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Apple's Photo Organizer Could Be The App We've Been Waiting For


Every existing photo storage option has major flaws.

Boxes and albums of non-digital photos take up space, can decay or be destroyed, and are hard to update and share. Hard drives filled with photos can be destroyed and are often hard to update and share. Cloud storage offers the promise of indestructible storage, but so far no program makes it sufficiently easy to sort, organize, update, or keep photos private.

Longing for an easier way to sort my visual history into a logical order, I have been left with thousands of digital photos stashed across the cloud in no order other than default.

Yes, many cloud storage sites try, but they haven't got it right. Molly Wood at New York Times gave a rundown of the disappointing options a few weeks ago in "The Best Photo Organizing App? I'm Still Looking." The lack of good options led Danny Sullivan to want to "declare photo bankruptcy" last summer.

Flickr, despite its generous storage costs and broad array of features, is "slow and hard to navigate," writes Wood. I once used this site but left it in my own search of something better.

This Life by Shutterfly lured me in with its promise of recreating the photo album experience online, with less emphasis on sharing and features like facial tagging and visually appealing chronological sorting. But I gave up when I realized how limited its features were and how hard it was on the app to sort things myself.

Google+ offers cheap storage with basic editing, automatic uploading and organizing, tons of sharing features, and that's all some people like Business Insider's Steve Kovach want in a photo app. But my problems with the site are that it doesn't have a simple system for manually organizing photos, its push toward sharing feels overaggressive, and it forces users to wade through the full Google+ social infrastructure that I don't otherwise use.

Wood and Wall Street Journal's Wilson Rothman discuss a few more unsatisfactory options, including Facebook and the current offerings from Apple (Rothman expresses frustration with all of them before concluding, "Flickr may satisfy my criteria the best, but it's not perfect").

Considering the lack of good options, I was happy to see news of an Apple photo organizing program coming early next year, which was buried in a string of tweaks and features announced at WWDC.

Called Photos, the app offers a lot of the same stuff as the previously discussed apps, but I'm excited for a few of its unique features as well as what looks like a generally good design. I'm also just hopeful that Apple, despite its past struggles with online services, could be the company that finally gets this right.

What really jumps out at me is how the program apparently makes it easy to drag and drop photos into custom order, in addition to robust automatic sorting functions. Drag and drop folder systems work well for files. Could this system finally get my photo archives in order?

apple photos

In addition to better organizing features, the app appears to make it easy to access and find photos across Apple products, with search by date or time the photo was taken, location, or album name, as well as easy ways to access favorites photos taken nearby and at the same time last year. Beyond that, it's got all the rest, including competitive storage options, auto-syncing, and fine-tuned image editing. You can see more features and images at Apple.

Of course, it's far too early to judge Photos. But the early signs look good, and the competition has left the door wide open for a new leader.

SEE ALSO: The iPhone camera is about to get a lot better

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What I Saw At The Party Attended By 4,500 Techies, VCs, And Entrepreneurs In Downtown San Francisco



Startup and Tech Mixer is not your typical, boring, grab-a-bunch-of-business-cards and make small talk networking function.

Held on three floors at San Francisco's W Hotel, the barely year-old event is part conference with a dash of networking, an exhibition for new startups, with lots of alcohol thrown in. And, it's also a lot of fun.

"It's important to create an all-inclusive vibe," said Ari Kalfayan, who helped start the mixer a year ago with a few friends, having just 75 people showing up to the first event.

Now the event has certainly grown up, with Kalfayan telling Business Insider that the mixer on Friday hosted roughly 4,500 attendees, all mingling between speakers, bars, games, and yes, even a bounce house.

Just a short walk from Business Insider's West Coast offices is the W Hotel in the South of Market (SoMa) area.

It's in a pretty nice spot, right across the street from the Museum of Modern Art.

After a quick check-in and ticket scan — no paper here, it's EventBrite QR codes — we're in. Here's what people could expect.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

9 Cringeworthy High School Yearbook Typos [NSFW]


Hitter Yearbook Typo

As the academic year winds to a close, many schools will release yearbooks to celebrate their students, teachers, and achievements throughout the year.

However, for some students yearbooks can be a source of humor and humiliation, as simple typos create entirely new meanings for their year-end sendoffs.

Through Reddit and local news reports, we've found some of the most cringeworthy examples of yearbook typos from around the country. Some are funny and some are mean, but all of them are certainly not what the author intended.

Warning: Some of these typos are not safe for work.

Her intentions were certainly in the right place.

Mom and Dad were just trying to say congrats!

