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Does Credit Card Fraud Alert Protect Us?

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Nowadays more and more people face the problem of identity theft. How can you realize that you are a victim of identity theft and what can you do to solve this problem?

If your credit card statement includes charges for things you never bought, or you get a call (letter), informing that you have been approved or denied credit for accounts that you never applied for, then you are a victim of identity theft.

Identity theft means that someone uses your personal identifying information, like your Social Security number, or credit card number, without asking you, to commit fraud.

If you are a victim of identity theft, you are to put a fraud alert on your credit reports and review them. A fraud alert is something that credit bureaus attach to your credit report. First of all, you are to speak to the fraud department of one of the main credit bureaus (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) to place a fraud alert on your credit file, plus a victim’s statement asking that creditors call you before granting credit or other services.

Victim statements may cause delays in getting credit while the creditors try to contact you. When you open a credit account by getting a new credit card, the lender will contact you to make sure that you really want to open a new account.

Fraud alerts help to prevent an identity thief from opening new accounts in your name. When the credit bureau proves your fraud alert, it will contact the other two. So they will place an alert on their versions of your report, too. If you are not asked, the credit account wouldn’t be opened.

It should be mentioned that it’s up to you what kind of fraud alert to choose.

If you have chosen initial alert, it will remain on your credit reports for 90 days. While the alert is on your file, perhaps you won’t be able to get instant credit. When you file an alert, you will be eligible for a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

As far as extended fraud alert is concerned, it will remain on your credit file for seven years. However, you can ask to remove the fraud alert before seven-year period run out. The only thing you need is to make this request in writing and provide information to confirm your identity. These procedures are planned to prevent criminals from removing fraud alerts from victims’ accounts.

A fraud alert provides some protection against identity theft, but not in all cases. It will not help you when an identity thief uses your existing credit cards or other accounts. And it will not help you when an identity thief opens new accounts in your name that do not require credit check.

So, identity theft is very serious. Many victims of identity theft spend much money and time repairing damage to their good name and credit score.

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Nortel VPN Client Overview

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  • The Nortel VPN Client creates the secure connection for VPN users into a private network.
  • Once you log in through iPass and receive the iPass screen, you are now authenticating through the Nortel VPN, and not iPass.
  • If this is your first time connecting, or your pin has been reset, you will enter only your username, and token ID.
  • The PIN field should be blank. If you have connected before, you will enter the username, PIN, and token ID.
  • Once you are ready to connect you will click the Connect button. You may be asked if you want to save the connection if this is your first time connecting. (Note you should choose YES)
  • If it is not your first time, or the PIN has not been reset, you will simply be connected at this point.
  • Enter a 4 – 8 digit pin in the response field. Once the pin is accepted you will enter the PIN + Token ID on subsequent connections.
  • Nortel VPN Unable to Resolve IP Host Address
  • Are you at home or hotel?

    Click on Start

    Run

    Type CMD in the field and hit enter (or ok)

    At the DOS Prompt type: ipconfig /release and hit enter

    Now type: ipconfig /renew and hit enter – confirm if the IP Address changed

If Yes

  • Logon to iPASS once more. Does this resolve the problem?

If No

If you are at Home

  • Is there another computer at home (Personal PC) that is connected to the router?

    Shut the router/modem off and turn the laptop off (in an effort to release the IP Address) turn the router/ modem back on.

    Turn the laptop back on and logon to iPASS once more.

    Does this resolve the problem?

    No.

    a. Unplug the router and plug it into a separate outlet.

    b. Try to logon again to iPASS.

If you are at a Hotel

  • Is there a consent form to be completed for access?

    Yes

    Double-click on the Internet Explorer

    This will bring up the web page for the Hotel (home page)

    Complete/submit the consent page

Launch iPASS.

  • If you are still unable to access iPASS open a web browser page (click on the internet browser icon blue E)

    Click on Tools

    Internet Options

    Connection tab

    Settings button and remove the check from the proxy server box to use a proxy server.

