A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Location-Based Services#web Related Posts Craigslist: Right From The SourceAs someone who moves once a year (at least), I’m frustrated that Craigslist’s pseudo-innovation is just an 11th-hour effort to stymie worthy competitors. But I grudgingly dragged myself back to the site to see if thumbing through its apartment listings has gotten any less painful.True to Craigslist’s lo-fi esthetic, the new maps feature resides under an ugly little green button in the site’s housing sub-sections. Prior to the update, the site’s geographical filters were abysmal at best. For New York and San Francisco, you could (and still can) filter listings by neighborhood, but in most major cities you had to wade through a whole metro area’s worth of posts, tossing keywords into the search box and hoping for the best.Now, the maps tab, built using Leaflet, organizes those housing results on a zoomable city map. Listings near each other are clustered. Individual listings do show photos, but the “more info” button proved buggy almost every time I clicked it. Still, the new feature maps price, small photos, and other basics at a glance. Overall, the mapping interface is an improvement, but when it comes to the lumbering UI dinosaur that is Craigslist, that isn’t saying a whole lot.Pros: Some at-a-glance info, big improvement over no mapping utility at all.Cons: Very limited features, no sorting and saving, manual zooming is a hassle. Lovely: The Refined AggregatorCompared to its peers, Lovely is… well, lovely. I spoke with founder and CEO Blake Pierson about what sets his newly national service apart. “The renting process is very broken,” he says. He describes Lovely as both “a product and a data company.” meaning that not only is Lovely a pleasure to use, but even if Craigslist data blinked out, other rental data partners would be pick up the slack. If Padmapper is a quick-and-dirty pet project, Lovely is its refined successor. The site features the most elegant design by a mile. A full-window map makes it easy to see listings in neighborhoods at a glance or to drill down into individual posts without ever needing to leave the main interface. Lovely is extremely quick and rich with filters for price, pets, neighborhood and other essentials. Lovely is the only one of the three that ties into Facebook, which makes signing up and maintaining a consistent login a breeze. The design is responsive and clean, but the map itself didn’t feel quite as smooth as Padmapper, nor did it have an option to annotate a listing (I use this constantly) or hide a place you’re not interested in. Still, the Lovely experience does handle saved searches and a centralized user profile very well, so you don’t have to double back or waste time figuring out which places you’ve seen and which you haven’t. Like Padmapper, Lovely employs the 3Taps workaround to populate its Craigslist data, but it also pulls listings from other sources. Pros: Very feature rich, best design, account and profile emphasis, indexes the most non-Craigslist listings.Cons: Lacks a few of Padmapper’s handiest tricks.Craigslist’s mapping effort is predictably too little, too late. But the listings giant’s shortcomings did inspire Padmapper and Lovely, which are both amazing resources. I found no compelling reason whatsoever to use Craigslist’s “new” interface, but the site still boasts the biggest trove of rental data around. Too bad it insists on locking up its treasure and throwing away the key. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… I’m about to embark on the nightmare that is apartment hunting in a major city… again. Craigslist has a near-monopoly on online housing listings, but two upstart virtual real estate brokers are bent on beating the hoary king of Web classifieds at its own game. Let’s see what they have to offer.Craigslist virtually buried the print classifieds of yore, but it has done nothing to keep up with the Web’s brisk evolution since. Adding dynamic location data seems like a no-brainer, but Craigslist’s Spartan design never bothered with such geographical niceties. That is, until it recently decided to keep up with the Joneses.Rather than patting Craigslist on the back for adding a feature that any other site might have included oh, ten years ago, I’ll look at how it stacks up against the competition – and hopefully find a place to live while I’m at it. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Padmapper: The Scrappy Little Tool That Rolls With The PunchesEric DeMenthon built Padmapper as a side project to help him and his friends find a decent place to live in New York. The tool, which collects housing listings from sites like Craigslist onto an interactive map, has remained quietly useful for years. Unfortunately, Craigslist ordered it to cease and desist this year, but thanks to a workaround through data distribution platform 3Taps, Padmapper is still kicking – for now, at least.For Padmapper, the map is the name of the game. Pull up the site and you get a full window’s worth of city blocks. You can ask the map to display listings based on a robust set of filters including ranges for price, number of bedrooms, age of listing and more. Dig in a little deeper and you can display very granular sets of listings, like pet-friendly sublets featuring the keyword “vegan” (here in Portland, that didn’t winnow things down much).Unlike Craigslist, Padmapper remains useful after you’ve closed your search window. Log in and save favorite listings, annotate potential future homes right from the map, or set up email alerts for a fine-tuned search. Pros: Extremely useful filters, fast and dynamic map interface, save listings for later easily, includes listings from Apartments.com, Rent.com and more.Cons: Craigslist data may become unavailable, making PadMapper a lot less useful. UI isn’t particularly attractive. taylor hatmaker 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces markhachman One of the more interesting results in our mini-survey. The majority of respondents are either not sure or don’t plan to buy a tablet. But for those that do, the poll is breaking toward the Surface with Windows 8, not Windows RT. And this poll was taken on Thursday, the day of the announcement. While Thursday night’s lines indicate a strong response for the Surface RT, a number of you are likely holding out for the full-fledged Windows 8 version.It’s also bad news for other OEMs that plan to release a Windows tablet. Personally, I would have expected most respondents would buy a third-party notebook or tablet, but maybe the Surface is just the product to beat at the moment. Certainly, from a volume perspective, it has the most reviews. A survey of 2,000 Internet users say they’re impressed with Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface tablet – but they still like Windows 7 even more.In fact, according to a poll conducted by Toluna QuickSurveys for ReadWrite, users even prefer Windows XP over Windows 8. With that said, more users indicate that they’ll upgrade to Windows 8 than not, and the numbers of those saying they would buy new Windows 8 hardware outweighed those that said they were not likely to do.Not Scientific – But Useful Data PointsToluna doesn’t claim that the results are scientific, and the findings shouldn’t be considered a guarantee of the projected outcomes. Still, the survey represents one of the few early data points that indicate the success of Microsoft’s latest offerings into the consumer market.RW asked six questions following the launch of Windows 8, trying to determine how, or if, consumers planned to shop for Windows 8 tablets and software over the short term. We also asked if consumers found the Windows 8 “Metro” interface confusing.Unfortunately, we don’t know how many of those respondents have actually used Windows 8, although the number would probably be insignificant. Therefore, the survey is probably most telling from the perspective of the pre-release information Microsoft has released on Windows 8 and Surface, via its blogs as well as the press, plus its billion-dollar marketing blitz.(If you’re having problems viewing the graphics, try hitting CTRL+-, or CRTL-“dash” to shrink the font and make the images bigger.) Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Clearly, those who own a Windows PC plan to upgrade it to Windows 8. Note that, at least according to the poll, the majority of users run Windows. One trend that you’ll see consistently throughout the poll, however, is that there are still a great number of undecided consumers, meaning that both Apple, Microsoft, and other vendors have a chance to attract these customers. Again, good news for Microsoft and for PC makers in general. Again, it’s hard to know how many purchases this will translate into, but the radical new touchscreen PCs and tablets are tempting consumers to open their wallets. Tags:#Microsoft#Surface#Survey#windows 7#Windows 8#windows rt This was one of the controversial questions. Is Windows 8’s interface confusing? Users who downloaded and used the preview version undoubtedly became more familiar with it, jumping back and forth between the live tiles and the more traditional desktop. Here, the results seem to indicate that more users than not find it confusing, although Toluna garbled the response format.However, the numbers are still there, just not organized into a bar graph. Conclusion is that substantially more people than not consider the Metro interface confusing. What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … What’s surprising here isn’t that Windows 7 and Windows 8 are the preferred operating systems, it’s that there’s such a preference for Windows XP, now over 11 years old. And while an expressed preference for Windows 7 over Windows 8 isn’t that surprising, that Windows XP would top Windows 7 is.MethodologyAgain, this study shouldn’t be considered scientific. Here’s the methodology: The survey