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Wondering where to begin learning a new language can be challenging. A variety of language learning apps on iOS change that with new approaches and challenges to engage and attract new and existing users.
While there are apps from the App Store to choose from, finding the best app could be a little challenging. While many apps offer the same foundations, the little additions each one provides are what sets them apart.
While the app originally was released on iPhone in 2012, the Duolingo owl - the company's mascot - became more popular in 2021 with their viral videos on TikTok. While jumping on current trends, the company found a tactic to reach new audiences in a fun and humorous way.
When opening the app, the user will be greeted with the question being asked on if they have an account or not. Creating a new account will ask the user a slew of questions to personalize their experience.
Duolingo offers a long list of languages - 38 to be exact - that can be selected from (ranging from Spanish and French to Hebrew and Scottish Gaelic). Users can learn more than one language at a time.
If a user is starting a new language with no prior experience, they should select "from scratch", but if the user has had some prior experience, then they can select "find placement" to see where they fall on Duolingo's scale.
The app approaches making learning fun by using the method of streaks on how many days in a row the user continues their lessons. Missing one day will break the streak.
Courses will start by having the user translate sentences. If a user does not know what the sentence, or one word, translates to, then they can tap on the phrase and it will translate it for them.
Further courses will center around listening to verbal sentences and having to select words, matching words to photos, and/or typing out the sentences via the user's keyboard (these training are labeled as "harder" and are included at the end of lesson rounds). Each lesson has seven courses and six lessons per topic.
For languages that use distinct letters - like Hebrew - Duolingo offers to learn each character for the sound it makes, writing them out, connecting letters to sounds, and matching similar sounding phrases to one another.
It does not cost anything to do the courses, but each user gets up to five hearts to use to continue their learning. If an answer is marked wrong, then one heart will be deducted.
More hearts can be collected by either refilling the count for 450 gems (which are the in-game currency), paying a subscription for the service where the user will get unlimited lives, or completing one practice round to gain one heart towards resuming their current course.
Duolingo offers a fulfilling experience for free, with additional costs being added when wanting to have unlimited lives, removing ads, leveling up progress faster, and testing different levels to unlock more challenging content.
Individual plans are $7.09 a month ($84.99 for 12 months) and Family Plans - which allow up to six people to use one subscription - are $9.99 a month ($119.99 for 12 months).
Drops offers the same learning objectives as Duolingo, but is more based on visual learning, and showcases it through a deeper focus on individual words than sentences in the beginning with more simplistic animations and icons.
When starting a new word, the user will be given the decision if they want to learn that word or not. Swiping the word up with forfeit the user from learning it - and then will move on to the next one - but swiping the word down will introduce the user to learning the meaning of the word and will continue with the lesson.
Like Duolingo, Drops brings in the excitement of keeping streaks and pushing for users to continue to do their language-learning courses daily, but unlike Duolingo, not doing any lessons for one day will not hurt the user's streak. Missing two days straight of learning will cancel the streak entirely.
The app puts a focus on that five minutes of learning can help a user better understand the language they are trying to master.
When doing this, a timer will show up in the upper right-hand corner of the screen indicating how time is remaining. Once the time is up, the app will congratulate the user on achieving their five-minute goal. Users can continue to keep learning past the five minutes if they want to.
The app offers lessons in the form of pairing segments of a word to correctly identify an image, connecting an image to its name through the use of floating bubbles, and offering a Tinder like experience - where a picture will have a word underneath it and the user will swipe right if the word is correctly corresponding with the picture or left if it is not.
Drops gives a basic and simplistic way of learning new languages word-by-word.
The experience is free, but users have the option to start a seven-day free trial, and afterward, they can opt-into a three-month premium period that costs $24.99, or pay monthly, which is $11.99.
Back in the day, Rosetta Stone was used and advertised widely on Windows and Mac based platforms, and as software that a user could buy to learn new languages in a remote location.
Though that option is still offered, the company has started transitioning to an app-based platform to modernize language learning and make it more enjoyable for consumers to use their program.
If there has been previous experience with the desktop version of Rosetta Stone, then the mobile version will feel comfortable and familiar. The developers seemed to have brought the desktop version of the software and scaled it down to an app-sized version of it.
Rosetta Stone indicates that each lesson could take five-to-ten minutes.
The application also allows the user to select which type of voice style they want to be taught from. They can select either an adult male, an adult female, or a child's voice. The app offers a selection of 24 languages to choose from.
