Related Posts Tags:#Data Services#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Hundreds of thousands of websites are using a new service to track when readers copy and paste content from their sites into an email, blog post or elswhere. The service, called Tynt, isn’t just making sure that credit is given where it is due – it’s tracking what content is of interest to readers… right down to the word. Tynt says that people copy and paste content and links 50 times as often as they click on sharing buttons to post to networks like Facebook and Twitter. Now the company is opening up a series of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that will allow publishers to track automatically what particular words readers on their site are interested in. That data has incredible potential, but it’s not clear it will be used in ways that befit the opportunity it presents.You may have seen a link back to a source page inserted into text you’ve pasted somewhere – that’s Tynt. (Many people hate that, very much. See comments on this post for example.) The company may not be known well to Web users, but we are known to it – Tynt says it has now placed more than 1 billion tracking cookies in the browsers of people who have visited a page that uses its service. The numbers clearly show: The people want more Kim Kardashian content! Because ravenous consumption of raw human souls would be uncouth.Why Tynt Makes Me SadFor many people, Tynt’s insertion of links back are so annoying they consider the company a hostile parasite. There are problems beyond that, though.Services like this, and I say that broadly because I’ve not seen anything else quite like Tynt, tend to focus on website publishers because they believe that’s who will pay for this kind of information. Apparently some publishers don’t really know what kinds of content their readers like – but if they found out, they’d publish more like it. That’s understandable from a business perspective, but it’s also a little sad. Ought publishers not publish the best content their editorial team is capable of and interested in, according to their editorial brand’s unique voice? There’s something about publishing on such scale that the interests of your readers isn’t obvious, and then making editorial decisions based on sheer numbers, that seems sad to me. Call me a small fry in the publishing business, I guess.Meanwhile, the data that Tynt offers seems like it ought to be of interest to far more people than just publishers. What about application developers and others who would like to use this data to rank content from other sources? If copy and paste is really 50 times more common than sharing on Twitter and Facebook, then I would think that data would be invaluable for ranking content from third parties.We’ve written about sharing services ShareThis and AddThis, both of which already have large sums of money invested in the content sharing data as a platform. Tynt seems likely to have far more data, and data more representative of mainstream email users instead of just social network sharers.What will become of all this data, though? Will it just be used to steer editorial decisions in a way that panders to what people already know they want? Or editorial that leads, through discovery of things we don’t know about yet. Will it be used to target advertisements? That may not be bad – but it’s not very exciting either.What if we get a look into the Web’s collective consciousness and all we see is advertising opportunities? Services like Tynt seem like they inhabit a strange place – between an area of great generative potential and a dark and unpleasant place. (Maybe that’s just the name, I don’t know.)What would you like to see done with data about what millions of people are copying and pasting? It’s time we had that conversation, before this opportunity not just for one company, but for the Web in general, is lost. marshall kirkpatrick 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting
A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Former Napster employee and serial entrepreneur Wayne Chang recently discovered a security glitch on Twitter that had left 1.5 million support tickets exposed, complete with names and passwords. Chang worked with the team at Twitter to resolve the problem but the story is a lesson in why customers should be proactive with particular sensitivities to the risks in using Twitter or any general, free service.It also shows the benefits of working with services that use third party support programs such as Zendesk that track issues in case a flaw is discovered.In a blog post filed this week, Chang wrote that he has always taken it as an interest to discover security vulnerabilities in online systems. Back in the 1990s he mixed in a group that wrote their own software to discover security flaws. One of his fellow hackers went by the name “napster.” That was Shawn Fanning, who went on to found Napster. Chang joined the company in 1998. Those Gatsby days are now only stories but the spirit of discovering massive security flaws is still an adventure for many. A few weeks ago, Chang realized he had a big one on his hands when he found himself peering into the Twitter customer support network. With a few manipulations he had gained access to Twitter’s support network – a community with more people in it than most any online service.Here’s what happened. Chang received a reply to a support ticket that he had filed for one of his business accounts. The support desk needed more information. He opened the Twitter dashboard for open tickets. He did not see his ticket listed. Thinking nothing of it he looked at an old ticket and made the discovery he was looking at the account of someone else:I looked at an old ticket that was listed and back to the new email. I manipulated a few data fields, hoping it would work. As soon as I pressed enter, the ticket I was looking for showed up. Great, must be a temporary display glitch on my account. In any case, I was happy to be able to work with the ticket. I tried to reply to the ticket on the system. Strange, it didn’t attach my message. That’s when I noticed the account name didn’t match mine – it said @null instead of my business account name. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to see this. I finagled around with the data fields and suddenly I was staring at someone else’s support ticket — one that showed his password (he had wrote it as part of his ticket). This is Not Good. Tags:#cloud#security Related Posts After review he found a mixture of different information that was revealed. It included”Account passwordsContact information, including addresses and phone numbersAPI keys and consumer secret keysVIP requests, related to movie starsBrand impersonations, large multinational companies wanting certain accounts deactivated/removedAnd 419 scams.The attention at that point turned to Zendesk, which Twitter uses for its support desk. Chang set up a number of accounts. It looked like the problem only affected a subset of users on Twitter. This is where services like Twitter fall short. It became a project just to find the right person to contact. This is a problem that I have personally felt in the past few weeks when trying to get someone from Tweetdeck to help me get my columns back. I gave up and now use Seesmic.Twitter is now working through the issues so they can be better contacted in case of security issues of critical importance.But this all brings up a classic problem. General, free services are excellent for fostering transparent, rich communities. But larger enterprises are anything but open. They do want to be more transparent but security by its nature is designed to be a barrier. Barriers by definition are solid blocks. It’s difficult to marry those concepts unless the ultimate security is put into place.And that’s trust networks.What is needed are better identity systems to avoid any kind of password problems. Google Apps Marketplace maintains a policy for single sign on. That makes it viable to offer apps that can help people work in a secure ecosystem. Twitter is still of magnified importance but to use it enterprise managers would be wise to modernize its identity systems to avoid the worst of all outcomes.And that’s the spectre of stolen corporate accounts. Once that happens all semblance of trust is lost. That wastes valuable time which takes ages to rebuild.(Image source: BostonInnovation) Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting alex williams 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
Although it was announced on December 1, the rescheduled launch of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Version 2.5 guidelines for the Energy Star for Homes program didn’t generate widespread coverage online. So we’ll look at some highlights here.Originally set to take effect on January 1, 2010, the v2.5 guidelines are now scheduled for implementation on April 1. Single-family homes permitted before then are eligible to qualify for an Energy Star label under the current guidelines, Version 2, until July 1, 2011.Note that the July 1, 2011, qualification deadline using v2 guidelines – aimed at new single-family homes that are at least 15% more energy efficient than comparable homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code – is the same as it was when the EPA announced the original implementation schedule for v2.5. All homes both permitted and completed between April 1 and December 31, 2011 (between January 1 and December 31, 2011, under the original schedule) must be qualified using the new, v2.5 guidelines, the EPA says.The reconfigured implementation schedule also means that condos and apartments in multifamily buildings that are permitted before April 1, 2011, will be eligible for qualification under the current, v2 guidelines until January 1, 2012.Version 3 still on trackOne thing that doesn’t seem to have changed – at least not yet – is the EPA’s scheduled implementation, set for January 1, 2012, of the guidelines for Version 3. That will be the final stage of the progression, although v3 will be subject to periodic updates, based on program-partner input and evolving standards, with an appropriate adoption schedule for each update. (Click here for links to v2.5 and v3 program documents and scheduling details.)The EPA also clarified a few key terms and issues: “Completion date,” for example, is the date of the final field inspection (not the Energy Star inspection) for the home; the Energy Star rater may define the “permit date” for a project as either the date that the permit was issued or the date of the contract on the home; and Energy Star uses the term “single-family homes” to include detached homes, townhouses, row houses, duplexes, and triplexes.In addition, the EPA modified the treatment of basements as it relates to ”Benchmark Home Size” (a reference point based on average home sizes for a specified number of bedrooms) and the “Size Adjustment Factor” (a system for accommodating homes whose square footage deviates significantly from benchmark sizes) in both v2.5 and v3 of the guidelines: “Bedrooms and floor area in basements shall not be counted for the purpose of determining a home’s Benchmark Home Size and Size Adjustment Factor if at least half of the basement’s wall area is below grade.” The EPA also adds that, “as a result of this policy, a home has zero applicable bedrooms with regard to the Benchmark Home Size determination, then the Benchmark Home Size for one bedroom shall be used.”To read an earlier report on changes to the Energy Star Homes specification, read Raising the Bar for Energy Star Homes.
There are two kinds of summers in Florida: hot and humid, and really hot and humid. Team Florida has prepared for both with FLeX House, its entry for the 2011 Solar Decathlon. But the team also is attempting to address issues that go well beyond the state’s seasonal plunge into tropical weather.Population growth in Florida over the next 15 years is expected to severely burden its water supply and increase the need to control pollution and better manage land use. Team Florida – a collaboration of students and faculty at the University of South Florida, Florida State University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Florida – says it has designed FLeX House as a model for low-cost, low-impact housing that operates at net zero energy while it honors the architectural vernacular of the Florida peninsula and panhandle.FLeX, which stands for Florida Zero Energy Prototype, naturally places a high priority on making efficient use of the state’s often-abundant sunshine, in this case through a photovoltaic array and solar hot water collectors mounted on the home’s flat roof. The exterior walls, floor, and roof are built with stick framing in some sections and structural insulated panels in others. (We’re awaiting word from the team on the insulation values and performance goals for the house.) Follow Team Florida if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘bc98aae0-8e17-4245-8a17-648637e681bf’); Get the Introducing Flex House » Follow our Progress widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info)Control the climateLike several Decathlon entries, FLeX House features movable elements – including a Murphy bed and gliding partitions – and loft-like sleeping quarters for children or guests that make it easy to reconfigure the interior for both comfort and for localized cooling and heating.The job of managing Florida’s humidity, meanwhile, will fall mainly to an interior desiccant waterfall – essentially a vertically mounted rectangular enclosure through which interior air and a water-absorbing calcium chloride solution are pumped to dry out the air. Once it becomes saturated with water, the calcium chloride solution flows to a separate reservoir where the water is boiled off using heat from the solar thermal system, and the “dried out” calcium chloride solution is then returned to the desiccant waterfall.In late September, when Decathlon takes place and the climate in Washington, D.C., still retains characteristics of the city’s swealtering summer, there should be plenty of humidity to extract. Of course, the desiccant system won’t be challenged in D.C. quite like it will be in Florida in July. MORE INFORMATIONTeam Florida Web pageDOE Web page for Team FloridaTeam Florida Facebook pageGBA Resource Guide for 2011 Solar Decathlon Catering to young homeownersClad in corrugated metal, the exterior walls also feature a lot of window space – sliding glass doors on the north side and large windows on the south side. The walls are clad in corrugated metal, and much of exterior is shaded by louvers made from locally grown cypress. The north side of the house features a deck area that connects to a garden landscape, while the south side, which includes the main entrance, is more heavily shielded by the louver canopy.The main structure is long, rectangular, and designed to fit neatly on a single truck flatbed for transport. Once the building is onsite, entry and bedroom modules deploy from the main body, and the louvers, photovoltaic array, solar thermal collectors, decking, and other exterior fixtures are then installed.Team Florida is drawing extensively from research into PV materials and performance conducted by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center, a team leader in the Department of Energy’s Building America program. In keeping with its goal to make the project competitive in the Decathlon’s affordability contest and affordable to young couples with moderate incomes, Team Florida aims to install just enough PV panels and solar thermal collectors to power the building’s heat pump, provide hot water, and cover electricity consumption by kitchen appliances, lighting, and other devices.