    This will disable the proxy settings.

    Click OK until you exit the internet options dialog box.

    Try to logon to iPASS once more.

  • VPN Error Message Your Token Code Is No Longer Valid
  • Contivity VPN Client: Your Token Code is no longer valid. Please enter new Token Code information.

    You will get this message if the token code changed just before you pressed Enter or Connect.

    At the very left edge of the display window of your token, you see a column of several small horizontal bars.

    The longer the token code is displayed, the fewer bars you see.

    Right after the code changes, you see six bars. When you see only one bar, wait a few seconds for the code to change before entering it into the prompt on your screen.

  • Article Host
  • Need a Qiuck Fix, Tool, Trick or Tip? Your VPN Doctor has the Cure!
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Splish Splash, Time for the Bath!

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Baths are a close second to kitchens in line for design repair; this is due mostly to the volume of use, wear and tear they must endure.

Baths appear tired because they are tired.

Declining value in a home begins in the kitchen and baths; rendering them the biggest culprit in making homes appear old and in a bad state of repair.

Worse still, the design of the bathroom will place you squarely into the vintage time and place it was built. Why?

Even bath designs have changed dramatically over time. Every 10 years or so, a dramatic new design is introduced.

Walk into a bathroom in a home built before 1950 and you will find a small room with a low bathtub that doubles as a shower, a pedestal sink, tile that ranges from very small 1″ tiles to black and white checks on the floor and walls, a commode in front of a window and a wall space to add a free standing cabinet for the bath linens. A second one half bath is usually found ‘off the kitchen.’

Walk into a new home built in 2014 and be prepared to be impressed!

The ‘master bath’ is now the same size as former bedrooms; showers are separate from the roman soaking tub and frequently sport triple or quadruple shower heads and a seat to use while enjoying your shower.

Commodes are much taller and fit for a king (the proverbial throne). They have heated seats, auto flush mechanisms and even a storage in the tank for cleaning chemicals that are, of course, auto dispensed.

Better still, a bidet is perched alongside and both are front and center in their own private room, with a door.

Tile in baths in 2014 range from none except for shower and tub (wet) areas, to showers that have travertine marble walls and ceilings!

Long cabinets, much taller (42″) than their counterparts from years gone by, line the walls to create a ‘his and her space.’

Windows are almost never found near a tub in 2014. If they are, they are large and provide a spectacular view or are frosted; enabling you to use your imagination as to what might lie beyond. Many times windows are located high on the walls to allow natural light to penetrate the room while maintaining privacy.

Skylights still dominate large baths for natural lighting and maximum privacy.

Today’s baths have large closets built-in, to house a multitude of linens and provide storage for a ‘spa’ look and feel in your private space.

It is about intimate time for revitalization.

Your bath need not look like a 2014 bath. It also need not look like a 1950 bath. Our goal is to allow your style and budget to merge with the materials at hand; showcasing them as the very best they can be!

Let’s aim for creating a bath that features the things most important to you. Start with the simple and easy things you can change.

a) If your walls are covered in tile half way up on most or every wall, remove it or paint it a color that works for your design.

Epoxy paint will cover the glass tile, remain adhered to the tile and completely alter the look of your bath.

Removing the tile in all areas except the shower/bath area will update your space dramatically and alter the time capsule you are stuck in. This will require scraping the adhesive that anchored the tile, sanding and probably some slight drywall repair that anyone can complete.

b) Pedestal sinks are a perfect fit for half baths, not so much for master or large guest baths. They offer zero storage, no counter tops and basically just sit there and allow water to pour through.

These sinks are perfect in a half bath; they save space in addition to appearing very sturdy and substantial. Most people associate pedestal sinks with an earlier period in design styles.

c) If your tub is less than your ideal and a replacement is out of the question; look closely at the condition of the tub.

