Cool cupcakes

first_imgMirroring developments in the US, cupcakes are attaining a cult status in the UK with an explosion of flavours, colours and frostings. Consumers, particularly baby boomers and generation X-ers, tend to be sentimental about foods that evoke childhood memories. For the younger generation, the concept of retro eating brings a sense of fun.With their moist base and pretty pastel-coloured butter-cream toppings, cupcakes have become popular with the fashionistas. Cupcakes have very strong visual impact. Some of our bakery customers supply the premium end of the retail market – for example, Harrods and Fortnum & Mason. We’ve seen designer-endorsed cupcakes and others customised with company logos. People send them instead of flowers, bring them to parties instead of a bottle of wine, and celebrate all kinds of special occasions, from birthdays to christenings. Perspex cupcake tiers are now the latest fashion in wedding cakes too.Consumers can indulge without the guilt factor. These small, individual portions mean good news for bakers too. Some of our bakery customers sell cupcakes at £2.50 each or £39.99 for a gift-box of 24. On average, a cupcake uses 30-40g of batter compared to the 75-100g of batter in a muffin. For every muffin, you can produce two cupcakes. This means doubling your profits.It’s important to bake cupcakes with a flat, even surface, so that you can decorate it evenly. Anyone with an eye for presentation can ice them and decorate them with sweets, sprinkles, edible letters or marshmallows. You can adapt them for different seasons or sporting events – the possibilities are endless.last_img read more

It’s Time to Open Up Your RAN

first_imgDell Technologies and partners Red Hat, Altiostar, and NEC and Netcracker have joined forces to accelerate open vRAN deploymentsTechnology is always evolving, which is exciting and frustrating for any organization trying to keep up with, adapt to, and anticipate new changes. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have it particularly hard.  A case in point: The evolution to 5G requires  upgrading your radio access network (RAN), which is no small feat given the tens of thousands of cell towers you’re responsible for. Of course, it’s very likely that your existing RAN is built on proprietary technology, which means it’s inflexible and expensive.This is why many CSPs are recognizing the potential of open and virtualized radio access networks (vRAN).  An open vRAN allows you to disaggregate hardware from software to choose your own components. This way, you aren’t locked into any one solution and have the freedom to modify your RAN based on specific needs.It also brings powerful automation to help you easily deploy and manage hardware and software across geographically distributed areas. Imagine the time saved from significantly fewer truck rolls to each of those cell towers.  Instead, accelerate deployment and manage the entire lifecycle from a central location. At the same time, set yourself up for the future — beyond 5G — with a software-based solution that’s not going to require an exhaustive overhaul next time around.Open vRAN offers incredible potential. So, what’s holding you back?It’s true: A disaggregated model built with hardware and software from different vendors can add complexity and risk. How do you integrate all of them? What if they don’t work together?Fortunately for CSPs, industry leaders are coming together to help reap the benefits of an open, vRAN model.   For instance, Dell Technologies has joined forces with three of its valued partners to design an open vRAN reference architecture (RA) — built on best-in-class components — that integrates the stack for you.It starts with a solid hardware foundation.  Dell EMC PowerEdge 740xd servers with support for accelerator technologies such as the Intel® Programmable Acceleration Card (Intel® PAC) N3000, form the compute layer for your vRAN.  Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform are added to automate and simplify hardware configuration and management while also supporting Altiostar’s Open vRAN software.   Altiostar’s software opens up your RAN, making disaggregation possible, and radically speeds deployment to those tens of thousands of cell towers. And finally, NEC and Netcracker bring the entire RA together for you with systems integration and end-to-end orchestration.  With expertise in both IT and radio networks, they have the keen knowledge and skill sets needed to deploy and manage your open vRAN.Get started now with a validated reference architecture that avoids vendor lock in, reduces risk and speeds your time to market.Dell Technologies, Red Hat, Altiostar, NEC and Netcracker have done the integration work for you to accelerate your network migration and simplify the evolution of your network.To learn more about this validated reference architecture for open vRAN, read our solution brief.last_img read more

