When temperatures rise, so does the popularity of the water feature at Esther Short Park’s Community Square.While old wading pools in Portland parks have made news for being closed due to failing to meet state standards, the water feature at Esther Short Park has a modern design.The man-made stream features recirculated water and a filtration and chlorination system, said James Fields, Vancouver’s aquatics coordinator.City staff test the water three times a day, six months out of the year, for bacteria, and the Clark County Department of Health does testing to verify the city’s tests.Fields said the health department classifies the water feature as a spa as opposed to a swimming pool because of its size, which means it has to have more chlorine.The water feature opened in 2001. While it has occasionally been temporarily shut down for mechanical-related problems, it has never had to be closed due to health concerns.— Stephanie RiceSo you thought it was warm on Wednesday?“(Thursday) is going to feel even hotter,” National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Collins said Wednesday afternoon. “It’ll be 100. But the wind is going to be pretty light for most of the day. It’s going to feel a little more stifling.”
It’s no secret the best places to catch lower Columbia River summer steelhead in August are just downstream of Bonneville Dam, at the mouth of the Cowlitz River or off the beaches near Cathlamet.Come September, there’s a reason why 250 boats are anchored in waves of hoglines between the Cowlitz mouth and the Longview Bridge.Not all stretches of the Columbia River produce salmon and steelhead for anglers equally. There are portions — like the Camas-Troutdale area — that produce chinook and steelhead at much slower rates than most other parts of the lower river.For example, in September 2009, 13 salmon or steelhead were caught per 100 trips in the Camas-Government Island stretch of the Columbia. At the Cowlitz River mouth, the average was 44 salmon-steelhead per 100 trips in the same month.And how to we know that?Because Washington and Oregon combined spend about $1 million each year between February and October sampling sport fishermen.Joe Hymer of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said there are six full-time samplers and nine temporaries working this summer and fall just on the north side of the lower Columbia.The river between Bonneville Dam and Tongue Point is divided into 10 sections for sampling purposes.“We can sample all 10 sections in a day when we’re at maximum if there are no commercial seasons,” Hymer said.Oregon has 11 samplers for its side, said Jimmy Watts of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.The Columbian has examined the sport catch data compiled by the two states trying to determine — statistically, not just back of the boat talk — which areas of the river fish best in August and September.
The aerospace industry in Washington employs 83,700 people, more than a sixth of the nation’s aerospace workers.Apprenticeship programs could help attract the state’s next generation of aerospace employees.Establishing pathways between the school system and the aviation industry could provide routes to careers.And real-world exposures and career explorations could spark an interest in aerospace among even younger students.Those were among some of the talking points Tuesday morning when U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., hosted a roundtable discussion at Pearson Air Museum in Vancouver.Cantwell met with representatives of regional aerospace employers and science educators on ways to maintain the nation’s competitiveness in aerospace manufacturing.The aerospace industry in Washington employs 83,700 people, representing more than one-sixth of all aerospace workers in the nation. However, a big share of them soon will be — or already are — eligible to retire.“Employers are looking on their shop floors and seeing a lot of gray hair,” said Laura Hopkins, with the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee.There are 18 aerospace or aerospace-related companies in Clark County, employing more than 1,000 workers.Cantwell and Hopkins got some local perspective Tuesday from Mary Margaret Evans, an executive with Insitu, a Bingen-based unmanned aerial vehicle company and Boeing subsidiary; Laureano Mier, manager of the Pearson Air Museum; and Anne Kennedy, with Educational Service District 112.Following the roundtable, teenagers who have taken part in Pearson Air Museum’s aviation summer camps helped Cantwell and others on the panel navigate local airspace on flight simulators.“It was fun. She got the hang of it pretty well,” said 13-year-old Kaya Galbraith, who oversaw Cantwell’s simulated flight in a Piper J-3 Cub.
