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Friday Links

Written By limadu on Sabtu, 19 April 2014 | 14.44


A weekly collection of design, data and interactive links.

Onion Skin | An installation by Olivier Ratsi.
Project Ara | A smartphone made by DARPA.
Binkbeats | Windowlicker by Aphex Twin.
Strength | Deutsche Bank media wall.
The Tale of the Plump Bird | Short animated video by Saki Iyori.
Scenes of Spring | Photographs from The Atlantic's InFocus blog.
Ornithology S. | Animated 4-color screen prints on bristol paper.

Design/Data viz
Responsive Man | Responsive layout of the human face.
Affordances Matter | A detailed look at iOS 7's shift key.

Perspective Transformation II | Perspective example using d3.js
Unix Command Line | For artists and activists.

See last week's links

Have a nice weekend!
@dubly and @talyellin To top of page

First Published: April 18, 2014: 9:37 AM ET

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Get out from under a too-heavy workload

work load

Buried by tasks on the job? Here's how to speak up if you're maxed out, without sabotaging your next promotion.

(Money Magazine)

Consider it a form of flattery: With companies today demanding that employees work faster while tackling more complex tasks, the nimble professionals who "get it" have been deluged, says Anat Lechner, associate professor at NYU's Stern School of Business.

"When you're that kind of person, everyone knows who you are." Lucky you.

Here's how to speak up if you're maxed out, without sabotaging your next promotion.

Speak to the firm's interests

Your manager probably hasn't thought about what else is on your plate when she asks you, in passing, to take on a new proposal.

It's up to you to speak up if you don't have bandwidth.

"But you have to be able to react within seconds," says New York City career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine.

Related: Don't let divorce wreck your finances

Keep a running tally of all your projects, so you'll be ready to respond. Then, rather than whining to the boss that you already do the job of five people, you can explain how taking a new project will prevent you from achieving some other equally important task, says Atlanta executive communications coach Darlene Price.

You might say: "Jim, the client in New York needs my attention this week so I can close the deal, which is worth $1 million. What should we do?"

Related: Baby on the way? Time to make a budget

Of course, the right approach depends on your manager's personality and the security of your job. You may find it safer to agree to a task but ask for the resources you need to do it. "Say, 'Yes, but to do that, I need x, y, or z,'" suggests Lechner.

Name the right recipient

Aim to hold on to high-profile jobs and offload work that won't help you advance. Instead of letting the duties fall upon your peers, who may not be pleased to pick up your discards, suggest that a junior colleague take an unwanted project as a stretch role.

"Something you don't want to do can be useful to someone else," says Ceniza-Levine.

Draw a line in the sand

If a manager essentially tells you to suck it up, you may be part of a workaholic culture or chronically understaffed department where the only way to scale back is to leave, says Price.

Once you have a "walkaway" strategy, consider making a final attempt with your boss.

Related: Budgeting for a new home, and a disability

One executive Price coached -- who traveled so often her 6-year-old asked her where she lived -- tried repeatedly to get her manager to reduce her business trips. Finally she told him she couldn't accept the working conditions and asked if he'd write her a letter of recommendation. "That called his bluff," says Price.

With this tactic, you've got to be ready to hear "buh-bye" -- but you may be better off in a new job anyway. To top of page

First Published: April 18, 2014: 5:00 PM ET

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Lara Spencer promoted to 'GMA' co-host


The promotion puts Spencer on par with George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, the other two co-hosts, and means she'll be more visible during the 7 a.m. hour of the top-rated morning show.

"GMA" has weathered a number of cast changes in recent months: Weather anchor Sam Champion was replaced by Ginger Zee in December, and news anchor Josh Elliott was replaced by Amy Robach a few weeks ago. Two new contributors, Michael Strahan and Tony Reali, have been announced since Elliott's departure.

Spencer's promotion is most likely the last in this series of changes. It was announced about a month after she signed a new contract with ABC News.

