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The New 'Pirate Ant' Looks Like It's Made Of Glass
This amazing new species of ant, found in the Philippines, is called the Pirate Ant. It really looks like it's made of glass!
The research team, led by Sabine Frohschammer, a PhD student at Universität Regensburg, in Denmark, was searching for other species of ants when they came across this almost-see-through specimen in a shady stream bed.
"Due to the darkness of the rainforest and the translucent body parts of the tiny ants they were nearly invisible. Under bright light and a magnifier we detected the nice stripe across the eyes and therefore always referred to these species as 'the pirates,'" Frohschammer said in a statement.
Here's the side view of the pirate stripe, which is only on the female ants:
The researchers aren't sure how this strange glassy pigment pattern helps the ants. Because they have poor vision and live and mate in the dark and shady streambed, they don't think it's a mark of the ant's gender.
It may be a tool to distract the ant's predators, they said.
Here's a close up of the glassy outer covering of the ant, which they named Cardiocondyla pirata. The study was published on May 17 by the journal ZooKeys.
The makes really look ghostly:
Are You More Likely To Buy An Apple iWatch Or Google Glass? (AAPL, GOOG)
Wearable computers are the next big thing.
Reports say Apple is coming out with a watch. Analyst Gene Munster guesses it will cost $300.
Google, meanwhile, is already selling Google Glass to developers for $1500. That price will come down.
Which are you more likely to buy?
There's Actually No Such Thing As A Universally Good FICO Score
One of the most common questions I’m asked is what constitutes a good FICO score, bad FICO score, great FICO score, horrible FICO score, average FICO score, etc?
Here’s the deal on the quality of your FICO score…it’s going to depend. It’s going to depend primarily on the lender or insurance company or landlord or utility company that’s looking at the score and depending on it to make a decision.
There is no one universal “good” FICO score, unless you hit the infamous 850. And, there’s no universal “bad” FICO score, unless you’re in the sub 500 ranges. You’ve heard the phrase “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?” Well, nothing is more true in this case. The “beauty” of your FICO score is in the eyes of the company staring at it.
What is your updated 2013 credit score? Visit here to see your credit report and credit score online now
Whenever people ask me about good and bad FICO scores I always tell them the same thing. A good score is any score that gets you approved for whatever you were applying for with the best terms the lender or insurance company offers. If lender A requires a FICO score of 720+ then that’s a good score. If the lender requires a FICO score of 750+, then that’s a good score.
I can tell you that in today’s lending environment, which is loosening up but still not loose like 2005, a 750+ FICO score will normally get you whatever you’re looking for at the best rate the lender offers. That isn’t meant to mean that a 750 will guarantee you red carpet treatment for any loan from any lender but it’s pretty darn close.
This underscores a very important piece of advice…you don’t have to shoot for FICO 850 to be a great credit risk. You’re not likely to get any better treatment at 850 than you would get at 800 or 780 or even 750. It’s when you start falling below 750 that you’re rolling the dice. If you already have FICO 750+ then you may want to shift your focus to maintenance rather than improvement. Why? You’re much more likely to lower a 750 than you are to improving it.
What is your updated 2013 credit score? Visit here to see your credit report and credit score online now.
Credit Reporting Expert, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.
A PERFECT STORM: Why South Africa's Currency Has Been Getting Destroyed
The South African rand (ZAR) is getting absolutely brutalized lately.
The currency has fallen from levels around 9.00 against the U.S. dollar just three weeks ago to levels around 10.00 today.
"The key negative risk from headlines out of the mining sector wage negotiations is playing out in a text book fashion – alongside plummeting gold prices and rising [U.S. Treasury] rates – creating a perfect storm for ZAR," write Bank of America Merrill Lynch currency strategists.
The ongoing unrest in South Africa's mining sector – which relies heavily on exports of gold and other metals – is dragging down the country's economy, as worse-than-expected first quarter GDP growth figures revealed earlier this week.
Today, South African President Jacob Zuma held what Jon Herskovitz, the Reuters correspondent on the ground in Pretoria, described as a "hastily convened" press conference in order to play down concerns about how wage negotiations with miners are progressing there.
Zuma's presser definitely did not work – the rand is down a massive 3.3% against the U.S. dollar today alone.
The weak GDP release, coupled with the latest drama in the mining sector, has sent the rand into freefall this week, but the underlying economic fundamentals have been missing from the story for a while.
"Countries like Hungary, Poland, Mexico, Malaysia – you always have some positives for real money investors to base their judgment on, that basically help them to withstand volatility," says Bartosz Pawlowski, Head of CEEMEA Strategy at BNP Paribas. "In South Africa there are very few positives in terms of fundamentals, so the only reason to be buying rand at this level at the moment is the fact that it has sold off so much, which may or may not be a great reason, but it's just the level – there's nothing beneath that."
