Archive for July, 2009

Problems with PDFs

July 31, 2009

VIA: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/tech/features/article_1478846.php/Problems_with_PDFs

Washington – Adobe’s portable document format (PDF) is everywhere these days – and it’s easy to see why. PDF files are secure. They also allow publishers to distribute documents with complex formatting retained, and, thanks to the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, they can be viewed by just about anyone on any platform. But what if you’d like to do more with PDF files – such as converting them into text, or creating them yourself? That’s when most questions arise. Read on for some answers.

Q: How can I turn a PDF into editable text?

A: There are a few ways. First, you can scan the document and then use an application to turn the scanned document into editable text. To do this, you’ll need two tools: a scanner and an optical character recognition (OCR) package. Most people have a scanner these days. If you don’t, you can find good flatbed scanners for as little as 25 dollars.

As for an OCR package, you might already have one without knowing it. If you have Microsoft Office installed on your PC, you also have an application called Microsoft Office Document Imaging, which can do everything from scanning a printed document to performing optical character recognition and sending the result to Word. MS Document Imaging probably won’t be as accurate or preserve as much formatting as a heavy-duty commercial OCR package such as OmniPage, but it will do the trick in many situations.

Another option is to procure or purchase a full version of Adobe Acrobat or Nitro PDF Professional, which would allow you to open a PDF and save it as a text file, assuming the PDF has not been password-protected. Both Acrobat Pro and Nitro PDF are available in trial versions

.

Finally, for low volume work, you might try one of the free online services, such as PDFtoWord (http://www.pdftoword.com), that will convert your PDF and e-mail you the results of the conversion. PDFtoWord does an impressive job of converting PDFs with most formatting intact.

Note that one of the reasons that the PDF format has gained such traction is that it allows companies and individuals to secure the content of the document by password-protecting the PDFs. Be sure not to redistribute protected documents that you’ve converted from PDFs.

Q: Is there a way to turn a document into a PDF without buying Acrobat Pro?

A: Yes. If you do not want to purchase any software at all, you could turn to one of the free online services that will convert a document into PDF and send you the results by e-mail. PDF Online (http://www.pdfonline.com/convert-pdf) is one such service. This approach is suitable for one-off or low-volume work.

For higher volume work, check out the free Doc to PDF Universal Document Converter (http://www.doc-pdf.com), which is essentially a printer driver. Once installed, just open the document you’d like to convert, and from your application’s File menu, select Print. In the resulting Print dialog box, select Universal Document Converter as the printer, and then click the Properties button. From the Properties panel, select Document to PDF as the profile type, and click OK. Files are saved to the folder ‘c:udc output files’ by default.

Q: Adobe reader just seems to get larger and slower. Is there any way I can get older versions of the Reader?

A: Sure. Check in at OldVersion.com (http://www.oldversion.com/Acrobat-Reader.html), and you’ll find virtually every version of Adobe Reader since 1.0.

The problem you might run into by downloading very old versions of Adobe Reader, however, is that they may not support some of the features of PDF documents that you find today on the Internet

. So instead of using an older version, you may want to opt for a replacement. Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader) is free and compatible with most PDF documents in existence today.

Foxit’s claim to fame is that it’s ‘small’ and ‘fast,’ which will be music to the ears of those who want nothing more from a PDF reader than to read PDF documents – and quickly.

With Foxit installed, you’ll probably be able to open PDF files you find on the Internet almost as quickly as you open a standard Web page. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Q: I installed Adobe Acrobat on my computer, and now I have Acrobat toolbar buttons in most of my applications, such as Word and Outlook. My applications also load slower than before I installed Acrobat. How can I get rid of these buttons?

A: There’s really only one way to remove these toolbars permanently. You can go to the Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel, find the Adobe installation, select it, and click Remove/Change. You’ll want to ‘change’ the installation, and in the process remove the Create Adobe PDF options for the applications where you do not wish to see the toolbar buttons. Specifically, in the Change dialog box, you should expand the Create Adobe PDF menu and change the status of the appropriate application to ‘This feature will not be available.’

