Once upon there was Bat Day. Only Bat Day. Then came Ball Day. Then Cap Day, then Helmet Day. Then (Your City Here) Night. Then came Picture Day, where you could snap photographs of players as they milled around between the foul lines and the grandstand.Anyone else jonesing for the ’70s right about now?It was a simpler time. Not necessarily perfect. I visited relatives in Southern California one summer. We went to a few Angels games. At one, I was too old to get a bat. At another, I was too …
27 July 2006South Africans, caught up in a tendency to “borrow to spend”, have been warned to start saving and to prepare to pay more for interest on their debts as well as for general goods and services.The warning comes from analysts after the latest consumer inflation figures were released on Wednesday – showing inflation up from 3.9% in May to 4.9% in June – and ahead of next week’s meeting of the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.Adjusted fuel prices are also expected to be released on Friday, with a likely increase, prompted by higher international oil prices, set to add to the pressure on South African consumers.Expect another rate hikeThe Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee sets the repo rate – the rate at which the Bank lends money to the country’s commercial banks. When the MPC hiked the repo rate by 50 basis points to 7.5% in June, continued high consumer spending was one of the main reasons cited.University of South Africa economist Philip Mohr told BuaNews that another interest rate hike was “highly likely”, but that people should not over-react to this.“A few months ago analysts were saying there would be none this year, but now they are predicting hikes all the way following the pressures on emerging markets and the devaluing rand,” Mohr said.“It is not inconceivable that the rand could in fact increase in value again this year.”The Reserve Bank highlighted this pressure on emerging markets in its quarterly report in June, saying investors had lost some of their appetite for exposure to emerging markets in the second quarter, resulting in the depreciation of a number of emerging market currencies, including the rand.‘Borrowing to spend’ the problemMohr also said it was not South Africans’ supposed lack of a savings culture, but their tendency to “borrow to spend”, that threatened the country’s economic growth rate.“There is a misconception about the effect of savings on economic growth,” Mohr said. “Some of the world’s fastest growing economies have a huge current account deficit, such as the United States for example.”The real problem, Mohr said, was that South Africans were “borrowing to spend”, which had a much more negative effect on economic growth than a straightforward failure to save.“When people borrow to spend, it basically amounts to dis-saving. This increased spending exerts an upward pressure on prices and of course leads to people having to pay more for their goods.”South Africans were in fact saving through a number of schemes, such as contractual savings in the form of pension funds, Mohr said. Many in this group, however, were also borrowing to save.“This translates to a net position were they aren’t saving at all but in real terms the money is there, secured in the contractual savings.”Source: BuaNews
This Rea Vaya station in Johannesburg will start operating at the end of August. Commuters will now have affordable, safe transportation in and around the city. School children will also benefit immensely from the BRT system as it will cover a number of stops around the city. (Images: Rea Vaya)Khanyi MagubaneSouth Africa’s transport system is set for a major boost when phase one of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system comes into effect on 30 August in Johannesburg, Africa’s leading economic hub.Named Rea Vaya – meaning “we are going” in township slang – the project will start operating at 23 of its 27 stations across greater Johannesburg.About 3.5-million trips are made in the City daily. Of these, 47% are made by public transport including minibus taxis, trains and busses.The system, however, has not been upgraded or improved over the years, resulting in public transport becoming increasingly unreliable and unsafe to use.But, according to Head of Transport in the City of Johannesburg, councillor Rehana Moosajee, the current state of transportation in the City, and the country as a whole, will soon be a thing of the past.“Johannesburg’s commuters will have a first taste of their own world-class public transport system.