Monday, April 19, 2010

8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Salary

“Most of the suggestions are hard to do… not because we couldn’t… but the system doesn’t allow us to…” –MKK-

by Mary Fineday,

Work smarter, not harder. Take simple steps that will help you supersize your paycheck, get more respect at work, and develop a career that truly suits you.

From career training to communication tips, check out our list of ways to boost your paycheck.
Specialize. Are you feeling like you're spread too thin over too many tasks? Become an expert at a few major responsibilities in order to make yourself indispensable in the office. A brief online course can help. For example, if your boss relies on PowerPoint presentations, learn more about the software package and help with the weekly presentation duties.

Diversify. On the flip side, a narrow range of skills could work against you in an office where only a few people perform the majority of the tasks. Think about where you can diversify your skills to offer more value to the team. For example, your front-office clerical skills could be combined with medical assistant training to help prepare you to work in a small doctor's office. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a median yearly wage of $28,300 for medical assistants, with the top 25 percent earning $33,050.

Train yourself. Think about where you want your career to be in five or ten years. If people at work are always asking you for help with their computers, why not make it official? An associate's degree in IT can help move you into an official role as your company's computer-support specialist. Your employer should be pleased to find that you took the initiative to educate yourself. Computer-support specialists earn a median annual wage of $43,450, while the top 25 percent earn $55,990.

Train others. Prove your value in the workplace by offering to lead training sessions for new hires. Expressing the desire to train others proves your interest in the company, as well as your willingness to take a leadership position and a position of responsibility. Business classes in human resource management and communications can give you the knowledge you need to help new hires begin their careers at your company.

Manage. Interested in climbing up the corporate ladder? Do your part to make your way into a management position. If you have little or no previous management experience, a degree in business administration such as an MBA can help give you the management tools you need to operate confidently at a management level. Then you can combine your work experience with education and rise above your competition. According to the BLS, workers with a master's degree earn an average of almost $200 a week more than those with a bachelor's degree only.

Get certified. Computer certification in technologies such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Linux have value in jobs ranging from help-desk support to high-level project management. Combined with your degree in computer science, finance, or a related field, the certification process gives you a chance to prove your knowledge, keep your technical skills current, and show off your commitment to your job. Network and computer-systems administrators are expected to remain current on new technologies. They earned a yearly median wage of $66,310 in 2008, with the top 25 percent earning $84,110.

Ask. Perhaps the easiest salary-boosting tactic is also one of the most overlooked: asking for what you want. Otherwise, your boss may not know that you're thinking of advancing your career. Set up a meeting and ask what you can do to earn more. Present some ideas and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as an employee. From there, you should have a clearer picture of how to improve; what's more, your boss will realize you want to.

Move on. Sometimes, a simple salary boost can't be found. If you find yourself stuck in a go-nowhere job, think about using education and training to make the move to a position that is more in line with your ambition and ability.

Of course, none of the tips above can guarantee a higher salary. However, it's a good idea to take some time out of every year to consider where you stand on the office payroll. With a move as simple as a little career training, you can boost your paycheck and earn what you deserve.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Much Will the Class of 2010 Earn?

“Luckily I’m from the generation of 2005 graduates…” –MKK-

by Charles Purdy, Yahoo! HotJobs

According to recent forecasts, members of the class of 2010 are going to earn less money in their first year of work than 2009's college graduates--and 2010's grads are among the likeliest in recent history to continue living at home with parents.

And although the job market is seeing some slight improvements, a recent study on recruiting trends (conducted by Michigan State University) indicates that the number of jobs for graduates with bachelor's degrees will drop about 1 percent this year; hiring of all college graduates is forecast to decline by 2 percent.

The value of education
The spring 2010 issue of the
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Salary Survey shows that the average salary offer to a 2010 bachelor's degree candidate is $47,673, which is 1.7 percent lower than the average offer of $48,515 made to 2009 bachelor's degree candidates.

But although the overall average salary offer is down, some bachelor's degrees are more valuable this year.

For example, in the business disciplines, both finance and accounting majors saw their average salary offers rise. The average offer to finance majors rose by 1.6 percent, to $50,546, and the average offer to accounting majors inched up by 0.4 percent, to $48,575.

But business administration/management grads saw their average offer fall 8 percent, to $42,094. Marketing graduates' average salary offer also fell--but not as far--to $42,710, down 2.1 percent from last year.