Actually, flapjacks would make finals a lot better.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This Is The Apartment You Can Rent For $1200 In London


Screen Shot 2014 06 04 at 8.18.13 AM

Here's an indicator of the state of the London real estate market that might make you want to cry.

This apartment — which the Guardian is calling a "shoebox studio flat" — is a hot commodity in London. 

The whole thing, which barely can fit a bed, was rented within 16 hours of being posted to real estate website Rightmove.co.uk, according to The Guardian. Numerous emails and phone calls were placed from people eager to get the property.

The price: 737 pounds per month, or a bit over $1,200.

(Via Semisara)

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Five Books You Should Read Before You Turn 30


Screen Shot 2013 12 06 at 7.21.54 AM

Little differences over a long lifetime create big disparities. This is the nature of compounding. If you make decisions only a little better than your cohort that should translate into a big difference over a lifetime.

Someone who saves money for retirement is probably going to be in a better situation come 65 than someone who didn’t start saving until they were 45.

Here are five books that I think everyone should read before they turn 30. Reading and understanding these will give you an edge, however slight, that will increase the odds that things will work out to your satisfaction. When you’re a rich billionaire because of this, just remember me ok.

1. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion"
Psychologist Robert Cialdini introduces the universal principles of influence: reciprocation, scarcity, authority, commitment, liking, and consensus. Sure you can watch the short video but its not the same. Buy the book. Why do you need to learn these? To paraphrase Publius Syrus, ‘He can best avoid a snare who knows how to set one.’ After you read this book move on to "Poor Charlie’s Almanack."

2. "Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin To Munger"
The last time I mentioned this book Farnam Street readers flooded my inbox. I’ll try to address the two primary concerns that appeared. First, if you can’t find it new just purchase a used copy. Who cares? Second: Yes it’s an “expensive” book. Ignorance is more expensive. Just buy it.

3. "Letters from a Stoic"
I came to Seneca a few years after I turned 30. It’s clear from reading Seneca that he’s full of wisdom. His letters deal with everything we deal with today: success, failure, wealth, poverty, grief. His philosophy is practical. Not only will reading this book help equip you for what comes in life but it’ll help you communicate with others.

4. "The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, A Roman Soldier"
A Syrian slave, Syrus is a full of timeless wisdom. Want an example? “From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.” Here is another “It is not every question that deserves an answer.” Ok, one more? “To do two things at once is to do neither.” And he didn’t even know of Facebook and Twitter. You can read this book in under an hour but spend the rest of your life trying to learn and apply his wisdom.

5. "The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Third Edition"
I’d much rather recommend "Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders" (also freely available), however I recognize that most people would be intimidated by its size. In the Essays, Lawrence Cunningham thematically organizes Buffett’s own words. There is more than enough here to get a clear picture of the principles and logic of Buffett and Munger’s philosophy for business, life, and investing.

If you’re over 30, that’s ok too. It’s never too late.

SEE ALSO: The 6 Most Influential Business Books In 2013

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We Found Out Which Type Of Coffee Gives You The Most Energy

It's National Running Day — Here's How To Ace Your First Marathon


Dallas Marathon

The number of people who run marathons in the U.S. is steadily rising, according to Running USA's annual report

If you've ever considered signing up for a marathon, today  National Running Day  is a good day to get moving.

Getting in shape to run 26.2 miles is a major achievement.

We spoke with running experts Jenny Hadfield, Matt Fitzgerald, and Jeff Galloway, accomplished runners who teach marathon newbies how to have a successful first race.


The biggest mistake rookie runners make is starting too fast and with too much mileage. This can inflict high stress on your cardiorespiratory, endocrine, and neuromuscular systems, and lead to injury.

“It's one thing to sign up for a marathon. It's another if you have, like, a four- or six-week window to train,” Jenny Hadfield, an author and frequent columnist for Women’s Running Magazine and RunnersWorld.com, says. “I would recommend a solid 12 to 14 weeks to train for a half, and 18 to 20 weeks for a full marathon. I usually lean toward a longer time frame because life happens, vacations happen, sickness happens, and, if you rush, you end up running with less mileage under you."


There are a ton of training plans out there. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll be up all night checking out the free training plans online.

The key is to think about how training will fit into your current lifestyle so that you stick with it. For instance, is date night usually on Thursday? Do you typically run errands on Sunday? Choose a schedule that syncs well with your routine.

“You want to make sure that the first week of training is close to what you're doing right now,” Hadfield says. “If you're running three to four times a week and anywhere from three to six miles, you want to make sure your training plan begins similarly to that. If you jump into a training plan that has a lot more mileage right away, your risk for injury and burnout is going to be super high.”

