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Live Blog: Microsoft Office 2010 – A Discussion With Executive Management

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… alex williams Related Posts Tags:#cloud#news center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… We are at the Microsoft campus in Seattle today for a Future of Productivity Council event. We are hearing from Kurt DelBene, president of the Microsoft office team. We’ll be looking for how the team sees Office fitting with the cloud and Web apps.DelBene is presenting some of the numbers:Microsoft Office 2010 is now the fastest selling version of Office in history.More than 30 million people use the Office Web application.More tham 100 million SharePoint licenses sold to more than 17,000 customers.73% of enterprises in the United States currently use Exchange as primary email system.DelBene says the the company is still up in the air about if people are happy to go Twitter or Facebook or if people want a combined experience.Office 365 is in limited beta. It is on track to launch later this year.3:40 p.m.: delBene says the company is focused on using the Web to optimize its apps for the iPad.3:42 p.m.: In a Microsoft context, opening attachements are how most web applications are used. Anywhere access to content is the future, though. But for now the numbers show that people use apps for opening attachments.3:47: The cloud is the megatrend affecting how people work:By 2016, 43% of information workers in the United States will telecommute.In 2011, the digital universe will be 10 times the size of what it was in 2006.Social networks and blogs now account for more than 20% of time spent online.3:57 p.m.: Microsoft is trying to make data a more natural part of work. Goal is to make data visualizations easy for anyone to create. But there is lots to learn about what people want with data. As Office 365 goes to market it will be interesting to see what features people use. In first round, they are seeing people want statistics about email flow and other usages for the services offered about the platform.4:02 p.m.: Power Point was surprise feature of the new release for Microsoft Office 2010. People like the broadcast feature and syncing capabilities for people to share presentations. It’s another example for how the cloud is used and the importance of the Web applications for the company.They see multiple uses for Web apps being used as a platform. 4:04 p.m.: People like the ability of using the Web to access Office 365 instead of dialing into a corporate server.4:15 p.m. Mary Jo Foley is asking about the next version of Microsoft Office. What are executives thinking? Will it be Microsoft Office 2015 or she joked, will it be Microsoft Next? DelBene mentioned 2015 without much detail beyond that.4:25 p.m. Very minor developments are made to BPOS every 90 days.The more major releases happens every few years. Shipping according to that frequency is done because that is what the customers want. Cadence is adjusted to how people want the updates.4:31 p.m.: The cloud is interesting to all of Microsoft’s customers. Every ounce of functionality will be in the cloud. Mail will go first and other apps will follow. More customers are choosing Microsoft and are going to the cloud on their terms. In the nine month discussion of engagement, customers will find they are not ready but they want to reserve the right to go to the cloud on their own terms. Starbucks runs Exchange on premise. They did ship 7,000 laptops to stores.Those laptop are used with cloud-based services.That’s it! Have a great weekend!Travel and hotel expenses were covered for Alex Williams to attend Microsoft’s Future of Productivity event. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

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Go 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea With Today’s Google Doodle

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Google#web Related Posts audrey watterscenter_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting To celebrate Jules Verne’s birthday, Google’s logo today has been transformed into an underwater vessel – a Nautilus – an appropriate homage to the author of the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Google Doodler Jennifer Horn explains the decision to honor Verne as someone who sparked her imagination as a child. “Looking back,” she writes, “I realize that what fascinated me most was the unknown: a creative spark and the imaginative exploration that followed. Since then, I’ve become more familiar with his work and still believe that exploration is the essence of Verne’s novels. His stories pull the readers into a world filled with infinite potential–be it in the clouds, on land or under the sea.”She says that today’s doodle, marking Verne’s 183rd birthday, “tries to capture that sense of adventure and exploration.” And it does so with a little help from CSS3 and your device’s built-in accelerometer.You can navigate the design – or rather, steer the Nautilus – with a control stick or by simply tilting your device in the direction you wish to explore. The doodle showcases that imagination exploration, but also demonstrates some very cool technology.last_img read more

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Visualizing the Influence of Egyptian Bloggers

first_imgTags:#international#NYT#Visualization#web Super-high resolution PDF here.According to Boguta, the language choice – most of the bloggers speak both Arabic and English – is an important element. Some make the choice to connect with other Arabic-speakers, probably a function of the organizational use of the Web by people on the ground. The choice of English is, among other things, a choice to spread the circumstances, flight and day-to-day activities of the first group, to the wider world. “For me, the point is that the activists are cooperating with the west, on their own terms and in a constructive way…(I)n fact that is a key element and what allows this much bigger exoskeleton to tightly interface to the core. This is in contrast to what happened in Iran 2009…where the connections between those in Iran and the rest of the world were very thin and easily severed.”Wael Ghonim is a good example of how the visualization works. Large circle, well connected, surrounded by a large group of Twitter-users whom he influences.Interesting to notice is the scattered group on the far left, which are mostly U.S. government and corporations like Google. “And that’s probably how everyone in the rest of the network would like this future to look.”Street photo via Al Jazeera | thanks to Josh Jones-Dilworth 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Kovas Boguta, the head of analytics at Weebly and a guest author on ReadWriteWeb, has created another powerful data visualization, this time of the “the pro-democracy movement in Egypt and across the Middle East.” The visualization drew from Twitter use by Egyptians and influential others around the #jan25 uprising. Those writing in Arabic only are represented in red, only in English are in blue and overlap by various shades of purple. Influence, in terms of follows, are represented by lines and those who influence each other are located in proximity. curt hopkinslast_img read more

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New “Halo Report” Aims to Track Angel Investment Trends

first_imgRelated Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… audrey watters Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Quarterly reports about venture capital investment are fairly commonplace. But information about early stage investment can be more difficult to come by.To help investigate some of the investment trends, the Angel Capital Education Foundation (ACEF), Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and CB Insights are announcing a partnership that will produce a quarterly research report. The aptly-titled Halo Report will track angel investment activity in the U.S. and Canada, providing data that entrepreneurs and early-stage investors have long sought after.CB Insights CEO and co-founder Anand Sanwal notes that “Unlike data on VC investments, comprehensive, rigorously collected data on angel-backed companies and angel investors does not currently exist in any centralized fashion.” The Halo Report aims to give more visibility to this segment of early-stage investment, which in turn will help build data-driven tools to help both investors and entrepreneurs. CB Insights has an extensive database of private company financing, and we often cite its findings here at ReadWriteWeb. The Halo Report will draw on that data, in conjunction with SVB and ACEF’s expertise in angel investment, to include information about overall investment activity, as well as details about round sizes, location, and industry preferences.The first Halo Report is expected to be available in the second half of 2011. Tags:#start#tips last_img read more

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Evernote for Android Gets More Secure, More Social, More Collaborative

first_imgRole of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Evernote for Android lets you capture your location whenever you create a note – that’s not new. But now the app will map these notes for you, particularly useful if you’re using Evernote to chronicle a travel diary.(Here’s hoping Evernote for iPhone is next to see an upgrade!) The sharing platform Evernote has been on a tear lately, updating its mobile, desktop, and Web apps each in turn – not just polishing the UI but adding new features. Today it’s Android’s turn, and the newly updated Evernote for Android contains a ton of new features: better sharing, better collaboration, better editing, and better security.It’s this last feature that might make iPhone users wish it was their turn to have their Evernote app updated. If you’re like me and store pretty much every important thought, draft, image, brainstorm, account info, and story idea in Evernote, you’ve had that panicky thought, “What if this were to fall into the wrong hands?” Now, you can lock the Evernote app with a PIN. Whenever you return to the app, you’ll be asked to enter a special code. You can still compose notes, even without entering the PIN, but it’ll be necessary in order to view and search notes. (This feature is only available to premium subscribers.)The rest of the updates seem to follow the trajectory that we’ve seen in its other recentupdates: an emphasis on Evernote becoming more social and more collaborative. With this update, for example, Android users now can create notebook stacks, and they also have better access to shared notebooks. Notebooks are a stack of notes that you’ve sorted into one collection, something that greatly helps with organization. You can also share your notes to Facebook, Twitter, and email. Tags:#mobile#web Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … audrey watters Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

