The singer who hid a beautiful new song in her YouTube videos

first_imgIt also brings to mind the epic five year wait for the Twitter account based on Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank N Furter to complete the word “anticipation”, and, for me that one time that I tweeted the lyrics to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” for its tenth anniversary. The “hidden message in online social media” viral trend isn’t all that new, but it is always impressive. On August 24, 2018, Twitter user @CostcoRiceBag revealed they had been secretly tweeting the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody using the first word of their tweets over a matter of months. Because Mart had tweeted the words in reverse, users could “sing” Bohemian Rhapsody by scrolling through her feed. These are our favorite YouTube channels (not called CNET) YouTube/doddleoddle YouTuber and musician, Dorothy “Dodie” Clark, just pulled off an almighty, super wholesome YouTube heist that will blow your mind.Dodie, who goes by the moniker “doddleoddle” on YouTube is an English singer and songwriter. Over the last nine months, she uploaded a number of videos that seemed like the standard YouTube fair: vlogs, songs, chatting to her subscribers, fairy lights and general fun shenanigans. But underneath it all, Dodie had hatched a plan.”I’ve uploaded some videos but in each one are several hidden lyrics of a song I’ve written”, she explains at the beginning of her latest video, posted on Jan. 22Dodie explains that in her previous uploaded videos she had been slipping lyrics — sung in the right key, no less — into her vlogs in a clandestine operation to “build a song scrapbook-style”. At the end of her secret nine month stunt, Dodie says she “made a baby of sorts”. The song that she had hidden within was her new single “Arms Unfolding”, which she says was inspired by friends learning to love again, which resonated with how she was feeling about YouTube at the time. It’s all very wholesome and sweet.You can watch — and listen to — Dodie’s video below: 12 Photos Online Tags Share your voice 0 CES 2019: See all of CNET’s coverage of the year’s biggest tech show.Everything about Fortnite: What you need to know about the hit game. IS IT JUST ME, OR DID I JUST PULL OFF THE GREATEST TWITTER SCHEME OF ALL TIME?????Read the first word of my tweets to find out….— Hadie Mart (@CostcoRiceBag) August 23, 2018 Post a comment YouTubelast_img read more

IOA officials tell Bach their opposition to Sports Bill

first_imgMiffed at the “interference” of sports ministry in its affairs, Indian Olympic Association on Monday told the visiting International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach to convey to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi its opposition to the Sports Code of the government in its current form.Bach, visiting the country for the first time since being elected as IOC chief in 2013, had a meeting with top IOA members at a city hotel that lasted an hour. The IOC chief also had an hour-long meeting with sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the same hotel. Sonowal was assisted by sports secretary Ajit Sharan and Sports Authority of India director general Injeti Srinivas.  Also Read – Khel Ratna for Deepa and Bajrang, Arjuna for JadejaFormer IOA secretary general and IOC member Randhir Singh also attended both the meeting. Later, Sonowal hosted a lunch for the visiting dignitary which was attended by top IOA and sports ministry officials and minister of state information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Abhay Singh Chautala, who served as president of the IOA during the 14-month suspension from the IOC, told reporters after the meeting the members have told Bach to convey to the PM that they would oppose the Sports Bill as it “interferes” with the autonomy of the IOA.“For some time, there has been this issue of the implementation of the Sports Bill. The earlier Congress government had tried to implement this Sports Bill and the current BJP government is also saying that it will implement the Bill,” said Chautala, an INLD MLA in Haryana. Also Read – Endeavour is to facilitate smooth transition: Shastri“There has been interference in the affairs of IOA from the sports ministry which is undermining the autonomy of the IOA under the Olympic Charter. This will harm Indian sports,” Chautala, now a Haryana Olympic Association official, said. IOA’s objection to the Sports Code centers around two major issues, age limit of 70 of the office bearers of the IOA and the cutting into size the importance of the state units of the IOA.last_img read more

Cops conduct special drive on highways to put brakes on recreational speed

first_imgKolkata: A week after the Ferrari accident at Pakuria in Howrah on National Highway 6, police conducted special drives on national highways to check “recreational speed driving” of premium cars on Sunday morning.A large section of premium car owners go out for “recreational speed driving” on Sunday mornings on the stretches of national highways, which are mainly straight and pass through thinly populated areas.But the police have now started taking necessary steps to check the same after the accident of the Ferrari car on June 3, in which a businessman from the city, Shibaji Roy, was killed and a 21-year-old woman was critically injured. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsA senior police officer said that the policemen carried out a special drive with an intention to check such activities on the national highways and at the same time, to create awareness among people.The police maintained a strict vigil on the stretches of national highways which are straight and pass through less populated areas.It may be mentioned that speed metres are installed at different places along national highways. Using the same, the police identified cars plying at a high speed, violating the traffic norms. A car can ply at a maximum speed of 120 km per hour on highways. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedAt the same time, the police carried out awareness campaign so that people who often travel on highways, do not violate traffic norms.It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had launched a state-wide awareness drive, Safe Drive Save Life, to check road accidents and it also helped in bringing down the rate of accidents in the state.Now, the special drive is going to curb the problem on national highways as well, said a police officer.This comes at the time when there are around 35 such people in Kolkata who own super expensive cars. Each of the cars cost between Rs 2 crore to Rs 4 crore.But according to experts, there are apprehensions of a decline in sale of such cars at least for the time being, with the accident that claimed a life last week. 13 such cars were sold in Kolkata in 2017.last_img read more

Chowringhee fire due to short circuit in equipment

first_imgKolkata: Forensic experts have pointed out a short circuit in electrical equipment inside the fashion designing institute as the probable reason behind the fire that gutted an office in the multi-storeyed building situated on the 4th Floor of 60 A, Chowringhee Road near Exide Crossing on Friday morning. A portion of the roof of the building caved in due to the fire.”Prima facie, it appears that electrical short circuit has caused the fire. There were many electrical gadgets including computers inside the office of the institute. We have collected some samples and we will examine them for conclusive evidence,” said Wasim Raja, senior scientist of state forensic institute. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataA senior forensic official present during the inspection said that it was difficult to collect samples as the debris of the collapsed roof is lying here and there in a precarious condition. Officials of the building department of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation inspected the site and labourers were roped in to clear the debris. “The process of clearing the debris is time-consuming. The labourers who are doing the work have to remain very careful as the building is very old and is prone to further damage. Our aim is to ensure that normal activities in the building resume as quickly as possible,” said local councillor Ashim Basu. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateThe state Fire and Emergency Services department on Saturday sent a notice to the owner of the building seeking a report on what measures he had put in place in terms of fire-fighting preparedness. Dipak Mukherjee, managing director of Mookherjee Estates Private Limited, a realty company, owns the building. Residents of two apartments in the building have shifted elsewhere and will return only after CESC restores the electric connection and KMC restores the water supply line that has been damaged. Meanwhile, a fire was reported from a mobile harbour crane at Haldia Dock at around 8.30 on Saturday morning. It soon spread to the 13 number berth. However, 10 fire tenders rushed to the spot and prevented the flames from spreading further.last_img read more

