The ABCs of Finance Apps

(NewsUSA) – As back-to-school time sets in, personal finance becomes more complicated for many families. Some have students away from home for the first time, others have expenses for tuition, and of course the many purchases associated with the start of school: backpacks, lunch bags, clothes, books, dorm room furnishings, not to mention the tech gear – phones, tablets, laptops, and don’t forget extra chargers.Banking and finance apps can help make life easier when it comes to tracking family finances and managing education expenses. When deciding on an app, look for features that provide flexibility, security, and ease of use. MovoCash is one example of a mobile finance company that offers a variety of financial options as alternatives to traditional banking services.Consider the ABCs of mobile finance:A is for App: Does the mobile banking or finance company you are considering have a user-friendly app that allows secure spend and send functions from your phone? The free-to-download MOVO app offers FDIC-insured prepaid card accounts that allow customers to instantly pay friends and make purchases directly from their mobile phone.MOVO also offers MovoCoin, a feature that allows users to create instant digital prepaid cards in exact amounts for specific purchases. MovoCoin cards can be used for many charges, including paying bills, placing food orders, purchasing clothes, books, or other items online, or paying for ride-sharing services.B is for Banking: Mobile banking can be used for all aspects of financial management, including direct deposit and online bill paying, without the need for a traditional bank account. Look for apps such as the MOVO app that allow users to set up a direct deposit account to manage incoming paychecks and outgoing payments easily and securely. And timely payments help users avoid late fees and track expenses.C is for Compare: There are many financial apps out there. Use notable review websites such as Nerdwallet, The Balance and The Simple Dollar to help you compare financial apps and digital prepaid cards. For example, for families with students who are starting to manage their own finances, a banking app with the option of a prepaid card provides another layer of security and may help to prevent family friction associated with overzealous student spending.For more information about MOVO’s full range of financial solutions, visit https://movo.cash

Safety App Empowers Students, Offers Peace of Mind for Parents

(NewsUSA) – Sending the kids to college means letting go, but it doesn’t mean disconnecting, especially when it comes to safety.Newly minted college students may think they are invincible, but approximately 4 million young adults arrive in emergency rooms each year because of car accidents, sexual assaults, medical illness, accidental injuries, alcohol poisonings and drug overdoses, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Especially in today’s era of heightened security concerns, parents are eager for ways to ensure their college student’s safety, and the Umergency app can help.The app was created by Gail Schenbaum, the mother of a college student who received a middle-of-the-night phone call from her daughter as she was being taken to the emergency room with a partial amputation. Ms. Schenbaum did not have any emergency contact information for her daughter’s college, local hospitals, police department, or even roommates.That experience inspired Ms. Schenbaum to help college families navigate any emergency or safety situation. Available to download in the App Store and Google Play, Umergency offers a range of safety and security resources for students, parents, friends, and family members.Key features include an Urgent Alert beacon that notifies parents and other trusted contacts when immediate help is needed and pinpoints the student’s GPS location.On the flip side, an "I am safe" function alerts these contacts when the student is out of harm’s way.The app also includes on-campus safety information specific to the student’s school, and allows the student to enter data and choose emergency contacts with whom to share it. Contact information for local police, fire departments, emergency centers, and urgent care personnel are accessible, as well as campus health services, including psychological and other after-hours hotlines.Additional features of the app include the ability to upload and share a secure copy of the student’s health insurance card, as well as a digital medical consent form that allows medical staff to speak with the student’s trusted friends and family and provide confidential information.An app can be an important tool, but it’s not a substitute for conversations about safety basics. Parents can set the stage for a safer college experience by talking to their students before they get busy with dorm-room decorating.The following questions are a good way to get started and open up a dialog:- Do you feel there is enough security on campus?- What are the school’s safety procedures to deal with a campus crisis?- Does the school conduct periodic practice drills to test its emergency preparedness?- How does the campus notify students and parents in case of an emergency?- What type of emergency facilities are available on campus, including mental health services?The Umergency app is currently available for free to college students in the United States, and costs $9.99 per year or $19.99 for lifetime access for parents, family members, or other non-students.To download the app or learn more, go to http://www.umergencyapp.com

