first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 2: eBooks will hit 20% market penetration by the end of 2011. In 2010, the Association of American Publishers reported that eBooks made up 9.03% of total consumer book sales – compared to 3.31% at the close of 2009. I’m predicting this growth to rocket in 2011, thanks to a plentiful supply of cheap eReaders and a long overdue price war on eBooks between Amazon, Barnes&Noble and others. I predict it will reach 20%, in other words one in five books in 2011 will be sold as an eBook. If that bold prediction comes true, it will be great news for book consumers and will silence eBook skeptics about the future of eBooks. Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting paper books will go away, just that eBooks become much more popular and utilized.3: Internet of Cars will be the surprise hit of the year. This year we saw further commercialization of services that connect everyday objects to the Internet. In 2011, I predict that cars (not smart homes, smart grids, etc.) will be where the most innovation and mainstream attention happens for Internet of Things technologies. Apps like AutoBot will gain traction over 2011.4: Internet TV tips and gets huge consumer uptake. In 2010 there was a lot of progress in this sector: Apple TV re-design, Google TV, Boxee, Roku, Clicker and other developments. Most of this activity was largely experimental though, in that no one vendor got the formula quite right. For example, the launch problems of Google TV at the end of this year. However in 2011, consumers will flock to these products as they mature and more Internet TV content is made available – particularly in the U.S. market, but hopefully to international markets too. Picking a breakout product is difficult, as each of the main players offers something different. I don’t think there will be a breakout product, although Google has the broadest capabilities and so it has the potential to become one if it gets the product right. I predict that Google won’t dominate this market though; and neither will Apple.5: A major pop music star will do something amazing with web technologies, that blows open the online music scene. Arcade Fire set the scene in 2010, with their experimental collaboration with Google on an HTML5-fueled interactive video. In 2011, I expect an even bigger star – someone innovative like Kanye West or Lady Gaga, or a totally new star – to do something that re-defines what music means online. That could be something new in a live show, a music video, or something completely unexpected. To get more specific, I’ll bet on something that blends a live album with internet technologies – which sells unexpectedly well and thus sets a trend in the music industry.6: Bonus prediction: by the end of 2011, the most viewed YouTube video of all time will no longer be Justin Bieber. Instead it will be a collaboration between an unknown comedian and a breakout new baby. I’m envisaging a combination of comedy tap dancing and baby giggling (perhaps recorded using an auto-tune device). Yes, 2011 will mark the return of viral comedy and laughing babies to the top of the YouTube charts – this time as a duet! Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… richard macmanus Over December we’ve reviewed the top Web products and developments of 2010. Now it’s time to look ahead to 2011. The ReadWriteWeb team is always thinking about what’s next, so in our final series of 2010 we attempt to predict the big stories of 2011. Predictions are of course a tricky business. The braver the predictions, the more risk of them not coming true! Without further ado, here are my predictions for 2011 – 5 serious and 1 not so serious.1: Flipboard becomes the breakout news reading app of 2011. With its latest round of updates in December, Flipboard introduced Google Reader and made some significant changes to sharing and navigation. I expect Flipboard to introduce more such upgrades in 2011 and begin to expand to other devices than the iPad. These moves will push Flipboard into becoming a very popular app to browse, curate and share news each day. It won’t usurp Google Reader for curating and sharing activities, simply because Google Reader can be used on the PC. However for mobile surfing, which will be an increasingly important way to browse news in 2011, Flipboard will rule in curating and sharing of media.ReadWriteWeb’s 2011 Predictions:2011 Staff Predictions2011 Predictions: Klint Finley2011 Predictions: Curt Hopkins2011 Predictions: Sarah Perez2011 Predictions: Mike Melanson Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Related Posts Tags:#predictions#web last_img read more

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#cloud computing#E-Learning#web Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img audrey watters There was once a time when students may have had access to better computers at school than they did at home. But with the explosion of consumer technologies, that’s not the case. Arguably now many students carry more powerful computing devices in their pockets than sit on their desks at school.Schools struggle to keep up with continually changing technology. They simply cannot afford to replace hardware at the rate with which upgrades are released. And as such, the technology infrastructure of most schools is severely lacking.Jonathan Hefter has built something that could solve that.Hefter is the CEO of Neverware, a startup that addresses this huge gulf between schools’ existing hardware and the demands of new software. Neverware provides a virtualization platform, what he calls “the ‘last mile’ in cloud computing.” Virtualized desktops aren’t new. There are several prominent companies that are addressing this for enterprise customers. But even though some liken school districts’ technology implementations to ones in corporations, there are some substantial differences – budgets being the most obvious.Neverware is designed lean. In fact, Hefter is currently bootstrapping the endeavor (although he is starting to look for funding). But the emphasis on efficiency isn’t so much about Hefter’s resources, as the resources of the schools he’s aiming to support with Neverware.Neverware’s flagship product is the JuiceBox, a single server appliance that when connected to a LAN will power up to one hundred old machines with Windows 7. In case you haven’t checked the system requirements for Windows 7 lately, here they are: 1 GHz or faster 32-bit or 64-bit processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB hard disk space, and a DirectX 9 graphics device. So how old can those “old machines” be? Hefter says he “hasn’t found a desktop yet” that he can’t make run.The Juicebox generates a private, local cloud, something that addresses many of schools’ concerns about privacy, security, and reliability. Hefter uses the analogy of electrical versus gas-powered cars to compare the energy and environmental waste of the PC industry with the efficiency of the Neverware project. It’s a “single repository of computing power,” and with it, schools need only focus on updating one machine, not many. Currently Neverware is running in two pilot programs in schools in New Jersey, but Hefter says there are plans to go to market with JuiceBox in the next few months. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

first_imgRovio, the company behind the wildly popular app Angry Birds, has plans to launch a live, multi-player and multi-media version of its mobile game. That new, richer version of the game could be offered at no cost to the data plans of users, through carrier partnerships. If successful, this plan for what to do with the huge Angry Birds market footprint (now with more than 100 million downloads), could cause substantial technical and economic disruptions across the mobile world. Rovio hopes it will, as do a number of other industry players.We put clues together at South by Southwest this week, based on conversations with several Rovio team members and other industry leaders, and sketched out what I believe is the company’s plan. Rovio team members have now confirmed that the following theory is accurate.Announcements Stacked Up HighRovio was at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas this week to make a number of announcements. First, the company told the world that it has raised more than $42 million in venture funding, including from early Facebook backers Accel Partners. Then the company announced that it just passed 100 million downloads of Angry Birds, a number it estimates means that one-third of all smart phone owners have Angry Birds on their devices. The company also talked about its new Mighty Eagle software development kit (SDK), which will allow third party games to integrate the level-busting Mighty Eagle character Angry Birds sells into their games, in exchange for cross promotion by Rovio. Angry Birds, With Live