Spencer boys basketball moves to 4-0 with blowout of Loyal

first_imgBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterLOYAL — The Spencer boys basketball team remains unbeaten this season after whipping Loyal 71-42 in a Cloverbelt Conference East Division game Friday night at Loyal High School.Bobby Pilz had 21 points, and Miles Weber added 13 for the Rockets, who are now 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Cloverbelt East.Cameron Brussow had 12 points to top Loyal (3-3, 2-3 Cloverbelt East).Spencer led 27-15 at halftime before scoring 44 points in the second half to finish off the victory.Spencer’s next game is Tuesday at home against Neillsville. Neillsville is in first place in the conference with a 4-0 mark (4-1 overall).(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Rockets 71, Greyhounds 42Spencer 17 10 22 22 – 71Loyal 11 4 13 14 – 42SPENCER (71): Jonny Tomke 0-1 0-0 0, Noah Zastrow 1-1 0-0 2, Nate Mercier 2-3 0-0 4, Calvin Lenz 3-4 0-3 6, Bobby Pilz 9-11 1-2 21, Miles Weber 6-7 1-2 13, Jack Burnett 1-1 0-0 2, Jake Meyers 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Busse 4-7 0-0 8, Mitch Susa 3-12 0-0 7, Dakota Andreae 4-8 0-1 8. FG: 33-56. FT: 2-8. 3-pointers: 3-10 (Pilz 2-3, Susa 1-6, Mecier 0-1). Record: 4-0, 3-0 Cloverbelt East.LOYAL (42): Riley Geiger 4-13 0-0 11, Derrick Howard 2-3 0-0 4, Colton Roehl 2-7 0-0 4, Cameron Brussow 4-12 2-3 12, Ryley Fischer 0-3 2-2 2, Logan Genteman 2-2 0-2 4, Ben Zimmerman 1-2 0-0 3, Tyler Prust 1-5 0-2 2. FG: 16-47. FT: 4-9. 3-pointers: 6-16 (Geiger 3-7, Brussow 2-4, Zimmerman 1-2, Prust 0-2, Roehl 0-1). Record: 3-3, 2-3 Cloverbelt East.last_img read more

Morabaraba? Get on board!

