How to Manage Your Business’s Presence on Bing

first_imgRelated Posts Depending on who you ask, Bing has captured anywhere from 11% to 30% of the search market that’s so heavily dominated by Google. Even so, that represents at least a billion and a half search queries in a given month, and Microsoft’s search engine is still growing. For businesses, it might not quite drive the traffic (Web or otherwise) that Google does, but it’s still worth ensuring that your company is properly represented on Bing. To help, Microsoft launched the Bing Business Portal earlier today. The new portal allows companies to customize their presence on Bing by adding photos, logos and pertinent details like hours of operation, parking availability and other business information. Bars and restaurants can upload their menus and businesses of any kind can offer special deals through the site. To claim their listing, businesses can verify ownership via telephone or postal mail. From there, it’s a matter of logging into the Bing Business Portal, where companies can manage their listing, adding as much detail as they see fit. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this is what Google has been offering businesses for some time, starting with Google Local and continuing today with Google Places. As Microsoft gradually chips away at Google’s dominance and gains more users, it only makes sense to see them courting businesses, for whom the search engine is becoming an increasingly valuable source of Web traffic and customers. To get started, head over to the portal and click the aptly-labeled ‘Get Started Now!’ button. How much traction does your business get from Bing? Would you use these listing management tools? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Tags:#biz#How To#tips john paul titlow A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more

Zoho Creator Gives Google Apps Users the Ability to Build Their Own Apps

first_imgTags:#cloud#saas klint finley Universal Navigation: Once Zoho Creator is installed in any Google Apps domain, users can access it right from the universal navigation bar in Google Apps.Google Apps Users Field: Users in a Google Apps domain, can be added as one of the fields in Zoho Creator forms. This field provides a choice between the username and the email id to be displayed in the form.Email data: Google Apps users can now add data to Zoho Creator forms by emailing the details to a custom google e-mail id.Upload from Google Docs: Google Apps users can upload documents into their applications from their Google Docs account.Collaboration: Google Apps domain admins can share their application with the users in their domain or with their Google Apps user groups.Here’s a video that explains a bit more about it: 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Today Zoho announced Zoho Creator for Google Apps, bringing it total number Google Apps Marketplace offerings to 11 and making it the largest vendor in the marketplace. But more importantly, it is bringing Google Apps users an easy way to build simple applications on top of both the Zoho and Google platforms. There are limitations: “Currently, there is no option to directly publish Zoho Creator apps within a Google Apps domain,” says Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna. “Google said they will look into this idea.” However, Google Apps admins will be able to share apps with users within the domain.According to Zoho, these are the features of the integration: Related Posts center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Zoho Creator provides a drag-and-drop interface for building form-driven applications. Users can also import Microsoft Access database applications. Users can then share their creations through the Zoho Marketplace.last_img read more

Scenes from PACE v. Fannie and Freddie

first_imgGiven the popularity of Property Assessed Clean Energy loan programs in many municipalities around the country, it was unrealistic to expect all of these communities to quietly abide by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s declaration, in early May, that the companies would no longer guarantee mortgages for properties with PACE-related liens.Like most special property taxes levied by municipalities, PACE loans, which are funded by local bond issues and intended to help homeowners finance energy efficiency improvements, have “super-priority lien” status, meaning they take priority over whatever private financing a homeowner may have, including a conventional mortgage. Fannie and Freddie worry that these energy-related liens will further burden taxpayers if PACE-participating homeowners default on their mortgages.The Fannie-Freddie ruling puzzled many PACE-friendly civic leaders, who wondered whether it would also apply to every other special property tax that might be applied to a homeowner’s bill. In some parts of the country, though, the ruling raised a ruckus.Taking up the PACE causeOn July 12, the Long Island town of Babylon, New York, which had launched a PACE program two years ago, threatened to sue Fannie and Freddie. On July 14, California, led by the state’s attorney general, Jerry Brown, took things a step further and actually filed suit against the two mortgage giants. On July 15, Democrats in the House of Representatives, led by Mike Thompson of northern California and Steve Israel of New York, introduced a bill that would ban lenders from imposing penalties or stricter criteria on municipalities that use PACE, and would prevent lenders from requiring homeowners to pay off property assessments, including PACE loans, before refinancing their mortgages or selling their property.And on Monday, Israel, three other members of Congress, and members of the Obama administration met with the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Fannie and Freddie’s conservator – to propose allowing a 30-month pilot project that would include awarding PACE loans for improvements to 300,000 homes. The project’s principal intent would be to objectively evaluate the level of risk in the energy-related liens.Israel told the Grist, a newspaper that serves the Babylon area, that FHFA countered by suggesting a 10,000-home sampling. Israel said that sample size would be far too small to be statistically significant. FHFA has promised to come up with yet another proposal this week. Israel says he’s looking forward to it.“We’ll see how serious they are,” he said. “I think they clearly understood that Congress is not backing down on this and they simply have to work with us.”last_img read more