Older tubs are nearly always porcelain, which is fairly easy to patch. The kits are sold at most home improvement stores.

If you have a tub that is constructed from one of the new plastics; you probably never dreamed that it was! Repair kits for these mainly consist of a polymer patch and paint.

The most common complaint about tubs, disregarding the low height, is the buildup of lime and other minerals that have turned the tub either a rusty orange or the grayish lime deposit color.

Even if these appear to be unconquerable; you can wage war against mineral deposits with CLR and Lime Away among other products.

Both of these products are very strong, and have serious warnings for proper usage as do all chemicals. Heed them.

Sometimes harsh chemicals are necessary; they still present a very serious risk when used without the precautionary instructions.

If chemicals are impossible for you to use, take a good look at the citrus or steam cleaning products. The progress may be slower but the benefit is found in the lack of dangerous chemicals. You may have to scrape or use an abrasive pad but, remember tile is glass and porcelain will scratch. Tread carefully with any kind of scraping as a misstep will damage the tile.

In most instances you will be able to remove all of the mineral deposits and shine the tub, faucet, drain and tiles.

I always try this first, and then decide what next step to take regarding the tub and shower area.

To provide a designer look for pennies you can cover the tub with very long fabric, drapes or sheets as your shower curtain. Hang them high, next to the ceiling and use something that carries your theme as tie backs. Simple and inexpensive spring tension rods allow you to easily determine the height for both the cloth curtain and a very inexpensive liner which you will need to add to protect the fabric. With this little trick, you will pretty much be able to disregard the tile’s effect on your design once it is cleaned.

Stainless steel inserts are now available. These are screwed into the drywall or a strong adhesive is used to apply to the wall surface.

Take a look at the new ‘looks like tile’ inserts! Gone are the cheap plastic walls that bent in when you leaned against them! The new inserts come in an array of colors and designs and anyone would be proud to show them off in their new design plan.

They are much less expensive then purchasing tile and having it installed and easier to maintain.

Combine this with floor tile that looks like wood and imagine what you can create!

A little imagination and the willingness to roll up your sleeves or ask friends to help and you will have a ‘new bath’ pretty easily!

If you have built in vanities in your current bath and the space is insufficient for your plan, look critically at the space available and think about shopping thrift stores, yard sales and your local Habitat Thrift store for a small hutch that can be anchored to the wall.

Change the hardware to match the bathroom cabinetry. Trim it out with inexpensive trim pieces if desired. You can paint this a contrasting color or match it to your own cabinets in your search for the perfect piece.

Your ‘Plain Jane’ cabinets become rich, new and can even appear Tuscan by adding the corner trim pieces to the base of your cabinet corners and the edges of your upper cabinetry.

They appear to be deep and thick but actually adhere to and wrap the corners of the cabinets; this completely alters the appearance of the cabinets making them appear far more substantial.

Purchase the trim pieces that extend to the floor for Tuscan, Spanish and Mediterranean designs.

The wood is intricately carved or super simple; choose the one that works with your design plan.

Matching decorative trim pieces can be used to replace the tiny one inch trim at the tops of the cabinets.

It pays off in a big way to jump in and add your own ideas; even in a bath area. Give some serious thought to painting the cabinets a color that is current and helps carry your design idea.

Change out the hardware or add it to the cabinets if none exists.