was conducted online within the United States on October 25, 2012 among 2000 adults aged 18 and over, selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Toluna QuickSurveys. Figures for age, sex, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in Toluna surveys, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated, the company said.Survey respondents were about equally divided between the 18-34, 35-54, and 55+ age groups. Over 50 percent of the survey responders had had at least some university background. More women (63 percent) than men answered the poll, compared to 50.8 percent of the U.S. population who are female.One more time: we didn’t set out to scientifically determine how Windows 8 or the Surface would fare. But until we have the first sales numbers back in a few weeks or months, this is one of the data points we have to go on. And so far, it looks like Windows 8 is on the road to success. The success of the individual Surface versions, however, could be a more interesting story. A nice win for Windows, but look which direction the data is skewing. Towards Windows RT? No, clearly not. Instead, Windows 8 appears to be dominating sentiment, pulling purchasing sentiment away from the iPad and Android tablets, of those who indicated that they plan to purchase. So many more, however, don’t plan to upgrade or buy a new tablet. Based on the market, that means that they don’t plan to buy a tablet. Another interpretation is that they already own an iPad and are happy with it. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology
Book 11: Knife of DreamsThe boy was now a man, still young and full of the arrogance of a young adult who has tasted some early success. There was also pain. Deep, emotional pain. He did not know it then, but this pain was a thing that many people his age experienced. It was an existential rift, threatening to tear his soul apart. The young man swallowed the pain, allowed it to harden him and make him cold, calculating. He believed that allowing the pain to make his heart a stone gave him strength. He did not know how foolish he was.The young man sat in his apartment, reading Knife of Dreams, the 11th book of the Wheel of Time, which had just been released. He was alone, except for his dog, and enjoyed the silence and solitude of his self-mandated exile to University. He had left his friends behind and looked to make a new life for himself.It was hard not to notice the similarities between himself and Rand al’Thor. The Dragon Reborn also faced an existential crisis, allowing himself to become hard to the point of breaking. A darkness was consuming him, to the detriment of the world he was destined to protect. While the young man sympathized with the Dragon Reborn and saw the correlation in their predicaments, he thought himself more like Mat Cauthon. Mat was a gambler and a carouser, a world-class complainer, a scamp, a rogue and a scoundrel. These were traits that the young man could get behind. Mat was also brilliant and crafty and, while he complained about it, would always end up doing the right thing. Even if it was difficult. 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App dan rowinski Book 12: The Gathering StormIt had been years since the man had thought of the Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan had died in 2007 and the man wondered if the series would ever be finished. Finally, a new book had been released, completed by Brandon Sanderson, a fantasy writer picked by Jordan’s widow Harriet McDougal to finish the series. The man had, more or less, passed his existential crisis. Reading The Gathering Storm, the 12th book of the Wheel of Time, the man hoped that the Dragon Reborn would as well. After all, the fate of the world rested on his shoulders.The man, no longer a boy and past the angst of young adulthood, begun to think of himself like Perrin Aybara, the blacksmith turned wolfbrother, turned reluctant lord of his people, turned force of nature. Perrin, above all else, was responsible. Levelheaded and deep thinking, practical and meticulous, Perrin’s ability to think through all the aspects of a problem gave him power. Once set upon a task, Perrin would see it to the end and do it right. Though the man still embodied aspects of both Rand and Mat (especially Mat), Perrin was a guide through the heart of darkness.By the end of the 12th book, Rand indeed had found his heart again. He learned how to laugh, to accept his fate while marshaling his skill and resources to the task in front of him. It had taken a long time for Rand to come to grips with himself and learn to smile again, to trust people. Just like it had been so many other times in their lives together, the man and the Dragon Reborn had reached the same point in their lives at the same time. 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout EpilogueThe man wept. Uncontrollable, body-shaking sobs ran through him. He had been up most of the night before. A Memory of Light, it turned out, was almost all he had hoped it to be. Characters he cared for fought and died, hundreds of pages of endless battle making up for the middle books that had been nothing but dialogue. The Last Battle grew desperate, the characters weary and exhausted from fighting the Shadow in a battle that seemingly would never end. The man, fighting his own exhaustion, fell asleep with the book in his hand.When he woke, he could not simply put the book aside and start his daily work. After more than 20 years, he was not going to wait another hour to see if the Dragon Reborn would kill the Dark One.The last 300 pages of the Wheel of Time were intense and chaotic, hope mixed with despair. The man’s weeping had much to do with the plight of the characters, but also the path of his own life reflected through them. In the end, he felt raw, tired but happy. He knew the Wheel of Time was more than just an epic fantasy series written by a talented author. It was part of him and he was part of it. He closed the book and sighed, wiping tears from his cheeks.There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time. Book 14: A Memory of LightThe Last Battle was coming. The man could not wait. He took upon the massive undertaking in July to read all 14 books (including the prequel New Spring) before the 15th and final book, A Memory Of Light, arrived in January of 2013. It had been a long time since the man had read all the books. The longer the Wheel of Time series ran, the harder it was to re-read all the previous books leading up to the latest one. The man had taken to re-reading only the previous two or three before starting the newest release. It was like coming home. He relished the flight from the Two Rivers, having forgotten how engaging and exotic the first few books had been. He grew weary when the story dragged after the eighth book, when Jordan spent more time letting Aes Sedai argue than advancing the plot. He felt the tingle of anticipation reading the two Sanderson books before A Memory of Light, and respecting Sanderson for his brilliant stewardship of the beloved series. As the man moved through the series, all four million words of it, he recalled the path he had taken to this point and how the characters of the Wheel of Time had been his companions, his Light, through his life. It was a catharsis, the pain and joy, trials and tribulations of his teens and 20s put to bed through his journey, one last time, through the Wheel of Time. The series, like it had been so many times before, were his escape. His Pause. A respite from a life that had become dominated by smartphones and social media, the endless maw of his own writing, chronicling the world of technology in his day-to-day life. And finally, after so many years of waiting, the final chapter had arrived. PrologueWe live in a world dominated by technological immediacy. In so many ways, the interest and ability to get lost in a long story that takes us away from this world is fading from our popular consciousness. Sometimes, we need to take a Pause. Pick up a book you may never have thought of reading before and get lost in a different world. You just might find something that becomes an integral part of how you live your life, away from the distractions of Twitter and Facebook, iPhones and Android.My escape from technology (and all of the other tribulations of life) has come in the form of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. The 15-book series was 23 years in the making. Each book has been a New York Times bestseller. The final book, A Memory of Light, was released earlier this month and is already an Amazon bestseller. Below is a tribute to the series, told in the style of Jordan, which chronicles my journey through the Wheel of Time and how it has long served to put the real world into perspective. Book 1: The Eye Of The WorldThe Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one age, called the Modern Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose among the islands of the Gulf of Maine. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginning nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.Inland the wind blew. Cold and bitter, it whipped the trees on the coast and frothed the tops of blue-grey waves in to white caps. It blew through the sea walls and around small islands, casting icy tendrils of snow across the landscape lush with green pine trees. The wind followed a road, long with pavement broken by years of patching from the damage of excessive winters, towards a small two-story house that lay slumbering in the predawn light.The wind rattled the windows of the house, causing a boy, midway through his 10th year, to pull his blanket closer around his shoulders. It was Christmas Day, or the Festival of Lights as the boy was beginning to think of it, and he had woken before the rest of his family to raid his stocking, bulging full next to those of his brothers and sisters. He was allowed to open his stocking when he woke up – but not yet the massive pile of wrapped gifts under a well-decorated and brightly lit tree next to the hearth. A pile of candy and small toys lay strewn around the boy. His mother, he was long past the concept of Santa Claus, always liked to stuff the stockings with goodies for the children, along with items that would likely prove useful in the year to come. A paperback book lay among the rubble, small but thick, with a picture of two people on horseback, one a tall man in majestic armor, the other a small woman garbed in white. The boy looked at the book and set it aside, moving on to more exciting discoveries among the stocking.The title of the book read The Eye Of The World, the first book of The Wheel of Time, by an author named Robert Jordan. The boy did not know it at the time, but the book, and the series that followed, would consume his consciousness and inform his life for the next 20-plus years. Tags:#books#Pause#publishing 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Book 8: The Path of DaggersThe boy was growing into a young man. Not quite yet an adult, he sat in his basement bedroom in the new house his parents had just bought. It was late June and the boy was alone and angry. His parents had moved from that Maine house to one in mountain foothills of Virginia, taking him away from the friends he had known all his life, just as summer started. So, he turned to friends he knew would never abandon him, devouring the books that had become some of his most prized possessions. He was reading The Path of Daggers, the eighth book to the Wheel of Time. It had come out the fall of the year before, but the boy had not yet gotten around to reading it. He had a tradition that must be followed. When Jordan released a new Wheel of Time book, the boy would read every book in the series again before starting the new one. With every book nearly 800 to 1,000 pages, the tradition was beginning to take a long time. He followed the path of his friends. Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn. Mat Cauthon, the scoundrel, gambling son of battles. Perrin Aybara, the stolid blacksmith. Egween al’Vere and Nynaeve al’Meara, the stubborn but talented fledgling Aes Sedai. The people of the Two Rivers that fought to save the world and win Tarmon Gai’don, the last battle between the forces of Light and Shadow.The books were the boy’s solace and his escape, especially through this summer, one of the most difficult and disappointing of his life. He had begun to associate himself with various characters’ traits. He thought of the Two Rivers as his former home in Maine, a place he had been forced to leave. He did not know it then, but just like the characters of the Wheel of Time, leaving his Two Rivers would ultimately be the best thing for him. 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Related Posts
Tags:#social media#web#Yahoo Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… taylor hatmaker 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A homepage redesign would hardly be noteworthy when it comes to most sites on the Web – but for Yahoo, It’s a revolution.Yahoo – long in the tooth among its rivals – doesn’t change early or often, historically speaking. But Wednesday the company rolled out a much-needed update to its cluttered Web hub, Yahoo.com. Marissa Mayer, the company’s refreshingly bright-eyed new CEO, just keeps picking up the pace.Yahoo’s Homepage Enters The Social EraSince taking the top role at the troubled company, the former Googler has overseen a handful of small acquisitions aiming to bolster Yahoo’s set of mobile apps. Now, the iconic purple Yahoo homepage cleans up its look with a flatter, more modern design while adding endless scrolling, stealing a page from the social media playbook of sites like Tumblr and Twitter. Yahoo also updated its core apps today to reflect the changes on Yahoo.com.In a blog post on Yodel Anecdotal, Yahoo’s somewhat obscure and unfortunately named company blog, Mayer writes:“Designed to be more intuitive and personal, the new Yahoo! experience is all about your interests and preferences. Since streams of information have become the paradigm of choice on the web, we’re introducing a newsfeed with infinite scroll, letting you experience a virtually endless feed of news articles.”True to form, Mayer’s mission to inject Yahoo into social and mobile relevance plays out in the redesign. The new homepage cleans up the site’s interest channels (Entertainment, Finance, etc. are moved onto tabs) and allows users signed into Facebook to browse a socially rethought version of the news stream.Back when Facebook’s Timeline first launched, Yahoo was an early partner of the social reading experience, which allows users to passively share the stories they see across the Web. The company continues its evolution in this direction, without sacrificing too much of its DNA. Messing With Imperfection… And An Old FormulaBlame it on Internet Explorer defaults or less-than-savvy Web surfers, but Yahoo’s homepage is still one of the Web’s most trafficked sites. Yahoo.com currently ranks as the #4 most popular website in the U.S. according to Alexa, trailing only Google, Facebook and YouTube.But Yahoo is unique among the top slots – Google’s spartan homepage is a search engine, of course, and YouTube and Facebook are both social platforms. Yahoo’s homepage remains a busy hub of all things Y!, from its curated front page news carousel to Yahoo Mail and everything in between. It might not be pretty, but the Yahoo.com we know keeps vast amounts of traffic churning and ad revenue pouring in. Considering the scale of traffic it drives, tinkering with the homepage formula even a little bit entails significant risk. After all, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it – but if you ask Marissa Mayer, socializing it a little couldnt hurt. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…
brian proffitt Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Samsung#Windows 8 Related Posts A Samsung exec has smacked around Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, calling it out as a big reason why the global PC industry’s numbers are tanking. But is this really the smoking gun?“The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8,” Jun Dong-soo, President of Samsung’s memory chip division, said in an interview with The Korea Times last week. “I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform,” he added.Jun’s remarks were in response to IDC reports of declining PC sales, which dropped 3.7% in 2012, and are expected to shrink another 1.3% in 2013:“The U.S. PC market struggled in 2012, culminating with a 6.5% year-on-year decrease in the fourth quarter and -7.6% growth for the full year. Market saturation, a tough economic environment and weakness across the board, and lack of momentum for Windows 8, which led to 2012 contraction, are expected to persist at least during the first half of 2013,” reported Rajani Singh, Research Analyst at IDC. “IDC expects the second half of 2013 to regain some marginal momentum partly as a rubber band effect from 2012, and largely thanks to the outcome of industry restructuring, better channel involvement, and potentially greater acceptance of Windows 8. We also anticipate a new refresh cycle momentum in the commercial segment driven by the end of Window XP life support.”If anything, Jun’s scathing remarks echo what IDC is saying: Windows 8 hasn’t given a lot of new juice to the PC market. And that’s pretty much hard to argue. But — and I can’t believe I am writing this — sticking the blame on Windows 8 is pretty much a dodge for a lot of other things that are going wrong for the PC world. Here are the quandaries I think about every time I need to look for a PC-type device.Cloud-Oriented Devices Rule. PC makers, get a grip. The rise of smartphones and tablets was bound to cut into your sales. When you sold PCs to consumers all these years, consumers who were doing little more than Facebooking and watching YouTube, essentially you were selling them a Mustang Shelby GT500 when all they needed was a golf cart. And guess what? They figured that out. Home consumers aren’t always interested in productivity and creative apps, so devices that connect on cloud-based services are Perfectly Fine.Stationary Form Factor. Say I still want the productivity power. (Which I do.) PCs are big. They take up space. Even if you have a hockey-puck device like a Mac Mini, you’ve still got to factor in the monitor, keyboard and mouse. I need a desk for this thing, and it’s not portable. Productive workers are getting used to the notion of mobility, and old-school PCs are not fitting the bill.Cost. We’ve had laptops and notebooks for how long, and they’re still coming in with a price premium? I get that making laptops is harder than PC-form devices, due to size, power and complexity issues, but it would be great if I could walk into a computer showroom and not have sticker shock for top-of-the-line notebooks and laptops. You can make the argument that you pays for what you gets, but unless you need these things for your livelihood or a serious hobby, why buy?Windows 8, frankly, doesn’t even enter into the equation. That’s because I can either (1) buy a machine pre-loaded with Windows 7, (2) pick up a Mac or (3) just rip out whatever and install Linux on the machine (my most likely scenario). And, since no one would argue that options 1 & 2 are not beyond the technical expertise of most PC users (and I would dispute that option 3 is all that hard), then pointing the finger at Windows 8 seems incongruous at best.There’s no love lost between me and Windows anything, to be sure. But hardware manufacturers have options to better reach customers, which they need to take. Plus, I’m not sure Jun and his colleagues in the PC industry have much to worry about. Yes, PC sales will contract, but eventually the core business/productivity market will be reached, and sales will stabilize.And as IDC’s Singh noted, the end of life for Windows XP is coming, which is going to drive more new PC sales as consumers and IT managers alike start upgrading their hardware to be compatible with Windows 7 and even Windows 8.Image courtesy of Shutterstock A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
