Monthly Archives: December 2015

Ben Carson raised about $23 million in the fourth quarter of 2015

Ben CarsonREUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) – U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson raised about $23 million in the last three months of 2015, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing his campaign manager.

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, has fallen in recent weeks from second to fourth place in many national opinion polls and has said he plans a shake-up of his campaign staff.

As recently as November, Carson had challenged real-estate billionaire Donald Trump as the front-runner in national polls. He now trails Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, according to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls.

(Editing by Paul Tait)


If My Office Is Closed Due to Flooding, Am I Entitled to Wages?

With winter storms wreaking havoc in the Midwest, causing flooding and tornadoes, you may find your office is closed. Going without pay can wreak its own havoc on your household, especially during the holidays. But you may be entitled to be paid even if your office is closed due to a storm.2015-12-30-1451455617-1572779-money1038723_640.jpgWhether you’re entitled to be paid when the office is closed depends on whether you are “exempt” salaried or not. Just being salaried doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t entitled to overtime. It’s possible to be salaried and still non-exempt from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Many employers misclassify employees as exempt to avoid paying overtime. If you work more than forty hours per week, it’s better to be non-exempt. But in the case of weather and emergency closings, it’s probably better to be exempt.




Exempt employees: If you’re exempt and you worked any portion of the work week, you have to be paid your entire salary, whether or not the office is closed for a natural disaster such as snow, tornado, or flood. Further, Department of Labor regulations state, “If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available.” This would include natural disasters, so if you are able to work after a storm then you must be paid even if you didn’t work any portion of the week. If you can’t get there on time or have to leave early due to the flooding but the office is open, they can’t deduct for any partial days you worked.




Vacation time and PTO: Your employer can deduct from your vacation time or PTO for the time taken. However, if you have no accrued vacation or PTO time available, they still can’t deduct from your pay if you’re exempt.




Non-exempt employees: If you are non-exempt, then your employer doesn’t have to pay for the time the office is closed. However, if your company takes deductions and you’re a non-exempt salaried employee it may affect the way overtime is calculated.




Who Is Exempt?: You’re not exempt unless you fall into very specific categories, such as executives, administrative employees, or learned professionals. Plus, your job duties must fall within those categories, not just your title. In addition, your employer must treat you as exempt by not docking your pay when you miss work.




Pay For Reporting To Work: If you report to work after a natural disaster, only to find out that the workplace is closed (assuming they didn’t notify you), New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon and Rhode Island, as well as the District of Columbia have laws that require your employer to pay you a set minimum amount of time if you show up as scheduled. Most of the states getting hit with this horrific storm have no such requirements (so maybe it’s a good time to start complaining to your legislators).




If you’re hit with the big storm, get in touch with your supervisor or manager as soon as possible to find out whether or not you’re expected to be at work. If you can’t get in touch with anyone, then only go in if it’s safe for you to do so. I hope you and yours stay safe and have a healthy, happy New Year.




If you need specific legal advice, it’s best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state. For more general information about employment law issues, check out Donna Ballman’s award-winning employee-side employment law blog, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home and her employment law articles at AOL Jobs.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.







Future Marketing: 4 steps to achieve data-driven marketing (webinar recap)


Missed it? You can still access our webinar and see this powerhouse panel unravel the the most important aspects of marketing analytics.

Access the webinar right here for free.



If you attended the recent VB Marketing Analytics roundtable with Foursquare CRO Steven Rosenblatt, VentureBeat Analyst Jon Cifuentes, and myself, chances are you’re feeling a bit intimidated by the data-driven future of marketing we presented. You aren’t alone.

It isn’t that journey mapping, situational-segmentation, or micro-marketing are techniques you can’t wrap your head around; it’s that they seem impossible to actually implement within your own company.