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Brief: Getting the Most Out of Mission Critical Apps with VMware vSphere on Intel Xeon Processors

first_imgTags:#cloud#RWCloudSponsored A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… ReadWrite Sponsorscenter_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market What does it take to get the best performance out of a mission critical app? You need scalability, availability, and a security foundation to really make it all work. In this brief, learn how VVMware vSphere running on the Intel Xeon processor 7500 series delivers unmatched performance on four-socket, eight-socket and even larger servers.Download White Paper PDFVMware vSphere 4.1 and the intel Xeon Processor E7 FamilyView more documents from ReadWriteWeb. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more

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Solar Power’s Academic Champions

first_imgThe Department of Energy’s biennial Solar Decathlon features major talent, and inevitably yields inspiring, innovative ideasIf you’re planning a road trip for the coming months, consider making a stop in our nation’s capital in mid-October. The intense summer heat (though not the politics) will have abated, the leaves will be turning, and the 2009 edition of the Solar Decathlon, one of the world’s most competitive educational showcases for green home technology, will be in full bloom on the National Mall.Sponsored by the Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon has been held in 2002, 2005, and 2007, and, with the 2009 contest, is on track to become a regular, biennial event. This year’s competition is scheduled to run October 8-18, with houses open to the public October 9-13, and 15-18.Solar Decathlon contests really are (pardon the pun) highly charged. Prospective teams of faculty and students, from colleges and universities in North America and abroad, are invited to submit proposals for designing, building, and operating houses that are livable, energy-efficient, and completely solar-powered.Teamwork of a higher callingA committee of engineers, scientists, and other experts from the DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory narrows the field to the 20 teams that, over a two-year period, further develop their proposals and eventually bring them to life on the National Mall.Each Solar Decathlon team competes in 10 areas: architecture (for a maximum of 100 points), market viability (100 points), engineering (100 points), lighting design (75 points), communications (75 points), comfort zone (100 points), hot water (100 points), appliances (100 points), home entertainment (100 points), and net metering (150 points).That last contest, net metering, is also the competition’s newest. Organizers will measure how much net energy each team’s house produced or consumed over the course of the competition. Up to 100 points will be awarded both for producing as much power as used, and as many as 50 more can be earned for producing power that can be fed back into the grid.This year’s field of competitors includes 16 teams from schools in the U.S., two from Canadian universities, and two from European universities.The 2007 Solar Decathlon overall winner, scoring 1,024.85 points, was the team representing Technische Universität Darmstadt, whose campus is in Hessen, Germany. The team’s house – easily one of the most-visited during the competition – won the architecture and lighting contests and landed a perfect score in the engineering contest.last_img read more

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First LEED Home in Northwest Georgia

first_imgInspectors making unreasonable demandsInside, the framing was clean and matched up to the full set of documents and the cut list that the owner/architect prepared. They incorporated some good advanced framing techniques, including header hangers instead of jack studs, right-sized headers, and 19.2-inch-on-center framing.They also used open corners and eliminated excess cripple studs under windowsills. Unfortunately, they were thwarted by an uninformed building inspector who made them install the unnecessary lumber in these locations. Apparently no amount of persuasion or letters from their engineers could change the inspector’s mind.This is the first house I have worked on to use mini-split heat pumps for space conditioning. They are using the ducted cassettes, with two in the crawlspace and two in the attic for good zone control. Incorporated into all the duct systems is a central dehumidifier that will also provide whole-house ventilation – a good option in this relatively mild but humid climate. Location, location, locationThis house is right-sized, well conceived, and carefully built – things that I see to rarely in my work. The only thing that raises some concern is the location. At the edge of a recently developed subdivision, it isn’t in a walker-friendly area, and while there is a school nearby, all other amenities require driving (or unpleasant walking).The location also raised another issue that doesn’t seem to come up in green building certifications. As the green rater on projects, I often drive as far as five hours to inspect my projects. Although I only visit a site a few times during the process, these long distances come with an environmental impact – one at least as important as the location of materials used in projects.Is it time to consider travel distances into environmental impacts of LEED and other green-certified projects? I haven’t yet taken on any truly long-distance or international projects, but more distance means more transportation energy, and additional overall environmental impact on the job. I know that this issue isn’t addressed in the current or next version of LEED, but is it something to consider down the road? I recently completed the green rater’s pre-drywall inspection on a LEED for homes project about a 1½ hour drive from where I live. It’s a very well done, modest house designed by an architect for his own, rapidly growing family. They are expecting their second child soon and look forward to moving into their new LEED home shortly after the new arrival.My first impression on arriving at the job site was the flurry of activity – there were at least eight workers plugging away at siding, masonry, and building a deck on this fairly small house. A close look at the work they were doing made it clear that the builder runs a good operation. The jobsite was clean, workers cutting the fiber-cement siding were wearing appropriate protective gear, and the level of detail and quality of installation on the exterior trim were top-notch.last_img read more

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Cold-Climate Passivhaus Construction Costs