first_img26 September 2002“I’ll take this one and I’ll hit you”, says 12-year-old Walter. Kagiso shakes his head: “Ag man, that’s an old trick. Now you think you can fly anywhere with those cows.”Flying cows can mean only one thing – war has broken out inside this classroom at St Enda’s Community College in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. But Walter and Kagiso are not fighting, at least not in the physical sense. Instead, these two youngsters are engaged in the centuries-old battle of morabaraba, Africa’s oldest board game.For all those who thought that board games were lost forever to the Playstation generation, young players like Walter and Kagiso, who are self-confessed addicts, are an encouraging sight.But, while Walter may be leading this game, he learnt his savvy skills from his opponent, whom he refers to as his “master”. Kagiso, on the other hand, acquired his morabaraba prowess from his brother. Apparently the skills for this game, which is believed to be older than the pyramids, have been passed from generation to generation, from parents to grandmothers, from brothers to sisters, for thousands of years throughout Africa.And it’s still got the right moves. According to a 1996 poll by the Sowetan newspaper, about 40% of South Africans play the game.Egyptian originsAnthropologists and archaeologists believe that morabaraba originated from an ancient Egyptian game known as mancala. The flying cows that Kagiso and Walter are tactically manoeuvring around the board are actually tokens based on Africa’s traditional supreme symbol of wealth – the cow. In Ghana, the game was used to teach kids how to count, add and subtract.And morabaraba by any other name is just as sweet. In the Eastern Cape it is called mlabalaba and in Limpopo Province as mefuvha. In Zimbabwe it is called tsoro and in Angola it is referred to as mbau.Morabaraba has even given the African Renaissance a boost – morabaraba fever is catching on fast worldwide, and the game is now played Europe and Asia.In 1996 the South African Wargames Union was invited to send a South African morabaraba team to Thailand to attend the Traditional Wargames Championships. When the team arrived, loaded with 50 000 board games, they distributed them free to Taiwanese locals.The next day proved to be somewhat of a cultural surprise. Police had to be called in to calm down the thousands of people clamouring outside the championship venue for more of the board games, of which there were none.Legends and mythsStill, no one really knows when the first morabaraba game was played, says Colin Webster, president of the SA War Games Union. “It’s truly an African game and we are trying to take it back to its roots. But the history of the game reaches far back into antiquity,” he says. “It was certainly played in ancient Egypt about 3 000 years ago. I think morabaraba has been around for a very long time, for as long as anyone can remember anyway. But it’s not dependent on any written history.”A plethora of legends and myths surrounds the game. A favourite is that African chiefs selected the best morabaraba players to serve as advisers on their traditional councils. Webster concurs, and says that the game is deeply rooted in the concept of teaching young warriors how to do cattle raids.According to the rules of the game, two players have 12 cows each and play on a wooden board ringed with 24 circles. The ultimate aim is to take as many of your opponent’s cows as possible while moving your cows forward and towards your opponent’s back row.Provincial and national coloursThe game was recognised as a traditional African wargame in 1996 by South Africa’s Department of Sport and Recreation and the National Sports Commission. Players receive provincial and national colours.“Now that the game is recognised, players can be rewarded for the excellence of their play”, says Webster. “It has developed a lot since then and it does make the sports pie bigger. But in terms of development, it is always difficult for new kids on the block to catch up with people who have been participating in sport for a long time.”Kids like Buthi, a Grade 8 pupil, drew the board on his street in Soweto and played with rocks. But that was a long time ago, he says, and now morabaraba bores him. “I don’t know why people play this game. Man, I like soccer. It’s so much more entertaining.”But Webster believes that the accessibility of the game is what entrenches its popularity. “You don’t need money to play the game; I’ve seen people in Diepkloof play it with pebbles and apple and orange cores. It’s not restrictive, and it’s cheap.”Every day during their 45-minute break, Walter and Kagiso play morabaraba. “Everyone else plays soccer, but we are using our brains”, says Kagiso. “This game teaches you to think before you make a move. It is just logic. We play it at home. It keeps us off the streets.”Walter watches as Lawrence saunters into the room proclaiming that morabaraba is just not cool. As Lawrence settles down to a game of draughts, in which tokens can only be moved diagonally, Walter looks on scornfully. “Man, in morabaraba, we can move our cows in any direction. I love morabaraba, I’ll teach my kids one day, and my wife too.”Walter’s wife may just prove to be tough competition. Women are reputed to rank among the best players, but as rural communities are still patriarchal, females are not encouraged to play. Says Webster: “In rural areas women don’t openly admit to playing. It’s a game that men pride themselves on. But because it’s not a physical game, men and women can sit down together and play it on an equal footing. This can be great in breaking down gender discrimination.”His organisation has now established a morabaraba club at Athlone Girls High School in Johannesburg. “We would like to see a team at every school, but it’s difficult to say what the future holds. I think that morabaraba offers a lot of value for young people; it gives them a much greater feeling of self-worth.“It’s a great game, and so is the concept of winning that goes along with it. Players feel a sense of personal gratification and it gives them hope, especially for poor people. I love the game. It really makes you think.“Some people say it’s nothing more than noughts and crosses, and you can learn the rules in five minutes, but to be great at it, it can take you a lifetime. There’s always a new twist”, Webster adds.Dorian Love, a computer studies teacher at St Enda’s, says the school’s pupils play the game so earnestly because of a lack of open space at the school. “But I’m for any kind of strategic thinking that exercises the brain”, he says. “It’s nice because the pupils practice general cognitive skills.”From the look on Kagiso and Walter’s faces, they are happily lost in another world, where tactics and strategies are king, and where they can keep on trying to outmanoeuvre one another.* In 2005, the South African Wargames Union changed its name to Mind Sports South Africa, and is an affiliate of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc).Source: City of Johannesburg web sitelast_img read more