Note that doing this will not affect your ability to print to PDF using the PDF printer driver. In other words, you’ll still be able to create PDFs with your applications; you’ll just need to select PDF as the printing format from the Print dialog box.

Create PDFs for Free – a List of Free PDF Creation and PDF Generation Software

July 31, 2009

via: http://www.4xpdf.com/2008/10/create-pdfs-for-free-a-list-of-free-pdf-creation-and-pdf-generation-software/

This is a list of all the really free PDF creation and PDF generation software that we could find on the web. We tried to make the list as comprehensive as possible — but we’re only human — so if we’ve missed a product that you think should be included in this list, please add a comment.

The criteria for this list is simple: the application must be free (definitely no hideous watermarks on printed pages allowed), work on the client-side and include a PDF printer driver (i.e. so you can go to File > Print and print to PDF). So here goes (ranked in order of popularity at Download.com):

  • PrimoPDF (12,168,127 downloads) – PrimoPDF comes with pre-configured settings for creating PDF files optimized for print, screen, ebook, or prepress. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista.
  • doPDF Free PDF Converter (1,160,075 downloads) – Transform any printable document into PDF format. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • PDF ReDirect (926,486 downloads) – Create, encrypt, and append PDF files. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • CutePDF Writer (853,306 downloads) – Create Adobe PDF files with the push of a button. Requirements: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista.
  • PDF995 Printer Driver 8.4 (464,167 downloads) – Create professional-quality documents in PDF file format. Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/Vista.
  • Bullzip PDF Printer (86, 558 downloads) – Use any MS Windows application for writing PDF documents. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server.
  • Solid PDF Creator (70,212 downloads) – Create PDF and PDF/A documents from any Windows program. Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.
  • PDFCreator (52,563 downloads) – Render PDF files within applications that support the print function. Requirements: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP/2003 Server/Vista.

Indian IT-BPO industry shows resilience; to grow by 4-7 percent in FY09-10

July 31, 2009

via: http://www.nasscom.in/Nasscom/templates/NormalPage.aspx?id=57224

  • Industry revenues gross USD 58.8 billion in FY 08-09; export revenues – US$46.3 billion; Domestic: USD 12.5 billion
  • Export revenues in FY 09-10 estimated at USD48-50 billion; domestic revenues to grow by 15-18%
  • Industry rankings released for FY08-09
    • Genpact, WNS and IBM Daksh lead the NASSCOM Top 15 BPO rankings
    • TCS, Infosys and Wipro are Top 3 players in the NASSCOM Top 20 IT services export rankings and NASSCOM Top 20 IT-BPO employers

FY 08-09 highlights

  • FY 08-09 export revenues aggregate USD 46.3 billion recording a growth of 16.3%
  • Domestic IT-BPO market clocks INR 570 billion; exhibits 21% growth
  • Offshore component to increase
  • Growth in emerging geographies, APAC, RoW 3X of US & UK
  • Domestic market drives growth – Large transformation deals in telecom, e-governance

FY 08-09 highlights

  • FY 08-09 export revenues aggregate USD 46.3 billion recording a growth of 16.3%
  • Domestic IT-BPO market clocks INR 570 billion; exhibits 21% growth
  • Offshore component to increase
  • Growth in emerging geographies, APAC, RoW 3X of US & UK
  • Domestic market drives growth – Large transformation deals in telecom, e-governance

NASSCOM today announced the findings of its annual survey on the performance of the Indian IT-BPO services sector for FY08-09 and outlook for FY09-10. According to the findings, the sector reached USD 58.8 billion in FY08-09 up from USD 52 billion in FY07-08. Export revenues for the Indian IT-BPO industry recorded growth of 16.3 percent and clocked revenues of USD 46.3 billion in FY08-09 up from USD 40.4 billion in FY07-08. The domestic segment grew by 21% to register revenues of INR 570 billion in FY08-09 from INR 470 billion in FY07-08.

