Sunday, October 29, 2006

‘The Wild’ works better than ‘Madagascar’

Story of zoo animals that have to survive in the wild is familiar but fun

"The Wild"

Walt Disney Pictures

Samson the Lion (voiced by Kiefer Sutherland) and Nigel the Koala (voiced by Eddie Izzard) escape from the Manhattan zoo to track down Samsn's restless teenage son in "The Wild."

By John Hartl
Film critic
Updated: 8:38 a.m. ET April 13, 2006

American animation studios are running out of inspiration, not to mention originality. How else to explain the back-to-back 1998 releases of DreamWorks’ “Antz” and Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life”? Or Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” followed so closely by DreamWorks’ similar fish story, “Shark Tale”?

And whatabout Disney’s new computer-generated cartoon, “The Wild,” arriving on the heels of last year’s DreamWorks hit, “Madagascar”? With their astonishingly similar plotlines about New York zoo animals going back to the wild, they can sometimes seem like the same movie.

They do, however, feature different casts and very different narrative approaches. While “Madagascar” was a joke machine that literally ran out of gas, “The Wild” tries to tell a story in which the comic riffs are more organic. Disney claims to have started “The Wild” more than nine years ago, yet it comes off almost as a critique of what went wrong in “Madagascar.”

In the new movie, Kiefer Sutherland provides the voice of Samson, a lion king who rules the New York Zoo, brags about his jungle adventures but has little experience of the outside world. Jim Belushi plays his best friend, a fussy squirrel named Benny, and Janeane Garofalo is the voice of a sassy giraffe named Bridget.

Samson and his friends, including the semi-hysterical anaconda Larry (Richard Kind) and the droll koala Nigel (Eddie Izzard), escape from the Manhattan zoo to track down Samson’s restless teenage son, Ryan (Greg Cipes). He’s been mistakenly shipped off to Africa, where the zoo folks meet a demented wildebeest, Kazar (William Shatner), who has created a cult around the heavenly visitation of a koala doll they worship as “The Great Him.”

In “Madagascar,” Ben Stiller was the spoiled lion, David Schwimmer played the giraffe and Chris Rock was the lion’s pal, a daydreaming zebra named Marty. Hampered by tired pop-culture gags, they worked too hard at getting laughs. The chief scene-stealers turned out to be a gang of snarky penguins.

In place of the penguins, who weren’t around long enough, “The Wild” offers Izzard’s hilarious improvisations (he is said to have created 85 per cent of his lines), and Shatner doing his self-deprecating thing as a puffed-up religious fanatic who really wants to be a choreographer. There’s a touch of Rudyard Kipling’s “The Man Who Would Be King” in their relationship, but it never seems like an in-joke. It’s a valid extension of the story.

The first-time director, Steve “Spaz” Williams, is a visual-effects veteran (“Jurassic Park”) who has no problem with allowing the story, not the effects (which are impressive), to provide the driving force. He wisely allows Izzard and Shatner to go wild, and they reward him with the movie’s funniest moments.

“The Wild” isn’t a great Disney cartoon. The screenplay is attributed to four writers, whose best-known credits include such dim comedies as “The Santa Clause 2” and “Snow Dogs,” and it takes them too long to establish the characters. But once the zoo refugees arrive in Africa, the extended set-up pays off.

© 2006 MSNBC Interactive

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Mystery of missing Ear-ring

Written on Tuesday October 24, 2006

Yes, I know, it’s been past 4 to 5 months now and it still says about the mystery of the missing ear-ring. Finally here is the unrevealed mystery.

It’s all started in May. We have a maid, who used to wash dishes, and broom the flat. As you always know, they are making easy money by not doing there work they supposed to. The dishes are washed by her, and then we have to do that also, because the powder or liquid or the surface of dishes not cleaned. When she broom, also leave many spots and sometimes skip the room. Even some maids are theft. They make them self comfortable and try to finish work as quietly, as they have another work waiting at another location. They act as they are the boss.

Anyway, on their behaviour and attitude, a new article can be written. So, what happened was that, in the evening, my mom came to us telling the screw of the gold ear-ring had been fallen some where. We search the mom's room, and one or two another rooms, where it can be found. However, we failed to find any where in the house. We waited for the next morning for the maid to clean. This is the best and possible way to be found things.