Make plans to attend the TBIoptions: Promoting Knowledge web conference at 10:00 a.m. CST on Wednesday, April 17, presented by Debra Sellers, Ph.D.The conference is a 75-minute webinar that will provide a general understanding of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and available resources for survivors and their families. Promoting KnowledgeA person with TBI (a survivor) may experience physical effects, changes in thinking and communication, and alterations in emotional well-being and behavior. The program will include a series of topics including the “basics” of traumatic brain injury; the impact of TBI on survivors physically, cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally; the consequences of TBI for survivors in relationships, activities of daily living, and work; and how individuals and communities can support survivors and their families.PresenterDebra M. Sellers, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in Adult Development & Aging, School of Family Studies and Human Services, Kansas State University. Her primary area of interest is adaptive living for people with aging-related limitations or disabilities and their families and caregivers, with an emphasis on supporting functional abilities through access to services and technology. Debra has more than 15 years of experience serving adults with disabilities, older adults, and families in a variety of settings, including long-term care facilities, retirement communities and government agencies. She is a former member of the Kansas Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board, was voted as one of her city’s most admired people (Manhattan, KS), and is a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence®.No registration is required to join the web conference, simply go to TBIoptions: Promoting Knowledge to attend. The site will provide handouts associated with the presentation and a direct link to join the event.This post was written by Rachel Brauner of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service-Wounded Warrior Program and is part of a series of Military Caregiving posts published on the Military Families Learning Network blog.
Current ratio. The current ratio refers to your ability to meet short-term liabilities which include all of your debt repayments to be made in the current year. CURRENT RATIO = CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS/SHORT TERM LIABILITIES Asset-to-debt ratio. This ratio compares your assets to your total existing liabilities. Liabilities include home loans, car loans, credit card debt, etc. It is always desirable to possess more assets than debt. To calculate this ratio: ASSET-TO-DEBT RATIO = TOTAL ASSETS / TOTAL LIABILITIES Solvency ratio. This ratio refers to your ability to repay all existing debts using your assets in the case of an emergency. You may wish to use a net worth calculator prior to calculating this ratio. SOLVENCY RATIO = NET WORTH/TOTAL ASSETSDo not worry if these ratios seem complicated. There are numerous resources available to you that can help you to understand what each of these ratios mean. What is important is that you are aware of what you need to be considering when measuring your financial health!Being aware of your financial health will help you to meet your short-term and long-term financial goals while avoiding unreasonable amounts of debt. Financial experts recommend calculating your financial ratios on a yearly basis and making any adjustments to your spending and saving patterns that you deem necessary.Contact Jennifer at email@example.com Saving ratio. The saving ratio is perhaps the easiest to calculate and will provide you with insight as to how well your finances are managed and how likely it is that you can achieve your saving goals. SAVING RATIO = MONTHLY SURPLUS / MONTHLY INCOME By Kristyn Jackson, LMFT and Jennifer Hunter, Ph.D., University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension ServiceHave you ever heard someone discussing their “financial health?” Financial health refers to how well you are doing financially and is based on a number of factors. Much like you go to your family doctor for yearly check-ups, it is a good idea to perform a financial check-up from time to time.Unfortunately, many families often find it overwhelming to measure their financial health because of all of the factors included. What further complicates measuring your financial health is the fact that financial advisors and firms often recommend different ways of doing so. You can use more subjective measures of financial health such as your personal satisfaction with your financial status, the amount of financial stress you experience, and how financially independent you feel. However, you can also measure your financial health through more concrete measures.Capt. Pedro Rodriguez gives two thumbs up while running the 26.2 mile course of the Marine Corps Marathon Forward. Photo by Sgt. Bobby J. YarbroughProvided below is an overview of the various measures that a financial advisor may suggest calculating in order to measure your financial health. It is a good idea to calculate these values on a fairly regular basis, such as the beginning of a new year. If you have questions, do not be afraid to reach out to a professional advisor who can answer them.Liquidity ratio. Liquidity ratio refers to your ability to meet your necessary expenses when you are faced with an emergency such as an unexpected home repair or medical bill. It is recommended that you keep a 3 to 6 month emergency fund, meaning that an ideal ratio is between 3 and 6. To calculate this ratio: LIQUIDITY RATIO = CASH OR CASH EQUIVALENTS ON HAND / MONTHLY COMMITTED EXPENSES Debt-service ratio. This ratio refers to the percentage of your income that is designated to debt repayment and the percentage of income remaining for other mandatory household expenses and savings. Lower ratios represent better financial management. DEBT SERVICE RATIO = SHORT TERM LIABILITIES / TOTAL INCOME
These 10 tips are geared toward the FCP editor and will you get up to speed quickly with the nuances and new features in Premiere Pro CS6!Maybe you’ve come to Premiere Pro from Final Cut Pro or you’re a former Premiere editor looking to take advantage of the new features in CS6…In this post we’ll break down some of the changes in CS6, as well as offer up a few tips to make you a more successful Premiere Pro video editor!1. Setting Project & Scratch DiskWhen you Launch Premiere Pro for the first time you are greeted with a “New Project” dialog box. Here you choose where your Project and Scratch Disk are being saved. Premiere Pro defaults this to to user/documents/Adobe/Premiere Pro (your Scratch Disks and Preview files follow the project by default). Be aware that if you are working with tapeless media, you have to manually move your files from the card to your scratch disk, as tapeless files are considered imports and not captured media.Personally, I save my media/projects to a folder on my media drive (fastest drive). I put my Premiere Auto Saves & Previews/Renders on a separate drive and back up the projects to Dropbox daily. Whatever strategy you choose, please back up your project! If you forget or need to change your scratch after launching the project, go to Project>Project Settings>Scratch Disk to make modifications.Post Haste is a free software application that will help you with this file organization. It creates a folder structure for you, and you can modify the defaults and create your own templates.An additional resource is this handy guide for disk setups on the Adobe forums. 2. Workspace ShortcutsCreating workspace shortcuts will speed up your editing work. My rule of thumb is to make a shortcut for anything you use on a daily basis.Here’s a general guide to customizing shortcuts in Adobe Premiere Pro that’s worth a look. A few of the workspace shortcuts I use religiously:Control + U – Reset my current layout when it gets disorganized and messyCommand + 1 – Audio WorkspaceCommand + 2 – Color Correction WorkspaceCommand + 3 – Editing Workspace3. Working with Clips in a SequenceBy default when you drag a clip into a Sequence from the Source Window you perform an Overwrite Edit. If you’d like to perform an Insert Edit instead (pushes other clips down the timeline) hold Command (MAC) or Control (PC) when you drag the clip to the sequence.Often you will want to rearrange the order of clips in a Sequence. Select the clip, drag the clip to a new location, then hold Command/Control + Option/Alt before you let go of the mouse (make sure snapping is turned on). This is called a Swap Edit.4. Maximize Window ShortcutEnlarge the window you’re working in by placing your cursor over the window you want to maximize and press tilde (below the escape key). Press it again and it reverts back.I use this constantly.5. Render from “In and Out”The work area defines what clips and effects are rendered. I prefer to use “in and out” instead, as this is a standard editing convention. This setting is in the Sequence Menu pulldown. When you change this, it also changes the Sequence Menu settings to “in & out” instead of work area.Here’s two Premiere Pro render shortcuts that are worth memorizing and using!Render In/Outs – Command + RRender Effects – Option + R6. Show Audio Time UnitsThis lets you work with audio in smaller increments – particularly helpful when removing a pop or other audio issue. In the Timeline Menu pull down select “Show Audio Time Units”.You can read more on this here.7. Clip Usage in SequencesThere’s a quick way to find out where and how many times a video