Manuel’s ‘sensible’ budget praised

first_imgSouth African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel (Image: World Economic Forum)Wilma den HartighSouth African economists have commended Finance Minister Trevor Manuel for a responsible and realistic budget in a difficult economic climate, with the consensus that it will give momentum to a slowing economy.In his budget speech to parliament on Wednesday, Manuel reassured South Africans that they would not bear the full burden of the international economic downturn thanks to South Africa’s sound banking system, healthy fiscal position, credible monetary policy and appropriate foreign exchange regulations.Dr Azar Jammine, director and chief economist at Econometrix, described the budget as “sensible” in light of the economic crisis and difficulties ahead.“It exploited the economic climate we are in beautifully,” Jammine said. He said it is also positive that the greatest areas of spending are in housing, community development, education and health.The largest adjustments to spending plans go to poverty reduction. Some R25-billion will go to provincial budgets – mainly for education and health care – while R13-billion will go to social assistance grants. The school nutrition programme gets an extra R4-billion, and R2.5 billion goes to municipalities for basic services.Manuel also announced that, over the next three years, infrastructure grants to municipalities will total R67-billion, and a further R45 billion will be spent on the Breaking New Ground housing programme. Together with investment in roads and public transport, these constitute a considerable expansion of public sector spending.“These are rightly prioritised as part of our response to the current deterioration in employment and economic activity,” Manuel said.Business Unity South Africa (Busa) also endorsed the realistic message of the 2009 budget. Raymond Parsons, deputy CEO of Busa, said the budget is in line with his organisation’s view that a supportive fiscal package is necessary.“This will help cushion the negative impact of the economic downswing on growth and jobs in South Africa,” Parsons said.Busa believes that while it is important to stabilise the economy this year, it is also essential to focus on measures that will help to lay the foundations for the next economic upturn. Parsons said Busa supports the continued infrastructural spending, investment in education and improved health facilities. It also welcomes, in particular, the increase in the VAT threshold.“Small businesses play an essential role in creating job opportunities,” he said.The Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) expressed similar sentiments. It said that the budget accurately recognises the unique challenges of the current context and responds boldly to them.“The Minister of Finance’s Speech dwelt at length on the impact of the current financial crisis on the South African economy and public finances, but moved decisively to ensure that the impact would be ameliorated for South Africans,” said Idasa’s Len Verwey.The budget deficit announcement of 3.8% also attracted much attention. Manuel said that although the budget deficit will rise to 3.8% of GDP next year, debt service costs will remain moderate over the next three years (at about 2.5% of GDP).“This is possible because we have had the courage to make the right choices over the past decade,” he said.Idasa said the deficit of 3.8% is far larger than budget balances proposed in the last decade but nevertheless described it as a “bold, assertive response to the unique challenges of the present”.Busa pointed out that while the deficit-before-borrowing is a little higher than expected, it believes that the budget has been able to combine flexibility and prudence in a manner that is positive for business and consumer confidence.Jac Laubscher, Group Economist at Sanlam, said the budget is very much a response to the global financial and economic crisis. It is also mindful of the adverse impact it will have on the economy and the people of South Africa.Laubscher said that the budget shows less confidence than in recent years because of the uncertainty of when and how the crisis will end. However, he believes that the shift to a more expansionary fiscal policy will be supported by an expansionary monetary policy, together with a more competitive exchange rate. In time these should have the desired effect. He is also pleased that the budget is still focused on enhancing the long-term sustainable growth potential of South Africa.Idasa pointed out that Manuel was also right to see the roots of the present crisis less in the “impersonal workings of global financial systems” and more in the absence of an international democratic system of economic and financial governance that equitably and transparently regulates the relations between states.Clearly, international markets need positive reforms, and South Africa seems well poised to play a leading role in representing developing country interests and perspectives in debates on these reforms.As expected, the budget was not without its lighter moments. In announcing this year’s increases in “sin taxes” – duties on tobacco and alcohol products – Manuel a participant in his online Tips for Trevor campaign, which encourages members of the public to give suggestions for the budget.Manuel said: “Mr At du Plooy has written to ask, ‘Please be a little more lenient on the tax on whisky for the old folks. We have so little to enjoy, you know things that used to happen after dark, no longer happen. All we have left to enjoy is a little entertainment before supper.’“He asks for leniency, reminding me that this will ultimately be for my own benefit as well. A bottle of whisky, Mr du Plooy, goes up by R3.21.”Related articlesSA tops for budget transparency Motlanthe reassures the nation SA’s finances all in order Infrastructure development in South Africa Upbeat budget despite global gloom Useful linksSouth African National Treasury – Budget 2008 EconometrixInstitute for Democracy in South AfricaBusiness Unity South AfricaOpen Budget Initiativelast_img read more

New-look Google Reader Is Stunning!

first_imgTags:#RSS Readers#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… richard macmanus Google Reader, Google’s web-based RSS Aggregator, has had a re-design and I amimpressed. It now has a look n’ feel very much like Gmail, which I believe is a pointerto this product being prepped for mainstream promotion – and/or merged with Gmail.Probably a bit of both, as a standalone RSS Reader is always going to be needed. You’llrecall that the new Yahoo Mail Beta has RSS integrated into its email experience –and the reason for that is quite simply to reach the 250 Million odd people that have aYahoo Mail account. What better way to make RSS a mainstream experience than to integrateit into the web email platform. So I expect Google to follow suit.Google Reader List viewYou probably know that I am a huge fan of Gmail, so this new Google Reader interfacewas immediately a pleasure to use. I love that it automatically marks items as ‘read’ asyou scroll. I also like the List view (very much like email), for quick scrolling, andthe ‘Expanded’ view feels much more natural to use now. The ‘sharing’ functionality isexcellent too – a shared clippings blog similar to Bloglines; and ability to share viaemail.The new features:Expanded view and list viewSimplified sharing functionalityImproved read-state managementInfinite scrollingUnread countsMark all as readI remember trying out Google Reader back in the Web 2.0 Conference last year, when itwas launched. I was underwhelmed at thattime, but this new design – with its Gmail-like interface, features, and speed to match – ismuch more impressive. LikeNiall Kennedy, I hope they also integrate blog search into the Reader at some point – as well as tie into other Google services. But otherwise, Google has upped the ante in the online RSS Reader space. And also gone along way towards matching Yahoo’s email/RSS integration.Expanded ViewUpdate: Marshall Kirkpatrick at Techcrunch points out that Google is emphasizing the email tie-in: “Think of Google Reader as your inbox for the web.” Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