Don’t be afraid to try some of these methods. The biggest complaint about painted cabinetry is the RUNS! Review the following tips to help you make a decision.

a) If painting is the choice you are making you may be surprised at the myriad of paint treatments available. Study them carefully and choose one that fits your new design plan.

b) To get a good finish that you will be proud of, plan on removing all the cabinet doors and hardware.

c) The hardware can be sprayed in a color or finish that compliments your cabinet paint selection.

d) If your cabinets are wood you can rent a small hand sander and rough up the existing finish and smooth out any blemishes.

e) If your cabinets are plastic coated (this is another shocker, a lot of the newer cabinets are coated with plastic to appear wood) look for the application that will adhere to the smooth finish allowing your paint to adhere to the current finish.

f) Primitive and Country designs look great with the bases painted a dark or neutral color; then add barn siding with adhesive and change out the hardware to match.

g) Cottage designs work perfectly with the bases painted white and bead board adhered to the doors.

h) Southwestern designs look great with the spray on treatment that looks like sandstone. Just apply and then spray the poly as a top coat.

i) Budget permitting, you can purchase new doors and finish them with a stain or Min Wax. You will need to sand the bases and apply the same stain treatment or purchase the covers for the bases when you buy the doors.

This process will produce an entirely new look when it is completed.

If your paint runs, use a very fine grain piece of sand paper and take out the run, wipe off the sanding grit and repaint. Pick up a couple of cans of spray poly in the paint department. This will add a hard, shiny finish that can withstand water splashes and washing.

If you do not have the cabinetry you need, head back to the thrift shopping spots, Habitat for Humanity thrift store and Craig’s List where nearly new cabinets can be found at ridiculously inexpensive prices.

The down side of this is the install. If you can handle either hiring someone or doing it yourself, go for it!

If you have a flat mirror anchored over your sink with little screws in plastic caps… tear down that mirror! Normally four screws will anchor the mirror. Plan on a minor wall repair with your can of patch; let it dry and lightly sand and paint with your wall color.

Decorative mirrors can be found everywhere for every budget. If you have a double sink, hang one above each sink and add wall sconces to properly light the area and complete your design.

If removing the mirror is not possible due to budget concerns or you’re living in a rental, consider Plan B:

Measure the existing mirrors entire surface and hunt down a picture frame in that size or look for natural wood in the desired width and frame your mirror. If you cannot find the wood pieces go to your home improvement store and pick it up. They will cut it for you. While you are there, pick up Min Wax to stain it a color that compliments your design or paint to make it personal!

Pre fabricated trim is available in every style at your local Lowes or Home Depot stores. The edges will require being mitered which is a little tricky.

Many times I have managed to get the workers at Lowes to make the cuts for me. You MUST be sure of your sizes because if they are wrong, you cannot return the pieces for a refund.

I have many times managed to secure a piece of remnant granite for bathrooms for $100.00. The supplier will also cut the opening if you ask. This is a perfect time to search for a vessel sink. These sit on top of the countertop with only a small opening for the plumbing.

You can also look around your home or thrift stores and find a gorgeous desk or buffet and have the opening cut out for the sink and plumbing. If possible avoid metal stands that hold towels and other whatnots and opt for large baskets to hold towels.

Another outdated bath accessory is the little wicker or rattan hanging shelving. You’ll have a much richer look if you hang a cabinet or wood shelving unit. Glass shelving is also easy to install and works very nicely with modern, classic and contemporary designs.

If you have decided to keep your current countertop and sink then continue the cleaning process and add your favorite candles or accessories that will instill a feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation.

If you currently have a very low and outdated commode in your bathroom, go back to the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store or Craig’s list for newly used commodes very, very inexpensively.

Commodes are not that expensive when purchased new. If your budget will accommodate one, head back to your favorite home improvement store. Commodes are amazingly easy to install. They require only a wax ring to seal it and two screws with caps.

After spending all that time on painting and properly defining your home with perfect lighting; there’s the same old floor! Now what? They are a roadway that carries the traffic through your home, even in the bath area. Who knew!

Floors will shout or whisper, depending on how you treat them. Some styles seem to feel like they must be defined by specific flooring. That is the shouting method!

If your floors do not ‘match’ your idea of the design you are creating you have a few choices to make them whisper so the bulk of your masterpiece will shout.

If you live in an apartment or a rental home you may think you are stuck with your floors; take heart.