Two correctionsAltitude. If you’re doing a blower door test at high elevations (that is, anything higher than 5000 feet above sea level), you’ll have to apply a correction factor to your air leakage. (Yeah, they’re talking to you, Steve Byers and your Energy Logicians!)Temperature. If you’re testing on a really cold or a really hot day, you’ll have to adjust for that, too. When the temperature difference, ΔT, is greater than 30° F, you must adjust. (See the tables on page 8-9.)As I said above, I see the new rigor in the HERS Standards as a good thing. It may take some retraining of the field guys who go out and do blower door tests all day long, but it’ll be worth it. We’ll be adding these new procedures to our training starting with our next HERS rater class. If you do any type of performance testing under the auspices of the HERS Standards, you don’t have to be a scientist or engineer…but you’ll have to start thinking like one. Three types of testsSingle-point test. Measure the air leakage one time at a given pressure difference, usually 50 Pascals. You have to measure the baseline pressure 5 times, but that doesn’t take long.Multi-point test. Measure the air leakage at multiple pressure differences, from 60 Pa down to 15 Pa in 5 Pa increments. You’ll have to measure the baseline pressure difference before and after taking the air leakage readings, but you don’t adjust for the individual pressure readings.Repeated single-point test. Measure the air leakage at least five times at a single pressure difference and then do a statistical analysis of the results. Calculate the mean, standard deviation of the mean, and uncertainty. Two types of accuracyStandard accuracy. Under normal test conditions, you’ll get results with an acceptable level of uncertainty. You can use the result in a certified home energy rating, and the software doesn’t modify it. When doing a single-point test, if your baseline pressure difference is less than 5.0 Pa, you’re in the realm of standard accuracy. For a multi-point test or repeated single-point test, you get to report the result here if the corrected cfm50 has an uncertainty less than 10%.Reduced accuracy. On really windy days or when other conditions cause your uncertainty to be too high, you report the result as having reduced accuracy. If you’re doing a certified home energy rating with reduced accuracy, the software will add about 10% to the result to determine if the home complies with the thresholds required in energy codes or programs. If the baseline pressure difference is between 5.0 and 10.0 Pa for a single-point test, you’ve got reduced accuracy. (If the baseline is >10.0 Pa, you can’t do a single-point test.) For a multi-point test or repeated single-point test, an uncertainty of more than 10% means the accuracy is reduced. OK, the title here may be a little extreme, but if you’ve taken a look at the new chapter on performance testing and scope of work in the HERS Standards, you know what I’m talking about. RESNET just adopted this as the new chapter 8 in August of this year, and it goes into effect on 3 January 2012.As a physicist, I love the new rigor they’ve added to the protocol for doing blower door tests. If you ever took an introductory physics class and the associated lab, you probably remember with great fondness the statistical analysis you had to learn. (What!? You hated that part? I just don’t get you at all!)Anyway, measurement is a science in and of itself that follows some fundamental rules:Every piece of equipment will give you a measurement with some uncertainty.Measuring something once doesn’t give you the absolute, final, correct result. To improve reproducibility, the measurer must pay great attention to the conditions under which the measurement was made.With the new standards on blower door testing, RESNET is acknowledging that these rules apply to home energy raters as well as the folks who wear white coats. (Actually, I call the latter chemists. Physicists mostly just wear whatever they want.)So, what’s new for all you blower door testers out there? Here’s a brief summary. Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a RESNET-accredited energy consultant, trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard blog.
RELATED ARTICLES Replacing the brick with a cheaper alternativeGiven the problems, Hyler wonders whether the chimney, which vents a boiler and water heater, could be torn down and replaced with something less expensive. It would be no great loss to the house aesthetically, Hyler adds.A stainless-steel chimney would probably cost less, and work better, than a masonry structure, Holladay says, so if the decision is to replace instead of repair that might be a good option. The stainless-steel chimney could be boxed in with framing and drywall so it wouldn’t be visible inside the house.Hyler’s decision will be complicated by the fact the house will soon be sold. A simple repair, if one exists, might be more appealing financially than a major investment in a property Hyler will soon put on the market.But in either case, potential buyers should be told of any existing problems that sellers are aware of.“As far as I understand, in many states, home sellers are required by law to disclose any known defects,” Holladay says “Now that you have researched the topic and learned about your defective chimney — and now that your question has been posted in a public forum — you are probably required to disclose the defect to any interested buyer.“If this were an ethics column instead of a construction advice column,” he adds, “here’s what I would answer: You are ethically obligated to fix the problem or to inform the buyer about any known defect in your home.” Most likely causes: bad flashing or flue-gas condensationFaulty flashing is one possible culprit, says GBA senior editor Martin Holladay, but it also could be moisture resulting from the condensation of flue gases.Leaks at the intersection of chimney and roof aren’t at all uncommon, and while there are several possible corrections, Holladay thinks the most reliable way is with a technique called through-chimney flashing. “Proper installation of through-chimney flashing requires all of the bricks above the roofline to be disassembled,” Holladay writes. “After the flashing work is done, the chimney top can be rebuilt with the old bricks or with new bricks.”Condensation occurs in flues that are too big or cold, Holladay adds, referring Hyler to an an article he originally wrote for The Journal of Light Construction. He suggests searching out a skilled mason with a good understanding of chimneys.Dana Dorsett adds that a chimney can “rot out from the inside” because of flue gas condensation.“It’s not about the quality of the brickwork,” Dorsett writes, “it’s the size of the liner relative to the BTU output of the boiler and the temperature and acidity of the exhaust. If the cross section of the flue is too large, it slows the velocity of the exhaust, and with lower temperature exhaust of higher-efficiency equipment, there is more moisture and acid being deposited on the masonry from the interior.“The exterior degradation from rain/snow/ice moisture is often just the icing on the cake, not the underlying problem.” RELATED MULTIMEDIA Podcast: Efflorescence = Water Damage Between the spalling bricks and a persistent leak that has damaged a mudroom ceiling, the chimney on Page Hyler’s 1900 farmhouse is proving to be a problem that just can’t get fixed.“We have had damage around the ceiling and wall of the chimney that I now know is efflorescence,” Hyler writes in a post at Green Building Advisor’s Q&A forum. Caulking the flashing at the roofline helped, at least temporarily, but Hyler eventually called in an out-of-town company to inspect and seal the bricks. Problems persist.“I contacted someone else who refinishes old houses in the area and he thinks that we should patch up the bricks and repaint [them] with an oil-based paint because the chimney looks to be in decent shape otherwise,” Hyler writes. “He thinks the damage in the mudroom is the flashing around the chimney.“I was wondering if there is efflorescence under tha painted brick would the oil paint suggestion solve problem or do I need to tear down the chimney and rebuild it.”As if the situation wasn’t problematic enough, Hyler is planning to sell the house. Should that change the repair strategy? Q&A: What’s causing this brick to deteriorate? Farewell to the Chimney? Q&A: Insulating an interior chimney Our expert’s opinionHere’s what GBA technical director Peter Yost thought:After looking at the photos and reading descriptions of this chimney, it sure looks to me to be a bulk water management issue, with flashing and condensation problems not necessarily lacking either.But a couple of key points:First, this chimney moves quickly from being surrounded by interior conditioned space to being outside the structure — so there is a big temperature drop during the heating season, and much less stack effect to support good draw. This increases the condensation potential pretty far down the stack.This is a good reason to consider yanking the failing masonry chimney and, as Martin suggests, replacing it with a stainless-steel flue wrapped in cladding. But if the new clad stack is insulated, this will increase the height of the heated air column, increase the stack effect, and improve the chimney’s draw.This is one of the reasons that many old homes have their main fireplace in the home’s center rather than at the gable end. The column of warm air in the fireplace is continuous and always draws well, whereas a gable-end fireplace with the chimney outside of the conditioned space often has draw problems.Second, you can’t use paint to waterproof masonry, and you always want the water permeability of any coating to be very low (preventing wetting) while the vapor permeability is very high (to accommodate drying). For that, you need to use a siloxane as your chimney or masonry water seal. Siloxane water sealers are transparent, water-resistant, and vapor-permeable. They are, however, pretty expensive and pretty sensitive to UV degradation. You have to recoat per manufacturer’s recommendations to keep the water out over time.It won’t be inexpensive to remove the old chimney and replace it with a clad and insulated chimney with metal flue, but it is the right thing to do.