Within the export segment, IT services have grown by 14.7% to clock revenues of USD 26.5 billion; BPO exports are up by 16.5% registering revenues of USD 12.7 billion. Engineering services and product exports clocked revenues of USD 7.1 billion, growing at 11% in FY 08 -09.

Mr. Pramod Bhasin, Chairman, NASSCOM said, “While growth was synonymous with industry performance in the past decade, resilience and efficiency was the thrust in the year 2008-09. In the face of a severe economic downturn in key markets, the industry was able to deliver a high growth of over 16 percent and retain its position as a strategic global sourcing destination. The industry also enhanced its thrust on building a globalised value chain, with a 35 percent increase in global delivery centers since 2007”.

Mr. Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM said, “A significant highlight of the year was the industry thrust to re-engineer itself to partner with its clients in testing times. Increase in fixed price contract, shift from onsite to offshore and end-to-end transformational deals helped the industry to get over 90 percent repeat business from its clients. At the same time, the thrust on diversification saw emerging verticals and geographies grow almost three times than the core markets”.
The domestic market witnessed enhanced focus in FY 08-09, with large transformational deals in telecom and e-governance and contract value of outsourcing deals growing by 32%. Domestic BPO got a special boost with over 40 percent growth in this period.

FY 09-10 trends/estimates

  • FY09-10 Export revenue projected to grow at ~4-7% to reach ~USD 48-50 billion
  • Domestic IT-BPO market to reach ~INR 650-670 billion growing at ~ 15 – 18 %
  • Core markets, North America and BFSI started to stabilize
  • Decision making starting to happen – but buyers remain cautious; large deals missing
  • Analysts continue to downgrade IT spending for 2009
  • Q1 result of FY 09-10 demonstrate sustained focus with growth in operating margins and high utilization

FY 09-10 trends/estimates

  • FY09-10 Export revenue projected to grow at ~4-7% to reach ~USD 48-50 billion
  • Domestic IT-BPO market to reach ~INR 650-670 billion growing at ~ 15 – 18 %
  • Core markets, North America and BFSI started to stabilize
  • Decision making starting to happen – but buyers remain cautious; large deals missing
  • Analysts continue to downgrade IT spending for 2009
  • Q1 result of FY 09-10 demonstrate sustained focus with growth in operating margins and high utilization

The last few weeks have witnessed some stabilization in the demand environment with improvements in GDP growth rates, stock indices upswing that could indicate early signs of recovery. However, worldwide IT spending growth is expected to decline in 2009 and 2010. The environment continues to be challenging with global demand ecosystem being weak; absence of large deals; vendor consolidation and pricing pressures.

“The industry in its first quarter results has demonstrated sustained focus with increased operating margins and enhanced utilization. The NASSCOM survey estimates that the IT-BPO export revenues will grow by ~ 4-7% to reach ~ USD 48-50 billion in FY09-10.” said Mr. Bhasin. IT-BPO Domestic revenues are expected to grow by 15-18%, to reach INR 650-670 billion.

Global sourcing is today an essential component for organizational competitiveness. The industry in India will continue to invest in offering transformational solutions and enhance its value proposition in sync with client requirements.

As a part of the survey, NASSCOM also released the annual rankings for the following categories, for FY08-09

  1. Top 20 IT Software and Service exporters in India (excluding BPO revenues)
  2. Top 15 BPO rankings
  3. Top 20 IT-BPO employers in India

Note:

  • Includes IT Services, Engg Services, Software Products and Offshore Product Development revenues
  • Ranking is based on companies that have submitted the detailed form. It does not include Mahindra Satyam whose revised audited revenues are not available
  • This list does not include some companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside India, but have significant India-centric delivery capabilities, and have not shared their India-centric revenue figures. Had they been ranked based on their India revenues, companies such as Accenture, Cognizant , HP and IBM and would have also appeared in this ranking.