Net-Zero Homes, Part 2: How to Get to Zero

first_imgRELATED ARTICLES GAL-PVcostsheet.xls KTA-GAL-PVcostsheet.xlsx Net-Zero Energy versus Passivhaus Do Grid-Tied Photovoltaic Systems Really Have an Advantage?Testing… Testing… Homes as Net-Zero LaboratoriesNet-Zero Modular Homes Head for Peaks Island, MainePinpointing Leaks With a Fog MachineThinking About Net Zero Energy Phil and I would love to hear from you. If you have a great idea for an upcoming topic, want to leave general feedback, or want to share your favorite cocktail recipe, you can e-mail us at GALounge@greenbuildingadvisor.com. If you’d like to complain about our tangential ramblings, fragment sentences, or our general irreverence, you can email us at Complaints@StraightToTheTrashBin.com. In part two of this episode, the Net Zero conversation gets real as Phil and I talk about how to think about the balancing act of increasing your building performance, decreasing your energy demand, decreasing your mechanical costs, and optimizing your cost. Of course you have to have the target of net zero in mind and the whole team has to be on board. We’ve even included a handy spreadsheet that Phil’s office uses to help run the options and find that “sweet spot.” PODCAST: Net-Zero Homes, Part 1PODCAST: Net-Zero Homes, Part 3PODCAST: Passivhaus, Part 1center_img Remember to check back in later for Part 3, where we really get into the details of making net zero cost-effective. We’ll also share some ideas, and Phil shares a great song from the new Bright Eyes album. And of course part one tells you how to make our cocktail of the episode.Cheers!TRANSCRIPTThis is Part Two of the net zero series, and we’re going to focus on how to get to zero. We’ve talked about what it is and who’s doing it. We’ve talked about our cocktail, the Irish-American. It has been refreshed and we’re ready to move on.Chris: Phil, how do we get there? If a client walks in and says, “Hey, I’ve heard about net zero, and I want to be net zero” — what would be your next sentence?Phil: Right on! Whether you asked me or not, we were headed that way anyway. And it is simple. We know how to do it, but it’s about commitment. We’re doing the things we already know how to do and what you and I have been talking about forever. It’s less about the electrical loads and lighting, and more about reducing our energy demand as much as possibleChris: Yeah, we’re usually on the big three: air sealing, windows and doors, and insulation. It’s all about buttoning up and reducing your demand. I always like to throw in working with the sun.Phil: That’s part of it. Here we’re dealing a little bit more with human behavior, but we’re also dealing with our electrical load. Net zero is simple, but a lot of it is up to the person. The best clients are the excited, educated ones — excited about doing something green — and we’re getting more of those.Chris: Everyone is moving in that direction regardless of whether they want to or not. The goal is to reduce the energy demand as much as possible, and make up the difference with renewables. It’s really that simple. Jamie and I were doing a presentation and he pulled out a great spreadsheet — I have a similar spreadsheet — where you’re playing the “what if” scenario. The envelope is this, and the demand is this; therefore your mechanical system is this. You can almost chart where you start to go overboard with insulation, and you can chart where you can find that sweet spot.Phil: It’s all about the sweet spot. We can find it in a net-zero optimization spreadsheet. The goal is to make it and put it in a PHPP spreadsheet and make it another tab. All it is, is an Excel spreadsheet.Chris: It maximizes the optimization of your insulation to the reduction of the mechanical system so that the cost for your mechanical system is low and the cost for your insulation and other features is not that high. That’s the sweet spot.Phil: And the n the numbers will show you need $160,000 worth of renewables to get to net zero. Then you’ll bring it up to a R-40 wall and R-60 ceiling, and your renewables will come down to $40,000. Here’s the cool thing. I’ve had this conversation with Martin Holladay — at some point you should just buy more PVs and make it easier on yourself.Chris: Usually that conversation happens when you’re at the Passivhaus level. And you have the Passivhaus versus net zero discussion.Phil: Let’s go through the list. To reduce the energy demand, let’s get airtight. There’s the “big three,” and number one is “airtight.”Chris: That’s a wave of construction quality that is important. People know ACH50 now. If I say “ACH50” in a group of peers, 25% of them know it.Phil: Here’s a cool thing. We’ve only done it with one house, but I see people advocating for it: fog machines. You want to see a builder get on board quick: fill the house with fog, and send him on the outside of his house where he can see where his house is leaking. It’s kind of a commercial trick. The fog machine showed us the usual culprits around the doors that weren’t well sealed yet.Chris: You’re doing the opposite of the blower door. With the blower door you’re depressurizing the house and measuring how quickly it re-pressurizes. You get digital numbers at the door. With a fog machine you’re getting a fog machine on the inside and filling the place with fog, pressurizing the house and seeing where it leaks out. You stand at the outside of the house and you go, “Holy cow.”Phil: Airtightness. Windows and doors. We can say a little more about net zero. We can talk about optimized glazing.Chris: You’re trying to optimize day lighting so you’re minimizing the electrical usage of your lights. With net zero, every watt counts.Phil: We add daylighting to the list. It’s not just optimizing your glazing. It’s also daylighting. It’s kind of different, but it’s a corollary. Moving on to proper insulation.Chris: If you’re doing net zero, you’re at least doing 10/20/40/60 — the recommendations from the Building Science Corporation guys. Real quick: R-20 at the basement walls, R-40 for regular walls, and R-60 for whatever is above, and R-10 for under the slab. It’s not standard, but it’s a good rule of thumb.Phil: We find that people are often curious how we came up with that. When we do our cost-optimization spreadsheets, we generally end up in that area. R-40 keeps popping up — it’s kind of a sweet spot. Control of solar gains is more important to net zero south of us. They worry about overheating; you basically want to stick a big umbrella over the house in the summer.Chris: Clever architects figure out a way to do cool shading, and get rid of it in the winter and bring it back in the summer. Deciduous trees are great. I don’t know if we talked about this in our windows podcast, but you must balance your desire to see out your windows. With your systems you’ve reduced your demand and you’re trying to find the system that is your perfect match.Phil: That’s when we had our conversation about heat-pump COP: coefficient of performance. You have a high COP, then you could do a heat-pump scenario. We keep talking about getting off of fossil fuels. Heat-pumps are a great way to do that. They’re taking the mechanical world by storm. There’s a great article in the latest issue of Fine Homebuilding about how to heat a low-energy home. It’s a Martin article.Chris: Are we at the point when we talk about renewables?Phil: The last thing I want to mention is natural ventilation. We talked about how different it is down South. Maximize comfort and minimize the need for mechanical equipment. AC is important, but if you can catch those prevailing winds, you may not need it as much. Know your site and have rooms that have access to that air. In the South, AC is necessary some of the time, and in the North we have to heat our houses. It’s not within the human comfort zoneChris: Let’s talk real quick about HERS. It is the energy score from the Energy Star system. It’s a home energy rating system, and the closest thing we have to mpg for houses. In our climate zone, zone 6, if you get a HERS Index of 80, congratulations — you get an Energy Star label. You are 20% better than the code-compliant house. If I’ve got a HERS 40, you’re in striking distance of starting to use renewables and getting to net zero, with options of PV or wind. We’ve yet to do a podcast on wind, because residential wind is hard. You’ll likely only qualify for wind if your climate is too windy and brutal to be outside. Wind guys, e-mail me and tell me where I am wrong, and we’ll do a podcast on it.Phil: If you’re going to do renewables, you’re probably doing PV. If you want to get your heat or AC low, start considering solar hot water, biomass, geothermal. Those things all help out, but they’re not really helping your electricity load.Chris: Biomass can be carbon-neutral but not net zero. All right, let’s call this Part Two and we’ll wrap it up. In Part 2 of this episode, we discuss:The client is part of the team. The success of a net-zero home requires commitment from the owner.Know the simple strategy and stick to it: Reduce energy demand and make up the difference with renewables.Seal it up — bring down that ACH50. Phil chats about using a fog machine as a tool.Windows and doors — and daylightingProper insulation — Remember the 10-20-40-60 rule.Control solar gain.Systems — find the one that’s right for the house.Natural ventilation.What’s your HERS, before renewables and after renewables? (After renewables, it should be zero).Renewables make up the difference — likely solar, because residential wind is difficult. RELATED MULTIMEDIA You can also subscribe to the Green Architects’ Lounge on iTunes. That way, you’ll never miss a show—and it’s free.last_img read more

Net-Zero-Energy Buildings Open on a California Campus

first_imgIn August 2009, construction began at the University of California at Davis West Village, amid proclamations that the project would become one of the nation’s largest and most ambitious university developments designed to operate at net zero energy.Certainly its scale suggests it will live up to the first part of that promise. West Village’s plans include 662 apartments and 343 single-family homes (enough housing for about 3,000 people), 42,500 sq. ft. of commercial space, and several on-site renewable-energy installations, including a 4-megawatt photovoltaic system – all on about 205 acres.Last month, the school celebrated the completion of Phase I, a $300 million, 130-acre segment of the project that includes 315 apartments, the commercial facilities, and a 15,000-sq.-ft. recreation center.According to UC Davis, net zero energy performance will be achieved due to design and construction details such as added exterior-wall insulation, solar-reflective roofing, radiant barrier roof sheathing, energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, carefully designed roof overhangs, and window sunshades.A giant NZE lab experimentAlthough two of West Village’s apartment complexes are newly occupied – about 800 students have already moved in – and are being monitored for energy use, it is too early to tell how they’re likely to perform. The project’s designers estimate that the energy-efficiency features of these buildings will reduce electricity use by 50% compared to buildings of comparable size built to code. Similar energy efficiency is expected for the single-family homes.The 4-megawatt photovoltaic installation and a biodigester – based on technology developed at UC Davis for converting organic waste into energy – are planned for West Village’s remaining build-out, Phase II, which is expected to be completed in 2013. Because West Village is so large, it’s not yet clear if its planned renewable-energy infrastructure will be adequate or whether it will have to be expanded to accommodate the community once it is fully populated.UC Davis notes that the project is a giant laboratory for large-scale net-zero-energy applications and energy-efficiency research.By Davis housing standards, it also is not cheap to live there. Student apartments rent for about $745 per bed per month, including utilities and unlimited broadband service. Single-family homes, the school says, will be available for sale to full-time faculty and staff not already owning a home in the Davis Joint Unified School District.The neighborhood master plan for West Village also includes another, 94-acre phase that would add another 882 student beds and 132 single-family homes, but the school says that no timeline has been set for that portion of the project.last_img read more

More Bad News on Ventilation System Effectiveness

first_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Members When researchers look at the effectiveness of ventilation systems installed in new homes, what do they find? To some extent, the answer depends on what area of the country you’re talking about, but we can safely report that:Let’s look three recent field studies: one in Washington, one in Florida, and one in California.In 2014, six researchers — David Hales, Ken Eklund, Rick Kunkle, Michael Lubliner, Adria Banks, and Charlie Stevens — performed a field study of ventilation systems in 29 homes in the Pacific Northwest. Their report, “A Field Study of Ventilation System Effectiveness in Low Air Leakage Residences,” is available online.The systems were pre-screened. The ventilation researchers only included systems that were able to meet the requirements of the ASHRAE 62.2 standard. So right off the bat, a lot of ventilation systems were excluded, simply because they weren’t properly designed or installed.The 29 homes included a variety of systems, including exhaust-only systems, central-fan-integrated supply ventilation systems, HRV systems, and ERV systems.Here’s a key finding of the study: Most of the occupants of these homes didn’t know how to operate or maintain their ventilation system.The researchers wrote, “The fact that over 90% of the occupants were satisfied with their system performance and indoor air quality even though over half of them did not have enough knowledge to operate or maintain the system is troubling, especially where the lack of knowledge correlates with unresolved operation and maintenance issues found by the WSU [Washington State University] Energy Program field staff. It means that occupant satisfaction is not a good indicator of ventilation system performance. Further, if something was seriously wrong with the system, the home occupant would probably be unable to recognize it or take appropriate action. Problems found on initial audit included controls not set to… 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.center_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log inlast_img read more