Users will start by matching and speaking phrases. Mixed in, the user will hear a phrase being spoken and then repeat it through the microphone. Other areas will have users match the spoken phrase to a photo showcasing what is being said.
The app brings a familiar user experience to a new platform that makes language learning more portable and easily accessible.
Payment options start at $44.99 for three months, $109.99 for 12 months, $299.99 gives unlimited access for 12 months (Lifetime Plus), and $199.99 for a lifetime membership, although the service is currently up to $120 off for a limited time. A lot of the basic features will come free-of-charge.
While Babbel offers fewer options of languages that can be taught, the app offers other features that other apps seem to not.
When starting, users will be introduced to similar questions asked in other apps, but when selecting a language, Babbel offers fewer options to choose from (14 languages to choose from) than competing apps.
In the commitment to making learning a language more engaging, Babbel offers features such as games, culture bites, and live classes for users to explore.
Games allow users to play little mini-games that help them understand the meaning or usage of words while looking to achieve a goal.
One game offered is called "Sink or Spell" where the user reads the prompt and then spells out the word they think connects to it. It gives the same premises as the spelling game "Hangman" but tries are calculated through gallons of gas left in a boat. If the user runs out of gas, the boat is stranded and the game ends.
Culture bites will educate the user with a paragraph or two about the culture surrounding the language they are learning.
After studying the paragraph, the user will be quizzed with one question specifically based on the information they just read. This allows the user to learn more than just the language, but the culture surrounding it.
Live classes allow users to book a seat in one of the video-based classrooms during a specific time of the day. The classes are on Zoom, and a participant must be 16 years or older to join. If a user is ten minutes late to a class, they will not be able to join.
Users also only get two free classes and can take a placement quiz to see what classes suit them best. Participants can see what material will be covered in the class through a PDF link that is provided once register for the class.
Though the application pushes a pay-wall to continue learning, Babbel offers features and educational tidbits that the other well-known language learning apps do not.
Learning a language can be difficult and time-consuming, but current apps are looking to break those mindsets by adding additions such as games, fun mascots, and digital awards for users to achieve when learning. While the platform for learning a new language has changed, companies are still striving to convey the same goal to their users since the beginning - which is helping to learn and be proficient - in a new language.
We were so excited to have an amazing group of 24 campers and 4 teen stewards as part of the 2022 MSU Tollgate Farm Vet Science Camp. Joining me as co-leader was Elyan Forbis, a former Tollgate Farm steward and sophomore this fall at MSU as a pre-vet student. Our four strong stewards were Elizabeth Hoy, Emma Christopherson, Joe Kalakaio, and Clara Alyas.
After Monday morning flag ceremony, CARES skits, and a group icebreaker, we began our week with our vet science camp orientation and an exercise called K, W, L during which we brainstormed things we know and things we wonder about veterinary medicine and animal science. Our first livestock chore of the week was goat milking where we explored the Toggenburg goat breed, their traits, and their vision.
During lunch we met with vet students and techs Hannah Carlson and Sydney Puda who shared a challenge with us. Sydney wanted to know, “Could we explore a complex set of symptoms in a sick dairy cow and use diagnostic questioning and skills to assess the situation and diagnose the cow?” With a careful process of examination of the facts and investigation, campers were able to rule out a number of possibilities and home in on a condition known as mastitis. Campers impressed Sydney and Hannah with their sophisticated line of questioning. Sydney and Hannah went on to describe their paths of study and programs as well as work experience that have gotten them to where they are today on their path to becoming vets.
Also on Monday, MSU Extension Animal Science and Dairy Educator Melissa Elischer joined us from campus to share her expertise and knowledge about animal wellbeing and the five freedoms, animal senses, flight zone and more. Melissa distinguished between animal well-being, animal welfare, and animal rights. We visited the sheep and goats to observe differences and similarities in how they respond to humans. Recognizing that the Tollgate sheep and goats have diminished flight zones because of our frequent handling of them in animal education, we were still able to utilize their flight zones to get a flock to go where we wanted by our movement and without ever touching them. Melissa demonstrated many principles by having campers act out being the animal or handler. She also took the time to define each species Tollgate has on the farm and make sure campers understood their history and traits.