Bitcoin Gains Can Become “Tax-Free”

(NewsUSA) – The 2017 Reform Act of 2017 is starting to gain traction as former United States Congressman Mark Schauer (MI-07) suggest that the "Opportunity Zones created under the tax bill incentivize capital flow to businesses in low-income neighborhoods all over the nation. Investment of even a portion of unrealized capital gains will have an historic, transformative effect in distressed communities."Yet the challenge is how to find, research, track, manage and trade these tax-exempt investment over the ten years of the tax incentive.The Entrex Capital Market is one of the leaders building state by state Opportunity Zone Trading solutions, typically for the state economic development teams. Working together with local and state representatives, Entrex brings each opportunity zone to the forefront and can even allow investors to perform tax-free 1031 type of exchanges (including qualified bitcoin gains) into qualified assets in each Opportunity Zone, all through regulated market constituents.One company taking advantage of the new tax "opportunities" is Webco Dental, a Disabled Veteran-qualified small business. Webco has gained significant exposure from building their company in a Pasco County, Florida Opportunity Zone. Christopher Cooley, CEO of Webco, suggests;"Being in an Opportunity Zone and being a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, or SDVOSB, allows us to help investors support our veterans, while focusing on the economic and employment growth our communities need – all on a potentially tax-free income and capital gain basis."Entrex helps to bring exposure to investors by offering the ability not only to buy debt and equity of companies, but also the potential of liquidity. "It’s like the eBay or real estate’s MLS for private companies," says entrepreneur Craig Rutkai of Florida.Similar to the way they managed over 200 transactions for companies in 2017 – each reviewed by the regulators – Entrex now offers a variety of alternative investors from real estate, gold and silver commodities, Opportunity Zones, and consumer debt. And potentially is there for government-backed airlines leases.Stephen H. Watkins, CEO of Entrex, suggests: "Back in 2015, when our Broker/Dealer managed the Overstock.com TIGRcub Bond – we helped manage the first security to ever trade on the Blockchain. Now every trade and interest payment we service can be pushed out.""It is an exciting time and the beginning of the democratization of private companies."To learn more about the Entrex Alternative Trading Portal capabilities, technologies and opportunity zone investments, visit www.EntrexCapitalMarket.com

A New Perspective on Robots and How They Will Shape Humanity

(NewsUSA) – Throughout the years, technology has improved drastically – creating machines and devices that were unimaginable 50 years ago. And perhaps the most advanced and interesting of society’s technological advancements is robots – but it is also the most misunderstood.In fact, according to recent Pew Research, more than 70 percent of Americans express concern about a world in which machines perform many of the tasks done by humans.Fortunately, there are people who believe humans and robots can coexist and work together in harmony and are working to debunk many of the fears people have about them.Mouser Electronics Inc., a leading semiconductor and electronics component distributor based in Fort Worth, TX, and celebrity engineer Grant Imahara, have teamed up again for the fourth consecutive year for their Empowering Innovation Together program.This year’s program is called Generation Robot, which features five videos filmed across the world, including in the U.S., Germany and Japan. Mouser’s goal is to reach innovators around the globe by showing how robots have a positive impact on humanity and change how people see the possibility of interacting with them.Throughout the Generation Robot series, the entire spectrum of robotics will be examined, as will the understanding of how robots not only have a technological impact on society, but also a social and moral one.The video series begins with the Imahara visiting the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech and speaking with the executive director, Dr. Magnus Egerstedt.There, he explores several aspects of robots, such as the basics of the machines, myths and misconceptions, as well as the hopes for, and fears of, the advancement of robot technology.In the video, Dr. Egerstedt mentions that robots used to be about mechanical engineering, but now modern robots involve psychology, because these machines will be working along with humans and thus they need to understand people.The second video, which takes place in Augsburg, Germany, dives into the real meaning of robots and humans working together, as well as the way this interaction will benefit society.The third video, which comes out in mid-July, will focus on the all-robot-staffed hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, where Imahara investigates the way robots behave utilizing only artificial intelligence.To watch all the videos and learn more about Mouser and Generation Robot, visit https://www.mouser.com/empowering-innovation