VideoPeter Vesterbacka, whose title at Rovio is simply “Mighty Eagle,” told me the company is also working on an arrangement with mobile carriers to offer a data-free version of Angry Birds. I thought that was interesting but didn’t think much of it, until I told my wife about it and she said, “so what, how much data does it take to play Angry Birds?”It was a great question, and one I sought to find an answer for by speaking to a number of other people at the event, some of whom I’ve shared thoughts from here. The best theory: that the company is developing a version of the game for which a data-free plan will be meaningful for players. Multi-player live challenges, with multi-media, something heavy duty that players would sit on all day and rock the mobile phone networks with. What would be so disruptive about a live Angry Birds? It will be data-free Angry Birds, similar to Facebook’s Facebook Zero deal with mobile carriers around the world. Facebook Zero is super light-weight, though. Is there really anything Angry Birds could add to its app that would make a meaningful impact on a data consumer’s costs? Vesterbacka said he has no doubt there is. He also points out that outside the United States, data caps are lower and sometimes data consumption is purely metered. What kinds of features could be added that would bump up the data load of Angry Birds? Vesterbacka said he had no problem thinking of a lot. Theoretically, for example, the app could offer video play-back sharing of great shots. It could include Facetime-like video chat inside the multi-player challenges. The 80 million views of video trailers and previews on the Rovio YouTube channel could be served up from the app itself, instead of from YouTube. Those were just three quick examples; Vesterbacka said he could think of more, all day long. He’s a refreshingly straight-forward person to talk to, and he’s not alone in that on the team.What’s In It for the Phone CompaniesWhy will mobile carriers be willing to eat those bandwidth costs and offer an app like that for free? Rovio hopes they will do so in exchange for a cut of revenues from the carrier level e-commerce platform it has built called the Bad Piggy Bank. When the Bad Piggy Bank was announced earlier this year, we called it a big sign of things to come in terms of network level features including but not limited to e-commerce. Network level functionality like this could be a big new area of innovation in the future.Rovio hopes that the Bad Piggy Bank will be deployed by app developers and carriers around the world who are concerned about the concentration of power in Apple’s iTunes. Rovio also hopes it will be able to use its big market share to push carriers towards making their networks more favorable for software developers.Vesterbacka said he hopes to make Angry Birds the most carrier-friendly mass app on the market as well, by making design and development decisions informed by the efficiency interests of the network. Limiting the number of times a messaging connection is open and closed per user session, for example, is something the networks really appreciate – but it’s also a big battery saver for the user.What’s In It For App DevelopersSome app developers believe, though, that Rovio’s biggest impact will be in pushing the network providers towards conditions more favorable for app developers.Rudy De Waele, co-founder of international mobile app showcase AppCircus, has this to say about Rovio.“Those guys are going to challenge the whole ecosystem. They think big, they think ahead and they can pull off breakthroughs on multiple levels.“Mobile operators are desperately trying to reach developers, they know they have to change, but at the big ones, their DNA isn’t ready to talk to individual developers. Peter [Vesterbacka] knows the carriers and that opens a lot of doors, because they’ve been doing things under the old model of apps and big carriers for years.“This has never been seen before, you’re a mobile game and you go to Hollywood! It’s going to be a challenge for the carriers to get onboard, but I look forward to the advantage that the first ones capture, especially with young people and gamers, when they start offering these Angry Bird experiences for free and jump on board the rest of this plan.”What might that look like? De Waele offered the example of Spanish and Latin American network carrier Telephonica. That company recently launched an API that gives app developers a cut of the revenue generated from the data their apps let customers consume. Rovio could do things like agitate for programs like that around the world or push for developers to get a better cut. Vesterbacka raised the concern that mobile carriers would likely charge customers or developers a premium for the best bandwidth allocation, with those unwilling to pay more getting “best effort” service. Angry Birds could leverage its giant market share to make sure their users are exempt from such constraints, for example.Sam Morton, co-founder of a startup called Screach, the winner of the App Circus mobile startup competition at South by Southwest, said he’s hopeful about the impact Angry Birds could have on the relationship between developers and carriers. “If these guys trailblaze for us, it really opens things up. Then Apple becomes less important.”The Power and Pitfalls of Cross-Network PlatformsThat might be taking things a bit far, but Rovio certainly aims big. Can the Bad Piggy Bank become the cross-network e-commerce platform that the world outside Apple gets behind to challenge Apple’s dominance? Oren Michels of API management company Mashery says the carriers may not want to collaborate using Rovio e-commerce to counter-balance Apple’s e-commerce power because they are focused on differentiating themselves individually and often prefer not to work together. Not everyone agrees. “Rovio is showing that it’s possible to simultaneously shift the revenue model for service providers, support the needs of developers and give consumers a better user experience,” says Laura Merling, senior VP of international network instrumentation service Alcatel-Lucent’s Open API Platform. (Disclosure: Both Mashery and Alcatel-Lucent are ReadWriteWeb sponsors.)Scaling Up Like FacebookThe ultimate outcome of the company’s efforts are of course unknowable today, but it’s guaranteed to be interesting to watch. Leading mobile and network industry analyst Chetan Sharma offered us this take on the viability of Rovio’s plans.The biggest leverage Angry Birds have is scale. Scale is very hard to build. If they play their cards right, they could become what Facebook is to online social networking. Facebook focused maniacally on building the scale first, because once you have scale – meaning millions of users using your products on a daily basis, you could build a business just selling chewing gum (you get my point). A data-charge free version is right in line with Facebook’s data-free social networking app & access. Good for carriers, good for consumers and good for Rovio. “Building a successful billing system will be a bit difficult because it directly impacts operator billing revenue strategies. Rovio should continue to leverage and build ‘Angry Bird as a Service’ or Angry Birds as a Platform and they will have multiple opportunities open up for them. They have tremendous respect in the ecosystem and with ever-increasing reach and consumer addiction, their future looks bright.”The future looks bright indeed for Angry Birds; bright, media-rich, real-time, free and disruptive on a platform level. That’s a very ambitious vision for a pile of pigs and birds. Such could be the foundation of the mobile Web’s future. Tags:#Analysis#mobile#web Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfacescenter_img marshall kirkpatrick What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