first_imgMike Eliason is a designer at Brute Force Collaborative in Seattle, Washington. The NewenHouse Passivhaus in WisconsinThe third project throwing a wrench in the ever-weakening argument is the über-compact NewenHouse in Viroqua, Wisconsin (7,795 HDDs), with Carly Coulson as the certified Passive House designer. This tiny (968-square-foot) kit house has a treated floor area of 888 square feet (82.5 m²).This project sports local windows and Cardinal triple-pane glass, while the doors are Energate. Like the Knox, Maine, Passivhaus, the NewenHouse is wrapped in a jacket of cellulose – and similarly comes in well under the specific space heating demand.Carly recently presented the project at the Hannover Passivhaus conference. Here are some of the project specs:Space heating demand: 11.4 kWh/m²a (3.61 kBTU/ft²a)Primary energy demand: 104 kWh/m²a (32.9 kBTU/ft²a)Blower door: 0.51 ach50Wall U-factor: 0.09 W/m²K (R-63)Slab U-factor: 0.10 W/m²K (R-57)Roof U-factor: 0.06 W/m²K (R-94)The project is also rocking a solar domestic hot water system (Velux) that is expected to provide nearly two-thirds of the domestic hot water needs, and a PV system for site net zero energy.The project went through BRE in Watford, UK, for Passivhaus certification, is Energy Star certified, and is expected to hit LEED for Homes Platinum.Total cost for NewenHouse – including solar DHW, PV, and accessory structures – is a whopping $173/sf. If there was a LEED Titanium, this über-tiny Passivhaus in an “extreme” environment would surely qualify.While these may not be the modernist jewels we tend to drool over – these are sound, extremely cost-effective houses and further proof that there is more of a bad design/shoehorning penalty in extremely cold climates – rather than a detached housing one. And if locally made PH windows and glass ever become available, that cost-effectiveness will only improve.If you haven’t yet signed the petition to protect the Passivhaus standard in North America, then mosey on down and drop your digital signature. G•O Logic’s red houseThe second project is G•O Logic’s 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom Passivhaus in Belfast, Maine – just down the road from the project above (by the way… WTF is up with Maine?!?).This one also garnered lots of press, and recently snagged a LEED for Homes Project of the Year award. Yup, they were able to garner PH and LEED Platinum certifications for ~$160/sf. You can read up more on the project at Maine Home + Design. Despite all the fuss about difficulties meeting Passivhaus cost-effectively on detached housing in über cold climates, there have been several projects recently that seemingly disprove the fussers.Now, that’s not to say that meeting the Passivhaus standard in certain localities is a walk in the park – it’s certainly difficult in many places, like Siberia; the north slope of a steep, east-west valley (Graubünden!); Fairbanks… That being said, there are projects (certified, even) that meet the Passivhaus standard in climates north of 7,000 heating degree days (HDDs) – and with the advent of something like Super Windows – well, much of that nonsense could become completely moot.In the next year, I’m certain we’ll see several more projects that disprove the cost-ineffectiveness of meeting 15 kWh per square meter in cold climates. It is definitely something that merits debate – but hey, it’s not like anyone’s been censoring posts, or anything… Chris Corson’s Maine PassivhausThe first project is the house that Chris Corson (the owner of EcoCor Design/Build) recently wrapped up in Knox, Maine. The project has seen some good press (including a GBA story) and great praise recently – I ran into many people at the recent Passivhaus conference in Hannover, Germany, discussing it, including some Canadians and Germans.The 1,600-square-foot two-bedroom house sports a treated floor area of 1,140 square feet (106 m²), which some would say falls under the “small” category. It also happens to be a detached home in a really cold climate (modeled at 7,345 HDDs). Chris was able to bring the cost of construction to under $130/sf.The modeling bests the specific space heating demand, coming in at 3.11 kBTU/ft²a (9.82 kWh/m²a). This was done through a combination of superinsulation, phenomenal windows (from Intus) and a phenomenally low blower door test of 0.286 ach50.The most impressive bit about getting the space heating demand so low, outside of achieving affordability in a difficult climate, was leaving wiggle room for future additions or modifications. Furthermore, cost savings may have been realized by dialing back the insulation closer to 4.75 kBtu/ft²a.last_img read more

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New Green Building Products — July 2012

first_img 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. This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Start Free Trial Already a member? Log incenter_img Once again, the “in” box on my desk is beginning to fill up with a stack of brochures describing interesting new products.I’ve selected four products to review in this latest roundup: an insert panel to improve the thermal performance of insulated concrete forms (ICFs); a new wall system for manufactured stone veneer; and two new water-resistive barriers (WRBs).A manufacturer of insulated concrete forms (ICFs), Reward Wall System of Omaha, Nebraska, is now selling polystyrene panels that can be slipped inside of ICFs to improve a wall’s R-value. This product will prove useful, since many ICFs have a relatively low R-value.Called Boost-R panels, the new foam rectangles come with notches that slide over the ICF form ties and rebar chairs. Of course, these Boost-R panels take up room that would normally be filled with concrete. So if you want to use these insulation inserts, you’ll need to order ICFs with thicker-than-usual cores. If you ordinarily use an ICF with a 6-inch-thick concrete core, and you’d like to insert 4 extra inches of foam on one side of the wall, you’ll need to order ICFs with a 10-inch core.Boost-R panels are 2 inches thick and are available in several different densities (1, 1.5, and 2 pounds per cubic foot). If you want more than 2 inches of extra insulation, it’s possible to insert two layers of 2-inch thick Boost-R panels inside the core of a thick ICF.The manufacturer claims that its 1.5 pound/cubic foot polystyrene has an R-value of R-4.17 per inch. That means that a 15-inch ICF with a 10-inch-thick core equipped with a 4-inch-thick Boost-R panel can have an R-value of R-38.Two-inch-thick Boost-R panels cost between 95¢ and $1.85 per square foot, depending on the foam density and the quantity ordered.Of course, there is a… last_img read more

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Will the Energy Star Homes Program Survive Version 3?

first_imgBack in 2009, I attended a webinar given by Sam Rashkin, head of the Energy Star new homes program at the time. (He has since left the EPA for the DOE.) He explained the changes coming in the program as they prepared for the transition from what we now call Version 2 to the new Version 3. The part of the webinar that got the most attention was the change from a fixed HERS Index to a variable HERS Index target, but he also made a prediction.It was clear that Energy Star was ramping up the requirements more significantly than they had in previous updates. HERS raters attending the webinar were worried what that might do to their rating businesses and asked about this. “We expect to lose about half of the builders in the program,” Rashkin said. Which way from here?I wrote recently about Georgia Power’s path away from Energy Star to the creation of their own entry-level energy efficiency program, EarthCents. They had been piggy-backing on Energy Star and giving home builders a rebate for every Energy Star certified home (with some other requirements). Instead of moving up to Verson 3, however, they created their own program based on a fixed HERS Index of 77.Georgia Power’s program, though, isn’t national in scope. The only entry-level activity going on nationally that I’m aware of is home builders marketing the HERS Index. RESNET was smart to push hard on this as soon as they knew what the new Energy Star Version 3 requirements were, and it’s worked. Our ratings took a dip from 2011 to 2012, when ES V3 first hit, but they’re up significantly this year.The only problem with builders just getting a HERS rating is that it’s not a program with requirements that must be met. Version 2 of the Energy Star program was great because it required two inspections (pre-drywall and final), right-sizing of HVAC systems, and a maximum HERS Index. Any builder can get a HERS rating and market the HERS Index, even if it’s for a barely legal code-minimum home.I’m certainly not knocking the idea of home builders marketing the HERS Index. After all, if they’re doing so to compete against other home builders, they’ll strive for better results. What I’m saying here is that a HERS rating is not an energy efficiency program, entry-level or otherwise.It’s too bad that Energy Star vacated the entry-level program realm because their brand is so well known. Maybe they’ll come back to their senses and reclaim this market. Here’s an idea: They could do so easily by introducing a tiered program, which would allow them to keep the ES V3 requirements and have an entry-level program. In the meantime, home builders looking for a national entry-level energy efficiency program will remain in limbo. RELATED ARTICLES Energy Star Homes Must Comply with Version 3 Guidelines Now Efficiency Programs Struggle to Stay Ahead of Energy Codes The Energy Star Homes Program Raises the Bar with Version 3Energy Star Version 3Disappointing Energy Savings for Energy Star HomesGreen Building Programs Got Some ’Splainin’ to Do What does the ACCA $1100 yearly fee for Energy Star Version 3 go towards? Builders are jumping shipBefore Energy Star Version 3 replaced Energy Star Version 2, the majority of HERS raters who had successful rating businesses rated mostly Energy Star new homes. We’re a HERS quality assurance provider, and about 80% of all the ratings we processed were for Energy Star new homes back in the good old days of Version 2. I don’t know what the national numbers looked like, but I’m sure RESNET could corroborate what I’m saying here since they’ve been tracking these data. Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. Why the precipitous drop?If you talk to HERS raters, you’ll hear several reasons for Energy Star’s demise: The HVAC requirements are too onerous. The change came at a bad time, as the bottom had just fallen out of the housing market. The reduced thermal bridging requirements put too much liability on the rater when they recommend that builders use less framing. (See Skye Dunning’s excellent comment about these issues in my last article.)Those things are all true, of course. In 2010, I went to an ES V3 train-the-trainer session in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the room erupted when we got to the new HVAC requirements. Most of us in the room were HERS rater trainers and RESNET Quality Assurance Designees and had spent considerable time fighting with raters, builders, and HVAC contractors over the much less rigorous V2 requirements. I remember telling Arnie Katz, the facilitator, that the new V3 requirements were perfectly reasonable, but the HVAC industry wasn’t ready for such a big leap.Those things, however, are not the real reason Energy Star is dying. No, Energy Star is dying because they forgot what their role was. Energy Star used to be an entry-level energy efficiency program. Home builders generally didn’t have to stretch too far, or pay too much, to meet the requirements and get that Energy Star label. The program abandoned that role with Version 3. As it turns out, Rashkin was a bit optimistic with his prediction. I’m sure well more than half of the builders have jumped ship. As a provider, we’ve seen our Energy Star ratings fall to 20% of our total this year. We had some Version 2 stragglers earlier in the year, though, and if you take those away, our Energy Star Version 3 ratings make up only 10% of our total. From everything I hear from raters and providers around the US, our experience is not unique.last_img read more