Related: How things got ugly between ABC and Josh Elliott

Spencer was a host of the entertainment newsmagazine "The Insider" before joining "GMA" in 2011, in a job created for her -- "lifestyle anchor." Her signature segment has been the "Pop News Heat Index," an 8 a.m. hour summary of entertainment and pop culture news stories.

Friday's promotion affirms how the morning show has evolved. Over time, Spencer has played a bigger part at both 7 and 8 a.m. Case in point: She recently interviewed Vice President Joe Biden at a White House event with the original "Rosie the Riveters," whom Biden said represented "the start of the first's women's liberation movement."

Her promotion was announced by the new president of ABC News, James Goldston, who was the producer in charge of "GMA" back in 2011. Goldston said in an internal memorandum that "Lara is clearly an essential ingredient in the success we have enjoyed."

Two years ago this week, "GMA" began to beat NBC's "Today" show in the morning TV ratings race, ending a 16-year winning streak by "Today." Despite the cast shakeups, "GMA" remains firmly in first place; last week the show led "Today" by 279,000 viewers between the ages of 25 to 54, a key demographic for news advertisers. ABC said that win represented the widest gap between the rival shows in three months. To top of page

First Published: April 18, 2014: 3:16 PM ET

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Michaels hack hit 3 million

Written By limadu on Jumat, 18 April 2014 | 14.44

michaels data breach

A data breach at Michaels craft stores lasted eight months.


The news comes three months after the nation's largest crafts chain told customers it learned of a possible hack. It's been investigating since then.

Some customers' credit and debit card numbers as well as expiration dates were compromised, but the company said there is no evidence that information such as a customers' names or PINs were stolen.

The breach occurred between May 8, 2013 and Jan. 27, 2014 and affected about 7% of transactions made with cards during that time. Not all stores were impacted and a "limited number" of those cards were subsequently used fraudulently, Michaels said.

The Michaels subsidiary Aaron Brothers was also hacked. Information from another 400,000 cards was potentially stolen at the Aaron Brothers stores between June 26, 2013 and Feb. 27, 2014.

Related: What you need to know about the Heartbleed bug

"We want you to know we have identified and fully contained the incident, and we can assure you the malware no longer presents a threat to customers while shopping at Michaels or Aaron Brothers," wrote CEO Chuck Rubin in a post on the company's website.

The initial Michaels announcement came just weeks after Target (TGT, Fortune 500) also disclosed it was hacked. The attack on Target affected as many as 110 million customers, including 40 million credit and debit card shoppers at the height of the holiday shopping season. To top of page

First Published: April 17, 2014: 7:23 PM ET

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8 million sign up for Obamacare


But the final enrollment figure remains to be seen: The White House has not released how many people have fully enrolled, which requires paying their first premium.

The open enrollment period ended on March 31, though people in some states are still able to sign up if they had already begun the application process.

The White House also said that 28% of those signing up on the federal exchange are between ages 18 and 34. The enrollment of young adults is being closely watched since they are presumed to be healthier and less costly, which will help offset the higher expenses generated by older enrollees.

Related: Got Obamacare, can't find doctors

The success of Obamacare's initial year will have an impact on insurance premium increases for 2015.

National enrollment figures, however, are not that significant, experts have said. Ultimately, it's more important that the final enrollment tally -- and the share of young adults -- matches with insurers' expectations. Insurers interviewed last month said sign-ups were tracking closely to their projections.

The White House used the occasion to again tout the fact that Obamacare has helped slow the rise of health care costs to record low levels. In the decade before Obamacare, employer-based insurance costs rose almost 8% a year. Last year, it increased at half that rate, President Obama said Thursday in a press conference.

Obama also chastised the governors and lawmakers in 24 states who have opted not to expand Medicaid, which he said was purely for political reasons. Many adults below the poverty line in these states are not eligible for Medicaid, nor do they qualify for federal subsidies to buy private insurance on the exchanges. Some 5.7 million people will remain uninsured because of this, according to the White House.