Report: TV time holds, but digital channels dominate for 18 – 49 year olds

first_img HomeDigital MarketingReport: TV time holds, but digital channels dominate for 18 – 49 year olds Posted on 28th June 2016Digital Marketing FacebookshareTwittertweetGoogle+share Report: TV time holds, but digital channels dominate for 18 – 49 year oldsYou are here: Traditional “live TV” still commands the most time of any media channel, says Nielsen in its first-quarter 2016 Total Audience Report. However it no longer dominates for the most coveted consumer segments.The report, released earlier today, focuses on three primary areas: reach, time spent with media and audience composition. Nielsen’s legacy business is TV measurement and the report offers support for those trying to make the case that traditional TV advertising is still relevant and powerful.The document finds that traditional radio reaches the single largest audience, followed by TV. The report also says that smartphones now outstrip PC internet usage, in terms of monthly active users (these numbers are quite different than comScore’s).Beyond reach, traditional TV commands the majority of daily media time in the US. Nielsen says that the average US adult spends 4:31 hours per day with live TV. By comparison, mobile devices see just over two hours of engagement. This appears to contradict other data in the market (e.g., Yahoo-Flurry), which assert that more time is spent now in mobile apps than with TV.While TV and radio audiences have remained stable, all the growth in media consumption is coming mobile devices and PCs. Nielsen also reports that 81 percent of mobile users have smartphones.When you slice the data by age category a more nuanced narrative emerges. For those under 50, digital media have overtaken traditional TV for time spent. While one might argue with that assertion by combining TV time in different categories, it’s clear from the totality of the evidence that mobile devices and alternative video channels dominate among younger users.The report also doesn’t discuss “second screening.” In 2014 Facebook and Millward Brown published research that argued more than 70 percent of internet users actively engaged with a second screen (smartphone, tablet) during TV shows and TV ads. Understanding this dynamic is also important in assessing the effectiveness of TV as an advertising medium.Another noteworthy set of findings in the Nielsen report relates to media consumption by power users. According to the report and chart below, the top 20 percent of users consume the bulk of media in each of the measured categories. For example, the top 20 percent of smartphone video streamers consume 83 percent of all streaming minutes in the US.It goes without saying that we live in a highly fragmented media environment. That’s been true for a long time. But simple metrics (e.g, reach) and assumptions about traditional and digital media must be tested empirically to determine which channels are most effective to reach intended audiences.From our sponsors: Report: TV time holds, but digital channels dominate for 18 – 49 year olds Related postsLytics now integrates with Google Marketing Platform to enable customer data-informed campaigns14th December 2019The California Consumer Privacy Act goes live in a few short weeks — Are you ready?14th December 2019ML 2019121313th December 2019Global email benchmark report finds email isn’t dead – it’s essential13th December 20192019 benchmark report: brand vs. non-brand traffic in Google Shopping12th December 2019Keep your LinkedIn advertising strategy focused in 202012th December 2019last_img read more

How Nissan Will Roll Out Self-Driving Cars: Fricking Lasers

first_imgCloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo… bradley berman Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … Related Posts Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloud Tags:#autonomous vehicles#Drive#Infiniti#Infiniti Q50#Nissan#Self-Driving#self-parking cars#Tetsuya Iijima ReadWriteDrive is an ongoing series covering the future of transportation.It was an improbably futuristic scene: A man standing on a sunbaked tarmac in Irvine, Calif., next to a Nissan Leaf electric car, pushed a button on the hatchback’s key fob. The Leaf, unassisted by human intervention or preprogrammed maps, crawled at about five miles per hour through rows of parked vehicles, detected an SUV pulling out of a space, paused, and allowed the SUV to pull away. Then it moved past the now-vacated parking spot, slowed into position, glided back into the space, and powered down.A moment later, the man pushed the button again, and the Leaf fetched itself, reversing its previous steps, and returned to the man’s side.This isn’t science fiction. I watched this all myself, dumbfounded, just a little over a week ago.Was this self-parking demonstration a bit of razzle-dazzle that will never make it into the vehicles in dealer lots? Maybe not.Taking the “crash” out of “crash test dummy”: A Nissan Leaf automatically avoids obstacles.To witness this scene, I drove 45 miles in a 2014 Infiniti Q50 sedan from LAX to the decommissioned El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. (That’s where Nissan held its month-long Nissan 360 technology showcase.) The Q50 was equipped with the luxury car’s $3,200 tech package , which pushes the nicely appointed vehicle’s price over $50,000.The relevant features of the teched-up Q50 are Intelligent Cruise Control and Active Lane Control. The technology allowed me to travel at highway speeds along short, straight stretches of the 405 and the 5, with my foot off the pedals and my hands at my side.Take that, Google! The search engine is investing an unknown amount in self-driving cars, and those prototypes have driven millions of miles. Google promises to offer the technology to consumers by 2018, but the Q50 is on sale today.Proto-AutomationThe Q50’s camera located in front of the rearview mirror, along with its image-processing system, can read lines and dashes on the roadway.  When the vehicle gets close to the white paint separating lanes, the car gently nudges the steering wheel in the direction of safety.  But here’s a problem that I experienced: When the car approached the white line to the left, it overcorrected, sending me across the lane to the right-side boundary, where the camera and computer nudged me back again across the lane to the left line.  With my hands off the steering wheel, the Q50 became a careening, 3,500-pound ping-pong ball.  In fairness, the visual guidance technology in the Q50 is not meant to fully automate driving.  It’s intended to play an assist role, which according to Infiniti—Nissan’s upscale division—reduces driver fatigue and otherwise enhances the vehicle’s luxury feel. It worked as intended.An experimental Nissan Leaf parks itself.Similarly, the Q50’s Forward Assist technology was effective.  Set the cruise control to, say, 65 miles per hour, and lift your foot off the accelerator.  That’s plain ol’ cruise control, right?  But thanks to a radar system behind the front bumper, the car can detect the speed of cars ahead in the same lane, and automatically slow down the Q50 to match their pace—all the way down to a complete stop, only to resume acceleration when the car ahead gets going. This is an increasingly common automotive feature, usually called adaptive cruise control.  A related safety feature rapidly and automatically applies brakes when the vehicle in front comes to a screeching halt.Driving Back to the FutureThese early manifestations of autonomous driving technologies already seem unremarkable.  But what’s surprising is that the fully automated Leaf on display in Irvine uses the same exact camera, image-processing technology, and radar found in the Q50.“To find objects that are approaching from far away very fast, radar is the best technology,” explained Tetsuya Iijima, general manager of intelligent transportation systems engineering at Nissan. “But unlike the driver-assisting features on the Q50, fully automated technology can’t make any excuses to the customer.”So Iijima and his team of engineers employ more serious automagical mojo: six laser scanners that surround the car.  And not just the fixed broad-beam or one-dimensional lasers already used in auto-safety systems from Continental and other suppliers. These are three-dimensional ones that scan left, right, up, and down, to make a full spatial rendering of all road objects on the fly.  Three radars are still used, one in front and two in back, as well as five cameras that can read speed-limit signs (to modulate speed according to the highway rules) and the color of traffic signals (to know when to stop and go at an intersection).  Add 12 sonars, and you now have a Leaf electric car that can travel autonomously and safely on highways—and do that cool robotic-parking trick as well.  Iijima demonstrated those two feats in two separate vehicles—each equipped with precisely the same hardware, but programmed for either highway travel or automated parking.  Nissan executives said that these automated features will go on sale in 2020—and will become available a few years later in a wide range of models. The Secret Sauce: Fricking Laser ScannersSeveral carmakers already offer features similar to the ones available in the Infiniti Q50, and are making claims about fully automated driving coming in the not-too-distant future—although most do not give timetables. The reason Nissan thinks it can set a date is that it has committed to laser technology.“We believe that we are leading this technology,” said Iijima. “Other companies still have not decided to use a laser scanner. We have come to the conclusion that laser scanners are required. The image is a regular three-dimensional picture. Each point has depth information.”The Google car uses a relatively large roof-mounted LIDAR system, using 64 lasers in a spinning 360-degree turret to create a high-resolution map accurate to about 11 centimeters, according to Popular Science.   The autonomous Leaf embeds six fixed laser scanners—around the car in corner body panels and into rear-passenger doors—each one providing resolution to 1 centimeter, according to Nissan.Iijima declined to identify the companies that Nissan is considering to supply the three-dimensional laser hardware or what it might cost. Nissan is developing its own software that filters all the various inputs, and integrates the data into steering-wheel position, acceleration levels, and braking. It’s Big Data on wheels. The intricate integration of hardware and software will take an alliance of companies, according to Iijima.The gear needed to make a Nissan Leaf drive itself.But Nissan has ruled out one type of technology, at least for the next few years—intelligent GPS-based geographical mapping, in the vein of Google Maps or Nokia’s Here. The info gathered from those mapping services is not detailed enough, according to Iijima. Also forget vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that will take decades to penetrate across enough cars and roadways to become useful.The cool self-parking car, unlike similar systems unveiled from Audi and Volvo, does not require GPS or any sensors or transmitters applied to the pavement.  Instead, as Iijima believes, vehicle automation should work with on-board sensors.  (Nonetheless, Nissan is working on a parallel development using precise maps that will enable cars to run autonomously in more challenging city environments.)  For now, Nissan is only talking about tackling the simpler challenge of highway driving and automated parking. The Beginning Of The End Of DrivingIijima outlined some limitations to the system: a max speed of 80 miles per hour and difficulty in extreme weather conditions, like a snowstorm.  He said that his work now focused on increasing processing power, reducing cost, and shrinking the size of the hardware that currently occupies the entire hatch space—down to about the size of a shoebox that could fit into the engine compartment.The software, which Nissan developed in-house with unnamed partners, is not unusual.“It’s C++,” Iijima said with a chuckle.  And ironically, the most important required infrastructure is … white paint.  “The white line defines the road,” he said.  “It’s minimal infrastructure.” What’s at stake with this program?  Big stuff. The promise of zero fatalities.  The ability for elderly and disabled people to gain mobility.  More efficient use of fuel and roadways.  And nothing less than a complete transformation of the relationship between car and driver.“When the driver is no longer necessary, there is no need for cars to be owned by individuals,” he said. He envisions a world of shared autonomous mobility robots roaming global roadways by 2030.  Yet, there’s no single finish line set to be crossed in the distant future, but rather a slow and steady supplanting of human drivers by onboard computers, cameras, radar, sonar and lasers.last_img read more