Note:

  • This list does not include some companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside India, but have significant India-based delivery capabilities, and have not shared their India-based revenue figures. Had they been ranked based on their India revenues, companies such as Convergys and Sutherland Global Services would have also appeared in this list.
  • Since several companies are privately held, in order to maintain uniformity, revenue figures for the ranked companies are not being shared.

Note:

  • This list is based on the India-based headcount of firms with IT-BPO operations in India, as reported to NASSCOM in its annual survey. Based on publicly available information, few other MNC’s such as Accenture and IBM would have also featured in this list. However, as they have not participated in the survey, we do not have all the required details and are unable to rank them. Most companies on this list are engaged in IT as well as BPO.
  • Companies marked with an * indicate pure-play BPO firms.

3 stage of life :Teen Age To Old Age…

July 29, 2009

3 stage of life :Teen Age To Old Age…


Teen age:
Have Time + Energy …but No Money

Working Age:
Have Money + Energy …but No Time


Old age:
Have Time + Money …but no Energy

Hard Drive weight increasing?

July 16, 2009

I hate Microsoft, But I like Microsoft products.

I hate Microsoft licence policy, But I like Microsoft users.

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/vistahardware/thread/720108ee-0a9c-4090-b62d-bbd5cb1a7605

Locked

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 1:59 PMK_McLovin Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Apologies if this is the incorrect area for this question.

    I’ve noticed that as I copy data/install programs on my Laptop, the weight of the Laptop increases. I have a bad back and am medically limited on the amount of weight I can carry so I need to be very carefull not to inflict injury upon myself.

    I have also noticed my XBox feels heavier as well (the more games I save or purchase from arcade). I generally don’t travel with my XBox so that is not an issue for me, but note the I am having the same results.

    My ask, what is the weight/file ratio? So for example, how many GB’s = 6oz? I dread the day I need a dolly to commute to work with my Laptop.

    Thanks in advance!
    – K

All Replies

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 7:08 PMRobyn-Support Engineer Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Hi K_McLovin,

    Thank you for posting on Microsoft Answers Forum.

    If we understand your question correctly, there is no possible way that copying files or installing programs is increasing the weight of your laptop. Also, the same with your Xbox, downloading games from the Arcade will not increase the weight of your Game Console.

    Just to explain a little bit more as to why the hard drive will not “gain weight”; if you were to look inside a hard drive you would see what would resemble a record player. There are small platters that resemble the record then you have a read/write head attached to an arm. The platters are coated with tiny magnetic particles when the hard drive gets “written on” the read/write head simply alters the polarity of the millions of different little sections on different parts of the hard drive. So when you write on a hard drive you don’t really “Write” on it, you rearrange things on it, and because of that the weight doesn’t change.

    If we are misunderstanding your question please clarify so that we may further assist you.


    Robyn
    Microsoft Answers Support Engineer
    Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.
  • Saturday, January 24, 2009 4:40 AMdixonticon Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    If you have very large files, you can compress them and then compress the compressed file etc. until the files are down to 1 byte. That should make you laptop lighter than when you bought it! I use this trick all the time so that I can save my entire music collection on a 5-1/4″ floppy (yeah, I found a use for them 🙂
  • Thursday, January 29, 2009 3:34 PMSergio Rodriguez Garcia Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Dear friend:

    Every Gigabyte counts as 5oz of extra weight for your computer.There has been cases (in computers with 1Tb of Hard drive and more) of people left eMule activated 3 days and when that people returned to the computer,there was a hole in the floor instead.

    Maybe you should try a compression software (like 7zip for example) which help reducing the data’s weight.

    Take care of those P2P software that quickly increase your data.Watch out and be careful.

    Use MS-DOS to drastically reduce data weight.

    Greetings from Spain!

  • Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:12 PMLandi Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    I am glad you brought this up actually.