Seize the Season

first_img Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Register Now » Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Sometimes it snows in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during the holidays and sometimes it doesn’t, but there’s one thing Chris Padilla, 31, and Shannon Jacques, 34, can always count on: It’ll be the busiest time of year for their business on eBay and their retail drop-off store. “When it comes to holiday selling around here, it’s a huge push of people coming in,” says Padilla, whose business, E-Sell4Dollars (eBay User ID: e-sell4dollars), has weekly sales of between $6,000 and $9,000.Padilla also knows that the holidays are a make-or-break time, because that’s when push really comes to shove. Every one of the thousand details that come with running a business on eBay becomes more critical than ever, from carrying the right products to making sure orders get to last-minute gift-givers in time. “Shipping is crazy,” Padilla says. “If you have 300 to 400 packages going out and you have to have them out in a couple of days, it can be a challenge.”Preparation is the key to surviving and prospering during the holiday madness. “Like anything else, luck favors the well-prepared,” says Todd Lutwak, eBay’s senior director of seller development. “The more you think about this and the earlier jump that you get, the better off people usually are.”Early BirdsOne seller’s early start may look like a late start to someone else. Barry A. Goldblatt, owner of Epower2go Inc. (eBay User ID: epower2go) in Plano, Texas, reached PowerSeller status only three months after starting on eBay. Goldblatt, who’s been selling online through other channels for years, says January is not too soon to begin preparing for the year-end holidays. In January, conventional retailers liquidate unsold inventory at steeper discounts than at any other time of year. So shortly after New Year’s Day he’s not just thinking about what he’ll sell during the next holiday season, he’s actually buying inventory. “The only way you [can] compete is to go to other sellers and retailers and pick up what they’re dumping after a big season,” says Goldblatt, 59.For other sellers, clearing the shelves may assume more importance than stocking them. Padilla, for instance, has to clear space in his drop-off location for the flood of items customers bring to him to sell over the holidays. While clearing space is important, it doesn’t require starting a year in advance. “Usually, we’ll start preparing the store the month before the holidays,” he says.You can decide when to start prepping by coordinating your schedule with the holidays you are serving. “Know the calendar and work backward,” Lutwak says. “Know when things like Hanukkah are, and go 15 or 20 days back.” That amount of time should give you the opportunity to get your items listed, complete the listings, receive payments and ship the items for delivery before the holiday in question, he says. “During the holiday season, buyers are incredibly sensitive to delivery times,” he adds. “So you’ve got to work from those days backward.”You may want to start working even earlier to make sure all your systems are tuned up for the expected rush. For instance, design holiday listing templates well ahead of time so you’ll be able to quickly place items for sale when the time comes. Padilla creates templates featuring holiday-themed décor, such as Christmas lights.Earlier still, begin building inventory so you won’t run out of hot items just when demand peaks. It’s important to purchase inventory at an economically feasible price, but you can’t buy something just because it’s cheap. Before acquiring any inventory, Goldblatt checks eBay listings to see how many other sellers offer the same or similar items. “If you’re not careful, you’ll buy something that 20 or 30 other people are already selling on eBay,” he says. “Then you can only compete on price.”Lutwak suggests paying attention to your own shopping experiences when deciding what to stock for the holidays. Start buying for your gift list as early as you can and take notes when you see shortages of popular products developing. Those items might be good candidates for your own eBay sales. “If you’re having trouble finding quantities in October, it’s a pretty good indication that come the holiday season, that stuff might be even more scarce,” Lutwak says.While looking for mass-produced goods that are inexpensive or in high demand, keep a sharp eye out for products that are always in short supply. “Look for the magic eBay buzzwords–limited edition, exclusive and so on,” Lutwak says. When you have something truly rare or even one-of-a-kind, what you paid for it assumes much less importance, and competition from other sellers becomes almost irrelevant.Best PracticesGood listing practices always carry great relevance, and the holidays are no exception. “The standard listing best practices apply: Write a great item title, use the proper keywords, have a great picture,” Lutwak says. “If you’re selling multiple quantities, using a listing subtitle is a good idea. And be concise. Give the buyer all the information they need to make a purchase decision without scrolling.”Some other practices come into play at the holidays. As one possibility, Lutwak suggests adding gift-giving recommendations. A listing for a toy, for instance, might describe it as a great gift for both boys and girls ages 5 and under. “During the holiday season, people are shopping for others and not really themselves,” he says. “It’s really good to say, ‘This is a great gift for the man who has everything,’ and that sort of thing.”Goldblatt sets up gift-giving categories on his site and tries to write titles for them that sizzle. For example, he picked “Palm Pilot Riot” for a category consisting of items related to Palm Pilot handheld computing devices. He takes time to shoot extra-sharp pictures and packs more of them into his listings than at other times. “You have just a few seconds to get somebody’s attention,” he says. “If it takes more than a few seconds to find something they want, you’ve probably lost them.”Descriptions also become more detailed. “If somebody’s buying a gift, they want to know everything about it,” Goldblatt says. “Was it new in the box? Was it properly stored? We try to answer every question that we can without being so verbose that the customer won’t read all of it.”Timing is everything during the holidays–more so than at other times of the year. While most sellers use the conventional seven-day listing, they may leave listings up for fewer days as the gift-giving days get closer to make sure listings will be completed in time for payment and shipping. Alternatively, Padilla says, sellers will use 10-day auction-style listings for special items to give bidders plenty of time to submit their offers. He’ll create listings as short as one day for things like tickets for events that are taking place very soon.Standing OutCreating effective listings isn’t the only move eBay sellers can make to rise above the crowd of sellers that appears during the holidays. Standing out starts with knowing who you want to stand out to, says iRebound owner Pedro Rivarola (eBay User ID: pjcrr1), who sells about $1,500 worth of exercise equipment on eBay each week. “I have a profile of my buyers,” says Rivarola, 58. “Most of them come from California, and most are women between [their] late 30s and late 60s. So I need to have that in mind.”Having an accurate customer profile comes in handy when executing strategies that are designed to help you stand out. For instance, offline advertising is a key component of many holiday-season selling plans. Rivarola mails post cards and catalogs to addresses he’s collected from past customers and can use the profile data he’s created to identify lists of other likely customers.To encourage people to give him a try, Rivarola offers free goodies such as T-shirts to people placing orders. “I need to give away something,” he says. “I need to make them believe that they’re [getting] a great deal by buying my product.” Don’t forget your eBay status when you’re looking for a way to stand out with offline ads. Rivarola includes his PowerSeller status, positive feedback rating and Detailed Seller Rating comments on his postcards and other mailers. “They will trust that because eBay is a reputable company, and my feedback is 100 percent positive,” he says.Direct mail isn’t the only channel you can or should use to bring buyers to your listings. “We do a lot of advertising through the local paper, and we do advertising online,” Padilla says. “We are also all over the Yellow Pages, which has worked out for us. If people are looking in the collectibles and antiques categories there, they’ll find a color ad with our name on it.”If shoppers are searching for gifts on eBay, they are often looking for hard-to-find items not available in their local stores or, even more frequently, for affordable prices–depending on the category and specific item. Goldblatt believes good pricing starts with good buying. “I have this idea that there needs to be a 4 to 1 ratio between what an eBay seller could buy something for and successfully sell it vs. what a standard retailer could do,” he says. This means that if an item retails for $10, for example, an eBay seller has to get it for no more than $2.50 to be able to reliably sell it for a profit.The holidays are also a good time to go beyond the auction-style listing format, Lutwak says. That’s because shoppers may be in a hurry and therefore uncomfortable with the delay and uncertainty of an auction. These buyers want other shopping formats such as Buy It Now so they can move on to the next item on their shopping list. “I’m not telling people not to sell in the auction format,” he says. “But that time of year is a good time to also sell in another [format], such as Fixed Price.”Another way to approach pricing is to use the Best Offer feature on Fixed-Price listings. “It’s a great feature on eBay, and we’ve enhanced it this year,” says Lutwak. Best Offer allows you to automatically accept an offer over a specified amount. “Say you have a product you sell for $100,” says Lutwak. “You can tell the system, I’ll accept any offer over $94. If someone makes an offer of $97, it’ll say go.”One time you’ll want to go with an auction-style listing is when you have a hot item that’s sure to draw attention from many motivated bidders. However, take care not to set the bid floor too high. “People on eBay don’t like auctions that start off too high,” says Padilla, who urges his clients to set bid prices at no more than $9.99 for almost everything.Your customers won’t like everything they buy, of course, and sometimes they’ll want to return items. When that happens, most sellers who have a perfect feedback rating have a no-questions-asked policy. “If they don’t get it or it gets there broken, we don’t argue,” says Goldblatt. Instead, they apologize and offer to replace the item at no cost–including shipping–or they immediately issue a credit. “We try to make it as simple as possible,” he says. “There’s probably no way to maintain 100 percent positive feedback ratings as we get bigger, but our goal is to do that for as long as possible.”Clearly, Padilla offers great customer service: He has sustained perfect feedback ratings on more than 5,000 transactions. He also does not change his policies during the holidays. “We always try and keep firm on our return policies,” he says. “We say everything is sold as-is. However, if we ever get a buyer who has a concern or is not satisfied, we always try to offer other options. We’ll get them to send it back and we’ll replace it if it’s something we have more than one of. We really try to work with them.”Shipping for SuccessWorking with customers during the holidays means making sure they get their purchases in time to give as gifts on the appropriate day. For this, Goldblatt emphasizes shipping items as soon as possible. “Typically, if someone orders in the morning, it ships that afternoon,” he says. “If it’s ordered in the afternoon, it ships the next day. We ship Priority Mail, which is reasonably fast.”Rivarola offers express shipping as an option during the holidays, but few take advantage of it because of the cost–his trampolinelike rebounders weigh 37 pounds, which means rapid shipping costs a lot. “We can do it, but it will be quite expensive,” he says. “And we cannot just give [express shipping] to them for free unless we raise the price.”Speaking of costs, this year shipping is going to cost more across the board than it has in the past, Goldblatt says. He and other eBay sellers have all had to cope with higher prices from their shipping suppliers as fuel costs have climbed. The preferred coping strategy is to pass it on to customers, despite the occasional complaint. “We can’t take a hit on shipping,” he says. “We have to sell it for what it costs us to ship and pack.”Fortunately, there’s one solution to shipping and packing conundrums that doesn’t cost a penny: Include clear, honest and detailed shipping information in every listing. That’s especially important during the time-strapped holidays, Lutwak says. Padilla likes to use a table or matrix showing the date items need to be purchased by for them to arrive for the holiday. “We push that to make sure buyers know when they have to get their item paid for if they want to have it in time,” he says.Tables and matrices don’t work so well when it comes to international shipping. The vagaries of customs procedures in different countries mean shipments can be unexpectedly and unavoidably held up, Padilla says. “With international shipments, it’s hard to fully guarantee anything, because it’s so dependent on the customs offices.” Despite the reliability issue, Lutwak urges sellers to offer international shipping. New shipping features on eBay make it easier than ever to print labels and obtain discounts from shippers for international deliveries. And depressed U.S. currency valuations make U.S. sellers more competitive than ever to shoppers in other countries, he says. Also, international shoppers already represent a big market. Says Lutwak, “During the last holiday, I had certain electronics sellers tell me that more than 50 percent of the business was international business.”No matter where they come from, shoppers always like to save money on shipping. Padilla leverages that love of discounts by offering reduced shipping on multi-item purchases during the holiday season. “A lot of Stores won’t do that because it requires a lot more work,” he says. “But we see an increase in sales when we do. If [customers are] looking through your Store and you offer combined shipping, they’ll look for something else they can buy so they can save on shipping.”Service CountsEven offering truly remarkable savings may not help if customer service falls short. And good customer service is largely just a matter of being ready and willing to communicate with customers about what concerns them, says Rivarola. “When you understand the issues of others and you are behind your product whatever happens, you say, ‘Call me anytime, and I will solve it, whatever it takes,'” he says. “That’s real customer service.”Sometimes during the holiday rush, sellers mistakenly try to take shortcuts on answering questions, especially when they’ve made extra efforts to write listings that answer almost any conceivable question, Lutwak says. He points out that many holiday shoppers have never done business with you or even on eBay, so when they ask questions, it may not be because they don’t know the answer. They sometimes just want to reassure themselves that a responsive individual is behind that listing. “Answering questions quickly is always a really good best practice,” Lutwak says. “Often when buyers see you answer a question, you’ll see a bid or purchase.”After a purchase, it’s a good idea to send out a comprehensive e-mail announcing that the product has shipped, thanking the customer for the purchase and prompt payment, and providing other information such as tracking numbers and expected delivery dates. Rivarola goes even further than that, mailing a handwritten thank-you note to every customer. “It takes a little more time,” he says, “but that’s the way it should be.”Goldblatt regards the opportunity for this kind of after-sale follow-up as one of the best features of the holidays. Sure, the end of the year is a critical period for all kinds of sellers, not just those on eBay. But most, if not all, sellers hope to be in business for well beyond this holiday season. So Goldblatt aims to take advantage of the extra traffic to drive more than this year’s sales.”It’s a time when we get a lot more visitors, and we know that,” Goldblatt says. “So we’re also using it to build business for succeeding years and get more people to connect to us via the mailing list. That’s really where we’re headed.”Mark Henricks writes on business and technology for leading publications and is author of Not Just a Living. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global August 1, 2008 15 min readlast_img read more