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A German Deep-Energy Retrofit

first_imgI recently visited a job site on the outskirts of Berlin that had previously caught my eye. Although the buildings were shrouded in the usual scaffolding and screening, I had noticed while biking by that the work involved “energetische sanierung,” or energy retrofitting.The photos on this page illustrate various details of the insulating skin installed on this building. While the materials and techniques used on this project are run-of-the-mill for Germany, they may be of limited applicability to projects in the U.S. Nevertheless, I like to think that sharing them might contribute to innovative thinking for someone, somewhere.The materials and methods being used on this retrofit project are similar to those I have seen on many other job sites in Berlin — both retrofits and new construction. The big players in exterior insulation and finishing systems (EIFS) provide integrated suites of materials, accessories, and stucco products for this type of work. Sto, the manufacturer of the products being used on this project, is one of the brands I see often. Using strips of membrane to flash around the windowsBecause these particular buildings are simple in form, applying a skin of rigid foam was straightforward. The only areas that required special detailing were where vertical bands of glazing had run continuously through all the floors. As part of the retrofit, these bands were replaced by windows at each floor level (see Image #7). Masonry lintels at each floor level support lightweight (aerated) concrete block infill walls, above which the new windows were installed.The windows were flashed on all four sides with membrane strips bedded in black goop (see Image #8). Once the foam had been trimmed at the edges of the windows, strips of mesh with a plastic bead were adhered to the window frame to allow the window returns to be stuccoed (Images #9 and #10). Corner bead with preapplied mesh was installed on the foam at exterior corners.The only place on this building where mineral wool batts were used instead of EPS foam was around the enclosure for the chimney that vents the boiler (see Image #11). The site supervisor told me that the nonflammable mineral wool is also generally used to insulate facades adjacent to other buildings, to mitigate against the spread of fire from one building to another. RELATED ARTICLES What Is a Deep Energy Retrofit?Window Installation Tips for a Deep Energy RetrofitThe High Cost of Deep-Energy RetrofitsWrapping an Older House with Rock Wool Insulation Andrew Dey’s background includes carpentry, contracting, and project management. For the past six years he has provided construction consulting services to clients in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts. He is passionate about retrofitting existing buildings — including his own house — for greater energy efficiency. His blog is called Snapshots from Berlin. Metal window sillsThe site super told me that if I wanted to see what these buildings would look like when finished, I could visit a completed project nearby. He gave me directions, and off I pedaled.The completed buildings appeared to be nearly identical to the ones that I saw being worked on (see Image #12). I saw that the vertical alcoves between windows were finished with decorative metal grilles. In addition to infilling the recesses, these grilles added visual interest to facades that were otherwise quite plain.The sills under the metal grills were a variation on the wide, sheet-metal window sills typically found on buildings here in Germany (see Image #13). Thick building walls require wide sills. Typically the sills are made of a single piece of metal with the edges bent up and around at each end. On this project, each sill consisted of an aluminum pan that had been slid into extrusions at each end.Having repaired or replaced my share of rotten wooden window sills in New England, I am a big fan of German window sills. However, their distinct style probably limits their applicability to retrofits in the US. They work well with stucco exteriors, and I could imagine them fitting in on a contemporary house with wood siding, but their “look” may have to be modified for them not to appear out of place on an older New England home. ARTICLES BY ANDREW DEY Germany’s Energy RevolutionAn Energy-Efficiency Conference in Germany The exterior rigid foam is almost 5 inches thickAs I approached the job site, I found two workers using hand saws to trim rigid foam blocks that they had installed around new windows. I asked if I could take some photos, explaining that I was a project manager from the U.S. who was interested in energy efficiency. As often happens in this situation, the workers’ initial reticence gave way to a quick tour of the work and informative answers to my questions.The building appeared to have been built in the 1960s or 1970s. It was part of a student housing complex associated with the nearby Free University of Berlin. The original walls were cast concrete about 8 inches thick.On this project, 120 mm (4 3/4 inch) thick blocks of expanded polystyrene (EPS) were being installed on the original masonry walls (see Image #3 below). In the U.S., one can readily purchase different types of rigid foam in 4’x8′ sheets. In Germany, on the other hand, EPS is by far the most common type of rigid insulation, and it is sold in relatively small but thick blocks. From what I have seen, mineral wool is a distant second to EPS. The only extruded polystyrene (XPS) I have seen was being used below grade on foundations. I have yet to come across any rigid polyisocyanurate board on construction sites here in Germany.The blocks of EPS foam are configured with tongues and grooves around their edges to facilitate air sealing (see Image #1, above). The site supervisor told me that the grooves are a relatively new innovation from Sto. In fact, on most other job sites I have seen, the foam blocks are square-edged. Any gaps between the blocks of EPS foam are filled with one-part expanding polyurethane foam. Retrofit components are readily availableWhile most of the retrofits I have seen in Berlin are being executed on multifamily and commercial buildings by professional contractors, in residential areas outside the city I have encountered homeowners themselves tackling such projects over multiple weekends. During a recent visit to a large DIY home center, I saw that all of the materials required for these retrofits are readily available, including foam blocks, accessories, stucco, and installation tools.Most of the deep energy retrofits with which I am familiar in the U.S. make use of either 4’x8′ sheets of rigid foam, or closed-cell spray foam, to create an insulating skin on the building’s exterior. The R-etro system from Canadian ICF manufacturer Quad-Lock Building Systems is the closest analogue I have found in the U.S. to the EIFS systems used throughout Germany.I can see both benefits and disadvantages to utilizing a system of small but thick blocks of insulation, as opposed to large sheets. As I think about the insulation options for retrofitting the exterior of my 1840s farmhouse in New Hampshire, I am leaning toward using rigid batts of mineral wool. Thinset mortar and plastic anchorsInstalling the blocks of EPS is relatively straightforward. Lengths of plastic angle are fastened level at the bottom of the wall to create a guide for the blocks (see Images #4 and #5). Because each block is mechanically fastened and bonded to the wall, the bottom ledge does not have to be load-bearing.Each block is secured with thinset-type mortar and a plastic expansion anchor (see Image #6). The hole for the anchor is drilled through the foam and into the masonry wall. On this particular project, the large round heads of the expansion anchors, which function like washers, are countersunk below the surface of the foam, and covered with a round foam “bung.”On most other retrofit projects I have seen, the heads of the anchors are installed flush with the surface of the foam block, and simply covered with stucco. Countersinking and plugging the fasteners minimizes thermal bridging at the fasteners, and presumably also prevents telegraphing of the fasteners through the finished stucco.The anchors used on this project are locked into place by driving the screw that is integral to the fastener. Another type of fastener that I have seen relies simply on plastic barbs gripping the sides of a tight hole in the masonry.last_img read more