clip has been used in a Premiere Pro sequence. If you select a clip in the project window, at the top of window to the right of the thumbnail viewer, you will see details about the clip, including how many times it has been used in a sequence. If you click on the “clip usage” pulldown, select the instance of the clip you want to see and it will open that sequence if it is in multiple sequences. This is a handy way to find clips.8. Change Track HeightIn FCP 7 you could change the track height in the Timeline of video & audio tracks with the shortcut Shift +T or by clicking the Toggle Timeline icon. In Premiere Pro you can assign a shortcut to increase/decrease the video/audio track height (unfortunately however it’s not a toggle).You can use the FCP shortcut of Shift +T, but it conflicts with the default “Reveal Nested Sequence”. Instead, I use Cmd + H to increase track height and Option + Command + H to decrease track height. Note: The tracks have to be expanded for this to work successfully.9. Sync LockUncheck Sync Lock when you want a Premiere Pro track to stay in place. A common use for this is when you don’t want your music track to get pushed down when you perform an Insert Edit. See the highlighted sync lock button below.By default Insert Edit will push all tracks down unless Sync Unlock is off or the track is locked.10. Creating MarkersTo create a marker in a Premiere Pro sequence, use the shortcut “M”. You can see your markers in the markers Panel, change their length and add comments (very useful for adding editing or producers notes).To create a marker on a clip, load the clip into the Source Window & press “M”. The Marker Panel with show sequence markers if the Sequence is selected, or clip markers if the Source is selected.Selecting the Marker in the Marker Panel will take you to the marker in the clip or sequence – a big Premiere Pro timesaver!BONUS TIP: Using Hover ScrubPremiere Pro CS 6 defaults to Icon view, instead of list view like previous versions. Put your cursor over an icon, and the clip will play backwards or forwards as you drag your mouse. If you click on the clip you you get a yellow bar (shows the “in & out” points) and a playhead.You can drag the playhead, or use the J, K or L shortcuts to play the clip. You can set in & out with I & O.The filmstrip icon indicates clip usage in the project and the waveform icon indicates the clip has linked audio.Got a Premiere Pro tip to share?Share it in the comments below!
Our series on breaking down the effects nodes in Autodesk Smoke continues with Blend & Comp and Blur in ConnectFX.There are over 50 nodes in the Smoke ConnectFX arsenal. As we begin the B’s, our first 2 nodes are very useful in setting up some quick composites of a few sources, and in creating some very organic stylizing of your clips.Smoke’s Blend & Comp NodeSmoke’s Blend & Comp is a simple yet very versatile node. You can use Blend & Comp to combine up to 2 sources with their mattes over a background. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but there is more to this node once you start to breakdown the controls. By default Input 1 is composited over input 2, and the result of those 2 is composited over the Background input. This is very useful when you have elements, like graphics, that are already in position and all you need to do is just key them over a back clip. This node would be well suited if you have CG elements rendered out with alpha channels. Blend & Comp is a much lighter node than Action, and faster to use if all you need to do is comp.[Click for larger view]Blend and Comp has both the Photoshop blend modes and the classic Autodesk Flame blend modes. There are even GIMP blend modes, although I have never had the pleasure of using GIMP. Several of these blend modes are similar or identical, like Add, Screen, and Multiply. There are a also few blend modes that are exclusive to the selections. Flame modes have Spotlight and Simple Add, where Photoshop has Hard, Soft, and Vivid Light. Needless to say, you have lots of options to blend Input 1 over Input 2. You can also Swap Sources with a toggle button so you don’t have to rewire the inputs in the ConnectFX schematic.[Click for larger view]You can Activate or Deactivate either of the inputs, as well as, turn the matte on or off. There is also an option to set the clip as premultiplied or divided from it’s alpha(matte). Transparency can also be modified. One of the great features that Autodesk puts into many of their nodes is the ability to make color and level adjustments on the input source. You have the ability to make simple color tweaks with a color trackball, and individual gain controls for the RGB channels. These color adjustments only affect the Front of the input and not it’s matte input. All of these controls are also available on the 2nd Input for the node.When it comes to the Matte or Alpha channels for the clips you have multiple choices in how those mattes interact with each other. This can be used to create some very interesting matte intersections which can be used for many effects further down in your ConnectFX schematic like making custom transitions.[Click for larger view]You can blend the mattes as 1 over 2, 2 intersect 1, 1 inside 2, 2 inside 1, Excluded, 1 minus 2, and 2 minus 1[Click for larger view]You would set the mattes correlation setting to Correlated if you had separate mattes but we all part of the same object. This will keep the intersection clean.Now that you have these 2 inputs blended together, that result gets blended over the background. You can choose to blend the composite over the background, input 2, or a color. Again, you have the blend mode option of Photoshop or Flame, and all of the same blend modes as before.This flexibility, can create some very interesting looks and effects to the final result. If you are familiar with how blend modes work with layer in Photoshop or After Effects all of those same looks can be achieved inside Blend & Comp. You then have additional color and level controls that affect the final composite, not just the background clip. The result of the 2 inputs and background can seen on the output of the node as well as the result of the matte blend if needed.Smoke’s Blur NodeThe Blur node is pretty self-explanatory, but as with most of the tools inside Smoke it has lots of options and customizations. The Blur node accepts both a Front and Matte input and will output the same. However, you have the option of having different blur values for the front and matte on output. If you are working in 16bit float, you have a clamping option for the input color and luminance levels.[Click for larger view]The Blur options of the node are Box, Gaussian, Directional, Radial, Defocus, and Radial Stamp. Depending on which blur look you choose, specific sub-options will become available. For the Radial option you have Twist and Spin adjustments. With the Defocus setting you have additional controls for the Bokeh look. Choosing Directional will allow you to set the bias, and Radial Stamp will give you samples setting. The Radial Stamp blur creates a very fast rendering blur depending on the amount of samples. With Radial Blur, you also have the option to set the center point of the blur as well as the ability to track the center to a point in your clip with the stabilizer.[Click for larger view]Once the type of blur is chosen, it’s time to set the amount of blur. By adjusting the front settings, you can have the matte locked to these settings or have its own values. Again depending on the type of blur chosen the front settings will give more options. Ex: Length & Angle values for Directional, and Amount & Rotation Values for Radial & Radial Stamp.You would use Defocus as your blur type if you want to simulate a realistic camera lens defocus with added bokeh. Blooming settings can be seen in the front controls to adjust the amount of blooming that will occur on the highlights of the image as well as setting for the minimum and maximum threshold for the blooming effect.A Kernel setting also appears when you can set the look of the bokeh effect. You can set the sides, rotation, curvature and roundness of the bokeh shape, and adjust a custom curve for the look that can shape the softness and blending of the shape.When it comes to the matte settings, as I stated they can be locked to the values of the front image or you can have them independent. You can also invert the matte if needed. The reason for that is that you can use the matte to blend the blur over the original image. You can use this to create a vey stylized look to your image with the blur. The same blend modes that exist in Blend & Comp are also in the Blur node. You can add more transparency to the blur effect as well.[Click for larger view]To further stylize the blur, you can offset the RGB or YUV channels of the blur. You can adjust the X and Y positon of the offset for each channel as well as alter the weight, which will give more emphasis to one channel over another. This is great for adding a little chromatic aberration to the blur. By animating these values you can create a very unique blurred distortion effect.[Click for larger view]As you can see the tools in Smoke are very deep and there are a lot of options and setting to create and customize the look you want. What sounds like a basic node, like Smoke’s Blur and Blend & Comp, is a very complex tool, but once you get comfortable with the nodes you can easily and quickly get the results you want.With Autodesk Smoke, you have both depth and simplicity in how the tools are designed and how the interface is laid out. Take the time to experiment and remember that once you get look you like you can save that setup for use later on. Just hit the Node Prefs button and you will then have Save and Load options for that node available.Check back as we continue our ongoing coverage of Autodesk Smoke. In the next post we will finish up the B’s in the ConnectFX Node Bin.