Train station near Disneyland Paris evacuated last night

first_img Friday, August 19, 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> The Canadian Press Posted by Share PARIS – A train station close to Disneyland Paris was evacuated for two hours Thursday evening as bomb disposal teams were called in to examine a suspicious package.An Associated Press reporter witnessed how police and security staff of the SNCF, France’s national rail operator, sealed off Marne-la-Vallee train station, 25 kilometre (15 miles) east of the French capital.Thousands of travellers were later allowed to get back to the train station, yet the train traffic remained partially disrupted.Paris’ police confirmed there had been an intervention due to a “suspicious package” in the train station, but didn’t immediately provide any more details.Disneyland Paris said the park remained open to the public.Stations close to the site have been evacuated several times in recent weeks in what turned out to be false alarms amid a summer of tensions after a string of deadly extremist attacks.The park hosts about 15 million visitors a year, more than any attraction in Europe.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthThe French government held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss security measures, including a decision to increase the number of troops patrolling in sensitive sites of the Paris region as the new school year is about to start. Train station near Disneyland Paris evacuated last nightlast_img read more

Storm wipes out Florida sand dunes crucial for tourism

first_img JACKSONVILLE BEACH – When Christa Savva returned to the Sandy Shoes Beach Resort a day after Hurricane Matthew brushed by Melbourne Beach, Florida, she looked at the beach in front of the pink-flamingo-colored hotel and noticed that half the sand dunes had disappeared.Savva guesses three-quarters of the missing dunes washed into the ocean, and the remaining quarter scattered onto the resort’s beachfront property, which was undamaged by the hurricane.“I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness!’” Savva, a property manager for the Space-Age-era hotel, said Sunday. “It’s crazy to have the dunes gone and all you see is empty space.”The sand on Florida’s beaches is the equivalent of tourism gold, and its disappearance over time threatens the state’s No. 1 industry. While Hurricane Matthew didn’t ravage Florida’s coast as a series of storms did a dozen years ago, it collapsed dunes, washing away sand that protected buildings and roads during storms, and will likely require the spending of millions of dollars on beach restoration projects.In Jacksonville Beach, the top of the dunes collapsed onto the lower part of the dunes, creating 10-foot high cliffs of sand, rather than the usual gentle slopes of the dunes.Federal, state and local officials respond to beach erosion by depositing new sand in areas where it has disappeared, and the sand dunes act as barriers to infrastructure. Before these projects took off three decades ago, sea walls were often the only thing that stood between water, winds and buildings during storms.“The good news is a lot of people don’t realize our beaches are engineered. It looks natural, but we construct the sand so it’s sacrificed during hurricanes and protects roads and structures and potentially human lives,” said Jackie Keiser, a Jacksonville-area official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsWhile a statewide evaluation of beach erosion has yet to be completed, individual Atlantic-coast counties from south of the Space Coast up to the Georgia border were assessing the lost sand.A $13.5 million project to replenish Jacksonville-area beaches with 650,000 thousand cubic yards of sand over seven miles was underway before Hurricane Matthew. Keiser said she is certain that same amount of sand was lost from the hurricane and the amount of sand needed for the project will likely double.Virginia Barker, the natural resources director for Brevard County, the area of Florida often referred to as the Space Coast, said the erosion from Hurricane Matthew appears to be more in the category of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 than a devastating series of hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. After Sandy, 2.4 million cubic yards of sand were needed to replenish 14 miles of Brevard County’s shoreline. The replenishment was far smaller than what was required after Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne made landfall just south of the Space Coast a dozen years ago.“This is world-famous Cocoa Beach. People come here for the sandy experience,” Barker said. “It’s tremendously important to our economy. The alternative is to allow erosion and let the sea go up and there will be no sandy beach.”In Georgia, it’s too early to tell the extent of beach erosion, but water did get past huge boulders placed along the shore to buffer properties and stop erosion, said Megan Desrosiers, CEO of One Hundred Miles, a Georgia coastal advocacy group.More news:  Can you guess the one and only hotel company to rank on Indeed’s Top Workplaces in Canada list?“The thing about Georgia is, we haven’t had a storm like this since the 1880s so it’s hard to know how to prepare when no one remembers the last time there was a storm like this,” Desrosiers said. “We don’t have experience with this type of storm on the Georgia coast, but Matthew was a perfect example of what we will see more of in the future.”Before Hurricane Matthew, more than half of Florida’s 663 miles of beaches were considered critically eroded by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The agency defines “critical erosion” as the disappearance of beach or dune to a degree that it affects the environment, development or recreational activities. About half of Florida’s 411 miles of beaches deemed to have “critical erosion” are part of a beach replenishment program.Before the storm, Brevard County had 41 miles of critical erosion, the area around Daytona Beach had almost 20 miles of beach erosion, the area around St. Augustine had almost 14 miles of critical erosion and the area around Jacksonville had more than 10 miles.In Melbourne Beach, now that half of the dunes are gone in front of the Sandy Shoes, the high tide can lap up to the steps that lead to the hotel’s wooden deck overlooking the beach.“There’s still a beach, and everything … but it’s just a lot flatter,” Savva said. “High tide is something you’re going to have to watch out for now.” Storm wipes out Florida sand dunes crucial for tourism Tags: Florida, Hurricane Matthew Posted by Travelweek Group center_img Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, October 11, 2016 last_img read more

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority has

first_imgThe Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority has approved domestic telco, broadcaster and cable TV operator DNA’s acquisition of pay TV service PlusTV. The decision means that Plus TV will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of DNA in a week’s time and will be used to boost DNA’s existing TV offering, DNA said in a statement.“DNA intends to offer both PlusTV and DNA customers better and more extensive antenna network services by combining the antenna TV offerings of both companies as soon as possible,” the firm said, promising more details once the transaction is complete.DNA added that the PlusTV customers’ existing subscriptions and services will continue unchanged. However the firm, which claims to be the only pay-tv operator that offers terrestrial HDTV in Finland, said that PlusTV customers will now also be able to receive HD channels including Yle HD, MTV3 HD, Nelonen Pro 1 HD and Nelonen Pro 2 HD.“We wish to create the best entertainment service in Finland, with the most satisfied customers,” said Pekka Väisänen, vice-president for DNA’s consumer business. “The sales, marketing and development of entertainment services has now become possible at the national level, and we intend to build better and better entertainment services for the Finnish people.”DNA has approximately 600,000 cable network customers and more than 155,000 pay TV subscriptions in cable and antenna households. PlusTV adds a further 220,000 households as customers.last_img read more