Degrees that compute
As a group, graduates earning computer-related degrees saw their average salary offers soar in comparison with the other disciplines: Their average offer rose 5.8 percent, to $58,746. And the average offer to computer-science majors increased by 4.7 percent, to $60,426.

As a group, engineering graduates saw their average salary offer increase by 1.2 percent, to $59,149. Electrical-engineering grads saw the largest increase of the engineering disciplines. Their average offer rose by 3 percent, to $59,326. Chemical-engineering graduates' average offer is up 1.6 percent, to $66,437, and civil-engineering grads saw a similar increase--1.3 percent--bringing their average offer to $52,443.

Graduates with degrees in mechanical engineering also saw a 0.2 percent increase, which brings their average salary offer to $58,881.

The biggest drops
Graduates earning degrees in liberal arts may be the hardest hit by the effects of the recession: Currently, their average salary offers remain well below last year's levels: 8.9 percent lower, at $33,540.

(NACE will continue to track the movement of starting salary offers to Class of 2010 graduates in the upcoming issues of its Salary Survey--the summer 2010 issue will be published in early July.)

Saving money on rent
In a February 2010 article, The Pew Research Center stated that 37 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 are unemployed or out of the workforce, "the highest share among this age group in more than three decades." And in a March 2010 article, it further reported that "about one in five adults aged 25 to 34 now live in a multi-generational household"--this includes many young people who are living longer with parents (or returning home) when finding a well-paying job becomes difficult.

These numbers could also indicate that young people are opting to stay in school longer rather than entering a tough job market.

The good news
There is still value in getting a degree: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics March 2010 report showed the unemployment rate for people who had attained at least a bachelor's degree at 4.9 percent, nearly half the national rate of 9.7 percent.

And while large companies--those with more than 4,000 employees--reportedly plan to decrease hiring of all graduates by 3 percent, employers with fewer than 500 staff members say they expect hiring at their companies to jump by 15 percent, according to the Michigan State University survey. These companies will hire 11 new graduates on average in 2010, and eight of of those will be at the bachelor's level. New grads might be wise to start job searches at smaller companies.

9 Surprising Symptoms of Stress

“Yes… yes… yes… and yes….” –MKK-

By By Sarah Jio, Woman's Day

When was the last time you went through a period of stress? Can you remember the way your body reacted? Chances are you didn't feel quite like yourself. Health experts say that stress can come with some pretty surprising symptoms-from forgetfulness to nausea to skin rashes. Is your body sending you an S.O.S. that you shouldn't ignore? Read on to find out if stress is taking a toll on you-and what you can do to reverse the effects.

1. Tweaked Muscles
pain in your neck that you attributed to long hours at the computer could actually be a symptom of stress. "Stress definitely affects our musculoskeletal system, resulting in tight, contracting muscles and/or spasms in muscles," explains Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, MS, PT, a psychologist and physical therapist in Wexford, Pennsylvania, and author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. "It gets us ready for fight-or-flight, although unlike our cavewomen ancestors, we don't actually need our bodies to react like this." If you're experiencing what you believe to be stress-related muscle symptoms, try this exercise: Take 5 to 10 deep breaths and focus on relaxing the tense area of your body, says Dr. Lombardo. For the neck, try gentle neck rolls or enlist your husband to give you a quick shoulder rub.

2. Eye Twitching
Have you ever had an eye twitch? The often temporary condition can be annoying and worrisome, and for some, can be triggered by stress. "This condition is known as blepharospasm," explains Debbie Mandel, MA, a stress and wellness expert and author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. "Closing your eyes and visualizing your happiest place on earth will help." Also, avoid stress-related eye issues by giving your peepers a break now and then. "If your eyes get stressed from detailed work at the computer, 'stretch' them every 20 minutes by looking out the window at a larger landscape," suggests Mandel. "If you have no view, close your eyes and imagine a panorama."

3. Ragged Cuticles
Do you have ragged, unkempt cuticles or nails? Their condition could be the result of a stress-induced nervous habit. "Nervous habits like
nail-biting are how we channel our stress by distracting ourselves with what is known as oral satisfaction," says Mandel, adding that picking nails and cuticles is also a common way for women to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. If you take stress out on your hands, consider keeping a stress ball in your desk drawer-something you can squeeze or knead when on the phone with a difficult client, for instance. This helps "squeeze the stress out of your body," says Mandel.