Have faith. Here are the four steps we discussed at the end of the roundtable in greater detail. Follow them to implement future marketing within your company:

1. Segment your digital relationships

The distinction between friends and followers doesn’t actually mean anything outside of marketing. Break your digital relationships into five more meaningful groups: prospects, customers, influencers, partners, and competitors. Doing this isn’t as complicated as it seems. Customers, for example, leave a digital record in your company’s ERP system; prospects do not. Phone numbers or email addresses (what I call bridging data) connect them to your online followers and help you define these two groups. This segmentation is an often-overlooked step and defines how you will interact with each consumer going forward—this segmentation is combined with other data (for more information on the 5 types of marketing information see here).

2. Define how you interact with each segment

Converting digital relationships into revenue isn’t an action you can directly take; it is the result of a well-orchestrated series of events. And it starts by understanding each individual interaction your company is having with consumers. This is what big data actually is — but the infatuation with “big data” demographic details force most companies to overlook the more valuable insight. Big data can tell you: when we do this, they do that. It provides the blueprint for what actions you can take to get the results you want, for each segment, and for increasingly smaller segments. However, all results are not equal.

3. Identify ideal behaviors

Marketers care about increasing friends, collecting more data, and inducing more downloads. The business cares about revenue and profit, getting more customers, and increasing CLV. Future Marketing necessitates focusing on these outcomes because it will get business leaders listening. This holds true for both the physical and the digital worlds; social, mobile and big data initiatives must produce tangible results if it is to influence more than just the marketing department.

Defining the outcomes that most benefit your organization — actions that convert consumers to customers and convert them more quickly or at a higher value — allows you to focus in on those actions, understand which interactions you are trying to force consumers to take. Today’s best companies understan that interacting with consumers is still about influencing them to do what you want. This basic rule of sale and marketing has not changed.

4. Uncover profitable patterns and segments

Marketers have grown passive; they’ve become scared of the new power that social consumers wield via social networks. But let’s separate that fear from the task at hand: getting consumer to do what you want — buy more stuff, buy more often, and buy more add-on products and services.

To reveal the patterns that produce these outcomes, don’t start with broad analysis but rather start with one ideal customer — who became a customer quickest, who spent the most money, who generated the most profit? Take that one customer and understand the pattern they followed. That is the pattern you want to mold all consumers to. Measure your ability to get consumers to follow these patterns and you begin to see what needs to change.

It should be fairly obvious that marketing will not be able to do this alone. You —  the marketing expert — will need to set the guiding light, explain it in terms each department understands, and coordinate their activity, building what I call an integrated enterprise that can seamlessly leverage all things digital. But here’s the thing to remember about future-marketing: it isn’t so different than traditional marketing. Just remember to explain these techniques in traditional terms — this is what your peers understand and that helps win their support.

These four steps provide the framework. If you need real life examples, or want more detail on each step (including a series of questions that help translate them into your own company) then checkout the new book Big Social Mobile, How Digital Initiatives can Reshape the Enterprise and Create Business Value. It will serve as a playbook to implement these new techniques and technology within your own organization.

David F. Giannetto (@dgiannetto) is a speaker, frequent guest writer and the author of three books including the new release Big Social Mobile (Palgrave Macmillan). He has been named a thought-leader by the AMA, Business Finance Magazine, and Consumer Goods Technology Magazine and is SVP at Astea International. He can be reached via

Five scientific breakthroughs we’ve learned from the International Space Station

international space station Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The International Space Station is the longest-running continuously inhabited human outpost in space – this year it celebrated its 15th anniversary. As the ISS orbits the Earth it is essentially in a state of free fall, counteracting the Earth’s gravity and providing an ideal platform for science in space.

Science aboard the ISS is decidedly cross-disciplinary, including fields as diverse as microbiology, space science, fundamental physics, human biology, astronomy, meteorology and Earth observation to name a few. But let’s take a look at some of the biggest findings.

1. The fragility of the human body

The effects of the space environment on the human body during long duration spaceflight are of significant interest if we want to one day venture far beyond the Earth. A crewed journey to Mars, for example, may take a year, and the same time again for the return leg.

Microgravity research on the ISS has demonstrated that the human body would lose considerable bone and muscle mass on such a mission. Mitigation technology, involving the use of resistive exercise devices, has shown that it is possible to substantially alleviate bone and muscle loss. Coupled with other studies into appropriate nutrition and drug use, these investigations may lead to improvements in the treatment of osteoporosis, a condition affecting millions of people across the globe.

