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McDonald's, Kraft Foods Making McCafe Coffee Available in Retail Stores in 2015


McDonald's(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's and Kraft Foods Group plan to bring McCafe coffee to retail outlets next year, offering consumers a chance to enjoy Mickey D's coffee at home.

According to a press release, customers will find ground, whole bean and on-demand single cup versions of the McCafe coffees in retail stores in "early 2015." Greg Watson, senior vice president of Menu Innovation for McDonald's U.S. said that the decision was made due to, "huge demand for at home options."

Eight varieties of the McCafe coffee will be made available in roast and ground form, including the premium roast, breakfast blend and French roast, Colombian, and premium roast decaf. Single-cup varieties will include the premium roast, premium roast decaf, and French roast.

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Gains for Wall Street Amid Positive Home Construction Figures


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks climbed again on Tuesday, following up Monday's gains with slightly smaller leaps on Tuesday, propelled by strong residential construction figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 16919.59, up 80.85 from Monday's close.

The Nasdaq climbed 19.2, up to 4527.51, while the S&P 500 ended the day at 1981.60, up 9.86.

The Commerce Department's report from July indicated that residential construction was up 15.7 percent from June. Housing permits were awarded at a rate of 7.7 percent higher than July 2013 and 8.1 percent higher than the adjusted rate for June.

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Fantasy Sports Champ Breaks Down Lost Workplace Productivity


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fantasy football-playing employees may cost businesses more than $13 billion in workplace productivity this year, but a competitive fantasy player who has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from his hobby says people aren't as distracted as they used to be.

Jupinka Jupinka, 49, made it to the championship rounds of the four competitive fantasy football competitions in 2012, loosely winning more than $40,000 through tournaments like the Fantasy Football World Championships.

But the Wall Street trader's strength is in fantasy baseball. He ranks third in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship's (NFBC) career earnings list with $203,900. Jupinka was inducted into the NFBC Hall of Fame in 2011.

As for football, a report released this month estimates that the more than 18.3 million people playing fantasy football during the workday spend at least two hours per week managing teams or reading about fantasy sports while on the job, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Over the typical 15-week fantasy football schedule, that can amount to $13.4 billion in lost productivity, using nonfarm average hourly earnings of $24.45.

Jupinka said he isn't surprised by the report's estimate.

"Everybody is working on the computer and you got your browser up and the temptation to read the latest news is just a click away," he said.

But with the proliferation of fantasy sports apps, distractions at the office actually may have decreased, thanks to improved computing mobility.

"You have all this at your fingertips while you’re commuting, whereas only five or six years only you had to have a computer," he said.

Jupinka, for example, can focus on fantasy sports during his one-hour commute each way between New Jersey and Manhattan.

"What’s incredible is that the daily contest for baseball is very advanced technologically: to add your lineup, modify your lineup, check lineups on the fly. They made it very easy for the person on the go," he said, adding that the ease of fantasy football has also improved.

"What’s great is when you were at the tailgate party at the stadium in the old days, you had your laptop. Now, you have it all on your phone to make guys active and inactive. Thank goodness for all this technology," he said.

During the NFL season, fantasy fans primarily focus on the Sunday contests, then Thursday games, whereas baseball teams compete nearly every day.

"It's almost impossible if you have a full-time job," Jupinka said, referring to the grind of daily-contest fantasy baseball.

Fantasy football rules, on the other hand, have become more accommodating and easier for the average person who works during the day, he said. Certain fantasy football deadlines before Thursday games are at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, "so you have plenty of time," Jupinka said.

"The key are the active-inactive lists that come out about 45 minutes or hour prior to the start of the game. That’s your deterrent and determinant for whether to start a game," he said. "By then you’re already at home."

Jupinka said fantasy players should be shrewd about being sucked into fantasy sports at the office.

"The people who play these high stakes contests have to have the disposable income, and if you need that you have to work for it. You have to be smart. You can’t be on the computer looking at this stuff all day long," he said.

One investment manager in Los Angeles says he checks fantasy football at least twice a day at work.

"It's important to check the free-agent pool and what transactions your opponents are making to adjust one's strategy," said Mac, who declined to use his full name.

Mac said fantasy football doesn't typically affect his productivity, as he checks during his office downtime, but it can be a major distraction for other co-workers who actively research teams and try to find "sleepers," or value players.