When you’re editing external audio files, protecting the original recording is essential. Follow these steps to safeguard your audio while you work.Top image via Shutterstock.Good field recording engineers will often do things like leave plenty of headroom to avoid peaking out a recording if someone suddenly laughs, screams, or makes a loud noise. This is an excellent way to preserve the quality of the recording, but it can make it difficult for you to make creative editing choices if you are constantly riding your computer’s volume just to understand the content. Further, with the wrong approach, you can accidentally apply permanent effects to your audio. Here’s one way to preserve the original recordings while you edit.Image via Shutterstock.Before you begin editing, create one folder with your original audio files and a second one called “Edited Audio.” Paste copies of the original audio files in the “Edited Audio” folder. You now have two copies of your project’s external audio. Open all of your “Edited Audio” in Adobe Audition and make any necessary edits.It’s very important that you do not change the duration of any of your clips in Audition. The copies must match the originals in duration, or they will fall out of sync.If you recorded something like an interview in a very controlled environment, this would be an excellent time to create a batch processing command if you are in a hurry and just need functional audio for easier editing. Because you still have your originals, it doesn’t matter if your first attempts are slightly off the mark.Once you have completed your edits, you can save all of the files and close your audio editor. Notice in the picture below that metadata sidecars appear after you perform your edits; this is normal.Remember that the audio files in Adobe Premiere Pro are still the unedited original files. In order to substitute them with your newly edited files, you first need to take the originals offline. Highlight all of the audio files listed, right-click, and select “Make Offline.”A dialogue box will ask if you want to keep the media on disk or if you should delete the files once they are offline. Adobe Premiere defaults to keeping them on disk. Make sure you select “Media Files Remain on Disk,” or you will delete your original audio files!Relink your media to the newly edited files in your “Edited Files” folder by selecting all of the offline audio files you just disconnected, right-clicking, and selecting “Link Media.”A new dialogue box will allow you to browse to the new files’ location. Click the “Locate” button and navigate to the “Edited Audio” folder containing your newly edited audio files. You can verify that you’re using the correct path by looking at the area near the top of the dialogue box for “Last Path” and “Path” indications. “Path” will show the new location you’ve just specified. Once you can see everything is correct, then click the “Locate” button.In this instance, to solve the problem of audio that is too quiet due to the headroom the engineer left while recording, I increased the volume of each clip in Audition, and I can clearly see that the waveforms in my timeline are now larger. To further verify the audio’s functionality, right click on one of your audio files and select “Reveal in Finder.” If all has gone well, then a Finder window will open showing the files in the “Edited Audio” folder.It is important to note that using the “Edit Clip in Adobe Audition” command is also a way to edit audio without altering your originals. However, there are several scenarios during which that command can take quite a bit of time if you have already started editing and don’t want to individually affect each clip. Although you can highlight individual audio clips in the project folder inside Adobe Premiere, you currently cannot send a batch of clips to Audition, which is very time-consuming if you need to quickly adjust several files. I typically find that this scenario arises when there are several takes during an interview or a segment of dialogue — or if there are several different audio files that all generally need the same treatment.Do you have audio editing workflow tips? Let us know in the comments.
Roll EditYou can perform a roll edit by placing the cursor directly within an edit point or two clips. When the cursor is between both clips, the following icon will appear. DaVinci Resolve has a unique take on trim functions. Learn how to maximize your workflow in this quick tutorial.Cover image via Shutterstock.If you’re considering trying out DaVinci Resolve, there is an important feature you need to know — this function is quite different in Premiere Pro. These are the trim tools. (If, on the other hand, you’re coming from Final Cut Pro, you may be more familiar with how Resolve handles the trim functions.)In Resolve, the ripple, slide, slip, and roll edits are all under one function: the Trim Edit Mode.(For more on trim tools functions in Premiere Pro, check out this article.) Dynamic Trim EditIn Resolve, trim is a dynamic process. When you are in the Trim Edit mode, you can complete different trim edits depending on where you place your cursor on the clip. This is a much faster process for performing edit tasks. You no longer have to hit various keyboard shortcuts or find the particular edit tool icon. Let’s take a look at how you activate each edit mode. Remember, you need to be in the Trim Edit mode (T on the keyboard) to perform these functions. Ripple EditTo perform a ripple edit, bring your cursor just in from the edge of a clip. The following icon will appear and allow you to proceed with a ripple edit.As a side note, if the edge of your clip is highlighted green, that means that the clip still has unused footage — so you can extend it. If the edge is red, that signifies that there is no more footage to work from. As you can see in the still below, I’m trying to perform a roll edit, but I’m unable to do so because I have no extra footage in both clips to work with. If you’re interested in dynamic editing in Resolve, I’ve created an easy-to-follow tutorial series that covers the basics of editing in Resolve 12.5. What are your thoughts? Do you prefer this method of using the trim tools, or do you have a different approach? Let us know in the comments. Slip EditIt’s very easy to accidentally perform a slide edit instead of a slip edit, as the area from one tool to the other is very minimal. To perform a slip edit while in Trim mode, place the cursor on the frame thumbnails.You have to have the thumbnail previews activated on the timeline to be able to perform this dynamic edit. If, however, you prefer to edit without the thumbnail preview, you can also increase the track height to display an extra area of solid color to perform a slip edit. However, increasing the track height adds an extra step and diminishes the efficiency of the Dynamic Trim function.Slide EditAs you might have guessed, the slide edit involves placing the cursor underneath the thumbnail previews and onto the area with the clip’s filename.