2. Interplanetary contamination

A long-term goal of many space agencies is to fly humans to Mars. The red planet is of particular interest because it is one of the most accessible locations in which past or present extraterrestrial life may exist. It is imperative, therefore, that we do not inadvertently contaminate Mars with terrestrial organisms. Likewise, we must be careful not to back-contaminate Earth with any possible Martian life forms during a sample return mission.

Certain hardy bacterial spores, such as the Bacillus subtilis in the picture were exposed to space aboard the ISS, but shielded from solar UV-radiation, and demonstrated a high survival rate. The space vacuum and temperature extremes alone were not enough to kill them off. These remarkable bugs could be capable of surviving an interplanetary space flight to Mars and live there, under a thin layer of soil, were they to be accidentally deposited by a spacecraft.

This finding has huge implications; if microorganisms, or their DNA, can survive interplanetary spaceflight, albeit by natural means, it leaves open the possibility that life on Earth may originally have arrived from Mars, or elsewhere .

3. Growing crystals for medicine

A key challenge in developing effective medicines is understanding the shape of protein molecules in the human body. Proteins are responsible for a huge range of biological functions, including DNA replication and digestion – and protein crystallography is an essential tool for understanding protein structure. Crystal growth within a fluid on Earth is somewhat inhibited by gravity-driven convection and the settling out of denser particles at the bottom of the fluid vessel.

Crystals in a microgravity environment may be grown to much larger sizes than on Earth, enabling easier analysis of their micro-structure. Protein crystals grown on the ISS are being used in the development of new drugs for diseases such as muscular dystrophy and cancer.

4. Cosmic rays and dark matter

dark matterPublic Domain via Wikimedia CommonsSpace is permeated by a constant flux of energetic charged particles called cosmic rays. When cosmic rays encounter the Earth’s atmosphere they disintegrate, producing a shower of secondary particles which can be detected at ground level. Some cosmic rays may emanate from explosive events such as supernovae or, closer to home, flares on our own sun. But in many cases their source is unknown.

In order to better understand these enigmatic particles, we need to catch them before they reach the atmosphere. Mounted on the ISS is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), the most sensitive particle detector ever launched into space. This device collects cosmic rays and measures both their energy and incoming direction.

In 2013, early results showed that cosmic ray electrons and their anti-matter counterparts, positrons, emanated from all directions in space, rather than from specific locations.

Approximately one quarter of the mass-energy of the universe is believed to be comprised of dark matter, a substance of unknown composition, which may be a source of cosmic rays. The theorized presence of dark matter envisages a halo of the material surrounding the Milky Way (and other galaxies), and is thus supported by the isotropic nature of the cosmic ray electrons and positrons detected by AMS, essentially coming at us from all directions in space.

It has never been detected directly and it’s true nature is one of the greatest unanswered questions in modern astrophysics.

5. Efficient combustion

match firePublic Domain via Wikimedia CommonsDeliberately starting a fire on an orbital space station does not sound, initially, like a good idea. It turns out, however, that the physics of flames in microgravity is quite interesting. The flame extinguishment study is an understandably carefully designed facility whereby tiny droplets of fuel, which form into spheres under microgravity, are ignited.

Flames on Earth assume their familiar shape because gravity-driven convection results in an updraught of air, drawing the burning mixture of fuel and gas upwards. In microgravity there is no updraught and so a flame assumes a diffuse spherical shape around the combustion source. Further, the yellow colour of a flame is produced by the incandescence of tiny soot particles. Soot forms from incomplete burning of the fuel and is a pollutant.

In microgravity, the combustion of a fuel is more complete and hence more efficient. A candle flame that would appear yellow on Earth, actually burns with a blue colour in microgravity and produces much less smoke. This kind of research enables the study of soot formation processes which has negative impacts on the environment and human health, and how droplets of fuel in a combustion engine transition from a liquid to a gas as they burn. This may one day lead to more efficient designs for combustion engines on Earth.