"We don't hide it from our superiors as we talk about it in the open from time to time, but we are definitely discouraged from concentrating on things for long periods of time that are not business related," he said, adding that it's a form of team building.

Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing and recruiting firm, said fantasy football can teach offices about management (by building teams based on strengths), and it opens up dialogue between two employees who may not have connected otherwise.

"Managers, of course, need to be aware if staff is slacking as a result,” Gimbel said. “If it’s causing employees to miss deadlines, then enforce some boundaries, but switching water-cooler talk from office gossip to fantasy football doesn’t seem like a bad thing.”

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Why Steve Ballmer Quit Microsoft's Board of Directors


Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(REDMOND, Wash.) -- The Microsoft Board of Directors just got a lot quieter.

Former CEO Steve Ballmer, known for his excitable screaming, stepped down from the company's board on Tuesday to focus on other endeavors -- like being a billionaire basketball team owner.

"I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," Ballmer wrote in a letter to Satya Nadella, who succeeded him as CEO of the tech giant earlier this year.

It wasn't until his final day as CEO that Ballmer said he began to think about life after Microsoft.

In May, Ballmer snagged the Los Angeles Clippers in a deal that was finalized for $2 billion.

Ballmer made his debut on Monday as the team's owner at the Staples Center, where he high-fived fans, clapped and -- yes -- shouted until he was nearly hoarse.

Even though Ballmer will no longer have a voice on Microsoft's board, he noted in his letter that he is still the largest individual shareholder in the company.

"I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future," he told Nadella.

His successor thanked him for his service and wished him well in his next chapter.

"I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft," Nadella said.

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Who Gets Your Digital Assets When You Die?


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When Grandpa's last will and testament is read, it may include his digital assets -- if he lived in Delaware.

A new law allows Delaware residents to bequeath their digital accounts to their heirs, just as they would their financial and physical assets.

That means everything from digital photos, emails and social networking accounts.

Delaware is the first state to pass the law, which has also been championed by the Uniform Law Commission, a nonprofit organization that provides states with non-partisan legislation. Group officials said they hope other states will also adopt the legislation to make dealing with digital remains a much more seamless process.

"In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to websites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update," the group said in a statement.

Though many tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, are incorporated in Delaware, the law will apply only to the accounts of residents who live in the state, according to ARS Technica.

Twitter currently allows family members to request that a loved one's account be deactivated, however the company does not hand over the password to the account.

Facebook allows users to request that a decedent's account be turned into a memorial or removed, however for privacy reasons, the social network said it cannot provide anyone with login information.

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Home Depot Profits Jump in Second Quarter


Scott Olson/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- The latest sign of U.S. economic revival comes in the second-quarter earnings report by America’s biggest home improvement chain.

The Home Depot announced on Tuesday net sales of $23.8 billion in the three months ending Aug. 3, a 5.7 percent increase from the same time period in 2013.

Net earnings were also up, jumping to $2.1 billion -- or $1.52 per share -- from $1.8 billion ($1.24 per share) last year.

"In the second quarter, our spring seasonal business rebounded, and we saw strong performance in the core of the store and across all of our geographies," Home Depot CEO Frank Blake said in a statement. "I would like to thank our associates for their hard work and dedication, especially at this time of increased demand."

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"Flappy Bird" Creator Returns with New Game "Swing Copters"


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Flappy Bird addicts finally have their new fix.

Swing Copters, the hotly anticipated follow-up to Flappy Bird, comes a little more than six months after creator Dong Nguyen yanked the game from app stores because he believed it was too addictive and had ruined his "simple life."

It appears even Nguyen couldn't stay away for too long. He confirmed that his new game, which bears some striking similarities to Flappy Bird, will be released for iOS and Android on Thursday.

An exclusive preview of Swing Copters posted to Touch Arcade shows the game utilizes many of the qualities that made Flappy Bird such a phenomenon.

First, there's the familiar looking bug-eyed bird, however this one has a propeller.

One-tap game play is also back. What is different, however, is that instead of swiping right, Swing Copters utilizes upward scrolling, providing a new perspective.

The pipes from Flappy Bird have been become swinging hammers -- and they seem just as maddening to navigate.

Swing Copters will be available for free -- or users can tip Nguyen $0.99 for an ad-free version.

