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May 2011

May 12, 2021

App simulates breast enhancement surgery

Boobs. There’s an app for that.

Some women – and some RuPauls – may want to know what they’d look like with a larger bust. They must: otherwise, why would we have this?

Making headlines across the world right now is iAugment, the newest, most controversial iPhone app. With the flick of a finger, women can simulate how they would look if they underwent plastic surgery.

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The science of what really bugs us

Everyone is annoyed by something. In fact, many of us are annoyed by lots of things. 

But did you know that there are scientific reasons that we get so ticked off? In "Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us" NPR science correspondents Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman explain why even everyday things can drive you into a homicidal rage.

It turns out we’re hardwired to be sensitive to sights and sounds that are dissonant, disgusting, or violate social norms that lurk in the back of our minds.

Take the “halfalogue” cell conversation, for instance. When we don’t know what’s being said on the other end of the conversation, it draws our minds away from other tasks requiring concentration such as reading or working on a computer.

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May 11, 2021

Orange County, where lifeguards earn $200K per year

Who defends public worker pay? Public workers, mostly, but when it’s all said and done, who are we to sit and say government-paid employees shouldn’t earn a decent living?

603382_lifebelt Last month, after a report came out saying more than 70,000 Ontario public workers now earn over $100,000 each year, as many people defended the high pay as ripped into it.

This, though? This’ll be tough even for John Q. Civil Service to argue for. According to a new story in the Orange County Register, lifeguards in Newport Beach, Calif., earn a publicly-funded salary of as much as $211,000 per year.

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Nervous workers show signs of presenteeism

Determined to get that project done on time, even though you feel like crap? Worried about staying home lest your boss think that you're not totally committed to your job? Or maybe you don't have any paid sick days to begin with?

If that sounds familiar, you're probably guilty of "presenteeism" — the insidious act of showing up at work even though you should be at home getting over whatever it is that ails you.

Presenteeism isn’t as obvious to spot as absenteeism, because it’s harder to tell how much an illness affects a person's performance than to know how often someone simply doesn’t  show up for work.

One American study suggested that presenteeism costs the U.S economy up to $150 billion a year, thanks to workers who perform well below their usual levels all the while passing on their ailments to their co-workers.

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May 10, 2021

Is there a bully in your workplace?

Here are three of history’s most famous bullies. One. Two. Three.

101233_whos_the_boss Each are apparent in their methods, and one (Contestant no. 2) has even tried to take down an entire religious holiday. But all bullying isn’t so obvious, and some forms don’t just result in black eyes and hurt feelings.

Workplace bullying is one of the lesser-reported behavioural patterns – “North America’s silent epidemic,” by one recent headline – and, as it turns out, is much more costly than we know.

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A stack of fees you shouldn’t be paying for

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from travelling during the past year, it’s that few things are as frustrating as having an extra fee tacked onto your bill.

Fee Witness the unexpected costs of a hotel visit, which now include fees for mandatory valet parking, porters, fitness centers, early check-in, late check-out, housekeeping services, Internet connection, package or fax delivery, mini-bar restocking, in-room safes and even in-room coffee, according to a list compiled by the Associated Press.

And the list of airline fees -- ticket change, phone reservation, exit row seating, peak travel surcharge, first and second bag tariff, curbside check in, pillows and blankets – seems to get longer every day.

But while you may have little choice but to pay many of these travel-related fees, there are a whole stack of fees that can be easily avoided if you’re on the lookout for them.

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May 09, 2021

Sometimes the customer is actually wrong

Successful businesses understand that the word ‘right’ in “The customer is always right” doesn’t mean that the person with the beef would win in court, or even come out on top of a debate. It means: “If you want that guy to come back, you need to let him believe he’s right.”

Cus Unhappy customers are bad news for any company, and it only takes one of them to shatter a perfectly good day at work for everyone, says consumer advocate Christopher Elliott whose “Travel Troubleshooter” column appears in several U.S. newspapers.

In recent years, Elliott has expanded beyond mediating grievances of airline passengers, hotel guests and car renters to helping settle a host of general customer-service disputes. As a result, he's heard it all.

His major gripe: The customers themselves.

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Thanks to Sony hack, stolen credit cards much more affordable

This whole Sony PlayStation hack has been good news for exactly two people. Okay, one people. Er, group.

1316486_mock_credit_card_2 Following Sony’s massive data breach – hackers tapped into the company’s database through the PS3 last month and snatched as many as 77 million credit card numbers – there have been several financial consequences, most notably, in terms of price tag, to Sony itself, who could be out more than $1.5 billion when the fiasco is done.

But let’s stop short of calling the entire scam a nuisance. For buyers of stolen credit cards, your buck is about to get much more bang.

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May 06, 2021

Apple factory workers forced to sign 'anti-suicide' pledge: report

Apple gets a lot of good PR; a perk, definitively, for being one of the world’s most recognizable brands.

1338398_pollution But it’s not always good. Behind the iPads and iPhones have been long-standing allegations of employee abuse at Apple’s factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China, where disgruntled workers jumping to their deaths famously prompted suicide nets being put up at site dormitories last year.

Though the plants are run by a company called Foxconn, they nonetheless fall under Apple’s umbrella, and the California-based tech giant is facing another potential nightmare in the form of new research into its operations.

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May 05, 2021

Instead of filling up, people just letting their cars run out of gas now

As humans, we’re not perfect. We like Fast Five. We still like Chris Brown. We know we’ve got a long way to go.

364123_gas_meter_on_empty Yet we also know what’s right and what’s wrong, and when gas prices get this high – around $1.33 per litre by the latest count – we make a stand.

Of course, and back goes the pendulum, here we are again at this post’s first point. According to Philly.com, consumers are putting their foot down against fuel prices now, but in the most groan-worthy human way possible: we’re simply just letting our cars run out of gas.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...