Find InspirationImage via Shutterstock.What inspires people varies greatly from person to person. If the mountains inspire you, then go to the mountains and study them. If photography inspires you, then go to a photography exhibit. Finding the right inspiration will help to train your eye by helping you understand more fully what you like and why you like it.ExperimentDon’t wait until your next time on set to experiment with a new lighting style or approach. If you’ve been thinking about starting to double diffuse your light sources, then do it in between shoots. Work out the kinks so you can really hone your approach to the aesthetic that you’re seeking.Taking the time to train your eye as a cinematographer is a great habit. Be wise with your time in between shoots and invest in yourself and your education. By doing so, you can become a better cinematographer.Looking for more cinematography tips? Check out these articles.4 Cinematography Tips for Filming During Magic Hour How to Stylize Your Cinematography Like Wes Anderson3 Cinematography Tools for Capturing Perfect ExposureCinematography Tip: The Benefits of Using a Light MeterBasic Camera Filtration to Elevate your Cinematography Training your eye to be a better cinematographer is an ongoing process. Here are some tips that can help you improve your craft.Cover image via Shutterstock.Training your eye is something that you will work on throughout your entire career. However, there are many ways you can keep building your aesthetic and selecting the best shots for your work — especially between shoots. Let’s take a look.Take More PhotosImage via Shutterstock.Cinematographers can learn a lot from photography. Whenever I walk into a new place, I immediately start to think about how I would frame the place if it were a shot. By constantly taking photos, you can compare your initial framing instincts to a photograph. If the photo didn’t turn out as expected, then you know it would require a different approach. It’s much like going to the gym: by constantly experimenting and challenging yourself, you will build up your aesthetics and inclination to light and cinematography.You can really challenge yourself by taking a camera with only one prime lens. Working under these limitations will force you to be more creative. Once you find an enticing frame, play around with the composition, focus, and angle. Approach it as an experiment — in some way that you may have never tried in the past.Be a StudentSometimes you just come across beautiful lighting occurring naturally. You may be seeing a beautiful beam of light punching through a window. Or it may be direct sunlight creating a beautiful texture on the the wall. By stopping and analyzing what you see in those moments, you can train your eye to find (or create) them more readily. If you see a beautiful, naturally occurring lighting scenario, stop and determine why it is that you like it — and how you could recreate it on set.
When you were hungry you did whatever was necessary. It didn’t matter if something was ridiculously difficult or not, you employed all of your initiative and all of your resourcefulness to find a way or make one.When you were hungry, no challenge was too great. You needed to make things happen, and you turned yourself inside out to do the impossible.But you are no longer hungry. When something is difficult, you avoid it, instead of digging deep and getting it done. Now, when you encounter the “ridiculously impossible” you employ all of your initiative and resourcefulness in identifying all the reasons you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” do whatever is necessary.When you are already uncomfortable, doing things that are uncomfortable and difficult is easy. But once you allow yourself to lose the hunger, you don’t want to return to discomfort.The problem is that you have competitors who are still hungry. They are already uncomfortable, and they are willing to do what you are unwilling to do. The things that you call “impossible,” they call “how we win.” This is how you end up being competitively displaced.The status quo is complacency. Being exceptional means never growing complacent, never allowing the status quo to take hold, and staying hungry when it is easy to slip into the warm comfort of “how we do things now.”.You can’t let anyone want “it” more than you want “it.” You must find a way to recall how it felt to be hungry, and revert to the resourcefulness and initiative that defined you back then. If you need motivation, just imagine how it would feel to lose the comfort you have now. It would feel a lot worse than being hungry the first time around because back then you didn’t know any different.The difference between the professionals and poseurs is that the pros find a way to stay hungry.
India’s longest road tunnel, built on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, will open to traffic very soon following the success of the trial run.The work on the 9.2-km tube tunnel, which is part of a 286-km, four-lane project, started on May 23, 2011 in the lower Himalayan mountain range and cost ₹3,720 crore, officials said.Elevation of 1,200 mThe tunnel, which is located at an elevation of 1,200 metre, will be the first in India to be equipped with the world-class integrated tunnel control system, through which ventilation, fire control, signals, communication and electrical systems will be automatically actuated.The tunnel will reduce the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two-and-a-half hours. The road distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of the present 41 km, officials said.“The formal trial run was successfully completed for peak and off-peak hours between March 9 and March 15,” J.S. Rathore Project Director, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), told PTI.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate the highway tunnel by month-end.
An unbearable stench emanates from the area near the gate of the Ghasyari Mandir Primary School in the Qaiserbagh area of Lucknow. Tucked into a wall of the government-run school is a municipality dumping ground, the filth from which not only fouls the atmosphere but also overflows to the residential colony located nearby. It is a den for stray dogs.Despite complaints by residents, the dumping zone has existed for many years, a casualty of which has been enrollment in the school as parents refuse to send their children there.“We have only six students left. The guardians have given it to us in writing that they don’t want their children to fall ill,” said assistant teacher Archana Singh, who has her mouth partially covered to avoid the stench.A few feet away, crumbs of rotting meat and fish, and other filth, have almost reached the door of Tara Ghihar’s house. The waste dumped here comes mostly from Machli Mahaul, a fish, meat and vegetable market located nearby.“They talk of Swacchh Bharat. But nobody ever comes here. Our relatives and guests refuse invitations to our house due to this filth. Tell me, who will come here?” asks Ms. Ghihar, a Dalit.110 wards go to pollsLocated barely 2 km from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, the locality falls in the Jagdish Chandra Bose Ward (44), one of the 110 in the city that will vote on Sunday in the second phase of the State’s municipal elections. The awkwardly located dumping zone, squeezed between a school and some houses, is only one of the problems of the ward, where residents struggle for basic civic requirements such as sanitation, clean water, and toilets. Many homes do not have toilets or the space to build it. They rely on public toilets.However, the public toilet closest to the Machli Mahaul locality is filthy and choked. Not only is there a strong stench of human waste, the structure is dilapidated, with a pile of trash and dense overgrowth on both sides. Walking all the way to the next toilet in another part of the market is an ordeal, especially for women. Besides, that toilet closes at night.“They came once and pruned the tree. But did nothing about the toilet,” said Manorama Gupta, a resident of the locality.“This toilet is so filthy, we don’t feel like entering it. There are worms crawling everywhere. But where else to go?” she asks.Not just residents, the poor sanitation facilities also pose difficulties for outsiders, especially farmers and women, who come to the mandi (market) for trade and have to stay for hours.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) are locked in a tight three-way fight in this ward. The incumbent, SP’s Yawar Hussain Reshu, has won for the last five terms from Ward 44. He is popular among voters and considered accessible.But Bhola Ghihar, a marble artisan, says he is looking for a change this time. “Reshu bhai did a lot of overall work. But in so many years, he could not repair a toilet, our basic need. Let’s give a chance to somebody else,” he said.The ward, which has over 15,000 voters, has a substantial population of Muslims and Dalits. The Congress has also fielded a Muslim, Farid, who stood second in the 2012 elections, while the BJP has fielded Rinku Sonkar, a Dalit belonging to the Khatik caste, who are traditional vegetable sellers.Mohammad Mujahid, who runs a bakery, is a Reshu loyalist and will vote for him again. “Reshu has repaired the drains and street lights, and built water tanks. But most of all, he is amicable and available for us on a call,” says Mr. Mujahid.Mahesh Kashyap, an OBC (Other Backward Classes) resident, who sells chickpeas, and Varun Sonkar, a Dalit vegetable seller, echo the sentiment.Health hazardsHowever, Mr. Sonkar says the parshad, as the the ward councillor is known, did not fully address the drinking water problem. “The tap water we get is yellow. It is not fit for drinking. We have to borrow water from our neighbours, who have borewells installed. It [the water supply] is all dependant on mutual goodwill and humanity, not the municipality,” he says.In the Khatik neighbourhood, the major issue is an open drain. Guddi Sonkar, a Dalit hawker, has no toilet in her one-room house and visits a makeshift toilet next to the drain each day. “It almost feels like open defecation. We have to wait for darkness to fall to go there, either in the night or early morning,” she says.The open drain has been an eyesore for locals for many years now. It not only runs close to homes, bifurcating the locality and causing numerous diseases, it swells so much during the monsoons that filthy water runs into the homes.Manoj Kumar, a Khatik, shows this reporter a video of the monsoons he recorded last year. “Ravidas Mehrotra [a former MLA] promised he would cover up the drain. But after he won, he never showed his face. The parshad gets the drain cleaned but has done nothing concrete,” said Mr. Manoj, who runs a plywood shop.While civic issues and the personalities of the candidates are key factors in determining support, there is also anger towards the Narendra Modi government for policies such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which small traders and artisans say is complex, and has also made selling and purchasing material difficult.Local knowledgeSandhya, a Sonkar woman, regrets voting for the BJP and complains that GST has made clothes expensive. But will she vote against the BJP? No, she says. Her explanation is practical. Sandhya, who is an M.Phil in ancient history, says policies such as GST do not concern the municipal ward representative. Besides, the BJP candidate is from her caste.“We need to choose a councillor for the things under his jurisdiction. We will vent our frustration against the BJP in 2019, if we have to,” she says.The margins for victory in UP’s local elections are so thin that, in his campaign, Mr. Reshu has stressed he is the only one among the three candidates to live within the boundaries of the ward.Golu Sonkar agrees with Mr. Reshu that “only a local” can bring development. But he says he will vote for the BJP candidate this time, simply due to community compulsions. “It is the first time a member of our biradari (community) is contesting here,” says the youth, who is unemployed.