4. Cavities
We all know that slacking off on
dental hygiene is the first way to get cavities, but stress can also be a culprit, say experts, especially when you're grinding your teeth at night or during the day. Mandel explains teeth grinding, which many women do, as "chewing over the day's stressors." The problem, however, is that this bad habit can erode dental work, damaging your teeth and making them more susceptible to cavities. Mandel suggests redirecting your anxiety to pen and paper. "Set aside time to write down your problems to see them objectively in black and white, and then jot down some solutions," she says. But, she adds, "If teeth grinding is severe, see a dentist about getting a mouth guard."

5. Rashes
It sounds strange, but your skin can be a pretty good barometer of your stress level. "Stress can cause a rash, usually raised red spots or hives on the stomach, back, arms and face," notes Dr. Lombardo. "While we don't know why it occurs, some experts believe that it has to do with the adverse effects of stress on the immune system-histamine is released, causing these
itchy bumps." Deep breathing may keep rashes at bay, or from developing in the first place. So, next time you feel your stress level rising, place your hand right above your belly button. "Every time you inhale, you want your hand to rise; with each exhale, it lowers. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths periodically throughout the day."

6. Nausea
Have you ever been worried about a loved one's (or your own) health condition, Googled it and suddenly felt
nauseated? "Stress can upset the stomach, and nausea can be a byproduct of worry," says Mandel, who warns against playing "Google MD." Worrying about your health or a loved one's is normal, but obsessing about it is unhealthy. If your anxiety is causing nausea, try this trick that Mandel swears by: Let tepid water run over your fingers; it's believed to keep nausea at bay.

7. Sleepiness
Feeling sluggish? It could be stress. "Stress hormones cause your body to surge with adrenaline and then crash into sleepiness," says Mandel. "Stress will also ruin the quality of your
sleep, so you wake up tired and irritable." What to do? Go to bed earlier, says Mandel, or catch a 30-minute nap midday, and don't feel guilty about doing so. "There is great productivity in rest," she says. "You come back more focused!"

8. Forgetfulness
Ask any woman who is trying to do it all and she'll admit to a few slip-ups in the memory department (forgotten appointments, lost keys, missing cell phone-ring a bell?). "Research shows that chronic stress can literally shrink the size of the hippocampus, which is responsible for some memories," says Dr. Lombardo. "Luckily, its size will go back to normal once your stress level reduces." Want to keep your brain functioning at an optimal level? Combat the first signs of stress with exercise, she says: "Go for a walk, run up a flight of stairs or dance around to the newest Black Eyed Peas tune." Exercise, she adds, keeps your
brain sharp and may even help you be more prepared for future stressful moments.

9. Confusion
You can't decide what to make for dinner, what to wear to work or which exit to take off the freeway. Stress causes distraction and lack of focus, says Mandel. "Stress hormones lodge longest in the brain," she says. To restore focus, take a walk, she says. "Move the stress out of your body by exercising large muscle groups like the legs. You will gain clarity. Walk out in the
light and you'll reset your natural rhythm while you move out the stress. Sunlight helps the body release serotonin to improve mood, and vitamin D helps you improve your immune system-a great perk."

Friday, April 16, 2010

`Twilight' series on list of challenged books

“Thank God I’m not a fan of the books” –MKK-

Stephenie Meyer By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer Hillel Italie, Ap National Writer

NEW YORK – Stephenie Meyer, the hottest author for young people since J.K. Rowling, has a new link to the creator of "Harry Potter": a place high on the list of books most complained about by parents and educators.

Meyer's multimillion-selling "Twilight" series was ranked No. 5 on the annual report of "challenged books" released Wednesday by the American Library Association. Meyer's stories of vampires and teen romance have been criticized for sexual content; a library association official also thinks that the "Twilight" series reflects general unease about supernatural stories.

"Vampire novels have been a target for years and the `Twilight' books are so immensely popular that a lot of the concerns people have had about vampires are focused on her books," says Barbara Jones, director of the association's Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Christian groups for years have protested the themes of wizardry in Rowling's books, which don't appear on the current top 10.

Topping the 2009 chart was Lauren Myracle's "IM" series, novels told through instant messages that have been criticized for nudity, language and drug references. Last year's No. 1 book, "And Tango Makes Three," by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, is now No. 2, cited again for its story about two male penguins adopting a baby. Third was Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," for which the many reasons include drugs, suicide, homosexuality and being antifamily.