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California Is a Major Solar Player

first_imgCalifornia now has more installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity than a number of European nations as well as Australia, and it sits at the top of the heap in the U.S., according to a new report.The latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked California ahead of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia, and Belgium and is the first state in the U.S. to have more than 10,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity, SEIA president and CEO Rhone Resch said in a statement.If California were a nation, it would rank sixth in the world in installed PV capacity, with enough solar to power nearly 2.6 million homes.Of the 718 MW of new capacity installed in the first quarter of the year, the majority, 399 MW, is in utility-scale projects. Another 231 MW is residential and the balance of 88 MW consists of commercial installations. Collectively, the additions amount to an investment of $1.7 billion.“To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, today California has 10 times more installed solar capacity than the entire nation had in 2007,” Resch said.He attributed the “explosive growth” to public policies such as the federal solar Investment Tax Credit, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and net-metering.Prices for installed residential PV systems dropped 4% year-over-year in the first quarter, and are nearly 50% lower than they were five years ago.“The upswing in residential installations is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, especially in light of a recent report by the California Energy Commission, which shows that more than a quarter of all new homes being built in Southern California are being constructed with solar energy systems,” Resch’s statement added. “Presently, there are 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians — and those numbers are continuing to grow.”After California, the next five states ranked in order of first-quarter installations were Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Texas. Other conclusionsThe new Market Insight Report also made these points:Solar installers are looking for ways of combining PV with other technologies and services, including distributed energy storage, load control in the form of smart thermostats or smart home kits, demand response, and electric vehicle charging.The growth of residential PV systems is especially strong, up 76% over the first quarter of 2014 and up 11% from the fourth quarter of 2014.Non-residential PV installations are slipping, down 3% from the first quarter of last year and down 24% from the fourth quarter of last year.State incentives are “less critical” in a handful of states, but in most markets across the U.S. state incentives are still necessary to make residential PV installations economically viable.last_img read more

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An Innovative Financing Tool That Makes Energy Efficiency Affordable

first_imgThis post originally appeared at Ensia. For customers of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative in rural North Carolina, high energy costs are much more than a pesky bill or a grudging expense. “We’re one of the poorest areas of the nation,” says Curtis Wynn, the cooperative’s president and CEO. “We have a lot of low-income individuals who are our members and, quite frankly, a major portion of their monthly budgets are consumed by paying their electricity bills.”RELATED ARTICLESCalifornia Approves a Pilot Program for Energy UpgradesWhy Do People Invest in Home Energy Upgrades?The FHA Problem with PACEHow to Sell Green Upgrades: Energy AuditsCalifornia Lenders Sued Over PACE Financing Wynn says he has seen monthly bills reach nearly $700. But high rates aren’t to blame. It’s often the homes themselves that are the problem. Drafty windows, leaky ducts and poor insulation are common, and that means that much of the heating and cooling it takes to keep them comfortable slips outside, leading customers to use much more energy than they should have to — an estimated 10% to 20%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The simple solution to this problem is an energy efficiency upgrade — patching leaks in ductwork, sealing the frames of windows, laying insulation in attics, replacing old heat pumps. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to about $8,000, but these interventions can result in energy savings over time that more than offset the expense. It’s a pragmatic investment that lowers costs in the long run. Such an investment, though, can be out of reach for low-income energy customers who have neither the cash to afford the upgrades nor the credit score necessary to borrow what they would cost. But with an innovative financing mechanism, electric utilities like the Roanoke Electric Cooperative are using their borrowing power to finance energy efficiency upgrades in homes at no upfront cost to their customers. “We’re helping the members lower their electricity consumption and ultimately their bills, and we’re lowering our costs for the power that we go out and purchase on their behalf,” says Wynn. Upgrade and save This is possible through what’s called tariffed on-bill financing. Using energy efficiency loans available from the federal government, utilities pay the upfront costs of upgrading a home’s energy efficiency and then amend that home’s newly lowered bill with a tariff charge that pays back the cost of the upgrade month by month. The key to making it work is that the tariff is calculated so the customer’s bill is always lower than it was before the upgrade. About 80% of the monthly savings go toward paying off the cost of the upgrade, and the rest goes to cutting the customer’s costs. In other words, they reimburse the utility for the cost of the upgrades and still pay less for energy each month than they did before the improvements were made. The Roanoke Electric Cooperative program, Upgrade to $ave, is administered by EEtility, an Arkansas-based B corporation that works with utilities to perform energy audits on homes, prescribe efficiency upgrades, and coordinate the contractors that implement them. Tammy Agard, the company’s co-founder, calls this approach a win-win-win that benefits residents, utilities, and the environment. Unlike most debt-based energy efficiency upgrade programs, the tariff-based model links the monthly charges to the address and not the customer, allowing renters to have their energy costs lowered through upgrades without necessarily paying the full cost for them if they move. After the upgrade is paid off, the tariff is lifted and the utility bill associated with that address becomes even lower. This approach, known as “Pay As You Save” and originally developed by the Energy Efficiency Institute in Vermont, has been licensed for use at utilities around the country, from California to Ohio to New Hampshire. “This is an all-inclusive model,” Agard says. “There’s nobody from the brain surgeon to the person cleaning the floor at the hospital who can’t participate in this program.” In 2018, Agard was named a Champion of Energy Efficiency by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for EEtility’s work helping low-income residents in rural electric cooperatives like Roanoke. Increasingly common, but barriers remain Such on-bill financing programs are increasingly common. Because it’s cheaper for utilities to improve energy efficiency than to build more energy production capacity — and because many states now require them to — utilities have initiated a variety of efficiency upgrade options, including utility-financed loans that tend to raise customers’ bills and programs that pay back upgrade costs through a line item on annual property tax bills. But these efforts haven’t pushed the masses to make energy efficiency upgrades. “It’s a challenging area,” says Martin Kushler, a senior fellow at the ACEEE. He’s been reviewing utility energy efficiency programs across the country since 2003, and says that even though programs are improving, adoption rates for energy upgrades remain low. “While you can pencil out the fact that these improvements are cost-effective in terms of the energy that they save over time, there’s a lot of what we call market barriers to people taking action.” These include financing, lack of time, concerns about dealing with contractors, and a scarcity of information about which programs a customer can use. “Well-designed programs have features that address each of those aspects,” Kushler says. For Wynn at the Roanoke Electric Cooperative, EEtility’s approach checks all those boxes. So far, more than 400 of the cooperative’s 14,000-plus members have received upgrades through the program, and about 1,500 have expressed interest in participating. “We’re getting inquiries every day,” he says. The biggest challenge, Wynn says, is that some homes are in such rough shape that the investment in an energy efficiency upgrade can’t be justified. Even so, he expects to work with EEtility on at least another 500 upgrades within the next few years. EEtility is now working with three utilities in the U.S. and is in talks with about a dozen more. Most are rural electricity cooperatives serving low-income customers, but Agard says this approach to energy efficiency upgrades can work in any market. “We have a program that absolutely can be scaled across the country,” she says. “Because if it’s providing services for our most vulnerable populations then why couldn’t it provide services for everyone?”last_img read more