Love them or hate them, smart meters are becoming increasingly common around the globe.Advocates believe that the meters generate better data for both energy consumers and service providers. These meters can provide homeowners with feedback on their energy consumption, which helps them change their habits in order to reduce monthly utility bills. Critics, however, have voiced concern over health and safety issues, asserting that smart meters present fire hazards, emit dangerous levels of radiation, and violate privacy.The smart meter system is comprised of wireless, two-way monitors that capture and store data about energy usage. Although primarily used for electricity usage data, smart meters are also being used by other utilities supplying gas and water. The meters used for utilities other than electric provide the same benefits to consumers, allowing them to monitor their usage and reduce their monthly bills. Once the meter is placed on a home and activated, many smart meters provide virtual access by consumers to usage data. Worries about hacking and privacyGiven the number of high-profile hacking cases across the globe, many worried citizens have expressed concern over the security of these smart meter systems. This isn’t just a matter of concern for North Americans, either; given the growing popularity of smart meters in Asian countries like China and the Philippines, the pressure is on companies to make sure that smart meters and the information they gather are secure.Given the vulnerable nature of wireless systems, and the increasingly savvy hackers from all corners of the globe, many are concerned that hackers could easily steal smart meter data.Smart meters give incredibly specific information that goes beyond merely noting when electricity is and isn’t used. Hackers can use smart meter data to pinpoint which device is using energy in which room. They can even turn the power off to the home or business, rendering it, and any alarms in it, vulnerable to attack. This issue is of particular concern for business owners who are putting their money, property, and inventory at risk in some cases.It’s not just the vulnerability to hacking that concerns users, either — it’s the fact that the information that the energy company stores about consumers’ usage can be used against them in criminal investigations. For example, a law passed in California in 2011 required annual transparency reports from utility companies. In 2013 alone, San Diego Gas & Electric gave the energy usage information of over four thousand of its customers to law enforcement agencies without the customers’ knowledge, raising major ethical and legal questions.Many states and many countries don’t have laws requiring privacy, meaning that any official who wishes to access the highly detailed information stored by your smart meter can get it. The utility providers that adopt time-of-use billing provide further incentives to reduce energy usage: if energy usage is at its peak in the evening, rates will go up at that time to compensate for the extra pressure on the electrical system. Utility companies hope that this it will cause users to make changes so they use more energy during non-peak hours, which would result in a lower rate for the user and less stress on the system.Smart meters have proven to be especially popular in energy deregulated states in America where users are free to choose their own electricity provider – here, a smart meter can let them save even more money. Companies like IGS Energy in Ohio and BrightSource Energy in California not only use more renewable sources of energy and allow customers to choose how the electricity they buy is generated, but offer their customers a way to double up on their eco-friendliness by adjusting their energy usage according to the smart meter data. Giving consumers more controlData tracking for utilities begins at a per hour view and goes up to monthly overall usage. Customers now have access to data that tells them what their peak hours are for energy consumption, which means that they can be conscientious about reducing their energy usage during those hours. It runs on a supply and demand model, which allows the customers to adjust their usage depending on how much they are willing to spend. Manufacturers will have to address these concernsThese are somewhat extreme examples, and smart meters can genuinely do good, particularly in monitoring and reducing energy use. The reality of the matter is that they aren’t fail-safe and until they’re proven to be, the concerns will remain.We live in a time where privacy of information is increasingly rare. While we expect the insignificant details of daily life, such as when we watch a DVD or when our last employee turns off the lights, to remain our knowledge alone, that is not necessarily the case.Government efforts, such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC), may help ease consumers’ minds about privacy concerns. The VCC requires utility companies to enact departments of trained employees who will monitor meter security. Employees will be trained to prevent and counteract cyberattacks and leaked information.Governing smart meter privacy is one large step toward safer usage, although ultimately the manufacturers need to make it their imperative to adequately address privacy issues; making smart meters safer (and therefore, viable in the long term) is in their best interest from a business standpoint, and it’s in the consumers’ best interest from an ecological standpoint. Smart Meters Not a Health Threat, Study FindsThe Smart Meter’s Contentious OpponentsEMFs and Human HealthGet Ready for Smart AppliancesSmart Meter Ado Turns NastyIn Nevada, Calls for a Smart Meter ProbeOntario to Yank Some Smart Meters RELATED ARTICLES Emma Bailey is a writer in the greater Chicago area who covers technology, entertainment, and business. This post originally appeared at Eco-Business, a web site that describes itself as “the leading provider of news and views for Asia Pacific’s clean tech and sustainable business community.”
Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in This article is only available to GBA Prime Members The design of brick buildings and the quality of brick construction have declined dramatically in the last 100 years. While this statement is debatable, I’ll try to defend it with evidence. If my evidence is compelling, it raises questions about why certain technologies advance in sophistication while other technologies decline.Before I return to the topic of brick buildings, I’d like to take a detour to look at an example of technological evolution.I’m going to look at lighting technology — but I’m going to dial the time machine back before LEDs, before compact fluorescents, and before the incandescent lamp. I’m going to look at the evolution of the common household lamp: specifically, Palestinian olive oil lamps that were used between 2,500 B.C. and the 11th century A.D.My father, William Holladay, is now retired. He spent most of his working years as a full-time professor of Old Testament studies, with a specialty in the book of Jeremiah. He also worked (occasionally) as a part-time archaeologist. During the 1960s, when my family lived in Beirut, Lebanon, my father acquired a collection of ancient oil lamps. Most of these lamps were purchased in Jordan in 1964, when my father worked at a dig in Shechem.When arranged chronologically, the lamps tell a story of technological evolution. The earliest lamp in the collection, the one that dates from 2,500 B.C., is a simple bowl. It worked, but it was far from a perfect tool. If you tried to carry this lamp, the wick could easily slip from the bowl, creating a fire hazard, and precious oil could be easily spilled.Potters eventually learned to pinch one side of the bowl to create a recess for the wick, making it less likely that the wick would fall to the… Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.
Plastics recycling goes up in CanadaNorth of the border, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association reports that the amount of plastic packaging that was recycled rose by 3% between 2013 and 2014.At least 707 million pounds of post-consumer plastic were collected for recycling in 2014, Moore Recycling Associates said.Most of the increase in recycling came from plastic film and high-density polyethylene bottle recycling, due in part to more aggressive curbside pickup programs.Krista Friesen, vice president of sustainability at the plastics industry association, said that the 3% gain is more than it sounds like because packaging, overall, is getting lighter. “So,” she said, “to realize any increase means that a larger volume of plastics were recovered.” Recycling rates have dropped in California, and for the first time since 2010 are below 50%. Plastic News reports that the statewide recycling rate fell to 47% last year, a decline of 3 percentage points from the year before. The new data from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) suggest that the state has some catching up to do if it hopes to meet a recycling goal of 75% by 2020.Recycling centers around the state have closed, the trade publication says, as the state reduced the fees it pays for handling plastic bottles and other containers. At the same time, commodity prices for aluminum and PET, a clear plastic used for water and soda bottles, have declined.“Recyclers across all industries are hurting,” said Teresa Bui, a legislative and policy analyst with Californians Against Waste (CAW). “The low commodity prices for paper, plastic, and metals are all driven by low oil prices. It’s cheaper to by virgin materials to make new PET bottles than purchase recycled PET.”Mark Murray, CAW’s executive director, called the statistics “an embarrassing blemish,” and said that the state’s recycling future is at a crossroads. Murray said that more than 660 California recycling centers have closed in the last 12 months and hundreds more could meet the same fate unless the state legislature restores recycling reimbursements to 2015 levels. CAW said that while recycling rates fell, disposal amounts increased by 2 million tons in 2015.Plastic News said that the “diversion rate,” a broader measure that includes materials used for fuel, landfill cover, and roads, stood at 63% last year. According to CalReycle, the state recycled and composted roughly 37 million tons of material in 2015. The agency says that about half the solid waste produced every day is buried in landfills, burned to produce energy, or otherwise disposed of.
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of blogs detailing the construction of a net-zero energy house in Point Roberts, Washington, by an owner/builder with relatively little building experience. A list of Matt Bath’s GBA articles can be found at the bottom of this page. You’ll find Matt Bath’s full blog, Saving Sustainably, here. If you want to follow project costs, you can keep an eye on a budget worksheet here. Today I weathered in the roof by installing the dripedge and underlayment. Together with my fiancée, Elena, who I hired as head designer, we decided on navy blue/gray aluminum shingles for the roofing material. Aluminum is supposed to hold up well against the salty ocean air of Point Roberts, and the system I ordered from the Aluminum Shingle Co. came with a lifetime warranty. This becomes extra important for a solar net zero home like the one I’m building, because if you have to replace the roof then you have to remove the entire solar system first. The aluminum shingles are built to interlock together, which not only makes installing them a little easier, but also ensures a watertight barrier.RELATED ARTICLESGuide to Roofs and RoofingRoofing Material ChoicesMartin’s Ten Rules of Roof DesignWill This Roof Design Have Problems?Staying Cool with a Metal Roof The first step of the installation was to attach the dripedge to the eaves of the roof (see the first photo in the gallery). For this aluminum shingle system, the dripedge came with the package because the shingles will actually lock into it. (Even the nails to install it were included!) For a more typical shingle roof, the dripedge can be purchased separately. Dripedge ensures that water doesn’t drip down the fascia as it travels to the gutter. The face of the dripedge extends out over the fascia so the water coming off the roof drops directly into the gutter without touching the fascia. After watching the installation video a few times, I carried the dripedge up to the roof and set about installing it. Some small cuts had to be made with some tin snips where the different pieces locked together, but overall the process was extremely simple. Adding the underlayment Getting the roll of underlayment up to the roof was probably the most difficult part. It weighs close to 100 pounds, and it wasn’t quite wide enough to ride up the rails that I had used to haul up the roof sheathing. I decided the best way to do it was to unroll a little more than the amount I needed to complete a course, cut it off, and then roll it back up. Then it was light enough for me to be able to carry it up the ladder safely. Starting at one end, I positioned the underlayment so it almost covered the nailing flange of the dripedge, nailed it in place, and then unrolled it all the way to the other side of the roof. After tacking it at the end and cutting the roll flush with the gable end, I nailed it down with cap-style roofing nails every 8 inches or so. I overlapped each successive course of underlayment about 5 inches to ensure that rainwater wouldn’t be able to get through to the roof sheathing. When I got to the ridge of the roof, I placed the middle of the roll of underlayment over the top of the ridge and cap-nailed it down over each side, to ensure that water flowing down the roof would always flow over the next course instead of under. With underlayment now covering the entire roof, the last