Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Seeking Professional Help For RAID Repair

March 2nd, 2014 No comments

sphfrrRAID or redundant array of independent disks is a set of hard drives that is incorporated in the computer system in order to reduce the chance of data loss. RAID repair is often necessary whenever this hard drives are not functioning well or if it has been affected by certain calamities like fire, flood, earthquakes and so on. Restoring the lost files is quite difficult to accomplish, especially if you are not a computer expert. Some people really attempt a RAID repair because they think it can be easier for them to recover the files. However, positive outcomes are not expected at all times. Once you start pressing any button, there is no turning back. If you fail to enter the necessary commands, it will not make the repair possible. Thus, it is highly recommended to seek professional help when the RAID system is corrupted.

An experienced computer technician will automatically assess the severity of the condition and try to fix it with the basic solutions. If damages are severe, he will perform a number of solutions or tests to completely repair the redundant array of independent disks. Most of the time, expert computer technicians are successful with any RAID repair.

Who Can Recover Promise RAID Arrays?

Right now, the Promise brand of RAID hard drives are working on a new and improved way to recovery their RAID 5 arrays. They want the next improvement to be about the privacy of the files and folders in the hard drive. There are a lot of instances where the hidden folders become exposed after they are recovered but most of the time, file recovery fails and this is on other thing that frustrates the users. That is why they are urging the creators of RAID to create a better version of recover promise RAID because privacy is what most people need.

The RAID is currently working on an improvement for this that focuses on the customer’s privacy where the hidden folders will remain hidden even after recovering the files. The only way for you to tell if the hidden file is in, there is to view the properties and change the visibilities. However, this kind of improvement is still not developed and the Promise RAID Company is currently working on this. If ever they develop this, this maintenance system will most probably be RAID 6 in the close future. Although, the users with the latest RAID hard drive version (RAID 5) will not be able to use the new version (if ever there will be new improved maintenance system soon).

How Do We Prevent Having To Use RAID 5 Recovery And Losing Files?

In this article, you will learn how you can prevent file corruption since RAID 5 recovery isn’t installed in most times. One thing that causes file corruption is unplugging the USB (universal serial bus) connector without ejecting it. If you simply unplug the connector without ejecting, then you might need RAID 5 recovery in the future since you can expect your files to be corrupted. Ejecting the connector is safe to do all the time since it make sure all the files you have opened in the desktop or laptop will be closed or unused before you remove the hard drive from connection.

Another reason why the hard drive gets corrupted is when it becomes infested by viruses. This occurs when the user does not scan the hard drive or the laptop (or desktop) for any virus before plugging it in or connecting it via USB cable. There are different types of viruses that cling onto one file to another. When a virus infests a folder or a file, there is a possibility that you will never retrieve the corrupted files. Most viruses do that. While it is slowly spreading, it eats the file, making it corrupted, until the whole hard drive is filled with virus and the files are no longer accessible.

Hyperspectral Imaging And Anthrax – Early Detection?

January 28th, 2014 No comments

hyperspectral-in-spaceFortunately for the world, there have really been no serious and wide ranging anthrax attacks (that we know of, anyway) in quite some time. This is certainly not to say that the threat of it is gone – in fact, if there’s one thing that is known about the terrorist mind, it’s that the more the public ignores or forgets about a threat, the more terror organizations embrace it. This is something I fear a lot lately, as biological weapons seem to have taken a back seat in the mind of the public. Instead, what we get are NSA reports claiming overreach, despite the fact that we do not really know or understand just how many attacks have been stopped or avoided because of this system.

Is Early Detection Possible?

One of the things that always interests me is early detection. I will admit that the NSA has clearly made massive strides in terms of overall “intent detection”, in its grand net of cell phone calls, emails and texts, I often wonder if it is possible to detect significant amounts of anthrax, particularly from space using satellites. I mean, satellites can do a lot more than they could a mere five years ago, so why not fit them with some kind of device that could actually detect large amounts of anthrax. What’s more, does this device exist?

Well, the answer is, yes. That device is known as hyperspectral imaging – or a hyperspectral imager, if you want to know the name of the actual device that does the detection. See, what hyperspectral imaging does is analyze the electromagnetic field of an object (or objects, sometimes collected over a large section of land, as an example), and of course detect a signature (these devices do far more than that, but for our purposes, this works). Every compound is going to have its own identifying signature, of course, and naturally anthrax does as well.

The result here is that rogue governments that are attempting to hide large amounts of bio-weapons should probably give up the game right now – we’re on to you. There are no doubt hundreds of military satellites that could be equipped (if they aren’t already) with hyperspectral imagers looking for dangerous weapons right now.

Of course, it’s an interesting thought. Definitely something to think about and be aware of.