“We must never forget that BRT is … for the elderly and school children to travel safely, for mothers that need to reach their children speedily and for people with disabilities to have access.”Phase one A, will consist of a main route, known as the trunk route, which will run from the Regina Mundi station in Soweto to Ellis Park East in Johannesburg’s central business district.Supported by four complementary routes, the 143 busses included in the roll out plan will make stops at several key places in the City including University of Johannesburg’s Doornfontein campus, the fashion district, the City’s cultural hub Newtown, the City library and the Johannesburg art gallery.At a media briefing on the progress made on BRT, Moosajee revealed some facts and figures of phase one A of the project;25.5km of dedicated lanes have been constructed, which will serve an estimated 69 000 passengers on a daily basis.3 300 jobs were created during the building phase of Rea Vaya.It’s expected to generate R158-million (US$20-million) in its first year of operation and will use a smart card system, which passengers can reload at approved vendors’ kiosks.One of the attractive features of BRT is its affordability. Bus fares will range between R8 ($1) for a full trip using both the trunk and complementary routes, and R3 (39 cents) for the complementary routs running within the city.Buses will arrive at stations every three minutes during peak hour and every 10 minutes during off peak hours.SA transport new lookThe BRT system is part of the South African government’s plan to overhaul the public transport system in the country, ahead of the upcoming 2010 Fifa World Cup and beyond.BRT has been designed on similar types of public transport models developed in Columbia, France, Australia, Equador and Brazil.In the countries where the system has been tried and tested, BRT benefits cited have been its efficiency and reliability, its friendliness to people living with disabilities and the elderly, as well as its decreased energy consumption and vehicle emissions.Cape Town, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth will also be rolling the BRT system concurrently, and in Cape Town, the system is expected to be operational in March 2010.Roping in the taxi industryOne of the biggest challenges in rolling out the BRT system has been the resistance from the minibus taxi industry, currently Johannesburg’s majority means of transport.The taxi industry’s concerns have been the anticipated major job losses and collapse of the industry when the new BRT system is implemented. The industry is also concerned with how the new system would fall in line with the government’s taxi recapitalisation programme, which is already underway.The taxi recapitalisation programme, approved in 1999, was set up to reduce the number of old vehicles on the road, as well as introducing a new non-cash based system.Government partnered with the industry to remove old, unroadworthy taxis by offering operators a “scrapping allowance” to replace ageing and unsafe minibus taxis with newer models.According to a survey conducted in 2000, there were approximately 126 000 taxi vehicles in South Africa.Most of the vehicles were at least 10 years old and no longer fit for road use as public transport.Government had planned to spend R7.7-billion ($56-billion) over seven years to finalise the system.In the wake of confusion over the future of the taxi industry, on 24 March, Johannesburg was brought to a standstill when taxi drivers staged a major protest against the new BRT system.Taxis blockaded major highways around the City, causing traffic standstills on various key roads to and from the City.In the wake of the unprecedented move by the taxis, President Jacob Zuma pleaded with the council that Rea Vaya should be put on hold, to give the new administration a chance to acquaint themselves better with the project and the grievances of the taxi industry.Fortunately, significant progress has been made with the industry, represented by the National Taxi Association, Top Six and the Greater Johannesburg Regional Taxi Council.After a steering committee was set up, both the City of Johannesburg and the steering committee have been able to reach some agreements with regards to the future of the taxi industry in Johannesburg. Local taxi operators have now been offered a stake in the new bus operating company as well as a stake in the station management companies.Some taxi drivers will be employed as bus drivers, as well as station managers.Those previously in the taxi industry will also have the opportunity to invest and own companies linked to the BRT system.Do you have any comments or queries about this article? Email Khanyi Magubane at: email@example.comRelated articlesCape Town’s new bus systemNew infrastructure for the 2010 Fifa World CupFirst glimpse of the GautrainUseful linksRea Vaya City of Johannesburg Scrap Taxi
Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification guest author 1 Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts For almost four years, since the Facebook Platform was launched, I have been involved in delivering Facebook apps for top brands such as CBS, NBC, Lifetime, Universal Music, Visa and more. Here’s what we have learned doesn’t work, and more importantly, what does work.First, deep campaigns don’t work. Digital agencies love deep, expensive campaigns on Facebook, with tons of pages, interaction, and art. It fits in with how agencies build microsites and websites, and justifies the $100,000-plus price tag that they like to charge. Examples include lightweight games, prediction contests, treasure hunts where you include friends, and such. Unfortunately for agencies and the brands that drop a lot of cash, Facebook users decidedly don’t like deep campaigns.Guest author Peter Yared is the vice president and general manager of Webtrend Apps, a platform used by top brands to engage their customers on Facebook, iPhone and Android. He has has an extensive background in highly scalable Internet infrastructure and tools, and has authored patents on fundamental Internet infrastructure including federated identity