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Here’s A Heavy Dose Of Reality For New Mobile Payments Startup Clinkle

first_imgTags:#Mobile Payments Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … dan rowinski Related Posts center_img The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Humor me for a moment with this tale of two startups, both focused on mobile payments. See if you can spot the similarities:Startup A: Founded by a young, smart guy who briefly attended a prominent university. The startup eventually moves into the mobile-payments space and raises money in the realm of $40 million. It deploys an interesting new technology to process mobile payments and says it won’t take a cut of transactions, instead planning to make money via incentives and marketing. Business starts to bog down amid a growing realization that new payments are really hard.Startup B: Founded by a young, smart guy who attended a prominent university and hires a bunch of his smart college friends. The startup deploys an interesting technology to process mobile payments and says it won’t take a cut of transactions, instead planning to make money via incentives and marketing. It raises $25 million in funding, but is about to realize that payments are really hard.Company A is LevelUp, the Boston-based mobile payments specialist that was started by Seth Priebatsch and used to be called SCVNGR. Priebatsch went to Princeton for a semester before dropping out and founding his startup. SCVNGR, a location-based check-in game along the lines of Foursquare and Gowalla, did well for a time before the company shifted its focus to payments with LevelUp. The service links QR codes to users’ credit or debit cards and lets merchants scan the codes in a smartphone app.Clinkle founder Lucas DuplanCompany B is a San Francisco-based startup called Clinkle, which raised a $25 million seed round from a variety of venture capitalists. It is founded by Lucas Duplan, a recent graduate of Stanford University and reportedly uses high-frequency sounds to process payments. Maybe Duplan should give Priebatsch a call. Because, in case you missed a theme here, payments are hard.(See also: Startup Clinkle Has A High Frequency Plan To Push Mobile Payments)Why Are Payments Hard?On the surface, payments look deceptively simple. You need a secure, transactional method—actual currency, credit cards, Near Field Communications, QR codes, etc.—and some way to transmit money from point A to point B, just like you would with any other form of data.On the surface, all currency is is data. This is why startups like LevelUp and big companies like Google think they can disrupt the payments space. It’s simple technology and fundamentally a data problem. Geeks, by nature, are good at technology and data. So they apply their big brains to the problem and figure that in no time at all, they’ll make a difference.And then they enter a world of shit.“The general inertia, and lack of traction in the emerging payments market within North America, is not something that one solves with a better market strategy and a mobile app,” said Cherian Abraham, who oversees mobile commerce and payments at Experian Global Consulting.See also: Mobile Payments’ Cashless Utopia Is Not Coming Any Time SoonAccording to reports, Clinkle will handle transactions via high-frequency sounds that smartphones, tablets and computers can pick up on and deliver the necessary information it takes to make a payment. While that’s generally a cool idea (and something the advertisers and marketers have been trying to institute through televisions for years now), it’s not conceptually all that different from any other payment method.In fact, that similarity points up an endemic problem for mobile payments in general. Which is that it’s basically no easier or faster to activate the NFC or QR code in your phone or open an app than it is to dig out some cash from your pocket or pull a plastic card from your wallet. Try it. They’ll each take you basically the same amount of time. “Payments are supposed to be boring and predictable. That’s a feature, not a bug,” said James Wester, editor of Mobile Payments Today.The Immovable Object: Existing Payment ProcessorsThen there is the reality of American business, which exerts a huge drag on innovation in this space by virtue of an established payment infrastructure that connects just about everyone in the economy. Payment innovations like NFC haven’t taken off because (a) they don’t really solve any problems better than cash and cards and (b) the payment processors would need to update software and hardware to payment terminals all over the world. That is not an easy task.(See also: LevelUp Is Building A Mobile Payments Groundswell)Clinkle thinks it can sidestep all that. Theoretically, using high frequency sound to transmit data over short distances could eliminate the need to create a new payments infrastructure. The idea is that consumers’ smartphones could communicate directly with the microphones on merchants’ computers, smartphones and tablets, routing around the existing payment infrastructure entirely.Businesses, however, are skeptical of these new technologies and slow to change. Why? Because the benefit is not readily apparent. The question of “how” to change payments is right in front of us with all the technologies listed above. The question of “why” is really what nobody yet has been able to answer.Adoption Is The KickerThe first thing a mobile payments company is going to need to do is convince the masses—businesses, consumers, financial processor companies and banks—that its service is original, easier and provides better data than the established players. That’s difficult but not impossible with the right service. The next thing to do is get those same entities to actually institute their service. That’s where it gets difficult.Partnerships are essential in the payments world. The right partnership can vault a company from also-ran to ubiquitous in days. The fact of the matter is that these companies are intensely competitive with each other and do not really like to provide third party solutions on their platforms.Google spent nearly half a billion dollars on its Google Wallet mobile payments plan only to see it shut out of consumer smartphones by the likes of Verizon. If Clinkle thinks it will be able to waltz in and put its software onto existing point-of-sale systems, it’s taking its first steps on a very hard road.“If it could have been solved by $25M in VC money, then Google shouldn’t have had to spend (rumored) half a billion to find that throwing money, their brand, and a 100m phones could not get it to inch a bit,” Abraham said. To get Clinkle onto existing, ubiquitous point-of-sale systems—those computers with microphones that are key to what we know of Clinkle’s business model—the startup will need a large sales force working in markets across the world. Clinkle, by contrast, wants to spread through university campuses like Facebook did.Lessons From (Recent) HistoryWhat LevelUp’s founder and team eventually realized is that good software, an interesting business model based on incentives and a burning desire to take over the world weren’t enough. To expand into new markets, LevelUp needed sales people to strike critical partnerships that would convince business owners to adopt its technology.That sales force has probably been LevelUp’s single biggest cost sink. The startup is doing moderately well, but it’s still very small, and its prospects of taking over the world of payments appear rather slim.Like LevelUp, Clinkle is about to get a first hand look at how muddy the mobile payment waters really are. Lead image by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite. Image of Lucas Duplan via Crinkle. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaceslast_img read more

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App Marketers Turn AI and Machine Learning To Drive Growth