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Orange Juice Sales Plummet to Record Low


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Orange juice sales continue to drop as consumers turn to other drinks for refreshment.

The Wall Street Journal reports sales of OJ in the U.S. dropped to the lowest level on record last month.

According to Nielsen data published by the Florida Department of Citrus, consumers purchased 9.2 percent less orange juice in the four weeks ending Aug. 2, compared with a similar period a year ago.

The 34.96 million gallons of purchased orange juice mark the "lowest level for total sales since the four weeks ended Jan. 19, 2002, the oldest data available," the Journal says.

Sales of sports and energy drinks, meanwhile, have grown considerably.

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Ten Ways Google Has Innovated Since Its IPO Ten Years Ago


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When Google made its initial public offering 10 years ago Tuesday, the company set out on a path that has continually redefined how the world interacts with technology.

Raising $1.2 billion from its from its public debut on Aug. 19, 2004, Google was able to charge forward with an ambitious plan for expansion -- attracting top talent, creating jobs and snapping up other companies, such as YouTube, along the way.

While the search still remains at the heart of the company, Google has used their IPO as a springboard for innovation. Here are 10 Google products that have reshaped the business and how we interact with technology in our daily routines.

1. Self-Driving Car
Google unveiled a prototype of its first self-driving car in May, but they haven't been given the green light on the open road just yet.

The company has been testing autonomous vehicles for years and points out that having a self-driving car could remove the burden of travel for many.

The cars could also allow seniors who might not otherwise be able to drive the chance to enjoy mobility. And drunk driving? Not a problem when your car will drive itself.

The cars have logged more than half a million miles, according to Google.

2. Google Shopping Express
Google delivers search results and email, but the company has also branched out into same-day delivery of physical goods, meaning you never have to leave your house again. (Unless you want to.)

Using Google’s Shopping Express site, users can shop inventory from several big-box stores online and then select a delivery time that works for them. A Google Express delivery person will then bring the order to their doorstep.

The downside? It's currently only available in parts of California and Manhattan.

3. Google Maps
What did we do before Google Maps?

Answer: Get lost using a paper map, argue with significant others and ultimately end up asking a stranger for directions.

Google Maps went live in February 2005. Months later, satellite views and driving directions were integrated. Two years later, Google added traffic data, easing the pain of commuting for everyone.

4. Project Loon
Google believes balloons may solve the problem of Internet access in areas without the infrastructure to connect.

The company unveiled a plan in June 2013 to bring internet access to two-thirds of the world's unconnected people.

"We believe it's possible to create a ring of balloons that fly around the globe on the stratospheric winds and provide Internet access to the Earth below. Balloons present some really hard science problems, but we're excited about the progress so far," the Project Loon website says.

5. Google Glass
What if a cyborg could take your photo without you knowing and look up everything about you without ever having to walk away? It's possible with Glass.

Google's futuristic eyewear overlays digital information into the real world -- and the list of uses seems to increase every week.

6. Chrome
Five years after it was released, Google's Chrome browser boasts 750 million users.

The browser allows users offline access to their Gmail, Calendar and documents, winning fans among a crowd tired of Internet Explorer.

7. Google Street View
It's captured someone's now deceased grandma on her porch and an attempted burglar, among a slew of other bizarre images.  Google Street View debuted within the Google Maps platform in May 2007, allowing users to explore five major U.S. cities at eye level.

Today, users can explore all seven continents from their computer screens.

8. Project Ara
Google wants to make affordable phones a reality.

Google's "Project Ara," an affordable smartphone with swappable and customizable hardware, could shake up the market.

According to Google's "Project Ara" module developer's kit, users will be able to build on to a basic structural framework to customize their phone with different modules to design a phone with the look, capability and price that they want.

As new technology comes to market, users won't have to wait for a new phone and can instead just swap in the modules, empowering users to customize their technology.

9. Android
Google introduced Android, the first open platform for mobile devices, in 2007.

The company and outside developers have continued to innovate and expand the platform's capabilities.

In June, Google unveiled Android Wear smart watches at the annual Google developer’s conference in San Francisco.  Users can simply sync the watch with their Android phones and wear it on their wrists.  Using verbal commands, they can then carry out a variety of tasks, including ordering a pizza, scheduling a car service or sending a text message.