The reason a dog has so many friends is he wags hi

first_img The reason a dog has so many friends is he wags his tail and not his tongue. (Unknown) Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are a wonderful person. (Ann Landers) If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise. (Unknown) And my favorite: There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. (Ben Williams) Until next week… Eight percent is not good news. Last week I shared some reader feedback from our inflation survey, and in case you missed it, the Money Forever Reader Poll Inflation Rate is 8%. But what does that number really mean for us – seniors and savers trying to protect our buying power? It’s time to read the tea leaves and find out.Up to Your Ass in Alligators You may remember the old poster that read, “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it’s tough to remember the goal was to drain the swamp.” You may have felt overwhelmed during the last few years, as the investment options for your retirement portfolio changed. You might read about the benefits of gold and silver one day, then CDs, dividend-paying stocks, and annuities the next. It’s pretty easy to feel overwhelmed, particularly when you cannot afford to put too much of your life savings at risk. One of our readers really drove home the challenges we all face: “Anyone who has been living on SS checks since 2000 will tell you the same thing. They cannot live on those checks alone, and [have] depended on the interest they receive from their savings accounts or CDs. They cannot do this any longer. They now need to withdraw principal or redeem some CDs just to make ends meet. … [We are] on fixed incomes with no hope of getting a raise. These people understand the effects of inflation more than any other group. These people live with fear every day, understanding they have little control over their financial future, while watching their life savings slowly vanish every year.” Of the readers who responded to our poll, 1.6% think the inflation rate is 2% or less. On the flip side, the remaining 98.4% must think the government is lying (or in need of a new statistician). My dear friend Toots, whom I often quote, wrote, “Did we prove once again the world is not flat?” Perhaps, but there’s more to it. Certainly, I’ve made that point before, but that doesn’t negate the need to highlight these phony government numbers. We shouldn’t accept falsehoods with a nod and a wink; that’s how they become immutable “facts” of life in many people’s minds. Some folks want to debate the methodology used by Shadow Government Statistics, but that misses the point. The bottom line is: 98.4% of us agree that the real inflation rate is higher than the rate reported by the BLS. That is the reality of our readers – at the grocery store, the gas pump, and today at the flower shop (gentlemen, don’t forget roses for your sweetheart). Anyone living on a fixed income already knows this. The real issue is that we are getting squeezed! At least, 98.4% of us think so. There’s no need to dwell on whether it’s 6%, 7% or 8%, etc. What really matters is how this affects your life. If the price of my favorite snack doubled, and the price of broccoli dropped 50%, my costs are rising. The price of broccoli could drop 99%, and I still wouldn’t buy it. While planning for retirement, most of us planned for a 2% inflation rate and anticipated earning 6% on our portfolio. That was a nice retirement plan while it lasted, but it won’t do much good for anyone now. Another old-line “rule” was: a retiree could safely use 4% of his portfolio every year to supplement Social Security, and still be fine for the rest of his life. Where did the math come from? If your portfolio grew 6% every year and you took out 4%, the remaining 2% covered any loss to inflation. It was really that simple, and it worked just fine for me in my early retirement years. We have all heard the old rule, “Live off the interest and never touch the principal.” That is exactly what we were doing, while also protecting that principal from inflation. Now comes the scary part. If the real rate of inflation is anywhere near the Money Forever Reader Poll Inflation Rate of 8%, how much can we take out of our portfolio every year without losing buying power? The math is still simple, but with a frightening answer: nothing, unless you earn more than 8%. The problem is easy to understand, but the solution is tough to implement. If we want that same 4% to supplement our Social Security checks, we need to earn 12% on our portfolio every year – 8% for inflation and 4% for income. And this does not even factor in taxes. Those of us with a traditional IRA who are over 70.5 years old are required to take a minimum distribution, which can come with a nice tax bill. Imagine that you have a $1 million portfolio, and your goal is to keep up with the Money Forever Reader Poll Inflation Rate and earn 4% income to supplement your Social Security checks. That’s $120,000. To maintain a somewhat conservative posture, we recommend 30-33% of your portfolio be in cash, which pays little if any interest; let’s assume cash pays 0% for the moment. That means you must earn 17.1% on the remaining $700,000 to reach your goal of $120,000. That return can come in the form of an income check, dividends, and stock appreciation. Whatever the source, that’s a pretty tall order. And it’s particularly daunting when you consider that anyone close to retirement age should make minimal high-risk investments. We can’t bet it all on a speculative stock, hoping to catch the next Internet startup success story.Finding the Strength to Strangle the Nemean Lion The Money Forever team is on the lookout for solid companies that not only pay dividends, but also have a history of regular dividend increases. In the last quarter, three of the stocks in the Money Forever portfolio increased their dividends. It is highly unlikely that most of us will live long enough to see our dividends equal 50% of our investment (which is what Warren Buffett receives from Coca-Cola, according to what I’ve read). However, if a company is currently paying 4%, it won’t take too long to see an 8% yield. Once our dividend yield is at or above the inflation rate, we can factor in appreciation and start gaining ground on the inflation monster once again. While dividend-paying stocks will get us on the right track, there’s still more work ahead. Dividends alone are not enough; we also need stock appreciation. If you subscribe to our premium publications, it may be a good time to review our special report, Money Every Month, where we discuss this in great detail. As of today, over half of the stocks in our portfolio have double-digit gains. While we are proud of what we have accomplished to date, we also understand that the current market could change any minute. We have to remain vigilant. Stocks with a long history of increasing their dividends plus a good history of appreciation are hot tickets. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the stock market is doing so well in a tough economy. Alternative sources of income can also help. Two of our recent Money Forever premium issues focused on annuities and reverse mortgages. Under the right circumstances, as we outline in our reports, these can be valuable alternatives for filling your cash-flow gap. Nevertheless, please consider all of the risks and cautionary tales included in our reports before purchasing an annuity or signing a reverse mortgage. One seemingly simple mistake – like neglecting to put your spouse on a reverse mortgage – can be devastating. So can it be done? Can we really build a portfolio that will stand up against the current rate of inflation? Sure; but we have to stay on top of our investments and continue to educate ourselves. “Set it and forget it” won’t work.From the Stadium to the Golf Course For many of us, cutting back on expenses is very difficult. It can feel like part of our retirement dream is going up in smoke. We have friends who planned to take summer and winter cruises every year after they retired. They thought they had the money to do it, but now they have to cut back. They do not enjoy their driving trip to the local state park nearly as much as they do a cruise. One of the respondents to our survey mentioned that he cut back on golf from three days to two days a week. Our good friend Phil addressed his golf situation in a unique manner. For several years he had volunteered during spring training for a major league baseball team. Then the local golf course advertised for part-time help. He inquired; the job sounded like fun, and he negotiated complimentary greens fees as part of his package. For him it is the best of both worlds. Now he has a little extra income, his golf expenses are radically reduced, and he still is able to golf regularly, something he really enjoys. And yes, the baseball team is going to have to recruit another free laborer. Somehow, I think they’ll manage! I’m realizing we all have to come to grips with the reality described by our reader at the beginning of today’s article. While it may be difficult for all of us, we are old enough to know that putting things off only makes problems get worse faster. It’s like our own personal fiscal cliff, but we can’t keep running the printing press and ignoring the real problem. My oldest daughter, also a baby boomer, went to a class on personal financial management about ten years ago. I asked her what she thought the biggest lesson was. Her response surprised me: “The first thing to deal with is your expectations. If you want a lot of stuff, and currently do not have the income to pay for it, you must find ways to increase your income. If that is not possible, then you must learn to adjust your lifestyle and be happy with what you have, living within your means. Dad, they stressed that part of being truly happy is the realization that your neighbor may have more or less than you do and it makes no difference. Personal financial management is as much an adjustment of your attitude as it is an adjustment of your spending habits.” In retrospect, that class had a major effect on her life. She is a grandmother now, and she and her husband have a truly happy family. I believe it was philosopher William James who said, “Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.” That sentiment certainly rings true. OK, you get the point, but you may not like it. Neither do I, and neither do the millions of our peers in the same predicament. So what should we do? To start with, everything I just mentioned, which is quite a task. Become an active investor, learn, and adjust to the new market. We must protect our nest eggs and look for solid income opportunities. We must look at our spending habits and see where we can cut back. Every dollar we save takes a little pressure off our portfolio and the need for it to produce income. Also, don’t discount finding other sources of income. Write the book you’ve been dreaming about – turn your hobbies into a profit. I have a buddy who worked in the auto industry. Dealers often sell a car they do not have in inventory if there is one at a nearby dealer they can trade for. He set up a business helping dealers move vehicles around. He loves it because he stays active, and he says he had to learn zero new skills. His comment was, “Where else can I get a part-time job where I get paid to drive around listening to a ball game?” You, dear readers, drove home the point for me with your feedback to our survey. If we need 12% or so to protect our nest eggs, then we all have to accept that challenge. If we have a really good year, we can grow our nest eggs and increase our buying power. If we fall short, we must keep erosion to a minimum. The last time I ran a retirement-planning computer program, it said I would be fine as long as I passed away before age 125. In a bad year that may slip to 115. We are all in this together, and I’m committed to making sure Miller’s Money Forever lives up to its name. One final thought… My overriding point is that we have to take control of our retirement finances. Like I said earlier, the days of “set it and forget it” are gone. The upside here is that we can actually secure our retirement. Together with thousands of subscribers to Money Forever premium issues and special reports, we’re doing just that. And with Money Forever, we’re not just talking about stocks and investments, although those are important. We’re exploring other financial topics as well. For example, in last month’s issue we took a close look at real-estate investing and REITs. With some help from Dr. Ron Christner, one of the country’s foremost real-estate experts, we explored how retirees can invest in real estate without taking on a second career. And for our subscribers who are still working, we outlined how to select the right mutual fund from your employer-sponsored plan. In this month’s issue – due out on February 19 – we’re showing our subscribers how to choose the right financial advisor. You won’t want to miss out. I invite you to give Money Forever a risk-free try with our 100% Money Back Guarantee. Try it for 90 days (that’s three new issues, all of the monthly issues in our archives, plus our library of special reports), and if you find you have to cancel, that’s fine. Just call or email and get 100% of your money back during your first 90 days. We earn our keep at Money Forever. Click here to find out more about our story and how you can get started today… and be on the list for this month’s issue on financial advisors.On the Lighter Side I have to thank my editor, Ann, who slipped in the earlier comment about remembering roses. Today is Valentine’s Day. In my previous life, I trained adults for over 35 years, so you can imagine the funny stories I heard throughout my career. One of my students shared a story about the absolute wrong thing to do on Valentine’s Day: It was Valentine’s Day morning and I was in a hurry. It was a typical workday – coffee, piece of toast, quick glance at the morning paper, and out the door. I went to kiss my wife goodbye and she asked, “Do you know what today is?” I had no clue, and the first thing that popped out of my mouth was, “Pitchers and catchers have to report to spring training.” That was not the right answer. I compounded my problem by grabbing the sports section and showing the article to my wife. So she grabbed the paper and showed me the front page with a big Valentine on it. Later that evening, I came home from work with a card, flowers, and a huge box of candy. It didn’t get me out of the doghouse. The pork and beans I got for dinner were as cold as the reception when I sheepishly forked over the gifts. This student did mention that he has never, ever forgotten a Valentine’s Day since. And finally… Last week I mentioned that many readers shared stories about how the price of pet food is increasing. Our friend Phil sent along some wonderful sayings about dogs, which of course many folks look to for unconditional love. My dog is worried about the economy, because Alpo is up 99 cents a can. That’s almost $7 in dog money. (Joe Weinstein) The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog. (Ambrose Bierce)last_img read more

Yes I know that there are some churches and indiv

first_imgYes, I know that there are some churches and individual Christians who don’t approve of war, but a huge wing of Christianity in the US has put itself in service to a warfare state. Listening to them, you’d think that Christianity and war were natural bedfellows. If you’ve spent time in Red State America, you know what I mean. Please understand that I am not endorsing the Blue State line of crap either (I reject both wings of the Party), but that’s not my subject today. Red State Protestants have given themselves over to “the virtues of defense,” seemingly without limit. They endlessly laud cops, firemen, and especially soldiers: anyone authorized by the state to use force. State force has become unquestionably righteous – especially if it is overseas. To these people, the US military can do no wrong. This involves killing strangers, you understand… by Christians… people whose Holy Book say that they should love the outsider, turn the other cheek, and that every government belongs to the Devil. Red State Religion as a Mix of Christianity and War Philosophy Red State Christianity has become a State Religion, a Warfare Religion. So, since “judgment begins at the house of God,” let’s be harsh: These churches are sucking up to the state for tax breaks, to follow a popular course, and to get lots and lots of members. It’s the new successful pattern, and they are following it without hesitation… to the point where they invent reasons to justify the killing of children. (“Collateral damage,” that is, not “killing.”) A huge number of Red State churches have become whores to the US military culture, paying endless obeisance to uniformed state agents. According to them, all agents of the state are noble, are to be respected, and are most definitely to be obeyed without question. (Tell that to Sam Adams or Tom Jefferson!) All opinions to the contrary are discarded, condemned or ridiculed, without serious consideration. This War Christianity is definitely at odds with the New Testament, which treats both war and state as barbaric relics. I am not, by the way, opposed to stopping actual killers. What I am opposed to is telling someone to kill another person that he knows nothing about, guided by a superstition that “we’re automatically the good guys.” And yes, I know that no one, in the midst of fire and confusion, has enough skill to avoid accidentally shooting an innocent. My complaint is with worshiping a government that places 18 year old boys in that position. These kids are being told to kill strangers, without any real evidence that the people they kill deserve it. Is “because a politician said so” really sufficient? These boys are coming home in pieces, or with pieces missing – and committing suicide in droves – for what? To magically turn Afghanistan into a western state? Does anyone seriously think that will happen? And as someone who cares about history and theology, I am especially opposed to Jesus’ name being abused – yet again – by credentialed shepherds who are devoted – first and foremost – to gathering the largest flock possible, while not giving a damn that distant brown people die. At this point in American history we are being treated to a continuing and twisted spectacle: Defenders of indiscriminate death pretending that they care about “love.” They lie. So says me and so says John the Apostle. Let me be clear about this: Christianity is an anti-state religion. It always was. So was the Judaism that came before it. All arguments to the contrary are fallacious, at least if we are to take the Bible as a serious reference. But it will change… Sooner or later, some American Christians will remember that theirs is an anti-state religion. It will doubtless begin with meetings in living rooms, barns and job sites, and will include a lot of good and talented young people. But they will make themselves despised outsiders, opposed by the current generation of Christian leaders, who have dedicated themselves to the state and haven’t any inclination to admit their errors. In other words, the new, honest Christians will become the next link in a long and proud chain of heretics. They will be brave and committed people who are right, while all the institutions are wrong. Are we really to believe that there is virtue in sending machines to rain indiscriminate death upon foreign people… at funerals? (Look it up!) Must we really defend repetitive torture as being righteous? Now, to be honest, the Red State Christians don’t say these things. Actually, they avoid facing them altogether. And that is the problem. Many of them have become, as Jesus’ friend Simon Peter said, “willingly ignorant.” The US war machine is killing and torturing, and American preachers are straining their every muscle to thank them for it, in the name of Christ. I’ve read Jesus’ words too many times to be suckered by this game, and I don’t think Jesus is pleased with it either. Let’s hope that some young Christians can pull their act together and do better than the generation that preceded them. War and Christianity don’t belong together. They never have and they never will. Paul Rosenberg FreemansPerspective.com Christianity and War: Do they go together?last_img read more