Running Runners California Muscular Man Jogging Barefoot SneakersMAKE IT SOCIAL

Marathon training requires long, slow runs, which can become mentally draining. Signing up with a buddy can make it a lot more motivating and fun.

Jeff Galloway, an author and Olympic athlete, warns his clients to choose someone whose pace is similar to theirs. “If you have a fast friend, ask if they can run at your pace. If it’s too slow for them, you want that kind of honesty because you want to run at your own pace so you don’t get injured.”


It’s important to build up your strength slowly, and not try to run too many miles too quickly.

“The No. 1 mistake people make is running too hard and too often,” author and trainer Matt Fitzgerald says. “You have to ease into any aerobic exercise. Really take your time and take a cautious approach with the running.”

Galloway recommends that beginners start with a combination of running and walking. “Using the very easy patterns of running and walking, the human body can adapt to long-distance running,” he says. “You want to ease up the distance so that two to three weeks before the event, you could cover that distance.”


Instead of relying on iPhones or GPS monitors that say how fast you’re going, listen to your body. You will have good days and bad days, but the important thing is to make sure the pace always feels comfortable, even if it’s slower than your last run.

All three coaches recommend using what’s called the talk test. “If you can have a conversation and talk in sentences, you're running at an easy effort, which is great,” Hadfield says. “If you can only talk in one-word responses, you're going too fast. That pace is going to change daily depending on where you're racing, how you’re fueling, and what's going on in your body.”

lifting weights MAKE SURE TO CROSS-TRAIN

You don’t want to run every day; instead, run every other day and fill in the gaps with rest days and cross-training. Choose exercises that make you move in different ways than running to give your joints a break and build strength.

“Cycling or swimming lets you work out aerobically without the added impact,” Fitzgerald says. The coaches say strength training is vital to increasing balance, strength, and endurance.


Race day is not the time to start a new diet or try on a new running outfit. Practice what works ahead of time. Does your body respond better to Gatorade or gel packets? Do those spandex shorts ride up too much on longer runs? These are things you’ll want to know early on.

Think of your practice runs as rehearsals for the marathon. Try different nutrition and wardrobe options, and figure out what works for you.

Hadfield suggests dressing for 20 degrees warmer than the weather. Fifty degrees may seem chilly if you’re just standing around outside, but it’s better to wear a T-shirt and shorts, because once your body heats up, it’ll feel like it’s 70.

nyc marathonDURING THE RACE

On the day of the race, first-time marathoners tend to make the mistake of starting too quickly. They're refreshed, tapered, and pumped up by the music and crowds.

But don’t! Starting too quickly could cause a drop in energy, and runners may hit a mental wall as their blood sugar drops. Better to run slower than necessary at first, and then pick up the pace during the last leg.

“Hold yourself back,” Hadfield says. “The first half you want to stay at a conversational and easy effort. After that, if you're feeling good, you want to start to pick it up for the last stretch. It's all about conserving that energy early on so you can push when you really need it.”

Also, if you’re running in summer weather, be sure to pace yourself extra thoughtfully because of the added heat. “Those who start their marathon training now are going to be running in hot weather in the summer,” Galloway says. “Be aware that you're probably going to be running 30 seconds more slowly for every 5 degrees above 60.”


Congratulations! You’ve officially finished your race. But don’t sit down just yet! These are the five things you want to do now that the marathon is over:

  1. Walk around for 10 to 15 minutes to allow your body to come back to reality. “It helps your body to purge that lactic acid and recover, as well as bring your circulation back to normal,” Hadfield says.
  2. Have a protein recovery drink and nibble on some food. “Within the first half hour, you want to eat a snack of 300 calories that is mostly simple carbohydrates, because that will help to reload the muscle glycogen,” Galloway recommends. “It's best to pick something that is going to digest very easily. Even things like gummy bears or cola drinks will often work.”
  3. Sit in an ice bath for five minutes with your sweatshirt on to help with inflammation.
  4. Wait three to four hours before getting a massage, if you decide to get one post-race (otherwise, your massage therapist will be rubbing the lactic acid all over muscles, making you feel worse).
  5. Treat yourself! “Go out for a greasy hamburger, go for a beer,” Fitzgerald says. “None of this is going to help you recover faster, but who cares? There's a time to let your hair down a bit, and just give yourself time to recuperate. If you do everything right after the marathon, you're still not going to be able to run one for another four months. Have the burger.”