Tuesday at Vet Science Camp is traditionally Horse Day! After getting to know one another better with 2 Animal Truths and a Lie, campers visited with Tollgate Horse Camp Coordinator Ms. Diane who introduced them to our ponies Friday and Sesame. Campers explored safe handling of horses as well as the reasons, tools, and techniques for grooming. Half of the campers worked on pasture management while the others groomed the ponies and then they switched jobs.
When Tollgate horses need care, we call Dr. Lobar of Equine Veterinary Services. Dr. Lobar visited Tollgate Vet Science Camp to share her knowledge and expertise with campers. After sharing her training and career path, Dr. Lobar covered comparative anatomy of horses including the skeletal and digestive systems. Ponies Friday and Sesame were the center of attention this morning as Dr. Lobar described their anatomy and care.
Dr. Lobar had campers practice flexion where they held up the horse’s leg and hoof in their hand for a short period of time. Immediately afterwards, they trotted the horse to see if they could observe any abnormality in the gait which would indicate soreness or lameness. So that campers could experience flexion themselves, Dr. Lobar had campers squat down for up to a minute and then race across the field.
Another diagnostic tool demonstrated by Dr. Lobar and her assistant Rebecca was the X-ray. Campers were able to choose which part of the horse Dr. Lobar would x-ray in order to see the x-ray machine in action and help rule out any problems in various parts of the horse’s body. Meanwhile, campers took turns listening to the horses’ digestive systems and hearts using a stethoscope. Campers learned to locate and identify tendons in the horse’s leg. Campers shared what they learned about the digestive and skeletal systems of the horse by telling back what they learned in a fun and interesting way. Some drew with chalk the full length of the many parts of the digestive system of the horse on the lane while other campers drew the skeletal system.
To drive home the importance of observation and knowledge of the animals in their care, campers took a few moments to do an activity called That’s My Apple. Observing one particular apple, drawing its physical traits and markings, they then mixed their apples in a large group. Not surprisingly, due to their careful observation and record-keeping, each camper was able to find their particular apple easily. To end horse day, we had a visit from former livestock coordinator Sam Stokes who demonstrated how one can make a hoof wrap to treat an abscess using a model made from a real horse’s hoof. Campers proceeded to practice making abscess wraps on one another’s fists.
Wednesday was the all important field trip to MSU’s campus to explore the Horse Research Center, the Dairy Barns, and the Swine research facility. Boarding a bus, campers and staff began our day by traveling to the Horse Barn where Research Center Manager Ms. Paiula showed us the facility in depth and explored the many facets of running the Horse Research Center.
Our next stop on the vet science campus tour entailed visiting the Dairy Barns. Farm Manager Jim Good and Assistant Manager Chris graciously showed us so much about the facility including where the cattle are bred using AI, how the calves are cared for, the milking process, and much more. Campers had the option to place a sleeve on their arm and place their arm inside the rumen of a cannulated cow. Ask your camper what they found most interesting about our stop in milking land!
The group of eager learners also visited the swine barns to learn about the boars, sows, and piglets. Exploring how MSU uses research-based content and methods to teach about healthy livestock agriculture, campers were exposed to many new concepts in applied animal science. Among many swine they met that day, campers met Pandemic the pig and learned lots about the importance of biosecurity in farming! After a stop at the MSU dairy store for ice cream made from cow’s milk that came from the very barn we visited, we made our way back to Tollgate, exhausted but happily playing games and chatting all the way home.
“I am a cow, 4 compartments have I. In goes the green grass and out goes the pie!” Thursday we delved into the world of the ruminants - our sheep, goats, and cattle. We began our day with an activity emphasizing the domino effect of biosecurity hazards and how we can prevent lapses in biosecurity with proper management and strategies. Campers also had a lovely moment to enjoy a garden kitchen cheese tasting. The campers sampled fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk, goat cheese, and manchego made from sheep milk on crackers.
Following our foray into cheese tasting, Elyan Forbis taught campers about livestock injections. In addition to exploring why we deliver injections to animals, we covered a list of several injection types, centering in on intramuscular (IM) and subcutaneous (SubQ) injections. Rather than poke and prod our livestock, we practiced giving injections on fruit, using real syringes and needles and learning safe techniques using these tools.
Also Thursday morning, campers learned humane animal husbandry and animal movement techniques from Temple Grandin. Grandin emphasized reducing visual distractions, taking advantage of the animal's instinct to return the way they came and ensuring the cattle can see where to go without seeing the handlers. After watching Temple Grandin share about the proper design of cattle chutes, campers were divided into small groups and given a set of materials with which they could design and build a cattle chute.
