Archive for May, 2018

SSE profits drop ahead of ‘year of major transition’

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Big six supplier plans to merge household supply business with Npower

Maersk raises shipping rates as oil price spike bites

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Marine fuel costs are up more than 20% this year

Save More With a Kitchen Garden

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

A kitchen garden can offer you are welcome reprieve from the rising cost of living that stretches your budget to the limit. With a small kitchen garden, you can supply your family’s needs for fresh vegetables and save a lot of money that would have otherwise been spent on grocery shopping.

Starting a kitchen garden is easy as long as you have some space in your backyard but you will need to gather some knowledge on gardening practices if you are to expect a bumper harvest from it.

Here are the Preparedness Mama Gardening Tips you need to have a successful garden.

Choose a suitable location

While you can theoretically garden anywhere, various plants have to different requirements for growth. Generally, plants need fertile soil and adequate sunlight to thrive.

The location of your garden should allow for maximum exposure to direct sunlight since most vegetables require between 6-8 hours of sunlight to remain healthy and give some meaningful produce come harvest time. Your garden shouldn’t be on the blind side of your house where the shadow falls.

Soil fertility

The soil in your kitchen garden should be well-drained and have sufficient nutrients to support plant growth. This knocks out clay and sand on the grounds that they hold onto water for far too long or doesn’t hold water at all respectively.

You can improve your soil fertility by adding compost manure to your garden and tilling it so that they mix properly to enable the roots of your plants to absorb the nutrients.

Choosing the crops

The choice of crops to plant in your garden depends on your family needs but gardening is easier if you plant crops that are native to your region.

Native plants have adapted to the prevailing conditions in your locality and can therefore grow with minimal input from you. They are also more resistant to common pests and diseases that could affect exotic plants in your garden.

The other advantage of having native plants in your garden is that you can readily get help from other gardeners in your neighbourhood.

Planting tips

Start with a small portion as you get the hang of gardening before venturing to a much bigger space. You can start big and get overwhelmed in maintaining the garden or have so much produce that most of it goes to waste.

You have a single crop in your garden or have a variety but if you mix crops, ensure that they are complementary of each so that one doesn’t kill the other.

More importantly, the spacing between your plants should be good so they don’t compete for nutrients which will lower your yields.

Garden care

Your job doesn’t end at planting. You need to tend to your garden until harvesting season. Depending on the crops you plant, you will to water your plants daily although you must know the specific water requirements of your plant. Overwatering is just as detrimental as insufficient watering.

You will also need to weed your garden regularly so foreign plants don’t choke your vegetables.


Energy biggest laggard on S&P 500 amid oil price drop

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Total to buy 10% stake in Russian LNG project

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Early Easter, Cold and Snow Hurt April Retail Sales, Report Says

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse April 2018

Cold weather, snow storms and an early Easter Holiday did their part to fuel a drop in retail traffic in April (7.8%) that in turn decreased sales by 5.6% for the same period year over year.  The findings were part of the RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse report, a performance review for brick and mortar retail stores in the U.S.

RetailNext Retail Performance Pulse April 2018

Declines in Traffic and Sales

The declines in traffic and sales were partially offset by a 0.9 point upward swing in conversion, measured by calculating sales transactions as a percentage of traffic. This metric has been riding a positive trend for six of the last seven months.

The current year over year report compared the period of April 9 through May 6, 2017 to April 8 through May 5, 2018. Seven million shipping trips in the continental United States were analyzed.

Best Numbers

April experienced its best numbers during the third week of the month. Three important metrics — conversion, net sales and average transaction value — were up for that week. April saw it best sales day Saturday, April 28 while reached its highest point Thursday, April 26.

Traffic hit its lowest point on Monday, April 16.


Regionally, the Northeast saw sales drop 4.1% year over year and traffic decrease 9.3%. The Midwest experienced a sales decrease of 8.2%, the worst for any region. The West saw sales and traffic dip at 6.4% and 7.7% respectively.

The South didn’t do any better with the second-highest sales decline (6.9%) and traffic numbers that dropped by 5.6%.

RetailNext uses SaaS software to collect and analyze shopper’s data. They have their headquarters in San Jose, CA. Over 300 retailers in 60 different countries have adopted their analytics platform.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Early Easter, Cold and Snow Hurt April Retail Sales, Report Says” was first published on Small Business Trends


Russia and Saudi Arabia to discuss relaxing oil production caps

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Meeting lined up amid unease over rally in crude price

Donald Trump Cancels Meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

CNBC – President Donald Trump canceled his historic nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un on Thursday, accusing North Korea of “tremendous anger and open hostility.”

The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12 in Singapore.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, which was released Thursday morning.

Stocks fell and gold rose after news of the cancellation broke.

Much of the letter was written in seemingly friendly terms, including praise for North Korea’s recent release of three American prisoners. In contrast, Trump also appeared to issue a threat that conjured memories of his war of words with Kim last year.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.

The cancellation appeared to take South Korea’s government by surprise. The nation’s president, Moon Jae-in, had played a pivotal role in setting up recent diplomatic developments.