What Foursquare Check-Ins Look Like Around The World

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit owen thomas Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…center_img A fog of skepticism still swirls around Foursquare: Is the check-in service actually, y’know, a thing? Do people actually want to broadcast their location to the Internet—and use the resulting data to discover new places to go in the places they live?A new set of data visualizations from Foursquare amount to the company’s most extensive argument yet that people do actually use its service. The number of users have doubled since last May from 20 million to 40 million, though Foursquare has yet to disclose how many of those users are active on a monthly basis.Increasingly, those users are international. Despite its American origins in New York City, Foursquare has found users as far afield as Beijing and Istanbul.See also: Why PayPal Should Buy FoursquareThe videos show just how much they use it. And its users seem very ordinary, which is a good thing indeed: By showing how Foursquare users document their morning ferry rides, office arrivals, and departures by train, it demonstrates that the service has reached some segment of the mainstream.Foursquare has also matured to the point of actually attempting to make money, by placing ads within its mobile app after a user checks in to a location.The visualizations, highlighting global metropolises from Tokyo and New York to London and beyond, call attention to a different problem Foursquare faces: While it may work in some cities, outside of urban hubs, it struggles. The very density of activity we see in, say, San Francisco fades even as we venture into nearby suburbs. In exurban and rural areas, Foursquare is a ghost town. Without check-ins, its recommendations have little data to act on, and little interest to advertisers.It’s an open question whether Foursquare will ever work in such areas. Then again, if there are only three restaurants in a town, you probably don’t need much help choosing between them—and they have little interest in spending on advertising to getting you to try them out.Here’s a view of Foursquare’s urban universe:TokyoFoursquare check-ins show the pulse of Tokyo from Foursquare on Vimeo.IstanbulFoursquare check-ins show the pulse of Istanbul from Foursquare on Vimeo.San FranciscoFoursquare check-ins show the pulse of San Francisco from Foursquare on Vimeo.New YorkFoursquare check-ins show the pulse of New York City from Foursquare on Vimeo.LondonFoursquare check-ins show the pulse of London from Foursquare on Vimeo. Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Data Visualization#Foursquare#Location#Location-Based Services#social media last_img read more

Microsoft’s New CEO Wants To Look Beyond Its Past To Find Its Future

first_imgowen thomas Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Culture#Microsoft#Satya Nadella#Skype#Skype Translator A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img “Suppose Microsoft disappeared.”It’s quite a hypothetical, given the software giant’s piles of cash and 130,000 employees. Yet Satya Nadella lobbed it in one of his highest-profile appearances as Microsoft’s new CEO, an on-stage interview Tuesday evening at the Code Conference with veteran tech journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.Minus Microsoft“What is that sensibility that gets lost?” Nadella asked. “What is it that’s not going to be expressed?”Asking what the world would be like without Microsoft is Nadella’s way of forcing his colleagues to define what Microsoft stands for—and to erase the stench of failure from the company’s name.Mossberg and Swisher pressed Nadella to explain why the company had missed the massive shift to mobile computing.“We all walk into the future with our backs to it,” said Microsoft’s poet-CEO.Instead of dwelling on Microsoft’s mistakes, Nadella said that it was the “hunt for … that inflection point that matters more,” and said we were entering a “post-post-PC era.”In other words, Microsoft would do better trying to discover what comes after smartphones than trying to play catch-up in that market. He suggested that tablet computing had untapped potential—an argument which dovetails nicely with the company’s recent launch of the Surface Pro 3.What Microsoft was good at, Nadella said, was “building platforms, and building software for productivity.” Tellingly, he didn’t say “Windows,” and he didn’t say “Office”—the multibillion-dollar franchises that have defined Microsoft’s past two decades.See also: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: We Still Do Windows, And You Should TooTying Microsoft’s products together and forcing groups to work in lockstep was a thing of the past. The “One Microsoft” strategy is about having a coherent offering for consumers and developers, not tying all of its products together in ways that don’t make sense. That’s why Microsoft rolled out Office for Apple’s iPad before it had a touch-interface version ready for its own Surface tablet.“That’s no longer going to be a tactic,” Nadella said.Translating The FutureNadella gave a concrete glimmer of his new vision for Microsoft with the unveiling of Skype Translator, a tool for real-time translation of voice conversations. A live English-to-German demonstration ran smoothly, though Steffi Czerny, the managing director of DLD Media, panned the quality of the translation.Still, it was a showy act of technical prowess, combining the popular Skype chat tool with the years of research and development behind Microsoft Translator, and plenty of cloud-computing resources to make it all run.And there was a bit of a hasty quality to it that itself spoke to Microsoft’s changing ways.Asked whether Skype Translator, which Microsoft said would be out later this year, would be free or paid, Nadella punted. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll figure it out.”Nadella’s Microsoft doesn’t have all the answers, nor does it pretend to. But it’s asking the right questions.Photo by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

WWDC 2014: Apple By The Numbers

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Apple#Statistics#Tim Cook#WWDC 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Related Posts It’s a year of milestones for Apple. This January marked the 30th anniversary of the Macintosh computer. Monday marked the first day of Apple’s 25th Worldwide Developers Conference.See also: Apple Celebrates 30 Years Of The Mac ComputerCEO Tim Cook kicked off the conference with a couple more impressive statistics from Apple, and peppered them throughout his keynote. Here’s our latest look at Apple by the numbers, courtesy of Cook:There are now 9 million registered developers on the Apple platform. What’s more, there are 50% more registered developers in 2014 then there were in 2013.The youngest Apple developer attending WWDC is 13 years old. Apple sold 80 million Macbooks last year. That means, Cook observed, that while the computer industry as a whole declined by 5%, Macs grew by 12%.Since OS Mavericks launched in October 2013, user adoption has risen to 51%. Cook used this moment to add a subtle dig in Microsoft’s direction; Windows 8, launched in October 2012, only has 14% adoption now. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that while Mavericks is free, Windows 8 is far from cheap.Apple has sold more than 800 million iDevices in its lifetime. That includes 100 million iPod Touches, 200 million iPads, and more than 500 million iPhones. The company is still accumulating new users. 130 million customers who bought an Apple device in the last twelve months were buying their first ever Apple product.iOS 7 had an 89% adoption rate for iPhone users, compared to 9% for Android’s KitKat. iOS7 also had a 97% satisfaction rate, according to Cook.98% of Fortune 500 companies use iOS, senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said on stage at WWDC.There are 1.2 million apps available on the App Store, 300 million App Store visitors every week, and 75 billion apps downloaded, Cook said.Just 49% of people used a passcode before Touch ID. Now, on the iPhone 5s, 83% of people use Touch ID or a passcode.   The lastest version of Xcode, Apple’s suite of software development tools, was downloaded 14 million times.Screenshot via WWDC lauren orsinilast_img read more