    I don’t think this is just a technology problem. The other day, I was reading one of those MS press books (One of the Thick ones) and towards the end of the book (after reading it for about three hours) I wanted to get up for a glass of water and use the toilet eventually.
    But, here’s when a strange thing happened. As i was about to get up (I usually read in bed) my head was so heavy that I couldn’t get up. I roughly estimate the wheight increase ~564.32 grams.
    Well, I attributed this phenomena to the amount of information that got stored in my brain during that time (Notice the similarity there ? )
    I eventually fell asleep and when I woke up a few hours later to take the MS exam guess what?!? My head was light again, and I consequently failed the Exam as I couldn’t remember anything a read on that book.

    Based on my experience, what I would suggest, is turn the laptop off, leave it like that for a few hours and then you can carry it around without risking to break your back. You might risk to loose your data but hey, your health is more important.

    I hope that helps

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009 7:05 PMShantanu KaushikMVP, ModeratorUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    i am sorry if i didn’t understand your question ? but Data does not weight !! afaik.. so their should be no increase in laptop’s weight !!!

    i dont know if others might differ…


    Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, blog at : http://www.thecomputernext.com
  • Saturday, January 24, 2009 3:53 AMartfudd Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    The weight gain is not in the Xbox & Laptop, it is in *you* from all that junk food you are pigging out on while playing way too many games for way too many hours on your Xbox & Laptop. 🙂


    Art..
  • Saturday, January 24, 2009 10:13 AMJr C Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    This is a rare error when the overwriting mechanism of the memory banks lead to an overflow of data because it cannot add on and thus super-stack, increasing the weight significantly. While normal weight/file ratio is approximately 0.02 oz/GB, in rare cases such as these, it can go as high as somewhere around 6 oz/GB.

    One solution is going to the system32 folder (C:\WINDOWS\system32) and deleting certain unnecessary files, but too much tampering may cause permanent changes to your computer.
  • Saturday, January 24, 2009 1:02 PMClan Epsilon Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Guys he’s serious, his last name is McLovin, you gotta trust that…
  • Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:11 PMChristophSackl Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Actually the weight of your hard drive decreases after formatting it for the first time. On an unformatted hard drive the bits are spread in weird order all over the drive and there’s big chaos. This causes strong magnetic forces and there’s a constant push-pull between the bits. This consumes a lot of energy and according to a smart guy called Einstein energy has weight. When formatting the drive for the first time the bits are put in order and also stay in order when writing data to the disk thus the energy decreases and thus the weight actually decreases and doesn’t increase.

    P.S. This is fully serious! Read: http://www.wdr.de/tv/wissen-macht-ah/archiv/kuriosah/computer.phtml. Unfortunately the site is in German but I’ve written the most important part above.

    • Edited byChristophSackl Saturday, January 24, 2009 11:12 PMspelling mistake
  • Monday, January 26, 2009 6:49 PMUnkoil Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    K_McLovin said:

    Apologies if this is the incorrect area for this question.

    I’ve noticed that as I copy data/install programs on my Laptop, the weight of the Laptop increases. I have a bad back and am medically limited on the amount of weight I can carry so I need to be very carefull not to inflict injury upon myself.

    I have also noticed my XBox feels heavier as well (the more games I save or purchase from arcade). I generally don’t travel with my XBox so that is not an issue for me, but note the I am having the same results.

    My ask, what is the weight/file ratio? So for example, how many GB’s = 6oz? I dread the day I need a dolly to commute to work with my Laptop.

    Thanks in advance!
    – K

    Dreading the day you Dolly your laptop???? Are you kidding me….. what does your laptop weigh 6 lbs. at the most?

    That about half the weight of your McDonalds bag…

    You better be carrying an Alienware laptop and not a netbook.

