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The Ulmer Scale

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You hear it bandied about all the time -- such-and-such celebrity is an "A-lister," or an actor you recognize from a minor role or two might reside on the "D-list." But did you know that there actually are such lists -- official ones -- and how celebrities are ranked on them is calculated according to a formula? It's called the Ulmer Scale, and was devised by longtime entertainment journalist James Ulmer as a tool to calculate the "bankability" of a given star.

What's bankability? When it comes to putting together financing for a movie, it's incredibly important: the skyrocketing salaries of the top 20 or so movie stars these days is a direct result of how movie moguls perceive their bankability; can they open the movie? IE, will their name alone get butts in theater seats? There are other factors, too, which Ulmer rates on a 1-100 point scale:

Willingness to travel/promote. It may sound ridiculous that going on Letterman and giving interviews is considered work, but when you do weeks of this kind of thing at a stretch, I've no doubt that it is (though I can't speak from experience). If the star of your movie is too lazy/busy/agoraphobic to fly to New York and go on some talk shows, you're going to have a problem getting a return on the investment which is his or her salary. Thus, they are less bankable -- thus, their Ulmer Scale rating sinks.

Professionalism. Is your star going to wind up in the tabloid pages for drunk driving or cavorting with hookers in Vegas? Is he going to fuss and cry when his trailer isn't stocked with the right brand of bottled water, or scream at the crew like a madman? In the 90s Robert Downey, Jr. was considered one of Hollywood's most talented actors -- he was nominated for an Oscar for 1992's Chaplin -- but his reputation as an insane, drug-addled bad boy kept him off the A-list.

Career management. What other kinds of roles in what other kinds of films is the star accepting? It's hard to remain bankable as an A-list action star if you decide to start taking roles on daytime soaps, just as it's hard to land roles in high-profile Oscar-bait movies if you have a reputation for taking any role in any schlocky movie that comes along (I'm looking at you, Sam Jackson).

Talent. Yep, talent is actually a factor. Surprised? A lot of stars are great at playing one kind of role: Kate Winslet in dramas, for instance. But would you ever consider replacing Kate Beckinsale in the Resident Evil movies with Kate Winslet? Not likely. Just the same, one-time A-lister Arnold Schwarzenegger saw his star power sink not because he dropped out of movies to pursue politics, but because as he approached late-middle-age, it became clear that he couldn't keep toplining action movies, but there wasn't a whole lot else he could do, either. Range is important. That's why an actor like Tom Hanks -- who started out in comedy, but won an Oscar for drama Philadelphia and is now appearing in action-thriller Angels and Demons -- is solidly A-list.

B-list celebrities are people whose names everyone knows, like Mark Wahlberg and Kate Hudson, but who can't quite "open" a movie on their name alone. The C-list is pretty much everyone else who could be considered famous, and the D-list -- contrary to popular belief -- isn't part of the Ulmer Scale, and doesn't actually exist.

There are other factors, too, which Ulmer uses to compile his massive Hot List, which he's issued as a book and is available through Amazon.

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A Simple Way to Charge Your iPhone in 5 Minutes
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Spotting the “low battery” notification on your phone is usually followed by a frantic search for an outlet and further stress over the fact that you may not have time for a full charge. On iPhones, plugging your device into the wall for five minutes might result in only a modest increase of about three percent or so. But this tip from Business Insider Tech may allow you to squeeze out a little more juice.

The trick? Before charging, put your phone in Airplane Mode so that you reduce the number of energy-sucking tasks (signal searching, fielding incoming communications) your device will try and perform.

Next, take the cover off if you have one (the phone might be generating extra heat as a result). Finally, try to use an iPad adapter, which has demonstrated a faster rate of charging than the adapter that comes with your iPhone.

Do that and you’ll likely double your battery boost, from about three to six percent. It may not sound like much, but that little bit of extra juice might keep you connected until you’re able to plug it in for a full charge.

[h/t Business Insider Tech]

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Trying to Save Money? Avoid Shopping on a Smartphone
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Today, Americans do most of their shopping online—but as anyone who’s indulged in late-night retail therapy likely knows, this convenience often can come with an added cost. Trying to curb expenses, but don't want to swear off the convenience of ordering groceries in your PJs? New research shows that shopping on a desktop computer instead of a mobile phone may help you avoid making foolish purchases, according to Co. Design. Ying Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, recently led a study to measure how touchscreen technology affects consumer behavior. Published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, her research found that people are more likely to make more frivolous, impulsive purchases if they’re shopping on their phones than if they’re facing a computer monitor. Zhu, along with study co-author Jeffrey Meyer of Bowling Green State University, ran a series of lab experiments on student participants to observe how different electronic devices affected shoppers’ thinking styles and intentions. Their aim was to see if subjects' purchasing goals changed when it came to buying frivolous things, like chocolate or massages, or more practical things, like food or office supplies. In one experiment, participants were randomly assigned to use a desktop or a touchscreen. Then, they were presented with an offer to purchase either a frivolous item (a $50 restaurant certificate for $30) or a useful one (a $50 grocery certificate for $30). These subjects used a three-point scale to gauge how likely they were to purchase the offer, and they also evaluated how practical or frivolous each item was. (Participants rated the restaurant certificate to be more indulgent than the grocery certificate.) Sure enough, the researchers found that participants had "significantly higher" purchase intentions for hedonic (i.e. pleasurable) products when buying on touchscreens than on desktops, according to the study. On the flip side, participants had significantly higher purchase intentions for utilitarian (i.e. practical) products while using desktops instead of touchscreens. "The playful and fun nature of the touchscreen enhances consumers' favor of hedonic products; while the logical and functional nature of a desktop endorses the consumers' preference for utilitarian products," Zhu explains in a press release. The study also found that participants using touchscreen technology scored significantly higher on "experiential thinking" than subjects using desktop computers, whereas those with desktop computers demonstrated higher scores for rational thinking. “When you’re in an experiential thinking mode, [you crave] excitement, a different experience,” Zhu explained to Co. Design. “When you’re on the desktop, with all the work emails, that interface puts you into a rational thinking style. While you’re in a rational thinking style, when you assess a product, you’ll look for something with functionality and specific uses.” Zhu’s advice for consumers looking to conserve cash? Stow away the smartphone when you’re itching to splurge on a guilty pleasure. [h/t Fast Company]

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