A representative of Moon’s office said the South Korean administration was “trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” according to the country’s Yonhap News Agency. Moon and his aides convened emergency meetings to address the shock announcement, which broke shortly before midnight in Seoul.

The news came as North Korea made a show of dismantling a nuclear test site, but also on the heels of some sharp words from the North Korean government about America denuclearization demands. Trump’s decision also comes more than two weeks after he withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which had lifted sanctions on the Middle Eastern country as long as it limited its nuclear program.

Doubts had grown in recent days about whether Trump’s summit with Kim would actually happen. North Korea abruptly canceled talks with South Korea last week out of anger over joint military tests with the U.S. in the Korean peninsula. While Trump had repeatedly played up the historic significance of his planned meeting, he also often leavened his optimism with a cautious “we’ll see.”

On Tuesday, Trump said there was a “substantial” chance that the meeting might not take place at the planned time and location.

Thursday’s development marked yet another dramatic, sudden turnaround in the Trump-Kim saga. Without many details or diplomatic ties established, the president agreed on March 8 to the summit, when South Korean officials told Trump about the North Korean leader’s Kim’s eagerness to meet.

North Korea took offense to remarks on Tuesday by Vice President Mike Pence that the communist country could end up like Libya if it doesn’t make a nuclear deal with Washington.

Before Trump’s cancellation, a top North Korean official, Choe Son Hui, lashed out at Pence’s remarks.

“As a person involved in U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing from the mouth of the U.S. vice president,” Choe said, according to KCNA.

The vice president’s comments also echoed those of Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, who had suggested the U.S. could pursue a Libya-style denuclearization plan with North Korea. Years after that nuclear deal, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown and slain, a move the U.S. supported. North Korea’s Kim is concerned about regime change.

Trump’s cancellation earned quick praise from Republican lawmakers. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a tweet that the president’s move was “100% the right decision.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan also weighed in, but in more measured tones.

“The North Korean regime has long given ample reason to question its commitment to stability,” Ryan said in a statement. “We must continue to work with our allies toward a peaceful resolution, but that will require a much greater degree of seriousness from the Kim regime.”

Trump’s critics also seized on the news, but as a way to hammer the White House.

“The art of diplomacy is a lot harder than the art of the deal. The reality is, is that it’s pretty amazing that the administration might be shocked that North Korea is acting as North Korea might very well normally act,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a hearing involving Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

While he was still CIA director, Pompeo met with Kim over Easter weekend to establish diplomatic ties and work toward setting up the summit. Pompeo had also secured the release of the three American prisoners released by North Korea earlier this month.

In his letter to Kim, Trump thanked him for the release but referred to the prisoners in non-diplomatic language.


Every Fourth Bulgarian Reads a Book every day. Every third – never

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Every third of the adults in Bulgaria (36%) state that they do not spend time reading books, and every fourth (24%) read almost daily. This shows the data from a national representative survey of public opinion conducted by the Open Society Institute – Sofia in April 2018, reports

The younger and the more educated, the higher-income people, as well as those who browse the Internet more than the country average, are more likely to spend time reading books. This is more often done by people who are more critical of media information and, to a lesser degree, are convinced that the media in the country provide accurate and verified information and do not succumb to political or economic pressures.

The survey results show that there are no significant differences between the reading habits registered in 2016 and 2018.

Young people read more than the elderly

Data show that people over the age of 60 are reading significantly less often than the younger – almost half (49%) of people over 60 say they do not spend time on books, whereas among those aged 29 and over , the ones who are not reading at all, are 2 times less (24%). Among the youngest, every third (34%) states that they read books almost every day, and as the age increases, this share drops to 22% for people over 60. For people over 30, the time spent to read is almost every day – that is the situation for just over 1 in 5 people, which is close to the country average.

Most people who read live in Sofia and the big cities

The share of people who say they spend time reading books almost every day is about 3 times bigger in the capital (33%) and in the regional cities (30%) than in the villages (12%). In municipal centers, they read 21%, which is close to the average for the country. Every second person living in a small settlement says he/she does not read books at all, while in Sofia this is true for only one in five people.

In terms of gender, there is a difference in reading habits between men and women, but it is not as big as in populated areas – among men, 41% say they never spend time reading books, and among women this percentage is 33%.

Education and income matter

Expectantly, very large differences in the interest in reading books are observed by degree of education – the more educated you are the more you read. For example, among university graduates, nearly half (43%) read almost every day, which is 20% more than the country average, and only 11% admit that they do not read books at all. The reading frequency of secondary school graduates does not differ significantly from that of the average adult citizen of the country. Three quarters of people with basic and lower education (76%) said they did not read books at all, which is over 2 times the share of the country average (36%).

In line with the dependence between the degree of education and the frequency of reading books, research data shows that the higher a person’s income, the more often he/she spends time reading books. Among those the households with the highest monthly income (over BGN 700 per household member), those who do not read at all are about 20%. Among people with a monthly income of between BGN 450 and 700, 29% say they do not read, and for those who live with between 300 and 450 BGN a month, the share of those who do not read at all reaches 47% . The highest share of people who said they did not read – 59% – refers to the poorest people with up to $ 300 a month. Those who read books almost every day in all income groups are about 20%, which is close to the country average (24%), and for those with the highest income, this percentage increases to almost 30%.