EAS Merchandise Protection Strategy

first_imgUnicodeIn recent years, Gap Inc. has implemented a number of electronic article surveillance (EAS) solutions, including in-store applied hard and alarming tags, factory-applied source/soft tag labels, and factory-applied hard tags (FAHT). This 2009 article explores the key decision points, financial rationale, infrastructure requirements, and benefits of why Gap Inc. moved toward a blended solution, the key component of which was the FAHT program. This article also seeks to provide a framework for your company to evaluate the appropriate strategy that Gap Inc. found very effective.Source TaggingAs of 2009, Gap Inc. had implemented the FAHT program in each of its three brands—Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy—in North America and Europe. However, each brand had an existing soft tag/security label infrastructure in place prior to the transition to the FAHT program.FAHT differs from traditional in-store applied hard tags and factory-applied source/soft tags in three key ways. The key differences will vary depending on your current EAS strategy—that is, if you are using in-store applied hard tags, source/soft tags, or if you do not have any tagging program.- Sponsor – Labor Savings. By moving tagging out of the store, there are significant labor savings. As you can imagine, paying factory wages in Vietnam to tag is significantly less expensive than paying for domestic store labor in New York City.Shrink Savings. The well-established benefit and deterrence of applying a hard tag not only reduces inventory shrinkage in the store, but (with FAHT) throughout the supply chain, by placing EAS pedestals at the entry way of distribution centers.Ongoing Cost. With in-store hard tags, there is a one-time expense to purchase the tags with limited replenishment due to in-store tag attrition in later years, while there is ongoing annual expense with FAHT.These differences force retailers to consider the following five key areas when exploring the feasibility and financial benefit of implementing a FAHT solution.• Shrink rate/dollars and sales impact • Cost of tags and product coverage • Store payroll savings • EAS infrastructure and vendor consideration • Location of shrink in your real estate portfolioGap Inc. built a strong business case by successfully triangulating these five components. In other words, the company was able to show that a FAHT strategy reduces overall expenses, through lower shrink and payroll, even though these savings are partially offset by higher expenses associated with purchasing the factory-applied hard tags on an ongoing basis.Shrink Rate/Dollars and Sales ImpactNot surprisingly, factory-applied hard tags have a greater positive financial impact when a company has higher shrink dollars and/or a higher shrink rate. Simply stated, the greater the shrink, the greater the dollar savings from tagging. This is the case for almost any tagging technology.At the time of this article’s original publication in 2009, Gap Inc. had experienced shrink savings of 5 to 70 percent in product categories protected by FAHT, with the lower-end savings experienced in categories previously protected by in-store hard tags and the upper-end savings on categories without any previous protection.The most astonishing impact of Gap Inc.’s FAHT experience was the shrink improvement realized in departments that were previously covered by in-store applied hard tags. No benefit had been expected in these categories. However, due to the near-perfect tagging compliance from the factories and the uniformity in tag placement, the company experienced an improvement in shrink. In conjunction with merchandising and store operations, loss prevention communicated specific placement standards to the factories for all product tagged.The other key benefit associated with reducing shrink is the opportunity cost of not being able to sell the merchandise. Without a doubt, sales and margins improve when shrink is reduced because the product is sold rather than stolen. The challenge is estimating the recapture in gross margin dollars due to the reduced shrink. The recommended method to include this benefit is to use a weighted average gross margin of the tagged product multiplied by the estimated shrink savings. This way, not only is the benefit from shrink savings included in your business case, but the margin upside as well.Cost of Tag and Product CoverageThe second critical component for evaluating FAHT for your stores is to understand the price your company would pay for tags. Pricing largely depends on the expected volume of tags your stores will use annually. Tag cost is the most crucial component of the FAHT evaluation because the business case is more sensitive to the tag cost than any other input. This is a result of the significant number of tags that will be purchased each year.Depending upon the size of your company and the number of units tagged, your tag purchases may reach into the tens of millions or more. The price that you pay for each tag on a per unit basis from the electronic article surveillance provider will rarely be the final cost of adding the tag to the merchandise. The same holds true for any source tag or label.There are typically five factors to consider when determining the total tag cost, referred to as the “fully loaded tag cost.”• Tag price • Cost to ship tag to factory from point of manufacture • Duties applied by country of production • Retailing country customs duty • Applicable rebate if, for example, you recycle or reuse the tag and can negotiate a rebate from your recycling company or providerFully Loaded Tag Cost. Duties vary by factory location and may be applied to both the tag and the freight costs. The customs duty may not apply and therefore lower your total cost of ownership if your company uses a recirculation program for sending the tags back to the factory (the factory cannot be in the retailing country) and your company has a government customs ruling in place to identify that the tag will be removed from the merchandise and recirculated.It is advisable to partner with your company’s finance and/or production departments to determine the exact fully loaded cost for your tag. You should research this important aspect of the FAHT program because it can have a significant impact on your tag cost and business case.Product Categories to Tag. When evaluating what product categories to tag, it is important to consider the shrink improvement, incremental cost of the FAHT program, and payroll savings. Generally, higher-priced, lower-unit categories are more likely to show a positive return on investment as the savings on shrink and payroll exceed the incremental cost of the tags. In contrast, lower-priced, higher-unit categories are less likely to demonstrate a positive return because the cost of the tags overwhelms the shrink and payroll savings.Shrink-reduction estimates due to FAHT should be a combination of historical rates from your company in conjunction with improvements ranging from 5 to 70 percent, depending on your current EAS solutions. As a rule of thumb, Gap Inc. used a 20 to 25 percent improvement.Gap Inc.’s decisions regarding which products to tag were based upon both financial and production-level analysis; that is, the financial benefit of applying a FAHT at the product department level and the ability to apply a tag without damage to the merchandise. When these two decision points met, a FAHT was applied.For example, categories tagged generally include denim, bottoms, outerwear, dresses, suiting, sweaters, and woven shirts. Categories not tagged often include knits, furnishings, and accessories. At this point, select product may receive a soft tag/label or stores may elect to use an in-store hard tag or an alarming tag applied to high-shrink items, such as leather handbags or silk dresses to minimize shrink in these categories with a high average unit retail.Another key consideration for Gap Inc. revolved around how to protect children’s merchandise (0 to 12 years). In order to meet Gap Inc.’s stringent product-safety standards, tags with sharp points cannot be applied at source to this product category. In addition, tags with metal components may activate a factory’s needle-detection machine. Therefore, Gap Inc. elected not to include children’s merchandise in the initial FAHT program.Interestingly, results indicated that theft has migrated to children’s merchandise as it was not protected with a tag. To mitigate