If You’re Stuck at Sea, There’s An App for That

(NewsUSA) – No one out enjoying time on a boat wants to think about breaking down and needing a tow, but a little preparation can make a big difference.According to the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the number-one reason for a slow or delayed towing company response is the considerable time it sometimes takes for the towboat captain to seek and find the disabled recreational boat on the water. Unlike drivers on a road or highway, many boaters are simply unsure of their exact location.However, the proliferation of cell phones and improvements in cell service over the last decade means that most anyone can use a phone to pinpoint their location and also reach a dispatch center.A phone app, such as the one developed by BoatUS, allows boat owners to pre-program information about their boat. When they use the app to call for help with a dead battery or a tow home, the call goes to the dispatch center and immediately provides the boat’s details along with the latitude, longitude, and boater’s emergency contact information to the dispatcher, speeding a response.The free app from BoatUS, available at BoatUS.com/app, also provides information about tides, weather, and wind. Boaters without the app can use their phones to call the BoatUS 24/7 Dispatch Center at 1-800-391-4869.Boat owners can also be proactive and save money by signing up for an on-water towing plan at the start of the season.For example, an annual Unlimited Towing Membership plan from BoatUS starts at $72/year for freshwater and $149 for saltwater.In addition to having a towing service, boaters should be prepared to keep themselves and any passengers safe if their boat is disabled.Key tips to keep in mind include:- Be safe. In life-threatening emergencies, call 911 immediately or use VHF radio channel 16. Know the location of your boat’s safety gear and first aid kit.- Be leak-savvy. If you run aground, immediately look for water intrusion and provide a life jacket for each passenger not already wearing one.- Be seen. For safety and visibility in the dark, be sure all of your boat’s navigation and anchor lights are working.For more tips and information about what to do if you need on- water assistance, visit BoatUS.com/Towing or call 800-283-2883.

With More Buyers Out There, These Home Upgrades Can Really Pay Off

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – Finally ready to take the plunge? Join the club.After having waited on the sidelines for what seemed like forever, first-time homebuyers last year made 38 percent of all U.S. single-family home purchases – the biggest share since 2000 – and the 2.07 million new or existing houses they bought ended up being 7 percent more than in 2016, Bloomberg.com reported."Pent-up demand" is how the news site described it, citing Millennials as one of the driving forces.But the market for house-hunting newbies like yourself has changed considerably from that most recent high mark of nearly two decades ago. And you know what they say: "Forewarned is forearmed." Read on.* Inventory is tight.So tight, in fact – especially for lower-priced starter-homes – that, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, even "buyers in historically calm markets such as Boise, Idaho, and Minneapolis are facing bidding wars, prompting them to dig deep into their coffers to win deals."Not into bidding wars? Well, there’s always Little Rock, Arkansas.Unlike Denver, Seattle and San Francisco – which LendingTree named the "most challenging" cities in the nation for first-time buyers – Little Rock was rated a veritable paradise for house hunters.* There’s still a lot of all-cash buyers out there, so don’t be afraid to get creative.Though the number of all-cash transactions peaked at 40 percent in 2011 and 2012 – with savvy investors still taking advantage of the subprime mortgage crisis by buying up homes many then rented out – last year’s 28.8 percent figure remains above normal. (One reason for the tight inventory: "Investors (are) making too much money as landlords to sell," according to MarketWatch.com.)Granted, you’re at a disadvantage if someone else waves $500,000 in cash in front of a seller even if you arrive pre-approved for a mortgage. However, HDTV.com tells the story of a couple who got a "great deal" on their Denver home – yes, Denver – by adding a contingency to their $300,000 bid that they’d pay $1,000 over any other competing offer up to a maximum of $329,000."Although unconventional," the site admitted, "a creative strategy like this can be very effective in today’s market."* Don’t automatically reject a fixer-upper because you’re not handy enough to fix things like the roof.Everyone knows you can save a bundle by buying a house that needs work, but some things – including electrical system overhauls and extensive roof repairs – are safer left to the pros. So the question becomes this: How far ahead would you come out, financially, after deducting those costs from the house’s likely post-renovation market value?"An attractive roof is the ultimate curb enhancer, so it’s important to figure that into your calculations," said Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey.You can play around with different looks (i.e., Victorian vs. ranch) by using the free Virtual Home Remodeler launched by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. And the website’s GAF Master Elite Contractor database can help you find the most reputable and adequately insured professionals in your area.* You may be being watched.Literally.With owners leerier these days of strangers walking through their properties, they’re increasingly employing devices capable of tracking prospective buyers’ conversations and actions.Yes, it can be creepy. The bigger danger, though, as MarketWatch.com noted, is that – if you don’t watch what you’re saying – there’s "a real risk" of tipping your hand enough that you wind up overpaying. 