NEW YORK — New York City’s ban on large-size soda drinks was blocked by a judge after industry groups including the American Beverage Association sued to stop the plan, calling it an unfair burden on small businesses.The city’s Board of Health in September approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to limit the size of sugary soft drinks sold in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas to no more than 16 ounces (473 milliliters) a cup.Groups representing beverage makers, restaurants and theaters filed a petition in New York State Supreme Court in October, the state’s trial level court, seeking to block enforcement of the measure, calling the ban “unprecedented interference” with consumer choice.New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan approved the group’s request, issuing a permanent injunction preventing the city from implementing the plan, which had been scheduled to begin March 12. The city may appeal the ruling.The groups said the decision by the Board of Health to approve the ban was overreaching and ignored the rights of New Yorkers to make their own choices. The plan is “grossly unfair” to small businesses such as hot-dog vendors and pizzerias because convenience and grocery stores can still sell the larger sizes, lawyers for the groups told Tingling during a hearing in January.
The Johnson family has never been happier to see something go up in smoke.On Friday, the Michael and Cindy Johnson family gathered with officials and well-wishers at the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity office in west Vancouver for a bright, hot ritual: the burning of their officially retired mortgage papers. Theirs was the first Habitat home in Clark County — they moved in in September 1993 — and now, 20 years later, the mortgage is toast.It’s the first paid-off Habitat mortgage in the county. It was a highly affordable, no-interest mortgage, based on the family’s need and the hundreds of “sweat equity” hours they contributed to Habitat.Since finishing the Johnson home, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity has built 25 more local houses and repaired more than 10 whose owners needed help in order to stay at home.Learn more at http://www.ehfh.org.
LOS ANGELES — “Breaking Bad,” the brutal saga of an everyman’s ambition turned evil, captured its first best drama Emmy Award on Sunday, while “Modern Family” won its fourth consecutive trophy for top comedy series.“I did not see this coming,” said “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, tipping his hat to competitor “House of Cards,” the first online contender for top Emmy honors.Jeff Daniels won the Emmy for best drama series actor for his portrayal of an idealistic TV anchorman in “The Newsroom,” with Claire Danes capturing top actress honors for her troubled CIA agent in “Homeland.”Daniels noted that he’d also received an acting honor from AARP, which represents the interests of older Americans.“With all due respect to the AARP, this is even better,” Daniels said.Danes, who captured her second trophy for the terrorism drama, paid tribute to one of the series’ writers, Henry Bromell, who died last March and who received a writing Emmy posthumously Sunday.The ceremony often struck a melancholy note with extended tributes to stars and other industry members who died in the past year.“Well, this may be the saddest Emmys of all time but we could not be happier,” said “Modern Family” executive producer Steve Levitan.It also included upsets, defying the conventional wisdom in several categories, including acting categories.“This just in. Nobody in America is winning their Emmy office pool. Surprises galore,” host Neil Patrick Harrissaid.Danes’ win ended the hopes that “Scandal” best actress nominee Kerry Washington would become the first African-American to win in the category.Julia Louis-Dreyfus claimed her second consecutive best comedy actress award for her role as an ambitious political second banana in “Veep,” with Jim Parsons again claiming the top comedy acting trophy for “The Big Bang Theory.”
PORTLAND — The dispute over which union workers at the Port of Portland should perform the task of plugging and unplugging refrigerated cargo containers has been resolved.Gov. John Kitzhaber said Thursday the work will be assigned to International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers.The conflict over what amounts to two jobs prompted Longshoremen to engage in an illegal slowdown in June and early July. The action forced truck traffic to be backed up for more than a mile and led the two main container-shipping lines that serve the port’s Terminal 6, Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG and South Korea’s Hanjin, to divert ships to other ports.Port of Portland officials now say that productivity hasn’t returned to pre-dispute levels, and that the issue factored into a decision in October by Hanjin Shipping Co. to end its service to Portland early next year. The shipping company, which handles 78 percent of the port’s container businesses, announced that it would leave by the end of the year.The Port of Portland hopes the company will have a change of heart but Bill Wyatt, the port’s executive director, has said the union workers need to increase productivity or Hanjin is likely to leave.The International Longshore and Warehouse Union disputes there’s a slowdown.Hanjin’s departure would mean that Eastern Oregon exporters would have to pay more to truck containers to Seattle or Tacoma, which cost between $500 and $1,000 per container the last time ships were diverted in summer 2012, the Port of Portland says. Agricultural products such as processed potatoes and onions are all shipped by container. Bulk grain cargo would not be affected, since only 2 percent of Northwest wheat is shipped in containers, according to the U.S. Wheat Associates’ West Coast Office.