loss in this category, the company began testing a tag developed specifically for children’s merchandise in an effort to overcome the safety and needle-detection issues.Store PayrollAs stated earlier, moving tagging out of the back of the store to the factory provides opportunities to reduce store payroll, likely your company’s largest controllable expense category. Gap Inc. realized this payroll decrease through higher productivity in store receiving, with a 30 percent increase in units per hour (UPH) standards.To assess the payroll allocated to tagging, you will likely have to partner with your finance and store operations teams. Once potential payroll savings are determined, this can be included as a benefit in your business case. Reducing payroll expense not only provides additional benefit, but it is also an opportunity to simplify store operations and gain support from your field and store operations business partners. Without fail, Gap Inc.’s in-store field teams recognized the positive impact on workload and morale through the elimination of in-store tagging.EAS Infrastructure and Vendor ConsiderationSince tags are applied at the factory and merchandise flows to all stores, it is important to emphasize that a FAHT program requires a consistent, single-technology EAS infrastructure in all stores. This requirement may cause you to add and/or replace existing EAS equipment.If necessary, the sales on the secondary market of your existing EAS pedestals, detachers, and tags can be used to pay for or offset the cost of new equipment for a FAHT program. You may also need to consider any remaining book value associated with the existing equipment and the potential accounting implications.Moreover, your existing equipment will likely play a role in your decision about a FAHT vendor. The ability to leverage existing equipment can reduce the overall cost of rolling out FAHT and provide a strong return on your equipment investment.Additional considerations when evaluating a vendor is the aforementioned cost of the factory-applied hard tags, and the vendor’s ability to reuse and/or recycle the tags to reduce tag costs over time. The vendor also may be able to provide opportunities to reduce the tag cost through volume discounts and long-term contracts. This is an important evaluation because the lowest possible tag cost is crucial to developing a successful business case.Location of Shrink in Your Real Estate PortfolioThe final decision point requires an understanding of where your shrink is occurring across your store base. One of the greatest benefits of a FAHT program is its universal coverage in all stores. This can also be its greatest downfall.For example, if your shrink is highly concentrated in one region with little to no shrink in the remaining regions, a FAHT strategy is, in all probability, not the right solution for you to reduce shrink. In this scenario, the greatest financial benefit would likely come from using a regional in-store hard-tag strategy where you are concentrating the expense and savings associated with tagging where the shrink is occurring.However, if your real estate portfolio covers a larger, more geographically dispersed area with shrink less concentrated in any particular region, a FAHT program may be the right strategy for you.Implementation of FAHTIn addition to realizing the shrink savings associated with the FAHT program, solid program execution is a valuable way of gaining support for the success of your overall merchandise protection strategy. The program is essentially a production program with the tag or label considered “trim,” just like a shirt button or denim rivet. Partnerships with the production, sourcing, and store operations departments are critical to the program’s operations, and it is important that they understand the entire business case.For example, increasing merchandise manufacturing costs by adding a security tag or label may not be well accepted by a merchant, which may lead to poor compliance in adding the tag to the merchandise bill of materials. However, when the same merchant understands that the program will enable stores to retain the product to sell at full price, they will understand that the tags provide a significant benefit.Sourcing and production teams will be important points of contacts for your tag provider and factories. They can provide planning forecasts and factory details to yield on-time tag deliveries, as well as directing vendors on placement, costing, and ordering details via technical bulletins.Store operations may support the program by evaluating and providing timely feedback, including tag application and factory compliance to adding the tag.It is noteworthy that tag recycling/recirculation programs also support many environmental principles and practices that both customers and employees value todayIn-Store TaggingAs of 2009, Gap Inc. had largely moved away from in-store tagging for the reasons described above except in particular circumstances. However, depending upon the factors involved, in-store tagging can have a greater financial return than FAHT. This can occur when one or more of the following criteria are met:• A lack of a fleet-wide EAS infrastructure, • An acute shrink issue in a particular geographic area, and/or • A product mix where significant hard tagging may not be suitable.The first and foremost challenge with FAHT is the requirement to have the aforementioned fleet-wide consistent technology platform. The financial return from shrink reduction may take years to pay off the cost of the infrastructure. This depends upon your company’s existing infrastructure and the size of your shrink opportunity. Your company may obtain a higher return on investment with a more surgical, less capital-intensive approach by using in-store applied hard tags.Second, as was previously stated, FAHT is a “shotgun” or “blanket” approach, whereas in-store tagging can leveraged in a “rifle” or “scalpel” approach. For example, if there is an acute shrink issue in Dallas, the city and surrounding area can be covered while not simultaneously covering Phoenix, where there may not be an issue. This way, your resources can be focused on reducing shrink in specific geographic areas of concern.Third, the product mix found in your stores may not be best suited to a FAHT solution. For Gap Inc.’s predominately soft-lines product mix, FAHT was an optimal solution. However, your stores and product mix may be different and in-store tagging may operationally be a favored solution.This was the case for one of Gap Inc.’s brands where these three factors combined to favor the continuation of in-store tagging. First, this brand did not have a fleet-wide infrastructure to enable FAHT. Second, there was not enough shrink savings associated with fleet-wide tagging to justify the infrastructure investment. Finally, the average unit cost/unit was lower in this brand, which further made the ongoing cost of FAHT less palatable versus the one-time cost of in-store tagging.Overall BenefitGap Inc. gained relative short-term benefit following the transition to source-tag labels. Stores that had not previously protected their merchandise with an in-store hard-tag program realized a significant improvement in shrink; however, the opposite held true for stores that used hard tags. Therefore, the larger benefit of the soft tag program was the operational framework it set to build the FAHT program upon.Gap Inc. realized significant savings and success from implementing the FAHT program. The framework of five factors included in this article helped the company to effectively and successfully evaluate the financial, store, and production impact of moving to a FAHT program. Presenting a holistic review of the optimal shrink-mitigation strategy, whether it be FAHT or in-store tagging, enabled Gap Inc. to gain internal buyoff from business partners in finance, store operations, production, and merchandising in addition to our own loss prevention team.By consistently applying this methodology, by being transparent with our assumptions, and by ultimately delivering on what we promised, LP has gained traction and credibility internally. Hopefully, by sharing our experience and successes, your company can leverage the framework described in this article to make informed decisions about the right merchandise-protection strategy for your stores.This article was originally published in 2009 and was updated February 3, 2016.  Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