Honda in talks with Google to build self-driving vehicles

first_imgBreak the Mold with Real-World Logistics AI and… Tags:#autonomous cars#Google#Honda#Internet of Things#IoT#Self-Driving#Waymo IT Trends of the Future That Are Worth Paying A… Related Posts David Currycenter_img Honda has started formal talks with Google’s self-driving division to develop another autonomous vehicle for its burgeoning test program. The Japanese automaker revealed the news on Thursday.See Also: In a crowded field, who is ahead in the autonomous car race?Waymo, the newly named self-driving division of Alphabet, recently refitted 100 Fiat Chrysler minivans with its latest self-driving tech. A similar deal could be in play with Honda, though the firm said it wouldn’t stop its own self-driving program.“In addition to these on-going efforts, this technical collaboration with Waymo could allow Honda research and development to explore a different technological approach to bring fully self-driving technology to market,” said Honda in a press release.Honda already has a vehicle, the Civic LX Sedan, with semi-autonomous features like lane changes and automatic braking on board. It previewed an autonomous car earlier this year, with a launch date of somewhere near 2020.A lot of strange relationshipsThat makes the potential partnership between the two companies all the more strange. Most automakers are attempting to go it alone, avoiding entanglements with others. BMW recently ditched Baidu, citing irreconcilable differences, and natural partners like Ford and Uber have avoided any formal agreements.While Honda said the agreement will benefit both firms, it seems to sway more in Waymo’s favor; which needs a strong portfolio of partners if it is going to compete against Tesla, Uber, and Ford in the near future.One of Waymo’s options when it comes to commercialization could be licensing tech to automakers, though that doesn’t seem like the prefered route. Instead, we expect Waymo to push a new ride-hailing service, giving manufacturers part of the revenue generated. For Self-Driving Systems, Infrastructure and In… 5 Ways IoT can Help to Reduce Automatic Vehicle…last_img read more

Why many major American companies have struggled in China: Amazon

first_imgThe Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT D… Clayton Jacobs Tags:#Amazon#IIoT#Internet of Things#IoT#retail Related Posts How IoT Will Transform Cold Chain Logistics For…center_img 5 Industries Destined for Technological Disruption This article is part of a series about the importance of cross-cultural design, other installments of which have been published  over the last month.Before mentioning anything about Amazon, the scale of its problem must be described. In 2014, after disappointing results for their business in China, Wolfe Research Analyst Aram Rubinson estimated that Amazon was operating at a $600 million USD a year loss in China. Wow.See Also: Bezos: “I would never say” no to Amazon wearablesLike Walmart (which is discussed in the fourth installment of this series), Amazon has a long history in China, beginning with its $75 million acquisition of the Chinese online book retailer Joyo.com in 2004. Yet even with the purchase of a profitable company, the firm couldn’t seem to grow its site to the scale and profitability experienced in the West. It has only an estimated 1-3% market share in China. This small percentage of the market indicates a problem as its sites receive lots of visitors who must be simply browsing without making a purchase. The American, British, and Japanese versions of Amazon’s websites are all in the top 50 most-visited websites in China according to Alexa (most often times the versions from other countries will reroute the user to amazon.cn, the Amazon website specifically for China).A possible reason users are simply browsing instead of purchasing could be that there are two markets in China for people purchasing goods, and Amazon doesn’t really target either of these. The two markets are white label items which are extremely inexpensive and verified branded items sold at a higher cost directly from the brand. Alibaba has directly attacked both of these market segments. As discussed earlier in connection with eBay (see the third installment of this series), Taobao allows the sale of extremely cheap items from consumer to consumer. Alibaba’s more recent Tmall allows, for a fee, brands to verify their products as legitimate while selling directly to consumers.Amazon needs to speak more clearly to Chinese consumersWhile it is somewhat understandable that Amazon has tried to simply repeat a model that has had great success in a number of international markets, if the company wants its brand and businesses to have more than low-level success in China, it must do a better job of speaking to Chinese consumers. It could develop a strategy that creates companies or divisions which compete with Taobao and Tmall directly in the two market segments. However, since it is late in doing so and has allowed them to dominate those markets, the firm is in a tricky spot. Perhaps it could figure out and uniquely solve some problem for the Chinese consumer.Here is an example of another Amazon misstep: Amazon Prime is a service widely loved in America. It provides free two-day shipping, as well as access to streamable audio and video, among other things. In October 2016, it was announced that Amazon Prime would be rolled out to China for a lower cost and with fewer features. The focus of China’s Amazon Prime is free shipping on items costing more than $29 regardless of their nation of origin. While this may be a desired feature, Amazon Prime in China could have been used to provide services specifically desired by the Chinese. For example, there is a very large market for pay-to-win games in China and Amazon has a digital currency for in-game purchases. It could have given a yearly allowance of digital currency with Amazon Prime to drive interest. Instead, they simply copied and pasted its American approach.It seems Amazon never truly tried to problem solve by tweaking its products or services to relate to China-specific issues. As CEO Jeff Bezos said himself in regard to their China strategy, “We mostly tried to roll out what worked well for us in Japan, Germany, the U.K., Spain, France, Italy, the U.S., etc., and it needed more local market customization. If you want me to give one meta-lesson, it’s that one.”See Also: Amazon patents a floating delivery-drone mother zeppelinAmazon is a prime example of a company which thought it could succeed in an entirely different market just by continuing to do business as usual without good market and customer analysis. This method of going about globalizing a product will almost never result in good success and analysts are actually calling for Amazon to pull out of China. It seems that Amazon’s executives are not willing to do the type of market research that will allow it to better speak to the Chinese consumer.One would hope that a company as large and advanced as Amazon would learn its lesson from massive financial losses in China, but it seems unfortunately that it is prone to making the same mistake again. Bezos has announced that Amazon plans to invest around $5 billion USD in the next three years in India to try to establish itself there. India is another complicated market which, like China, greatly differs from the West, but Amazon has implied it will again copy and paste its business model there without changes.The author is Clayton “CJ” Jacobs, who is currently an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with, and the Head of Cross-Cultural Design at, ReadWrite. An area of focus for him is helping American companies understand and enter the Chinese market through taking a modern user-centric product design approach. You can contact him directly at clayton.michael.jacobs(at)gmail.com or find him on Twitter & LinkedIn. Electronic Design is Utilizing AI-Enabled Solu…last_img read more