The new coleader of the Green party has told Disa

first_imgThe new co-leader of the Green party has told Disability News Service (DNS) that he will make support for inclusive education a key focus of his new role.Jonathan Bartley was elected alongside Caroline Lucas (pictured with Bartley) last week to lead the party in a job-share arrangement.And he revealed that he first spoke to Lucas at a parliamentary lobby in January last year against the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), when he talked to her about his passion for disability issues.Bartley is a long-standing campaigner for inclusive education, and a former chair of the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education.He first secured significant public attention shortly before the 2010 general election when he challenged Conservative leader David Cameron in front of television cameras on the Tory manifesto pledge to “end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools”.He joined the Green party soon after that meeting.Bartley was only able to stand for leader on a job share basis because of his caring responsibilities for his 14-year-old disabled son, Samuel, who was pictured next to his father in the 2010 footage.He told DNS that the Greens’ commitment to inclusive education was the reason he had joined the party, and he pointed to the huge number of disabled pupils now being excluded from schools, both those that showed up in official statistics and those in which young disabled people were excluded from mainstream schools “by the back door”.And he said he welcomed the “emphatic” and “absolutely wonderful” guidance published late last month by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, which stresses that all segregated education should end, and should be replaced by “inclusive classroom teaching in accessible learning environments with appropriate supports”.He said the government’s policies to create more special school places were being carried out “under the guise of choice, but more and more parents are not experiencing that choice but are being pushed into segregated education”.Bartley said he hoped that his party’s election of co-leaders would increase the momentum towards allowing job-share MPs, something many disabled people are campaigning for.He said: “This is why we have done it. [We want to see] a more inclusive form of politics.“Civil service actively practices [job-sharing]. It is happening in the charity sector. Political parties in Germany have done it for decades.“I have responsibilities at home that I want to fulfil and I am passionate about the issues. The only way I can bring that experience to politics is through a job share.”But he said it would be “a battle” to secure the change in the law necessary to allow job-share MPs because “people are waiting to see what happens” with the Greens’ experiment.Bartley also defended his party’s position on assisted suicide, which although it is supported by some disabled people, is fiercely opposed by the disabled people’s movement.He acknowledged that his party’s support for legalisation of assisted suicide had been raised as a concern by disabled campaigners.He said: “I think we need to listen to it. I have heard people say they don’t support the Green Party because of it.”He said he supported the party’s position “provided all the appropriate safeguards are in place”, but he suggested that legalisation was difficult to justify in a climate of austerity in which disabled people’s support was being cut.He said: “In the context of cuts and misery when we seem to be going backwards in disability rights I can entirely understand why people have concerns.“It’s about showing that it can’t work and that there will be pressure [on people to ask to take their own lives].”Speaking before the launch of Inclusion London’s report on the impact of the ILF closure, he said that the decision to abolish the fund was inevitably going to lead to cuts in support, which was what the report showed.Although his son – who has been ill in hospital for four weeks – was never an ILF recipient, the family do receive direct payments to fund his support, and he said: “I know what it’s like to battle against a social worker who should be your ally and your champion… they are under huge pressure to cut budgets.”One of the themes of the speech he and Lucas delivered after they were elected as co-leaders was the need to “take back control”, which he said was a key concern for disabled people, who are often too scared to speak out against their local authority about their social care.He said: “They are fearful and they are scared, they feel they have no control.”He said the Greens were the only party to oppose the closure of the ILF at the last election and pledge to reopen it, and he backed all of the report’s recommendations, including a new national, needs-led system, independent of local authorities, to administer independent living support, which would be free at the point of delivery and funded by taxation.He also backed the call for the government’s ILF grant – it has pledged to provide non-ring-fenced funding to local authorities in England until 2019-20 – to be ring-fenced for former ILF recipients and for that to continue until a national, independent social care system could be set up.Speaking at the Inclusion London meeting, which was held as part of the Rights Not Games week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts, he said he was scared by watching his son’s fight for the support he needs, and added: “You’re going to be a prisoner in your own home [and] I fear that’s what’s going to happen to my son.”He also secured a pledge from Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, to write to Labour-run local authorities to ask them to ring-fence the government grants for former ILF recipients.last_img read more

Tesla Announces Huge Supercharger Expansion

first_imgTesla Tesla Announces Huge Supercharger Expansion Next Article Apply Now » Image credit: Tesla via PC Mag April 25, 2017 2 min read This story originally appeared on PCMag –sharescenter_img The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Matthew Humphries Add to Queue Senior Editor By the end of 2017, the number of Superchargers worldwide will have doubled, North America will have 150 percent more. 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List Tesla announced the Model 3 at the beginning of April last year. As an electric vehicle carrying the Tesla name and having a price tag starting at $35,000, it was sure to be extremely popular. One week after pre-orders opened, more than 325,000 reservations were placed, translating to roughly $14 billion of future sales revenue.That’s a lot of new electric cars, and Tesla realizes they’ll all need charging regularly. So ahead of the launch of the Model 3, it’s been announced that the Superchargers network is set to expand. Currently there are 5,431 Superchargers across Tesla’s global network of 842 Supercharger Stations. By the end of 2017 the goal is to get that total past 10,000. In a blog post titled, “Charging Is Our Priority,” Tesla explains that charging needs to be “convenient, abundant and reliable for all owners.” And so an aggressive expansion of the Supercharger network is necessary.As well as the Supercharger expansion, Destination Charging is also set to grow. These are the charging connections offered at public locations including hotels, restaurants and resorts. Currently there are around 9,000 Destination Charging connectors, but Tesla wants to reach 15,000 this year.In order to achieve this expansion, Tesla’s busiest Supercharging Stations are set to expand to allow “several dozen Teslas” to charge simultaneously. New Supercharging Stations will also be built, and purposefully located further away from highways so as to expand the network and support more owners in less busy areas. In North America alone, the expansion will increase the available Superchargers by 150 percent.Full details of existing Supercharger locations as well as planned expansion locations can be viewed on Tesla’s Supercharger global map.last_img read more

The Evidence Says Legal Marijuana Reduces Opioid Deaths But Chris Christie Wont

first_img He may soon be out as governor of New Jersey, but Chris Christie continues to have an impact on one of his favorite topics: the legalization of marijuana.He’s not for it. He made that clear once again this month. As chairman of a committee appointed by President Donald Trump to make recommendations on dealing with the nation’s opioid crisis, Christie took the opportunity to again attack cannabis legalization.In a letter submitted with a report from the Trump-appointed Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, Christie compared legalization of marijuana to the expanded use of opioids in the 1990s and early 2000s.“The Commission urges that the same mistake is not made with the uninformed rush to put another drug legally on the market in the midst of an overdose epidemic,” he wrote.Related: Entrepreneurs See Opportunity Addressing Consumer Demand for Pesticide-Free CannabisTrump commissionOn Oct. 26, Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The numbers are indeed staggering. According to the commission, 175 people die every day in the United States from drug overdose. “If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on American soil, what would we do to stop them?” Christie wrote. “We would do anything and everything.”The commission made a number of recommendations. They include:A national multimedia campaign teaching children about the dangers of drugs and potential for addictionPlacing more nurses and counselors in elementary, middle and high schools to help at-risk studentsBlock grant federal funding for states to pay for anti-opioid programsProviding incentives for drug companies to develop non-opioid pain management drugsWhile marijuana has emerged as a possible alternative to opioids for pain management, the commission does not recommend its use. In his letter, Christie cited the National Institute on Drug Abuse research that found “marijuana use led to a 2 ½ times greater chance that the marijuana user would become an opioid user and abuser.“The commission found this very disturbing.”Others, however, have found the commission’s attack on marijuana itself disturbing.Related: New Jersey Voters Likely Just Approved Legalized MarijuanaDueling statisticsDr. Chinazo Cunningham, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told CNN that “I was surprised to see negative language about marijuana in the opioid report.”Cunningham also said that actual research does not back up the claim in the report that marijuana use increases the chances of opioid addiction. Cunningham’s own research has found that in states where marijuana is legal, opioid overdose deaths fell by 25 percent.Cunningham noted that the continued illegality of marijuana under federal law has kept doctors and scientists from doing thorough research on the potential medical uses for marijuana.Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent for CNN, also said there is little evidence marijuana leads to abuse of harder drugs. However, alcohol and nicotine have proved to be indicators of future drug abuse, he said.To stay up to date on the latest marijuana related news make sure to like dispensaries.com on Facebook Easy Search. Quality Finds. Your partner and digital portal for the cannabis community. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. –shares dispensaries.com 3 min read Christie, chairman of a presidential commission on the opioid addiction epidemic, links marijuana to overdose deaths despite all the evidence to the contrary and none in support. Guest Writer The Evidence Says Legal Marijuana Reduces Opioid Deaths But Chris Christie Won’t Believe It Add to Queue Image credit: Win McNamee | Getty Images Download Our Free Android App Next Article Free Green Entrepreneur App Cannabis Keep up with the latest trends and news in the cannabis industry with our free articles and videos, plus subscribe to the digital edition of Green Entrepreneur magazine. November 21, 2017last_img read more