first_imgAI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Tags:#AI#app marketing#apps#developers#engagement#featured#growth#Machine Learning#top#user#User Experience#UX Brian Solis A digital analyst, anthropologist, and futurist, Solis has studied and influenced the effects of emerging technology on business, marketing, and culture. His research and his books help executives, and also everyday people, better understand the relationship between the evolution of technology and its impact on business and society and also the role we each play in it. AI Will Empower Leaders, Not Replace Them Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Did you know that 80 percent of users churn within three months of downloading an app? That’s because most apps are marketed to the masses and not necessarily to the right customers.Oftentimes, the goal of app marketing is to reach as many consumers as possible with the hopes of recruiting en masse and converting at better-than-average ratios. But part of the challenge for marketers is that many of today’s strategies are driven by metrics that don’t link to advanced user targeting and growth.More specifically, app marketers aren’t using available data strategically to deliver productive user experiences that ultimately drive greater business profitability.Now more than ever, marketers must shift from tracking traditional vanity metrics to measuring the very things that contribute to retention and growth. More and more, successful companies are investing in customer-centric metrics such as CLV (customer lifetime value) to gain intelligent, consumer-centered insights that not only identify the most valuable customers but also key behaviors and preferences to continually improve consumers’ experiences and journey.Next-generation marketing and CX are about identifying and engaging valuable consumersCLV is more important than apps in isolation. It helps apps and other touch points work together to deliver value-added, cohesive experiences.CLV measures the value a consumer represents to the business across all interactions over their lifetime, not just a single transaction or touch point. That is ultimately the definition of customer experience. It is the sum of all moments a customer has with your brand throughout their life cycle. Marketing and customer engagement is now a cross-functional mandate.Not all app users are the right users. If you use the Pareto Principle, you can assume that 80 percent of business value is attributed to 20 percent of your active consumers. While these percentages aren’t by any means a standard, they do emphasize the need to identify and cultivate the important customers who drive your business.Instead of casting a wide net and attracting as many users as possible in the hopes of retaining a reasonably active base, CLV tied to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning focuses marketers and also developers on targeted engagement and growth. The idea is to drive profit by investing in more value-added user experiences and personalized offers. Doing so intentionally cultivates meaningful relationships with key customers.Next-generation customer engagement is about cross-functional collaboration and data sharingUnfortunately, customer experience today is largely siloed. Marketing, mobile, in-store, e-commerce, digital and so on are not collaborating nor operating against the same customer and market data. But that’s all about to change with the proliferation of AI and machine learning tied to smart CLV initiatives.When the goal is to deliver targeted and integrated experiences, not just in-app, but across each touch point and the life cycle overall, companies create a truly customer-centric approach. AI then helps brands get a more complete, shared view and understanding of customer behaviors and expectations.Additionally, AI-driven customer-centricity fosters cross-functional collaboration and data sharing that, by design, boosts customer experiences, along with CLV and business growth.Identify highest-value customers and deliver targeted experiencesAI/machine learning platforms offer intelligent insights when pointed in the right direction. Successful brands study how much revenue highest-value customers drive over their lifetime and how much it costs to manage those relationships. And they examine CLV across all channels to get a holistic view of high-value behavior in all interactions. When the system can analyze important traits of high-value users, it can learn how to optimize CLV.For example, to reach potential high-value customers, AI/machine learning uses data from existing high-value customers to optimize campaigns and touch points. In a study by Bain aimed at retail banking, it was found that it costs banks $4 every time a customer calls or visits. However, if consumers can complete the transaction via an app, it costs only 10 cents.The key is to deliver capabilities in ways that consumers prefer and appreciate. Imagine how much AI and machine learning could additionally uncover when tasked with identifying friction points and new opportunities.AI and CLV call for a new customer-centric playbookYou’ve probably heard time and time again that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain one. Brands that are winning prioritize CLV and AI and are drafting the playbook as they go. They:develop a customer-centric mindset.open doors between silos around in-store, digital and mobile so teams can focus on one clear business goal, rather than individual metrics (such as engagement or clicks).align customer-facing groups to a business outcome such as CLV and promote cross-functional collaboration and data sharing to assemble a holistic view of the customer across all touch points.understand who their highest-value customers are, how much revenue they drive over their lifetime and how much it costs to manage the relationship — across all channels.focus on measuring and communicating clear business goals rather than individual or vanity metrics.AI and machine learning improve both by using existing data without cognitive bias. The more the system learns, the more it optimizes.In the end, not all customers are created equal. By identifying those who drive value, how and why, you can learn how to design and deliver personalized value to them and enhance customer engagement and experiences to grow your business now and over time.last_img read more

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5 Easy Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

first_imgMonitor your statements: A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that in 2012, more than 70 percent of consumers in the U.S. had at least one credit card. Unfortunately, the ease and convenience of using a credit card comes with the additional risk of having credit card information stolen. It is important to routinely monitor your credit card statements to identify any unauthorized activity on your account. If you discover that your credit card information has been compromised, use this helpful guide to learn what to do next. Secure your personal information: At home, make sure your personal information is stored in a secure location or is password-protected on a secure computer. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet and only provide your social security number when absolutely necessary. It’s also a good idea to shred any documents you don’t need–such as credit applications and offers or bank statements–that contain sensitive information. If you are required to provide an organization with your personal information, ask them what exactly they need it for and what measures they have in place to protect it. Check your Credit Report: Obtaining a free credit report once a year is an effective way to make sure that your identity has not been stolen. Identity thieves often open accounts or obtain loans using your personal information, and these activities will show up on your credit report. You may even consider implementing a credit freeze which restricts access to your report and makes it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts under your name. By Ayesha Haider, BA, MBA, AFC CandidateIdentity theft is referred to as the “fastest growing white collar crime in America” by the Office of the Inspector General. Having your identity stolen can result in your hard earned funds being fraudulently withdrawn from your account and it can also have serious implications for your credit report and score, negatively impacting your eligibility for employment and favorable loan terms. The following methods outline some basic ways you can protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands:Learn to identify phishing scams: Phishing requests are emails or other electronic correspondence you may receive asking for your personal information. Such requests are made to seem like they are being sent by a legitimate organization that you are affiliated with such as a bank, department store, or email-hosting service. Phishing requests are notoriously difficult to identify and often even the most Internet-savvy of us fall victim to these elaborate schemes. Learn how to tell if an email is a phishing scam by using CIO.com’s very useful guide or take the phishing IQ test to see if you can distinguish a phishing scam from a legitimate request. Guard your mail: Identity thieves often obtain personal information by stealing your mail and/or responding to pre-approved credit offers you receive in the mail. Avoid falling victim to mail fraud by checking your mail frequently and shredding any financial offers/documents you receive in the mail. To learn more about identity theft through mail, visit the S. Postal Inspection Service website.The best way of preventing identity theft is educating yourself on how you can best protect your personal information. Read up on what to do if your identity is stolen and monitor your credit card and bank account statements routinely to identify and unauthorized transactions soon after they occur.Photo by Jeff TurnerTo learn more ways to protect yourself and empower your clients against identity theft schemes, join our webinar on Tuesday, March 15 at 11 a.m. ET. Dr. Barbara O’Neill and Carol Kando-Pindea of the Federal Trade Commission will present a 90-minute webinar that identifies new ways thieves are stealing personal information and ways to prevent becoming a victim.last_img read more

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Walking Alongside our Service Members, Veterans and Their Families

first_imgWording read during the presentationI was honored and humbled to be recognized for my contributions to the BTYR efforts as together we support our Service members and families. I encourage everyone to engage in building his or her community’s capacity. In what small ways can you walk alongside Service members, families and Veterans in your community? How can you build community capacity and create or contribute to a rapid response team?         I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still                                  I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will                                      not refuse to do something that I can do. – Helen Keller   by Anita Harris Hering         The highest reward for a person’s work is not what they get for it,                             but what they become because of it. – John RuskinRuskin’s quote could very well define my family of eight – three sisters, two brothers and my parents. Volunteerism within our church and the community never was something scheduled around our weekly duties and jobs, but rather our duties and jobs were scheduled around when we were to volunteer. Being actively engaged with the needs of our community always came first.Our parents made volunteering a priority and helped us kids to understand the importance of volunteering in the community such as with The American Legion, VFW, Lions, making picnic tables for the community park, partnering with local churches on an Ecumenical summer kids program, bringing food to the local food shelf (even though we didn’t have much for ourselves), etc. I learned that being present to others in the community, was (and still is) what one does while here on earth. I learned the value of meeting people where they are in life and then moving forward together.My volunteer experience as a child is what brought me to the place in my heart and influenced my current volunteerism efforts. I have been passionately active in our local nine city Central Minnesota Warrior to Citizen – Beyond the Yellow Ribbon (BTYR) program as early as 2005 when the seed was planted, when it was proclaimed a BTYR program in 2010 by then Minnesota Governor Pawlenty, and even now. Anita Harris Hering joined the University of Minnesota Extension as an Extension educator in 2005. She has extensive experience with youth, adults, volunteers, educators, community partnerships, Service members, Veterans and their families.center_img What is a Yellow Ribbon Community?“A Yellow Ribbon Community unites all areas within a community to create a comprehensive network that connects and coordinates agencies, organizations, resources and employers for the purpose of proactively supporting Service members and military families.”Over the years, our BTYR team has been awarded with many awards (from military branches and units, corporate and private donations, gifts, and even the prestigious St. Cloud State University Husky Award from Student Life & Development and the campus Veteran Resource Center) for building community capacity and synchronizing community, county and company resources in support of Service members, veterans and military families. Our team has successfully collaborated with the local military Family Assistance Centers, nonprofit organizations, state and federal support partners, and the community as a whole to identify and address gaps in services to provide support to military connected residents. Which brings me to the greatest honor that I received in 2017.In 2017 SFC Mark Wood surprised me with a plaque for our Central MN Warrior to Citizen – BTYR and for me personally. I was also presented an AMERICAN FLAG which B Co 2-211 GSAB flew over Afghanistan in Operation Resolute Support – Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.While the Service members were working overseas, our BTYR team served as the local boots on the ground to provide support and services for the families and spouses. The wording on the plaque summarized our efforts.last_img read more