White House Remains Focused on Tax Reform – Phase Two

first_imgThe White House and Republican lawmakers are continuing discussions focused on a second round of tax reform, according to President Trump’s top economic advisor. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said in an April 5 interview that Trump and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Tex., spoke earlier in the week again about a “phase two” of tax reform (TAXDAY, 2018/03/16, C.1).Trump and most GOP lawmakers are in agreement that full expensing for business investments and individual tax cuts should be made permanent, according to Kudlow. Those specific tax provisions under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) are currently temporary. “I think you get more bang for the buck on these tax cuts if you do make it permanent,” Kudlow said.Likewise, Trump, while speaking at an April 5 roundtable event in West Virginia, touted the full expensing provision of the TCJA. “I think it’s going to be the greatest benefit of the whole bill,” Trump said.According to Kudlow, there are other ideas being discussed that could also become part of the plan, but he did not elaborate on specifics. “Perhaps, later this year we will see something more concrete,” he said.Looking ForwardTrump also spoke to the tax return filing process changes expected for next year. “Next April, you’re going to, in many cases, [file on] one page, one card…you’ll have a nice simple form next year,” Trump said.To that end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote in an April 6 op-ed in Kentucky Today that the current tax return filing process, which includes “complicated paperwork,” will soon come to an end. “As a result of the historic overhaul of the federal tax code, this is the last time that you will have to file under the outdated and expensive system that has held our country back for far too long,” McConnell wrote.Democratic ChangesMeanwhile, most Democratic lawmakers continue to criticize the tax law changes under the TCJA. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an April 6 statement that only corporations and the wealthy benefit from the new law. “Powerful special interests are reaping massive windfalls from the GOP tax scam…,” Pelosi said.Earlier in the week, while speaking at a tax event in California, Pelosi reportedly said that Democrats would take a bipartisan approach toward revising the TCJA if they regain the House majority in 2019. According to Pelosi, Democrats are interested in creating a tax bill that creates growth and jobs while simultaneously reducing the deficit.By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News StaffLogin to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