Solutions for shouters:

a) Cover the floor! That’s right; cover it with something that ties it to the style you are creating. Even if the floor has carpet, cover it with a large room size rug or one that leaves only a border of the original color, if there is anything you like about it. I urge you to check out Flea Markets, Thrift Stores, Consignment Stores, Craig’s List and Overstocked.com to find a rug that will make the cut.

b) Select the very inexpensive woven mats to create an oriental feeling in the space.

c) Tile and carpet squares are sold by the box pretty inexpensively. Find the nap and color that you work for your idea and put them in place.

d) If you own your home, have carpet and cannot afford to replace it with anything; take it up and paint the subflooring! In the bath area you will need to add a protective coating to waterproof it or you will find you have really serious issues. It works great with rugs to complete the design.

e) If you have wood floors that are the wrong color or in a bad state of repair; make the repairs and rent a floor sander.

Sanding is a fairly easy job that provides you with a clean slate. Then select the stain that makes you want to shout about it!

f) Barter the work with someone who has materials and experience.

Kicking your old floor to the curb?

Consider other options. If you have always wanted wood floors and they are not practical for your bath; search out the new tile selections. Tile manufactures have listened to their buying audience and created beautiful tiles that look like wood. It is easy care, scuff proof and humidity does not affect its performance.

Save diagonal ceramic or marble tile jobs for large rooms. While they are beautiful, they also attract attention to the floor space and make the room appear smaller.

Select light tile colors to make your room appear larger. Larger tile sizes also make the room appear more spacious.

Pergo or other manufactured wood flooring is far less expensive but also, far less durable. It is manmade wood and a little easier to install but have a care here, if it is not properly adhered to the subflooring, it ‘bounces’ when you walk across it and screams ‘thrift.’

Real hard wood is more expensive but if time is on your side you can watch for the spring specials and the dead of winter liquidation of these materials.

Carpeting is not considered a good option for baths because of the exposure to water they must endure. Lose the notion that a carpeted kitchen, bath or dining room is a good idea. Most people prefer to be able to easily clean the surfaces of these areas.

Unless you plan to live forever in your home, or don’t mind repainting later, avoid fads and colors that you will tire of. Select colors that you can interchange accessories with to create a new look and feel later.

When you begin to install flooring, doors, hardware or plumbing you must decide whether you are handy and want to learn or tackle these tasks alone or, whether it is time to search for qualified and affordable assistance.

If so, review the options in your area for contractors and subs. This is an area where cutting corners has definite rules of procedure.

What’s it all about? It is about doing what you can, where you can to claim your space and make it work for you!

All finished? Maybe, but maybe not… opt for an overhead chandelier if possible to complete your knock out bath!

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Finance

The Benefits Of Automatic Screw Dispenser Machine

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As far as production is concerned, an automatic screw dispenser machine is greatly beneficial. If you are a manufacturer, you can use this unit to deliver a lot of screws quickly. So, if you are finding it difficult to decide whether this machine will be a good investment, you are on the right page. Given below are 5 benefits of having an automatic screw feeder machine in your assembly line. Read on to find out more.

1. Efficiency and Flexibility

Usually, your business may require different types of screws. In some cases, you may require distinct measurements as well. So, one of the primary benefits of these dispensers is that they come with interchangeable parts. Therefore, you can process different types of screws.

Some projects may require great detail and precision in addition to accuracy. Using the wrong screws may not be good for your product or device.

Fortunately, an automatic screw feeder will feed the right screw into the robot. So, there will be no problem with feeding the wrong screws. Also, the quality controller helps make sure that the device is properly assembled and there is no additional work required.

2. Better Movement of Screws

If you quicken the screw feeding process, you can carry out the screw tightening process much faster. A two-lift portion may bring the required screws into your presenter. So, you can enjoy a great performance. The screw goes to the top of the guide rail and then positioned together using a brush.

Also, screw presenters may help combine the movement of the feeder system in an efficient manner. The automated tightening of screws is much faster than manual sorting.