"It's wrong," the president said. "Those folks should be able to get insurance like everybody else."

Related: Medicare doctors - who gets the big bucks & for what To top of page

First Published: April 17, 2014: 5:09 PM ET

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Wealthy investors flock to fine art funds

art warhol

Art investment funds might choose to invest in "blue-chip" works, such as Andy Warhol's dollar sign series.


The name says it all: These funds invest in fine art and seek returns by acquiring and selling high-end pieces for profit.

Growth in art investing has helped smash records for international art sales, which hit $66 billion last year. And the idea has been catching on with the very rich -- a group that already uses collectors' items and luxury goods as investments -- in the years following the global financial crisis.

"People are looking at new areas to invest in, and at the moment art is one of those -- it's making people money," said Jon Reade, co-founder of Hong Kong-based art brokerage Art Futures Group.

Related story: Chinese snap up fine art for use in laundering schemes

As with stocks, fund managers might buy pieces they believe are currently undervalued, perhaps from emerging artists. Funds can also buy into "blue-chip" artists -- similar to blue-chip stocks, these are top artists whose coveted works may offer more reliable returns.

Some art investment funds focus on investing in art from a certain region, a particular style period, or a specific medium, such as photography.

Another strategy is to buy in bulk, from a gallery or artist nearing bankruptcy, or to arrange for pieces to be exhibited -- a move that can help increase value.

Fund managers try to predict when a certain work will peak in value -- the golden moment to sell for a profit. To accomplish this, managers track a variety of indicators from auction houses, curators and galleries that can illuminate otherwise murky trends.

These funds can carry a hefty price tag -- London's Fine Art Fund Group requires a minimum investment of $500,000 to $1 million per investor.

"It's a very significant threshold, so it's not a fund for widows, orphans or retail investors," said CEO Philip Hoffman. "It's purely for high net worth and institutional type investors."

Related story: Where the rich stash their toys

Art funds are relatively new, and hold total assets of roughly $2 billion worldwide, according to the Art Fund Association, an industry group. That's still tiny compared to the $2.6 trillion hedge fund industry.

But related businesses are already springing up to support investing in art, such as freeports -- highly secure, tax-free places to stash fine art and other luxury items.

Future demand for art funds is expected to come from Asia, and especially China. Chinese demand boosted the global art fund market by 69% in 2012 alone, according to a Deloitte report.

Art investing is attractive to the Chinese due to limited investment options in the country. Plus, it promises big gains -- China's contemporary art market has gained roughly 15% each year in the last decade, while stocks have been largely flat, said New York University professor Jianping Mei, the developer of a fine art index.

Critics say a lack of regulation and the opaque nature of the market make art one of the riskiest investment options out there. Some have even accused wealth managers of exploiting the lack of transparency to bid up certain artists or works in order to raise the value of their funds.

Related story: Quarter sells for a record $1.5 million

And art is not as liquid an investment as assets such as stocks or bonds. Investors should expect to hold pieces for years, and be prepared to absorb insurance and storage costs during that time.

But supporters say these characteristics make art an extraordinary and rewarding investment.

"You get the benefit of a beautiful work of art you can enjoy on your wall," said Diana Wierbicki, who specializes in art law at Withers. "It's also an asset that is appreciating in value, because it's a market that's so strong." To top of page

First Published: April 17, 2014: 10:07 PM ET

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Investors cheer India election's reform potential

Written By limadu on Kamis, 17 April 2014 | 14.44


Mumbai's benchmark Sensex index has trounced its Asian peers in recent months, hitting a record high last week and gaining 7% since the start of the year. The rupee has strengthened too, clawing its way back from a dismal performance in 2013.

Much of the optimism hinges on forecasts that India's 815 million voters will make Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Narendra Modi the next prime minister.

Victory for a Modi-led coalition would end the Congress Party's dominance, and create an opening for a new government to implement economic reforms.