HPC and AI Converge Under a Common Architecture

first_img1 The solution was tested with TensorFlow/ ResNet50 for Inference (comparing INT8 and FP32 tests) and TensorFlow / ResNet50 for Training on March 28, 2019 with the following hardware and software configuration:Base configuration: 4 Nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6252; 1x Intel® Server Board S2600WFT; Total Memory 192 GB, 12 slots/16 GB/2666 MT/s DDR4 RDIMM; HyperThreading: Enable; Turbo: Enable; Storage(boot): Intel® 800GB SSD OS Drive, Storage(capacity): 2x 750GB Intel® Optane SSD DC P4800X PCIe; NIC: 1x Intel XC710, PCH: Intel C621; OS/Software: CentOS Linux release 7.6.1810 (Core) with Kernel 3.10.0-957.el7.x86_64; BIOS CPU microcode 0x400000aFramework version: TensorFlow 1.13.1,; Dataset: Synthetic from benchmark tool; Model topology: ResNet 50 v1; Batch Size: 128 High performance computing (HPC), once specialized to scientific and government supercomputers, has expanded to a range of workloads, including visualization, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI). With so many different types of highly-demanding tasks now open for enterprises to pursue, Intel has created a family of Intel® Select Solutions based on a common foundation of hardware and software to address today’s HPC workloads.All of the solutions share a common foundation, utilizing the Intel® HPC Platform Specification to deliver consistency and compatibly with a wide range of applications. Each solution adds capabilities that tailor the solution to a specified use case, without compromising compatibility.Foundational WorkloadsExisting HPC solutions are targeted at three foundational workloads:Simulation & Modeling—designed for scientists and engineers in a variety of fields who rely on HPC simulation and modeling to improve performance and productivity, Intel® Selection Solutions for Simulation & Modeling are compatible with industry standard software from leading vendors like ANSYS*, COMSOL*, and Dassault*. Organizations, from aerodynamics to manufacturing, can streamline deployment with the solution and start simulation and modeling workloads quickly.Professional Visualization—visualization is critical to analyzing and gaining insights from the modeling and simulation results. With Intel® Select Solutions for Professional Visualization, organizations can realize software defined visualization benefits faster than trying to construct their own systems. Utilizing the Intel® Rendering Framework (comprised of OpenSWR*, Embree*, and OSPRay*) to perform in-situ simulation and visualization, the solution provides organizations the convenience of using familiar analysis tools, like ParaView*, on top of trusted Intel infrastructure. The popular application VisIt* is also included in the refreshed solution, allows scientists and engineers to quickly generate visualizations, animate them through time, and save them for presentations. The solutions offer the ability to run larger datasets, achieve faster time-to-insight by avoiding data movement I/O bottlenecks, and reduce the costs of having to move simulation data to disk for post-processing.Genomics Analytics—Intel® Selection Solution for Genomics Analytics builds on the common infrastructure of the other HPC solutions and adds the specialization of BIGstack*, an integrated hardware and software stack designed to run the Broad Institute Genomic Analysis Toolkit (GATK) more quickly, at a larger scale, and with easier deployment.These three workload-optimized solutions take advantage of the newly released 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors and deliver generation over generation higher performance, improved price/performance, and enhanced security capabilities. We anticipate a number of companies offering these updated solutions, including Advantech, Atipa, Fujitsu, Megware, Nor-Tech, and RSC.Additional capabilities will be available in an upcoming v2 releases of Intel Select Solutions for Simulation & Modeling, Simulation & Visualization (an upgrade of the Professional Visualization solution), and Genomics Analytics including enhancements to take advantage of Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, Intel® Deep Learning Boost (Intel® DL Boost), Intel® SSDs, Intel® Ethernet, software, accelerators.A New Era of ConvergenceThe new Intel® Select Solutions for HPC & AI Converged Clusters joins these three existing HPC solutions, expanding the scope of HPC workloads beyond simulation & modeling, to including both Analytics and AI workloads and integrated workflows. The new solutions leverage the low-latency, high-performance features of 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors to offer new capabilities and performance while minimizing data movement, delivering breakthrough capabilities via a converged platform that supports all three workloads.AI is having a huge impact on data analytics throughout the HPC ecosystem, with neural networks often being used to accelerate discovery and innovation. Organizations are quickly realizing the opportunity to converge both AI and traditional modeling and simulation workloads on a common infrastructure. As AI joins traditional simulation & modeling workloads on HPC systems, there’s a need for higher performance compute, memory, storage, and networking capabilities, along with optimized software tools and libraries.Building on the simulation and modeling foundation and adding analytic workloads like Apache Spark* and AI workloads like TensorFlow*, the newly launched Intel Select Solutions support integrated workflows that previously had to run on specialized systems. With Intel Select Solutions for HPC & AI Converged Clusters, organizations can use AI to accelerate better scientific results or add analytics to perform in-situ visualization at scale, all on a common, flexible system that minimizes storage repetition and data movement and maximizes infrastructure flexibility and utilization.Intel is releasing two solution architectures for the new Intel Select Solutions for HPC & AI Converged Clusters, both of which focus on augmenting resource managers to support broader workloads. The first is based on the community project Magpie*, which automates the process of generating interfaces between analytics frameworks like Spark and AI frameworks like TensorFlow, so that they can run seamlessly without any modifications to a traditional HPC resource manager such as Slurm*.The second is a more integrated solution that builds on the work of Univa Grid Engine* and their Universal Resource Broker, an engine that sits alongside a traditional HPC batch scheduler and can interface into resource manager plugins created with an Apache Mesos* framework. Both solutions allow workload coexistence and workflow convergence across simulation & modeling, analytics, and AI. We will be evaluating and updating additional features and workloads for the new Intel Select Solution for HPC & AI Converged Clusters in the coming months, specifically examining the benefits of Intel Optane Memory for large data setsAccelerated BenefitsWhen analytics and AI workloads are brought into HPC infrastructure designed to support simulation and modeling, additional speed benefits cascade through the stack. For example, Apache Spark* and TensorFlow can run faster when connected to a HPC fabric. The new 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors also deliver 4x faster images/second with inferencing solutions optimized using Intel DL Boost technology.1Advania Data Center is planning to offer the new Intel Select Solution for HPC & AI Converged Clusters later this year. Their customer Gimix wants to run mixed workloads in their HPC environment and is looking to this solution to meet their needs.Intel Select Solutions for HPC offer higher performance and enhanced capabilities in a single environment, eliminating the burden of data transfer between systems. A host of commercial applications in the Intel® HPC Application Catalog are verified and interoperable with all other Intel Select Solutions for HPC, ensuring even greater flexibility.A complete hardware and software recipe for advancing product innovation, Intel Select Solutions represent a proven set of configurations utilizing Intel architecture building blocks that the ecosystem can innovate on and take to market more quickly. For more information, and to see the full range of Intel Select Solutions, visit intel.com/selectsolutions. For more about Intel’s work in HPC, visit intel.com/hpc. For more information on how to accelerate your data insights and building your infrastructure, visit intel.com/yourdata.last_img read more