and data marshaling.They do not like to spend 20 or 30 minutes on a single brand’s page, unless they are consuming innovative, funny, or exclusive content. So a travel site looking for a long time spent on a page should not put up a treasure hunt on a world map where you invite your friends and can together find great prizes after exploring cities. Sounds good in a pitch meeting, but it results in abysmally numbers of active users.Facebook users are very sophisticated, and there is no way a single campaign is going to compete on game mechanics with CityVille. If you want to build CityVille, it might work. But, even Netflix pulled their Facebook app. You’re better off putting up a bunch of funny videos from around the world and leave it at that.Lots of Apps on One Tab Don’t WorkIt is easy to think of a Facebook tab like a Web page, and throw a bunch of features on it – such as a poll, gifting, and some videos – all on one tab. However, most users do not show up on a Facebook tab like they do on a Web page. They are usually coming in by clicking on a page’s newsfeed posting (“What kind of traveller are you? Take the quiz!”), a friend’s newsfeed posting (“I’m a cranky traveller! What kind of traveller are you? Take the quiz?”), or a Facebook ad (“Find out what kind of traveller you are!”).Now, if after clicking on one of these links a user is dropped into a Facebook Page tab with eight different things on it, they are not going to see a quiz immediately and move on. There should only be one engagement feature per tab.Sweepstakes Don’t WorkAfter an initial onslaught of Facebook sweepstakes promotions, marketers are learning that sweepstakes have very low conversion rates and almost no viral uptake. We’re also learning that they attract unengaged users who are there for the prize rather than a relationship with the brand. Facebook users like to click around and look at stuff, and absolutely do not like filling out forms. We have run highly promoted sweeps campaigns for major artists that included things like backstage passes and a limo ride to the show that had abysmal conversion rates. There is absolutely no incentive to make sweepstakes social.Why would you invite more people to join a sweepstakes? It reduces your own chances. Have you ever seen a “I just entered a sweepstakes and you should to” posting on someone’s wall?One attempt to increase viral spread in sweepstakes is to offer more prizes when there are more entrants, but all that does is confuse users with conflicting agendas. There is a disincentive to invite people since it reduces your chances of winning, but if enough new people join up perhaps you can win something else… “Ah, too confusing, I’m going to watch videos instead.”Photo and Video Contests Rarely WorkA lot of brands like to do photo and video contests, but unfortunately they do not have the user base that likes to submit photos and videos. Travel and photography brands? For sure. Mobile carrier? Beverage brand? Not likely. Even clothing brands can’t pull this off.Uploading a photo or video is a big investment on the part of the user, and they do not expect to do it for the vast majority of businesses. These campaigns also require the labor to moderate the submissions. If you must run a photo or video Facebook campaign, the best way to do it is actually NOT in an app.Instead, have users upload the photos and videos to the brand’s page, and moderate them there. Then have users get their friends to Like the photos or videos. This way, the campaign leverages all of Facebook’s viral channels around photos – when the user uploads the photo, when they Like the photo, when their friends like or comment on their photo submission, it is all highly likely to show up in their friends’ feeds, drawing traffic. The great thing about this is that it is easy to do for free, since using all of Facebook’s photo and video features are free, and users get to use the known Facebook photo and video interface, which increases conversions.Like Blocks Rarely WorkLike blocking, where a user has to “Like” a Facebook Page in order to access a feature, typically has a 50% or more drop off rate, even when there is something there that is actually worth liking the page to get, such as exclusive content or a great coupon. Putting a Like block on basic content will almost guarantee a 100% drop off rate.Be very, very selective about Like blocks and be sure to tell the user that it is worth it to them. A Like is the mailing list opt-in of the Facebook world, so be willing to offer up some goodness and know that most will opt not to Like.Extended Permissions Rarely WorkA brand on Facebook should be like a casual friend or neighbor and not try to suck people into heavy levels of interaction. What do you do with a friend? Comment on their photos, like their status, vote on their outfit.Asking the user for a laundry list of access to their profile usually results in a 30% or more drop off rate, and that is for well known brands that they trust. Do you really need to know their relationship status? Generally a brand already knows its demographic – does a youth-oriented clothing brand really need to validate that it is 16 to 25 year-old women that are engaging with the brand?So while it sounds good to ask for extended permissions, do the math and monitor the drop off rate to ensure that it is worth it to