Odisha is turning into a graveyard for elephants with over 1,000 deaths being recorded since 2000.“From 1990 to 2000, 333 elephant deaths were recorded. However, between 2000 and 2017, there were 1,040 deaths. In 26 years, 1,373 elephants have died,” Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO) secretary Biswajit Mohanty said on Wednesday.WSO, a non-government organisation, has been campaigning for a holistic management plan with accountability at all levels to check elephant deaths in the State.According to WSO, if the rising death trend continues it will spell doom for the species as it might significantly overtake the birth rate.“Over the years, the elephant population has declined from 2,044 in 1979 to 1,976 in 2017. At least 90 adult males have been killed for ivory in Odisha since April 2010, leading to a reduction in the breeding population of prime adult males,” he pointed out.The data put out by WSO says Karnataka with 6,049 elephants has almost three times the number of jumbos that Odisha has. “In the last 16 years, about 1,150 elephants have died in Karnataka (average of 72 per year). In Odisha, 940 elephants have died (average 59 per year). Compared to Karnataka, Odisha death rate should not exceed an average of 24 deaths per year,” said Mr. Mohanty.Electrocution has been recorded as the leading cause of unnatural elephant deaths. In the past 17 years, over 160 elephants have been electrocuted in Odisha. “Either they are killed by sagging overhead power lines or by poachers who set up wire traps, running into 2-3 km, for wild boar and deer at the edge of the forests,” said WSO researcher Ranjit Patnaik.“Since December 2012, 42 elephants have fallen into wells. Of these, seven were killed, three sustained injuries and two calves were separated from their herd,” he said.“Dhenkanal district has witnessed the maximum number of human-elephant conflicts in the State, possibly in the country, due to the disturbance caused to their habitat by the Rengali canal network. Already 16 elephants deaths have been recorded from April 2017 to December 2017, a new high,” said Mr. Mohanty.
Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Saturday slammed RJD chief Lalu Prasad for talking to media about his “innocence” in the fodder scam even as a CBI court was due to deliver its judgement in the case. The special CBI court in Ranchi will pronounce its verdict at 3 p.m. in the fodder scam case in which Mr. Prasad, a former Bihar chief minister and Union minister, is an accused.“Whether he is acquitted or convicted, is for the court to decide. We do comment on it, but he is lecturing on the TV since morning even though the judgement is yet to be delivered,” Mr. Paswan told reporters here.Mr. Paswan, the chief of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an NDA ally, also hit out at Mr. Prasad alleging his involvement in corruption as Union Railway minister. “He used to be a big-shot in the Railways but what did he do there? He just made (money),” the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution alleged.Mr. Paswan, 71, congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for the party’s “crucial” victory in the just-held Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections and predicted the NDA’s win in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.“There will be no Opposition in 2019 because they have no issues. What will (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi tell about his party’s achievements in 2019,” he asked. He also claimed that unity among all Opposition parties for the 2019 elections was an “impossibility”, saying they cannot come together “even in seven lives”. “The Congress protests alone in Parliament and no other party from the Opposition joins them. Those who cannot unite in Parliament, cannot do so outside it,” he added. Talking about his party, Mr. Paswan said the national executive of the LJP will be held in Delhi on March 11 next year. He said the LJP has been able to increase its membership to 50 lakh, and aims to have one crore members.
The death of a 27-year-old Army soldier hailing from Kerala has set off fears that he may have been infected with Nipah. Seenu Prasad, was admitted to Kolkata’s Command Hospital on April 20 and he passed away on May 25.“His body fluids have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune, ” said Wing Commander S.S. Birdi, Chief Public Relations Officer in Kolkata for the Ministry of Defence.According to authorities, the soldier had gone on a month’s leave to Kerala and joined duty on May 13. He was posted at Fort William, the headquarters of the Army’s Eastern Command. Meanwhile, three patients have been moved to the isolation ward of the Infectious Diseases Hospital at Beleghata in Kolkata after they showed symptoms of viral contamination. Two of them are from Domkal in Murshidabad district and the third is from Ghatal in Paschim Medinipur. They had visited Kerala in the past few weeks.
“Don’t play smart or we will render you homeless.” This was the Supreme Court’s categorical warning to real estate major Amrapali Group, which is accused of delaying its projects to the detriment of homebuyers’ interest. The top court said it will not allow the company to collect money from hassled homebuyers and warned that “each and every property” of the managing directors and directors of the firm will be sold to recover the cost of construction of its pending real estate projects.“The real problem is that you have delayed giving possession of homes. Don’t try to play smart or we will sell each and every property of yours and render you homeless. You [the directors] will have to look for your houses like you are making others wait for their homes. We will sell each and every thing of yours,” a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and U. U. Lalit said. The Bench got annoyed after the group submitted a proposal to sell commercial properties worth ₹400 crore against the expected cost of ₹4,000 crore to be incurred in completing its pending projects. It sought details of immovable and movable properties of managing directors and directors of the company along with their valuation report within 15 days. The Bench listed the matter for hearing on August 14.
A patient died at the Dhenkanal district hospital on Sunday as doctors wasted time quarrelling over who would attend to the victim.Trilokya Sahu (37) of Gunduraposi village under the Gondia police limit was rushed to the Community Health Centre, Gondia, when he complained of acute chest pain. Doctors immediately referred him to the Dhenkanal hospital.Relatives took him to the district hospital Outdoor Patient Department where they were told to take him to the medicine ward.Trilokya was taken to medicine ward where the doctor refused to attend to him saying it was not his case. The relatives again took him to the OPD. When the OPD doctor asked why the patient was not being attended to, it led to a spat between the two doctors. The two doctors were identified as Pragyan Das and Manoj Das.Meanwhile, the victim, who was left unattended, died. “My brother died as no doctor attended to him. It is a criminal act as the two doctors chose to fight instead of taking care of the patient,” said Rabi Narayan Sahu, brother of the victim. Dhenkanal Chief District Medical Officer Basudev Behera said it was an unfortunate incident and the matter would be investigated.Angry villagers staged a road block near Gondia demanding compensation of ₹10 lakh for the family of the deceased..