SEE ALSO: 10 Awesome Marathons To Sign Up For Right Now

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These Frozen Veggie Pops Could Start The Next Big Juicing Craze


Innocent Ice Pops

The same health-conscious crowd that has rushed toward the cold-pressed juice trend will likely enjoy a new Popsicle made from a blend of fruits and vegetables. 

Innocent Ice Pops, created by Sophie Milrom, 26, include ingredients like mango purée, crushed pineapple, and kale. Unlike most other frozen pops, no sugar or other artificial sweeteners have been added. 

The ice pops, which Milrom said were inspired by the juicing craze, are already a hit with the fashion set.

Despite the negative press linked to all-juice diets, Milrom said her pops aren't meant as meal replacements. They're a healthier alternative to ice cream, frozen yogurt, and other frozen desserts loaded with sugar. "It's a more fun way to consume green juice," Milrom told Business Insider.

The Beginning

The idea for Innocent Ice Pops was born as Milrom was studying for the bar exam last summer. "I loved to eat pretty healthfully but suddenly didn't have time to do that," Milrom said. Everything in the frozen section of the grocery store either had added sugar or artificial sweeteners. She remembers telling her mom: "I'm either going to get really fat or get cancer."

So Milrom took matters in her own hands, literally. She splurged on a Vitamix blender and spent a month tinkering with recipes, making treks to Trader Joe's for fruits and veggies. The budding entrepreneur relied on feedback from friends to choose the best homemade concoctions.

Milrom, who recently graduated with a JD-MBA from New York University, said she developed the confidence to become a pioneer in her own field from friends who had started companies. "I feel so fortunate that there was a diving board and I had other friends who jumped into the water before me."

A Guilt-Free Dessert

Innocent Ice Pops

Innocent Ice Pops come in four flavors: Green Juice, Kale Daddy, Topicarrot, and Sweet Beets. Each pop is between 45 and 80 calories, depending on the flavor.

Green Juice, Milrom's favorite, is a blend of banana, pineapple, and kale. Sweet Beets is a mixture of apple and beets. Kale Daddy has lemon and cayenne pepper, and Tropicarrot is a fusion of mango, pineapple, and carrot. 

The ice pops can be purchased individually for $2.99 or in a box of three for $7.99. They are sold at four stores in New York City: Lifethyme Natural MarketElm Health, Health Nuts, and Garden of Eden. The frozen treats will also be available at Soul Cycle events throughout the summer in the Hamptons and New York City.

SEE ALSO: THE FAST DIET: Get Thin Quick By Starving Yourself Two Days A Week

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Here's The $13.9 Million Hamptons House Where The Kardashians Will Spend The Summer


The Kardashian clan will descend on the Hamptons this summer as they tape their E! show "Kourtney & Khloé Take the Hamptons."

The sisters are staying in a Southampton mansion that's currently on sale for $13.9 million, according to E!.

The five-bedroom estate rents for $295,000 from Memorial Day through Labor Day, though no word if the Kardashians got a discount rate.

Our friend Jeff Cully of EEFAS snapped some awesome aerial photos of the home last year, and shared them with us.

This place is seriously secluded, with water on three sides. Even so, the paparazzi should have no problem staking out the property.kardashianThere are views of North Sea Harbor from most rooms in the home. kardashian hamptons houseThe house comes with a boat dock and private beach. Not a bad place to spend the summer.kardashian hamptons house

SEE ALSO: Meet The Residents Of 'Billionaire Lane' In The Hamptons

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A Sommelier Chooses His 10 Favorite Wines For $16 Or Less


sommelier presents wines

Recently, we wrote about an experiment showing that most people can't taste the difference between cheap and expensive wine, and it got us thinking: What are the best inexpensive wines?

So we asked an expert: Sommelier Jörn Kleinhans, the owner of the Wine Elite Sommelier Company.

"We've found that appreciation of wine usually comes with deeper knowledge, which you can gain when a specific wine is a good representation of its grape varietal," Kleinhans says. He explains that such a wine must marry varietal (that's categories like Cabernets, Pinot Noirs, and Rieslings) with a region in which it grows best. 

"The wines here are typical examples of their kind," he says. "If you buy one, that's great, and if you buy all of them, you basically have a box of all the important wine styles in the world."

Here, Kleinhans presents his top 10 wine picks for $16 and under, broken down by varietal and region. While they may be available in your local wine store, we've also provided links to where you can purchase them online.

1. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

Such as: 2013 Giesen Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, $10.99

"This is perhaps the most drastic example of Sauvignon Blanc because it shows strong grapefruit, lemon, and grass notes, which is the clearest taste profile of this wine," says Kleinhans.