How to Have the Smartest Home on the Block

(NewsUSA) – With all the talk about smart technology and connected homes, you may be wondering why you should take notice. After all, it is not that difficult or inconvenient to turn your lights on and off.According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), smart technology is not just about convenience. It is not even just about lighting. It is also about energy efficiency and safety. Efficiency Smart technology allows you to connect your home’s electronic devices to one device, such as a phone, tablet or computer. Having a connected home means you have the ability to adjust your thermostat, open and close window shades, and activate your security system remotely, or program those devices to operate automatically at pre-set times. Safety Efficiency is important, but safety is paramount. With the ability to connect to your home’s devices from anywhere in the world comes the peace of mind of not wondering if your security system is activated and knowing your outside and inside lights will be on before you arrive home after dark. Convenience Home automation apps make it a snap to change your room into the perfect setting for different activities. For example, for movie night, a system like Lutron’s Caseta Wireless can be pre-programmed to adjust all the lights in your family room to set the scene for a great movie-watching experience.If installing and operating smart technology equipment sounds complicated and expensive, it’s not. According to the ALA, there are some simple and surprisingly inexpensive options available on today’s market.A number of ALA-member manufacturers, including Legrand, Lutron Electronics, Philips and Acuity Brands Lighting offer reasonably priced, easy-to-install automation products designed to make your home more comfortable, convenient and safe. In many cases, it just takes simple retrofitting of an existing dimmer switch.Erik Anderson, national sales manager for Lutron Electronics, explains that the Caseta Wireless is very retrofittable into existing homes. "All you have to do is take your existing dimmer or switch out of the wall and replace it with a Caseta dimmer or switch, add a smart bridge and you have the ability to control it from an app, or from voice control with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri," says Anderson.For added ease, Lutron’s Caseta Wireless system can be integrated with Apple, Amazon or Google platforms for use inside your home. And when you are outside, an app or geofencing allows you to adjust your inside and/or outside lights, even before you arrive home. That will make your home welcoming to you and your guests.To learn more about making your home smarter, stop by your local ALA-member lighting showroom to see the latest technology for home environment automation. Go online to DesignVideos.Lighting to view a video from Lutron as well as lighting-trends videos from other ALA-member lighting manufacturers. Find more about all things lighting at AmericanLightingAssoc.com

Florida Continues High-Tech Boom with Biotech Business

(NewsUSA) – The aerospace industry is getting a boost in manufacturing its parts, making them safer and stronger, through a revolutionary new approach called 3D printing or "additive" manufacturing – a process which was invented at MIT in the late 1980s.In the traditional method, companies start with a hunk of metal (or other material). Using milling machines and other tools, they cut or drill away material in order to create the desired part.In contrast, 3D printing builds parts layer by layer, adding material in just the right places to create the precise shapes needed.For aerospace companies, this 3D printing or "additive" manufacturing offers the promise of making parts that are better and stronger, enabling them to build airplanes and rockets that are safer, more reliable, and better performing. GE uses 3D printing to build jet engine fuel nozzles, for instance, instead of welding together 20 small pieces. Technology Review recently named additive manufacturing one of its 10 "Breakthrough Technologies."But this new industrial revolution is being held back by a thorny problem. Tiny variations in parameters like temperature or raw material composition can subtly alter how each layer of material is laid down. As a result, it is extraordinarily difficult to build identical top-quality parts every single time.The industry has recognized this problem, and is working hard to solve it. The most promising approach is meticulously monitoring all the relevant parameters as a part is being built, then processing the information to determine if the part meets all standards. That will ensure repeatability, consistency, and reliability.Several companies are working on this idea, but one leader is Santa Fe, NM-based Sigma Labs, Inc (NASDAQ:SGLB). Sigma has developed sophisticated software that monitors the 3D process as a part is being built, and determines whether the product meets quality standards. Its Process Quality Assurance™ software is now being used in pilot projects at major aerospace manufacturers.