3. Self-Sufficient Device

The built-in control system allows self-sufficiency. With the help of a light barrier and a micro-switch, the screw supply can be easily managed using the arrangement controller. So, you don’t need to worry about how to control the device in a safe manner.

4. Easy to Use

Actually, screw dispensers are quite flexible, which is why they can meet the needs of a lot of projects. In other words, you can reconfigure an automatic screw dispenser as soon as a new project needs to be done.

The buyers of consumer electronics are on the rise. Therefore, an automatic screw dispenser can help you meet the requirements of a variety of brands.

5. Compact Style

Having a clean and organized workspace is a must, especially if you are trying to manage a number of complex assignments. The good news is that these machines have a compact design. Therefore, you can place them even in a tight workspace.

So, you don’t need to worry about space issues when it comes to buying an automatic screw locker or dispenser for your business. Even if you have as little space as on a desktop, you can install this machine.

In short, if you know these benefits, you can get the most out of your automatic screw dispenser machine. Hopefully, you can now make your assembly line much more productive than before.

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The Seven C’s of Teamwork From Eduardo Salas, PhD

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At the tenth annual Midwest Interprofessional Practice and Education (MIPERC) Conference in Grand Rapids, MI. the focus of the conference was to highlight the need of clinicians to understand each others areas of expertise and to work together effectively to achieve optimal outcomes for patients. One of the keynote speakers at this year’s conference was Dr. Eduardo Salas, who has a degree in psychology and is a professor at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Salas focuses on teamwork and has over 450 publications on this topic as well as several books. He is highly sought after for help in developing teams by a wide variety of industries. NASA is using his expertise to help identify the skills and psychological strengths of its Mars team. As he related at the conference, this will be a team of five to seven astronauts who will live in a very close environment for 30 months or so. Not only will they live in close quarters, they will have limited communication with Earth once they are on Mars because of the time it takes for a message to travel between the two.

Dr. Salas also works with the oil and refining industries around Houston to help develop processes and teamwork so that workers can be evacuated from oil rigs when hurricanes approach. He works with hospitals to improve teamwork.

Dr. Salas is able to get buy-in from CEO’s and leaders of organizations because all of his work is evidence based and reduces costs. He is often asked CFO’s what the return for organizations that follow his advice. He is able to show that groups he works with cut costs by 20-25% by developing effective teams. With clinicians he has significantly reduced mortality in hospital environments while improving the bottom line.

Dr. Salas says that there are 7 key C’s for teams to be successful. They are Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, Cognition, Coaching, Conflict and Conditions.

Cooperation is based upon the attitudes and beliefs of individual team members and shared by all of the team. Team members focus on success as a team and work effectively together. There is a strong level of trust. This trust gives rise to psychological safety, a key ingredient of any effective team.

Coordination is team members monitoring one another to help each do their best. Team members are keenly aware of and knowledgeable of the role of each other member and each is ready to assist another member if help is needed. Good teams work so well together that if an error is made the members collectively work to overcome it without hesitation.

Communication is saying what needs to be said at the right time. Some think that communication is the key to good teamwork but Dr. Salas says that this is not as important as other C’s. He once observed a surgery where hardly a word was spoken and the outcome was remarkable. As each team member knew his own role very well and understood the role of the other members of the surgery team, there was not a need for a lot of communication. The surgical process flowed smoothly forward with only an occasional input from a team member.

Cognition is the mastery and skill in one’s own team role. That is, each member of the team is very competent in completing his own task for the process the team is engaged in. Not only is the team member an expert in his own work, he is highly knowledgeable of the team norms, the team resources and the mission.

Coaching is the role of a team leader(s) and the leadership at the site where the team works. Good coaches work with team members to build efficiency and cohesion. They encourage each team member and work hard to build trust among team members, to increase the psychological safety of each member.