2. Riesling from Germany

Such as: 2009 S. A. Prum "Urziger Wurzgarten" Riesling Kabinett, $12.99

"Germany is where Riesling should belong," explains Kleinhans. "This wine has a sweetness, high aroma, and high acidity that you look for in every Riesling."

3. Chardonnay from Burgundy, France

Such as: 2011 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine Yves Girardin, $14.99

"This is the ultimate expression of a Burgundy," says Kleinhans. "It's clean, mineralic, and made to be consumed with food."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's What Happens When You Ask A Bunch Of Famous Chefs To Design Their Dream Burger


The original Shake Shack in New York City's Madison Square Park turns 10 this month, and the beloved burger joint is celebrating with a series of specialty burgers created by famous chefs.

The five special-edition burgers will be available at Shake Shack's Madison Square Park location from June 9 to June 13. They'll cost $8.50 each, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Madison Square Park Conservancy and NYC Parks.

If you thought the burger line was bad on a regular day, just wait until folks start lining up for these mouthwatering burgers.

Monday (6/9): Daniel Boulud's "Piggie Shack," Shack a beef-blend burger topped with DBGB’s BBQ pulled pork, jalepeño mayo, Boston lettuce, and mustard-vinegar slaw.

shake shack special burgerTuesday (6/10): David Chang's "Momofuku Shrimp Stack," a Shack beef-blend cheeseburger topped with smoked and griddled shrimp patty, Momofuku Hozon Sauce, Bibb lettuce, pickled onion, and salted cucumber.

shake shack special burgerWednesday (6/11): Andrew Zimmern's "AZ Cabrito Butter Burger," a goat burger with herb butter topped with roasted tomato, charred onion, and sweet pickle.

shake shack special burgerThursday (6/12): Daniel Humm's "Humm Burger," a Shack beef-blend Gruyère cheeseburger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon, celery relish, Bibb lettuce, truffle mayo, and shaved fresh black truffle.

shake shack special burgerFriday (6/13): April Bloomfield's "Breslin Burger," a Breslin beef-blend burger topped with all-natural applewood smoked bacon and Tickler English cheddar cheese sauce.

shake shack special burger

SEE ALSO: The Best Burger In Every State

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7 Items Every Guy Should Have In His Gym Bag


gym bag essentials birchbox products

One of the things successful people do in the morning is wake up and exercise.

The major challenge, of course, is to look polished and put together after the gym.

We asked the team at Birchbox Man to help us compile a list of the very best products to carry with you to the gym that will keep you fresh all day at the office.

1. BODY WASH/SHAMPOO: English Laundry 3-in-1 Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash, $20

This 3-in-1 time-saving product keeps both skin and hair hydrated with a creamy lather. The scent is also fantastic — a combination of bergamot, tarragon, and jasmine for a woodsy aroma.

2. HAIR PRODUCT: Hanz de Fuko Claymation, $18.50

Towel dry your hair and keep it in place with this cross between a wax and a soft clay. It holds well through both wind and rain, but doesn’t make hair feel greasy or stiff to the touch.

3. FACE WIPES: Ursa Major’s Face Wipes, $24

These one-time wipes exfoliate, cleanse, tone, and hydrate. Just unfold and swipe across your face and neck to get rid of any oil, grime, or sweat that may still be lingering after your shower.

4. DEODORANT: Jack Black’s Pit Boss Antiperspirant and Deodorant, $17

This invisible solid stick is gentle on skin and has a clean, citrusy scent that controls odors without being overbearing. Even if you’re out running all day and miss a shower, this stuff will still keep you smelling good.

5. ODOR PREVENTION: Bálla for Men Powder, $17

For the ultimate odor and sweat prevention, sprinkle some Bálla for Men Powder under your arms after applying your everyday deodorant. It contains talcum powder, zinc oxide, and zinc stearate to absorb moisture and stop odor and wetness, before or after your workout.

6. SORE MUSCLE SOOTHER: Lucky Tiger Head To Tail Rub, $12

If you went harder than usual at the gym, this soothing salve will help ease your overworked muscles and joints. The scent is a combination of eucalyptus, wintergreen, methanol, and peppermint that won’t overwhelm you, but will still help relieve soreness.

7. LOTION: Recipe for Men Super Smooth Body Cream, $24

After sweating and taking a hot shower, put more moisture back into your skin. This body cream has aloe and shea butter to soften up any rough patches, while also fighting pore-clogging bacteria and preventing irritation.

