HashOut: 2008.02
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Start with a record

How did you welcome the New Year this time? G. Navakumar of Vellore, India ushered in 2008 by painting the flags of 102 countries on two rows of paper -- each 185 feet long. He then inserted a new year greeting between the parallel rows. The Indian flag had a picture of a white dove, indicating peace. He plans to add flags of another 90 countries for a place in the Limca Book of Records. » Continue reading


Size doesn't matter

Getting close to sparring canines can be dangerous. Even the elephants know the rule. Recently, in Madurai, India, an 11-year-old elephant ran away seeing two dogs fighting, and barged into a nearby hotel. No amount of persuasion from the mahout worked as the scared elephant refused to come out. It did, eventually, after the fear subsided. » Continue reading


Ad industry looks at 'cyberia'

The face of Indian advertising is changing. The action has shifted to 'cyberia' and advertising firms are reorienting themselves for a toehold on the digital domain. Industry insiders say the country's ad landscape will see more "integration and people-oriented nice campaigns" in the digital age.

"This is the age of online communities, messengers, blogs and searches. Advertising agencies will have to invest in developing core competencies to play an even role in this landscape," Nirvik Singh, president, South Asia, Grey Worldwide, a global advertising group said. The trick, says the ad whizkid, is to think digital and execute.

The change has been fuelled by the explosion in the growth of the internet since 2006. Predictions by the London-based Zenith Optimedia say ad-spend on the internet will overtake radio, cinema and outdoor advertising in two years. Internet advertising will be valued at more than Rs 22.5 billion by the end of 2010, which works out to an almost tenfold increase.

Watchers say classified advertising on the internet will mop up the maximum revenue with an estimated contribution of Rs 9 billion by 2009 followed by search engines' Rs 7.42 billion. Display ads will rake in another estimated Rs 6.07 billion.

The marketing solutions of the future, says Zubin Driver, network creative head of TV 18's specialized advertising unit "Cell", is one-stop ad shops that provide integrated and value-added service to consumers. "I think the ideas have to be multimedia. It has to have its life on the mobile, web and on the screen," said Driver.

Driver sees a lot of cost rationalization in advertising as the market is inflated and the entry of more organized players like Cell, which offers almost everything -- from creative ad clips, promotional capsules to channel packaging and brand solutions -- under one roof. The emphasis, says Driver, will be more on the effectiveness of advertising a product than "pure creativity".
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Daughter speak

Chelsea ClintonOne person who was seen in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign trail is her daughter Chelsea. Though she mixes with the crowd after Hillary's speech, she is out of bounds for the press. In Iowa recently, a kid reporter of Scholastic News, nine-year-old Sydney Rieckhoff, asked her, "Do you think your dad would be a good 'first man'?" Chelsea brushed her question aside, saying, "I'm sorry, I don't talk to the press. Even though I think you're cute." Though initially crestfallen, Sydney was happy; she got to speak to Bill and Hillary.
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Conman in uniform

Conmen love playing the role of a policeman, with whom they interact the most. Loorthanathan from Bangalore, India is no different. He specializes in duping the gullible wearing police uniform. When he was arrested recently, the license plate of his bike had the letter 'G', which suggests that it belongs to the government. Loorthanathan, who the police claim cheated over 70 people, even had a helmet similar to the one used by the police. » Continue reading


Go slow, baby!

According to health officials in Satara district of Maharashtra (India), the family way should not be treated as expressway. The officials are reportedly offering prizes to couples who take their feet off the libido accelerator. If a couple delays their first baby by two years, the prize is INR 5,000; a three-year gap will give them INR 7,500. Does infertility merit a jackpot? » Continue reading


Screened over

Skyscreen - The largest LED screen Asia in Beijing, ChinaBeijing now boasts the largest LED screen in Asia. The recently unveiled 'skyscreen' stretches 250m above the pedestrian walkway at a newly opened shopping mall in the central business district.