Also cited were such perennials as J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye" (sexual content, language), Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" (language, racism), Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" (sexual content, language) and Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War" (nudity, language, sexual content).

The ALA recorded 460 challenges in 2009, a drop from 513 the year before, and 81 books actually being removed. The ALA defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

For every challenge tallied, about four or five end up unreported, according to the ALA.

8 Steps to Reducing Credit Card Debt

“Nightmares for all shopaholic….” –MKK-

Erin Petersen
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In times of economic uncertainty, it's even more important to put yourself in a solid financial position. One good way to do that is to dig out of credit card debt.

Liz Weston, author of "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want out of Life," says tighter lending standards make it even more important for people to bring down their credit card balances. "Many credit avenues are being shut off," she says. "Some people are finding their credit limits getting lower and interest rates getting higher."

A structured, disciplined approach can help you get out of credit card debt whether your balance is $3,000 or $30,000. Follow these eight tips to get your balance out of the red as quickly as possible.

1. Take stock. Before you start reducing your credit card debt, know where you stand, says Cate Williams, vice president of financial literacy for Money Management International, a large, national credit counseling firm. "A lot of people will say they've got a certain amount of debt -- $9,000, let's say -- when in reality, it's $11,000 or $14,000." You'll never hit your target if you don't know where it is, so be brutally honest with yourself.

Action plan: Write down the debt -- and the interest rate -- on every card you have.

2. Improve your rates. The quickest way to save big on your credit card bills is to negotiate a lower interest rate. If you can shave off even a percentage point or two, you can save hundreds as you pay off your debt. A simple phone call and a polite request may be all it takes. While your credit score will play a large role in whether or not you get a rate cut, it's not the only factor. "Every lender has their own approach to this issue," says Weston. "It never hurts to give it a shot."

Action plan: Call up each credit card company and request lower interest rates. Want to try? We have tips. If you're successful, write down your new interest rates.

3. Track your costs. Write down all your regular, committed expenses (mortgage, utilities, insurance, car payments, minimum credit card payments, phone, gym, cable, etc.), and track other variable expenses such as restaurant meals, entertainment and travel. This will serve as the foundation to your budget.

Action plan: Study up to a year's worth of credit card bills and bank statements to get an accurate sense of your monthly spending, and keep tracking your expenses with a notebook or financial software.

4. Create a budget. It's time to take an ax to some of those expenses. The key is to be realistic: You'll have to make some sacrifices, but you don't need to live on bread and water. "Cutting back can be more effective than cutting out," says Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a leading accrediting agency for credit counseling firms. "It's hard to adjust your lifestyle too dramatically, and often, little adjustments can add up to big savings." Cutting out a single pizza dinner each week, ratcheting down your gold-plated cable plan and changing your thermostat by a few degrees can give you the jump start you need. Be sure to give yourself a bit of breathing room in your budget in case an unexpected expense pops up.

Action plan: Write down three ways you can cut back immediately, and cancel or downgrade some services. Divide your monthly discretionary budget into weekly allotments so you'll have a better handle on whether you're staying on track.

5. Choose your payoff strategy. There are two common credit card payoff strategies. The first is to plow all your extra cash into the highest-interest card while paying the minimums on the others -- which is the fastest way, overall, to lower your debt. Once the first card is paid off, you have even more extra cash, and should apply it to the card with the next-highest rate, and so on, creating a debt payoff snowball effect. A second strategy is to pay off your card with the lowest balance first while continuing to pay the minimums on the others. Though this is not the most cost-effective way to banish your debt, it's the fastest way to eliminate debt on a single card, and it can be a psychological boost to eliminate a bill for good.

Action Plan: Choose your strategy, then rank cards in the order you'll pay them off.

6. Stash your plastic. In 2000, MIT researchers took two groups of students and dangled scarce Boston Celtic tickets in front of them. One group was required to pay cash; the other was asked to pay by credit card. The credit card crowd was willing to pay more than twice as much, their research found. "I've seen people save 20 percent when they begin paying with cash," Cunningham says. "They become more contemplative of their purchases."

Action plan: Store your credit cards where you won't have easy access to them -- but don't cancel them. Plan to pay in cash whenever possible.