you, otherwise the overall campaign ROI may not turn out the way you want, especially if the campaign is being graded on number of engagements.Unbranded Apps Don’t WorkIt’s got to look good, and be on brand. In the early days of Facebook, a brand could put up a basic presence with some turnkey apps, and users accepted that. Now that Facebook is all grown up, a brand presence needs to be on par with its website. Facebook users are savvy and will judge your brand in comparison to the best they’ve seen.Dedicated Facebook Storefronts Kinda Work Right Now, But Soon Won’t WorkDedicated Facebook storefronts are the rage on Facebook right now, but they are unfortunately not integrated with an e-commerce site’s existing payment and inventory systems, and are therefore a logistical nightmare. The best bet right now is to list featured products on a Facebook Page with click-thrus off of Facebook to the e-commerce site.Now that Facebook is supporting iFrame tabs in pages, an existing e-commerce site can be skinned to fit in a 520-pixel-wide Facebook Fan Page, thereby integrating existing payment and inventory systems into the Facebook Page.So What Does Work? Promotions and Consistent, Lightweight EngagementMake sure your fans get something in return for liking your page with promotions likes offers for fans that they can easily redeem. The more lucrative the deals offer, the more sharing with friends will happen. Fans want things like exclusive products/services, drastically discounted prices akin to Groupon type deals, and early notification and registration for upcoming events, ideally exclusive to fans. Promotions should make the fan feel like they are a brand insider, not just a standard consumer.A big secret of Facebook marketing is that it is easy and cheap to drive promotions using ads targeted only at your fans that link to landing tabs that deliver the offer and encourage fans to share to their newsfeed.A brand on Facebook should be like a casual friend or neighbor and not try to suck people into heavy levels of interaction. What do you do with a friend? Comment on their photos, like their status, vote on their outfit. These types of interactions take seconds, not minutes, and definitely not hours.A brand on Facebook should offer their users regularly updated, simple to interact with engagement features. Each of the engagement apps should be fully branded, and run in a separate tab with traffic driven from wall posts, newsfeed and Facebook ad units to increase engagement. Start with a personality quiz. Then two weeks later put up a poll. Then try a trivia app. For special events, put up a gifting app for Valentine’s Day, or for the holiday season, a holiday song card.Some brands, like media properties and well-known consumer brands, get an immediate fan base for this type of lightweight engagement. For the rest, building a fan base on Facebook is no different than building a mailing list in the previous generation of the Internet. It takes consistent engagement, and builds over time.Methods to accelerate growth include tying Facebook ad campaigns with engagement apps and driving traffic from the homepage. The apps should still be lightweight and fun, with the conversion goal of getting the user to like the brand.The point is to regularly put up new, fresh engagement features that are easy and fun for users to interact with, that they will want to post to their wall and share with their friends. Then users will interact with your brand just like they interact with their friends on Facebook! The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#Facebook#marketing#web A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit
Jammu and Kashmir, the only State to miss the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout bus on July 1, will join the new tax regime from tonight as the State Assembly passed a Bill in this regard on Friday amid Opposition boycott.The Assembly passed the Bill to adopt the presidential order that “offers safeguards to its special status”. CM Mehbooba Mufti said “J&K cannot get bigger azadi [freedom] than this order, restoring the lost sanctity of our Assembly.” Responding to J&K’s demands to safeguard its taxing rights under Article 370, the presidential order reads: “…the powers of the State of J&K as per Section 5 of the Constitution of J&K, shall remain intact.”The order called for incorporation of fresh clauses under Article 246 of the Constitution. “Under 246A (1), the Legislature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall have powers to make laws with respect to goods and services tax levied by the State.” However, the order said, Parliament shall have power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax levied by the Union.Opposition walks outThanking President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Ms. Mufti said, “This act of the Centre will be written in golden words in Kashmir’s history.” The National Conference boycotted the Assembly proceedings describing it as “sham.” The Congress also staged a walkout in protest when the Bill was tabled. Both the parties were demanding a separate legislation on GST in J&K. Meanwhile, internet services were stopped in the Valley as part of unprecedented security measures to foil any attempt by supporters of the slain Hizb commander, Burhan Wani, to pose a law and order problem.