TechSavvy and FashionForward A Look at Todays Stylish Startups

first_img Guest Writer Add to Queue Small Business Heroes Tech-Savvy and Fashion-Forward: A Look at Today’s Stylish Startups 5 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Hukkster co-founders Erica Bell (left) and Katie Finnegan. The fashion business is notoriously tough to break into.Even Gianni Versace spent years working as a dress-maker’s apprentice before starting up his own eponymous and uber-famous fashion house Gianni Versace.But the newest crowd of fashionista entrepreneurs aren’t sweating it out over sketchbooks and dress samples. Between rewarding users for style advice and supplying them with their own virtual closets, today’s fashionable young founders are using technology to tap into customers’ penchant for new looks. And they’re not heading for the runway either; they’re launching where their customers are: online.We checked in with some of the most innovative — and stylish — startups around. Here’s how three of them are standing out in the ever fickle-fashion world:Pramod Dabir and the inspiration for Boutine, his wife.image credit: FashinvestBoutineHQ: San FranciscoFounded: Aug., 2012Like most businesses, social-shopping site Boutine started with a personal experience. Founder Pramod Dabir, 28, lived with his fiancé — along with six other women — while she was studying at Stanford. These women would run into each other’s rooms and ask each other ‘How does this look?’ ‘Does it match,’ he recalls. One girl was more fashionable and would be doling out a lot of advice. When Dabir noticed that the women were making purchasing decisions based on what the fashionista friend advised, he began building a platform that would enable users to be financially rewarded for sharing their style and sartorial savvy.Related: Website Makes Boutique Fashions Available AnywhereToday, users receive a 10 percent commission on the sale of whatever products they recommend. We have a robust back end system that allows us to handle all of the splitting of commissions and processing of sales, he says. I wanted to create a place for women to share their voice about fashion and be compensated for it, says Dabir.But the other element that sets Boutine apart from traditional fashion companies? Engagement. The site allows users to become stylists — creating their own virtual boutiques and recommending designers and apparel pulled from the site’s inventory. It also offers users the ability to style outfits, dragging and dropping different items into their boutique, rotating them and adding embellishments. Users don’t have to necessarily buy the products, but they can engage with them, he says.Rohan Deuskar, co-founder of StyliticsStyliticsHQ: New York CityFounded: Nov., 2011How well brands and retailers know their customers is top of mind for Rohan Deuskar, 30, the co-founder of Stylitics, a tracking and organization service for consumers’ closets. As we talked to merchants and designers in the fashion space, we found that the tools they were using to know what’s in their customer’s closet or shopping bag was very old-fashioned, says Deuskar. It was all focus groups and surveys.Deuskar immediately recognized an opportunity: to allow users to create a virtual closet — through which they could list clothes they’d like to buy, as well as plan their outfits for the week. They could also analyze how much they’re paying per wear (a.k.a., the justification for paying top dollar for jeans) and make sure they don’t wear anything twice.Related: David Segal on DAVIDsTEA: North America’s Next Starbucks?But brands can also bank on the service. Users’ data are gathered and delivered, anonymously, to brands and retailers who pay for the information. We can get a clear picture of everyday clothing choices and the patterns that are emerging, says Deuskar. My vision is that in a couple of years, when you walk into your favorite store, you’ll get a personal experience around patterns, style and price points that you care about.Hukkster co-founders Erica Bell (left) and Katie Finnegan.image credit: WSJHukksterHQ: New York CityFounded: Dec., 2011It’s well known that online shoppers break for bargains. So, it would seem upstart fashion-deals site Hukkster is bound to strike a chord.When consumers find a product online that they want to buy, they simply ‘hukk it’ and then they’ll get a notification by email or text when the price of that item drops by at least 25 percent. The concept for the company came from the co-founders’ collective love of fashion — the duo met in 2007 while working as merchandisers at J. Crew — and the fact that they felt bombarded by special offers and deals piling up in their in-boxes, says co-founder Erica Bell, 27. Bell and her co-founder, Katie Finnegan, 29, wanted to offer users the ability to be alerted to deals at their favorite stores, like the Gap and Bloomingdale’s, in one email. In turn, the startup receives a fee whenever a sale is made via Hukkster.Related: Silicon Valley’s Best Dressed (Photos)Like their fashionable counterparts, Hukkster’s founders say the site also relies heavily on engaging with users. Right now, we’re focusing on apparel and accessories, but we’re just at the tip of the iceberg, says Bell. Our end goal would be for people to be able to ‘Hukk everything on the web.Why do you think fashion startups are becoming so tech savvy? Let us know in the comments section below.center_img Lambeth Hochwald –shares Next Article October 25, 2012 Image credit: WSJ Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Register Now »last_img read more

TechBytes with Mykolas Rambus General Manager at Equifax

first_imgAbout MykolasAbout EquifaxAbout Mykolas About Equifax Equifax is a global data, analytics, and technology company. We believe knowledge drives progress. They blend unique data, analytics, and technology with a passion for serving customers globally, to create insights that power decisions to move people forward. TechBytes with Mykolas Rambus, General Manager at Equifax Viraj TMay 22, 2019, 3:00 pmMay 31, 2019 Mykolas Rambus is the General Manager of Equifax Data-driven Marketing. He oversees all operations and determines go-to-market strategies for helping Equifax customers leverage data to secure the actionable insights they need to grow their business. An expert on big data, SaaS and financial technology, Rambus brings a wealth of experience in marketing, business development, operations management, information technology, data protection and privacy. He is a frequent contributor to major national and international news outlets for topics related to wealth management, digital marketing, and analytics. Tell us about your role at Equifax and the team/technology that you handle?The group I look after at Equifax is data-driven marketing, which is a combination of capabilities that Equifax has had for many years. One capability is our credit marketing services business. Let’s say you receive a credit card, home or auto financing offer in the mail or by email. You would know that as credit marketing. We also acquired a business in 2009 called IXI, which operates the IXI Network, a wealth data exchange of anonymized information. Finally, we have our digital capabilities, mostly around custom audiences—again, the data is anonymized. Together, these three capabilities create the Equifax Data-Driven Marketing (DDM) business unit, which sits within the Equifax corporation in the U.S., a $1.2 billion organization.A lot of people know Equifax only as a credit bureau and that’s accurate up to a point. We are still a credit bureau, of course. In many ways through our credit and risk data we’re helping companies grow and maintain their relationships with consumers. But, there’s another part of our business, DDM, where we help companies use data to engage consumers in more effective, more personalized, and smarter ways. Today, an increasing portion of our business is not so much around legacy credit, but around helping businesses leverage data and analytics.I joined Equifax because we are seeing an evolution take place with enterprises where data and data analysis is beginning to fuel competitive advantage. Thirty years ago, companies used information technology—servers, the Internet, spreadsheets—as an advantage. But, the arbitrage with IT is mostly gone. Now it’s all about investments in data and data analysis to make smarter, more informed decisions. There are so many industries and sub-sectors—hedge funds, for example—that are getting really good at leveraging information. Equifax has evolved into a data and technology organization to support the transformation of enterprise, with our assets and our skills, to help organizations compete more successfully.What is the overall state of Data-Driven Marketing in the Marketing Technology Industry?We’re still in the relatively early stages. When we talk to most organizations about how they market today and how they’re pulling together their technology stack, they have a lot of the right components, and there’s a lot of money—billions of dollars—being invested in the industry to make their capabilities streamlined and get better business outcomes. You have companies like Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle investing in their customer-facing technology suites. But the underlying issues facing our customers are more about the data itself than the technology to use that data.Consider that most companies still face siloed information. Perhaps they acquired a business whose database can’t talk to theirs or that may not have the same unique identifier for a consumer. Putting that all together is quite complicated and cannot be solved by technology alone. Marketers also have to find ways to use their data to engage a consumer more cost-efficiently. There’s an old adage in marketing: Half of your marketing budget is wasted, you’re just not sure which half.Data is the way that we begin to solve that problem using analysis.Tell us more about Equifax’s technology and your target audience?It’s the data and the data science that we do very well. The world is awash in data, and I’ve seen industry reports that say 1.7MB of data will soon be created every second for every person on earth. Marketers have huge volumes of data constantly spinning off their platforms.The challenge is the useful analysis of that information. Equifax plays a very important part in bringing quality data outside of what the marketer owns and can create the models that predict what information is most useful to effect a given outcome and action of some kind, whether it’s an individual opening an account, or someone, let’s say, clicking on an ad. It’s that data and the analysis of it, the modeling capability, that is so critical that Equifax brings to the table. As I like to say: Your current customers (from first party data) can tell you a lot, but your potential customers (from second and third party data) can tell you even more.Being one of the largest credit agencies in the world, how does Equifax handle so much data?We’re an 118-year-old company with an underlying data capability even back when it was on paper. Data is what we do. Equifax has the most impressive set of data assets and capabilities that I’ve come across in the market, and probably the most under-leveraged as well. Yes, we are a credit bureau and of course we have credit information, but there’s also so much more.We have gained a substantial understanding of consumer wealth, income and debt through the IXI Network, as well as other models and through the acquisitions we’ve made over the years. Having that full picture helps marketers engage the right people, and eventually, the perfect customer. We have thousands of data attributes around household economics, as well as consumer behaviors, both modeled as well as factual. In many ways, we’re one of the industry’s best-kept secrets in terms of having these extraordinary data assets that can be applied to solving some of the key challenges that marketers face. With a large range of products which geographical areas are you targeting for growth (APAC, EMEA, Americas)?The Equifax Data-driven Marketing business is primarily U.S. focused today. The reality is our customers are global, and they’re as excited as us about the opportunities they see around the globe. We work with our various partners in other business units, whether it’s Latin America, Asia-Pac, or Europe. Of course, the data and data analysis of protocols in those different geographies and jurisdictions are and can be very different. But I think there is a terrific opportunity for helping our global customers navigate this ever-evolving landscape.How important is the role of Artificial Intelligence in the data-based marketing domain?One of the most exciting things we’re seeing is the evolution from data analysis that informs the decision to the activation, or taking the action that’s required by that decision. That’s where AI starts to come into effect. We’re very excited about AI because it can be used to tweak and adjust activities in real time.Right now, there’s so much effort going into data wrangling— getting all of the data available to make a decision into a single place—and then getting that data to offer useful recommendations. But what our customers really need is the ability to execute some kind of action, such as a modification to change in a campaign that they can do and do automatically. That’s where AI can be so exciting for marketers. I don’t want to call it the black box, it’s almost as if the black box is becoming transparent. And we can help that black box operate more effectively.What sales and marketing technology tools does Equifax currently use?Being in the data business is challenging as this industry grows up. We’ve certainly had to create our own tools to manage the breath and complexity of the data that we work with on an everyday basis. For example, one of those projects enabled us to pull all data assets across Equifax into the same place so that our data scientists could analyze on behalf of our customers and ourselves to inform the best possible decision-making and recommendations. We took that internal platform and productified it because we recognized that our customers had the same challenges. We call the product Ignite, and it’s just one example of where we built our own proprietary technology. Customers using Ignite can bring not only their own first-party data, but also our data and third-party data to the mix so that they can make the best possible decisions.Ignite is one of the reasons organizations like to engage with us. They can trust that our data is high quality and ethically sourced—this is especially important in light of serious challenges for a number of brands around data provenance. If you’re a CMO, you’re responsible for protecting your customers and your brand; you need to be 100% comfortable with explaining to your board, as well as to consumers, that your data is sourced the right way. Or to speaking with your legal and compliance teams about how this third-party information was obtained and put into the models.Equifax has a deep background in handling anonymized information and personally identifiable information, or PII, so we’re able to help organizations maneuver through those waters successfully and, because we’re conservative in our approach, make sure our customers are also protected.What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?I’m coming to learn how to have Echo, Amazon Echo, Echo Dot embedded in how I work. There’s a great opportunity in streamlining our lives and how we manage information as human beings by using the voice assistants that are out there. It’s early days relatively, and there are a lot of things to be worked out, but my family and I use these tools because we find that this is going to be the way that we interface with data and computing going forward. Those who are Trekkies can remember Scotty talking and interfacing with a computer. The future’s not far off.With voice marketing, I still think we’re in the first inning, and probably three or four years out from mass adoption. But the numbers are growing quite substantially every year, and there’s no time like the present to get started. Amazon started with e-commerce more than 20 years ago, and of course today Amazon is a very different animal with many offerings, but they began early and learned a lot. They were able to adjust and find opportunities. I think all marketers should be in the voice game and at least be getting their feet wet.What is the best piece of professional advice that you have received?The best advice I’ve probably received in my career is to adapt. I suppose change is not easy for many people. And change done poorly is not really worth it. So the advice that I share with others is that when change is going to happen they should try to see the indicators and read the writing on the wall, and to always be aware of what’s going on and look at change not as a risk but as an opportunity to reinvent, reinvest, and to find new pathways to growth for both professional and personal success.If not in Marketing what would have been your alternate career choice?I love business, and always have. I was the briefcase-carrying kid. I know that organizations win in business today with data and analysis, and my future is firmly planted in organizations that have great data assets. In fact, I joined Equifax because it had great, under-leveraged data assets. Our customers sometimes tell us that we’re all steak and no sizzle, but for those who know us, there are fantastic assets here. However, if I were not in marketing, I still would be doing something data-related. I have a fascination with being able to make smarter decisions that affect smarter outcomes, using information in various ways. So, whether those decisions are really far afield like space exploration, or in medicine using technology to create better care for patients, I know I’d be around and involved in data—somewhere in the world.ear AdobeAmazonanalyticsdata-driven marketingEquifaxMykolas RambusOracleSalesforce Previous ArticleSpectrum Equity Announces Sale of Ethoca to MastercardNext ArticleIBM Security: Cybersecurity Threats Growing In Travel and Transportation Industrieslast_img read more