SEE ALSO: 11 Hot Products From Amazon's Brand New Male Grooming Department

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One Of The Creators Of 'Bejeweled' Is Selling This Modern Seattle Mansion [PHOTOS]


brian fiete house

Brian Fiete, cofounder of "Bejeweled" creator PopCap Games, has listed his Seattle home for $5.45 million, according to Curbed.

PopCap is best known for its hit game "Bejeweled," which, according to cofounder Jason Kapalka, has been played by more than 500 million people throughout its 14-year history. The company was bought by Electronic Arts for $1.3 billion in 2011.

Fiete's house is glassy and modern, with four bedrooms situated over three floors of living space. Sliding doors throughout the house make for incredible views of the Space Needle and downtown Seattle. 

The house is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, on top of the highest hill in the city.

You can get amazing views from several different spots in this house.

Large glass doors easily open the space to the outside.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A Southerner Learns How To Lose His Accent

Here's The Incredible Cover Letter Leonardo Da Vinci Wrote In The 1480s


Leonardo Da Vinci

Even a Renaissance man is occasionally on the job hunt.

Such was the case back in the 1480s, when a young Leonardo da Vinci was coming up in Florence.

Born the lowly son of a notary, da Vinci couldn't enter the "higher professions" of the city, like lawyer or statesman. Instead, his lot was that of a craftperson — a painter, to be exact. 

Under the tutelage of Verrochio, an established artist and goldsmith, da Vinci honed the powers of observation that would drive his illustrious career.

But Florence, he realized, was crowded with artists. If da Vinci was to make a name for himself, he'd have to try another town.

So he turned his sights toward Milan, then ruled by Ludovico Sforza, who hoped to make Milan a cultural capital on par with Florence and Venice. He also had a habit of getting into wars, as one did back in the day. 

Da Vinci applied to work for him, and knowing his potential patron's penchant for war, he wrote a cover letter positioning himself as a military engineer. As the best cover letters do, it tailored his career history to his employer's needs

Here are a few of the inventions da Vinci proposed:

  • "Very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy"
  • "Covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery"
  • "Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use." 

Beyond weapons, da Vinci promised innovations, like tunneling beneath castle walls, redirecting the waters of moats, and methods for destroying fortresses. 

"In short," he humbly proclaims, "as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence."

Surprisingly, the legendary artist doesn't mention his ability as an architect, painter, or sculptor until the close of the letter, and, by today's standards, it's a bit long-winded. 

Regardless, the letter worked: Da Vinci worked for the duke for 16 years, completing some of his most memorable work, including "The Last Supper."

Care of blog-based archive Letters of Note, here's the cover letter in full: 

My Most Illustrious Lord, 

Having now sufficiently seen and considered the achievements of all those who count themselves masters and artificers of instruments of war, and having noted that the invention and performance of the said instruments is in no way different from that in common usage, I shall endeavour, while intending no discredit to anyone else, to make myself understood to Your Excellency for the purpose of unfolding to you my secrets, and thereafter offering them at your complete disposal, and when the time is right bringing into effective operation all those things which are in part briefly listed below:

1. I have plans for very light, strong and easily portable bridges with which to pursue and, on some occasions, flee the enemy, and others, sturdy and indestructible either by fire or in battle, easy and convenient to lift and place in position. Also means of burning and destroying those of the enemy. 

2. I know how, in the course of the siege of a terrain, to remove water from the moats and how to make an infinite number of bridges, mantlets and scaling ladders and other instruments necessary to such an enterprise. 

3. Also, if one cannot, when besieging a terrain, proceed by bombardment either because of the height of the glacis or the strength of its situation and location, I have methods for destroying every fortress or other stranglehold unless it has been founded upon a rock or so forth. 

4. I have also types of cannon, most convenient and easily portable, with which to hurl small stones almost like a hail-storm; and the smoke from the cannon will instil a great fear in the enemy on account of the grave damage and confusion. 

5. Also, I have means of arriving at a designated spot through mines and secret winding passages constructed completely without noise, even if it should be necessary to pass underneath moats or any river.

6. Also, I will make covered vehicles, safe and unassailable, which will penetrate the enemy and their artillery, and there is no host of armed men so great that they would not break through it. And behind these the infantry will be able to follow, quite uninjured and unimpeded. 

7. Also, should the need arise, I will make cannon, mortar and light ordnance of very beautiful and functional design that are quite out of the ordinary. 

8. Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I will assemble catapults, mangonels, trebuckets and other instruments of wonderful efficiency not in general use. In short, as the variety of circumstances dictate, I will make an infinite number of items for attack and defence. 

9. And should a sea battle be occasioned, I have examples of many instruments which are highly suitable either in attack or defence, and craft which will resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon and powder and smoke. 