Why Suffolk’s Water Protection Program Ruling Is A Win For Voters

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Environmentalists cheered recently when the New York State Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy had illegally raided $30 million from Suffolk’s landmark Drinking Water Protection Program to plug a hole in the county’s budget. They called the decision a victory for the environment and for an important legal principle.“This is a huge win for taxpayers and for good government,” said Richard Amper, the Long Island Pine Barrens Society’s executive director.The problem is that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, has to restore the money his Republican predecessor raided just as he’s introducing his 2016 budget, which so far calls for no hike in the general fund property tax, which has been frozen since he took office four years ago, but does raise police district taxes for the fourth time in a row.According to Bellone’s spokesman, Justin Meyers, the court decision “is not a budget buster in 2016,” because the county can pay the fund back over time, not in one fell swoop, at least that’s what the county executive is hoping to work out with the environmentalists once the details are ironed out in court.What Bellone can’t do is bend the rules the way Levy did because the highest Court in New York State has affirmed that once the people have voted their preference in a public referendum, its stipulation can’t be arbitrarily nullified on a whim when the coffers run dry—or the budget falls short.“The politicians can’t rewrite those laws or repeal them without going back to the public,” explained Paul Sabatino, one of the authors of more than two dozen public referenda in Suffolk County when he was the legislature’s counsel. The key legal principle, he explained, is the equivalency clause inserted in the referendum’s wording—a doctrine he introduced in 1983.“The public’s right to determine the outcome of a public referendum was carefully calibrated,” Sabatino said.In this case involving the water fund, Suffolk County voters agreed to tax themselves about $2.2 billion over 41 years and ensure that the money was allocated “according to a very specific formula,” he added. Explicitly part of the deal the public made by passing the referendum, Sabatino added, “was that nobody could come back and change that formula—or repeal it or modify it or whatever—without getting public approval.”Cynicism may have been part of his reasoning for making the equivalency clause binding.“I realized that you can’t trust the politicians,” Sabatino said. “They say one thing publicly and another thing privately.”Ironically, by the time Sabatino left Suffolk County government, he was chief deputy to County Executive Steve Levy with whom, it’s fair to say, he did not always see eye to eye. As soon as Levy became county executive in 2004, Sabatino recently told the Press, he “started to argue that the referendum was non-binding,” and he eventually persuaded the legislature that he could “change the drinking water protection program…and simply redirect the ways the money was going to be spent.”Apparently, Levy is still thinking that way, despite the Court of Appeals ruling on Aug. 27. In a letter he wrote to Newsday last week, the former county executive denied that the Suffolk water program was what Amper said it was: “Not true. It was a depository only for funds to stabilize sewer rates,” Levy wrote. “I discovered that the fund had been overtaxing the public for decades, leading to the point in which we had hundreds of millions of surplus dollars in the fund. So why not return at least part of that to the public as tax relief?”Not surprisingly, the Pine Barrens’ Amper disagrees with Levy’s interpretation.“Long Islanders are paying twice the national average in taxes but they always go to the polls to vote to give government more money if it’s for water protection,” said Amper. “The Levy administration raided $30 million from the Suffolk Drinking Water Protection Program, which was funded by a quarter of a penny sales tax that the public approved at referendum.”Responding to Levy’s action, the Pine Barrens Society and the Environmental Voters Forum sued in New York State Supreme Court, saying that the government could not take money earmarked by the public for water and use it for the general fund. A lower court dismissed the case but the environmentalists appealed, citing the equivalency cause, and the Appellate Court sided with them unanimously. The Bellone administration, which took office in 2012, fought that ruling, first in the Appellate Division, and, when that effort failed, before the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest judicial body, which just recently declined to consider Suffolk’s motion. So now the county has to put $30 million back into water protection as it faces a structural deficit and a decline in sales tax revenue.