7. Find your motivation and support. Create concrete goals to stay focused. Maybe getting rid of debt will allow you to save for a down payment on a house, go on a dream vacation or stop worrying about every bill that hits your mailbox. Weston recommends finding a community to swap stories, successes, and challenges. "A forum where you can feel supported -- where you can say 'I'm so tired of trying to save money' can be really helpful," she says. "Sometimes it can feel really dumb, but it's nice to be with people who are trying to do that same thing you are." There are hundreds of personal finance bloggers and forums where you pull up a virtual chair.

Action plan: Write down your goals and keep them in your wallet or purse. If you get tempted to overspend, take a look at them to remind yourself of the bigger picture.

8. Track your progress. While you don't want to spend every day fretting over your bills, keep an eye on your spending. "Revisit your progress every few months," recommends Williams. "You don't want this to consume your life. It took you awhile to get into debt, and it's going to take you awhile to get out of it."

Action plan: Put reminders in your calendar to check up on your finances. Keep the page with your starting balances, and compare them to check your progress.

Depression and Smoking Go Hand in Hand in U.S.

“There must be alternative ways to fight depression other than smoking…” –MKK- 

By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- The link between depression and smoking, long observed by health-care experts, is real and strong, a new government report shows.

People aged 20 and older with depression are twice as likely as others to be cigarette smokers, the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. And as the severity of depression increased, so did the number of smokers.

The magnitude of the link was surprising, said researcher Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, which published the findings April 14.

"The relationship between depression and smoking has been getting stronger over time," she said. Studies found only a small, insignificant link among Americans in 1952 and 1970, she said. But when Pratt and her co-researcher Debra Brody analyzed information from 2005 to 2008 culled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they found that:

  • About 43 percent of adults 20 and older who had depression smoked, compared with 22 percent of that age without depression.
  • Women with depression had similar smoking rates as men, although women without depression smoked less than men.
  • As depression worsened, the percentage of adults who were smokers increased.
  • Depressed smokers smoke more than smokers without depression.
  • Adults who are depressed and smoke are less likely to quit than are smokers who are not depressed.

About 7 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and older had depression in 2005 to 2008, the survey found. About half of those younger than 55 who had depression at the time of the survey were smokers, but less than a fourth of that age group without depression were smokers.

Since the U.S. Surgeon General's report on the ill effects of smoking was issued in 1964, cigarette smoking among adults nationwide has been cut in half, but about 21 percent of adults overall still smoke, the report noted.

"Everyone knows people with depression are more likely to smoke," Pratt said, but what surprised her, she said, was the extent to which that was found true in the study.

For instance, among women aged 20 to 39 they found that 50 percent of those with depression smoke, whereas just 21 percent of those without depression do.

Even adults with mild depressive symptoms -- those who wouldn't qualify for a diagnosis of clinical depression -- were more likely to smoke than were people with no symptoms of depression, the researchers found.

Exactly why depressed people tend to smoke more was beyond the scope of the study, Pratt said, but some research has suggested they might be self-medicating, with the cigarettes somehow acting as a calming or relaxing mechanism.

Stanton A. Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said the findings were not surprising.

And he agrees that depressed people who smoke may be self-medicating. Part of the problem, he said, is that mental health professionals have been slow to deal with the tobacco issue.

"There's a myth that somehow if you deal with it, [by encouraging them to quit smoking,] it makes it harder to deal with underlying mental illness," Glantz said. "Just the opposite is true."

'Surprisingly strong' demand delays iPad abroad


“Why buy iPad… when you have the new line of MacBook Pro’s…” –MKK-

Bad news for overseas techies dying to get their hands on Apple's "magical" new tablet: looks like you'll have to wait an extra month for your iPad.

Apple released a statement early Wednesday citing "surprisingly strong U.S. demand" as the reason for the delay, which will push the iPad's international debut back until the "end of May." Apple says it'll start taking international iPad pre-orders and reveal pricing details May 10.
In its announcement Wednesday, Apple claims it's "delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week" of U.S. sales and that "demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks." Apple also notes that it's already received "a large number of pre-orders" for the 3G-embedded version of the iPad, still due by "late April."

Now, it's not clear what Apple means by "delivered" — it could mean sold or merely shipped — but Steve Jobs did say at Apple's iPhone OS 4.0 event last Thursday that 450,000 iPads had already been sold up to that point, so 500,000 iPads sold in its first week sounds plausible.