Kelly Punteney has spent the last few years slowly improving the Jane Weber Evergreen Arboretum, a historic property that rolls from Old Evergreen Highway down to the Columbia River. It’s been an uphill battle, Punteney has said, toward his ultimate goal of getting the 7-acre oasis adopted by the city of Vancouver as a public park.That’s still a pipe dream, but Punteney just got a great Christmas gift: $5,000 toward building and caring for the themed gardens that the retired Vancouver parks planner and state parks commissioner has been dreaming about for years.The donation from the Vancouver Women’s Club passed through the Parks Foundation, a nonprofit agency that collects, invests and distributes tax-deductible donations for parks and recreation properties and programs throughout Clark County. Foundation grants have provided everything from swim-lesson scholarships for needy kids to playgrounds and skate parks in towns that couldn’t afford them otherwise.Now, this $5,000 gift from the Women’s Club will help Punteney realize one of his favorite schemes: the Path of Heroines, a series of themed gardens and rock walls honoring local women who have been important leaders or otherwise made a difference in our community. The Path of Heroines will follow the stream that meanders the length of the property.While each garden will have a distinct personality, the consistent theme will be women as heroes.“There are many strong women who have lived here, raised families, worked jobs, built businesses and contributed in countless ways to the vitality of this community,” Punteney said. “We want to keep their stories alive and inspire future generations.”
Load More Macau Legend Development Ltd has completed the sale of peninsula hotel and casino The Ladmark Macau.In a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Macau Legend said that the HK$4.6 billion disposal of its subsidiary, New Macau Landmark Management Limited (NML), had been completed on Friday 27 April with the official handover of control taking place as of midnight on Saturday. Macau Legend eying Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam expansion Analysts see long-term opportunity in undervalued Macau stock prices RelatedPosts SJM and China Duty Free Group sign binding agreement for Grand Lisboa Palace store The sale will see the property’s owners – Macau Legend CEO David Chow and wholly owned subsidiary Hong Hock – offload 100% of the issued capital in another subsidiary, New Macau Landmark Management Limited (NML), with neither to have any further interest in The Landmark.“Following the completion, NML has ceased to be a subsidiary of the company,” Macau Legend said. “The financial results of NML will cease to be consolidated into the accounts of the group. The disposal is expected to accrue a gain before tax of approximately HK$3.3 billion, which is calculated based on the purchase price, net liabilities value and carrying amount of the sale loan of NML as at 31 December 2017.”The company had previously announced the four buyers as Dong Lap Hong Property Investment Company Limited, which will acquire 58% of NML, Tong Lap Tak Real Estate Limited (20%), Tong Hong Wan Real Estate Limited (17%) and Tong Tak Cheng Real Estate Limited (5%).The buyers have acquired the entire combined stake in The Landmark Macau – a hotel and casino complex on the Macau Peninsula covering 80,129 square meters in gross floor area including 439 five-star rooms and suites as well as Pharaoh’s Palace Casino. Pharaoh’s Palace occupies 16,698 square meters with 60 mass market gaming tables, 17 VIP gaming tables and 141 slot machines.The sale won’t completely end Macau Legend’s involvement, with one stipulation of the agreement being that Hong Hock will continue to provide gaming services at Pharaoh’s Palace “for as long as SJM maintains its status as a gaming concessionaire in Macau, including extensions and/or renewals of the existing gaming concession and/or a new concession obtained by SJM.”Under the gaming services agreement, SJM is to pay Hong Hock around 15% of gross gaming income while NML, under its new owners, will pay Hong Hock a monthly management fee of 0.5% of gross gaming income. Neither Hong Hock or SJM will pay any rent for operation of casino facilities.