first_imgMost of the response from Microsoft’s competitors regarding “native HTML” is mockery. Some of that is deserved – it’s clearly a marketing buzzword. But where are the substantive responses to Microsoft’s performance claims? Demos aren’t evidence of better performance, and the overall value of a browser is about more than a bunch of fish in a virtual aquarium. But how does the performance of Microsoft’s browser hold up? And more importantly: what does Microsoft’s approach mean for open standards and the future of the Web?What exactly is “native HTML5”? InfoQ has a post looking into it a bit and concludes that it’s about more than just performance: it’s about deep integration into the OS. I’m not too worried about that at this point though. What about Microsoft’s claims – is its implementation on HMTL5 in IE9 and 10 legitimately faster than Chrome or Firefox? My informal testing of IE9 and the IE10 Platform Preview are inconclusive. OF course, IE smokes its competitors with its own demos. But there’s not really enough HTML5 in the wild to make a real-world comparison.So what about standards? If IE can do things that other browsers can’t, what does that mean for developers? If IE’s HTML5 is better, can other browser makers catch-up?Here’s something I haven’t seen discussed in relation to the native HTML5 announcement: WebGL, a standard that enables hardware accelerated 3D animation in HTML5 (you can see some examples here). Unlike WebSockets and other unfinished specs, WebGL is now a complete specification with support from every other major browser. Microsoft, however, has no plans to implement WebGL.Here’s the statement the company gave us this week:Browser vendors are implementing WebGL as a way to get partial hardware acceleration after developers rewrite their code. With Internet Explorer 9, developers receive GPU-powered hardware acceleration without rewriting a single line of code which we feel is a better outcome. We look at the real world patterns of the things developers are building today and want to build tomorrow, and balance this against the risk with including things that will likely change in the future. Sometimes there seems to be a race going on to try to make headlines “by claiming to be first” to implement specifications. We don’t think that is healthy. Interoperability is not about being first. Instead, we wanted to provide a stable platform for the web. We focused on building test suites with the W3C for specs that were considered “done”, but where there were real interoperability gaps. These are not that the “sexy” problems that get talked about.With we are focusing on creating a world-class environment for developer to experiment with emerging web specifications. As an example, we have updated our WebSockets implementations 5 times in just three months.Notice the Websockets mention. Microsoft is obsessed with Websockets, it even created one of those text-to-speech animations to developers how horrible Websockets is and how Microsoft is protecting them from unfinished standards. But it’s a classic misdirection. OpenGL is not Websockets.And judging from the comments on the IE10 announcement on the official IE blog, developers want WebGL.Internet Explorer General Manager Dean Hachamovitch told CNET last year. “I think it’s different markup. You’re telling developers, ‘Go write something else.’”In other words: Microsoft thinks it knows what developers want better than they do. I suppose it’s the Steve Jobs approach – maybe it will work for them. Native HTML is arguably “better,” and maybe Microsoft can force other browser makers to support hardware acceleration and lower level OS integration to speed up rendering and animation without the need for WebGL.That, or Microsoft is ignoring an accepted standard in favor of its own technology – and setting the groundwork for the “bad old days” of Web fragmentation all over again. I wrote earlier about the mixed messages Microsoft is sending – on the one hand saying that developers should be able to write markup once and run it anywhere, and on other saying developers should create alternate versions of their sites for non-IE9+ browsers.It’s a shame. IE9 and 10 look to be great browsers. But the harder I look at what Microsoft is doing, the harder it is to believe that its browser strategy is developer friendly.Combine this with Chrome’s Native Client and the ongoing war over a video codec standard and I think we’ll see a return to the bad old days soon.Disclosure: Microsoft paid for Klint Finley’s travel and lodging to attend MIX, and MIX is a ReadWriteWeb sponsor Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid Related Posts klint finley Why You Love Online Quizzescenter_img How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Tags:#Analysis#hack last_img read more

first_imgThe hot water budget is based on nine occupantsPHPP uses the TFA to calculate the domestic hot water budget and the Specific Primary Energy Demand, i.e., total “source” energy usage. (“Source” energy includes an adjustment factor to account for the energy losses during electricity generation and transmission losses from the power plant to the house.) The larger the TFA, the greater the number of expected occupants, and thus the more hot water and energy that the mythical 9.3 individuals will consume.So we expect our actual hot water and electricity usage will be substantially lower than PHPP predictions. When calculating floor area, PHPP obeys the WohnflächenverordnungThere was a substantial difference in the Treated Floor Area (TFA) that we calculated in our own PHPP results and the area calculated by the PHA, primarily due to how the large basement rec room was handled. RELATED ARTICLES [Editor’s note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a [no-glossary]Passivhaus[/no-glossary] in Maine. This is the 20th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.] No credit for the PV systemI will again climb onto my soapbox and rail against PHPP counting the contribution of a solar hot water system for domestic hot water production, but not the contribution of a photovoltaic (PV) system.With three adults who don’t consume much hot water, we are a poor fit for an investment in a solar hot water system. Solar thermal systems are more expensive than PV systems, they require more maintenance, and their production is wasted when we are away and no one is home to use the hot water.In contrast, PV is a better value, requires much less maintenance, has a much longer service life, and continues to earn a credit on our electric bill when we are away. (See an excellent blog on this topic entitled “Solar Thermal is Dead” by Martin Holladay.)We plan to install a heat-pump water heater in the basement. This appliance will very efficiently transfer ambient heat from the basement air to the water in the tank at a rate of nearly 3 units of hot water for every unit of energy used for the transfer.We will add a PV array to keep us at net-zero energy use. Interestingly, there appears to be no accounting within the PHPP calculations made by PHA for the energy transfer of basement heat to the hot water tank, even though our energy analyst Marc Rosenbaum suggested a methodology. As a follow-up to my last blog on attaining Passive House Design Stage Assurance, here are a few of my observations on the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) results that the Passive House Academy (PHA) attained for EdgewaterHaus. PHPP is the software design tool developed by the Passivhaus Institut to evaluate whether a building’s energy performance meets the Passivhaus standard.I have no specific training in the philosophical logic, data entry, or actual calculations of PHPP, and am neither an architect nor a builder. Nonetheless, here are some of PHPP results that caught my attention. BLOGS BY ROGER NORMAND Looking Through Windows — Part 7Designing Superinsulated WallsCutting Down Trees and Milling LumberA Visit to the Local SawmillSeeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 1Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 2Seeing Red on a Green Property Appraisal — Part 3Can We Get More and Pay Less To Keep About The Same?Backup Electrical Power for a Passivhaus Project? Appliances and lightingWe will use all Energy Star appliances and a combination of CFL and LED lighting. Who would build a home to the Passivhaus standard and not use high-efficiency electrical devices?Yet PHA used standard values in PHPP for appliances and lighting. So a more accurate PHPP would reflect an even lower primary energy need. We asked and PHA also agreed to reflect this change.On the other hand, at a primary energy demand of 26 kBTU/ft2•yr, we are already well within the 38 kBTU/ft2•yr Passivhaus primary energy standard, so this will have little effect in our achieving Passivhaus certification. In a predominantly heating climate like Maine, it’s all about meeting the annual heat demand target of 4.8 kBTU/ft2•yr. According to the software, nine people will live in our housePHPP uses the TFA to establish how many people could live in the building, not how many will be there. This occupancy per square foot is wired into PHPP and cannot be changed.I suppose that makes sense, since a well-constructed building will house many generations of small to large sized families. But PHPP dictates, in a deep bow to German frugality vs. grander American expectations, that our 3,500-square-foot EdgewaterHaus should house 9.3 occupants! Wow! That’s a far cry from the three adults, one dog, and two cats who will actually live there.After construction is completed, we’ll have to recruit another 3.3 occupants to meet PHPP expectations – perhaps we’ll get a few more four-legged critters! Buffering effect of rooms outside the thermal envelopePHA assigned equal weighting to the buffering effects of the garage and the three-season room, both of which are outside the thermal envelope. These two rooms moderate the temperature differences between