With every interaction, Google said Android Wear better understands the context of what you care about, making every interaction even more seamless.

10. Chromecast
Google made a bid for your TV in July 2013.

Google's Chromecast, which is the size of a ketchup packet, simply plugs into an HDTV, connects to the Internet and then allows users to control what's on the screen with an existing smartphone, tablet or laptop.

This includes content from services including HBO, Netflix, YouTube and more.

The technology allows you to do other things on your phone or tablet -- for instance, reading an email -- while still streaming the video on the TV. And the best part? It retails for around $35.

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Taser Shares Jump with Ferguson Unrest


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, is having a dramatic effect on shares of Taser International Inc.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based company, best known for its electroshock “stun” guns, has seen its share price jump 19 percent in the past five trading days.

Investors are betting that allegations of heavy-handed police tactics, including the shooting of an unarmed teenager, will lead to a big increase in sales of Taser’s “body cameras” that can be worn by officers while on patrol.

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More than a Third of Americans Haven't Saved for Retirement Yet


iStock/Thinktock(NEW YORK) -- Even if retirement is decades down the road, it's never too early to start saving, according to financial planners.

However, a good portion of Americans haven't put a single dime away for their golden years.

The latest Bankrate.com survey attests to that fact. An astounding 36 percent of 1,000 adults in its poll aren't doing anything about retirement plans.

As reported by USA Today, nearly seven in 10 Americans ages 18 to 29 had no retirement savings. While the numbers drop considerably per age group after that, even 14 percent of people 65 and older had no retirement savings.

However, the Bankrate survey says that people who are making long-range plans past their working days have gotten the message that it's better to build a nest egg sooner than later.

For instance, of those in the 30-49 age group, a third began putting away money for retirement in their 20s.

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Nintendo Responds to Petition to Insert Robin Williams into Future "Zelda" Game


ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the days since Robin Williams' death, a petition on Change.org has received over 100,000 signatures calling for the comedian and actor to be made a character in a Nintendo video game.

Specifically, the petition notes that Williams was, "an avid player of video games, with a love for all things Nintendo." Specifically noted are Williams' "particular love for all things Legend of Zelda" -- he named his daughter after the series' titular princess, and advertisements that the late actor had done for Nintendo.

The petition's creators are asking for Nintendo to honor the late Williams by making him into a non-playable character in an anticipated Legend of Zelda game.

Nintendo issued a statement on Monday, responding to the outpouring of support for the idea, but did not publicly announce a specific decision. "Robin Williams was loved at Nintendo," the statement reads, adding that they "hear the request of fans to honor him in a future game." However, Nintendo, "will not be discussing what might be possible for future games during this difficult time."

Nintendo's statement concluded, "we will hold our memories of Robin close."

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Strong Start to the Week for Wall Street


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street began the week on a positive note, with all three major indices climbing on Monday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 175.83, to a close of 16838.74.

The Nasdaq jumped 43.38 to 4508.31, while the S&P 500 finished at 1971.73, up 16.67 from Friday's close.

Also on Friday, Dollar General heated up a bidding war with competitor Dollar Tree in an effort to purchase the Family Dollar retail chain. Dollar General topped an offer made by Dollar Tree last month, leading the company's stocks to climb by more than 11 percent on Monday.

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Bourbon Industry in Largest Expansion Since End of Prohibition


Kirk Schlea/Kentucky Distillers’ Association(NEW YORK) -- On the 50th anniversary of Congress' declaration that bourbon was "America's native spirit," Kentucky is producing the most bourbon since 1970. The last time production reached these levels, distillers like Jim Beam ended up distributing older aged Bourbon than what bottle labels indicated. And yes, it gets better with age.

"We had such a supply that we gave away a little bit of age," said Fred Noe, seventh generation Beam Master Distiller and Jim Beam's great-grandson, recalling the 1970s.

Kentucky distilleries, which produce about 95 percent of the nation's bourbon, filled 1.2 million barrels of it last year, the most in more than 40 years, according to the Kentucky Distillers' Association trade group in an announcement last month about annual production levels.

"We're in the largest expansion mode since the end of prohibition," said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers' Association, explaining that the group's members have spent about $500 million to add bottling lines, storage warehouses and jobs in the last few years.

In the 1970s, Noe, 57, said that Jim Beam White, the company's bourbon whiskey that's aged four years, actually held bourbon that was aged longer than that.