step was to install the gable dripedge at the rakes (see Photo #2 in the gallery). This went on almost exactly the same way as the eave dripedge, with aluminum nails every 4 inches. The shingles lock into the very end of the dripedge and will cover up all of these nails, as well as the eave dripedge nails. Shingles interlock on four all four edges The company from which I bought the aluminum shingles offers 11 different instructional videos on YouTube. After watching them multiple times, I had a really good grasp of how to install the shingles. It really is impressive how they all interlock together on all four edges and yet all of the nails end up getting covered by other shingles! There is only one way to install the interlocking shingles, and that is to start at the lower left corner of the roof and work your way to the upper right corner. The first shingle must be cut in half, and then you have to cut off some of the shingle so it fits into the gable end dripedge. This wasn’t explained directly in the videos because the roof shown in the videos was primarily a hip roof, whereas mine is a gable. However, they did show how to end a shingle on a very small section of a gable, and I was able to figure out how to get started. The first shingle in each diagonal row locks into the dripedge along the eave, and then you shingle up diagonally to the left until you get to the one that locks into the dripedge along the rake (see Photo #3 in the gallery). One important detail was mentioned very briefly in the video, and I didn’t realize how important it was right away. I was having trouble getting the shingles to line up straight, so I watched the video again and realized what I was doing wrong. Each row of shingles is attached from the bottom at the eave to the top at the gable, but then they are nailed down from top to bottom. I had been nailing them at the same time as I attached them and that small change made quite a difference in the quality of the installation. I removed the last course and reinstalled the shingles correctly. With each course I got a little more efficient at installing the shingles and my speed quickly increased. Before I knew it I had reached the top of the roof. At this point, instead of finishing a row into the gable end, I simply cut off the top shingle at the roof ridge and nailed it down. The ridge caps will cover these nails. I continued with the diagonal rows of shingles until I reached the opposite gable end. Now, instead of starting at the eave, each row started at the gable end on the left side of the roof. Just as with the shingles on the other gable end, some cuts had to be made to allow the shingle to lock into the gable dripedge. Adding the vent stack and solar hub When I reached the marking for the Soladeck (the wiring hub for my solar panels), I cut the shingles so the unit would slide underneath the shingles above but over the top of the shingles below, ensuring water flowing down won’t be able to go under the shingles. The opposite side of the roof was installed in precisely the same way. On this side, instead of the Soladeck I had the vent pipes to deal with. I cut the shingles to fit around them and applied a thick bead of heavy duty roofing sealant around the opening (see photo #4 in the gallery). Then I slid the vent flashing down over the top of the ABS pipe, tucked the top side under the shingles above, and left the bottom side over the top of the shingles below (see Photo #5 in gallery). I nailed the flashing down with aluminum nails and used a clear sealant to cover the tops of the nails. After both sides were completely shingled, I used a knife to cut out the underlayment to create an opening for the ridge vent (see Photo #6 in the gallery). I filled this area with a special roof ridge underlayment that allows air to pass through but keeps particles out. I then covered it with the aluminum ridge caps, which also interlocked together. The first one slides into the gable dripedge and the other side gets one nail on each side. Each successive ridge cap covers up the nails from the one before it, and then the last piece is trimmed so it tightly slides under both the gable dripedge and the shingle that came before it. The few inconsistencies in the shingles visible from the roof can’t be seen from the ground. I was extremely happy to see how the roof turned out. Standing on top and scrutinizing my work, I can definitely spot some areas that aren’t straight. However, from the ground the roof looks amazing and I’m very proud of the job I did with zero experience with this type of roof. I would recommend the Permalock system to anyone who wants a beautiful roof that will last at a good price. Other posts by Matt Bath: An Introduction Foundation Formwork Designing and Installing a Septic System Pouring the Slab Framing the First Floor Framing the Second Floor Framing the Roof
After years of debate, New York state has adopted congestion pricing to deal with traffic problems in New York City. Starting in 2021, fees will be imposed on all vehicles entering a pricing zone that covers lower Manhattan, from 60th Street at the southern edge of Central Park to the southernmost tip of the island. This approach has succeeded in cities including London, Singapore, and Stockholm. For scholars like me who focus on urban issues, New York’s decision is welcome news. Properly used, congestion pricing can make crowded cities safer, cleaner, and easier for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians to navigate. The details matter, including the size and timing of charges and the area that they cover. Congestion charges also raises equity issues, since rich people are best able to move closer to work or change their schedules to avoid the steepest costs.RELATED ARTICLESAre Traffic-Clogged Cities Ready for Congestion Pricing?Traffic Calming – Saving Lives and Saving EnergyDesigning Greener City StreetsWill Self-Driving Cars Save Energy?Self-Driving Cars Will Mean More Sprawl The downside of density Cities concentrate people close together for good economic reasons. Clustering activities allows transfers of information, knowledge, and skills. At their best, cities create deep pools of labor and large markets of consumers, and make it possible to provide public goods such as mass transit and trash collection efficiently. Planners should be encouraging cities to become bigger and more dense if we want to improve economic performance. But growing concentration also imposes costs, and one of the largest is traffic congestion. Drivers spend valuable time sitting idly in traffic jams, while noise, accidents, and pollution impose heavy burdens on city residents. Should road use be free? The idea of charging for use of public roads is not new. Economist Arthur Pigou discussed the issue as early as 1920 as part of his attempt to remedy the suboptimal workings of the market system. In 1963 Canadian-born economist William Vickrey argued that roads were scarce resources that should be valued by imposing costs on users. Consumers intuitively understand differential pricing. We expect to pay more for airline tickets at peak travel times and for hotel rooms at popular times of the year. Congestion pricing also forces users to think about the cost of making a trip, and thus to evaluate their travel patterns. A cyclist’s perspective on traffic in lower Manhattan, filmed in 2018. And it can be effective. A 2008 study gave drivers in Seattle a hypothetical cash sum to spend on trips, charged them tolls linked to traffic congestion levels, and let them keep money they did not spend. Their cars were fitted with equipment to monitor driving patterns. The results: Travelers altered their schedules, took different routes, or collapsed multiple trips into single journeys. Collectively, these changes reduced congestion at peak times, lessened wait times, and increased average travel speeds in the study’s regional traffic model. Success in Europe and Asia Evidence from cities around the world shows that charging motorists fees for driving into city centers during busy periods is a rarity in urban public policy: a measure that works and is cost-effective. Congestion pricing has succeeded in cities including London, Singapore, and Stockholm, where it has eased traffic, sped up travel times, reduced pollution, and provided funds for public transport and infrastructure investments. It also can produce some unintended consequences. In London, house prices within the congestion charge zone increased — bid upward by consumers who were willing to pay to avoid traffic and enjoy improved environmental conditions. Over the long term, the congestion tax lubricated the gentrification of central London. But this process is common to many other big cities, with or without congestion pricing: The rich preempt central city locations and displace the less wealthy to the suburbs. London’s Congestion Charge zone. [Transport for London] Congestion pricing in the United States Although the United States has over 5,000 miles of toll roads, congestion pricing is uncommon. One exception is Interstate Route 66 in the Washington, D.C. metro region, where fluctuating tolls were introduced in late 2017. Pricing for express lanes changes every six minutes during rush hour eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon. The toll hit $40 for a 10-mile stretch the day after it was introduced. So far, local officials say the policy appears to be working. Carpooling has increased, while backups and crashes have declined. The average toll is currently $8.02 during morning hours and $4.47 during afternoon hours. But this is just one well-used road, and there are many other routes into central Washington. The I-66 tolls are more about generating revenue on one road than reducing congestion citywide. New York City is the best U.S. candidate for congestion pricing because it is densely developed and has an extensive public transportation system. Congestion pricing is unlikely to be as feasible in lower-density cities with limited public transportation. Some observers, such as environmental advocates, are celebrating New York’s decision. But there is pushback from others who claim that it will be regressive. Congestion charges do raise equity issues, but only 4% of people who commute into New York City travel by car, and of those, only 5,000 could be classified as working poor. Funding from congestion fees will increase investment in mass transit, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says will benefit the vast majority of New Yorkers who commute by bus or subway. Details remain to be decided, but under a previous proposal, cars would have been charged $11.52 to enter the zone on weekdays during business hours, while trucks would have paid $25.34. Taxis and app-based rides such as Uber and Lyft would have been charged $2 to $5. Fees will be assessed by a committee of experts and collected by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority through an electronic tolling system that is already widely used for bridges, tunnels, and tolled motorways across the country. Unlike other taxes that can be easily dismissed as imposing costs and killing jobs, congestion pricing improves market efficiencies because it forces people to think about their travel and leads to a more rational use of our public roads. It is a powerful policy whose time has definitely come. This is an updated version of an article originally published on Feb. 7, 2018. John Rennie Short is a professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
Related Posts Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Dedicated followers of ReadWrite may recall that a couple of months ago I broke my iPhone 4 and spent a week relying on a Google Galaxy Nexus. I enjoyed my experience, but decided that rather than switch to Android, I’d instead upgrade to an iPhone 5 when they became available. (See My Week With Android, Or Why I’m Buying An iPhone 5.)Well, I hate mail-order, and I hate waiting in lines, so I planned to use my repaired iPhone 4 until I could just walk into a store and pick up the iPhone 5 I wanted. I’m not sure that you can do that anywhere right now, but I had no trouble doing so last week at the flagship Apple store in downtown San Francisco. I know that just about every tech writer on the planet has already weighed in on the iPhone 5, so I’m not going to go into the specs and such. Most likely you all know that stuff already.Instead, I’m going to share a couple points that jumped out at me after using the iPhone 5 in my daily comings and goings. Some of these observations may seem obvious to some, but they surprised me. The Bigger Screen: A DisappointmentSure, the iPhone 5 has a bigger screen, but in my daily use, it didn’t seem that much bigger. For viewing websites and apps, I often didn’t even notice the extra size (and that’s not meant as praise). I was hoping the extra space would ameliorate the screen envy I sometimes feel towards Android devices’ whose screens seem to resemble the Great Plains or the Russian Steppes. No such luck. I still have to squint, or pinch-and-zoom to see what I’m looking at.The extra real estate really came in handy only when I happily put 16 apps in a folder, and stuck an extra row of apps and folders on my home screen. That’s saving me some clicking and scrolling as I navigate the 72 apps I migrated from my old phone to the new one. But that’s about it. There’s still not quite enough room for my fingers when typing, so I still make a zillion errors in every sentence. Autocorrect helps, but only to a point. Too often, it correctly spells a different word than the one I was trying to type.The Faster Processor: A Sweet SurpriseI didn’t think a little extra speed in the chip would make a big difference. After all, it wasn’t like I felt my iPhone 4 was slow. I was wrong. Even on the same Wi-Fi connections I was already using, the iPhone 5 was noticeably, significantly faster. Even