Disaster Insurance: A Popular Investment (Gamble)

July 18th, 2013 No comments

Securitized insurance risk is attracting greater interest from insurers and investors, though it will have to expand beyond the current property catastrophe-related products to develop as a market, several experts say.

dtrDespite soft reinsurance market conditions, the number of securitization deals is growing as sellers and buyers become more familiar with products like exchange-traded catastrophe options, cat bonds and contingent capital deals, experts said last week at a conference sponsored by the CNA Re unit of Chicago-based CNA Financial Corp.

Open interest in PCS catastrophe options on the Chicago Board of Trade has grown steadily since 1995, in recent months reaching nearly 20,000 contracts. The number of cat bond issues and swap deals, meanwhile, also has picked up this year, with one issuer – San Antonio-based auto insurer United Services Automobile Assn. – oversubscribed for a second hurricane bond issue in July after completing a successful first issue in 1997.

Investors are more interested in cat bond issues for several reasons, noted Anthony Chiarenza, chief executive officer of Hedge Financial Products Inc., a CNA securitization unit.

For one thing, the financial performance of cat bonds is uncorrelated with traditional investments such as stocks, bonds and commodities, allowing investors to diversify their portfolios. While interest rate-sensitive stock and bond markets fluctuate with every speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, for example, cat bonds are not similarly affected, Mr. Chiarenza said.

“If you are sitting on a one-year cat bond, it doesn’t matter what he says,” Mr. Chiarenza observed. “The point is, it’s a non-correlated risk.”

Investors can’t get similar diversification by investing in insurance and reinsurance company stocks, he added, because they are still affected by market fluctuations and factors other than the insurance risk itself.

In addition, risk-adjusted rates of return have so far been higher for cat bonds than for a number of other traditional stock and bond funds, including the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, he said.

To gain acceptance as a distinct “asset class,” though, securitized insurance risk must grow to encompass casualty and other risks besides cat exposure, Mr. Chiarenza said.

“If we are going to develop this market, we need to create a real asset class” that includes eight to 10 independent or “low correlation” types of risk, he said. “We clearly need something else. The catastrophe business (alone) is not going to do it.”

He offered several candidates for securitization, including:

ar* Agricultural risks, where deals could cover damage to crops caused – for example – by Midwest drought. The cost of catastrophic weather-related damage to agriculture is now borne largely by government entities and could be shifted to the private sector, he said.

“There is $10 billion, $15 billion, $20 billion of risk here that could be securitized,” Mr. Chiarenza said.

* Aviation risks, where coverage might be triggered by number of lives lost in air crashes; and marine risks, where bonds or swaps might cover specific oil rig losses. Securitizing these risks would be tough because traditional insurance markets are now so competitive, he observed.

* Pollution events, which could be covered in deals triggered by the number of barrels of oil spilled, for example.

* Insurers facing a risk of being clobbered by losses on long-term disability policies by higher-than-expected nursing home utilization rates.

* Weather-related events, such as losses or additional costs suffered by utility companies in heat waves.

* Casualty exposures, such as directors and officers liability, errors and omissions or workers compensation.

The problem securitizing liability lines, experts at the meeting agreed, is that losses are less predictable than in property lines, and it is therefore tougher to develop loss indexes needed to standardize a capital markets product.

Securitized transactions to date have included cat bonds, contingent capital deals and exchange-traded products like the CBOT’s PCS options, noted Debra L. McClenahan, executive vp and senior financial officer of CNA Re.

In a typical cat bond deal, an investor’s return is contingent on a catastrophic event. Payments to an issuing insurer can be triggered by a variety of things, including the insurer’s own losses, industry losses or the occurrence of a specific event. A 1997 deal covering Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance Co., for example, is triggered by Tokyo earthquakes exceeding magnitude 7.1 on the Richter scale.

The deals can be structured so that investors’ interest alone is at risk, their interest and principal or a combination of the two. USAA’s 1997 bond issue, for example, consisted to two “tranches” of bonds, one in which only interest was at risk and the other in which interest and principal were at risk.

In contingent capital deals, an insurer secures a commitment of a capital investment if a triggering event like a hurricane occurs. These deals allow an insurer to set the terms of a capital infusion when it is in relatively strong financial condition rather than after a catastrophic loss, when it is in a less favorable bargaining position, Mr. McClenahan noted.

The “option premium” an insurer pays for a contingent capital commitment is typically less than the cost of traditional reinsurance, she added.

The other category of capital markets products is exchange-traded instruments, which – in addition to the CBOT’s products – include catastrophe swaps available through the New York-licensed CATEX facility and products on the Bermuda Commodities Exchange.

