The secrets of the Inc. 500. Some of them piggy-backed on the Oprah Effect, some got there by catering to the population boom, others gave brick-and-mortar the ole heave-ho, but all the companies on our annual, exclusive Inc. 500 list have one thing in common: they're growing like gangbusters. Check out individual company profiles to learn more about their business model, revenue, or even scroll through the map at the bottom of the profiles to find other Inc. 500 companies in their neighborhood. Or let us break it down for you by largest employers, top companies run by women, Asian, Indian, or Latino CEOs. Congratulations to everybody who made the list!

How to get a cheap BlackBerry. Shop at Wal-Mart! The mega-retailer is offering a low-end version of the BlackBerry Curve for just $49, compared with $139 if you buy the smart phone from T-Mobile. The Wall Street Journal has a review of the new Curve, which has a slightly lower resolution screen and slightly worse digital camera, but which should be perfectly adequate for most users. The Journal calls it, "A perfectly good entry-level BlackBerry for users who still haven't let go of their basic cell phones."

Delicious founder wishes he'd never sold to Yahoo. Hi, Joshua Schachter, welcome to the disgruntled founders club. During a conversation on Hacker News, Schachter, founder of the popular social bookmarking website Delicious, described Yahoo, which acquired Delicious in 2005, as a "sausage factory" and asked "Since when is Yahoo cool?." It's worth noting that Schachter is now at Google. But after watching Delicious' growth stagnate and its drop-off in relevance, Mashable says, "We cannnot blame Joshua for his frustration."

How to improve website conversions. Via HackerNews, which is a great site by the guy who brought you Y Combinator, Tim Ferriss has a new blog post on how a company in which he invests used a free tool to cut its sell more stuff online. By using Google Website Optimizer, which allows you to create different versions of your homepage and compare how each version performs, DailyBurn was able to figure out that it needed a simplified homepage and improve its conversions by 20 percent. Ferriss's post gives a nice overview on how to use the tool, which can also help with the sticky issue of shopping cart abandonment.

Texas judge to Microsoft: Stop selling Word. It's true. A judge from Texas' Eastern District ruled yesterday that Microsoft's XML systems violate a patent held by Toronoto-based i4i Inc. According to TechCrunch, Word uses XML in reading and writing XML, DOCX, and DOCM files. In 60 days, the injunction will be put in place preventing Microsoft from selling or demonstrating Word and Microsoft will have to pay about $290 million in damages to i4i. "Obviously this will probably be fixed by the time the 60 days are up--this is Microsoft, after all," says TechCrunch.

Italian banks accept parmesan wheels as collateral. Inside Credito Emiliano SpA's two climate-controlled warehouses southeast of Milan sits about 440,000 wheels of parmigiano-reggiano cheese worth $187 million. The regional Italian bank, which finances cheesemakers in northern Italy, has been accepting the gourmet delicacy (each 80 lbs. wheel is worth 300 euros) as collateral since 1953, reports Bloomberg. The bank advances as much as 80 percent of the market value of the cheese through loans that last up to 24 months--the time that it takes the parmesan to age. No wonder Mario Batali likes to call it "undisputed king of cheese." In February, thieves tunneled into one of the Credito Emiliano's warehouses and nabbed 570 pieces before the police intervened. "Thank heavens we caught the robbers before they grated it," said vault manager William Bizzarri. (via naked capitalism)

Office slackers pick up the pace. If there is any good news to come out of the recession, it could be that the looming threat of layoffs has spurred workers to crank it up a notch. As the Chicago Tribune reports, U.S. worker productivity surged at a 6.4 percent annualized rate over the second quarter, the biggest jump in nearly six years. The data, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, comes on the heels of a lackluster 0.3 percent gain in the first quarter and a 0.8 rise in the fourth quarter of last year. No statistics were given on how the productivity surge affects the computer solitaire industry.

Why unemployment won't hit double digits. Even with July's drop in unemployment, the White House still expects the rate, now at 9.4 percent, to reach 10 percent. But Nate Silver writes at that the administration, and those who agree with it, are most likely wrong. (Hat tip to

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