Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

We’re all hunting for ways to be more productive. While some tech tools and upgrades can help us speed up our workflows, some can sadly confuse us or even slow us down. Today, we’re separating the useless from the useful, and sharing five great apps for getting more done in the most efficient way possible.

MarginNote Pro for Mac

Technology has moved far beyond the point where a pen and paper will cut it for note-taking at work. However, staying organized in the vast abyss of a computer can certainly be challenging. MarginNote Pro makes organized note-taking easy for Mac users. Easily highlight text, write down notes, insert multimedia audio and video, and outline study points as you go about your work. You’ll organize your notes and absorb the information along the way.

Buy Now: It’s available now for just $24.99, 50% off its regular price.

Aeon Timeline 2 for Mac & Windows

Hitting deadlines is essential in business. Aeon Timeline 2 makes sure you’re on top of every deadline and budget constraint within every project. From setting signposts to managing results to making sure all groups are hitting deadlines, this intuitive interface will help you lay out and execute any project to meet your customizable standard. Spend less time going back and forth between notes and teams, and more time tracking your progress.

Buy Now: Usually $50, you can get this app right now at only $22.99.

DeltaWalker 2 Pro

If you’re constantly losing the most recent version of your work or scrambling through files, this app will change your entire day. With DeltaWalker 2 Pro, you’ll be confident all your files are the most recent, most accurate versions. DeltaWalker assesses all your text, checks for changes or discrepancies, then allows you to standardize and organize all your information so everything’s correct and in its proper place.

Buy now: Versions are available for Windows or Mac users, both at $29.95, half off retail.

PDFConverterOCR 4: Lifetime License

PDFs can be finicky or even impossible to edit, and can easily become huge roadblocks in your day. PDFConverterOCR allows you to scan and convert PDFs into Word, Excel or one of several popular document formats so you can make any changes you need. It even recreates characters with almost 100% accuracy, even with encrypted PDFs.

Buy now: Take 60% off the regular price with a lifetime of access for only $19.99.

Bizplan Premium: Lifetime Subscription

Put your best business foot forward with the Bizplan Premium software. Follow Bizplan’s step-by-step builder to generate a clean, effective business plan that’ll attract investor and customer interests in your project. Focus on the individual pieces needed to get your business off the ground, then fine-tune and track your progress as you grow. Bizplan will focus you in on what matters so you’re not wasting time on the unimportant.

Buy now: Get your business headed for success for just $69 (over 90% off its nearly $3,000 price tag).

This sponsored post is brought to you by StackCommerce.

U.S. Jobless Claims Drop To 41.5-Year Low

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in more than 41.5 years, suggesting the labor market maintained a solid pace of job growth in July.

The sturdy jobs picture together with a strengthening housing market brings the Federal Reserve a step closer to raising interest rates this year.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 255,000 for the week ended July 18, the lowest level since November 1973, the Labor Department said on Thursday. Claims for the prior week were unrevised.

However, last week’s drop likely exaggerates the strength of the labor market as claims are volatile during summer when automakers usually shut assembly plants for annual retooling.

Some firms keep production lines running, which throws off a model the government uses to smooth the data for seasonal variations. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data.

Still, the decline unwound the increase in claims in June.

The dollar pared losses against a basket of currencies, while prices for U.S. government debt fell. Most economists expect the U.S. central bank will hike interest rates in September. The Fed has kept its short-term lending rate near zero since December 2008.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 4,000 to 278,500 last week.

The claims data covered the survey week for the nonfarm payrolls portion of July’s employment report.

Though the four-week average of claims increased 1,500 between the June and July survey periods, payroll growth likely remained above the 200,000 threshold this month.

The four-week moving average of claims has been below the key 300,000 mark, which is normally associated with sturdy job gains, for 17 straight weeks – an unusually long stretch.

Payrolls increased 223,000 in June after rising 254,000 in May. Job growth has exceeded 200,000 in 14 of the last 16 months and at 5.3 percent, the unemployment rate is close to the 5 percent to 5.2 percent range that most Fed officials consider consistent with full employment.

Thursday’s claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid fell 9,000 to 2.21 million in the week ended July 11.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Photo: A job-seeker completes an application at a career fair held by civil rights organization National Urban League as part of its annual conference, in Philadelphia July 25, 2013.  REUTERS/Mark Makela 

On Asia Tour, Obama Sees Traces Of His Late Mother’s Work

By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau

MANILA, Philippines — President Barack Obama sat down here this week with the Asian Development Bank’s American director to review the work product of a contractor who had delivered business financing and leadership training to poor women in Southeast Asia.

The papers showed the lacework of tight, cursive handwriting of Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995 at age 52. A scholar and anthropologist, she had spent her final years as a consultant to U.S. agencies and foundations aiding the world’s poor.

The Asian Development Bank collection reveals new details, if no great surprises, about the career of Obama’s late mother. Among the no-nonsense office memos and notes are signs of the passion that drove her work.

Dunham was the “key ingredient” of a women’s project that was going well, one colleague wrote. Cottage industries were flourishing because of her expertise, said another.

“She was a figure in her own right, respected by the people who worked with her,” said Robert M. Orr, U.S. ambassador and executive director of the Asian Development Bank, who asked the institution’s staff to search the microfiche archives for traces of Dunham’s work. “These records show that so clearly.”

Obama ended a weeklong tour in Asia on Tuesday with remarks to Philippine and American forces. He recalled the heroic defense that their forebears — and a few aging veterans in the audience — put up against Japanese troops at Bataan and Corregidor during the early days of World War II. He praised how they stood “balikatan,” or shoulder-to-shoulder.