10. In time of peace I believe I can give as complete satisfaction as any other in the field of architecture, and the construction of both public and private buildings, and in conducting water from one place to another. 

Also I can execute sculpture in marble, bronze and clay. Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be. 

Moreover, work could be undertaken on the bronze horse which will be to the immortal glory and eternal honour of the auspicious memory of His Lordship your father, and of the illustrious house of Sforza. 

And if any of the above-mentioned things seem impossible or impracticable to anyone, I am most readily disposed to demonstrate them in your park or in whatsoever place shall please Your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

SEE ALSO: Here's How To Write The Perfect Cover Letter

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14 Places You Should Visit In 2014


Croatia_Dubrovnik_Medieval walls of Dubrovnik Old City on the Adriatic Sea

Even though it's halfway through 2014, there is plenty of time left to book an amazing trip this year. 

We looked at major developments, cultural trends, and global festivals to find the hottest places to travel around the world in 2014.

From Croatia, the E.U.'s newest member, to Tokyo, the site of the 2020 Olympic Games, here are the best places to travel this year.


Over the past few years, Croatia has been attracting more and more tourists, but now that it's officially a member of the European Union it's about to undergo a serious tourist boom.

Travelers love the famous beaches, gorgeous views of the Adriatic coast, historic architecture, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Croatia is also famous for its fresh Mediterranean-style food and wine. 

Game of Thrones fans will love visiting the country to relive scenes from the TV show, which was filmed in Dubrovnik, Split, and other picturesque places. 

And best of all: It's still one of the cheapest destinations in Europe— especially if you avoid the peak tourist season in July and August.

Portland, Maine

America's other Portland has been gaining a reputation as a funky low-key destination that prizes quality food and cutting-edge art.

More and more talented chefs have been flocking to the coastal New England city, opening upscale restaurants like Fore Street and Petite Jacqueline. But there's also  great casual fare, like tacos, burgers, and cupcakes from food trucks, and of course tons of lobster. 

Meanwhile, the city's art scene is thriving. That's to be expected, since it's home to dozens of edgy galleries and artist collaboratives, the Maine College of Art, and the Portland Museum of Art, located in the heart of the Arts District. Visit in the beginning of the month to experience a First Friday Art Walk, when artists display their works on the streets and musicians and performance artists entertain the crowds.

Visitors will have no shortage of hotel options, as the city is expecting to open 500 new rooms in the next two years. Until then, stay in a quaint inn like the Pomegranate Inn, which features fireplaces in the rooms and cool art exhibits that change regularly.

And while there's plenty going on here year-round, the best time to visit is undoubtedly during the summer.


This is already a huge year for Brazil, as the country is gearing up to host the 20th FIFA World Cup this month. Matches will take place in 12 cities around the country, from Brasilia and Rio to Salvador and São Paulo.  Just two years later, Rio will host the 2016 Olympics.

As a result, the country has been undergoing massive construction projects as it prepares to welcome the millions of tourists and athletes who will descend on the country over the next few years.

That means cleaning up the notoriously dangerous favelas in Rio, building new stadiums around the country, and upgrading hotels and restaurants to accommodate the crowds. While Brazilians have complained about the rapid development with mass protests last summer, many people believe that these changes will improve the country.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's The Tiny Village Where China Dumps Thousands Of Tons Of Electronic Garbage [PHOTOS]



China’s economic boom and burgeoning middle class have led it to become the world’s second leading producer of electronic garbage (or e-waste) in the world. Every year, the country throws out over 100 million computers, 40 million televisions, 20 million air conditioners, and 10 million fridges, to purchase new models. 

The vast majority of e-waste from China’s capital, Beijing, makes its to Dongxiaokou, a small village on the outskirts of the city, where hundreds of families make a living by stripping the garbage to its components and reselling the parts. 

All that could change in the coming year as the Chinese government has announced that Dongxiaokou is facing demolition to make way for new urban development.

Reuters photographer Kim Kyung-Hoon recently traveled down to the village to capture the bustling recycling trade, even as demolition looms.

Dongxiaokou used to be a small farming community in the northern suburbs of Beijing. However, as the demand for electronic goods has grown over the last 15 years, families have moved in to deal with the ensuing electronic waste.


While large-scale recycling operations capture e-waste from corporations, most everyday consumers give their old and broken electronics to independent garbage collectors who pay for the waste.