inside and outside the thermal envelope, but I don’t believe they do so equally.The garage has two eight-foot wide R-9 insulated garage doors; the walls, slab, and ceilings have minimal insulation; and there is no effort to minimize thermal bridges.In contrast, the three-season room faces due south, has lots of glazing, and is insulated identically to the rooms within the thermal envelope. The only exception is that the three-season room has double-pane instead of triple-pane windows.We asked PHA (and PHA agreed) to assign a higher buffering factor to the three-season room. TFA is a key variable in PHPP. Rather than consider overall exterior or interior building dimensions, PHPP uses the German Floor Area Ordinance, which measures the “clear width between building elements” excluding the area of chimneys, walls, columns, and stairs with more than three steps. There are many other caveats, e.g., there must be a clear height of 6.6 feet (rooms between 3.3 feet and 6.6 feet in height are added at 50 percent of the area); the rooms must be within the thermal envelope (that excludes our three-season room and the garage); storage and mechanical rooms inside the thermal envelope are included at 60 percent of the area.Our PHPP included the rec room room at 60 percent of its area, while PHA recognized it at 100 percent.The PHPP manual states “basement and secondary rooms or rooms not regarded as living spaces in the German ‘Wohnflächenverordnung’, but are located inside of the thermal envelope anyway and have a room height of at least 6.6 feet may be added to the treated floor area with 60% of their area.”I read ambiguity, intentioned or not, in this section of the PHPP manual. The operative word for me here is the “not” in the phrase “rooms not regarded as living spaces.” The rec room has a 9.5 foot ceiling height, two Bilco ScapeWEL venting windows for direct emergency egress, drywall-finished ICF walls and ceilings below with wood I-beam main floor (now required by U.S building codes for fire prevention), and will use a simple electric resistance heater when needed.I plan to use the space as a workshop, but the space certainly could be used as a modern-day “man-cave.” It is entirely reasonable to me to include the rec room as full-fledged living space, as PHA has done, rather than the 60 percent as we had done. In conventional terms, our home is 4,400 square feet divided equally between a main floor and basement. PHPP calculated a TFA of about 3,500 square feet. Passivhaus For BeginnersPassivhaus Practitioners Share Their Success StoriesFarmhouse Style Meets Passive HouseEnergy Modeling Isn’t Very AccurateNet-Zero-Energy versus Passivhaus How much precision do we need?I am baffled by several of the individual spreadsheets within PHPP.Since windows serve as the primary heat source for a Passivhaus building, they get a great deal of attention in PHPP. There is a spreadsheet to calculate for each individual window its degree of deviation from north, its angle of inclination from the horizontal, the window rough opening dimension, the glazing details, the frame material, the SHGC, the U-factors for the frame and glass, and the width of each side of the window frame.Wait, there’s more. Another spreadsheet calculates the thermal bridges for each window. Yet another spreadsheet calculates shading factors. Here again, for each individual window, we estimated the height and distance of any shading objects like trees or other buildings, and from the construction drawings the window reveal depth, the distance from glazing edge to reveal, the overhang depth, the distance from upper glazing edge to overhang, and a mysterious additional shading reduction factor. Yikes!I can appreciate much of the engineering rigor in the analysis. I remain a steadfast and ardent supporter of the Passivhaus approach to building design. But a small part of me is left wondering about the real-world value in this nth degree of PHPP precision. We are designing EdgewaterHaus for two adults plus an elderly parent, yet the PHPP energy load for the home is based on 9.3 occupants and excludes the contribution of the PV array. The first article in this series was Kicking the Tires on a Passivhaus Project. Roger Normand’s construction blog is called EdgewaterHaus.last_img read more

first_imgThe PV system is rated at 83 kWAt the Fort Lauderdale building, which claims to be the first net-zero energy bank built in the United States, the ground-mounted and roof-mounted PV arrays have a rated capacity of 82.7 kW, roughly 10 times the capacity of the average net-zero energy house.A ground-mounted array next to the bank includes 244 PV modules. Another 90 modules are mounted on the drive-through roof, while 40 modules are mounted on the bank’s main roof.In addition to the very substantial capacity of the PV system, the bank built in a variety of energy-saving features:Daylighting and daylighting controls that reduce electrical loads for lighting.Low-e glazing, shaded windows and increased insulation that reduce building energy consumption 40% below code, according to the bank.Drought tolerant landscaping and efficient plumbing fixtures that reduce water consumption by 40%.A 10-zone heating and cooling system.The bank said it did not conduct a blower-door test on the building, so no one knows how airtight the building is. Details on R-values for roof and walls weren’t immediately available. Walgreens will apparently have the nation’s first net-zero energy drug store later this year, but the first net-zero energy bank is already up and running.According to TD Bank, 12 months of monitoring shows that the solar arrays at one of their branches in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, produced 111,185 kWh of electricity, while the building consumed 106,814 kWh during the same period. The bank’s net surplus of 4,371 kWh was fed into the local electricity grid.The bank branch opened in May 2011 with a LEED Platinum certification. The building is part of a broader effort by TD to open branch offices that meet green building standards. The bank said it has opened more than 100 stores and offices designed to meet LEED requirements, and that all 41 branches opened and relocated in 2012 are LEED designs.last_img read more

first_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Since 2008, when Carter Scott built a pioneering Massachusetts house that was heated and cooled by just two ductless minisplits, GBA has endeavored to publish reports from the field to guide people designing homes that are heated and cooled by ductless minisplits. We’ve learned a lot on this topic since 2008.My article on Carter Scott’s approach to heating and cooling was called “Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole House.” Since that article was published, builders, engineers, and researchers have shared their minisplit experience and data. Carter Scott has given technical presentations at several conferences (including the Westford Symposium on Building Science and NESEA’s BuildingEnergy conference); energy consultant Marc Rosenbaum has written several valuable articles on the topic for GBA (including “Minisplit Heat Pumps and Zero-Net-Energy Homes” and “Practical Design Advice for Zero-Net-Energy Homes”); and researchers Kohta Ueno and Honorata Loomis have published useful monitoring data (“Long-Term Monitoring of Mini-Split Ductless Heat Pumps in the Northeast”).We now have enough information on the use of ductless minisplits to heat and cool cold-climate homes to set out some rules of thumb. The nine rules of thumb that I present below are based on the work of Scott, Rosenbaum, Ueno, and Loomis, to whom I am indebted. 1. Design your building to have an excellent thermal envelope If you want to heat and cool your building with just one or two point-source heaters, you want an above-average thermal envelope. That means that the building needs a very low rate of air leakage; above-code levels of insulation; and high-performance windows. 2. Consider snow loads when placing outdoor units If you live in snow country, your outdoor unit needs to be protected by a roof — but not a roof that inhibits… center_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Memberslast_img read more