    If you cannot carry your laptop thats the least of your worries, I’d be more concerned with how your dealing with yourself daily

    You do know that your installing programs in a virtual perspective

  • Thursday, January 29, 2009 4:23 PMlanuletta Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    It depends on the size of the gigabyte, if it’s a bigger gigabyte it will weigh more (like a normal bite of your Mcdonalds) …the bigger the byte the more energy (jiggawatts) it will consume and therefore weigh more. Using the formula w=g/j (weight = gigabytes/jiggawatts) you will see how much the weight will increase. Avoid .exe files as they are really heavy according to Christophé Toffy Brun in his 1908 memoirs…
  • Friday, January 30, 2009 1:27 PMVisentico Rey Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Yes, we have to take that seriously.

    If we don’t delete the programs that we don’t use, we can crash our backs, or even… who knows, transform our planet into a black hole.

    😄

  • Saturday, February 07, 2009 1:43 AMElmer Homero Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Esteemed lanuletta:

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on this one. The fact is that the equation to which you refer (discovered in the XVIIII century, by Lineus Torvaldus) involves gigabytes AND giggawatts (as opposed to your “jiggawatts” which have been deprecated). The correct form is>
    “weight of data equals gigabytes divided by giggawatts”
    or
    wD=g/g
    Basic algebra shows that g/g=1, so
    wD=1
    Divide both sides by D…
    w(D/D) = 1/D
    thus eliminating (D/D) it renders.
    w = 1/D
    Which reads: “The weight is the inverse of the Data”

    This is the formal mathematical proof that the more data you store, the LESS the computer weights.
    If anything, this person should put his hamburger ON TOP of the laptop, to act as a paperwieght.

    Elmer Homero

  • Saturday, February 07, 2009 1:50 AMElmer Homero Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Forgot to explain:
    The fact that the giggawat is spelled with a “g” is because it actually has the same latin root as gigabyte: “gi” and means “the highest one” as in “ginius” (the highest one in IQ).

    Elmer Homero

  • Monday, March 09, 2009 10:03 AMOratIos Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    Onre more,

    Don’t think too much….The data inside your Brain increases your weight!!!

  • Saturday, March 28, 2009 10:17 AMAlex12344321 Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    How about being sincere with the guy, and just telling him: “K_McLovin, as your question is one of the stupidest questions existing, the fact that you thought of asking it results in you being EXTREMELY STUPID!”
  • Sunday, April 19, 2009 1:41 AMclevesteve Users MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    McLovin, you are awesome.

    By far, my favorite post I’ve ever seen on a techie message board.

    And I usually don’t like trolls.


    n00b
  • Thursday, May 07, 2009 4:23 PMBarb WinterMSFT, ModeratorUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers MedalsUsers Medals

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    This IS one of the funniest posts in the forums!
    unfortunately, it is showing up as answered on our pages, so I need to lock now. thanks all for the giggles!


    Barb Winter
    Microsoft Answers Program Manager
    Visit our Microsoft Answers Feedback Forum and let us know what you think.

    If you get your question answered, please come back and mark the reply as an answer so others can find it.

    If you get helped by an answer to someone else’s question, please mark the post as Helpful.

Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2009 – city ranking

July 10, 2009

Tokyo knocks Moscow off the top spot as the most expensive city for expatriates; Johannesburg is the cheapest

  • Asian and European cities dominate the top 10
  • Significant currency fluctuations and strengthening of dollar cause major reshuffle in the ranking
  • London drops 13 places to rank 16, New York joins the top 10 list

Tokyo has knocked Moscow off the top spot to become the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, according to the latest Cost of Living Survey from Mercer. Osaka is in second position, up nine places since last year, whereas Moscow is now in third place. Geneva climbs four places to fourth position and Hong Kong moves up one to reach fifth. Johannesburg has replaced Asunción in Paraguay as the least expensive city in the ranking.

In Mercer’s survey, New York is used as the base city for the index and scores 100 points, all cities are compared against New York and currency movements are measured against the US dollar. Tokyo scores 143.7 points and is nearly three times as costly as Johannesburg with an index score of 49.6.