Analysts say India would benefit greatly from changes to its tax code, a reduction in excessive bureaucracy and more efficient agricultural policies. Momentum on these long-promised reforms stalled under the leadership of the Congress Party.

India's potential for growth was once mentioned in the same breath as that of China. But the world's second most populous nation and biggest democracy has failed to deliver and its economy is just a fifth the size of its Asian rival.

Economic growth has fallen below 5% in recent quarters, some of the lowest levels in years. The currency has lost more than a third of its value since 2011.

Observers don't expect much improvement this year, a troubling sign for one of the world's top 10 economies.

Modi has presented himself as a candidate in the mold of a CEO, campaigning on his economic record as head of Gujarat state. Investors are hoping that he will be able to conjure some of the same magic on a bigger stage.

Related story: Trial by fire for India's new central banker

But there are plenty of arguments for taking a more cautious view before the election concludes in the middle of May.

India's mammoth exercise in democracy is notoriously difficult to forecast, and polling data is thin. Even if the BJP does well in the vote tally, the party's ability to govern could be hamstrung by its eventual coalition partners.

In addition, the BJP may prove to be less enthusiastic about economic reforms than some observers imagine.

Eurasia Group analysts wrote recently that they expect only "piecemeal improvements," noting that the BJP is not resolutely free-market oriented. Instead, they said, the BJP should be characterized primarily as a nationalist party.

The election will also do little to change India's fractious legislative process, which can even trip up parties with plenty of political capital to burn.

"We continue to believe that the new government's potential accomplishments will be substantially more modest than current market expectations," the Eurasia Group analysts said.

Related story: Investors dip a toe back in emerging markets

Many observers have also expressed concern over Modi's association with Hindu nationalist causes -- a potentially destabilizing agenda.

Much of the criticism centers on Modi's handling of riots between Muslims and Hindus in 2002 that resulted in the deaths of 2,000 people. Modi was accused of not responding quickly or adequately to the tumult, but he has denied any responsibility.

Some are not convinced. The Economist won't back Modi, saying the candidate has stonewalled and refused to explain his role in the violence.

Should Modi choose to pursue a controversial agenda in office, investor sentiment could sour quickly. To top of page

First Published: April 16, 2014: 10:30 PM ET

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Ousted Yahoo exec gets $58 million golden parachute


Henrique de Castro's golden parachute is worth nearly $58 million.


The golden parachute is among the most generous in history, and especially notable given than de Castro worked at Yahoo for only 15 months.

De Castro was shown the door in January by CEO Marissa Mayer, apparently due to disappointing performance in improving Yahoo's advertising revenue.

Mayer reportedly announced his departure at the time in a memo to staffers that said, "I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company."

Mayer and de Castro -- two former Google executives -- were under tremendous pressure to revive Yahoo's battered core business. Somewhere along the line, Mayer decided that de Castro was not a good fit for the job.

Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500) said in its SEC filing that de Castro was not paid a bonus for 2013 because the compensation board "believed that he did not meet the performance standards."

But de Castro was compensated in other ways.

The executive earned a base salary of $600,000 in 2013, while stock grants and options raised his total compensation to around $11 million.

In 2012, de Castro received a whopping $39 million, although he will forfeit much of that because some stock had not vested at the time of his departure.

Related story: Marissa Mayer reveals Yahoo's big plans for 2014

Much of the $58 million severance package's value is attributable to Yahoo's rising stock price while de Castro was with the company.

The SEC filing indicates that the package was worth only $17 million in October 2012. By early 2013, the parachute had increased to its final size of $58 million.

Also on Wednesday, Yahoo shares surged 6% the company posted earnings and sales that came in slightly ahead of expectations.

Of particular note was the company's success in stemming declines in revenue from its search and display ads, which have flagged in recent quarters.