Electronic bingo operators PhilWeb Corporation and Palmary Corporation have signed a Cooperation Agreement to jointly develop their eBingo businesses.The agreement comes as Palmary agreed to purchase 97,333,333 shares in PhilWeb, equal to 6.78% of issued share capital, with the companies stating their intention to expand their Philippines footprint. RelatedPosts Load More Philippines rejects China’s call to ban online gambling PhilWeb currently operates six eBingo outlets nationwide and is a service provider to 67 eGames outlets. Palmary operates 16 eBingo outlets and is an accredited supplier of eBingo machines to PAGCOR’s network of more than 300 eBingo outlets, supplying over 30,000 eBingo terminals.As part of the Cooperation Agreement, the duo would co-manage 22 eBingo outlets.“We are very excited about our future in the e-bingo business in cooperation with the Palmary Group,” said PhilWeb Chairman Gregorio Ma. Araneta III.“When combined with our growing e-Games business, we now have an expanding, two-fold footprint in the whole electronic gaming sector.”On the topic of Palmary’s acquisition of PhilWeb shares, Araneta said, “I welcome the Palmary Group’s investment in our company, a great sign of faith in the positive developments we have attained in the past year. I believe this investment will result in positive gains for both over the next few years.” 181 Chinese nationals arrested in dispute over POGO accreditation status PAGCOR revenue to hit Php75 billion in 2020
The facts: What are bikes-for-work schemes?Bikes-for-work schemes are tax-exempt arrangements that encourage employees to cycle to work to reduce environmental pollution and promote healthier lifestyles. The scheme enables employers to fund bikes and safety equipment, and loan these to employees.Where can employers find more information?Additional information can be found on the Cycle to Work Alliance’s website: www.cycletoworkalliance.org.uk.Who are the main providers?These include: Co-operative Flexible Benefits, Cycle Solutions, Cycle Surgery, Edenred, Evans Cycles, Halfords, Hargroves Cycles and P&MM Employee Benefits.Implementing bikes-for-work schemes involves employers signing up with a provider and purchasing or leasing bikes on employees’ behalf. The bicycles are lent to staff through a consumer credit agreement, and interest-free repayments to cover the costs are made over 12 or 18 months on a weekly or monthly basis.Employees can also opt to buy related safety equipment such as lights, reflective clothing, helmets and locks.The consumer credit agreement allows organisations to lease bikes and safety equipment up to the value of £1,000, including value-added tax (VAT). Employers that wish to offer employees equipment above this limit must apply for an employer-specific consumer credit licence.Under the scheme’s rules, at least half of the bike’s usage must be for an employee’s commute to work.Salary sacrificeThe appeal of bikes-to-work schemes may in part lie in the potential national insurance (NI) and tax savings.Employees can decrease their tax and NI liabilities when purchasing a bicycle for their commute using a salary sacrifice arrangement, which typically offers standard-rate taxpayers savings of 32% and higher-rate taxpayers 42%. On average, employers can save 13.8% of the salary employees sacrifice owing to the consequent reduction in their NI contributions.Employers make initial investments into necessary equipment on the behalf of employees, and a sum is then deducted from employees’ gross pay.However, salary sacrifice arrangements are currently under review after the government outlined that it will consider what action will be taken around these in the Spending review and autumn statement 2015 policy paper published in November 2015. It has expressed concern at the growth of salary sacrifice and explained it will be gathering further evidence to inform its approach going forward.Ending a scheme Bikes belong to the employer throughout the process. If the employee leaves its employment, the remaining amount is deducted from their net pay and the bike becomes liable for tax.At the end of the lease, employers can give staff the option to buy their equipment through a transfer of ownership, which uses a fair market value (FMV) payment set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).Changes implemented in 2012 mean that employers can no longer pass VAT savings onto employees, and it must be accounted for on the monthly amounts paid by staff, because the scheme is regarded as supply of a service.Health and environmental benefitsSome 86% of employees believe that cycling to work has a positive impact on their health, according to research by the Cycle to Work Alliance published in December 2015. The study also found that among respondents who reported health benefits, 89% said cycling has improved their fitness, 52% believe it has contributed to weight loss, and 46% say it has helped reduce stress.The research also found that 77% of employer respondents think bikes-for-work schemes have a positive effect on their organisation in relation to employee health.The allure that bikes-for-work schemes have for staff and employers is clear, especially for those looking to boost health and wellbeing and save tax.In addition, schemes are an eco-friendly commuting option and help to promote greener transport; 87% of employers say the schemes help reduce their carbon footprint, according to The employer’s guide to cycle to work, published by Edenred in May 2014.Statistics:86% of employees believe cycling to work positively affects their health.52% of employers agree that bikes-for-work schemes play a significant role in staff engagement.(Source: The Cycle to Work Alliance, December 2015)
