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Oregon Contractors can take continuing education courses online

Online continuing education courses revamps how contractors renew licenses
By Oregon Small Business Association

Oregon licensed building contractors are finding they have to take an extra step to renew their state Construction Contractors Board (CCB) licenses this year. Effective October 1, 2011, the CCB began requiring contractors to complete continuing education credit hours. Most residential contractors are required to complete 16 hours. Those with a “dual endorsement” for both residential and commercial work require more.

The new requirement stems from a rash of litigation and claims related to moisture-intrusion, mold and mildew problems mostly resulting from improperly installed siding, windows and doors. As a result, contractors’ liability insurance became very expensive and difficult to obtain, with many carriers cancelling coverage and pulling completely out of the Oregon market. Read more »

Will Seatlle see a NBA team?

By Oregon Small Business Association,

Could Seattle get another NBA team? That’s a definite maybe. Though the city has lacked a pro basketball team since the SuperSonics went to Oklahoma City in 2009, three recent developments indicate that the situation may change soon.

First of all, Paul Allen, owner of the Portland Trail Blazers, said publicly recently that he would like to bring the NBA back to Seattle. And now, developer Chris Hansen has purchased three acres near downtown Seattle for a whopping $21.6 million. Now Hansen is trying to get the city and county to go in with him on $700 million project that would build a stadium and attract the money-making power of the NBA to Washington state. Officials, however, aren’t biting. At least, they aren’t going to bite until Hansen has an NBA team signed up. Read more »

Price drops — Super Bowl, Tablets & Travel

By Oregon Small Business Association

While the cost of essential items like gas and food will continue to rise, analysts predict that current economic trends favor lower prices on tablets, televisions, and travel in 2012.

Big screen TVs

If the past few years are any guide, consumers could purchase an LCD or 3D television for significantly less, as well. In just two years, the price of a 42” LCD TV has been cut in half and now sells for roughly $500. Recent reports indicate that the price of a 3D TV dropped more than 30% in 2011. According to one study, the number of households with an HDTV may now run as high as 60%, making market saturation of similar products a key driver of cheaper prices. Moreover, PCWorld recently reported that television manufactures are introducing new technology this year—think even thinner, lighter, more vivid TVs—in hopes of creating interest and demand for newer, more expensive televisions. Expect prices of current models to drop further as these new products are introduced and retailers respond by marking down existing inventory. Read more »

Virus adapt to social media

By Oregon Small Business Association,

A new form of virus—dubbed social media virus or social spam—has companies like Facebook and Twitter working around the clock to prevent hackers from exploiting their social networks.

Hackers have become adept at creating fraudulent profile accounts from which to launch large scale spam attacks. A new Social Spam Index created by Imperium, a start-up company devoted exclusively to fighting social spam, indicates that as much as 40% of public profiles across social networks are now fraudulent. Roughly 400 million Facebook users, for example, are victimized by social spam each day. And TechCrunch reported earlier this month that one of Imperium’s social network clients experienced a spam attack in which 300,000 fraudulent accounts were created in one hour, resulting in 475,000 spam messages to legitimate community members. Read more »

2011: The year of Bill Gates Bashing

2011 has been the year of Bill Gates bashing
– To his credit, Bill has handled it all in strideBy Oregon Small Business Association

From government criticisms to former co-workers, 2011 was a year full of unusually sharp and personal criticism of Bill Gates.

First of all, Governing Magazine ran a front page cover story about billionaires meddling in the classroom with the photo of a sneaky Bill Gates peering from the corner. The article represented a teacher backlash to Gates’ $400 million annually worth of education initiatives . In fact, the Gates Foundation devotes $75 million to policy-related advocacy, a significant figure for a “philanthropic” organization and one that enables Gates to wield influence in nearly every major area of education policy. One critic said that top officials in the U.S Department of Education have become so influenced by Gates that “it’s not too great a stretch to say that the Gates Foundation is, in effect, running the Department of Education.” Read more »

Paul Allen starts space launch venture

Paul Allen embarks on space launch business
– Video press conference below

By Oregon Small Business Association

Billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has turned his attention and money to an endeavor that has eluded corporate and government rocket scientists for decades: launching satellites into space from and ascending aircraft. Allen plans to inject $200 million of his own money for the project, which he hopes will usher in “the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry.” as stated to BusinessWeek.