“Now it would be unfair to make Bellone responsible for Levy’s crime,” Amper told the Press, “so we need to sit down and agree upon the terms of the return of the money that Levy took with a more responsible Bellone administration.” The Pine Barrens Society will be joined by the Environmental Voters Forum in pressing for the fund’s full restitution before state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Farneti, who had sided against them in the first go-round.Speaking for the Bellone administration, Meyers told the Press that “we’re on the same page” with the environmentalists because water protection is one of the county executive’s most important priorities, and they hope to come to a restitution agreement soon.Sabatino, one of the three pro bono attorneys managing the litigation on behalf of the Pine Barrens—Jennifer Juengst and Regina Seltzer were the others—praised Amper for maintaining the integrity of the program created in 1987. It has been revised three times since then—all by public referendum.“He made a lot of compromises over the years,” said Sabatino, referring to Amper. “I give him a lot of credit.”The appreciation is mutual: The three attorneys will be honored for their public service work at the Pine Barrens Society’s 38th anniversary environmental awards gala in October.“This is a really important principle,” Sabatino reiterated. “On Long Island the voters have gradually lost their right to elect judges, to elect county-wide officials, to elect local officials, because there’s either cross endorsements or non-aggression pacts that increasingly take away the public’s right to decide. I think this is a huge victory for voter participation at a time of limited voter opportunities.”The Drinking Water Protection Program’s complicated details, for example, earmarking 11.75 percent for land, 25 percent for sewers, could boggle the layperson or the legislator perhaps, but Sabatino said the stipulations spelled out in the referendum had their purpose.“Why go to the trouble to write in all these specific percentages if politicians could then wipe them off the face of the Earth with just about a roll of toilet paper?” he exclaimed.As for the principle of using public referenda to resolve pressing issues facing New Yorkers, Sabatino acknowledged that Suffolk has “led the way” among the state’s counties.“Nassau doesn’t know how to do it,” he said, chuckling as he recounted the “totally illegal” referendum Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano put together in the summer of 2011 to see if the residents would approve a $400 million bond to renovate the Coliseum and thereby keep Charles Wang’s New York Islanders playing there. Though the county spent an estimated $2 million to hold the vote on Aug. 1st—not to mention how much time and money the Long Island Federation of Labor deployed to get the word out on behalf of the building trade unions—it was resoundingly rejected, 56-43, as roughly 17 percent of the county’s eligible voters trekked to the polls.But the effort was pointless, observed Sabatino, because the county executive’s administration had drafted an “advisory referendum” for the election, which, the Suffolk attorney said, “had absolutely no binding effect… Even if they [the voters] had adopted it, it would have been of no consequence.”So while the ice has melted in Nassau—at least for the Islanders and their hockey fans here—money may soon start flowing back into Suffolk’s water protection fund, at least until the next budget freezes over.last_img read more

3 ways to help your members (and prevent delinquency) before they know they need it

first_imgWith many credit unions closing their lobbies and opting for drive-thru transactions and electronic servicing to practice safe social distancing, remember that this is a great opportunity to deepen relationships and increase member loyalty through proactive advising and empathy.  Many members are facing uncertainty with work, finances, and health. Now is the time they need an advisor or financial mentor the most. Being proactive with calling efforts to reach members before their financial bump becomes a financial hurdle can pay dividends not just for the member but for the credit union.Below are some tips on providing next-level member service and how it can positively impact your financial outlook for 2020.Email Messaging. Many members will be looking at hurdles or financial struggles in the coming months. One of the worst things that can happen is feeling helpless or alone through trying times. Craft a message to your members expressing the desire to help them through these tough times with empathy and no judgement. Give them viable methods to reach out to your team to discuss their unique financial situation and options they can consider to be best for them. The majority of your membership want to make good, on-time payments and the worst thing that can happen is for them to try to manage their credit, bills, and obligations without an understanding of what the best path is through burdens outside their control. ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading »last_img read more