"We believe we've moved from our core business being in decline to stable to modest growth," Mayer said Tuesday in a presentation of the results. To top of page

First Published: April 17, 2014: 12:45 AM ET

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Nearly 2 million homeowners no longer 'seriously' underwater


During the first quarter, 9.1 million, or 17%, of homeowners were seriously underwater on their home, meaning their debt exceeded the home's value by 25% or more, according to RealtyTrac. That's down from 10.9 million, or 26%, of all properties a year earlier.

These states have the highest levels of underwater homeowners

Nevada 261,272 34%
Florida 1,717,637 321%
Illinois 747,473 30%
Michigan 410,362 29%
Ohio 584,854 27%
Rhode Island 31,302 26%
Missouri 192,256 22%
Connecticut 93,519 21%
Arizona 252,232 20%
Maryland 291,225 20%

Source: RealtyTrac
Seriously underwater mortgages are loans where debt balances exceed home values by 25% or more.

States with the highest percentage of seriously underwater homes included Nevada, Florida and Illinois.

Related: Buy vs. rent -- what you'll pay in 10 big cities

RealtyTrac also found that fewer properties in foreclosure are underwater.

"Because of rising home prices, many of the homeowners in the foreclosure process -- more than a third -- actually have positive equity. That will enable some of them to avoid foreclosure," said Daren Blomquist, a vice president for RealtyTrac.

These homeowners could leverage the home's value to either refinance or sell their home. "But many distressed homeowners with equity may not realize they have it and in some cases have vacated the property already, assuming that their foreclosure is inevitable," he said.

Related: Priced out! I can't afford a home in my town

Metro areas where more than half of the foreclosures actually have positive equity include Denver, Boston, Minneapolis, Houston and Washington, D.C.

RealtyTrac also reported that the number of "equity-rich" homeowners, those with 50% or more equity in their home, grew to 9.9 million in the first quarter. That represents 19% of all mortgaged homes.

Calculator: Was my home a good investment?

These equity-rich homeowners could help further lift the housing market, said Blomquist. They could trade up for bigger and more expensive homes and put their old homes up for sale -- opening up much needed housing for first-time buyers and those on tighter budgets.

Metro areas with the most equity-rich homes included San Jose, Calif., Honolulu, San Francisco, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. and Los Angeles, RealtyTrac reported. To top of page

First Published: April 17, 2014: 1:02 AM ET

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GM will ask court to halt recall lawsuits

Written By limadu on Rabu, 16 April 2014 | 14.44


At issue is a legal shield GM gained as part of its 2009 bankruptcy. At the time, GM was facing about 2,500 lawsuits of various kinds. In most cases, plaintiffs have received only pennies on the dollar.

Now the question is whether that legal protection will help General Motors fend off lawsuits stemming from the ignition switch recall.

The automaker said it intends to file a motion "shortly" with a federal bankruptcy judge in New York seeking a court order stopping plaintiffs from suing the company over the ignition switch recall, according to court documents.

GM said it is facing at least 36 ignition switch lawsuits.

Among the cases GM wants stopped is one filed in a California federal court by 13 owners and leasers of recalled GM cars. The plaintiffs, who are seeking to broaden their case into a class action, seek compensation from the company for selling or leasing them cars that were "prone to fail."

On Friday, GM asked the judge in that case to hold off proceeding until the bankruptcy court makes its ruling.

A GM spokesman declined to comment on the pending litigation.

When the company went bankrupt, it shed lawsuits prior to 2009 because it technically emerged as a new corporation.

The ignition switch recall, which GM only initiated in February, involves vehicles from as long ago as 2005.

If GM pays people with claims from prior to 2009, it could open itself up to thousands of unrelated lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the company has hired attorney Ken Feinberg for advice on how to compensate victims.

Feinberg is best known for his work deciding how to compensate victims of tragedies such as the Sept. 11 attacks, the BP oil spill and the Boston Marathon bombing.

In testimony before Congress earlier this month, CEO Mary Barra said "GM has both civic responsibilities and legal responsibilities," when it comes to the recall, which now affects 2.6 million cars and is linked to 13 deaths. To top of page

First Published: April 15, 2014: 9:10 PM ET

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