Conflict is the successful resolution of tension that can arise in any team. Rather than avoiding the tension, a team leader addresses it and helps lead to a resolution so that the team can continue to work effectively together. Good team leaders overcome any defensiveness between members that can arise from conflict and ensure the strengthening of psychological safety.

Conditions is the environment is which the team exists. A positive attitude towards teams by leadership at a site encourages the continual development of effective teams. Leadership is supportive by providing the needed resources for teams to thrive and achieve their objectives.

This is just a quick review of the foundations of Dr. Salas work. Teamwork can be taught and learned. For further study of his work and his recommendations for team building you can access many of his articles for free here.

I was recently involved in a group that met to develop a survey instrument for assessing the success of our group’s work in educating special needs students. There were four of us present, one being the leader of the project, with whom I have worked for many years and whom I see as one of the most effective leaders I have known. We each knew the others work for this project. I have visited the sites of instruction where two of our team members have worked with these students. Before we started the task for the day, I restated for the group the objectives:

1. Meet the needs of the full-time teachers of the students

2. Measure the key elements of what our group teaches

3. Develop questions that are able to detect growth in the students

4. Meet the requirements of the funders of the project

The team agreed to these objectives and the work went smoothly, although we did not always agree during the development process. Because we had a great deal of respect for each other and because of the effective leadership, we created two instruments which we believe will be effective. Our work as a group mirrored the guidelines of Dr. Salas.

Through my years of attending the MIPERC conferences I see how important teamwork is to achieving any worthwhile goal in healthcare and in business in general. As Dr. Salas demonstrated, much better outcomes occur when teams work effectively together. I think that his 7 C’s provide good insights into working well together. These benchmarks along with the AMA’s STEPS forward module on team culture will help practice sites achieve their goals

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How Massachusetts General Law 93A Affects Online Businesses

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Massachusetts General Law 93A, titled Regulation of Business Practices for Consumers Protection, is designed to protect those consumers who would otherwise be unaware of their legal rights. Mass. Gen. Law 93A. As it was originally drafted, 93A did not create a private right to sue, an issue which was quickly addressed by the legislature, and now both consumers and businesses can use 93A as a basis for enforcing their rights through private law suit. Unlike some other states, the Massachusetts consumer protection statute provides for an express, rather than an implied, right to sue for businesses who feel they have been victim of a deceptive or unfair act. It is often easy to spot a consumer protection issue with standard businesses, such as: bait and switch advertising, failure to disclose defects, price-fixing, faulty warranty claims and un-bargained for return/refund policies. It becomes much more difficult to determine when a consumer protection claim based upon Mass. Gen. Law 93A exists when the business involved is only involved in electronic commerce, and especially when that business is not located within the state.

When evaluating a potential consumer protection claim, it is necessary to keep in mind that the required elements are different for a business and a consumer. A consumer must follow certain procedural and substantive requirements outlined in section 9 of the act. Among other elements, section 9 requires a 30 day demand letter, a showing that they are in fact a consumer, an unfair or deceptive practice, and a showing of damages.

Businesses, especially online businesses, differ substantially in their required elements. Section 11 sets out the requirements for a business 93A claim, and requires that a business show:

  1. That they are a “business” – [involved in the conduct of any trade or commerce];
  2. That the defendant engaged in an “unfair method of competition” or the defendant’s actions were “unfair” or “deceptive;”
  3. That these actions occurred primarily and substantially within Massachusetts (the burden is on the defendant to disprove this presumption as a defense); and
  4. That these actions resulted in a loss to the business plaintiff of money or property, real or personal, for money damages to issue; or
  5. That these actions “may have the effect of causing such loss of money or property.”