Futures for All – Online Resource Makes Financial Markets 101 Fun

Futures Fundamentals helps educators and students tackle complex economic topics(NewsUSA) – Did you think about futures markets when you ate your breakfast this morning? How about when you filled up your car with gas? Or paid your mortgage?You might not even know what derivatives are, but the fact is that the economy wouldn’t work without them.When banks need to determine how many loans they can offer at a particular interest rate, they use futures markets. When airlines need to guard against surges in fuel costs or cereal producers look to protect themselves from shocks to the supply of corn or grains, they turn to futures as well. Futures allow institutions to mitigate the potential damage caused by unexpected events or fundamental shifts in supply and demand.And because these financial tools are so critical, the derivatives industry recently joined forces to broaden the scope and reach of Futures Fundamentals. This new free resource, which can be found at www.FuturesFundamentals.org is helping learners of all levels understand how these markets work and why they matter."With futuresfundamentals.org we now have a resource for market users, policy makers, educators and students, as well as the general public around the world, to better understand how risk management markets work and why they matter to all of us, every day," says Walt Lukken, President and CEO of FIA, the leading global trade organization for the futures, options and centrally cleared derivatives markets worldwide"Futures Fundamentals is the perfect gateway to our markets – one which makes the learning process fun and helps prepare the next generation of market users."Futures Fundamentals breaks down the who, why and what of futures markets in an accessible and fun way. The site is divided into three sections, each featuring the role of derivatives as told through stories, interactive infographics, videos and quizzes.Activities first break down key financial concepts, including microeconomics and supply and demand. Visitors then learn how familiar tasks, such as buying a home or car, are affected by futures markets. In addition, after those initial lessons, visitors can try their hand at a trading simulator. Even more importantly, the site also provides teachers with modules to teach these economics lessons in their classrooms, all online and at no cost.Check out Futures Fundamentals for your classroom or business at  www.futuresfundamentals.org and follow the site on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to stay up to date on new content as it is added. 

New Form of Farming Revolutionizes the Way We Eat

(NewsUSA) – By 2050, the world population will reach almost 10 billion people, at least 66 percent of whom will live in urban areas.Water-scarcity issues are rampant and will only increase, and the ability to feed humanity is a vital issue that must be tackled now.Thankfully, technological innovations are giving hope to addressing this catastrophic problem.Texas-based Mouser Electronics created a program this year called Shaping Smarter Cities that features engineering marvels throughout the world that are helping solve humanity’s most pressing problems.The company makes electronic components that engineers of any level can purchase online to make the projects of their dreams.In this video, (http://bit.ly/2grhOWD) their celebrity spokesperson, Grant Imahara, visits Tokyo, Japan, where more people live than in the entire state of Illinois — too many mouths to feed for traditional farming to take on alone. The city presents an ideal testing ground for vertical/urban farming.Mouser shows how a vertical farming facility can efficiently provide fresh food for the densely populated city.The food produced there yields 50-100 times more per square meter than traditional farming. And the indoor setting allows for almost complete control of weather conditions and temperature. Even the water gets recycled to reduce the drain on resources. The end result? Up to 99 percent in water savings.This video is one of many in Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together initiative.Since its creation last year, incredible engineering feats have been spearheaded through their electronic components partners — with projects ranging from bringing superhero technology to life to 3D printing a semi-autonomous car with drone technology.The focus of this year’s program is about solving tough problems that impact humanity as a whole.To watch more awe-inspiring videos, visit http://www.mouser.com/empowering-innovation