Vet Science camp was grateful to have 4H General Leader and Livestock Coordinator Mary Hutka and Farmer Apprentice Intern Jaycie join us to share about hoof trimming and mastitis testing. Related back to our Monday’s goat milking and mastitis case study, campers were able to milk and test the milk for any signs of infection. Mary mentioned the importance of rotational grazing and the farm’s plans to increase the use of rotational grazing to increase the health of the pastures and the animals. Jaycie then allowed campers the opportunity to help her use a Famacha card to test the color of the eyelid tissues to detect parasite load!
Our culminating activity for ruminant day was a cow eye dissection. Carefully following procedure step-by-step, campers were able to identify all the parts of the mammalian eye including sclera, the cornea, the optic nerve, the retina, the aqueous and vitreous humor and more. Campers were intrigued and careful as they completed the dissection using a scalpel, scissors, forceps, pick, tweezers, an apron and gloves.
All throughout the week, campers would stop for a quick game like Where’s My Chicken, Ready Set Defense Immune System Tag, Mafia, Poison Dart Frog, etc. Our strengths inventory allowed each in the group to hear the strengths that others recognize in them. As we gain awareness of our own strengths, we also understand better the collective strength of the group. All vet science campers, the Paw Prints and the Microscopes, were chosen to lead the whole camp through flag ceremony Friday. Campers enjoyed a special visit Friday morning from Ms. Ellen’s well-loved canine friend Teddy. Teddy soaked up the attention of the campers and ate his breakfast as campers enjoyed a garden kitchen snack of veggie and dip.
Campers hung out with our poultry at length on Friday because it was …Chicken Day! After using proper biosecurity techniques, campers not only harvested eggs and checked on their food and water, they fed them veggie kabobs they made during garden kitchen.
The chickens loved the treat, especially the peppers and carrots. Holding the hens, we observed normal behavior of the birds and compared and contrasted our roosters and hens. Referencing back to the subject of rotational grazing, campers viewed an excellent resource about the value and purpose of sound pasture management techniques. Campers were then given a template showing our farm pastures and, in pairs, they designed their own pasture management plan which they presented to the larger group.
Just before the end of the day, campers were able to do one more quick dissection during camp - an egg dissection during which we discovered the purpose of each part of the egg’s anatomy. Messy and hands-on, campers learned that the egg shell has 7,000 pores, that the chalazae anchor the yolk so that it remains suspended in the eggs, that the yolk provides all the food for the developing chick, and that the germinal disc which they spotted with their bare eyes, will be the very spot that the chick embryo will begin to form soon after the egg is laid.
Campers met one of their fellow camper’s guinea pigs named Dandelion and Loretta and continued their work on their Junk Drawer Systems STEM projects. In small groups, they were assigned a species and a body system which they then researched and designed a model to use to teach others. Campers did an excellent job with their research and produced amazing models which they shared with parents and younger campers at camp closing. Vet Science Camp is intense, fun, and filled with learning, and we were grateful to have some of the strongest camper and steward groups ever for this year’s vet science camp!
Be sure to check out more photos of Vet Science Week!
2022 Tollgate Farm 4-H Vet Science Camp
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The PyTorch open-source deep-learning framework announced the release of version 1.12 which includes support for GPU-accelerated training on Apple silicon Macs and a new data preprocessing library, TorchArrow, as well as updates to other libraries and APIs.
The PyTorch team highlighted the major features of the release in a recent blog post. Support for training on Apple silicon GPUs using Apple’s Metal Performance Shaders (MPS) is released with "prototype" status, offering up to 20x speedup over CPU-based training. In addition, the release includes official support for M1 builds of the Core and Domain PyTorch libraries. The TorchData library's DataPipes are now backward compatible with the older DataLoader class; the release also includes an AWS S3 integration for TorchData. The TorchArrow library features a Pandas-style API and an in-memory data format based on Apache Arrow and can easily plug into other PyTorch data libraries, including DataLoader and DataPipe. Overall, the new release contains more than 3,100 commits from 433 contributors since the 1.11 release.
Before the 1.12 release, PyTorch only supported CPU-based training on M1 Macs. With help from Apple's Metal team, PyTorch now includes a backend based on MPS, with processor-specific kernels and a mapping of the PyTorch model computation graph onto the MPS Graph Framework. The Mac's memory architecture gives the GPU direct access to memory, improving overall performance and allowing for training using larger batch sizes and larger models.