first_imgIf you want to build a superinsulated, airtight house, you run into some difficulties. How do you deal with the extra thickness of your walls and ceilings when you add all that extra insulation? What’s the best way to ensure you hit your airtightness goal? And how do you do all that while keeping the process manageable and the cost affordable?The new Build SMART panelized system has some answers.I saw it in Philadelphia, twiceAt the 2016 North American Passive House Conference in Philadelphia this past September, Adam Cohen presented on his new panelized building system. His goal, he said, was to develop a way to make it easier to achieve Passive House level building enclosures. He also wanted to make it affordable. Over the past few years, he tried out his ideas and found a system that worked. Cohen then partnered with Prosoco to take it to market it and make it scalable. Thus was born Build SMART. RELATED ARTICLESPassive House Building in the Digital AgeFactories Gear Up for Passive House BuildingMaking the Case for Prefab Zero-Energy HomesThese Superinsulated Homes Were Delivered By TruckWhat’s Different About Unity Homes?Factory-Built Wall PanelsPlacing a Concrete Foundation on Rigid Foam InsulationFoam Under FootingsPrefabricated Foam Forms for Slab Foundations “On PHirm Footings: A Survey of Passive House Foundations in North America” Last month I took another little trip to Philadelphia to see the Build SMART system being installed. Rob Leonard, who’s been working with Cohen for 15 years and is the field technical manager for Build SMART, met me ahead of time and gave me some background on the company and briefed me on the project I would be visiting.The next day, Rob and I met up with Tim McDonald, a builder, architect, and Certified Passive House Consultant. The two were giving a tour of McDonald’s project and the Build SMART system. McDonald is building a really neat four-story apartment building in the heart of Philly. The project is going to be Passive House certified and was well underway. They had the first three floors already done and were about to start the fourth floor.Here’s a little of what I learned on the tour and from my other reading and discussions.Build SMART wall constructionWhen you want to build a superinsulated house, you have several choices on how you increase the walls’ R-value. These choices all result in thicker walls. Some methods use all one type of insulation in one place, as in double-stud walls. Most methods have insulation in two places, sometimes with different types of insulation in different places. An example would be framed walls with insulation in the cavities along with more insulation (e.g., foam board or mineral wool) on the exterior.The Build SMART system is the latter type. Image #2, below, shows a small sample of what a panel looks like. It includes a framed wall on the interior (left), OSB sheathing in the middle, then a layer of expanded polystyrene (EPS), and Huber’s Zip sheathing on the exterior (right).The panels come in four types:Straight panels (like the sample shown in Image #2)Corner panelsWindow panelsDoor panelsThe options are currently limited to a few configurations for each type to keep the process simple and affordable. Some architects may feel too constrained by that, but McDonald sees it as an opportunity to be more creative with the design. For this project, he’s working on some cool ideas with LED lights that make a statement about the energy use of the building.Assembling the panelsWhen you’re ready to start assembling the walls, you put everything together in a way similar to doing a structural insulated panel (SIP) building. The first step is staging. You get all your panels moved to where they need to be. In Image #3, below, you can see all the pallets of panels waiting to be installed.Once you’ve got the panels staged, you start at one corner and keep adding panels. Each panel gets attached to the one you did just before (see Image #4). When you’ve made it all the way around and are back at your starting point, you’re ready to build the next floor above or put the roof over it.A critical part of the assembly is making sure you get the air barrier all sealed up. In this case, the primary air barrier is the OSB in the middle of the panel. The photo at the top of the article shows a worker installing sealant (Prosoco’s R-Guard Joint & Seam Filler) with a sausage gun.The water-resistive barrier (WRB) is Zip sheathing and that gets sealed up, too. Huber makes both a tape and a fluid-applied sealant for the seams, and Build SMART recommends that builders opt for the fluid-applied sealant. You can see in the photos that McDonald followed their advice.Benefits of the Build SMART systemIn his presentation during the tour I attended, McDonald said, “The best thing about this system is that the panels come with windows installed.” (See Image #6.) This is a big deal. Most water and air leakage problems in walls occur at windows. It’s not easy to get the flashing details and air sealing done properly with a site-built house. (If you doubt that, just ask anyone who repairs existing homes.)Yes, if you’re a custom builder and have a stable crew, you can get good window installations consistently. When the windows and doors come factory-installed, however, your job on the site becomes a whole lot easier. And faster.Another thing McDonald emphasized was how quickly he could finish a project. The Capital 2 project he’s working on is going up at the rate of one story per week. That’s about 5,000 square feet of floor area dried in, insulated, and air-sealed in one week.They do foundations, tooAnother thing the Build SMART team has developed is a form for slab footings. Image #7, below, shows a section of it. It’s a hunk of EPS lined with a vapor barrier. You put rebar inside, fill it with concrete, and voilà — you have an insulated, watertight foundation footing or slab edge.Is Build SMART the answer?Well, nothing is the answer that solves all our construction problems. There’s no silver bullet. But the Build SMART panelized system sure does help you get a nice, superinsulated, airtight building that can meet the rigorous standards for Passive House certification.It’s a new system, and as such, they’re still improving it. When I posted a photo from my visit to Philly on LinkedIn, Professor John Straube made a good observation about air barriers. He said the system looked nice but his “only caveat [is] to add is that you also want the air barrier to be inspectable during construction in a perfect world.”With this system, the air seal between panels is hidden behind the framing on the interior. If there’s enough of a gap and the exterior hasn’t been sealed yet, light coming through will show places that got missed. There’s not always enough of a gap, though. If a missed seal is behind framing that doesn’t have a gap, you won’t be able to see light coming through. This is far from a fatal flaw, and I expect the Build SMART team to come up with ways to overcome it. For now, make sure the crew putting the panels together understands the importance of sealing every joint and seam and that there’s a good quality control process happening concurrently.I look forward to seeing the Build SMART system’s evolution. I was really impressed with what I saw of it at the Passive House conference this year. I was even more impressed with what I saw in the field. In fact, I’m even dreaming of building my next house with Build SMART panels.It may not be the answer, but it certainly helps move high performance building forward. McDonald’s perspective is that Build SMART is “one answer to ‘scaling’ affordable multi-family Passive house and Net-Zero-Energy buildings in this country.” Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, building science consultant, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard.last_img read more

first_imgFour years ago, a viral campaign wooed the world with a promise of fighting climate change and jump-starting the economy by replacing tarmac on the world’s roads with solar panels. The bold idea has undergone some road testing since then. The first results from preliminary studies have recently come out, and they’re a bit underwhelming. A solar panel lying under a road is at a number of disadvantages. As it’s not at the optimum tilt angle, it’s going to produce less power, and it’s going to be more prone to shading, which is a problem as shade over just 5% of the surface of a panel can reduce power generation by 50%. The panels are also likely to be covered by dirt and dust, and would need far thicker glass than conventional panels to withstand the weight of traffic, which will further limit the light they absorb.RELATED ARTICLESSolar Roads, Pot Growing, Wind Turbines, and Net MeteringAn Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems Because the panels are unable to benefit from air circulation, it’s inevitable that they will heat up more than a rooftop solar panel would. For every 1°C over optimum temperature the panel will lose 0.5% of energy efficiency. As a result, a significant drop in performance for a solar road compared to rooftop solar panels has to be expected. The question is, by how much? And what is the economic cost? The road test results are in One of the first solar roads to be installed is in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France. This road has a maximum power output of 420 kW, covers 2,800 square meters, and cost €5 million to install. This implies a cost of €11,905 ($13,745) per installed kW. While the road is supposed to generate 800 kilowatt hours per day (kWh/day), some recently released data indicates a yield closer to 409 kWh/day, or 150,000 kWh/yr. For an idea of how much this is, the average UK home uses around 10 kWh/day. The road’s capacity factor – which measures the efficiency of the technology by dividing its average power output by its potential maximum power output – is just 4%. The solar road is unveiled in Tourouvre au Perche. Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA In contrast, the Cestas solar plant near Bordeaux, which features rows of solar panels carefully angled towards the sun, has a maximum power output of 300,000 kW and a capacity factor of 14%. And at a cost of €360 million ($415.6 million) or €1,200 ($1,385) per installed kW, one-tenth the cost of our solar roadway, it generates three times more power. In America, a company called Solar Roadways has developed a smart highway with solar panels, including sensors and LED lights to display traffic warnings about any upcoming hazards, such as a deer. It also has heating pads to melt snow in winter. Several of their SR3 panels have been installed in a small section of pavement in Sandpoint, Idaho. This is a 13.9-square-meter area, with an installed capacity of 1,529 Kw. The installation cost is given as $48,734, which implies a cost per installed kW of €27,500 ($31,700), more than 20 times higher than the Cestas powerplant. Solar Roadway’s own estimates are that the LED lights would consume 106 MWh per lane mile, with the panels generating 415 MWh – so more than 25% of the useful power is consumed by the LEDs. This would reduce performance even further. The heating plates are also quoted as drawing 2.28 MW per lane mile, so running them for just six days would cancel out any net gain from the solar panels. And this is before we look at the actual data from the Sandpoint installation, which generated 52,397 kWh in 6 months, or 104,800 kWh over a year. From this we can estimate a capacity factor of just 0.782%, which is 20 times less efficient than the Cestas power plant. That said, it should be pointed out that this panel is in a town square. If there is one thing we can conclude, it’s that a section of pavement surrounded by buildings in a snowy northern town is not the best place to locate a solar installation. However, perhaps there’s a bigger point: solar roads on city streets are just not a great idea. Running out of road Roads don’t actually represent as large an area as we assume. The UK department of transport gives a breakdown of the length of the UK’s different road types. Assuming we can clad these in solar panels, four lanes of every motorway, two lanes on the A & B roads and half a lane for C & U roads (a lot are single track roads and just won’t be suitable), we come up with a surface area of 2 billion square meters. Which sounds like a lot, until you realize that buildings in the UK’s urban areas occupy an area of 17.6 billion square meters. So just covering a fraction of the UK’s rooftops with solar panels would immediately yield more power than putting them on roads. That’s quite apart from the benefits that a more elevated position would yield for greater power generation. All of this suggests that only a small fraction of the road network would actually be suitable. And, given the relatively small size of the road network, solar roads could only ever become a niche source of power and never the shortcut to our future energy supply.   Dylan Ryan is a lecturer in mechanical and energy engineering at Scotland’s Edinburgh Napier University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation.last_img read more

first_imgAlthough the rooftop solar market in the U.S. has grown by roughly 50% a year since 2012, not everyone is reaping the benefits, a new study says. Writing in the journal Nature Sustainability, researchers said rooftop photovoltaic systems showed “significantly less” adoption in black and Hispanic neighborhoods even after differences in household income and homeownership were accounted for. (The full study is behind a pay wall, but you can read the abstract here.) “Although the opportunities [solar] affords for clean, reliable power are transformative, the benefits might not accrue to all individuals and communities,” the authors said.RELATED ARTICLESGoogle Launches a Solar EstimatorGoogle Expands Solar Project NationwideRooftop Solar Makes Houses Worth MoreLobbying Helps Slow the Growth of Rooftop SolarThe Unequal Burden of Noise Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley combined data from Google’s Project Sunroof and the U.S. Census to reach their conclusions. Project Sunroof provides high-resolution satellite imagery showing the location of rooftop solar panels, part of a package that lets homeowners estimate how much rooftop space they have for solar panels and how much electricity a system would hypothetically produce. Here’s what researchers found: For the same median household income, census tracts where black and Hispanic residents were the majority installed less rooftop PV than areas where they were not a majority by 69% and 30% respectively. White-majority census tracts installed 21% more solar. When correcting for home ownership, black- and Hispanic-majority areas installed less PV compared with no majority areas by 61% and 45% respectively. White majority neighborhoods  installed 37% more solar. In an article about the study, Scientific American spoke with study co-author Daniel Kammen who said he wasn’t surprised that race and ethnicity were important factors in solar deployment. Kammen, however, said he had expected the effect would be reduced significantly when researchers controlled for income. “But alas,” he said, “it was not.” How solar installations spread The authors note that rooftop solar increases in two ways. One is through “top-down” approaches, such as public policy and alternative financing that makes the purchase of PV possible. The second are “bottom-up” approaches, such as the “social diffusion effect” in which someone who installs PV on their home influences neighbors to do the same. A number of state and federal programs have been created to help  low-income people add solar. But programs that specifically target racial and ethnic minorities are still missing. This prompted researchers to study what they call the “energy justice landscape” of small-scale solar deployment. “We hypothesize that PV adoption is not hindered by economic resources nor property ownership only,” they write. They add that additional demographic variables, such as race, can provide insights into how and why solar is adopted and improve top-down efforts that help it spread. In the case of black communities in particular, researchers found that 47% of black-majority census tracts had no existing solar installations, which in some cases was more than double the rate for white-, Asian- and Hispanic-majority neighborhoods. The lack of these “seed” installations can help slow the spread of solar. Lack of diversity in the workforce Although the authors don’t offer an explanation for the disparities, they suggest that a lack of racial diversity in the renewable energy workforce could be part of the reason. “The lack of racial diversity is particularly pronounced in management and senior executive positions in solar firms, where in the United States over 80% of these positions are held by white people,” the report says. A 2017 report on diversity in the U.S. solar industry by The Solar Foundation that said people of color make up only a small percentage of the U.S. solar workforce. Seventeen percent are Hispanic or Latino and just 7% are black. Further, fewer men of color earned wages in the highest pay bracket than did white males. Only 4% of women of color fell into the highest wage bracket, those earning more than $75 an hour. People of color were more likely to have mid-level positions rather than work as managers, directors, or presidents. “The root causes of the differences between black- and Hispanic-majority census tracts are difficult to predict and fully explain,” authors of the Nature Sustainability write, “and can also have social-psychological attributions that require further validation.” They add, however, that when communities of color initially get a few solar installations, deployment significantly increases. “These results,” they said, “suggest that appropriately ‘seeding’ racial and ethnic minority communities may mitigate energy injustice in rooftop PV adoption.”last_img read more