Experts in Parkinsons research propose roadmap for drug trials targeting alphasynuclein

first_img Source:https://www.iospress.nl/ios_news/parkinsons-disease-experts-devise-a-roadmap-for-developing-drugs-targeting-alpha-synuclein/ Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Dec 20 2018Issued in conjunction with The Michael J. Fox Foundation, important consensus guidelines for running proof of concept preclinical and clinical trials of drugs targeting alpha-synuclein to slow or arrest the progression of the disease published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease A recently discovered protein, alpha-synuclein, has become one of the most attractive targets for developing new drugs with the potential to slow down or arrest the progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Experts in the field of Parkinson’s research have now proposed a roadmap for preclinical and clinical trials investigating compounds targeting alpha-synuclein. Their consensus white paper is published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.Alpha-synuclein is of key interest to PD researchers because it is a major constituent of Lewy bodies, protein clumps that are the pathological hallmark of PD, and mutations in the gene that encodes alpha-synuclein cause PD. Not surprisingly, intensive efforts have been underway to study the normal and pathological role of alpha-synuclein as well as its potential as a target for neuroprotective therapies. There are at least five alpha-synuclein–targeted therapeutics currently under investigation. These have the potential to slow or arrest the progression of PD and other synucleinopathies, such as Dementia with Lewy Bodies, Multiple System Atrophy and Pure Autonomic Failure.”With alpha-synuclein undoubtedly playing some role in PD pathogenesis, and there being such a diverse portfolio of experimental therapies that target the protein, one can be optimistic and hope that one of the approaches will eventually be successful in slowing disease progression,” says Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Research, Professor and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, MI, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease.In 2017, The Michael J. Fox Foundation convened the Alpha Synuclein Clinical Path Working Group comprised of PD research leaders from across academia and industry. This group was tasked to develop a strategic consensus and make recommendations in preclinical and clinical research directed at alpha-synuclein–targeted therapies for PD.Related StoriesMice cured of HIV in an experiment sparks new hopeScientists discover how resistance to the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil arisesAntibiotic combination effective against drug-resistant PseudomonasIn this consensus white paper, experts provide a translational framework of de-risking the development of alpha-synuclein–targeted therapies. Specifically, the paper discusses the use of fit-for purpose animal models, biomarkers that inform clinical trial design, such as doses and dosing regimen, as well as patient enrichment strategies. Finally, the authors discuss considerations for the design of clinical proof of concept trials that integrate not only pathophysiologic endpoints, but also the emerging technology of wearable devices to monitor clinical outcomes.”Multiple therapeutics have recently entered clinical trials, and critical human data that will inform all alpha-synuclein–based therapeutic development programs are on the horizon,” says lead author Kalpana M. Merchant, PhD, of Vincere Biosciences, Inc. and the Department of Neurology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL. “Although these efforts face many profound challenges, including the lack of key tools such as an alpha-synuclein–based imaging agent and the inherent difficulty of demonstrating clinical efficacy in slowly progressive neurodegenerative diseases, we remain optimistic that meaningful strides toward the ultimate identification and approval of alpha-synuclein–based disease-modifying therapeutics will be made in the near future.”PD is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting approximately 1.2 percent of the world population over the age of 70. Although several new therapies that address motor or non-motor symptoms of PD have been approved, none of these are able to slow disease progression. In the US alone, an estimated 630,000 people had PD in 2010. With anticipated demographic changes due to an aging population, and if no disease-modifying treatment is found, the prevalence is expected to reach 930,000 by 2020 and 1.24 million 40 by 2030.last_img read more

Research examines the impact of social drinking among older adults

first_imgIt is estimated that approximately 20 percent of the US population will be 65 or older by 2030. National data indicate that during the last 15 years, the proportion of current drinkers has increased disproportionally among respondents over the age of 45. Thus, we have a growing population of aging adults who continue to consume alcohol. While most of the research on acute alcohol effects focuses on doses that achieve … legal intoxication, many if not most adults – particularly those in a ‘middle-aged’ range – do not drink to intoxication.”Sara Jo Nixon, professor and director of the Center for Addiction Research &Education at the University of Florida Reviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Jun 25 2019Nearly half of Americans older than 65 years of age self-report as current drinkers. Most do not develop alcohol use disorders; however, it remains unclear if growing older entails greater vulnerability to alcohol’s effects. Research on the impact of “social” drinking – comparable to a glass or two of wine with dinner – among older adults has found a notable impact on daily activities such as the ability to operate a car. These results and others will be shared at the 42ndannual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in Minneapolis June 22-26. Related StoriesResearch sheds light on sun-induced DNA damage and repairExcess grey matter in the brain can predict escalating drinking behavior in teensOlympus Europe and Cytosurge join hands to accelerate drug development, single cell researchNixon’s research is instead designed to examine the impact of typical drinking among older adults, roughly equivalent to a drink or two with a meal. Shewill discuss findings at the RSA meeting on Monday, June 24.”In studies to date, we have compared healthy, current drinkers who are either 25 to 35 or 55 to 70 years of age,” said Nixon. “Dose responses vary. For example, on a simple working memory task, the younger group showed no alcohol effects. However, the older group that received a low dose of alcohol actually performed better than the non-alcohol control group. When we examined performance on a driving simulator, younger adults were relatively unaffected by alcohol while older adults showed greater variability in steering and speed control with increased alcohol doses.”Nixon added that the older-adult group was comprised of particularly healthy individuals. “If different responses were observed among these exceptionally healthy participants, it could be expected that the impact would be larger among older adults with common conditions. We need to better understand what underlying neurobehavioral processes are compromised in order to expand our understanding of moderate drinking effects, drinking and neurocognitive decline, and necessary interventions such as those designed to maintain driving skills,” she said.”From a public health perspective, we need a systematic study of moderate drinking,” said Nixon, “that includes a study of the acute effects of socially relevant doses of alcohol. This line of research would be valuable for the health and well-being of older adults, as well as the lives of their families and friends.” Source:Research Society on Alcoholismlast_img read more