VR Will Transform the Way We Experience these 6 Things

first_imgVirtual reality (VR) is a new means of audiovisual communication. Its mission is to sell the idea of entry into a three-dimensional computer generated environment where the experience is so surprising that it cuts our minds to believe that this virtual world is really Reality. Its ultimate goal is to allow us to experience the senses we could never experience in our daily lives. VR will transform our world as a result of this ability to deliver experiences.So far, our experience with the internet was at best two-dimensional. The possibility of touch sensitive screen was the nearest we have been in interacting with the internet, and virtual reality is about to transform that concept. VR will transform the world and bring about a monumental change in the way of buying and experiencing the web, scanning; thanks to the pure power and imagination of human thought. It will drastically transform the way we live, communicate, learn and relate with others all over the globe.With massive adoption through platforms such as, HTC Vive, Oculus, VR Play station and Cardboard, companies and customers have already begun to turn to augmented reality and virtual platforms as they come online. Projected revenues are reaching over $100 billion in 2020 for AR and VR platforms, these platforms will create dramatic upheaval in all industries around the world.It is clear that our way of life and the way we behave are willing to change dramatically. And while there may be dozens of ways in which VR will transform the world, there are certain basic things that it will have the most effect on.See Also: Facebook slashes price of Oculus Rift for second time1. GamingThe obvious use of virtual reality – and the most proven example is the game. Oculus already has many titles that support it, and Sony PlayStation already has many games that use it.Is unlikely to be supported by all parties at any time, but we’ve played with Morpheus and Oculus and the VR will provide a strong, spectacular and impressive experience that brings gaming to a new level of excellence.2. Watching MoviesSomething that has contained this spacious miracle is the possibility of films that take advantage of VR capabilities.Think of 3D movies and then think of the real, true 3D – a cinematic world which you can sight edges and angles in 3D reality and paying more attention to what you choose to watch.Actually it is theoretical at best, but the probability is there. And it could transform the movie industry forever.3. TourismThink about how compelling it can be to simply look at the world on Google Maps. Then think how shocking it would be to do the same with your eye, a kind of crazy right?The VR will transform long trips to museums for people who cannot enter the building. Also, in another example of visiting a space, real estate agents can give buyers a peek at a property. Real estate agents could line up a playlist of properties for the buyer to experience and explore. In a similar way, a tour guide could do line-up touristic experiences as a product,4. MedicineIt is better and safer for surgeons to train to hone their techniques in a simulated environment. But, it would be better for young surgeons to train on not just plastic models or people who have left their bodies to medical sciences.Therefore, a fully interactive and accurate modeled sample suffers from a variety of diseases requiring surgery through a virtual reality interface could make many surgeons with better training and better performance – which is better for all of us.Simulator Surgeon developed in 2013 was a language in games based on this condition.Pilots already learn using flight simulators, but as surgeons they really could do something much more exciting and realistic to improve their skills. VR can be this technology.5. Exploring SpaceThe ability to fly through the globe using Google maps interface would be interesting and fun.The agency in charge of space exploration could put cameras around their equipment and sends off. Scientists then could navigate and visualize space using a virtual reality device. This would allow the exploration of space in a way that we have not seen before.Maybe you may have heard of Valkyrie – where you take the role of a spaceship pilot – and that seems real, although we knew it was not.6. Digital MarketingAn exciting way in which virtual reality is set to change the world is by the advancement of digital marketing. While physical marketing is limited by the laws of nature, experiences in the Virtual world are not.For example, if you are looking to navigate to a Harvard University campus, you will be able to do so, travelling classrooms, walking among students. You may be promoting a concert and want to place visitors there in the midst of this experience in a virtual reality environment.Companies like YouVisit explore experiential marketing for everyday businesses by offering an easy to use platform for building VR experiences.Not only is it useful for businesses, but also for consumers. Consumers now can make decisions based on virtual experiences the same way they would with physical ones. Not only is it ideal for hotels and travel, but much more for any other experiential marketing.See Also: What brands need to know about VR and AR [Infographic]These 6 categories are a brief introduction into all of the ways VR will transform the experiences around everyday activities. But, even with these new experiences brought by VR, it will still require VR delivering experiences that are otherwise not even remotely possible and further exploration of experiences similar to those mentioned for it to reach its full potential. Tags:#Future#Internet of Things#IoT#Oculus#virtual reality#VR How a Modern Gaming Engine Can Supercharge Your… How AR and VR Will Enhance Customer Experience Melissa Crooks is Content Writer who writes for Hyperlink Infosystem, a mobile app development company based in USA & India that holds the best team of skilled and expert app developers. She is a versatile tech writer and loves exploring latest technology trends, entrepreneur and startup column. Few Industries will not be Transformed by AR an… Melissa Crooks Related Posts AR And VR: Which is More Important to Emerging …last_img read more

7 Best Free Tools for Bootstrapped Startups

first_imgBrad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com. Tags:#bootstrapping#business growth#Entrepreneur#free tools#startup#startup apps#startup operations#startup tools#Tools Not many startups have enterprise-level budgets. Founders are always looking for low- or no-cost ways to grow their companies without sacrificing quality. Unfortunately, founders of bootstrapped startups also tend to be exceptionally busy, which means they rarely have time to research all the best options on the market. If you need help finding the best free software for your business, fear not. These tools offer incredible functionality with no strings attached:1. OnPayEntrepreneurs focus so much on their products and go-to-market strategies, they sometimes get bogged down in the day-to-day realities of running a business. No matter how brilliant your business plan or how dedicated your employees, you still have to pay everyone the right amount on time if you want to keep your team together and productive.If a payroll service doesn’t fit in the budget quite yet, OnPay’s payroll calculator lets you figure out exactly how much to pay employees and how much to withhold for taxes. It can also figure out deductions for 401(k) and HSA contributions. If you have a custom deduction like a voluntary charitable contribution, you can include that, too.2. Google AnalyticsEvery company with a website should use Google Analytics. As the king of the internet, Google can help you understand the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and gain insight into the sources of your web traffic.Plenty of other companies compete in the crowded analytics space, but Google’s free options provide everything small companies need. You can access intuitive charts, detailed reports, and more, then share your findings with your teams through other Google products to design more effective marketing plans. If you decide you need more juice, Google has premium options as well.3. BplansWhen an investor or potential partner wants to see your business plan, do you know how to write a great one? If not, you’re in luck, because Bplans has all the templates and advice you need. With more than 500 sample plans for industries ranging from technology to finance and everywhere in between, Bplans provides an essential service for companies just getting started. Whether you’re looking for your first big investment or planning to shift directions, check out the options on Bplans to clarify your goals and look professional in the process.4. MailChimpMailChimp offers an incredible deal for small companies looking to grow from small subscriber lists. Its free plan lets you send 10,000 emails every month to up to 2,000 subscribers without paying a dime for the privilege. Sure, MailChimp would like you to grow your business enough to pay for one of its larger plans, but wouldn’t you like that, too? Don’t be afraid of committing to an email service you may not like down the road — for free and paid subscribers alike, MailChimp is one of the best options on the market.5. SurveyGizmoSmall businesses need to know how their customers feel. Quit guessing about consumer sentiment, and ask your audience directly using SurveyGizmo’s free account.The free version of SurveyGizmo lets you have three surveys open at a time. You can collect up to 100 responses per survey and ask questions with a variety of answer styles (multiple choice, short answer, rating scale, etc.). Again, this tool is better suited to businesses with smaller customer bases looking to expand, but the paid tools for larger companies are more than worth the investment.6. SlackInternal communications shouldn’t slow down your productivity. With Slack, you can take advantage of tools like instant messaging, video calls, file sharing, and more for $0 a day.The free plan lets you keep 10,000 searchable messages on hand, just in case you need to prove to someone that you definitely called the winner of last night’s game. Slack doesn’t limit channels on the free plan, so you can create new channels for every project, interest, team, or whatever else suits your needs.7. ApptivoMost CRM tools feel packed with unnecessary features and designed for companies that have thousands of employees. Apptivo is different. Apptivo’s free plan allows you to connect up to three users and provides all the basic functionality a growing company needs in a CRM without any of the fluff.Paid plans start at just $8 per user per month, so even if you outgrow the free option, you won’t have to break the bank to keep things running. Until you hire new people, though, you shouldn’t need to upgrade. The free plan includes everything from opportunity management to notifications. If you have a small team and need some help to boost your sales, look no further.As a small business owner, you might feel like everyone’s out to get a piece of your income. These great tools prove that’s not the case. Instead of shelling out cash to handle every business function, keep more of your money and use these free options so you can build on a budget. Brad AndersonEditor In Chief at ReadWrite How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Related Posts China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… How to Get Started in China and Have Successlast_img read more

