nearly three times as much as the cost of the transaction. That’s what Stripe found in its December 2017 Online Fraud Trends and Behavior report (PDF).

Online Fraud Trends Report

The online payment processor recently released the report and gave Small Business Trends a unique perspective via exclusive email comments.

“One of our goals in publishing the report is to help small businesses better understand how and when fraudulent behavior shows up, so they can create specific strategies that directly address their needs,” says Michael Manapat, engineering manager for payments intelligence and experience at Stripe, in an email with Small Business Trends.

Stripe’s report found that a small online retail business will spend $2.62 battling back against online fraud for every $1 of a fraudulent order. That goes up to $3.34 for a mobile retail store. Therefore, it would make sense that it’s best to put up defense before falling victim to fraudulent transactions.

But how much defense is enough?

It’s true that cyber crimes are on the rise and it’s also true that small businesses are increasingly targeted by fraudsters. And as the security of transactions at brick-and-mortar stores increases, the likelihood that online transactions will be targeted more often goes up, too.

However, it’s also true that small businesses can over-invest in online fraud protection. This report from Stripe tries to help small online retailers identify where they need to protect themselves.

“Given their limited resources, most small businesses need to make trade-offs between policing fraud and maximizing profitability. Smaller companies can use the report to identify consistent patterns of fraudulent behavior,” Manapat says.

A small online retail store may have to ultimately decide whether to install some anti-fraud software on their store. But not every small business will have the money or resources to deploy such a defense. In other cases, Manapat says, online stores need to identify trends among fraudsters to spot suspicious activity while it’s happening.

For starters, smaller stores need to be capturing more information about their customers up front. This greatly reduces the chances of a fraudulent transaction.

“While every business is different, understanding how fraud shows up will not only help smaller retailers more effectively combat fraud, but also help them understand why setting better rules is so important,” Manapat adds.

Other key signs of transaction fraud online are purchases coming in at abnormally high rates. Fraud actors will sometimes purchase at 10 times the normal pace usually seen on a site. They also like to hit during evening hours, according to Stripe. And you can expect this activity during lower traffic times on a site.

“For example, fraud rates do not rise notably on heavy shopping days like Black Friday, but rather on days like Christmas when many people aren’t shopping,” the report explains.

Another key finding from the report shows that most fraudulent transactions aren’t for big-ticket items. Instead, it’s smaller transactions that tend to be fraudulent.

“In the United States, Stripe data shows that fraudulent transaction amounts are only slightly larger than regular transaction amounts,” the report states.

Stripe suggests that small online retailers work with a payment processor that deploys machine learning technology to help spot bogus transactions. But the company also notes that relying just on AI to spot fraud is not enough. Manual vigilance is also necessary.

“Machine learning models address this challenge by incorporating many context-specific nuances in order to reject only the most suspicious transactions, rather than putting in place blanket rules that can easily wind up blocking good transactions. Merchants should work with payment processors with machine learning and other technologies to optimize these complex trade-offs between stopping fraud and maximizing profitability,” the report adds.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Small Online Stores Will Spend $2.62 for Every $1 of a Fraudulent Transaction” was first published on Small Business Trends


The key energy questions for 2018

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

The renewables industry has had a great year. How fast can it grow now?

Strong Earthquake with a Magnitude of 4.9 on the Richter Scale near Athens

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

An earthquake of 4.9 magnitude magnitude was recorded not far from Athens, the European Mediterranean Seismological Center reported.

The quake was at 06:02 local time and lasted about 20 seconds. The epicenter was 81 kilometers from the Greek capital. It was at a depth of 10 kilometers.

There is no evidence of damage and injuries.


Two were Killed in Protests in Iran, but "by Foreign Agents"

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Two people have died in the city of Dorud in western Iran during the protests yesterday, the governor of the province of Lorestan said, quoted by world news agencies. But in his words, protesters were not shot by security forces who were not shooting at demonstrators, but from “foreign agents”.

At the same time, Iranian Interior Minister Abdulrahman Fazli warned that the authorities would respond to “violence, fear and terror.” In a statement on Iran’s state television, Fazli said that those responsible for public order violations in the country will be responsible and will pay. Anti-government protests began in Mashhad City on Wednesday. According to authorities, about 50 people have been detained so far.

According to Iranian Allier Nader, the protests are indicative that people have lost confidence in the Iranian government, and the demonstrations do not bode well for the country. We saw people across Iran criticizing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and tearing his posters publicly. This means that a large percentage of the population thinks the system is corrupt and reluctant to reform. This attitude is very dangerous for the Islamic Republic, because if people do not believe there is anyone to help them, they will resort to protests and violence, as we have seen over the last three days, he said quoted by the Bulgarian National Radio.


Europe has an Interest in Good Relations Between Washington and Moscow

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Europe must be interested in the improvement of relations between Moscow and Washington – such improvement may even help to resolve the conflict in North Korea, German Foreign Ministry chief Sigmar Gabriel said, according to TASS and other agencies.

“We in Europe must strive for relations between the US and Russia to improve. After all, the United States and Russia – with the support of China – can prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, “Gabriel said.

According to Gabriel, Berlin makes the most of efforts to improve relations between Russia and the United States. He also noted that the military solution to the problem with North Korea would result in multiple casualties. At the same time, inaction would provoke attempts by other countries to repeat the experience.


The Russian Court Rejected Navalny Candidacy of the Russian Presidential Elections

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Russia’s Supreme Court rejected on 30 December the appeal of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny against the decision of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) not to allow him to participate in the presidential election in March 2018, Reuters reported.

Earlier this week, the CEC banned Navalny from taking part in the 18 March elections, as there is a conditional sentence for the misuse of state funds. According to the opposition, CEC’s decision is politically motivated. He could have run for president if he had been given special permission or if his sentence was canceled.


Five Eclipses and Three Comets will be Seen in 2018

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

In 2018 there will be a series of five eclipses – including the longest one in a hundred years – as well as three comets that will pass close to the Earth, TASS reported.

On July 27 there will be a lunar eclipse with the longest duration of a century. It is conditioned by the fact that then the center of the moon and the center of the shadow of the Earth will exactly match. The phenomenon will start on July 27 at 20:13 GMT when the earth’s shadow will touch the moon. The complete phase of the eclipse will continue from 22:30 on July 27th to 01:14 on July 28th. In addition, two partial solar eclipses are expected in 2018 on July 13 and August 11. Over the next 12 months, three bright comets will also be seen.


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