But not everyone is taking Apple's excuse for the delay at face value.

Larry Dignan at ZDNet sees "a few missing elements" in Apple's statement Wednesday, including the fact that "Apple's store isn't out of stock" (it's currently showing a shipping time of five to seven days) "and iPads appear available." Are we talking "a conscious decision by Apple to make sure it can satisfy U.S. demand first," Dignan wonders, or "a case of manufactured shortage?"

And Gizmodo asks, "Is a pile of 500,000 iPads really more than Apple expected to sell by this point?" Well, whether it's a conspiracy or not, the fact remains that international gadget hounds will have to wait a few weeks longer for their iPads.

Full release follows:

Although we have delivered more than 500,000 iPads during its first week, demand is far higher than we predicted and will likely continue to exceed our supply over the next several weeks as more people see and touch an iPad™. We have also taken a large number of pre-orders for iPad 3G models for delivery by the end of April.

Faced with this surprisingly strong US demand, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the international launch of iPad by one month, until the end of May. We will announce international pricing and begin taking online pre-orders on Monday, May 10. We know that many international customers waiting to buy an iPad will be disappointed by this news, but we hope they will be pleased to learn the reason—the iPad is a runaway success in the US thus far.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Valuing Another Degree

“Looks like I’m gonna rethink on my plans to pursue in Masters or PhD…” –MKK-

Jonnelle Marte
Monday, April 12, 2010

Does an advanced degree still propel you ahead? The answer isn't as straightforward as it used to be.

The unemployment rate for people ages 20 to 24 with a bachelor's degree fell to 7.2% in March, from 7.6% a year earlier. But that still leaves scores of twentysomethings vying for fewer jobs. And the pool of job hunters will grow as the class of 2010 enters the work force.

So, it may be tempting to sidestep the whole job search, at least for a while, and go back to the security of academia -- to further your education and make yourself more marketable in the long run. But you'll need to determine if delaying your entry into the job market and incurring the costs of a master's or M.B.A. degree will pay off in this economic climate.

"In many, many fields, education up the wazoo is not going to matter as much as on-the-job training," says Heather Huhman, president of, a social-networking site for young professionals.

The Cheaper Hire

People over 25 years old with a master's degree earn about 20% more a week than people with a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And those with professional degrees get paid 50% more.

These days, however, as employers continue to cut spending, expectations for such higher pay could backfire when you're competing against less educated -- and less expensive -- candidates.

For example, entry-level teachers with master's degrees often have a harder time getting hired than those with bachelor's degrees because schools typically pay more to teachers with master's degrees, says Steven Rothberg, founder of

Graduates "need to understand that many employers will be turned off by their higher education," he says.

What's more, some of the pay boosts typically associated with master's degrees may vanish as state governments and school boards contemplate moving toward performance-based pay systems, from education-based pay structures, says Mark Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social-science research organization in Washington, D.C.

Administrative or policy jobs with state and local governments, which also tend to reward higher education with higher pay, aren't as available or lucrative these days because of tight budgets, he adds.

In many industries, trading in potential work experience for additional education could leave you short of certain skills and networking, says Ms. Huhman.

Taking on Debt

Another factor to keep in mind: More education usually means more debt. People who pursue a master's degree end up borrowing 55% of their tuition, according to And fewer employers are reimbursing tuition costs.

Of course, a graduate degree can be beneficial in some situations. Career changers can use the degree to show they have knowledge of the new field. And a master's may be necessary to qualify for certain higher positions. Some high-level marketing and business consulting positions require candidates to have an M.B.A., says Boston job coach Susan Kennedy.

If you're undecided, consult companies you'd like to work for and mentors in your industry about whether education or work experience will do more to advance your career, says Ms. Huhman.

Apple's MacBook Pro line gets new Intel processors, price tweaks

“This is so tempting…” –MKK-

Tue Apr 13, 1:08 pm ET

At last, the long-rumored revamp of Apple's MacBook Pro notebooks has arrived, with the 15- and 17-inch models getting bleeding-edge Intel Core i5 and i7 processors while the 13-inch version sees graphics and battery-life improvements. Also new: a $100 price hike for one of the MacBook Pro configurations, plus $100 and $200 price cuts for two others.