Rather than competing with capital markets, traditional reinsurers can play a large role in risk securitization, Ms. McClenahan said.

Reinsurers have underwriting, pricing and auditing expertise to support securitization deals and can facilitate them by pooling ceding insurer clients to create a “critical mass” for securitized products, she said.

Reinsurers also can continue their traditional role, assuming ceding company risks that are not encompassed by securitized transactions.

“These core competencies make reinsurers the natural distribution channel for securitized risk,” she said.

Richard Sandor, chairman of Hedge Financial and an early proponent of securitization, noted that the concept is following predictable stages of development that have previously marked nascent markets for commodities, such as wheat, or financial products, such as collateralized mortgage obligations.

The first stage is a structural change in a market that creates a demand for capital. This happened in the insurance industry, Mr. Sandor said, in the wake of Hurricane Andrew and the Loma Prieta earthquake, when insurers recognized that huge property values had become concentrated in cat-exposed areas like California, Texas, Florida and Long Island in New York and that they were not prepared for the potential loss.

Succeeding stages in the market’s evolution led to the development of organized futures and options markets and later in a proliferation of over-the-counter markets, he said.

The test of risk securitization will come when a huge loss hits the initial group of investors in cat products. Rather than kill demand for the products, though, Mr. Sandor predicted the first mega-loss will fuel demand, as insurers seek more capital and new investors jump in to supply it.

The Risks Of Extreme Weather

May 22nd, 2013 No comments

iiThe insurance industry is still reeling from our most recent natural disasters, exemplified by the Iowa storms, the Mississippi Valley floods, Japanese Tsunamis and the Florida wildfires. It is increasingly clear, however, that catastrophic risk involves much more than such great natural disasters, the dramatic news of which flashes across the airwaves into our nation’s living rooms.

Less publicized events can be just as disastrous to individual businesses and business owners. This includes everything from fires in a distribution center to an angry employee scorching a company’s computer records; from an out-of-control truck that rams a nearby power transformer to a major embezzlement.

In this era of extraordinary claims exposure, the insurance industry is re-examining its underwriting policies and seeking alternative methods to protect itself against loss. At the same time, individual businesses are adopting formal catastrophe planning in greater numbers.

For example, many companies – sensitized to a loss in the case of their computer data systems – are now taking the next step to have a complete catastrophe plan. Until now, it was mostly large companies that recognized the need for planning ahead, even though they were perhaps better able to weather business losses than a midsize or undercapitalized company. However, all midsize companies now are quickly becoming aware of their inept, pre-loss preparation and realize they should move to a better position themselves.

A catastrophe plan identifies and quantifies the physical and financial resources necessary to maintain operations after a catastrophe. The plan will set forth the specific steps required to appropriately avoid, reduce or transfer loss exposures. As part of the process, insurance recovery will be carefully analyzed under various loss scenarios. This catastrophe planning bridges insurance industry concerns and practices with the specifics of a given business. Long-term risk planning makes businesses better consumers of insurance.

Should catastrophe strike, the insurance policy – a business owner’s most important but least-read document – does become the executive’s most critical document. It is too late, however, to assure that coverages are adequate. Without prior planning, business recovery is always difficult and sometimes impossible.

Catastrophe planning secures the type of insurance coverage required to meet the range of reconstruction and business interruption scenarios that often occur after a loss. Speed and enforcement are essential. In a competitive world with few loyalties, customers lost temporarily soon are lost permanently.

It is to your company’s benefit and peace of mind to hire your own consultant. This professional will assist in developing a catastrophe plan, which will allow you to immediately restore operations in the event of a catastrophe while having the type of insurance coverage that will reimburse all of your post-loss recovery expenses.

Having a public adjuster represent your interest is now even more necessary as the insurance industry changes and becomes more regionalized. When disaster strikes, the insurance company will send out its own team of adjusters, appraisers, forensic accountants and consultants. They will comb through the site and company records. Your claim will not be handled by your agent or broker, but by the impersonal professionals dispatched directly from the insurance company.

A public adjuster has the expertise to recover damage losses in an expeditious manner. Companies can perform admirably under trying circumstances. With the proper coverage and representation, some companies end up expanding business after a catastrophe, having so impressed both customers and competitors.

Catastrophe planning should be an ongoing process. Typically, it would be as simple as an informal checklist to determine if any significant changes are to take place. Often, paperwork is easily forgotten once a business is set into motion and begins to grow. This planning is no different from a family’s periodic reviews of its financial plan.

iwfCatastrophe planning is also a team effort that can include risk managers, business owners, insurance brokers and agents, public adjusters and claims consultants, accountants and attorneys. It begins with contemplation of the unknown, and ends by addressing practical, everyday legal, financial, personnel and competitive issues.