after a week, I get a little thrill at how quickly apps and Web pages load and present data. It’s so dramatic that I find myself using my phone more than ever, for all kinds of things that I wouldn’t have wanted to wait for on the iPhone 4.LTE: As Awesome As PromisedAs an AT&T subscriber in San Francisco, speed wasn’t my big problem, connectivity and coverage were. But the LTE service in the iPhone 5 seems to help all of those issues, too. I’m getting much better voice connections in my house (which had been problematic) and suffering fewer dropouts and other connection hiccups. And the speed really is amazing. I have 50Mbps Internet at home (see A Love Letter to the Cable Guy, or How Really Fast Broadband Changes Everything), and we have 100Mbps service at ReadWrite World HQ, but I hardly noticed the dropoffs when relying on AT&T’s network.As noted, the faster speeed is encouraging me to use the phone more, so I’m kind of worried I’m going to blow through my data plan and end up spending more money on service – that would be an annoying unintended consequence, although I’m sure AT&T would be thrilled.The Physical StuffThe iPhone 5 is thinner and lighter but longer than the iPhone 4. But none of that really made much of a difference to me. It still fits in my pocket, still feels good in my hand.What did make a difference is that darn Lightning connector. (See iPhone 5’s Lightning Connector Is A Bigger Problem Than Apple Thinks.) I like the fact that it goes in either way, but it doesn’t seem very sturdy. And even though I spent $30 on the stupid adapter, it still doesn’t work on my iPhone speaker units. It charges, sort of, if it doesn’t fall over, but it won’t play the music. Thankfully, the adapter does allow the iPhone 5 to work with the old iPhone connector kit in my car.Two New CapabilitiesThe two most important new capabilities I got with my upgrade are no doubt Siri and turn-by-turn navigation. I’m finding Siri kind of fun to talk to, but not particularly useful. Too often, she doesn’t understand my request, or can’t find me a decent answer, so just returns a Web search. Yawn. So far at least, I’m asking her fewer and fewer questions. Turn by turn navigation is great, though, even with Apple’s sketchy new maps. But at least for me, it’s difficult to set it up and hear the instructions while I’m driving, so it’s not as useful as I’d like when I’m driving by myself. Of course, my Google Nexus had similar voice commands and navigation features, and they weren’t enough to get me to stay on Android. So it shouldn’t be too big a surprise that these capabilities are not changing my life on the iPhone 5, either.Making The TransitionOne of the reasons I decided to go with the iPhone 5 was my investment in the Apple ecosystem – my whole family uses iPhones and it’s nice to take advantage of some the Apple-only features together, like iMessage and FaceTime. (Sure there are other solutions, but these features work really well within Apple’s walled garden.)Moving to the iPhone 5 wan’t completely seamless. It took a few tries to get iTunes (boy, have I ever mentioned how much I hate iTunes?) to back up my old phone and restore everything properly to the new one. I had help from an iOS developer, which was invaluable to learn about a couple key settings to make the process work – especially the need to encrypt the backup to make sure everything moves over properly. Things would no doubt have been easier had I been using iCloud. Or maybe not. (See Cupertino, We Have A Problem.)Once I got everything moved over, of course, there was zero learning curve. The iPhone 5 had all the same apps and capabilities that I was used to using. I did have to re-pair my Bluetooth connections and call AT&T to change my voice mail password – after two years I had completely forgotten it.On the other hand, I also didn’t get that thrill of discovery or the excitement of playing with something new. The iPhone 5 feels like a sweet upgrade, not a brand new toy. That’s a little sad and ironic, but I’m still happy I made the choice. At least until some whizzy new Android or Windows Phone 8 device comes out while I’m still stuck in the 2-year AT&T contract extension I signed to get the new phone.Lead image by Fredric Paul. Inside image by Pamela Robinson. Tags:#Apple#iPhone What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … fredric paul Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology
Related Posts This post is part of Hire Education, an ongoing series in which ReadWrite examines technological innovation in education and how it’s reshaping the approaches of universities and students as they adapt to a transforming economy.The democratization of technology wrought by the mobile Web and a proliferation of app stores has made it easier than ever to succeed as an entrepreneur—and at an earlier age than ever before. Which poses a tough question for some high-school students who’ve managed to strike it rich with a hit app: Do they really need to go to college at all?That’s the conundrum facing Ryan Orbuch—a self-described “techie kid” who built a task management app called Finish with a friend when they wanted a way to organize their studies for high school final exams. Finish sells for 99 cents in Apple’s App Store. To date, users have downloaded it nearly 40,000 times. That’s not a bad haul for a couple of kids who just wanted a way to fight procrastination when it came to their coursework. (Yes, so they then went on to build an app instead of hitting the books.) Orbuch has also started an umbrella company called Basil for other projects he is working on.The cherry on top? Finish won an Apple iOS Design Award this year at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Orbuch his partner have updated the app for iOS 7 and are planning on expanding it in the coming months. So now Orbuch has a company, some early success and entrepreneurial street cred. If they wanted to, it’s conceivable that they could go find some venture capital funding and take their business to the next level. At the same time, well, Orbuch is a now senior in high school. Their parents expect them to go to college.“It’s something that I’ve thought a ton about, especially considering that I’m applying to college this fall,” Orbuch told me in an interview. “It’s scary. If the future was that black and white, if it were option one—go to school or option two—build stuff, with nothing in between, I’d unquestionably go try to build stuff. I don’t think that’s how it is, though. I think that it’s becoming less and less mutually exclusive, a trend I hope continues.”The Myth—And Reality—Of The WunderkindRyan OrbuchThe history of tech is replete with successful entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college—or who went to college, but dropped out to follow their visions. Steve Jobs is perhaps the most famous in the modern era, but Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is the current poster child for the Billion Dollar Babies Club, since he dropped out of Harvard to build the world’s biggest social network. Zuckerberg’s example has inspired legions of teenagers and young adults to follow in his footsteps. And venture capitalists want to find the next money train built on the backs of naïve visionaries.Billionaire Peter Thiel is the most prominent example. He made his money as part of the “PayPal Mafia” and was one of the first investors in Facebook after Zuckerberg decamped for Silicon Valley. In 2010, Thiel set up a program to turn out mini-Zuckerbergs. His Thiel Fellowship promised young entrepreneurs $100,000 if they skipped college to build the companies of the future.Three years later, the Thiel Fellows don’t have a lot to show for that effort. So far, the only product from a Thiel Fellow that’s gained any real traction is a Binaca-like caffeine spray. GigLocator, a company that aggregated information about music artist and venues, made a small exit when it was acquired. Dale Stephens is fairly well-known as a Thiel Fellow, though that’s mostly because he’s spent a lot of time talking about how he dropped out of school to become a Thiel Fellow—along the way, picking up a book deal for a tome that will elaborate on how he dropped out of school to become a Thiel Fellow and get a book deal.The problem the Thiel Fellows faced has nothing to do with the entrepreneurs’ smarts or drive, which are assuredly considerable. It has to do with the myth of the wunderkind and what it takes to create a successful, visionary product. The pantheon of modern innovators—Jobs, Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and so on—have had great timing and a certain amount of luck. They all also had highly skilled companions to help them along the way. Jobs had Steve Wozniak, effectively the father of the modern personal computer. Zuckerberg had Eduardo Saverin and Dustin Moskovitz to help him build Facebook. Gates had Paul Allen along to write code and cut deals that turned Microsoft into a giant company.Vision, drive and natural talent only can bring a would-be entrepreneur so far. Meeting the right people, having the right pedigree and creating your own luck are also extremely important. Such relationships often start in college. (Though not always; Jobs and Wozniak met in high school; Gates and Allen were childhood friends.)Reuters recently published a survey on “Series A” funding for startup companies in the Silicon Valley sphere over the last three years. Of 88 companies, 70 were founded by people that were once an executive at a large tech company or a well-connected small company or graduated from Harvard, MIT or Stanford. Pedigree matters.The lesson? The wunderkinds do best when they partner with other wunderkinds that have experience and connections.Education Of A Would-Be EntrepreneurSmit PatelSmit Patel is a hustler. He came to the United States in 8th grade from Ahmedabad, India. That’s when he got his first computer and fell in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur.As a teenager, he wanted to start his own company, so he dove into the Boston startup ecosystem head first. If you’ve spent any time around Boston startups in the last couple of years, there’s a chance that you’ve met Patel and learned of his burning desire to found a company or be part of a hot startup.Patel isn’t a developer or an engineer. His primary focus has been on communications and marketing. His quest to build a startup company was thwarted time and again by the inability to find a technical cofounder that could help build the product. He wanted to start a Twitter stock market game called Cashtag. It never materialized. Patel needed a Wozniak … and couldn’t find one.Patel has gone back and forth several times over the idea of going to university, getting an internship or starting his own company. He even finally founded a startup to help other would-be entrepreneurs find cofounders called FounderMatchup.“Instead of working on FounderMatchup, which was making money, I was focused on finding the next big idea,” Patel said. “I sucked at knowing the people I should be listening to, how to build relationships and realizing the importance of finding mentors. Essentially these were all lessons that students learn after college graduation and their first job, but [that] I learned that first semester of college.”Patel eventually realized that even though he was smart, driven and crafty, he’d never be the next Zuckerberg. Instead, he’s realized that the best option for future success is a more standard American route: go to college, find an internship and build a network. He’s criss-crossed the country a couple of times between Boston and San Francisco, looking to catch on as an intern at a startup. At 20 years old, he’s actually ahead of the curve. Many young people don’t figure these things out until their mid-20s, if ever. Patel is now a junior at Suffolk University in Boston and has worked recently with inbound marketing firm HubSpot.Pay Or PlayOrbuch and his partner at Finish are a bit of a different story. They already have a product in Finish that is well regarded and making a bit of money. But they face the same question as Patel did in his late teens: Work on building a company or go to college?“That is something I am going to be thinking about over the next few months as I think of college and stuff. So, there are a lot of roads there,” Orbuch said in an interview with ReadWrite earlier this year. “I’d love to go to Stanford, that would be cool. Just to get in … college applications are really terrifying. But, I think it is just such an interesting environment. Even if just for a short amount of time, just getting to meet the people and the social component, it is really hard to replicate outside.”To Orbuch, his choices are fairly clear. He can attempt the college route or continue to build Basil with Finish as the keystone concept. Being a Thiel Fellow could be interesting, he said. It would add credibility and give him access to mentors if he were chosen for the program. “Whether colleges in general want to accept it or not, they are no longer the end-all be-all of ‘future success,’ particularly in the arena of entrepreneurship. There’s more flexibility now than there was when my parents went to school, and I think that’s easy for them to ignore,” Orbuch said.Lead image via Shutterstock.com Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology dan rowinski Tags:#Higher Ed#Hire Education#University Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech …
Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to… Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Tags:#Amazon#featured#Internet of Things#IoT#retail#robotics#top#unemployment#workforce Any time a disruptive technology with industrial or productive applications comes into play, the question arises as to whether or not that technology will result in the loss of jobs. This issue has been tackled extensively in the manufacturing sector, but what about retail? Are robots and IoT technologies putting our retail workforce at risk?The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 7% growth in the retail workforce over a period of ten years, ending in 2024. This is a positive sign for the 4.8 million retail workers in the United States. However, what impact will technologies like those that drive the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and robotics have on the industry is harder to predict.For one, these technologies are being developed at a breakneck pace. In the past year, drones and other automated delivery methods have promised to give online retailers an edge in both speed and reach of delivery. This adds pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to not only make their stores more appealing to a modern customer base but to find ways to increase efficiency to remain competitive.The impact of these disruptive technologiesTo better understand the plight of the retail sector, we should first examine what has been going on in the world of manufacturing.Manufacturing, especially in the auto industry, experienced a significant shift in employment as automated equipment became commonplace in facilities around the world.Warehouse-level work for online retailers especially are a different story. Robots are already rolling around Amazon’s expansive warehouses, grabbing shelving units full of merchandise and bringing it to their human counterparts which pick items and place them in boxes for shipping. Amazon’s robotic armies haven’t ceased Amazon’s need to hire. Amazon grew its labor force by 47% over a period of a single year, much of this growth occurring in its fulfillment centers.Back in 2012, PCWorld reported on Amazon’s vocational training program enabling employees that were currently working in unskilled warehouse jobs to train for more high-demand jobs. This includes job skills that aren’t directly related to Amazon, such as nursing.While a direct connection between an increase in automation and the decline of U.S. manufacturing jobs is a topic of debate among economists, there is no question that corporations in virtually every sector are actively seeking ways to lower staffing costs while improving efficiency.There’s no doubt that robots change the dynamic of the workplace. For retail workers, robots are being tested as a replacement for some of the many customer-facing retail jobs out there, but they’re in no danger of hitting the mainstream anytime soon. Human customers are slow to embrace a robot rolling down the aisles, asking customers if there is anything they can help the customer find.The perks of a new generation of retail technologiesAmazon, a predominantly online retailer, has offered its own solution to the problem in the form of a brick-and-mortar store that cuts the cashier out of the purchasing process. Customers of the upcoming Seattle-based Amazon Go store will walk in, pick out their item(s), and walk out. The only thing the customer needs to do is load the Amazon Go app on their phone and check in. Their Amazon account gets charged after leaving the store.This process takes advantage of a number of emerging technologies including computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning to track the customer’s movements throughout the store and which item(s) they take off the shelves as you shop. Upon leaving, your Amazon account is charged for any item(s) you have with you as you walk out the door.This has many upsides for customers. Shoppers don’t have to interact with a store employee if you don’t want to. You can rush in and rush out in seconds rather than waiting in line to check out. For the store, it means less overhead. You won’t need as big of a staff, or the staff that you have can spend more time concentrating on providing good customer service prior to checkout.For nearly a decade, technologists have been predicting that technologies such as RFID would enable shoppers to load their carts with goods and bypass the checkout line. Some stores, including Kroger’s, have been testing technologies that would speed up the checkout experience by automating the process utilizing 360-degree barcode scanners.Smart carts with location awareness and integrated RFID readers are already being tested and show a lot of promise. These carts, which include a tablet-like interface can do things like present shoppers with location-aware ads that direct them to a sale or recommend recipes based on nearby ingredients. These carts can even track shopping habits of particular customers and offer directions to specific items.This technology doesn’t inherently supplant a worker. It enhances the customer experience in a way that complements the customer service that can be provided by the human staff. It also provides the retailer with an additional source of revenue through ad sales and upselling.But for every upside….Any time you change a customer’s experience, a level of friction presents itself. Change is very difficult. People, in general, don’t like change if it means they have to learn how to use a new system. Efficiency has to come with a heavy dose of convenience.Right now, supermarkets and grocery stores around the world the United States are taking advantage of self-checkout lanes. These lanes enable customers to scan, bag, and work the register for their own purchase. This enables a single cashier to monitor 6, 10, or more checkout lanes at a time. This means fewer cashiers are needed.Self-checkout lanes are an alternative that these stores are turning to in order to improve efficiency. That creates less demand for cashiers in particular. Employees are often cross-trained to assist with any number of tasks when checkout is slow.The challenge of these self-checkout lanes comes in the form of increased occurrence of theft. Scales that weigh produce at the self-checkout scanner can be tricked by a crafty customer where a trained cashier ensures an accurate accounting for the merchandise being ringed up.Will Reynolds Young member of UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) said, “Self-checkout lanes are slower and less efficient for customers, despite the misconception that they’re faster. They’re also easy to trick. A single “watcher” can only really monitor three lanes, and even then that’s too much.”Take the challenges of keeping an honest account of a customer’s purchase on a self-checkout lane and cut out the checkout part of this experience. We’ve all seen what a madhouse retail stores can be during sales, such as those held on Black Friday each year. How accurately can cameras and advanced scanning systems track merchandise when it’s being fumbled around in a crowded store?RFID tracking is a possible solution, but RFID-blocking bags and accessories are very easy to acquire.Just as with most technologies, the more convenient you make them, the less secure they become. People are crafty, and they will find ways around these systems. It could be argued that for every cashier replaced by a robot, there would need to be a human standing at the door checking receipts.What does the future hold?Amazon Go’s model is intriguing. If successful, it would become a proof of concept for a technology that would undoubtedly be licensed and/or adopted by other retailers. Go’s model isn’t one for a supercenter or a giant grocery store. It’s a test, with a small retail space in a calm corner of Seattle. Despite some claims in the media that as many 2,000 Amazon Go stores are in the works, the company insists that the checkout-free trial will be anything but a massive brick-and-mortar rollout.So while these technologies are certainly changing the world of retail, the idea that a store would be entirely powered by IoT technologies and staffed by robots is still a bit far-fetched. Beyond the boutique examples of trendy Quinoa restaurants, which still have human attendants present to assist customers with using the technology, the vision of retail stores smattering the landscape devoid of a human workforce remains one of science fiction.For now. Ryan Matthew Pierson Follow the Puck
The short answer is yes. Get ready for a transformation of your HR department and I’m talking about making it much better.Do you really want to work at your current level of speed and productivity? AI is the key businesses have been waiting to make this department more effective: Getting more done, pursuing accuracy and playing a more dynamic role in attaining company goals.But of course, it will only happen if you know about and implement these changes. So let’s summarize this so you can get prepared. As AI develops you need to be ready to accept the positive change.Will AI Carry Risks or Disadvantages Too?Of course, no change is only positive. It’s usually coupled with some stress and a learning curve. If you know what to expect though you can be better prepared to minimize the obstacles. Here’s what you need to look out for:You could trust AI to pick the best person for a job but a robot may not gauge certain characteristics that will come to the fore in a personal discussion.Your team may be overwhelmed with technology if not trained well. This often leads to programs uploaded to a system but old processes still begin following. That’s a waste of money.Employees may feel disconnected if they only interact with AI.While these risks are mostly manageable—stay involved and give good training—you run a much greater risk if you don’t implement this: Becoming irrelevant in an ever-evolving market. Do you realize you must use modern technology if you want to be a preferred employer?You want to attract the best employees in the market, right?Will AI Cost You Your HR Position?This is an unfortunate myth. It’s normal to be protective of your job but there’s little foundation for this fear. In general companies view AI and automation as an opportunity to retrain employees to cover other tasks—in conjunction with robots and high tech features—so the company can improve productivity.And here’s an important note: An HR team will play a prime role in preparing companies to implement AI in all departments. Aren’t you responsible for the development of employees in general? That means you now have the privilege of training them for the exciting journey of working with AI.There will definitely be more work rather than you losing your relevance in your company.But then it’s important you keep up with the times. Luckily you’ll revel in these benefits coming your way.The Benefits of AI for Your HR DepartmentSo will it be an overnight win? Probably not.For a start: For AI to be truly effective the machine learning aspect needs to learn from you and your crew what to do. Then certain tasks can be copied, automated and improved because it will be happening faster. You also must get used to new processes and customize the system to your preferences.But if you need some motivation to keep going and embrace this new chapter in business functioning, here are the facts.Benefits for the EmployeeEmployees are always complaining about having too little time to do too much work. For them, there will be no more reason to grumble since AI systems are designed specifically to combat time wastage.One example is automating a process such as leave applications. Instead of booking a meeting with the HR department AI can gauge whether it’s an optimal time to take a break:Are big projects going live at that time?Did other employees book the same time, therefore necessitating your presence on site?Even general HR queries can happen quickly since you can talk to a chatbot instead of waiting for an employee to answer, and humans usually want to make small talk first.The bulk of the benefits will be experienced by potential and new employees. The future of AI in HR is closely linked to the recruitment process. When many aspects are automated applicants will benefit from:Unbiassed first impressions are drawn from resumes and background checks. Robots won’t be prejudiced to race, gender or even personality types so everyone can get equal chances.Fast feedback after applying because AI can work through Bid Data quickly to find the best candidates.Training—for new positions—done by AI will be standardized so new employees won’t get watered down teachings because a mentor is pressed for time.This already helps build a more productive and happy team which will benefit the entire company. This is worth investing in, right?Benefits for the HR Practitioner and TeamBut AI is not only to make the rest of the business function well. Let’s pull it back to the HR department itself.Firstly if a chatbot can answer general queries it frees up loads of an HR team member’s time. More time is also saved when AI can automate repetitive tasks such as logging work hours.But once again the most exciting benefit comes from the recruitment process such as helping you to manage it with software instead of handling paperwork manually. This entire process can be managed from a platform such as Mitrefinch, One system that does it all for you.As mentioned your AI system can identify the most promising individuals from a list of applicants. However its involvement starts much earlier than that.AI can analyse data to determine which skills, personalities and positions are most needed in a company based on performance appraisals & other data. Instead of HR teams sifting through information AI can do this in record time and do it accurately. Let’s face it. Which human can handle the amount of data AI will be able to work through?If you know what type of positions to advertise for you’ll empower your company to become more effective in the long run.Why the drive to get HR departments involved? Because it’s time they play an active role in more aspects of the business. That takes us to the next point.Benefits for the Employer/Business OwnerYou can probably see that AI will make employees more productive but that’s only one benefit for the business owner. He or she can acquire more time and input from the HR team—because they’re less pressured with paperwork—so they can help drive the company towards its goals.Since HR departments work with the most important asset of all—people—this is vital. Ready to prepare your team? AI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… James Grills James Grills is a technical writer with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of mobile application development and IoT technology. He is a marketing advisor – currently associated with Cumulations Technologies a mobile app development company in India. AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them
Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Tags:#business#Digital Lifestyle#productivity#psychology#work-life balance Lesley is a seasoned web writer, specializing in sales copywriting and storytelling. Currently blogging at Bid4Papers, she also contributes to publications on business, marketing, and self-growth. Follow @LesleyVos on Twitter to see more works of hers. Lesley Vos In today’s rapidly changing world, we are in constant search of instruments and techniques that would make us more productive. We understand: do more, better, and faster if you want to succeed in business and life.Productivity influences our self-esteem.We believe: the more productive we are, the more others will respect us and consider us professionals, able to balance work and life and, for all that, stay sane and happy. So we crave for stellar productivity. We want to join those “perfect” people, who’ve conquered the digital business world, mastered the art of time management and discovered the “in perpetuum” of energy in ourselves.But the devil is in the detail. In chase of superduper productivity for stellar business management, we sometimes miss another attribute that, if left unattended, can nip all endeavors in the bud.Perfectionism.When I decided to write this article and thought on its working title, the first coming to my mind was “Why Perfectionism Is a F**king Evil.” Such a connotation occurs due to my negative experience with this personality trait. Now I understand that excessive perfectionism was the reason for giving up my business idea and startup launch: I compared myself to competitors rather than the yesterday me, which made me lose motivation at long last.Now I’m looking for it again, combining the process with the research of perfectionism and its direct influence on our overall productivity.What’s Wrong With Perfectionism for Productivity?I must confess that every time I face a new feature or phenomenon — I go to Wikipedia and read a very first paragraph to understand if I need this new knowledge, actually. And that’s what the encyclopedia said about perfectionism:“A personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”Such a definition doesn’t explain if perfectionism is good or bad, but we can’t blame Wikipedia here. Psychology itself has no uniform response to this question.In his book The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson says that DSM provides so washy criteria today that every person can find about ten mental disorders during self-diagnosis. The same story is with perfectionism: one can judge about its harmfulness only by its concentration in a human body and how much it affects that body’s functioning.In other words, perfectionism can be healthy and unhealthy.Everything is more or less clear with unhealthy perfectionism: it can either bring you to a mental disorder or is the symptom of that disorder. Or, it can take a more complex form and combine both. Perfectionists are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and insomnia.But we often use perfectionism when describing a hardworking and ambitious person, striving for self-growth and success. Here perfectionism serves as a virtue. “I’m a perfectionist!” we say proudly, forgetting about a hidden feeling of dissatisfaction that follows perfectionists in footsteps. As a result, we grow the habit of looking for gaps in our work because we consider perfectionism a must-have for personal and professional development.But what we really do is killing our productivity at its very source.Yes, perfectionism itself can be the effective instrument for digital productivity growth; but its mechanisms are toxic: in plain English, a perfectionist bullies himself and experiences stress. For a person with an unstable psyche, this can lead to disease.Somatics is here too: there are, as a minimum, 20 ways stress can affect our bodies, including heartburn and high blood pressure. For those with stronger nerves, constant stress doesn’t do any good either: guilt feeling for own imperfection disappoints, makes unhappy, and slows us down.The problem with perfectionism is that it’s difficult to control. Good things come in small packages, and if you allow perfectionism to get the better of you — you’ll lose a war for success. Your positive self-image is scientifically proven to influence productivity. If you want to live a full, happy life — make sure your perfectionism is healthy.Nine warning signs that your perfectionism is not healthy.1. You are Always Unhappy with the Result of Your WorkThe difference between a desire to do business well, putting the most efforts to succeed, and perfectionism lies in your striving for the artificial ideal. We all know that it is impossible to reach the ideal (it does not exist), but there’s a world of difference between knowing something and using this knowledge in practice.Perfectionists often face the situation: no matter how hard they try and no matter how creative they are, they feel they could do it better or faster. Other times, they understand they did everything great but blame themselves anyway: “I had to spend so much to do this!” For perfectionists, “ideal” businessmen are those doing tons of tasks fast and with minimum efforts.Sounds familiar?Stop it. Productive doesn’t mean “Jack of all trades.” Don’t devalue your experience and don’t be afraid to admit you’ve done a great job.2. You Value Others’ Opinion Above Your OwnOne way or another, we think about what to do or how to behave if we want to look good in the eyes of competitors. You’ll hardly find a person who would 100% screw a public opinion. But again, there’s a world of difference between thinking of others but yet respect own desires and valuing their opinion above your own.Is any of these thoughts yours?“Okay, I’ll work extra hours tomorrow. Everyone is waiting for me to do this, right?”“I need to check this document one more time — funds won’t come to those mistaking.”“I need this yet another tech to try: it’ll make me look more active, smart, and up-to-date.”Thinking like this, you move closer to the moment when you don’t understand which decisions are yours and which are made just because “this is the way the things are done.”If you see that you sacrifice own comfort and well-being for what other people think about you, it’s time to stop and wonder if your excessive perfectionism is worth it.3. You are Afraid of Imperfect Results, so You Can’t Start ActingSome call perfectionism among the top reasons for procrastination: sometimes we fear failure so much that we put off doing work until it is too late. And while some experts disagree with this statement, many of us are familiar with it: the paralyzing feeling that nothing will work and the fear of a big project.As far as you understand, such a situation is self-defeating:The longer you postpone, the more you risk to take it at the eleventh hour and sacrifice the quality because of short deadlines. Just remember that doing something “imperfectly” is anyway better than doing nothing at all.4. You Do Everything Longer than You CouldThis feature seems to have nothing to do with perfectionism, but still…People who are prone to perfectionism often place high demands on themselves and everything they do. And it happens to lead to the opposite results: instead of doing it well, a person re-checks everything over and over again, tries hard to fix every minor bug, and eventually spends longer time on a task.And what do we have as a result?Productivity suffers, you are in stress, the impostor syndrome sneaks up on you… It can be difficult to let the situation go. Just try to understand: your departure from perfectionism doesn’t mean you’ll do your job bad. Sometimes it’s enough to do it passable rather than correct it time and again.5. Every Mistake Seems the End of the WorldNo matter how hard we try, mistakes are still waiting for us in business, relationships, and other areas of life. Yes, we hardly get pleasure from them, but we know: a valuable experience comes along with failures. The main thing is to understand what went wrong and learn from it.The problem is that the brain of perfectionists doesn’t think so.They perceive every little mistake as yet more proof that they are “imperfect.” They may dwell on that mere defeat, think of it over and over again wondering how wrong they were and what they could do to change or save the situation. As far as you understand, such an approach doesn’t lead to digital productivity and stepping stone to success but self-torture and depression.It’s okay to do a gap analysis for avoiding the same traps in the future, but don’t sacrifice your time for mully-grubbing. You cannot change the past, so why cry over spilled milk?6. You are Afraid of Discussing Your FailuresBesides the fear of failure and anxiety about what others think of you, perfectionism brings another fear:You don’t want to tell others about your business problems and worries. And though it may seem insignificant first (“My problems are my problems, why to discuss them with others?”), you risk losing constructive feedback and help we all need from time to time, and especially when going through dark times.Others can help you test the waters from a different perspective, see the details you would probably miss yourself, take a look at the situation from a different angle, and come up with the best possible solution faster and with least loss.7. You Expect Others to Be PerfectPerfectionists are strict with themselves. But they often make the same strict demands to others, as well. As a result, business communication and relations suffer: far from everyone will agree to make peace with restrictions and bounds just to meet the expectations of others.So, it’s time to think of managing your perfectionism if:you consider your business flimsy just because it doesn’t look like an ideal picture in your head;you consider surrounding people good, all in all, but you think “they could be better if they did this or that.”The mere fact a person doesn’t fit into your certain expectations doesn’t make him bad. It makes him real.8. When Someone Gives Credit to You, You Think They are WrongIf you disagree with people every time they give you credit, thinking they are wrong and you did nothing special to deserve it, here’s the bad news for you:Big chances are, you’ve lost yourself in the endless race for being ideal.When was the last time you rejoice over a sincere compliment from a nice person? Don’t underestimate your work, skills, and goals on the way to success. Don’t compare your achievements with those of neighbors, Facebook friends, or minor competitors. Compare yourself with yesterday you, and work on better, more productive you.9. You Overextend YourselfThis one is not about perfectionists only. It often happens to most people who can’t organize time: they seek to assign tons of tasks, do more in less time, but then miss deadlines and damn the whole world. However, excessive perfectionism may play a cruel joke here as well:It happens when you think you can do everything and even more, faster and better, and then find yourself buried under the mountain of unfinished tasks in your midnight office.There’s nothing wrong with your desire to grow professionally and be more productive, as long as it doesn’t prevent you from the comfort and work-life balance.“Okay, So What Can I Do?” You AskPractice useful criticism and analyze your business results in view of yesterday you rather than delusive ideals. Stay ambitious and work on self-development, but change approach a little.Let’s take the Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary by way of example:An 85-year-old sushi master has been cooking it for his whole life, and it comes as no surprise that his sushi is the best and most delicious in the world. But this fact doesn’t prevent Jiro from self-growth and mastering his skills again and again. Instead of the “it’s never enough” formula, he chooses the “it’s enough for today” approach.The author of The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown approves it. She investigates vulnerability and explains perfectionism as the unwillingness to accept ourselves for what we are:“Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence or healthy striving,” she says. “It’s the ultimate fear, a way of thinking and feeling that says this: ‘If I look perfect, do it perfectly, work perfect and live perfect, I can avoid or minimize shame, blame, and judgment.’”So, stop it.Besides, the popular 10,000 Hours theory claims that if you don’t lie on a sofa all day long — but, you work — regularly and consistently, with no waiting for inspiration — success will come. You must admit that it is better to learn and grow in an emotionally comfortable environment. And remember:Tons of tasks don’t determine your value, a missed deadline doesn’t make your friends stop loving you, and “something” is often better than “nothing.” Related Posts What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture
In this short video Krisite Pretti-Frontczak, PhD invites you to join us on October 19, 2017 for her next webinar in our series on play!We hope to see you on October 19, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. To learn more and to register, visit the event page.For a transcript of this video, click here.