Besides support for Apple silicon, PyTorch 1.12 includes several other performance enhancements. TorchScript, PyTorch's intermediate representation of models for runtime portability, now has a new layer fusion backend called NVFuser, which is faster and supports more operations than the previous fuser, NNC. For computer vision (CV) models, the release implements the Channels Last data format for use on CPUs, increasing inference performance up to 1.8x over Channels First. The release also includes enhancements to the bfloat16 reduced-precision data type which can provide up to 2.2x performance improvement on Intel® Xeon® processors.
The release includes several new features and APIs. For applications requiring complex numbers, PyTorch 1.12 adds support for complex convolutions and the complex32 data type, for reduced-precision computation. The release "significantly improves'' support for forward-mode automatic differentiation, for eager computation of directional derivatives in the forward pass. There is also a prototype implementation of a new class, DataLoader2, a lightweight data loader class for executing a DataPipe graph.
In the new release, the Fully Sharded Data Parallel (FSDP) API moves from prototype to Beta. FSDP supports training large models by distributing model weights and gradients across a cluster of workers. New features for FSDP in this release include faster model initialization, fine-grained control of mixed precision, enhanced training of Transformer models, and an API that supports changing sharding strategy with a single line of code.
AI researcher Sebastian Raschka posted several tweets highlighting his favorite features of the release. One user replied that the release:
Seems to have immediately broken some backwards compatibility. E.g. OpenAIs Clip models on huggingface now produce CUDA errors.
HuggingFace developer Nima Boscarino followed up that HuggingFace would have a fix soon.
The PyTorch 1.12 code and release notes are available on GitHub.
Apple is rumored to be developing a larger, more-durable version of the Apple Watch. This watch would be made with extreme sports athletes in mind and will likely have the same features as a conventional Apple Watch.
Apple products are usually top-of-the-line regarding quality and user experience, but they’re often expensive. Luckily, there are several watches worth checking out if you’re looking for a budget alternative or don’t want to wait for the rugged new Apple Watch.
Apple Watches are known for crystal-clear displays. Still, the compact screens can’t display as many fitness metrics as some would like. The rumored Apple Watch is expected to have a 2-inch screen, nearly 18% larger than the biggest screen currently available.
Most Apple Watches are made with aluminum. The material is sturdy enough for the average user but isn’t ideal for taking on mud, rocks and other outdoor debris. Apple’s existing watch will likely feature a stainless-steel or titanium construction like the Apple Watch Series 7.
Many believe the screen will feature enhanced shatter resistance, making it ideal for standing up to falls and bumps.
Most Apple Watches last 18 hours on a single charge. The rumored watch will likely have a longer battery life, making it ideal for scenarios where you aren’t near an outlet for extended periods.
A. Fitbits generally have more-impressive battery life and a smaller watch face, making them ideal for those looking for a compact watch. Still, Apple Watches have more features, a brighter screen and more durable construction.
A. The Apple Watch health app allows you to track your blood oxygen level. To use this feature, you have to be 18 years or older. It takes around 15 seconds, and the band needs to be snug for an accurate blood-oxygen reading.
Garmin Instinct Smartwatch
What you need to know: This rugged watch is ideal for travel, hiking and extreme sports.
What you’ll love: It’s significantly cheaper than an Apple Watch. It features military-grade durability and can pair with your smartphone for text alerts. The battery lasts up to 14 days on a single charge.
What you should consider: The screen is monochromatic.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4
What you need to know: This straightforward smartwatch has a range of fitness trackers and GPS fall detection.
What you’ll love: It is durable and waterproof. It tracks common exercises automatically. It’s available in a range of colors.
What you should consider: The battery doesn’t last as long as other Samsung smartwatches.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Casio G-Shock Men’s Bluetooth Digital Watch
What you need to know: This may not have all the bells and whistles of a traditional smartwatch, but it has numerous smart features and a durable design.
What you’ll love: It has step tracking and other fitness-centric features. It is compatible with a smartphone app that unlocks new features. It is incredibly comfortable.
What you should consider: Aside from the smartphone app, it feels more like a digital watch than a smartwatch.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Fitbit Charge 5
What you need to know: This Fitbit helps track your rest and wellness in addition to general fitness.