"The bourbon we bottled was actually older than four years old," he said. "You’re looking into a crystal ball of bourbon. What you make today you sell years from now. It’s kind of a crap shoot on production. Sometimes you hit the point and sometimes you don’t."

According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, the number of Kentucky bourbon makers is expected to double next year to 40 licensed operating distillers. At 20 members presently, the Kentucky Distillers' Association is at its post-1947 peak. Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company is one of the newest producers expected to get its license by next year when it opens up shop in Louisville.

For those not familiar with bourbon whiskey, it ages in barrels and doesn't continue aging in bottles, explained Gregory. Bourbon is first clear before it's poured into a barrel. And the longer it sits in a barrel, the longer it will extract oak and sugars, Gregory said.

"The trend these days is extra-aged," Gregory said, adding that some of these limited-edition or craft bottles can sell for several hundred dollars.

In general, if bourbon is under four years old, distillers have to state the age on the bottle, Gregory said. "If there's no age on the bottle label, you know it's at least four years old," he said.

Noe said that his company bottles bourbon according to its orders, so it continues to age in barrels.

"We don’t bottle ahead. We try to bottle to our orders. We keep a small inventory for our shipping department. We’ll keep it until there are orders in our system," he said.

Noe said it's a great time to be in the bourbon business, as more small craft distilleries enter the market and tourists visit the so-called "Kentucky Bourbon Trail." Demand is growing not only domestically but from China, India and all over Europe, Noe said.

"People are finding Bourbon is versatile, very tasty and they love to come to Kentucky to see how we make it," Noe said.

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New Girl Scout Camps Turn Out Tough Cookies


Girls Scouts of the USA(NEW YORK) -- Girl Scouts of the USA may be best known for selling delicious cookies door to door each year. But when it comes to summertime activities, the organization is thinking way outside the box these days.

At new Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) camps around the country, such as CampHERO and Homesteading Camp, young girls are empowered to explore typically male-dominated career paths including protective services and farming.

“It’s no secret that there are few women in the protective services, especially fire and police," said Jen Roman, a Madison Fire Department Captain and founder of the CampHERO program. "The reasons for that extend beyond failed recruitment efforts or moves to prevent women from being hired in the industry. Research shows us that children are socialized to believe gender stereotypes as it relates to employment."

In response to this data, CampHERO was designed to give the young girls the opportunity to think of themselves as firefighters or police officers as easily as dancers or hairdressers, "and the older girls the support to pursue those careers if they so choose,” said Roman.

Located in Madison, Wisconson, CampHERO accepts 190 scouts from around the country, ranging from kindergartners to the 12th grade. Maddie Flanders, 15, participated in the camp this summer with her best friend and considers it "the best week of our life."

"Your first full day of camp, they send you right into fun things like foot pursuit and rappelling," said Flanders. "You use your radio skills you learned the night before to communicate where a subject is running while you are still chasing them."

Other skills include self-defense, search and rescue, rig/squad tours, tours of the jail, court house and morgue, deploy hoses, fire attack, distracted driving, triage, report writing, first aid, CPR/CCR and airway management.

”The most interesting thing I learned at camp was extrication," she said. "They took us over to the fire grounds and showed us an old beat up Ford Focus. Then they had two volunteers climb inside. We were taught how to use the Jaws of Life and the car scissors. By the end of the day the car was a convertible.”

Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado, scouts who signed up for the Homesteading Camp, spent their time focusing on simple living, sustainability and farming.

"This year, girls at Homesteading Camp had the chance to care for barnyard animals, milk cows and goats, harvest honey, can food, and harvest fresh vegetables and herbs, among other activities," said a spokeswoman for GSUSA.

In addition to exposure to a new industry, the girl campers also benefit from exposure to the outdoors.

According to a recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, girls with more frequent and longer-in-duration outdoor experiences are more likely to seek challenges and better at solving problems.

“Girl Scout camps transform a girl’s understanding of and appreciation for nature, while helping her build a unique set of skills and boosting her confidence in ways few experiences can match,” said Anna Maria Chàvez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, in a statement. “Camping has always been one of the cornerstones of Girl Scouting, and the research is clearly showing that there is a connection between the camp experience and girls’ understanding of their leadership potential.”

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