Waste-collectors head to wealthy, downtown Beijing with tricycle carriers to wait for residents to offer up potentially lucrative waste. In addition to electronics, collectors will offer money for everything from plastic bottles to household appliances and even newspapers.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

10 Brilliant New Architecture Projects From Around The World


Ground, School of Engineering and Applied Science at Yale UniversityThe American Institute of Architects has just announced the 10 winners of its 11th annual Small Project Awards Program.

The program finds the most innovative small-project designs around the world, focusing on "eco-friendlytech-savvy and out-of-the-box designs."

This year's winners range from a tiny home in Wisconsin to a cafe at Yale University.

AIA divided submissions into four different categories: buildings that cost less than $150,000 and $1.5 million to construct, buildings smaller than than 5,000 square feet, and "unbuilt," which are theoretical or visionary. Eligible architects must be licensed in the U.S., but their buildings can be anywhere.

The jury included five members of AIA who also work in architecture firms. 

GROUND, Yale University; New Haven, CT, Bentel and Bentel Architects

The new Ground cafe at Yale's Marcel Breuer-designed Becton School of Engineering and Applied Sciences ('SEAS'), is meant to encourage social interactions between faculty and students of the engineering school, as well as members of other departments in the university.

REDACTION HOUSE; Delafield, Wisconsin, Johnsen Schmaling Architects

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Look Inside The Historical Mansion That Sold For Just $1 Before Being Transformed Into A Dream Home


Untitled 1

A couple who had been searching for a property in which they could open their own bed and breakfast got extremely lucky when they found the enchantingly beautiful but rundown James Lee House in Memphis.

So Jose Velázquez and his wife, Jennifer, bought the house. 

For a buck.

The James Lee House is a farmhouse that was built in 1848. It's the birthplace of the Memphis College of Arts. The home stayed in the Lee family until 1959, and then was turned over to the city with a 50-year lease to turn it into a museum. It never happened, so the house just kind of sat there, collecting dust, rotting away.

In 2011, the lease ended, and the city of Memphis made a call for proposals from those who wanted to restore the grand home in a way that would benefit the community at large.

Jose Velázquez told The Huffington Post he submitted a report on plans to invest $2.1 million in restoring the 165-year-old mansion and turning it into a fully-functioning bed and breakfast in just under one year.

He and his wife posted tons of before and after photos on the James Lee House Facebook page showing how they turned a beautiful disaster into an amazing bed and breakfast.

This is what the James Lee House looked like before the renovations started.

You can tell the 165-year-old house has tons of charm.

But the inside really needed a lot of work.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

REPORT: Wal-Mart Heirs Give Next To Nothing To Their Charitable Foundation


Wal-Mart family Jim Walton, Alice Walton and Rob Walton

The heirs to Wal-Mart's fortune are among the world's wealthiest, with just four members of the Walton family estimated to be worth $144 billion.

But the family members give very little of their own cash to their charitable foundation, according to a new report by Walmart 1 Percent, a group supported by the union-backed Making Change at Walmart. Forbes first published a story on the report.

The foundation, which was established in 1988, spent $325 million in 2013 on education reform, environmental conservation, and causes in Wal-Mart's home region of Northwest Arkansas, according to its website.

The foundation has also poured roughly $1 billion into the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., a museum headed up by Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

Here are some key findings from the report, which examined 23 years of the foundation's activities:

  • Rob and Alice Walton (the son and daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton) made zero individual contributions to the Foundation during the 23 years examined
  • Jim Walton (Sam Walton's youngest son) made a single personal contribution of $3 million to the Walton Family Foundation more than 15 years ago
  • Rob, Jim, and Alice Walton and the family holding company they control (Walton Enterprises) have been responsible for only .13% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation ($6.4 million)
  • Among the second generation Walton heirs, it is the in-law, Christy, who has been responsible for the largest share of contributions to the Foundation
  • The four Walmart heirs and Walton Enterprises combined have been responsible for only 1.2% of all contributions to the Walton Family Foundation
  • The combined lifetime contributions of the second generation Walmart heirs and their family holding company to the Walton Family Foundation come to $58.49 million

The report points to evidence that the Waltons use the foundation to avoid estate and gift taxes, as Bloomberg first revealed in September 2013.

It also highlights the apparent disparity between the Waltons' charitable giving and that of other billionaires, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

From the report:

Walmart reportA Walton Family Foundation representative who reviewed the report gave this statement to Forbes:

"Since 1987, the Walton family has contributed more than $5 billion to charitable organizations and causes. Family members living and deceased have provided generously for the foundation. The family has planned for the continued growth of the foundation and intends for grant making to progressively increase over time."

SEE ALSO: How America's Largest Retailer Became Its Favorite Punching Bag

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