Appliance care organisation Domestic and General has launched an employee reward and recognition initiative to motivate staff in the run up Christmas.The People First During Peak programme aims to support staff at the organisation’s Nottingham, Bedworth and Brighton contact centres, and to thank them for their hard work in the busy months leading up to Christmas.The initiative, which launched in October 2016 and runs until January, includes a range of activities to create a supportive and fun atmosphere. Employees will also receive discounts on cinema tickets, pay-day socials, and the chance to win one of several holidays, which are worth up to £1,000 each.On Wednesday 26 October 2016, Domestic and General treated its 900 Nottingham-based employees to a complimentary lunch. All surplus meals were donated to homeless shelter Framework, which amounted to 40 bags of sandwiches, snacks and fruit.Brona Ratcliffe, head of HR contact centres at Domestic and General, said: “As we move into our peak trading period, it’s important for us to create a fun and enjoyable place to work, and one where our employees feel well supported. Peak seasonal trading is an incredibly busy time for us and we are currently recruiting approximately 200 extra people across our two sites to help our existing team continue to offer a brilliant service to our customers.“Putting our people first is a priority for all of us in order to achieve excellent customer service. We want to recognise all the hard work our employees do every day; taking care of our customers and our products with outstanding dedication and care.”
The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal from trade union Unison, which will mean employers will be obliged to consult with trade unions around any workplace issues that could affect employees, for example working hours and holiday pay.The verdict was delivered as part of an unfair dismissal case brought by former park police employees against their previous employer, the London Borough of Wandsworth. The case also looked at how article 11 in the European Convention of Human Rights, which relates to the right to freedom of association and the ability to join a trade union to protect personal interests, impacts on the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The 1992 act excludes employees in police service and their representatives from redundancy consultation rights.The case was originally brought to the Employment Tribunal in January 2013, which agreed with Unison. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal subsequently disagreed with this decision in December 2015. The case was then brought to the Court of Appeal.The Court of Appeal ruled that Unison could pursue a claim on behalf of the employees who were entitled to a consultation, stating that trade unions should be able to consult on matters that impact on their members’ working conditions.Currently, trade unions are only consulted when the law requires, for example, in Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment (Tupe)) regulations or in redundancy cases.The court documents stated: “A right of the kind conferred by sections 188-192 of the 1992 Act, that is, (in the case of the union) to be consulted, and (in the case of the employees) to be consulted for, falls squarely within the ‘essential elements’ protected by article 11. There may be room for argument about whether they fall within the definition of ‘collective bargaining’ in the narrow sense of that term. In traditional industrial relations terminology, at least in the UK, a distinction tends to be drawn between negotiating rights and consultative rights, and the term ‘collective bargaining’ tends to be reserved for the former; likewise the core content of collective bargaining tends to be thought of as matters like pay, hours and holiday. But the question is one of substance rather than terminology. The rights conferred by sections 188-192 of the 1992 Act are collective in character, since they involve the consultation of a trade union about the prospective dismissal of at least  employees.“We see no difficulty in describing the preservation of the employment relationship or the terms on which it is ended as an aspect of ‘working conditions’, broadly understood; but even if that is not so the matters in question are of equal importance to ‘working conditions’ in the narrower sense.“Consultation about mass redundancy seems a paradigm example of a matter affecting members’ interests.”Dave Prentis, general secretary at Unison, added: “It means that employees in any workplace where there’s a union will now benefit from greater protection at work.“The message to bosses is they will have to treat their staff more fairly over pay and working conditions. If they fail to consult unions, then they will be acting unlawfully and could be taken to court.”
