Mini baby boom
More than 135,000 babies were born in Australia in the six months to September 2006, the biggest increase for such a period since quarterly records began 25 years ago. Increased births and migration – at its highest level in 17 years – has helped push annual population growth to a five year high of 1.32%.
The population growth is expected to drive consumer spending and a recovery in the housing industry. Resource rich Queensland and Western Australia are the fastest growers. And Victoria, where job growth is strengthening, attracted 70,000 new settlers to reach an annual rate of increase of 1.4%. NSW lost a net 24,500 to other states in the September quarter, to grow 0.9% for the year.
The average birth rate of 1.8 babies per woman is expected to remain stable, but as the population ages, deaths will increase and slow population growth.
US leads in computer crime
The United States is the world capital for online crime, according to a recent report by IT security firm Symantec, reported in Time.com.
A third of the world’s computer attacks were launched by US hackers, the report says, way ahead of the next most dodgy, China, which was the source of 10% of attacks, and Germany with 7%.
The online world had become a much more dangerous place to be in 2006, the report finds, so much so that pilfered information can now be bought on the cheap – credit card details can be bought for as little as $US1, while a person’s complete identity including social security number, date of birth, address and bank details can be bought for just $US15.
And how, you might ask, does Symantec gather the information for their study? The company analyses the traffic gathered by two million plus fake email accounts it runs just to attract spam email, phishing and other forms malicious code.
Online clothes shopping helper
Anyone who has shopped for clothes online knows that one big issue is figuring out whether the item will fit you. It’s all very well knowing you are a size 8, but is the item you selecting online a big 8 or small 8, a long 8 or a short 8?
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Online tools are now popping up that give shoppers a better bet at finding clothes that fit, Springwise says. Women’s clothing site MyShape matches shoppers’ measurements against a matrix of seven body size archetypes. Once a body size type has been selected, the site then matches the shopper with suitable clothing styles selecting by participating designers.
Another site, Zafu, provides a similar service for women’s jeans. Finding jeans that fit is hard enough when shopping in person, never mind online. Zafu asks eight quick questions about your shape and how jeans usually fit you and then matches you up with a pair from the dozens of designers on its list.
Gourmet coffee = office perk
Strolling down the street for a heart-starting caffeine hit first thing in the morning and then later to combat the mid-afternoon slump has become a ritual for many office-dwellers.
Of Americans who drink coffee at work, the percentage that drink the in-house brew dropped to 52% last year from 64% in 2003, according to the National Coffee Association, an American industry group, reports The New York Times.
Some employers are trying to change habits by providing better quality coffee in-house to keep employees on site and focused – and to help them save money.
Employers ranging from Microsoft to law firms and plumbing contractors are ditching their old suppliers and hot plates and switching to Starbucks and its competitors, the paper says.
Many employers are also investing in single-serve machines that make everything from coffee and specialty espresso drinks to hot chocolate, and that allow employees to brew one fresh cup at a time.
Some employers say they are upgrading their coffee as an added perk for employees who are spending long hours at the office. Last summer, Microsoft upgraded from automatic drip coffee to the Starbucks Interactive Cup Brewer – which brews single cups – on each floor of every one of its buildings nationwide.
British retail sales up
Retail sales in Britain rose 1.4% in February, up from a decline of 1.5% in January, according to new figures from The Office for National Statistics. The rise represents the biggest rise in more than two years says Bloomberg.