The survey covers 143 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living surveys and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowance for their expatriate employees.

A significant reshuffle of cities can be observed in this year’s ranking, mainly due to considerable currency fluctuations worldwide. The majority of European cities moved down in the ranking with Warsaw experiencing the most dramatic change, plummeting 78 places from 35th to 113th. London and Oslo, both previously in the top 10, have dropped 13 and 10 places respectively. The same trend can be seen in Australia, New Zealand and India. Sydney has dropped 51 places from 15th to 66th and Mumbai has slipped down to 66th from 48th place.

Cities in the US, China, Japan and the Middle East have surged in the rankings. New York is a new entry in the top 10, jumping from 22nd to 8th place, and so is Beijing, now in 9th place, up from 20th in 2008. Japan now has two cities in the top 10 and Dubai has climbed 32 places to reach 20th.
Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at Mercer, commented: “As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year we have observed significant fluctuations in most of the world’s currencies, which have had a profound impact on this year’s ranking. Many currencies, including the Euro and British pound, have weakened considerably against a strong US dollar causing a number of European cities to plummet in the rankings.”

She added: “With significant exposure to multiple economies and currencies, multinational companies continue to be greatly affected by the financial crisis. The cost of expatriate programmes is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations and inflation rates. Now that cost containment and reduction is at the top of most company agendas, keeping track of the change in factors that dictate expatriate cost of living and housing allowances is essential.

“It is important for multinational companies to continuously benchmark against their peers to ensure compensation packages are fair and in line with the rest of the market.”

Europe, Middle East and Africa

In third place and with an index score of 115.4, Moscow remains the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates. However, a dramatic depreciation of the rouble against the US dollar has led to a sharp fall in the city’s index score compared to 2008 (142.4). Accommodation costs also started to decrease at the end of last year after a sharp increase in the first part of 2008. The next European cities in the ranking are Geneva and Zurich in fourth and sixth place, up from eight and ninth respectively. Copenhagen remains in seventh, and both Milan and Paris drop one place to 11th and 13th.

European cities have experienced some of this year’s steepest falls in the ranking, with Warsaw plummeting from 35th to 113th and Glasgow (129th place) and Birmingham (125th place) in the UK falling 60 and 59 places respectively. German and Spanish cities all fell between eight and 11 places, whereas cities in Sweden, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary all fell between 36 and 48 places. “As most European currencies have weakened against the dollar it has become more costly for companies based in this region to send expatriates and their families to US cities,” said Ms Constantin-Métral.

Oslo and London, both previously in the top 10, are now in 14th and 16th place respectively. “The decline of rental prices both in Oslo and London, coupled with the fall in the value of British pound and Norwegian krone against the US dollar, have caused these cities to plummet in the rankings,” said Ms Constantin-Métral.

While the vast majority of European cities have fallen in the rankings, most Middle Eastern cities have experienced a reverse trend. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have risen significantly in the ranking, moving from 52nd to 20th and 65th to 26th respectively. This is mainly due to the UAE dirham being fixed to the US dollar. Tel Aviv remains the most expensive city in the Middle East, although it is the only one in the region to move down in the ranking, from 14th to 17th.

Most African cities moved up in this year’s ranking, although their index scores have decreased. Cairo jumps a substantial 44 places to 57th as the Egyptian pound fared well against the US dollar. The sharp decrease of the South African rand against the US dollar has caused Johannesburg to slip to bottom position.

The Americas

Due to the strengthening of the US dollar, all cities in the US have experienced a rise in this year’s ranking. New York remains the highest ranking city in the region and has also joined the global top 10 list this year, jumping from 22nd to eighth place. Los Angeles is up 32 places to 23rd and Washington is up 41 places to 66th.