Business planning is a process that sets out a specific course of action for various marketplace scenarios. A catastrophe plan is no different.

The first step in catastrophe planning is a thorough evaluation of the existing business and future business forecasts.

Insurance companies are rigidly enforcing their policies, even with longtime clients. Tough claims practices seen during the recent run of major disasters only highlight a well-established trend, where insurance companies attempt to offset competitive premiums with more restrictive interpretations of coverage.

In many instances, public adjusters or attorneys are engaged to help find ways to fit a company’s loss “into” the pre-existing insurance policy coverages. With proper catastrophe planning, the insurance policy is tailored to your potential exposures. Surprisingly, this does not necessarily mean higher insurance premiums, just a better distribution of coverages to meet your actual needs.

This process may include: purchase of additional types of insurance, such as errors and omissions liability policies; changes in rating plans or premium payment plans; elimination of unnecessary coverages; consolidation or amendment of policy limits and conditions; reconsideration of methods of valuation; and changes in practices regarding insurance and hold-harmless requirements from lessors, suppliers or other contractors.

The catastrophe plan considers both interim and long-range strategies. Factors might include whether to relocate temporarily or outsource to fill existing orders; whether multiple locations should be consolidated; whether equipment and facilities could be modernized or expanded; even whether the business should move to a new location. This is also the time to confront competitive issues that have been mounting up, such as the need to revamp products and services or make adjustments in the workforce.

Without the proper type of coverage, businesses will be exposed to unrecoverable losses, as demonstrated by the standard business insurance forms. And, without an adequate recovery plan, it is impossible to know what you are insuring against.

Consider a manufacturer with a plant that burns down. In some cases, this manufacturer may be able to arrange production and shipment from another location; or it may have sufficient inventory on hand so no potential sales are lost. An insurer might claim no income loss had occurred, as sales never stopped.

Although sales at the time of the disaster may not be lost, the plant later realizes a decrease in forecasted income or inventory. In addition, the plant incurs a reduction of efficiency to maintain operations after the disaster. This type of spending by companies to stay running after a catastrophe is not always recognized by insurance companies as a collectible loss, or by an owner as recoverable under a business interruption claim.

Companies are encouraged to establish partnership agreements that secure assistance in the event of a business interruption. It doesn’t make sense to go to a competitor when faced with contract penalties or the loss of a major client. On the other hand, when negotiated in advance from a position of mutual strength, such arrangements are increasingly successful and even welcomed within industry groups.

Business owners must understand that insurance policies do not provide complete protection, unless they are modified to meet the specific needs of the company. Unless refined, policy exclusions or limitations will prevent complete indemnification.

Consider another example: Disaster strikes; the risk manager pulls out his catastrophe plan, then calls his insurer. Coverages have been carefully tailored to a catastrophe plan, but now the risk manager must work with the insurance company’s professional adjuster from its regional headquarters. Now that a loss has actually occurred, the adjuster does not agree on the “intent” of the existing coverages. Unfamiliar with the policy, the home office is bureaucratic.

Thus, an important step in catastrophe planning is to establish, in writing, that the policies can actually be enforced as intended. This supplement, kept on file by both the policyholder and the insurer, helps bridge the gap between the specific needs of a business and the structured language of most standardized insurance policies.

Now the risk manager knows that satisfactory coverage and an action plan for recovery are in place. This helps deflect the initial emotional trauma of a loss, lessening stress during the recovery process. Although the business owner knows how to respond to the disaster, there are two major obstacles to overcome: restoring the business and the preparation of a claim in accordance with the insurance contract. The risk manager must work with the insurance company’s team of professionals to assure proper damage assessment and claim evaluation. Rarely do companies employ individuals with the expertise to match that of the insurance company’s claim specialists. Public adjusters are commonly retained by a policyholder to prepare recoverable damage claims, consult on available options or alternatives and to recover losses after the disaster.

Here are a series of questions to answer before disaster strikes:

* Where would you relocate? Can you relocate? Could you consolidate locations? How long would it take to set up a temporary facility?

* Would you need extra help or have to lay off employees? Would you work more overtime, incurring extra expenses?

* How would you replace your inventory? How quickly could you replace it? Would there be extra costs? Or is it seasonal and likely to be irreplaceable?

* How long would you be out of business? Consider that costs to operate would likely increase as overall efficiency decreases.

* How would you deal with your customers? Do you have any of their property on your site? Are you contractually obligated for delivery dates? Are there penalties for non-compliance?

* What type of advertising or promotion would be needed to maintain business?

* Could you use outside contractors to outsource production?

* Would you have any union problems at a temporary facility?

* Are your sales or services seasonal? If you missed your season, what would you do?

* Do your book values differ from your actual values on hand?

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