first_img7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… The U.S. public sector employs some 21 million people, the vast majority at state and local governments. That makes the public sector ripe for innovation and reinvention, a task being tackled head-on by Code for America, a San Francisco-based incubator that aims to help “government work better for everyone.”Startups Attacking A Giant MarketLast week, I attended a Code for America demo day where seven startups, billed as the “inaugural class of the first-ever civic startup accelerator,” showed off their wares. The Code for America accelerator program hopes to disrupt the $170 billion government IT market, while providing new and improved services to U.S. citizens.One of the startups, MindMixer, had already shown up on my radar. MindMixer helps local government and civic entities create instant online communities. The company has so far set up more than 250 organizations around the country.MindMixer helps organizations collect ideas and perspectives and lets visitors vote on them, much the same way that I’m using Spigit to ideate solutions for America. One MindMixer community is ImproveSF, which is working to create a better San Francisco. Its “Design a New Library Card” challenge racked up 14,529 interactions.Handwriting To Digital Isn’t EasyAnother startup that drew much attention is Berkeley, Calif.-based Captricity. Co-Founder Kuang Chen reiterated how difficult it was to transform handwritten or other paper-based data into digital form.Captricity uses real people for data entry but you do need either have a scanner or camera to upload text originals to the Web. The company currently has an offer you can’t refuse: the first 25 pages for new customers are digitized for free. It’s $0.20 per page after that.As Code for America Director of Strategy and Communications Abhi Nemani tells me, “Captricity is one of the clearly compelling startups, it’s a problem we can all relate to.” The company already has received investments from Mitch Kapor’s Kapor Capital and others.Social media startups were well represented by Measured Voice and Revelstone, both promising to improve civic engagement supported by analytics to track social engagement.The Start Of Something Bigger?Three other startups, Aunt Bertha, LeanSprout and Recovers are described on Code America’s site. As Nemani says, “This is the first accelerator class. The whole ecosystem needs to be built up, but this is the start of something bigger.”I agree. Code for America has definitely struck the right tech chord. If you need more persuasive evidence that America needs to innovate, please see Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers General Partner Mary Meeker’s presentation “USA, Inc.” Key Points, which brilliantly articulates trends we should all be familiar with.Code on. michael tchong Related Posts Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoidcenter_img How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Why You Love Online Quizzes Tags:#Government#hacking#startups last_img read more

first_imgChina and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Tags:#Entrepreneurs#Pause#startups gary whitehill What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… Guest author Gary Whitehill is Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Startup Weekend.Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. But the most successful pioneers tend to share certain traits. Entrepreneurs are driven, innovative, persistent, resilient, and, as The New York Times’ David Segal suggests, just the right amount of crazy.The daunting venture of building a company from the ground up requires a type of mania, a type of desire that, on occasion, borders on obsession. An entrepreneur’s startup really is like his or her baby, demanding constant love and attention.Trace Cohen, President of, had this to say about being a startup parent: “It’s our job and privilege to do everything in our power to make sure our company grows up to be smart and strong. There is no 9-to-5 when it comes to a startup – it’s a new experience for all of us, each and every time.”This reality presents a significant challenge to both budding and seasoned entrepreneurs. A founder’s love for their company frequently comes at the expense of relationships with flesh-and-blood loved ones.There’s no way to fully avoid that impact, but there are things you can do to preserve some level of balance even as you pursue your startup dreams:1. Keep Things SimpleWith all the complexity at the office, it helps to simplify your personal time. Slowing down your personal life functions as a relaxant. Hurrying from happy-hour with coworkers to dinner with family to coffee with an old friend actually augments the stress accumulated during the workday. The simpler your social life, the more likely you are to actually enjoy your downtime and relax.Reducing your social engagements also helps focus on the ones that really matter – the ones with family and close friends. Casual acquaintances may fall by the wayside, but in the long run, a few good friends and a supportive family will serve you better than a host of people no real connection to you.In an interview with Charlie Rose, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intimates that he subscribes to this philosophy: “I spend a lot of time just, you know, with my girlfriend and my dog… so it’s really simple.”2. Reserve Family Time‘Simple’ is good, but ‘non-existent’ is not. In the midst of a startup, it is very easy to slip from a few social engagements to zero social engagements. But no matter how busy you are, you need to spend at least some time with people outside of work. This means carving out at least an hour per day to spend with your family or close friends.For much of her career, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has left work at 5:30pm sharp in order to have dinner with her children. Sandberg admits that she returns to her business after dinner, often emailing from her bedroom into the wee hours of the night, but 6pm is dinner, overbearing workload or not.3. Mix Things UpWhen socializing or family time becomes a chore or an item to check off your to-do list, something has gone awry. Richard Branson, perhaps the paragon of the modern entrepreneur, confesses, “I am not able to share my own routine because I don’t have one, since I try to make every day unique.” Granted, making “every day unique” is easier when you have your own personal spaceship, but Branson’s sentiment serves as an important counterpoint to Sandberg’s discipline.4. Choose The Right PartnerEvery relationship involves two individuals. You may take every conceivable step to make things work with the people around you, but your partner and friends have to be sympathetic to your cause.Some relationships are forged in the startup furnace. Companies such as ModCloth, Evernote and Cisco Systems were founded by couples. Even if you’re not lucky enough to find a business partner and a life partner in the same person, be sure to find somebody who is willing to support your venture.Having a go-to support system is an often under-appreciated component of an entrepreneur’s well-being. Ingrid Vanderveldt, Dell’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence, had this to say to me about her husband’s importance to her career: ”Glenn is my rock. When I am going a million miles an hour he keeps a solid, steady and focused pace – managing the operations of our businesses and creating a loving home base to come back to. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for his 100% support.”Image courtesy of Shutterstock.center_img How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Related Posts How to Get Started in China and Have Successlast_img read more

first_img12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… The unofficial leaders of the streaming-music market, Rdio and Spotify, are both awfully good services. But neither is close to perfect, which led me to wonder just how you’d create the ultimate online music service.The answer isn’t hard: Just merge Spotify and Rdio. Alternatively, the two sites should just copiously steal features from one another. Or someone could found a new service that blends the best of both. Whatever. I want the best of both, and I want it now.Allow me to explain. Almost two years ago, when Spotify finally launched in the U.S., I signed up. Within 48 hours, I had canceled my Rdio subscription and agreed to pay Spotify $10 per month to access its service on my phone, ad-free. (See Also: How To Choose The Right Music Subscription Service)But for the last few weeks, I’ve had the luxury of using a premium Rdio demo account, and I’ve gotta say: It’s sometimes tempting to switch back. As impressive as Spotify is, Rdio is much, much better designed. On the other hand, Spotify has a few excellent features Rdio lacks. (Both sites offer approximately the same amount of music, which is often available via high-quality 320 kbps streams.)Frankly, I’m torn. But I’d rather not have to choose at all. I suspect many other music fans — whether they know it or not — feel the same way.What Rdio Gets Right: Design and Music ManagementWhen it comes to design, Rdio wins, hands down. Spotify’s apps aren’t terrible, but Rdio sports what feels like a cleaner, more minimalist design. The blue and white color scheme is more refreshing and it feels like the company put some thought into typography. More importantly, Rdio organizes your music much, much better than Spotify does. It has long blown my mind that Spotify refuses to display your music library in a way that’s at all analogous to how you’d organize music in real life. There’s no collection. There is no “Albums” tab.  