More than half (53%) of employer respondents that operate a defined benefit (DB) pension scheme for their staff feel that the costs associated with this are having a negative impact on pay increases, according to research by the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA).Its first interim report from the ACA pension trends survey, which surveyed 466 employers, also found that 36% of respondents feel that pension tax relief restrictions have led to pressures to revise pay and benefits packages.The research also found:52% of respondents with a DB scheme believe restrictions on pension tax relief have caused employees on higher incomes to leave their workplace pension scheme, and 22% think they have caused organisations to reconsider their pension arrangements.42% of respondents with a DB scheme find that DB costs have a negative impact on contributions into newer schemes, and 80% believe these costs also have a detrimental effect on inter-generational equity.55% of respondents with a DB scheme feel that further legal restrictions would hasten the closure of more DB schemes to future accrual.84% of respondents with a DB scheme think the law should be changed so that DB schemes can reduce pension increases if continuing to provide increases at the existing level of scheme rules were to severely and adversely affect the employer.79% of respondents with a DB scheme support increased punishments for employers who mismanage schemes, and 68% support new criminal offences for directors who deliberately and recklessly put at risk the ability of a scheme to meet its obligations.32% of respondents with a DB scheme believe that the consolidation of DB schemes is generally a good thing, and that the cost savings from this would be real.77% of respondents favour keeping the current pension tax relief structure, but with more help targeted on lower incomes, and 13% want to see pensions move to being paid tax-free, with pension tax relief abolished.Bob Scott (pictured), chairman at the ACA, said: “Our survey findings this year paint a picture of defined benefit schemes where complexities introduced over the years, largely by dint of public policy, have taken their toll. Legislative and regulatory changes seem unremitting and are continuing to present challenges to sponsors and trustees. [While] a majority of employers fear more legal restrictions will accelerate scheme closures still further, they seem sanguine about further legal restrictions being placed on sponsors and trustees in the upcoming government white paper. That said, the vast majority also expect support in the white paper for some greater flexibility in law to adjust future pension increases if they are in financial difficulty.“On pension taxation, it is clear the restrictions in reliefs in recent years have had a major impact on pay and benefits strategies at [organisations], with many senior staff opting out of pension arrangements as a result. Beyond doubt this has had an adverse impact on support for schemes within firms, often with those on lower incomes losing out as a result. As the last chancellor found, there seems to be little support for radical tax reform, although employers seem accepting of those on lower incomes getting a larger share of the relief available.”
CORAL SPRINGS, FLA. (WSVN) – An armed man was caught on camera robbing a gas station in Coral Springs.Surveillance video captured the man entering a Mobil gas station, located near Atlantic Boulevard and Coral Springs Drive, March 13.The man then robbed the gas station clerk at gunpoint, officials said.If you have any information on this armed robbery, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LAKE WORTH, Fla. (WSVN) — The U.S. Coast Guard rescued four people after their vessel began taking on water near Lake Worth.The 25-foot Grady White began to take on water and was half sunk when the Coast Guard arrived, Friday.Officials said the vessel capsized with two of the four people on board. They managed to pull them out of the water.All four people are OK.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Disqus is revamping its services, aiming for a stronger, leaner and more social platform for audience members to interact with online content. Changes include comment valuation (arrows pushing more pertinent comments up higher, and vice versa); social sharing and an article discovery feature. [Editor’s Note: FOLIO: uses Disqus as its commenting platform.] Disqus 2012 began public testing about a month ago, according to the company’s blog. The idea of “real-time” is more fully realized in the latest version of Disqus, with comments posted seconds after submission and the ability to see when others are typing a new comment.