Workers read more often

If we look at the reading habits of people according to social status, we will find that two groups are formed – workers (including retired workers) and those who do not work (including unemployed and retired). The group of workers reads significantly more often than those who do not work. More specifically, two out of every three unemployed (62%) and half of the retired retirees (51%) never spend time reading books. By contrast, among those employed, the share of those who never read is one third (33%) for pensioners and 26% for working-age workers.

More internet means more books

The study also shows another dependency – people who browse the internet every day (46% of the country’s adult population) have different behaviors in reading books from the other groups of the population of the country.

Regular Internet users spend much more time reading – every third (31%) read books almost every day, while every fifth (22%) does not read books at all. Again, the ratio among the adult population – every fourth (24%) read almost every day, and roughly every third (36%) does not read books at all.

People who read more are more critical of media information

The data reveals another dependency. What kind of media do you trust mainly when you need information about the situation in the country? “, Those who point to the Internet read books more than those who trust television networks. More specifically, every third (33%) of internet users say they read books almost every day, unlike television spectators, where only 20% spend time reading almost every day. Of those who rely on information about the social life through television, 40% admit they never read books, and among those looking for information on the Internet, only four (25%) never read books, a small share of the country average (36%).

In response to the question whether they believe that the media in Bulgaria provide accurate and verified information to the public without deliberately concealing or distorting facts, and whether the media in our country is succumbing to political or economic pressure or influence, there are differences in reading habits. Of those who believe that the media provides accurate information and are independent of foreign influences, over 40% say they do not spend enough time reading, and only 30% declare the same from those who do not believe in these statements.

In the more trustworthy about the quality of information that the media poses in the public space, people who read almost every day (17-19%) are 10% less than the more critical (27-29%).


10 CAD Tools for Your Small Manufacturing Business

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

10 CAD Tools for Your Small Manufacturing Business

Computer-aided design, or CAD, is an essential tool for any manufacturing or product design business. There are plenty of different software programs out there that can help you with this function, but knowing which ones to choose can be a bit tricky.

Dan Taylor, content analyst at software review and research platform Capterra said in an email to Small Business Trends, “You have to be careful choosing CAD software, because while CAD is used in manufacturing it is also used in construction, and some software may be suited more for one than the other. This is why it’s important to try out software first.”

CAD Tools

If you’re looking for a new CAD software to try out for your manufacturing business, here are a few different options to consider.


AutoCAD is a 3D CAD program that Taylor says is popular with a lot of manufacturing and product design companies. It’s available for Mac and Windows on a subscription basis, with different rates depending on the length of your subscription. Features include 3D modeling and visualization, customization options and a mobile app for working on the go.


From TurboCAD, DesignCAD is a software suite that offers both 2D and 3D design options. The 3D CAD program includes features for rendering, animation, modeling and more. The program costs $99.99 with optional upgrades also available.

Solidworks 3D CAD

Solidworks offers three different versions of its CAD software. The standard edition includes 3D design features for creating parts, assemblies and drawings. The premium and professional versions then include some advanced collaboration and simulation options to take those designs to the next level. Pricing is customized based on each company’s needs, so you need to contact the team directly to determine the cost and features you need. A free trial period is also available.


Vectorworks offers a number of different software options for different types of design and products, ranging from architecture to structural design. So you can check out the different options and find the one that best fits with your business’s niche. The company also offers mobile solutions and a trial version.


FreeCAD is a product design and modeling platform that is, as its name suggests, free. It’s an open source tool with multi platform reads and open file format options. Since it’s so customizable, it takes a bit of tech knowledge to navigate, but the price allows you to at least try it out without making a major upfront investment.

Creo Parametric 3D Modeling Software

A 3D CAD tool specifically made for product development, Creo Parametric offers both design and automation features intended to help product makers bring their ideas to market faster. You can use it for everything from framework design to sheetmetal modeling. There’s a free trial with customized pricing options available afterward.

TurboCAD Deluxe 2018

The latest version of TurboCAD, this option includes both 2D and 3D design options. The 3D design capabilities allow you to create realistic renderings of products perfect for those who need to present new product ideas. It does also include some architectural features as well as 3D printing capabilities. Priced at $149.99, there’s also a free trial option available.


Shapr3D is a tool for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. It’s not as fully featured as some other 3D CAD tools. But for small manufacturers that prefer working on a tablet or using 3D printing, it can be a unique and cost effective option. The Pro version is $300 per year, and there’s also a free option available for beginners if you’d like to play around with the technology.


For programmers or those with a knowledge of coding, OpenSCAD offers a free and open solution for creating 3D designs and models. It’s available to download for Linux/UNIX, Windows and Mac. It offers a variety of features that focus more on the CAD aspect than design.


SolveSpace is another free offering that allows you to create digital models of 3D products. It gives you the ability to set dimensions, create 3D shapes, analyze measurements and export the designs. It is an open source tool and offers a constraint-based modeling feature and simulation capabilities for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 CAD Tools for Your Small Manufacturing Business” was first published on Small Business Trends