One can sip coffee and watch the various crafty videos on show. And surprisingly, there is no advertising, at least as yet. As of now, the only 'advertising' on the skyscreen are the propaganda videos promoting the heroism of the Chinese communist ideal.
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Save up to £547 per year on shopping

The average household could save up to £547 every year by switching the five financial basics to the best deals on the market, new research from MoneyExpert.com shows.

And financial comparison websites are the ideal way to shop around for the best deals on car insurance, home insurance, personal loans, credit cards and mortgages.

MoneyExpert.com commissioned researchers Canvasse Opinion to audit the finances of the UK and found 84 per cent of adults are overpaying for one or more of these finance basics.

Researchers surveyed a representative sample of people across the country and then ran the results through MoneyExpert.com’s price comparison software. Insurance quotes were analysed through Experian’s ISL division.

The £547 annual household saving comes from switching home insurance, motor insurance, mortgages, personal loans and credit cards to the best deal for each individual.

The biggest saving would come from moving a personal loan deal. On average borrowers could save £204 a year by moving to the best rate.

Drivers could cut their car insurance bill by around £158 a year while homeowners would be £76 a year better off.

Sean Gardner, Chief Executive of MoneyExpert.com, said: “With everyone coming under increasing financial pressure from rising bills it makes sense to find every possible way to cut costs.

“Our analysis shows potential savings of up to £547 are on offer from reviewing basic financial products and that would be a major boost for household budgets.

“Not everyone will save that much but four out of five of us are overpaying for at least one of the financial basics. Typically, UK consumers are paying out £150 per year more than they need to – I’d urge people to spend just a few minutes online to review their finances.”

MoneyExpert.com offers a unique service which enables people to find the financial products which best meet their specific needs, and which they are more likely to be successful in being accepted for. It includes exclusive research conducted by MORI, which reveals providers’ service levels. This information is married up with a financial database which lists the products suited to the customer. For the first time, people can review a product’s price, features and also the level of service offered by the provider to enable them to make a more informed choice.

MoneyExpert.com aims to demystify the complex world of personal finance, and to help inform customers of the choices available.
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What a bummer!

Pull up your pants or be pulled up by cops. Youth who walk with their pants half-down in Atlanta had better watch out. On August 30, a ban was imposed on low-slung pants, or any clothing that exposes underwear in public. Very low-slung trousers are already banned in Delcambre in Louisiana, where cheeky offenders can be fined US$500 or up to six months in jail. » Continue reading

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Google policing Gmail

Google has been well known for policing click fraud on its AdSense service. But Digital Inspiration has recently unearthed information about Google policing its Gmail service.

Google decides how many people you can send an email at a time. 100 from POP or IMAP clients and 500 from the web client. Also, Google will penalize your account if a lot of emails you send bounce back due to failed delivery.

Have you had any such experience with Google policing your use of Gmail?
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Bettercaring discover new trends in care home diets

In light of new nutritional government guidelines from the UK Department of Health and members of the Nutrition Summit stakeholder group, Bettercaring has discovered that there are many positive changes being implemented across care homes in the UK.

Bettercaring undertook some research this month to try and discover what sort of systems care homes were trialling in order to provide nutritionally balanced meals for elderly residents.

Bettercaring found that nursing homes were generally beginning to adhere to government guidelines by sourcing local ingredients from local suppliers to make meals and snacks. However funding is a big issue. On average just £2.43 is spent per head per day in care homes which can cause some homes difficulty, particularly as residents often have very specific dietary requirements.

One care home based in Charnwood, Leicestershire proved that their innovative approach to food had been a success. They offer care home residents a 24 hour kitchen service so that residents can pick and choose from a selection of food whenever they feel hungry. Through this system residents have been more inclined to eat and are healthier as a result.

Bettercaring undertakes research on a number of topics related to the welfare of the elderly in care homes.
» Continue reading