“We’re calling this Disqus 2012 because we wanted to build a completely fresh Disqus based on our learnings from the last couple of years,” says Disqus founder Daniel Ha. “For our publisher users, it means a Disqus that results in measurable increases in engagement. Early tests have shown an average increase in engagement of 41% on sites using the new Disqus.”Social integration appears to be a large part of the upgrade, with users now able to share comments, tag others (with @mentions) and directly pulls reactions about the topic at hand from Twitter onto the platform itself. In addition to the socialization of the platform, a personalized “My Disqus” view is also available for users. A Community view is accessible as well, letting users see Disqus’s trending topics and users at any given moment. The new platform will also keep the conversation on track through quality control, as the community itself is able to vote on what comments are the most relevant to a piece of content. Disqus’s blog details this, “With voting, the new Disqus encourages richer discussions to form by letting the community surface the best comments. By pairing this with a smarter scoring system, Disqus will help maintain quality discussions — but without silencing simply less popular opinions.”Aside from social, discovery is the other key piece of Disqus’s revamp. While there is no “single feature,” TechCrunch reports, “[Ha] says one of the most important additions is a new Discovery module, which is basically a box recommending other articles on the site that readers might like. Those recommendations are based in part on the article being discussed and the comments that have been posted, and in part on what Disqus knows about an individual user’s reading behavior.”The same article says Ha is considering monetization options (such as sponsored recommendations), but will most likely not include banner ads in the comments section on publisher sites.Overall, these changes have been installed with the idea of a seamless conversation as the end goal. “Commenting is starting to grow up and people are realizing that the best comments need to be discussions, not the low-commitment drivel that a lot of sites see,” Ha tells FOLIO:. “The key to building discussions is making readers actually care about the community and offering that special experience to do so.”
With the rise of tablet and smartphone interaction with website content, publishers have been busy upgrading sites to be optimized for mobile, which these days means functionality must make sense in a swipe-able world. Vibe has been working with Onswipe, a platform that renders digital content into a magazine app-like experience that’s specifically built for tablets and smartphones.Vibe is using the platform to specifically feature its daily web content, a move that’s designed to leverage the growing numbers of readers coming to the site from an iPad or iPhone. “We’re pretty unique that roughly half of our web traffic is tablet and smartphone-based and we needed a solution that addressed that,” says Daniel Murphy, executive director, products at Vibe Media. Vibe editors curate the day’s content and surface what they think readers would be most interested in seeing. “We have other content formats—video, photo galleries and this platform addresses those, but what we think people are using the tablets for is to consume our newest content when it comes out,” adds Murphy.Advertising is handled by both Vibe reps and Onswipe (the cost for using the platform is free), which has developed its own magazine-like, full-page ad format that it sells on behalf of the publisher. Revenues from sales are shared. “It’s a revenue share based on the larger rich media formats that they have and sponsorship opportunities that we have on our side,” says Murphy. “From our perspective it’s nice because if you have a legacy print product and the creative comes in that format it’s easy to translate that to this experience—you can use the same creative.” Murphy says his team hardly touches the final product—content from the site’s various channel verticals is fed to the platform via RSS feeds. Since the product launched this past spring, tablet-sourced audience numbers have doubled, says Murphy, and smart-phone use has grown month-to-month as well.
In addition to rolling out a suite of new products Tuesday—including the iPad 4, iPad Mini, iMac and new MacBook Pro—Apple introduced a variety of new stats and figures that demonstrate its growing reach.According to the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, customers have downloaded over 35 billion apps from the App Store. He added that in the App Store there are about 700,000 apps and 250,000 iPad apps. “This is jaw dropping—the app store continues to exceed our expectations,” he said Tuesday at a product launch event in San Jose, Calif., according to video footage from Bloomberg News. “Each time we get together it seems there is a number or statistic to illustrate the growth and momentum of this product, and today I am thrilled to tell you that two weeks ago we sold our 100th million iPad. That’s 100 million in just two and a half years. This is unprecedented for a new product in a new category.” The iPad’s successful early adoption rate seems to be apparent in other numbers Cook presented, namely those showing that 91 percent of all tablet Web traffic comes from an iPad, with the rest of the market sharing the remaining 9 percent. The app market has not only been prosperous for Apple—Cook estimated that the company has so far paid app developers over $6.5 billion. Stay updated on the latest FOLIO: news, follow us on Facebook & Twitter!