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Simulating Light From A Screen

first_imgDo you have suggestions for simulating screen light? Let us know in the comments. These techniques will help you simulate moving light from a television, computer, or phone on your next shoot.Top image via Shutterstock.When you’re trying to replicate the light from a screen, one of the key elements is the flicker created by changes in light between shots and scenes in a show, a movie, or streaming content.There are several ways to achieve this look, so let’s have a look at a few.Moving GelIn this video from the NextWaveDV channel, the filmmakers created the TV light effect with only a few pieces of equipment from the most basic kits. They use a tungsten light corrected to daylight with the camera balanced at a tungsten setting. This results in the familiar blue light most of us are familiar with. The light bounces from a reflector, as the Fresnel on its own would be too powerful, and the lighting technician then frequently moves a CTO gel back and forth between the Fresnel and reflector to create the color flicker. The results at 3:12 are very convincing.By taking a cue from Tom Antos’s video tutorial on the subject, you can place a set of light gels onto the bottom of a stand in separate sections. Then, rotate them rapidly to create the disjointed color and flicker associated with old projectors.LEDs Long gone are the days of LCD and plasma televisions. Most TVs on the market in 2016 are LED or OLED. Using a LED light panel is going to bring you one step closer to accurately replicating the look. Take the following still from Prisoners, for example.While it may look like the actors are watching TV, the light is coming from an LED panel. The crew increased and decreased the intensity of the light to imitate scene changes.That TV effect was done using a LED lamp. Often I will use a fluorescent fixture for a television effect, but the LED panel creates a similar soft light from a small unit. The flags you are asking about are often called ‘meat axes.’ Here I was using them to reduce the TV light hitting the background. I wanted Hugh to be quite shadowed as he walked from the stairs as the focus was on the two kids on the couch. — Roger DeakinsThe TechniqueYou’re going to need an LED panel, diffusion (frosted glass, diffusion paper, or diffusion gel), a dimmer remote, and flags.There are plenty of LED panels on the market, but I’ve had success with the Aputure LS1, primarily because it has a remote function. Many LED panels feature a knob or a set of buttons to alter the intensity of the light, but if you have to push buttons, there’s a chance you’ll move the light, which will ruin the effect.Place your LED panel a few feet away from the actors, and then find your target exposure. Remember, the reason to use lights to replicate TV light is because the actual light from a TV isn’t sufficient or controllable, so you don’t want your actors underexposed by the LED panel. Place a single sheet of the lowest diffusion gel you have over the LED to remove the initial glare. Finally, for a test run, increase and decrease the intensity every few seconds to mimic a scene change on the TV.Video Playerhttps://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LED-TV-Example.mp4Media error: Format(s) not supported or source(s) not foundmejs.download-file: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/LED-TV-Example.mp4?_=100:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The final result produces a much brighter (and controlled) exposure than an actual TV would offer.What about phone screens?While you won’t encounter a flicker problem with most modern smartphones, their light is often too weak if you want to use the phone light as the key. There are many LED lights on the market that are smaller than most smartphones. You can very easily conceal one with the phone screen.last_img read more

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4 Iconic Music Video Production Effects You Need to Know

first_imgAre you getting ready to record a music video? Try out any these four effects to add some style and texture to your production.Music videos are some of my favorite projects to work on. There’s so much room for creative expression, visual storytelling, and inventive camera shots. Sometimes, though, music videos can get pretty stale. It’s the same garage rock band playing in a giant empty warehouse — or a SoundCloud rapper throwing stacks out of a fresh new Benz. So, why not approach your music video with some offbeat techniques to make yours stand out? 1. Half-Speed RecordingDo you remember all of those jams in the ’90s that featured some dude on a beach singing in a white linen shirt with the wind blowing through his hair? Most of those videos appeared to be in slow motion, but the singer seemed to stay in sync with the normal timed track. This is the half-speed recording trick.To pull off this effect, take your song and double the speed in Adobe Audition. Then, record the video in 48fps and lip-sync to the sped-up song. Now when you take it into Premiere during editing, all you have to do is slow the footage down to 50 percent and it will sync up with the original timing.2. Double-Speed RecordingThe double-speed effect is basically the exact opposite of the half-speed effect. This is where the singer appears to be moving in normal speed, but everything around him is moving at double time. To record this effect, reverse the half-speed instructions; slow down your song by 200 percent, and record your artist lip-syncing to the slowed-down track. Now, once you bring it into Premiere, slow down the footage by 50 percent, and it will sync up.3. Reverse RecordingIf you have ever seen the music video for “The Scientist” by Coldplay, you know the effect we’re talking about here. This is where your footage is playing in reverse, but your subject seems to be synced with the lyrics.So take your song and reverse it in Audition. It’s going to sound weird, and the lyrics won’t make any sense anymore, but to sync properly, you need to try and write down phonetically what lyrics you might be hearing. Once you’ve listened to the reversed track enough, you’ll be able to lip-sync to these nonsense words (as best as you can). Record the video with some cool effects that will look good backwards, like things blowing up or being thrown into the air. Once you’ve finished the recording, all you have to do is reverse the clip in Premiere to get your desired effect. (Note: it takes quite a bit of practice to get the reversed lyrics memorized, so plan to spend some time on it.)4. Old-School Film LookA favorite of indie bands and hipsters alike, the old school film effect is a music video classic. It’s an interpretation of the old home movies recorded on 8mm film that gives your video a home-grown nostalgic feel. This effect doesn’t have any special recording needs, so just record a synced video with the normal audio track.Bring it into Premiere, and in the effects tab, add the Posterize Time effect to your clip. This is going to lower your clip’s frame rate. in the settings, lower the frame rate to about 8fps to get a stop-motion type feel.For a more detailed film look, you can add a film grain on top. Check out the 4K film grain overlays available from RocketStock — and plenty of other packs for a little something extra in your production.Looking for more video production tutorials? Check these out.The Benefits of Working with 4K Footage in a 1080 SequenceWhat Else Can You Do with Your 360° and VR Video Footage?Everything to Know About Layer Styles in After EffectsFree Practical Lighting Techniques for a Cinematic LookVideo Tutorial: Creative Video and Photo Ideas using Fireworkslast_img read more

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