When was the last time India played limited-overs cricket without Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni?

first_imgVirat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were among some top India cricketers rested for the T20I tri-series in Sri Lanka also featuring Bangladesh.After an arduous tour of South Africa, where India won nine out of their 12 matches, it was thought best to give the senior pros some rest.Kohli, who had got a break from the limited-overs leg just before the South Africa tour, performed admirably again and amassed 871 runs from three Tests, six ODIs and two T20Is. He was rested from the final T20I due to a stiff back. In the process, Kohli scored the most runs by an Indian captain on an away tour. The previous most for India was by Rahul Dravid who made 645 runs on West Indies tour in 2006. Overall, It’s the second most by any captain behind Graeme Smith’s tally of 937 against England in 2003. Kohli scored 27 in the two first two T20Is, 558 in the ODI series and 286 in the three Tests.Pandya played all 12 matches on tour while Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah were rested at different times.Dhoni played all six ODIs and three T20Is.All these players will soon feature in the Indian Premier League which will be followed by a one-off Test against Afghanistan before India embark on their tour of Ireland and England.Not surprisingly then, India decided to rest their stars – Kohli and Dhoni among them. In Kohli’s absence Rohit Sharma was named captain of the T20I team and his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan was named his deputy.advertisement Rohit Sharma will lead the Indian team in T20I tri-series in Sri Lanka (BCCI Photo)It’s not often India have played without either of Kohli or Dhoni over the last decade.The last time India took the field in a limited-overs tour without Kohli and Dhoni was 32 months ago – back in July 2015 for an ODI and T20I series against Zimbabwe.However, India did not miss their top guns against Zimbabwe – Ajinkya Rahane, who captained India in the absence of Dhoni and Kohli – oversaw a 3-0 whitewash of the hosts. The teams shared honours in the two-match T20I series with both winning one match each.Ambati Rayudu finished as the leading run-getter with 165 runs from two ODI matches while Kedar Jadhav (126) and Stuart Binny (120) also enjoyed a successful tour. Binny also finished with six wickets in the ODIs while Bhuvneshwar and Axar Patel grabbed five wickets each.Of course, neither Kohli nor Dhoni played in the final Test of the four-match series against Australia in Dharamsala in March 2017.Kohli had been rested following a shoulder injury he sustained in Ranchi while Dhoni had retired from Test cricket in December 2014.last_img read more

Sungdong Shipbuilding Enters Court Receivership

first_imgzoomImage Courtesy: Sungdong Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering South Korean midsize shipbuilder Sungdong Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering has been placed under court receivership, Yonhap reports citing a court official.The court is yet to decide whether to liquidate the yard or resume operating under a growing concern principle. The final ruling will be made based on the report from auditing firm Deloitte Anjin LLC, which has been tasked to assess the company’s value of liquidation and its going concern value, the Korean news agency said.The court move comes on the back of the yard’s financial downfall prompted by lower order intake and the overall slump in the shipbuilding industry which brought many shipbuilders to their knees.Namely, the yard received only five orders in 2017, a major drop from over 40 in 2013. The company hasn’t received any orders this year and is without capital.The court receivership plan was announced in March this year, with the survival of the cash-strapped yard being put to question even if further cash injections are provided due to its long-term losses.The shipbuilder has been under restructuring for over the past eight years, with over USD 2.5 billion of funds said to have been injected into the yard since. The restructuring process has been led by its main creditor the Export Import Bank of Korea.World Maritime News Stafflast_img read more