Negative! Nothing was found. Day’s passes, where could it be? It should be found in the cleaning. It can be stolen or not been spotted. We leave that case open.

After couples of week, one evening of Saturday, we notice a small lizard stuck in the bathroom. We tried to get rid of him by showing him the way out from window, but it stuck-ed in the corner, afraid, hiding, and confused.

The lizard was still living in the bathroom. I was watching David Letterman, Tom Hanks was the guest for his movie Da Vinci Code. It was about 00:30 am, still try to get him out as we notice, he was staying.

At last, dad picks the sink plumper and tried to suck the little creature. The lizard hang on to it and then dad balances the pump out in the gallery.

"Let the pump go", was the thought of us, when the lizard and the pump were in the gallery. In six or seven hours we have made the bonding with him. I was thinking of keeping him by then. It was cute too. Finally the little lizard falls down. He was saved and gone for good.

But you would be wondering what about the missing screw of gold ear-ring. What the link between these two stories?

It has the link, what we can say is that it was the sign from the Divine source. That little guy was just the way of giving us the clue, because it was odd, staying in the flats for too long and neither dying nor leaving. The lizard had gone out only through the support of sink pump and after spending it living for six to seven hours.

Here what happened…

The ear-rings were on my mom's ear at the time of screw disappeared. She was cleaning the bathroom at that time. When she finished her work and after a while when doing other works, maybe in evening she noticed when look at her in the mirror. She was in her room, so the first thing click in her mind was her own room to check, then the others.

However, it was missing for more than 2 weeks. Where can it be?

But the clue was given through the lizard, which showed us where it was. It was pined in the pump all along these weeks. When the lizard fallen, dad checked the bottom of the pump, to make sure that lizard had left the flat. He noticed the screw was pinned in the pump.

Sometimes, in our lives too, we got many signs and opportunities, which can change the whole life of the person.

We should be attentive to all the happenings in our life.

Monday, October 09, 2006

How to Collect From Clients: Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

Aug 29, 2001
William H. Mills

Former President and COO, Software Business Technologies

Very few entrepreneurs begin their business ventures with the goal of becoming collection agents. Unfortunately, some of us have found ourselves in this unwelcome and unsavory role as a matter of business survival. Developing a c onsistently successful accounts-receivables program does not have to be a daunting process. By following some straightforward, time-tested guidelines, you can implement a "win-win" strategy that gets your invoices paid on time and allows you to maintain positive, long-term business relationships with clients. What follows is a discussion of how to walk the walk, and talk the talk, of collection.