Tagalog and Bahasa Malaysia are not languages Obama learned as a child in Indonesia, but he has peppered his toasts and speeches with local phrases in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Manila. When he does, listeners say he speaks their language with an Indonesian accent.

Dunham clearly was on Obama’s mind as he crossed the region. He told one crowd about the colorful dyed batik fabrics she eagerly sought out in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital where she took her young son to live in 1967.

Those handiworks, he said, gave her a window to cultures and people she found fascinating, he said.

Since Obama became president, academics have focused on Dunham’s work. The University of Hawaii held a symposium on her research. An exhibit of her collection of batik textiles from Java has toured the United States. And Duke University Press published a book in 2009 based on her 1992 doctoral dissertation about peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia.

At a town hall meeting with young people in Kuala Lumpur, Obama was asked whether he had any regrets. He grew somber and choked up a bit.

“I regret not having spent more time with my mother,” he said. “She died early. … It happened very fast, in about six months. And I realized that — there was a stretch of time from when I was, let’s say, 20 until I was 30, where I was so busy with my own life that I didn’t always reach out and communicate with her and ask her how she was doing and tell her about things.”

In the documents given to Obama, he’ll find traces of those last days, according to Orr. In February 1995, one staffer wrote to another that Dunham was going back to Hawaii for medical treatment. Records reflect that she continued to write and call about her work for a few months, but they trickled off as she underwent treatment for the uterine cancer that ultimately took her life.

The Asian Development Bank tracked down the documents by finding receipts of paychecks made out to her and then digging up the projects she had worked on based on that information.

As he saw what their search had yielded, Orr said he wanted to share them with the president. Orr, a former Boeing executive and Stanford professor, had advised Obama on foreign policy in the 2008 campaign.

“If I had a book like this of my father’s work, that showed his day-to-day work, I know I would treasure it so much,” Orr said. “I hope the president will too.”

AFP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Who Cares About The Value Of Work?

WASHINGTON — Finding a way out of our current political impasse requires some agreement on what problems we need to solve. If anything should unite left, center and right, it is the value of work and the idea, in Bill Clinton’s signature phrase, that those who “work hard and play by the rules” ought to be rewarded for their efforts.

This is why one of last week’s most important and least noted political events was the introduction of the 21st Century Worker Tax Cut Act by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Murray favors a minimum-wage increase to $10.10 an hour, but she also has other ideas that would help Americans at the bottom of the income structure to earn more.

Let’s start with principles, and then move to specifics.

There’s a new vogue among conservatives: to talk less about entrepreneurs and to stop talking altogether about “makers” and “takers.” Instead, many of the wisest heads on the right are urging a focus on work. The new emphasis reflects a realization that President Obama won in 2012 in large part because Mitt Romney and his party failed to convey empathy for those who live on wages and salaries.

An early champion of this view was Ramesh Ponnuru, a writer for National Review. “The Republican story about how societies prosper — not just the Romney story — dwelt on the heroic entrepreneur stifled by taxes and regulations,” he wrote shortly after the election. It is, Ponnuru added, “an important story with which most people do not identify.”

Writing earlier this year in National Affairs magazine, Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was more biting. “Modern conservatives,” he argued, “have tended to discount the moral value of the average person, focusing instead on extolling the moral superiority of the great.”

Two other conservative thinkers, Reihan Salam and Rich Lowry, say the antidote is for Republicans to become “the party of work.” As they see it, work “stands for a constellation of values and, like education, is universally honored.” The GOP, they said, “should extol work and demand it.”

Yes, that last phrase — “demand it” — could lead to a darker kind of politics involving the demonization of those who simply can’t find jobs. Thus did Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) get into trouble for mourning “this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working.”

No matter what Ryan was trying to say, he seemed to be emphasizing the flaws of the unemployed themselves rather than the cost of economic injustice. My Washington Post colleague Eugene Robinson captured this well: “Blaming poverty on the mysterious influence of ‘culture’ is a convenient excuse for doing nothing to address the problem.”

Nonetheless, many conservatives really do realize that they need to embrace hardworking Americans. But the question stands: What are they willing to do about it?

This is where Murray comes in. Her bill would rid the tax code of certain disincentives to work. She notes that “the second earner in a household often pays a higher tax rate on his or her earnings than the first.” Her plan would right this by offering a 20 percent deduction on the second earner’s income up to roughly $60,000 a year. (The benefit is focused on lower-income families, so it phases out at $130,000 in joint annual income.) For a $25,000-a-year second earner in the 25 percent bracket, she says, this would mean $1,250 “back in their pocket for groceries, child care, or retirement savings.”

She’d also expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for workers without children and lower the eligibility age from 25 to 21. The changes would increase their maximum benefit from $487 to about $1,400 a year. It’s hardly nirvana. But for someone earning around $15,000 a year, it’s real money. The proposal would cover its roughly $15 billion annual cost by closing loopholes already identified as worthy of being scrapped by the GOP’s leading tax reformer, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan.

You can, of course, look at what Murray is doing as a way of calling the conservatives’ bluff on the matter of work. But that will be true only if the right allows its bluff to be called.

In making their case, Salam and Lowry quoted Abraham Lincoln on the need “to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring man.” If conservatives are serious about this (and about the honest, laboring woman, too) they’ll join Murray in raising the minimum wage and in seeking a tax code more in harmony with the dignity of work.

E.J. Dionne’s email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

AFP Photo/T.J. Kirkpatrick