What you’ll love: It is waterproof up to 50 meters. It tracks your body’s response to stress. This watch includes a six-month free trial for Fitbit’s premium membership.
What you should consider: It isn’t as durable as other rugged smartwatches.
Where to buy: Amazon and Kohl’s
Garmin Vivoactive 3
What you need to know: This watch has numerous built-in fitness features, including yoga and strength-training apps.
What you’ll love: The battery life lasts up to seven days. The durable gorilla-glass display is easy to read. It has contactless-payment features.
What you should consider: There are some longevity issues, as many reported the watch malfunctioning in the first year.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Amazfit T-Rex Pro Smart Watch
What you need to know: This feature-packed watch is affordable and durable.
What you’ll love: The watch face can stand up to bumps and falls without scratching. Although there is a bit of a learning curve, it has numerous helpful features. It is lightweight but durable.
What you should consider: There are numerous reports of connectivity issues.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Apple Watch Series 7 With Stainless-Steel Case
What you need to know: The Series 7 is the most durable Apple Watch on the market.
What you’ll love: The Series 7 has a larger screen than other Apple Watches. It has countless health-and-fitness apps and features.
What you should consider: It is expensive compared to other smartwatches.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
What you need to know: It has pace monitoring, sleep tracking, heart-rate monitoring and numerous other fitness features.
What you’ll love: It includes 2,000 topographical maps and ski-resort maps. The battery lasts up to 14 days on a single charge. You can use it for contactless payments. It features a golf app that is excellent for determining distance.
What you should consider: It doesn’t have a touchscreen.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Garmin Tactix Delta Solar
What you need to know: This military-grade smartwatch features a small solar panel that extends its battery life.
What you’ll love: It can last up to 21 days on a single charge. Its heart-rate tracking feature can tell you your resting heart rate while you sleep. It features topographical maps and a stealth mode that disables wireless connectivity.
What you should consider: Some felt the features didn’t justify the cost.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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CHICAGO (WLS) -- ABC7 is teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes initiative and Disney's Veterans Institute for a virtual town hall on August 10.
The goal of this town hall is to prepare job seekers from the military community for the Hiring Our Heroes - Virtual Career Fair on August 31.
Click here to register as a job seeker or employer for the virtual career fair on August 31, from 1-4 p.m.
Reporter Sonia Rincon, with our sister station ABC7 Eyewitness News in New York, will anchor the town hall, set for Wednesday, August 10 at noon
She will be joined by a panel of experts to answer questions live about how to help veterans and military spouses transition successfully into a civilian career.
ALSO WATCH | Disney Heroes Work Here
Disney's support for the U.S. Armed Forces is an important part of the company's history and dates back to its founding nearly 100 years ago. Military service members have risked their lives to protect our freedom and we cannot be more honored to champion them in all lines of work here at The Walt Disney Company.
To ease their transition into civilian life and support them in their careers after service, Disney created Heroes Work Here in 2012, an initiative meant to recognize and honor their sacrifice and service and offer an opportunity for them as they look for meaningful work in the private sector. Since its inception a decade ago, The Walt Disney Company has hired more than 11,000 veterans.
Our cast members and employees with military service are an essential part of our Disney family and contribute immeasurably in supporting the Company's mission of creating unparalleled family entertainment.
Disney Careers/Heroes Work Here: Disney has a long history of respect and appreciation for the U.S. Armed Services. Announced in 2012, Heroes Work here is a company-wide initiative to hire, train, and support returning veterans. Search for open roles by your Armed Forces career area, military rank range, and preferred work location. Also check out the Learning & Development tab to find additional career readiness videos and tools meant to help you prepare for the next step in your career.
Hiring Our Heroes: We connect the military community - service members, military spouses, and veterans-with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce.
DAV: DAV is dedicated to a single purpose-empowering veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity.
Wounded Warrior Project: Every warrior has a next mission. We know that the transition to civilian life is a journey. And for every warrior, family member, and caregiver, that journey looks different. We are here for their first step, and each step that follows. Because we believe that every warrior should have a positive future to look forward to.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation: We navigate a maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits to find, fund, and shape innovative programs in communities where our veterans, their families, and caregivers live and work. BWF leverages partnerships with leading nonprofits, corporations, the military and the government to meet the emerging and long-term needs of today's veterans and their families.
The Mission Continues: The Mission Continues is a national, nonpartisan nonprofit that empowers veterans to continue their service, and empowers communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness to generate visible impact.