Money Talks, and So Must You
Why do some business owners seldom, if ever, voice complaints about past-due balances, while others spend significant time on this problem? Much of the answer begins long before an invoice is sent. Indeed, one of the most valuable changes you can make in your accounts-receivable process is to define payment expectations with your clients in advance of services performed. You can also enter into a formal agreement that includes a sum to be paid up front, and then verbally review what you will do for the clients. Here's how:
  • Establish Financial Boundaries. Discuss money during your first meeting with a client. Explain in a clear and concise manner exactly what you will do for the client, while specifically stating your compensation terms . Discuss in detail, for example, the cost of a visit to the client's site or two rounds of revisions on a project. Your clear communication during this meeting is essential, because it establishes important financial boundaries with the client.
  • Formalize an Agreement. The boundaries discussed at the initial meeting should then be documented in writing. In an obligating agreement, you should list the specific services to be performed or work to be delivered, and the estimated cost of the services or work. This agreement should explicitly state that your client owes you money for work performed or services rendered. The agreement should also specify the terms of payment, including the payment you expect in advance of services.
  • Request Money in Advance. If it is the accepted practice within the industry, business owners should request a portion of their money in advance. In its professional-services business, SBT requires all clients, large and small, to pay a retainer that lasts across the life the job. Using the terminology of the industry is important, such as "deposit on hardgoods" or "retainer on services." This allows the client to understand you are asking for something others will ask for as well.
  • In one case, we at SBT asked an international freight company with worldwide offices for a down payment of one third. The freight company balked, but we insisted. Even if we came down to one percent from our original request, we would be able to say to other clients that we required this internationally known corporation to pay a portion in advance. Remember, you can acquiesce if the client protests--the freight company understood our position. But if you allow no up-front payment, you will have a much harder time later with other clients, and your cash flow is impacted significantly.
  • Review Verbally. Take the time to review the agreement with your client before signing. This will enable you to reinforce the financial obligation that the agreement specifies. You can also use this verbal review time to inform your client about the value of your work. The talk might go something like this: "By adding these modifications to your system, you'll be able to process incoming orders in approximately half the time it's now taking." Simply stated, you are telling the client exactly what you are providing for a specific dollar amount, and therefore defining the client's expectations. There should be no question at the end of your meeting about what is being delivered, when to expect it, and how much it will cost.
Repeat After Me: "I Will Not Make Collection Calls"
Having personally defined the agenda for payment with your client, your next step in the accounts-receivables plan involves separating yourself from the collection process. Your business role now becomes fostering a long-term relationship with your client. This can be a tall order if you are the person picking up the phone to demand payment. Walking this walk involves two steps:
  • Designate an Agent. It is imperative that the task of reminding clients to pay their bills, as well as more advanced collection activities, be undertaken by someone elsein your office, such as an office manager or administrative assistant. You might also consider hiring a third party to handle the job.
  • Distance Yourself. When you have designated an individual to serve as your accounts-receivables manager, you can distance yourself and your business role from the collection function. Should a client call you to complain about a collection call, you can respond with a comment such as, "I'm glad you contacted me. I'll talk to my accounting department about this. I'm sure we can get it straightened out." This necessary separation allows you to maintain a distinctly different image in the mind of the client.
In your goal of preserving the valuable business relationship you have built up with your client, while at the same time holding the client to a contractual obligation, you are again establishing a boundary. This time, the boundary is more illusory than the written contract that defined your terms. But it is a boundary nonetheless: You are training your clients to view your "accounting department," or accounts-receivables manager, as an autonomous arm of your business. You are also allowing yourself to concentrate all of your energy on building your business.
Stay on Top of Your Invoicing Game
This brings us to your internal accounting procedures, and how they affect your accounts-receivables plan. The rule here is simple: keep your side of the street clean. Here's how:
  • Set Billing Standards. Do not expect your client to pay from an incorrect invoice, or to pay the invoice on time if it is sent out late. Hold yourself to an invoicing standard calling for no errors and consistently punctual delivery, allowing ample time for your clients to meet your agreed-upon payment terms.
  • Set Accounting Standards. What is the best way to ensure accurate and timely invoicing? Consider the method you now use for billing your clients. The off-the-shelf accounting package you probably used to start your business was fine, but as your business expands, so does your need for an automated accounting system. In anticipating growth and change in your business, look for an accounting system that provides features such as automatic updating of customer and inventory balances and flexibility for modifications as your business evolves.
You also need a package that recognizes the year 2000. Many programs are now configured to store only the final two digits of the year and will recognize the year 2000 as year 1900. You also need a package that enables computers to recognize that the year 2000 rather than 1900 will follow 1999, as many computer programs are now configured to store only the final two digits.