NOW WATCH: How El Niño could affect your winter

Flurry: 49.1% of devices activated on Christmas were from Apple, 19.8% from Samsung, and 2% from Microsoft

iPhone 6s

Every year, Christmas results in the highest number of new device activations and app installs. 2015 was no different, and once again Apple dominated the results.

Just under half of device activations (49.1 percent) were for an Apple device this Christmas, down from 51.3 percent last year. This year, almost one in five were Samsung devices (19.8 percent, up from 17.7 percent). Microsoft’s mobile devices took a big hit, down to 2 percent from last year’s 5.8 percent.

Sony fell out of the top five manufacturers list, while Xiaomi made the cut for the first time. LG managed to take the opportunity to move from fifth to fourth place. Here are the top five mobile manufacturers that gained on Christmas:


The new data comes courtesy of mobile analytics and advertising firm Flurry, which examined the 780,000 apps it tracks to understand which devices were purchased and which apps were the first to be downloaded and installed. Flurry added that Xiaomi’s rise is striking, given that Asian manufacturers typically don’t see much of a jump around December 25 as Christmas is not the biggest gift-giving day in their home markets.

Indeed, Christmas is not the biggest gifting day of the year in China (see Single’s Day). Xiaomi’s entry into the U.S. is thus all the more interesting.

As for the form-factor breakdown, Christmas 2015 was similar to last year in another way: a big jump in the number of phablets activated. In the week leading up to Christmas, 27 percent of new device activations were phablets (compared to 13 percent in 2014, and just 4 percent in 2013):


In previous years, the rise of phablets came at the expense of tablets. This year, smaller-sized phones took the biggest hit.

Breaking down the numbers between Android and iOS shows a stark difference. The medium-sized phone is still favored by most iOS consumers, while Android users prefer phablets.


Unsurprisingly, new device activations result in more apps being downloaded and installed. More specifically, Flurry tracked 2.2x the number of app installs on Christmas Day in the U.S. compared to an average day in the first three weeks of December:


Last year, the jump was 2.5x. But that’s still a significant bump given the maturity of the U.S. market.

These numbers show just how important the holiday season still is for app developers. Launching a new app or releasing a significant update in time for the December push can make a big difference, especially on iOS.

The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health


Some jobs intrinsically have more health risks than others. A nurse working in a hospital is more likely to catch an infectious disease than a lawyer working in an office, for example.

To rank the most unhealthy jobs in America, we used data from the Occupational Information Network, a US Department of Labor database full of detailed information on occupations.

In order to analyze jobs by their impact on workers’ health, we took O*NET measures of six health risks in each of the 974 occupations in the database: exposure to contaminants; exposure to disease and infection; exposure to hazardous conditions; exposure to radiation; risk of minor burns, cuts, bites, and stings; and time spent sitting, since studies show that frequent inactivity shortens your lifespan. O*NET scores these factors on a scale from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating an increased health risk.

Read on to find out which jobs have the most potential to damage your health.

Max Nisen contributed to an earlier version of this post.

24 (tie). Radiologists


Overall unhealthiness score: 52.8

What they do: Examine and diagnose disorders and diseases using X-rays and radioactive materials.

Top three health risks:

1. Exposure to radiation: 87


2. Exposure to disease and infections: 85


3. Time spent sitting: 74



24 (tie). Metal-refining furnace operators and tenders

China Photos/Getty Images

Overall unhealthiness score: 52.8

What they do: Operate or tend furnaces to melt and refine metal before casting or to produce specified types of steel.

Top three health risks:

1. Exposure to contaminants: 100


2. Risk of minor burns, cuts, bites, and stings: 96


3. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 94



24 (tie). Embalmers

Overall unhealthiness score: 52.8

What they do: Prepare bodies for burial in conformity with legal requirements.

Top three health risks:

1. Exposure to disease and infections: 83


2. Exposure to contaminants: 83


3. Exposure to hazardous conditions: 75



See the rest of the story at Business Insider