Three Creative Responses to a Shrinking Economy

first_imgBy Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, oneill@aesop.rutgers.eduMany military families and the professionals who serve them have found themselves living on less real (after inflation) income in recent years. At the same time, household expenses such as rent, food, and out-of-pocket health care costs, have continued to rise. In addition, much has been written about shrinking economies in countries such as Greece and Japan and the decreasing middle class population in the United States.When economies shrink or income levels get smaller, spending generally decreases. People lose jobs or their wages decrease or remain stagnant. This, in turn, results in household spending cutbacks. People buy less, eat out less, buy less expensive items, and look for other ways to economize.The “official” measurement of economic growth (or lack thereof) is the gross domestic product or GDP, which is calculated on an annual and quarterly basis. Used officially since 1944, GDP measures the monetary value of goods and services produced within a country. It is tracked over time to measure economic growth or decline and to determine if a recession is occurring. For example, a government report might say “GDP grew by 2.4% in 2015.”There are also informal ways to measure economic growth, including studying current retailing trends and stories about individual and household responses to a shrinking economy. These, too, provide valuable insights into spending habits. At the 2016 meeting of the Family Economics/Resource Management Association (FERMA), the following three strategies that U.S. consumers have adopted to live in a shrinking economy were described:FreeganismAt the FERMA conference, freeganism was loosely defined as the practice of reclaiming food and other items (e.g., clothing, home furnishings, etc.) that have been discarded. This movement originally started in the 1960s with discarded food and is a mash of the words “free” and “vegan.” Not only does freeganism save people money, but it is environmentally friendly and keeps usable items out of landfills. The Youtube video, Freeganism: Living Off Trash, explains the basic tenants of freeganism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCyPv0j4bPw.The description of the video states They live for free. They eat for free. Or as close to free as they can manage. They’re more than frugal; they’re freegans. With recession woes inspiring more people to look for meaning outside the mall, freeganism is gaining ground. Methods used by freegans to obtain items at no cost include taking items set outside by others for trash pick-up, pulling items out of trash receptacles (a.k.a, “dumpster diving”), re-using family hand-me-down items, and participating in community Freecycle Network programs where people donate and receive items for free in their local community (see https://www.freecycle.org/).Tiny HousesPhoto by Jon Callas. CC BY 2.0The tiny house movement has been profiled on several reality television shows. Instead of buying a typical home that averages around 2,600 square feet, people choose to live a simpler lifestyle with fewer possessions in homes that measure 100 to 500 square feet. Home purchase costs are reduced and so are costs for utilities, property taxes, and maintenance. Obviously, living and storage space are greatly reduced also, which may require downsizing. The 30-Day Downsizing Challenge is one strategy to do this. You start by donating or gifting one item on Day 1, two items on Day 2, three items on Day 3, etc. By the end of Day 30, you will have removed 465 items from your possession.MinimalismMinimalism is just what the name implies: the practice of simple, frugal living with fewer material items and less clutter. Some have even suggested a maximum number of personal possessions, such as 100 or 200 items. For clips from a 2016 documentary film about minimalism, see http://www.theminimalists.com/five-clips/. For an article that explains the concept, see http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/07/living-with-less/374544/.last_img read more

Highlights and Resources from The Power of Family Mealtimes: Strategies to Promote Health and Wellbeing

first_imgby Robin Allen MSPH, RDN, LDNWhen my children were growing up have the family together for mealtimes was important not always possible.  My husband worked odd hours frequently when he was not there until the kids were in bed.  So I confess to succumbing to faster, more convenience foods.  Then as they grew up activities started interfering and we found ourselves at a drive through between work, cross country, cheerleading, school plays, music lessons, gymnastics, ice skating etc.  Sometimes nutrition and family meals took a back seat to a busy schedule.  I wish I had appreciated the importance of making time for family meals.The following are some key take a ways and resources shared in the webinar.At the beginning of the webinar we asked the participants the following question.  Below are the answers given by the participants. I can certainly relate to all of them!What do you consider the major barriers to sharing meals for contemporary families?Time, media, busy lifestyles, picky eaters, evening activities, many younger families to not know how to cook, no cooking skills, children’s schedules, sports, clubs, lack of cooking skills, conflicting schedules, unplugging, working mom, adult schedules, children are over-involved and there is no time left for family, fast food is easy, money, working parents, home cooking is too hard, too much time too costly,The key elements for Healthy MealtimesPlanning aheadPositive CommunicationReduce Noise and DistractionFlexible enough to meet demands of busy family lifeNotes from the webinar to help with family mealtimes:Create a routine, with time, place predictability, role for all, order repetition, flexibility, sense of control and efficacy.Frequently mealtimes are filled with chaos, variable times, random settings, unpredictable, shifting roles, lack of order, feeling out of control, stress and strain, sense of urgency, background noise.Mealtime FAQs:Most shared family mealtimes last between 18-20 minutes63% of family members eat dinner together “frequently” or “always”Families with children under 18 eat dinner together “frequently” or “always” 77% of the time86% of parents agreed that dinnertime was the best time for family members to get together and talk, next best place is in the car.Primary barriers to sharing meals in families with preschool-aged children:Problematic BehaviorSibling FightsPicky EatingChild TantrumsScheduling DifficultiesParent WorkSupport from Partner46% of families interviewed in a CDC report stated they had a television where they ate.Parents of young children report using television during mealtimes as a way to avoid conflict.Integrated AdvertisingAdvergamesSocial MediaAdolescents equate quality of information with quantity (e.g., viral videos)Young children and adolescents equate nutrition quality with positive emotions evoked during advergames.Resources for Families or Providers:Ann Hall MRE, RDN, LDN Child Nutrition Programs, NETTA Division shared the following USDA resources after the webinar:MyPlate, MyWins , at www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins  is all about finding a healthy eating style that works for your family and fits with your everyday life. The MyPlate icon is a reminder to make healthy choices from each of the five food groups, and there are many small changes that add up to big success over time. On the site you’ll find fun, practical tips and tools that have worked for other families and fun food activities to do with kids, along with information on making family mealtimes fun.Our Team Nutrition website has information for families as well as child care centers and schools on feeding children at www.fns.usda.gov/tn/team-nutrition. Team Nutrition provides MyPlate materials that are developed specifically for kids and their parents/caregivers. Evidenced-based curricula that educators can use to integrate MyPlate lessons into core educational subjects, such as Math, English Language Arts, and Science is also available.Check out FNS’s new mobile app Food Buying Guide. The Food Buying Guide (FBG) is the essential resource for food yield information for all Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). Go to www.fns.usda.gov/tn/food-buying-guide-mobile-app to download the app.Resources shared in the chat:Turn mealtime into “family time” with ideas and tips from the Human Performance Resource Center. www.hprc-online.org/articles/turning-mealtime-into-family-timeCheck out this blog from Dr. Fiese on family mealtimes and why they matter: https://infoaboutkids.org/blog/family-mealtimes-why-do-they-matter/For more resources, check out The Family Dinner Project. “The Family Dinner Project is a growing movement of food, fun and conversation about things that matter. We are a nonprofit organization currently operating from the offices of Project Zero at HarvardUniversity” thefamilydinnerproject.orgThis article from Child Trends provides more research on the importance of family mealtimes: https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/family-mealsThis is a great resource on establishing healthy mealtimes right from the start with babies and toddlers: https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1941-healthymealtimes-feeding-your-baby-and-toddler-right-from-the-startSome of the research on family mealtimes being beneficial in nutrition and reducing childhood obesity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387875/This is a really great resource for those with young children, to help establish a healthy relationship with food and feeding early on to last a lifetime https://healthyeatingresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/her_feeding_guidelines_report_021416-1.pdfEllen Satter https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/ The Ellen Satter Institute helps thousands of parents, grandparents, children, teens, adults and health professionals to provide a healthy relationship with food for health and well-being.Bridging Apps reviews food and nutrition apps for kids. https://search.bridgingapps.org/lists/59dc5506-1c62-4244-af7a-399ce3145d97Additional references and resources from the event page https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Additional-Resources-The-Power-of-Family-Mealtimes-August-21.pdf How do you facilitate family mealtimes with your family or with your clients/patients?  We would love to get your feedback!last_img read more