Canadian cities have slipped down the index with its highest ranking city Toronto down 31 places to 85th. Ottawa drops 36 places to 121st and Montreal is now in 103rd place, down from 72nd in 2008. “The Canadian dollar has weakened substantially against the US dollar which means employees transferring from New York to Ottawa or Montreal now need fewer US dollars to enjoy the same purchasing power as last year,” commented Ms Constantin-Métral.

In 15th place and up 74 places from 2008, Caracas in Venezuela is the top ranking city in South America. Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro have experienced a reverse move, plummeting from 25th to 72nd and 31st to 73rd respectively, Similarly, Bogota has moved down from 87th to 120th place. Buenos Aires has climbed 26 to reach 112th place. “Although the Argentine peso has lost value against the US dollar, the high inflation rate observed on goods and services have caused Buenos Aires to rise in the rankings,” said Ms Constantin-Métral.

Asia

Tokyo moves up one place in the ranking to become the most expensive city for expatriates both in Asia and globally. The Japanese yen has strengthened considerably against the US dollar which also lifts Osaka into second place from 11th in 2008. Hong Kong follows in fifth place and Singapore has moved up three places to reach 10th. Most dramatically, Seoul dropped from 5th to 51st place. In 140th place, Karachi continues to be the least costly city in this region – up one place from last year.

The Indian rupee made a significant loss against the US dollar last year and all the Indian cities have moved down the ranking as a consequence. New Delhi moves from 55th to 65th place and Mumbai drops from 48th to 66th.

Chinese cities experienced the reverse effect as the Chinese renminbi performed relatively strongly compared to most other currencies. Beijing is in ninth place, having moved up 11 places to join the global top 10. Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou follow in 12th, 22nd and 23rd place respectively.

Australia and New Zealand

Cities in this region have taken a significant plunge in the rankings following a dramatic depreciation of the Australian and New Zealand dollars against the US dollar. Sydney remains the most expensive city for expatriates in this region but has dropped from 15th to 66th. Melbourne follows in 92nd, down from 36th. Auckland has moved down to 138th place from 78th and Wellington follows in 139th down from 93rd.

Individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports are produced for each city surveyed. For further information or to purchase copies of the city reports, visit www.mercer.com/costofliving, or call Information Product Solutions, Warsaw on +48 22 434 5383.

Source: Mercer

The new tax slabs

July 7, 2009

Basic exemption for individual tax payers was increased by Rs 10,000 for general tax payers and women and Rs 15,000 for senior citizens (i.e. 65 years and above) by the finance minister on Monday.

The current income tax exemption limit is Rs 1.5 lakh (Rs 150,000) for men, Rs 1.8 lakh (Rs 180,000) for women and Rs 2.25 lakh (Rs 225,000) for senior citizens.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee removed the surcharge on income above Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) for personal income tax payers. The surcharge was levied at the rate of 10 per cent on income above Rs 10 lakh.

In another relief to the tax payers, the minister raised the deduction for maintenance of medical treatment of dependence from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh. Higher exemption limit will help the taxpayers in meeting the medical needs of dependents.

Meanwhile, he also proposed to introduce Saral-II form to enable the taxpayers to file their returns without difficulty.

The new tax slabs will stand as follows:

INCOME

TAX RATE

For GENERAL taxpayers

Up to Rs 160,000

Nil

Rs 160,001 to Rs 300,000

10 per cent

Rs 300,001 to Rs 500,000

20 per cent

Rs 500,001 and above

30 per cent

For WOMEN taxpayers

Up to Rs 190,000

Nil

Rs 190,001 to Rs 300,000

10 per cent

Rs 300,001 to Rs 500,000

20 per cent

Rs 500,001 and above

30 per cent

For SENIOR CITIZENS

Up to Rs 240,000

Nil

Rs 240,001 to Rs 300,000

10 per cent

Rs 300,001 to Rs 500,000

20 per cent

Rs 500,001 and above

30 per cent

via: http://business.rediff.com/report/2009/jul/06/budget09-the-new-tax-slabs.htm