Bad fundamentals. Bad headline risk. And to top it off, it seems global financial markets have all been subjected to the same earth-shaking developments in the U.S. Treasury market, the largest and most liquid bond market in the world.
The rand is no exception. Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar have been rising ever since fears that the Federal Reserve would begin to taper back its monetary stimulus sooner than was previously thought have seeped into the marketplace.
Because the rand is a "high-beta" currency, its own moves against the dollar tend to be more pronounced than in other currencies.
One big reason why the rand behaves like that, says Pawlowski, is that it's much easier to "bully" the rand than other emerging market currencies.
The South African Reserve Bank is in a tough spot. It doesn't have a lot of currency reserves, so they don't have the same liberty to engage in currency interventions to defend the rand's value as some other central banks – Turkey, Brazil, and Russia, for example – currently enjoy.
"South Africa is one of the countries where you can be reasonably sure that there will be nobody stopping you," says Pawlowski. "So, this sort of thing adds up, and then it just becomes path dependent. So, stop-losses after stop-losses, and new levels, and so it goes."
World's Largest Bitcoin Exchange Stops Some Anonymous Operations
Anonymity, one of Bitcoin's supposed biggest advantages over regular currencies, is all but gone on Mt. Gox, the world's largest Bitcoin exchange and trading website
The japanese-based Mt.Gox announced on Thursday that users who want to exchange currencies into Bitcoin will need to have a verified account, providing a photo ID and a document proving his or her legal residence
"The Bitcoin market continues to evolve, as do regulations and conditions of compliance for Mt. Gox to continue bringing secure services to our customers," read Mt. Gox's press release announcing the change. "It is our responsibility to provide a trusted and legal exchange, and that includes making sure that we are operating within strict anti-money laundering rules and preventing other malicious activity." Read more...More about Virtual Currency, Us World, Us, World, and Bitcoin
LANDLORD: Why I Will Never Advertise My Apartments On Craigslist
Have you seen the ad for my apartment?
Excellent – my strategy is working!
I will never advertise my apartments on Craigslist. And your broker will never hear of them either.
Here are a few reasons I don't work with brokers:
- Using a broker tells me that you lack confidence and independence, and may have an elevated sense of self-importance, all of which suggest that you’ll be an annoying tenant. I share a walk-up building with some of my tenants, so they have the ability to make my life a living hell. Moreover, unlike many bigger landlords, I’m not a real estate pro; I’ve still got a day job that pays far more than the maximum amount I could ever squeeze out of my rentals. My rentals are my pension, and my goal in finding a tenant is a person who will be a good neighbor, who respects my property and my time, and who won’t be a pain in the neck. That's why I’m looking for seasoned New Yorkers with a DIY vibe. If you can’t even find an apartment without training wheels, can you change a light bulb, install an A/C unit, or fix your toilet without calling me?
- Most brokers charge 12 to 15% of a year’s rent.That's money that I could get by charging a higher rent. But instead of hiring someone to pick a tenant’s pocket, I’d rather keep the cost of moving in low and encourage the tenant to spend more on new furniture and apartment upgrades.
- I like to meet each of my tenants in person. Since they are going to be my neighbors too, I want to see how well we get along, and to see how their experiences have prepared them to live in my building. Brokers interfere with that process, and make it hard to get a sense of what the tenant is actually like.
- I’m not looking to have Section 8 tenants in my building, because I simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with a government bureaucracy that might or might not pay me, and to sit at home waiting for the apartment to be inspected. By carefully selecting who sees my ads (more on that below), I can filter out nearly all of the applicants who might be Section 8 tenants. Not so of a broker, especially since the common marketing strategy for brokers is to stick the apartment on Craigslist.
- Brokers often don’t even do a very good job protecting my interests. If the brokerage fee came with a money-back guarantee for both tenant and landlord, I’d consider it, but what if my tenant doesn’t even pay me? It isn’t as if I can go sue the broker for malpractice.
What, no Craiglist?
Twenty years ago, when the Internet was used mostly by geeky university dwellers, Craigslist was a great idea. Now, putting an apartment on Craigslist, as often as not, is an invitation to scammers, and local “entrepreneurs” who will pose as me and try to “rent” my apartments. I also avoid other websites like StreetEasy/Zillow/whatever, who will carefully log the trajectory of rental price changes that I’ve made. No thanks.
Instead I selectively market my apartments to friends of friends, employees of finance companies and prestigious law firms, and alumni of elite universities and private schools.