7 Must-Know Guidelines for Motion & Title Design

first_imgThese 7 design guidelines will help your title and motion graphic designs look polished and professional.Video editors are often called to do titles and graphics, but often haven’t really had any training in the basics of graphic design. Motion graphics artists probably have a higher rate of graphic design education, but it’s not guaranteed.For those of you that fall into the category of wanting to make better graphics for your videos, but not really knowing what goes into making a good design, here are a few general design guidelines and rules that should help you out. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it covers the things I’ve seen most often and implemented in my own design work.1. Contrast Is KeyContrast is everything. Yes, I’m talking about brightness and contrast, but I’m also talking about color contrast, contrast in size, contrast in composition, contrast in motion, contrast in speed, shape, pace.Contrast is really when something is distinctly different from what is around it, either in space (the images on the frame) or time (the previous and next shots/scenes). For things to stand out and have an effect, they have to be different enough from the rest of the image. Even low contrast (like in a visual, brightness/contrast sense) throughout a piece can be used to bring enormous impact to something that’s suddenly very different. Contrast adds a punch.2. If Everything Is Important, Nothing Is ImportantTo put it another way from a visual angle: If everything has to stand out, nothing will stand out. You can’t have everything in all caps or it all becomes white noise. It can’t all be bold or nothing is really “bold”. Every design element and graphic in you video can’t “pop” or else it can’t separate itself from the rest.Just like certain elements of your story are key elements, certain visuals and text need emphasis drawn to them. For emphasis to be placed on something, another thing has to be de-emphasized. Form a hierarchy, and decide what’s most important, then emphasize that. Your message will be a lot clearer and the eye will be drawn to the visuals that need to be seen the most.3. Stick With One Or Two Fonts, MaxYes, fonts are awesome. Yes, there are a billion free and/or paid ones out there. But a good designer knows restraint. The general rule is to pick two typefaces: A heading typeface and a body typeface. The heading typeface should be used for big, bold text that needs to stand out, and is generally a few words or a sentence at the most. The body typeface should be for longer chunks of text, multiple sentences or text that’s not as important as the “headlines”.If you need more visual variation, stick with variations within the typeface itself: bold, italic, condensed, black, book, demi, etc. These can be used to add emphasis where necessary, without adding visual clutter by using a million different fonts. That said, don’t go too crazy with variations either. It’s all about simplicity. This goes back to tip #2: If everything has to stand out, nothing will stand out. Image from hulk4598 on Flickr.4. Pick A High-Quality FontIf you really want your work to have a high production value, go with a well-designed, high-quality font. Pay for it; it’s totally worth it. You normally wouldn’t trust the “free” stock image sites for your best clients, so why do the same with your typefaces?For those of you that subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you’ve got a leg-up on the others. Creative Cloud includes a subscription to Adobe’s awesome TypeKit library (Clay Asbury did a great post about this here). A high quality typeface has had a ton of research, thought, and design put into it. Type designers do this for a living. Trust that they know what they’re doing.Also, for the love of all that is holy, never stretch text. They made that typeface the way it is for a reason. If you don’t like it, you’ve probably picked the wrong typeface.5. All-Caps Is Great, Except When It’s NotYes, all-caps is frequently used to draw attention to key text and it does a great job of that. But it’s all about balance.There are many parts of a letterform, so here’s a quick take-away – the parts of a lowercase letter that stick up or hang below the main body (x-height) are what enable us to read easily and quickly. Remember contrast being important? It applies here too. The parts that stick up and down help us super-quickly scan and identify those letters without having to really study the letter. If you use all-caps, you’ve taken that advantage away; every letter is exactly the same height, so your eyes have to stop and identify every letter, one at a time.Don’t believe me? Type a whole paragraph in all-caps and time yourself reading it. Then find another paragraph of similar length and read it in normal case. Which one is faster, which one hurts your eyes? So yes, all caps can bring emphasis but it also reduces readability. It’s a trade-off, so trade wisely.Fun aside – did you know that there’s a difference between readability and legibility? Without going into too much detail, legibility is how easy it is to read/identify the letters, readability is how easy it is to read/identify the word(s).6. Pick & Stick With A Color PaletteColor palettes bring a very pleasant harmony and cohesion to any good design, and motion graphics and titles are no exception. Find one that fits your piece’s mood or use the branded colors of your client (often they’ve had a designer pick scheme that works wonderfully together). Then stick with this color scheme.You’d be amazed at how a well-planned color scheme can give a design a sense of polish and energy. Two great resources for finding palettes are ColourLovers.com (my personal favorite; you can even search by keywords like mood and feel) or Adobe’s Kuler:7. White Space Is Okay, I PromiseDon’t feel like you have to fill up every pixel. Empty space (white space) is good. It gives the eye a break, and if you use it well, it leads the eye to exactly what you want the audience to be focusing on. And, no, that logo doesn’t need to be bigger (even though your client may be telling you otherwise). The empty space around it brings attention to it. Let it breathe.I hope these help polish up your own motion design projects. There are a ton of resources out there for graphic design, and you’ll find that a lot of them help tremendously with motion graphics and title design. So get out there and learn!last_img read more

DaVinci Resolve Tutorial: Extreme Color Looks

first_imgHighly-stylized extreme color looks are easy to nail down through heavy color tinting. Achieve radical color grades with this DaVinci Resolve tutorial.In a two-part post here and here last month, I took a look at recreating several Instagram-style looks in DaVinci Resolve. These discussions led us to analyze looks that were certainly stylized, but not all that extreme. One day, you may come across a project where your client is open to a more extreme approach. If you do, hug that client and work with them again. Let’s explore some of these looks.Approaching the GradeOne way to achieve radical grades is by employing heavy color tinting. To encourage a bit of an unrefined look, adjust the control surface sensitivity in the preferences beforehand. A higher sensitivity number will make the trackballs and dials slide around quicker, allowing you to dial in extreme looks fast.Try setting the RGB balance sensitivities to around 80 and watch the colors get thrown out of whack with the slightest push. It’s like coloring with a fat marker as opposed to a thin pencil. It’s going to get a little messy.Click the gear icon on the bottom left in Resolve’s interface and select the Control Panel preferences. To see dramatic changes, alter the RGB sensitivities for the lift, gamma and gain to somewhere around 80, out of a maximum value of 100. Just for today, throw realism out the window. Let’s abandon natural skin tones in favor of a color treatment that imposes itself on the image. The challenge will still be to make our images look visually interesting.Executing the LooksHere’s the image we’ll be working on. I picked it because it is fairly neutral, but mainly because this lady looks awesome. She’s the perfect canvas for some extreme grades.As always, perform an initial balance on the image, then create a new node for screwing with the colors. Here are some looks I came up with, along with the color wheel “answer keys.”Depending on the type of image you choose, the colors will react quite differently at the outer limits, but since we’re thinking outside the box, there are really no wrong answers. At such extremes, adjusting the saturation by a smidgen will lead to another look itself, so try that too. Trust your eyes and visual acumen to guide you to what looks good. Pushing the Concept FurtherWhile we’re not touching the luminance values too much for the purposes of this tutorial, it can be helpful to use luminance to qualify sections of the image in the interest of processing them separately. First, pull just a luminance key on half of the image. To do this, increase luminance Low Clip or decrease luminance High Clip.When about half of the image appears in the qualification, soften the corresponding Softness control. This will ensure that extreme corrections will still have a smooth falloff in the extreme color ranges.I’ve pulled the High Clip down on just the luminance, then increased the High Soft enough to gradually recede the correction. Then I created an Outside Node to color the values outside the first node. On the newly keyed portion of the image, go crazy with one of the trackballs. When you’ve destroyed the image to your liking, create an Outside Node to invert the qualification and tint that part of the image.This creates a more controlled look that can be tuned in greater detail. Now that both sides of the shot are tinted, experiment with the qualification point in the original node. The image changes as values are included or excluded.   To further complicate our look, create another node and qualify a different section of the luminance, maybe this time from the bottom third of the image. Tint that with a different color altogether. Maybe this node could even be desaturated. Now you’ve got a bunch of colors playing against each other in psychedelic glory.In addition to the luminance split above, I’ve added a third node that selects a more narrow range of luminance values. Then I went wild on everything for a different look altogether. Dial it BackNow that we’ve got a bunch of insane looks, let’s see if we can make them more usable for a traditional job. If you balanced your shot in a separate node at the beginning, you can mix it with the extreme node(s) to bring the look closer to normalcy. To do this, select the Key tab in the lower-middle section of the screen and adjust the Gain parameter underneath the Output heading.A value of less than one will essentially lower the opacity of the node correction to mix it with the base correction node. Increasing the value of Gain more than one won’t accomplish anything.Setting the Output Gain to 50% pulls one of our extreme looks back into a more commercial realm. When you’re destructing your image, keep track of digital degradations. It’s up to you to determine if these are acceptable for your grungy look. If not, consider dialing back your look, as colors in the vectorscope can also clip out. Alternately, try using noise reduction or soft clipping to limit the amount or severity of artifacts.Yikes! This is what clipped colors in the vectorscope look like. Yeah, you can slice colors too, just like whites are sawed off on an overexposed image. Sure, we’re going for something extreme, but you may want to avoid this. Going ExtremeExperiment with how different colors and the image ranges play off each other. This will actually inform traditional grading approaches for more conventional jobs. Taking colors too far can be instructive. See what kind of crazy results you can come up with, then dial them back into the realm of acceptability.Here’s our palette of nine looks. Hopefully you can see the huge range of possibilities in color grading, no matter how extreme your client wants to go.If you’re feeling gutsy, why not try some of these out on your next commercial job? Your client may think you’re insane, but maybe they’ll be into a unique style that makes their commercial stand out from every other ad. As colorists it can become easy to color each project in a similar manner, and playing around with images in an extreme way can help things from getting stale. Have fun and check out these additional DaVinci Resolve tutorials:Color Grading: Bleach Bypass Looks in DaVinci ResolveSunkissed and Sepia Looks in DaVinci ResolveThe Isolated Color Look in DaVinci ResolveDid this DaVinci Resolve help you see color grading in radical new ways? Got any examples of extreme looks you’d like to share? See you in the comment section!last_img read more