Now, put the film flash in a track above your video footage. Change the blend mode for the film flash from “Normal” to Screen” (see After Effects screenshot below). This will drop out the darker part of the film flash and leave the brighter areas.Video and Light Flash Elements SeparatedVideo and Light Flash Elements Combined in AEFor a different look, change the After Effects blending mode for the film flash from “Normal” to Multiply”. This will drop out the brighter part of the film flash and leave the darker areas.There may be times when you completely want to strip out the black background behind a light leak or other light effect. For example, stock footage of explosions, gunfire, smoke, fireworks, etc. is often laid on top of black. In the following example I used the screen blending mode to remove the black background behind a shot of smoke.Got footage of isolated film grain? Lay this over your footage and again use “Screen Mode“. Now, you’re footage looks like it was straight out of an old 8mm camera! With the screen mode applied to a light flash or film grain clips you can experiment with the opacity to dial the effect up or down.In After Effects you can cycle through each of the blend modes by selecting a layer and holding down shift while tapping + or – (note: this only works on a regular keyboard, not the number pad).Blending modes provide an excellent way to stylize your footage with unique looks and effects – with screen mode being particularly helpful for instantly “keying” out your black background. Try blending modes with still to give your videos a cool layered or textured effect. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with them! Create complex looks by using Blending Modes in Adobe After Effects & Premiere Pro.Blending modes let you combine videos in a more complex way than just adjusting opacity. In this post, we take a look at how you can use the ‘screen’ blending mode in your video editing work. The following examples are done in After Effects, but these techniques will also work in Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, as each of these applications allows you to apply a blending mode to your video clips.Click image for larger view:Using Modes to Composite a Film FlashFilm flashes and light leaks are often used to add a burst of color and style to video footage. With a quick search online you can find light leaks and flashes for your projects as standalone video clips (*see the link below for free downloads). Several commercial film flash and light leaks come with an alpha channel (transparency) already keyed out. Typically these files are videos rendered in the Animation or ProRes 4444 codecs. However, many isolated light leaks have a solid background and no alpha channel (maybe just a solid black background). Here’s a way to blend them together with your video footage.*Check out this roundup to download a bunch of free light leaks and flashes to use in your video editing projects.Blend modes (also called blending modes or composite modes) are broken into categories. In After Effects click on “Normal” under Mode and you will see the whole list of available blending modes:Anything in the “Darken” category” drops out the brighter part of the image.Anything in the “Add” category” drops out the darker part of the image.Anything in the “Overlay” category” adds contrast and tends to look like a gradient overlaid on top.
Does the new Object Removal Tool in DaVinci Resolve 16 stand up to Adobe’s Content Aware Fill? Here’s what you need to know.At NAB 2019, we saw several new features added to Resolve. And while we weren’t overloaded with new features for the color page, we did get Resolve’s counter to Adobe’s Content Aware Fill tool — object removal. And it pretty much does the same thing. It removes an object from your image by adaptively blending the data from surrounding pixel information.Admittedly, as a traitor to Premiere Pro, I was slightly jealous of After Effects gaining a feature I use weekly in Photoshop. Sending video clips back and forth from Premiere Pro to After Effects is a far easier task than making a round trip from Resolve to After Effects. And Resolve’s clone patch tool isn’t a perfect substitute. Thankfully, as of Resolve 16, we Resolve users can now rejoice about having a similar tool. Or can we?How to Apply the Object Removal ToolTo apply this effect, we need to be on the color page. This is our shot, and that grizzly structure ruining our view needs to be removed.Depending on where you place the object, the removal tool can cause headaches for later adjustments. For example, let’s say you build a clean plate. The object removal tool will base the information on the current color data on the screen. Meaning, if you grab a plate, remove the object, then later revert the color temp on a previous node, the area that has been removed will stay the color that was grabbed. You could quickly grab a new plate, but personally, I would prefer to remove the object either at the start of the grade or at the end. This will help you avoid issues at a later time.Before we add the object removal effect to a node, we need to create a mask around the object that needs removing. Do this by opening the power window and selecting a mask appropriate to the shape of the object. Often, it’s easier to create a mask using the pen tool to minimize excess removal.If your object moves, you would also need to track the movement, which can be done by opening the tracking panel and simply hitting track forward. Following these steps, we create a new node for the object removal. But, we need to add an outside node-link, which we can do by connecting the blue square to the blue triangle. We’re doing this so the node with the object removal only has to analyze the masked portion (an outside node is typically used to correct the inverted area of the previous node’s matte).With the outside node linked, we’re going to add Object Removal found in the Effects Library and hit Scene Analysis. Resolve will now start analyzing the image for pixel information. This is where you can get up, make a coffee, and take the dog for a walk. This tool is very processor heavy, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to obtain real-time playback with the effect active. When complete, your image will likely have a gray matte where you placed the mask.You now need to select Build Clean Plate. This will patch the mask area with a data plate mimicking the surrounding pixels. If you feel like the job render isn’t that great, you can increase the search range. Increasing the range will give Resolve more area to pull pixel information. Conversely, if the adjacent areas have a lot of colors that aren’t similar to what you’re trying to remove, you can decrease this amount.Now, we don’t have official information on the difference between the two blend modes. But, by taking information from other tools in the Resolve Library (that also has an adaptive blend mode), it’s likely that adaptive blend uses pixel data from the source, but will blend the edges of the target area with color and lighting data from the surrounding area. Therefore, you can switch to that if your removal plate isn’t clean. Let’s take a look at the removal.Looks pretty clean, right? Well, this is a 600×300 GIF and clarity isn’t the strong point. But, if you pay attention to final moments before it loops, you can see a dip in the horizon.This was a super simple removal, and still, we had an error formulate toward the end of the clip. Since the release of the 16 beta, the general online consensus had been: “I can’t seem to get a good removal.”It works, but it also kind of doesn’t. However, the trouble starts to rise when you try to remove an object from an ever-changing background. Take this shot, for example, of a couple accidentally walking into the frame. The woman in the yellow coat also stands in front of the waves in the background and then walks back out of the shot.The theoretical director says, “I want those people gone.” And, following the same steps as before we get this result, which is entirely unusable.The object removal tool, in premise, felt like the ultimate weapon to fix shots as in the above photo. However, I feel like you need a straightforward object with little color difference between the pixels. For example, a white plane against a blue sky, or a black bird against an orange sky. And then, if that’s all you need to replace, you could maybe use the patch replacement tool. We’re still in the Resolve 16 Beta, so I can’t be too punishing. But at the moment, it does seem like a proof of concept tool rather than a fully-fledged working asset.However, in the beta press release, it doesn’t state that it’s a work-in-progress. I think the demo from the Blackmagic video is very generous with its result, as the Blackmagic forums and social media are filled with people who can’t seem to get a proper removal. Or, as we saw here today, the results are mixed.The official manual has yet to be updated for the beta. Users are speculating that more information on using this tool correctly will surface, as, at the moment, nobody knows how to use an external plate (which is an option within the dropdown menu). However, the beta release notes suggest the following:The ResolveFX Object Removal plugin can be used in the Color page to quickly remove unwanted objects from the clip. In order to use this plugin, an alpha mask of the object needs to be fed in and “Use OFX Alpha” needs to be enabled on the node with the plugin.Want more on DaVinci Resolve? Or more on film production in general? Check out these articles:A Rundown Of The Edit Page Changes in DaVinci Resolve 16The History and Power of Sound Design in the Film IndustryProduction Tips: Working With a Color Checker on Your Next ShootFilmmaking Fads and Trends: Don’t Let Them Bother YouHow to Upload to YouTube Directly from DaVinci Resolve 16
Get the Free eBook! Want to master cold calling? Download my free eBook! Many would have you believe that cold calling is dead, but the successful have no fear of the phone; they use it to outproduce their competitors. Download Now You can travel along in a straight line your whole life. You never have the breakout results you want. You never have really horrible results either. Your results in business and life are right smack in the middle of the bell curve, a lot of people produce better results, and a lot of people produce something less.If you want breakout results, you have to find your pivot point, that point where you change and your results go straight up from there.Have You Finally Had Enough?The fastest way to get to your pivot point is to hit rock bottom. When you finally can’t take it anymore, when the failure to produce some result suddenly overwhelms you with unbearable pain, you’re ready to pivot.Hitting rock bottom increases your willingness to give up your beliefs and try on new ones. Rock bottom forces you to start taking actions that you had long been avoiding. You can pivot from there. You can bounce off the bottom.Most people never reach the point where they are so uncomfortable that they change. That’s why they travel along in a straight line for so long. Sometimes their whole lives.What about the people that you know that pivot and produce breakthrough results without ever hitting rock bottom? Some, but not many, find mediocrity too painful to endure and make the pivot without hitting bottom. But there is another way to pivot.Are You (Finally) Inspired Enough?You don’t have to hit rock bottom to find your pivot point and make changes. You can have a positive, enlightening experience inspire you to change.You can discover that you have a vision of yourself that is far greater than any vision you have had until that very moment. You can experience that moment of clarity where you realize you are capable of so much more than you’d imagined.Some people find inspiration and they just catch fire. They are rolling along with the pack, and then “Bam!” They break out of the pack and start producing outsized results in business and life.Two ChoicesYou can make mediocrity more painful. You can look at the top 20% and decide that it’s too painful not to be where they are, not to have the success that they have, not to have the security of being a top producer. Make a list of what you are missing. In that pain you can find your pivot point.Or you can find inspiration. You can choose a bigger vision of yourself, set way bigger goals for yourself, and take massive action around that vision and those goals. You can catch fire yourself. In that fire you can find your pivot point.Find your pivot point. Achieve your breakthrough.QuestionsAre your results in business and life what you want them to be?Have you settled into the warm, comfortable bath that is mediocrity?Do you have enough pain to change your beliefs and your actions and find a pivot point, a point where your new actions produce greater and greater results?Is your vision so inspiring that you catch fire and improve your results? Does it move you to move mountains?What would need to change for you to find your pivot point?