Bottom line: If you aren’t in one of those aforementioned networks, you won’t have a crack at my apartments. NYC’s incredibly tenant-friendly court system and my lack of a professional staff mean that if I don’t have some way to easily vet you, you are too much of a risk.
But don't hate me too much. Contrary to popular belief about landlords, I really want my tenants to stay long-term. This is due to the basic economics of being a landlord: it costs me a lot of time and effort to rent you the apartment, to clean up after your move, to deal with the utility companies before and after, and to patch, paint, and renovate when you leave.
Even if I could jack up the rent by another 5%, if it cost me a month of vacancy, it would take two years to break even, and that assumes that the new tenant doesn’t find a better deal and leave. So (at least with my free-market units), I’m happy when you are happy, and I’ll try and give you a good reason to stay here.
Lessons from a Small Landlord is a bi-weekly column penned by a real-life NYC landlord whose pseudonym is Craig Roche.
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David Petraeus Is Joining Private Equity Firm KKR
Former CIA director and U.S. forces commander David Petraeus is joining private equity firm KKR, according to Bloomberg's Devin Banerjee.
Valleywag's Nitasha Tiku got the jump on this story a month ago.
Petraeus will head a new unit dedicated to policy, macroeconomic trends and and emerging-market due diligence.
If You Bought An 'iWatch' From Apple, You'd Check it ~95 Times Per Day (And That's Why Apple Is Going To Make A Boatload Selling Them) (AAPL)
There have been multiple reports that Apple has a team of people working on making a computer for your wrist – a "smartwatch."
Some are already calling it the iWatch.
Perhaps you remain unconvinced about the merits of such an idea.
If that's the case, there's a chart you really need to see.
It's from Kleiner Perkins partner and former Internet analyst Mary Meeker's latest presentation on the state of the technology industry.
It shows what, exactly, the average smartphone user is looking for when he or she checks their phone ~150 times per day.
It looks like this:
Take a look at that chart, and do a quick mental experiment.
Tally up all the "checks" you would rather do by looking at a screen on your wrist rather then pulling a screen out of their pocket.
(You – or at least most people – would prefer to look at your wrist that in every instance you could, right? That's why wrist-watches outsell pocket-watches, right?)
My tally is ~95.
When I highlighted every type of check that I could do on a watch that is wirelessly connected to a phone in my pocket, the result made the chart look like this:
You probably have some objections to my tally.
- Messaging requires replying, and how do you do that on a watch?
- Voice calling? Who is going talk to their watch?
Some of these checks will, some of the time, result in users having to pull their phones out of their pocket to do something – respond to a text, answer the phone, or read a full length news story.
But just as often, I can imagine looking at my watch and deciding to decline a call or not to read more about a news story.
As for replying to texts?
Siri is pretty awful, but one thing it is good for is taking spoken phrases like "OK period I'll be home soon period where do you want to go for dinner question mark" and turning them into legible text messages – "OK. I'll be home soon. Where do you want to go for dinner?"
As for phone calls, I'm sure that if you're wearing your headphones and have them plugged into your iPhone, you'll be able to tap "Accept" and begin talking. People will just wear their headphones more.
Even if you eliminate all or most of the voice call, messaging, and news checks from my tally, you still get ~50 checks per day.
For a lot of people, that's going to be enough usage to justify spending the $200 or $300 analyst Gene Munster believes Apple will charge for the watch.
Here's the other thing: all of the "checks" listed on Meeker's chart are smartphone specific. There are plenty of other things that smartwatches will be able to do that aren't listed, many of which I can't imagine yet.
One thing people around my office are already excited about is seeing what Apple can do turning the watch into a sensor like the Nike FuelBand or the Fitbit.
Point is? An iWatch will be very useful – and useful things sell by the boatload.
iPhone Photo Fanatics: You Have To Check Out This Beautiful New Camera App
iPhone photo fanatics, there's a new camera app you need to check out.
It's called Analog Camera and it's made by the same guys that brought you Clear, the beautifully designed to-do list app for iPhone and Mac.
Analog Camera is a great way to take photos on your phone quickly and still keep track of recently snapped photos.
The app is very simple to use. You can tweak exposure and choose your own focus point, giving you more control over your photos.
Analog Camera always shows your four most recent images at the top of the screen. You can then swipe down to get out of camera mode and see your entire camera roll and photo stream.
After you've snapped your photo you can add filters, sounds, and animations to personalize your photos even further.
It also has simple sharing buttons so you can post your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Path.
We've been playing around with Analog Camera for a few hours now. We really like how you can see what every filter looks like on a photo all at the same time. This is something that Instagram doesn't do.
Analog Camera is $0.99 and available for iPhone. There is also a Mac version simply called Analog that lets you edit your photos with more filters on the desktop. Analog is available for Mac OS X for $9.99.