Solve Your Accounts-Receivables Problems Today
Having involved yourself in setting the payment agenda, distanced yourself from the billing process, and put your internal systems in order, the final step is collecting from slow-paying or non-paying clients. This involves an especially delicate walk and an artfully nuanced talk. Consider these steps:
  • Use Late-Payment Fees. While it is almost impossible to collect late-payment fees in a commercial business relationship, you might use them as a tool that brings a collection problem to light. If you do, be consistent about when you add them. When negotiating for payment, you can then say, "If you overnight your payment to us, we will remove all or part of the finance charges" that will occur after 60 days. Do not book these fees as revenue, and don't expect them to be paid. Forcing this issue sends a client to your competitor.
  • Bring Payment Issues to a Head. For really stubborn payers, it may be necessary to confront the problem directly. The best time to do this is at the most critical stage of the client's project. In the past, we have often asked clients to put themselves in our shoes. We have a payroll, other clients are paying as agreed, and we must keep the business running. We also make it clear that a delay in paying us is forcing us to stop work on the project so that our business can survive. We explain that if all clients were like this, we would be out of business. This sends a very clear message.
  • Consider Arbitration. When it comes to legal action, only the lawyers make out in most cases. Therefore, we prefer to call for arbitration when an agreement or contract is disputed. This is less costly for both parties, and allows issues to be resolved faster. Always warn the client that he is forcing you "to bring in a third organization or person" to assist in resolving the payment issue.
  • Stay Calm, Be Fair. Business people respect other business people who are fair, so treat clients as you would expect to be treated. Stay calm at all times, repeat options verbally and in writing, and consider compromise. I have told many clients, "Pay us now, or pay us later. We will write a credit for this issue, but it will cause us to consider our pricing much more carefully." Most clients who want to do business with you would rather keep you happy--and paid.
There's no time like the present to implement a new approach to getting paid on time. The incentives are obvious, and the necessary start-up time is minimal. The plan outlined above is remarkably simple, but requires consistency and follow-through on your part. You will be amazed at how quickly you see positive results.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Eye Direction and Lying

Eye Movement and Direction and How it Can Reveal the Truth or a Lie


This is a continuation of our previous article " Detecting Lies". Many comments by our visitors have asked about how eye direction can indicate the presence of a lie.

So can the direction a person's eyes reveal whether or not they are making a truthful statement? Short answer: sort of. But, it isn't as simple as some recent television shows or movies make it seem. In these shows a detective will deduce a person is being untruthful simply because they looked to the left or right while making a statement.

In reality, it would be foolish to make such a snap judgment without further investigation... but the technique does have some merit. So, here it is... read, ponder and test it on your friends and family to see how reliable it is for yourself.

Visual Accessing Cues

visual cues

The first time "Visual Accessing Cues" were discussed (at least to my knowledge), was by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in their book "Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) " From their experiments this is what they found:

When asked a question a "normally organized" right-handed person looks (from your viewpoint, looking at them):

looking up and to the left

Up and to the Left
Indicates: Visually Constructed Images (Vc)
If you asked someone to "Imagine a purple buffalo", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Visually Constructed" a purple buffalo in their mind.

looking up and to the right

Up and to the Right
Indicates: Visually Remembered Images (Vr)
If you asked someone to "What color was the first house you lived in?", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Visually Remembered" the color of their childhood home.

To the Left
Indicates: Auditory Constructed (Ac)
If you asked someone to "Try and create the highest the sound of the pitch possible in your head", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Auditorily Constructed" this this sound that they have never heard of.

eyes looking right

To the Right
Indicates: Auditory Remembered (Ar)
If you asked someone to "Remember what their mother's voice sounds like ", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they "Auditorily Remembered " this sound.

eyes down and to the left

Down and to the Left
Indicates: Feeling / Kinesthetic (F)
If you asked someone to "Can you remember the smell of a campfire? ", this would be the direction their eyes moved in while thinking about the question as they used recalled a smell, feeling, or taste.

looking down and to the right

Down and To the Right
Indicates: Internal Dialog (Ai)
This is the direction of someone eyes as they "talk to themselves".

The Gist of it...

How this information is used to detect lies:

Example: Let's say your child ask's you for a cookie, and you ask them "well, what did your mother say?" As they reply "Mom said... yes." they look to the left. This would indicate a made up answer as their eyes are showing a "constructed image or sound. Looking to the right would indicated a "remembered" voice or image, and thus would be telling the truth.

Final Notes:

*** Looking straight ahead or with eyes that are defocused/unmoving is also considered a sign of visual accessing.

*** A typical left-handed person would have the opposite meanings for their eye-directions.

*** As with other signs of lying, you should first establish and understand a persons base-behavior before concluding they are lying by the direction of their eyes.

*** Many critics believe the above is a bunch of bull***t. In my own experiments I have found these techniques to be more true than not. But, why not find out for yourself? Make up a list of questions that like the sample ones, and give them to your friends/family anyone who would be your guinea pig, observe their eye movements and record the results.

*** This guide is hardly in-depth, I recommend getting the book "Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming" by Richard Bandler and John Grinder for a more thorough explanation if the subject interests you.