USO: The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.
American Corporate Partners (ACP): American Corporate Partners (ACP) is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping returning veterans and active duty spouses find their next careers through one-on-one mentoring, networking and online career advice.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: V.A. for Vets, run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has everything a veteran needs to start the career transition.
Student Veterans of America: Through a network of more than 1,500 on-campus chapters, Student Veterans of America ensures that student veterans and military-connected students achieve their greatest potential.
DOD SkillBridge: The DOD SkillBridge program is an opportunity for Service members to gain valuable civilian work experience through specific industry training, apprenticeships, or internships during the last 180 days of service. SkillBridge connects Service members with industry partners in real-world job experiences.
USAA: USAA is dedicated to the financial security of members of the military, veterans and their families. We provide expert advice, a full range of financial products and best-in-class service that lets you know you are a part of the USAA family.
Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP): The Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) connects military spouses with hundreds of partner employers who have committed to recruit, hire, promote and retain military spouses.
LinkedIn Free Membership: In collaboration with SheerID, LinkedIn offers eligible members of the U.S. military community one year of access to LinkedIn Premium. You'll also get unlimited access to more than 10,000 courses through our LinkedIn Learning platform as a part of the program.
Blue Star Families: We empower families to thrive as they serve and are committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors to create vibrant communities of mutual support.
Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW): The Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, provides a seamless transition for Service members, expands education and training, and provides opportunities for veterans.
In 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, the iPhone was in its infancy, with the first generation having only just been released in June 2007, while the MacBook series was also in its early days, launching in February 2006. These revolutionary products came out right before the largest financial crash the world had seen in a long time.
But despite the chaos of the world surrounding the firm, 2008 marked the beginning of some of the most numerous and innovative product releases in Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) history, constantly reinventing its product line and disrupting itself!
And with this backdrop in mind, Apple now faces a new era of challenges as the Fed battles rising inflation by hiking rates that may well drive the US into a recession, amid the Great Resignation with firms struggling to attract or retain talent, the war in Ukraine causing chaos in oil and food prices, and COVID. The world could really do with some more 2008 Apple right about now.
So let’s delve into Apple and review how the firm is placed to tackle a recession this time around.
Ranking Recession Readiness is a series of articles I’m authoring based on academic research along with advice from business leaders who took their firms through the Great Recession of 2008, to help investors identify which top 100 US firms are positioned to strive through a downturn, and which firms will stumble.
A full breakdown of the methodology and explanation behind the calculations is available in my introductory article, Ranking Recession Readiness: Is Google Prepared For The Recession?
(Data & prices correct as of pre-market 13th July, 2022)
(The Top 100 US Firms referred to can be found on this Seeking Alpha screener)
Want to skip the articles and dive right into the data? You can download my data and calculations here and see how the Top 100 US Firms compare on Recession Preparedness
Starting with Apple’s overall financial health, we’ll take a peek under the hood to see how Apple is performing currently in today’s economic climate compared to the Top 100 US Firms.
We’re not off to a great start with Apple unfortunately, with a quick ratio well below its peers and a lot more debt than most blue-chip stocks. In the context of a prolonged and deep recession and compared to the peer group, I have to rate Apple’s quick-ratio and debt to equity ratios as downsizing risks to the firm.
Turning to profitability, there are no issues here, with margins leading the peer group.
Next we’ll look closely at Apple’s obligations structure.
A 7% ST Debt to LT Debt ratio is not significant in most cases, but as you’ll see above it’s significantly more than most firms in the top 100 list hold, so I will have to penalise Apple slightly here, though I don't hold any grave concerns about it.
Further, these debts are most certainly well serviced with a covered ratio of 43, keeping in mind the significant size, and a quick ratio of 0.93 shouldn’t keep us up at night.
Next is Apple’s dividend.
There’s not much to see here, given the dividends are well covered by both cash flow and earnings, there’s “no-comment” other than “no concern”.
Lastly, the future outlook for Apple.
Again, some solid numbers here, with market leading revenue growth forecasts and a good average earnings improvement. Despite being considered a low margin improvement score for the peer group, I doubt I will have Seeking Alpha readers chase me with pitchforks if I call a 148% net margin improvement “not concerning”.
Lastly, we bring all the scores together, apply weights and see an overall picture for Apple.