Mass. Gen. Law 93A

Because of the openness of the internet, and the anonymity involved, it can be extremely difficult to demonstrate that a certain method was either unfair or deceptive. More difficult, especially in the context of an online business, is demonstrating that a certain act has the effect of causing damages or loss. Since online transactions vary in amount and since the market is continually expanding, it can be extremely difficult to demonstrate actual loss, or even potential for loss. Since each element must be present before filing a claim, the prudent advocate will research the facts of the case prior to initiating a 93A claim. Without the properly pled elements, most judges will discard with the case at the first possible opportunity.

In addition, online businesses present unique jurisdictional issues that may confuse the use of 93A for consumer protection purposes. In order for there to be any hope of applying 93A to an online business, the “unfair or deceptive act” must have primarily or substantially occurred within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When neither the deceptive/unfair act, nor the harm takes place in MA, a consumer protection claim will be barred based upon 93A, even if the victim is a Massachusetts resident or business. In the recent Massachusetts Superior Court case of Fillmore v. Leasecomm Corp., the judge dismissed a consumer protection claim brought by a Massachusetts company against a California company because the allegedly deceptive sales tactics and the unfair contracts were all consummated in California. Fillmore v. Leasecomm Corp., 18 Mass. L. Rptr. 560, 2004 WL 3091642 (Mass. Super. Ct. Nov. 15, 2004). In Fillmore, the plaintiff’s pleadings failed the ‘center of gravity’ test applied for jurisdictional purposes, and the claim was therefore dismissed. When deciding whether or not to file a consumer protection claim in Massachusetts, it is best first to look at the act, the harm and the jurisdiction. The more that occurred within Massachusetts jurisdiction, the more likely the claim will be allowed to proceed. However, Massachusetts courts do find in favor of Massachusetts companies when all the elements, including the jurisdictional ones are met. If a contract was to be performed in Massachusetts, and the damages took place in Massachusetts, then the jurisdictional element will be met and the court will find for the claimant, as the Massachusetts appeals court did in Auto Shine Car Wash Sys. v. Nice ‘n Clean Car Wash, Inc. In Auto Shine, the parties frequently met in Massachusetts, and the misrepresentation originated in Massachusetts. The court held in favor of the plaintiff for double damages, as there was a willful and knowing violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A 58 Mass. App. Ct. 685 (Mass. Appeals Ct. 2003).

Filing a consumer protection claim presents a substantially increased level of evidence and jurisdiction requirements when your client is a business. Beware of the consequences and potential wasted time you may use when filing a claim without having every element met. Simply because Massachusetts provides for an express right for businesses to file claims, doe not mean that judges will be willing to overlook even the smallest discrepancies in the pleading requirements.

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Hindu Car Blessings on Penang Island

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When you are in Penang you can sometimes witness a unique Hindu Car blessings ceremony. The ceremony is conducted by a Hindu priest at the Temple ground itself. This blessing ceremony is widely practiced by the Indians and Chinese. This is multicultural harmony played out in daily routines.

A popular place where this ceremony is conducted is at the Temple on the road leading to the Botanical gardens. This temple is open from seven in the morning till half past six in the evening. The newly delivered car is first driven straight to the temple.

The ceremony begins by first you seek blessing from the Temple Deity. You then pay a few ringgit to the priest. The priest then goes around the car, chanting mantras, ringing a bell and sprinkling holy water. Colored ash is rubbed on the number plates and some blessed words are written using colored ash onto the windscreen, flower petals are thrown over the car. A coconut is then smashed in front of the Car. Inside the temple you are also given some colored ash to put on your forehead. After the ceremony the priest will hand you a blessed half of a coconut filled with betel leaves, bananas and flowers and a tiny packet of ash.

As you get to drive away your spanking new car, you will need divine protection right away as the Temple is located right at a busy traffic junction and most probably you been blocking half of the road for twenty minutes.

Hey! Why not, if this divine helps in the safety of my car and the driver. Driving on Penang roads you need extra special emotional skills. So these days you will see Lorries, motorcycles, vans queuing up. Some vehicles are not new, so I guess it is to Top up the blessings.

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