Currently, satellites are hurled into space through conventional rockets that launch from a ground pad. Instead of ground launches, Allen envisions satellites and eventually human space vehicles launched from an airborne “mother ship” created from older Boeing technology and the latest cutting edge booster designs. The aircraft would be comprised of twin fuselages and feature six Boeing 747 engines. A rocket would rest underneath between the fuselages, launching after a sharp climb that would commence once 30,000 feet had been reached. Read more »

Trending downward: Daily Deals, Netbooks, more

Low-cost Trend Troubles: Daily Deals, Netbooks, Cheap China goods
By Oregon Small Business Association

As the economy continues to sputter, U.S consumers have increasingly cut spending and embraced bargain shopping as a way of life. New data, however, suggests that recent fixtures of American frugality may be on the way out.

Daily Deals hitting peak

Studies indicate that the once booming “daily deal” industry by Living Social and Groupon may be losing steam. Facebook and Yelp once aggressively embraced the business model are now cooling to or spurning it altogether. And major players like Groupon and Living Social have experienced sharp declines in unique visitors in recent months. Living Social, for example, saw its unique visits decline by nearly 30 percent from June through July 2011. Read more »

Trend ends for Daily Deals, Netbooks, Cheap China goods

By Oregon Small Business Association

As the economy continues to sputter, U.S consumers have increasingly cut spending and embraced bargain shopping as a way of life. New data, however, suggests that recent fixtures of American frugality may be on the way out.

Daily Deals hitting peak

Studies indicate that the once booming “daily deal” industry by Living Social and Groupon may be losing steam. Facebook and Yelp once aggressively embraced the business model are now cooling to or spurning it altogether. And major players like Groupon and Living Social have experienced sharp declines in unique visitors in recent months. Living Social, for example, saw its unique visits decline by nearly 30 percent from June through July 2011. Read more »

Shoplighting at 5-year high due to theft rings

Theft rings push shoplifting rates to 5-year high
By Oregon Small Business Association

Shoplifting appears to be a growing problem for America’s retailers, and thieves are growing in their sophistication. That’s according to the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a prominent industry trade group that recently released its annual report detailing the latest trends in retail industry related crime.

According to RILA’s report, individuals acting alone and organized crime rings are targeting retailers with growing frequency— up 41 percent and 60 percent, respectively, from last year. Read more »

Post Office tries to get people to stop using the internet

Oregon Small Business Association

The latest U.S. Post Office TV commercial is trying to get the public to take a great leap backwards by not engaging in online transactions. The Post Office commercial tries to strike a wedge between online and postal commerce by using the security card. Here is what the post office TV commercial says as it shows families putting important letters on the kitchen refrigerator and corkboard:

“A refrigerator has never been hacked. An online virus has never attacked a corkboard. Give your customers an added feeling of security of printed statement that a receipt provides. With mail.”

On one hand, the Post Office is doing the right thing by finding reasons for customers to change their behavior and switch. Security is a good reason. But the question arises on whether consumers will view it as a complete reason. Is not mail subject to identity theft just as much as online transactions? Another question that came to mind while watching this commercial is this effort trying to stop an unavoidable technology trend. While other post offices from other nations have chosen to expand services as a way of adapting to the times (cell-phones, email), it looks like the U.S. Postal Service is attempting to pull customers back from the future. This ad campaign seems like a huge risk to the Post Office. The results of risk taking may prove beneficial as the final verdict is the sales numbers after teh TV ad has run.

See the Post Office Commercial Here