The biggest news, of course, is the replacement of the older Intel Core 2 Duo processors on the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro models (starting at $1,799 for the 15-incher — a $100 price hike over last year's model — and $2,299 for the 17-inch MBP, a $200 price drop) with Intel's next-generation Core i5 and i7 processors, good for a performance boost of "up to 50 percent" over last year's lineup, Apple claims.

Of the new MacBook Pros, only the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro configuration gets the i7 processor. The other two 15-inch configurations and the single 17-inch MBP model must settle for the i5 processor. [Update: Oops — turns out you can get a Core i7 processor for the 17-inch MacBook Pro as a $200 built-to-order option. Sorry about that (and thanks, Carl!).]
Meanwhile, the 13-inch MacBook Pro (starting at $1,119, same as before) is sticking with Intel's Core 2 Duo processor for now, although it's getting a slight speed bump (to 2.66GHz, from 2.53GHz) and — according to Apple, anyway — the "fastest integrated graphics processor on the market," courtesy of Nvidia's GeForce 320M graphics chipset (for a supposed 80 percent performance boost over the previous GeForce 9400M chipset).
Apple is also crowing about the 13-inch MacBook Pro's improved battery life — up to 10 hours, although we'll have to see how that figure holds up under testing.

The 15- and 17-inch models are getting graphic performance boosts as well thanks to the new GeForce GT 330M chipset, with either 256MB or 512MB of dedicated graphics depending on the configuration, along with "seamless" switching between speedy GeForce graphics and slower but "energy-efficient" Intel HD Graphics processors.
As for the MacBook and MacBook Air lines ... no news, at least at the moment.

Anyway, on to the specs:

13-inch MacBook Pro
• 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM (twice as much as last year's entry-level configuration), 250GB hard drive (was 160GB last year), Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, $1,119
• 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive (was 250GB), Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, $1,499

15-inch MacBook Pro
• 2.4GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive (last year's entry-level configuration was just 250GB), Nvidia GeForce GT 330M with 256MB of dedicated memory, $1799 (a $100 price hike over last year's entry-level 15-inch model)
• 2.53 Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive (was 320GB), Nvidia GeForce GT 330M with 256MB of dedicated memory, $1,999
• 2.66 Intel Core i7, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M with 512 of dedicated memory, $2,199 (a $100 price drop compared to last year's high-end 15-inch configuration)

17-inch MacBook Pro
• 2.53GHz Intel Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, Nvidia GeForce GT 330M with 512 of dedicated memory, $2,229 (a $200 price drop from last year's 17-inch MacBook Pro)
So, anyone ready to upgrade now that the i5- and i7-powered MacBook Pros are here? Wish the 13-inch MBP got the i5 upgrade along with the 15- and 17-inch models? Pleased or annoyed by the price points? Fire away below.

Frequent password changes are useless

“Memorizing a lot of passwords… is a horrifying experience… is it petronas@70… or petronas@71?… geez!” –MKK-

Tue Apr 13, 2:16 pm ET

Users hate them. They're a massive headache to network administrators. But IT departments often mandate them nonetheless: regularly scheduled password changes — part of a policy intended to increase computer security.

Now new research proves what you've probably suspected ever since your first pop-up announcing that your password has expired and you need to create a new one. This presumed security measure is little more than a big waste of time, the Boston Globe reports.

Microsoft undertook the study to gauge how effectively frequent password changes thwart cyber attacks, and found that the advice generally doesn't make much sense, since, as the study notes, someone who obtains your password will use it immediately, not sit on it for weeks until you have a chance to change it. "That’s about as likely as a crook lifting a house key and then waiting until the lock is changed before sticking it in the door," the Globe says.
On the bright side, changing your password isn't harmful, either, unless you use overly short or obvious passwords or you're sloppy about how you remember them. (Many users forced to change their password too frequently resort to writing them on sticky notes attached to their monitor, about the worst possible computer security behavior you can undertake.)

Rather, frequent password changes are simply a waste of time and, therefore, money. According to the Microsoft researcher's very rough calculations: To be economically justifiable, each minute per day that computer users spend on changing passwords (or on any security measure) should yield $16 billion in annual savings from averted harm. No one can cite a real statistic on password changes' averted losses, but few would estimate it's anywhere approaching $16 billion a year.

Bottom line, IT departments: Drop the password-change mandates. You're only creating extra work for yourselves and making the rest of us hate you.