88.3% is a very respectable and passable score, though I note some risk areas including Apple’s quick ratio and debt to equity which significantly drag down the overall score. But on the whole, no concern in the current climate.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into how prepared Apple is for a recession based on the advice from the 2008 Great Recession.
Starting with an overview of the balance sheet, we look at the key metrics for addressing the debt and cash components of the advice from 2008.
Straight off the bat we see our significant debt component, followed by a cash balance not sufficient to pay out the debt should the firm need to do so in a hurry.
There’s not much here to break down into too much detail, but seeing the quick ratio alongside a nearly $120B debt does make me pause to consider the gravity of a “worst case scenario”.
So let’s score those metrics relative to the peer group, weight them, and then see how things look.
As expected, the sizable debt on the balance sheet along with the poor performing quick ratio drags Apple’s Recession Readiness Score down significantly, and unfortunately the cash balance is not sufficient to Excellerate the score dramatically.
This leads to a recession readiness score of -19.23%, indicating that Apple is underprepared for a significant downturn compared to its peers, based on the advice post-2008 Great Recession.
But Apple is more than just a balance sheet. So let’s break down a more qualitative view of the firm and assess the recession narrative from other angles.
From the main themes of advice from 2008, we’ve well and truly covered the discussion around debt levels and cash, so let's look at the more nuanced points of advice surrounding managing the firm on a detailed level.
A major concern for firms through a recession is selling products to customers who can’t afford to pay for them, and so as part of preparing for a recession, firms should minimise their accounts receivables.
Apple’s total receivables figure has grown largely in line with revenue growth, so while a growth story is generally considered a positive, here we see exposure to Apple’s customer’s financials.
At $45.4B, this sum represents 38.4% of total current assets, and 12.9% of total assets.
The next piece of advice surrounds reducing inventory, as firms do not want to be holding excess stock due to the added costs, while sales revenue is lower.
Apple has a relatively modest inventory level, with $5.46B in inventory, representing 4.6% of total current assets and 1.5% of total assets.
These two elements combined (receivables + inventory) equal 43% of total current assets, and 14.4% of total assets for Apple. This a little risky, and in the event of a serious and prolonged recession could be the source of lost equity for the firm.
The next piece of advice was centered around cutting operating costs aggressively, while avoiding layoffs of staff, due to the cost of hiring and training once the firm is ready to grow again.
For Apple, there’s very little risk here in my eyes, with 154,000 employees, the firm is generating $2,506,603 in revenue per employee, and $661,915 in profit per employee. I see no reason for Apple to consider the need for layoffs given the efficiency of its staffing numbers, save for a catastrophic recession scenario.
The final piece of advice is difficult to find quantitative metrics for, but was nonetheless wise. A learning from 2008 was for firms to take the opportunity to invest heavily during a recession, due to the lower opportunity cost of capital while in a downturn.
While I can’t point to any meaningful or compelling data, I can use history as a guide, and review a pipeline of projects.
Firstly, although most people credit Steve Jobs for the success of Apple during this time, the 2008 Great Recession was a fantastic period for the business as a whole which created a marvelous list of innovative and successful products. Apple is a tech company which by its very nature is innovative, and I have no doubt that the firm has the resources and risk tolerance to invest in new projects during a downturn in order to come out stronger.
Perhaps they might scale up some exciting projects like new wearable tech, or even upscale investment into an Apple Car, to bring it to market faster.
But as far as general attitudes to investing in a recession, I have no doubts here around Apple being open to expanding CAPEX in tough times.
Unfortunately for Apple, I certainly cannot see the firm as a recommended safe haven for investors to place their capital if they were looking to park their money in safe companies headed into a recession.
For current holders assessing their portfolios and thinking about reallocating risk in the top 100 firms, I would say Apple is slightly more exposed to recession risks than most firms in the top 100, given the sizable debts, insufficient cash stockpile, oversized total receivables and inventory. There are safer opportunities than Apple heading into a recession, and so I deliver the firm a weak sell recommendation.
If you’re looking for additional analysis, more focused on DCF modelling than mine, I found this great piece on Seeking Alpha worth looking at, that rated AAPL a HOLD. The author takes a view of Apple as a great dividend growth investment, a view which I would agree with, though we diverge on our opinions of the balance sheet.
If you have any questions or would like to see any particular Top 100 US Firms assessed for their recession readiness, please leave a comment and let me know (I always do my best to monitor and respond to genuine comments!).