Maker of fearsome animal robots slowly emerges from stealth

first_img Walking robots, a YouTube sensation, get ready for market The firm’s previous military projects included a four-legged robotic pack mule that could haul supplies across deserts or mountains—but which sounded like a lawnmower and was reportedly deemed too noisy by the U.S. Marines.The bigger question of just what Boston Dynamics hopes to accomplish remains murky—and that may be by design. Interviews with eight former Boston Dynamics employees and some of Raibert’s former academic collaborators suggest that that the company has long brushed aside commercial demands, not to mention outsiders’ moral or ethical concerns, in single-minded pursuit of machines that mimic animal locomotion.Former employees say the company has operated more as a well-funded research lab than a business. Raibert’s vision was kept alive for years through military contracts, especially from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as DARPA. A federal contracting database lists more than $150 million in defense funding to Boston Dynamics since 1994.Boston Dynamics said only it believes a quarter-century of work on robots will “unlock a very high commercial value.” It did not answer when asked if it ever entertained proposals to weaponize them.Building robots that can jump, gallop or prowl like animals was a fringe field of engineering when Raibert and his colleagues began studying kangaroo and ostrich videos in their Carnegie Mellon University research lab nearly 40 years ago. In this Thursday, May 24, 2018, photo Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert shows the SpotMini robot during a robotics summit in Boston. It’s never been clear whether robotics company Boston Dynamics is making killing machines, household helpers, or something else entirely. For nine years, the secretive firm, which got its start with U.S. military funding, has unnerved people around the world with YouTube videos of experimental robots resembling animal predators. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Explore further © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. For nine years, the secretive firm—which got its start with U.S. military funding—has unnerved people around the world with YouTube videos of experimental robots resembling animal predators.In one, a life-size robotic wildcat sprints across a parking lot at almost 20 miles an hour. In another, a small wheeled rover nicknamed SandFlea abruptly flings itself onto rooftops—and back down again. A more recent effort features a slender dog-like robot that climbs stairs, holds its own in a tug-of-war with a human and opens a door to let another robot pass.These glimpses into a possible future of fast, strong and sometimes intimidating robots raise several questions. How do these robots work? What does Boston Dynamics intend to do with them? And do these videos—some viewed almost 30 million times—fairly represent their capabilities?Boston Dynamics has demonstrated little interest in elaborating. For months, the company and its parent, SoftBank, rebuffed numerous requests seeking information about its work. When a reporter visited company headquarters in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Massachusetts, he was turned away.But after The Associated Press spoke with 10 people who have worked with Boston Dynamics or its 68-year-old founder, Marc Raibert, the CEO agreed to a brief interview at a robotics conference in late May. Raibert had just demonstrated the machine that will be the company’s first commercial robot in its 26-year history: the dog-like, door-opening SpotMini, which Boston Dynamics plans to sell to businesses as a camera-equipped security guard next year.The company hasn’t announced a price for the battery-powered robots, which weigh about the same as a Labrador retriever. Raibert said it plans to manufacture 1,000 SpotMinis annually. In this Thursday, May 24, 2018, photo, Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert smiles as he responds to a question during a robotics summit in Boston. It’s never been clear whether robotics company Boston Dynamics is making killing machines, household helpers, or something else entirely. For nine years, the secretive firm, which got its start with U.S. military funding, has unnerved people around the world with YouTube videos of experimental robots resembling animal predators. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) It’s never been clear whether robotics company Boston Dynamics is making killing machines, household helpers, or something else entirely. In this Thursday, May 24, 2018, photo, a Boston Dynamics SpotMini robot is walks through a conference room during a robotics summit in Boston. It’s never been clear whether robotics company Boston Dynamics is making killing machines, household helpers, or something else entirely. But the secretive firm, which for nine years has unnerved viewers with YouTube videos of robots that jump, gallop or prowl like animal predators, is starting to emerge from a quarter-century of stealth. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Citation: Maker of fearsome animal robots slowly emerges from stealth (2018, June 5) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-maker-fearsome-animal-robots-slowly.html But agile robots aren’t so sci-fi anymore, even if they can still seem that way. Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot, for instance, is a hulking humanoid machine that can be seen hiking across broken ground, jumping onto pedestals, and even performing an ungainly backflip . (The company’s robot videos have not been independently verified.)In videos, the company’s robots wander through a variety of locales—in and around the company’s single-story headquarters, a New Hampshire ski lodge and across the secluded meadows and woodlands near Raibert’s home. In some videos, humans kick the robots or jab them with hockey sticks to test their balance.Michael Cheponis, who worked with Raibert at CMU’s pioneering robot laboratory in the 1980s, calls his former colleague an “American hero” for sticking with a vision that could prove useful to the world. “Marc doesn’t have the slightest Dr. Evil in him,” Cheponis said.The defense contracts began winding down in 2013 when Google bought Boston Dynamics and made clear it wanted no part in defense work. Andy Rubin, then Google’s chief robotics executive and architect of the acquisition, swept into the firm’s lunchroom to give a pep talk to employees shortly after the deal was announced in December 2013.Attendees later said they felt a sense of relief and cautious optimism. “He was talking about really ambitious goals,” said one former employee, who asked not to be identified because of concerns it could hurt career opportunities in the small and tight-knit U.S. robotics community. “A robot that might be able to help the elderly and infirm. Robots that work in grocery stores. Robots that deliver packages.”But the Google honeymoon soon soured. Rubin left the company the following year and his replacements overseeing Boston Dynamics grew increasingly frustrated with Raibert’s approach, according to several people familiar with the transition. Among the concerns: Boston Dynamics’ lack of focus on building a sellable product.Google also grew concerned that “negative threads” on social media about the firm’s “terrifying” robot videos could hurt its image, according to leaked emails from its public relations division obtained by Bloomberg in 2016. Inside the company, the idea that its robots could be turned into weapons occasionally inspired casual workplace chatter, chuckles or discomfort, several former employees said. But few took it seriously.”They’re definitely aware that people are frightened by them,” said Andrew String, a former Boston Dynamics engineer. “The company regularly gets hate mail and other weird stuff.” But he said Raibert never felt a need to explain himself, and instead wanted the technology to speak for itself.By 2016, Google was looking to sell the firm—eventually finding an interested buyer in Japanese tech giant SoftBank, which already has a robotics portfolio that includes the cute humanoid Pepper. The deal closed earlier this year.SoftBank declined to say anything about its plans, but Boston Dynamics’ latest job postings reveal a heightened emphasis on finding something that sells. One posting seeks a “robot evangelist” to help find “market-driven” applications for the machines in logistics, construction and commercial security.Raibert credited Google for pushing the firm forward to perform the “best work we ever did,” but said under SoftBank his team is acting as a “standalone company” again.”We have a very strong plan,” he said. “We’re all digging in and working hard on it.” In this Thursday, May 24, 2018, photo a Boston Dynamics SpotMini robot is walks through a conference room during a robotics summit in Boston. It’s never been clear whether robotics company Boston Dynamics is making killing machines, household helpers, or something else entirely. But the secretive firm, which for nine years has unnerved viewers with YouTube videos of robots that jump, gallop or prowl like animal predators, is starting to emerge from a quarter-century of stealth. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) Speculation about Boston Dynamics’ intentions—weapons or servants?—spikes every time it releases a new video. The SpotMini straddles that divide, and Raibert told the AP that he doesn’t rule out future military applications. But he played down popular fears that his company’s robots could one day be used to kill.”We think about that, but that’s also true for cars, airplanes, computers, lasers,” Raibert said, wearing his omnipresent Hawaiian shirt as younger robotics engineers lined up to speak with him. “Every technology you can imagine has multiple ways of using it. If there’s a scary part, it’s just that people are scary. I don’t think the robots by themselves are scary.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Florida law to allow autonomous cars—when theyre ready

first_imgSelf-driving vehicles with no humans on board will be able to operate in Florida—once they’re finally ready for prime time—under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Waymo bringing self-driving trucks to Phoenix area freeways The finalized prototype of Google self-driving car. Explore further © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.center_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Florida law to allow autonomous cars—when they’re ready (2019, June 13) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-florida-law-autonomous-vehicles-humans.html DeSantis said he hopes to use the law to lure companies that test and build the cars. The measure, which takes effect July 1, also opens the door for on-demand ride companies such as Lyft and Uber to eventually deploy fleets of the vehicles in Florida. That does not mean, however, that such cars will appear on public streets around the state anytime soon. Self-driving vehicles without a human operator are largely still in the testing stage.DeSantis and state lawmakers said they want to show that Florida will be ready when the cars are.”As soon as companies are ready to roll them out, they’ll be able to get onto our roadways,” said Republican state Rep. Jason Fischer, who sponsored the bill. Fischer called the legislation “the best law in the country.””This will allow ultimate flexibility for companies,” he said.As of March, the most recent month for which information is available, 29 states had passed laws related to autonomous vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. They range from authorizing testing to allowing the vehicles to operate without humans. Two other states besides Florida that allow people-free vehicles are Michigan and Texas.It may be quite some time before any state sees its streets populated by cars driven with no human help. Waymo, an offshoot of Google, had operated a very limited program using autonomous vehicles with no drivers in the Phoenix area, but now requires a human behind the wheel to take control of its robotaxis in emergencies. Las Vegas and other cities have used autonomous vehicles with human “safety drivers” in case of a vehicle malfunction.Florida’s new law will allow self-driving cars without humans on all of the state’s roads as long as the vehicles meet insurance and safety requirements outlined in the legislation. It requires that owners of autonomous vehicles have a minimum of $1 million in insurance coverage, regardless of whether the vehicles are for personal or commercial use. The law also requires that the owner immediately report crashes to law enforcement or that the vehicles have a system in place to report them.Florida is hoping to siphon high-paying technology jobs away from California, where dozens of companies have already been testing autonomous vehicles with backup drivers on public roads for several years.”With this bill, Florida officially has an open-door policy to autonomous vehicle companies and I encourage them to relocate from California to Florida,” DeSantis said before signing the legislation at a state-run autonomous vehicle test track in the central Florida city of Auburndale.”This helps chart a course to a bolder, brighter and smarter future in transportation and embraces the innovation revolution that will bring high-paying jobs to the state while making our roads safer.”last_img read more