Economy

People-friendly renter search… iCar?… Search engines = retention… 10 exercise myths

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Matchmaker for rentals

It’s all very well to find the house or flat that looks good on paper, but the problem often is that once you get to the place you discover it’s in a slightly dodgy or unsuitable neighbourhood.

According to Springwise, one US site, Hubbuzz, has seen the gap and rushed to fill it with a site that provides detailed neighbourhood profiles, photo galleries, interactive maps, events calendars and even user-generated neighbourhood blogs – along with basic property information

Hubbuzz lets apartment-hunters search both by basic property criteria or neighbourhood characteristics using search categories such as “eclectic”, “trendy”, “hometown vibe” and “kid-friendly”.

The business model is quite unique – landlords pay Hubbuzz $US375 for each rental made through the site, of which Hubbuzz passes on $US100 to the renter as a reward. Could this be the first time in history renters get a few dollars back out of the renting process?

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iCar on the way?

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn recently met with Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, reportedly to discuss a possible “iCar” project that would feature a suite of products by Apple, according to a Wall Street Journal story reported by CarandDriver.com.

There are “scores of ideas” for the iCar but few concrete plans at this point, a spokesman for VW told the paper.

Apple already works with VW and other automakers to offer an integrated in-car hookup for iPods.

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Online searchers keep coming back

Online search engines such as Google and Yahoo are best able to keep users coming back to their sites, according to new Nielsen/NetRatings research reported by Marketing Charts.

The study of search, career and travel sites found that search has the best retention rates, with 79% of Google users in June returning in July, followed by 69% for Yahoo and 65% for MSN.

By comparison the top three US career development sites, CareerBuilder Network, Monster and Yahoo HotJobs, achieved an average 44% returning user rate, while top travel sites Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide Network and Travelocity, had just a 35% retention rates.

The online search engines have clearly mastered that art of getting people to make them their default home page, the holy grail for online audience retention.

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Top 10 exercise myths

The myth busters at Choice magazine have taken a long hard look at the world of exercise. Here is their take on 10 common ideas about what it takes to get fit:

  1. Exercising three times a week is enough: Even one moderate exercise session can have a short-term benefit, but for good health moderate exercise totalling at least 30 minutes a day, on five or more days a week, is required.
  1. Walking burns 1255 kilojoules an hour, so if I walk for an hour I’ll burn off the 1255 kilojoule chocolate bar I ate: The fact is, just by sitting there doing nothing you burn up to 585 kilojoules per hour. So walking for an hour really only burns 753 kilojoules above the basic amount you use by living and breathing.

  1. No pain, no gain: In terms of basic health benefits, moderate regular exercise will do the trick. However, vigorous exercise can provide extra protection against heart disease and can also help with overall fitness and kilojoule burning.
  1. Low-intensity exercise burns more fat: It’s true that you burn more fat as a percentage of the total energy you burn when exercising at low intensity – it accounts for almost all the fuel your body uses. But you burn more actual fat per minute, and a lot more total kilojoules, at higher intensities.
  1. Walking one kilometre burns the same kilojoules as running one kilometre: Not true. Running consumes twice as many net kilojoules per kilometre than walking. Very fast walking can consume as much or more than running, but only because it is an awkward way to move quickly.
  1. Swimming isn’t a good way to lose weight: Swimming can help you lose weight, as long as you go fast enough and long enough. Those who found they gained weight may need to find somewhere warmer to swim – research has found that people who exercised in cold (20°C) water ate more afterwards than people who exercised in neutral (33°C) water.
  1. Your metabolism increases after exercise, so you burn more kilojoules even though you’ve stopped exercising: There is a thing called post-exercise oxygen consumption that increases the metabolic rate, in turn burning more kilojoules. It doesn’t have a huge affect, however – one extra biscuit could well and truly wipe out any benefit.
  1. You burn more fat if you exercise on an empty stomach: You may burn more energy if you haven’t eaten recently, but then if you have less energy you may exercise less, so it tends to all even out in the end.
  1. You should stretch before exercising: Stretching before exercise doesn’t appear to help reduce muscle soreness or risk of injury. But it can still useful to help maintain or increase flexibility and improve long term performance.
  1. I’m slim and healthy, I don’t need to exercise: Inactive people are rarely as healthy as those who exercise regularly, even if they are slim. Exercise contributes to good overall physical and mental health – it’s not just about body weight.

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