It’s just playlists, starred tracks and search. If I find a new album I want to routinely listen to, I have to star the whole thing or add it as a playlist. It’s bizarre.  4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout john paul titlow Tags:#mobile apps#music#rdio#spotify#streaming music 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… By contrast, Rdio lets me easily add albums to what is intuitively labeled my “Collection,” which is organized by artist. To anybody who’s ever used an iPod, scrolling through a list of artists is an familiar, almost expected interface. Spotify users, for whatever reason, don’t have this simple luxury. Rdio’s built-in music discovery is also superior. The “Heavy Rotation” tab recommends music to me based on what I listen to and who I follow on Rdio. Depending on those two details (especially who one chooses to follow), the suggestions can actually be pretty spot-on. I don’t know what powers the “Recommended Albums” carousel in Spotify’s “What’s New” tab, but the fact that it thinks I’d enjoy Kelly Clarkson’s new album suggests it’s not paying very much attention.What Spotify Gets Right: Add-On Apps & Infinite MusicWhat Spotify lacks in native recommendation features it makes up for via third party add-ons available through its built-in app platform. Spotify might not be aware of what I actually like, but is — and its Spotify app is a mere click away. If I want music to match my mood, there’s MoodAgent, which builds playlists based on things like tempo and the emotional qualities of a given song. For less robotic, more human-curated recommendations, there are apps like Hype Machine and, both of which corral the best new stuff from influential music blogs, broken down by genre. Then there are good, old-fashioned hand-picked recommendations from individual critics via the Rolling Stone, Guardian, Pitchfork or NME apps. Spotify’s third party app platform is by far its most promising feature, aside from the music itself. Realizing that it can’t build the end-all, be-all music service for every listener, Spotify has smartly opened up its platform to developers, who can use HTML5 and related Web technologies to build applications that plug into Spotify’s vast music library.These add-ons have yet to find their way into Spotify’s mobile apps, but they continue to push the desktop experience forward in a way that makes it hard to break the Spotify habit. And Another Spotify Win: ImportsThe other chief advantage Spotify offers — and that Rdio and others should just steal outright — is the ability to import your own MP3 collection into the service. This is a huge perk.No matter how many licensing deals these companies strike, their music libraries are never going to include everything. There will always be big-name holdouts like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, not to mention a score of smaller, independent artists who either haven’t done the leg work to get their music onto streaming services or simply don’t want to. Allowing users to effectively merge their personal music collections with Spotify’s music library makes for an experience that feels more comprehensive and focused. As more of our music consumption moves online, the listening experience inevitably becomes fractured across sites and apps. We might not be able to avoid this entirely, but Spotify’s integrated approach makes it easier to at least minimize the problem.  There are, as always, technical limitations to implementing this feature. Since Spotify primarily exists as a desktop app, it can easily scan your hard drive for music tracks and index them, iTunes-style. The alternative would be to allow users to upload their tracks directly to the service, a la Google Music and the Amazon Cloud Player.Waiting for thousands of songs to upload doesn’t present the most compelling user experience, but it is one possible technical solution. For the most part, Spotify’s local indexing approach works pretty well. Rdio has desktop apps, but they’re more or less a clone of its Web interface without much extra functionality tacked on. If Rdio were to include the ability to import and manage music, I’d be that much closer to ditching Spotify. The desktop app is also a crucial component to syncing local MP3s to users’ phones and tablets, another feature unique to Spotify in the U.S. (Deezer does this, too). Toward The Ultimate Streaming ServiceMusic is a pretty personal thing. If these companies want us to shift our listening habits into their respective clouds, they need to be particularly sensitive to what works for users. I’ve presented one framework here. Perhaps you have your own ideas, which I encourage you to leave in the comments. A flawlessly-designed, super-comprehensive, extensible and flexible music subscription service would be well worth the money. It’s a little frustrating, because Spotify and Rdio collectively have most of the pieces required to build the ultimate streaming service. It’s almost as if the two could merge and we’d be set. It’d be unlikely, but if this new hybrid music dream service could steal a page from Tomahawk’s playbook and integrate additional music sources like SoundCloud and YouTube, it’d be even better. Whether or not Rdio, Spotify or any of its current direct competitors deliver this mythical dream service, somebody will. The music subscription space is going to heat up substantially this year, as Google and Amazon are both rumored to be entering this market. Meanwhile, MOG will be reborn as Daisy and Deezer is expected to launch in the U.S. We already have a few very awesome, yet imperfect music subscription services. As the space gets more crowded, there exists a real opportunity to launch something truly, thoroughly compelling. Who will it be? Lead photo by Alexandre Normandlast_img read more

first_imgTags:#app development#Apple#iOS#iOS 8#iOS 8 beta#iPad#iPhone#iPod Touch#WWDC#WWDC 2014 Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Apple’s annual gift to iPhone and iPad developers is ready for a summer of design and development, bug testing and quality assurance programs. The iOS 8 beta is now available for download.See also: Apple’s iOS 8: What You Need To Know About Its New FeaturesThis year, iOS 8 beta is packed full of features. Before digging into the 4,000 new application programming interfaces in the iOS 8 beta, we know that Apple has added a ton of new capabilities to its the games development stack, added health and fitness features and iCloud “extensibility” features. The iOS 8 beta may not be as dramatic as the complete redesign of the operating system featured in iOS 7 in 2013, but there is more than a lot to dig through before the new iPhone comes out later this year.See also: What Developers Need To Know About iOS 8Below are some of the basics of what you’ll need to know to load the new iOS and start building apps.Before Downloading The iOS 8 BetaBefore you get started, here are several items you should have on hand:An iOS developer account. These cost $99 a year and are available through Apple’s developer website.A development device specifically for use with the iOS 8 beta. You really shouldn’t use your a personal device you rely on; beta versions of operating systems can be buggy and crash.Worse, you might lock yourself out of your device. Apple will release several versions of iOS 8 beta throughout the summer; older updates are eventually phased out, and if you’re still running one when that happens, your phone will basically shut down—as happened to many users last year with the iOS 7 beta.A device that supports the iOS 8 beta. At the moment, that would be the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPad Air, iPad Mini (both generations), 4th generation iPad, 3rd generation iPad and the iPad 2. The iPod Touch 5th generation is also supported. iOS 8 beta does not support the iPhone 4.The identifier for your device. For instance, an GMS iPhone identifier is A1533, A1547 or A1530. You will need this to know which version of iOS 8 beta to download. You can determine your iOS device identifier here for iPhones and here for iPads.Your device’s Unique Device Identifier (UDID). This is a string of 40 numbers and letters that serves as a kind of serial number for your iDevice. You will need to register your developer device in the iOS Development Center using the UDID, and you can’t complete the iOS 8 beta installation without authenticating the device this way.A backup of your device to iTunes and/or iCloud. Just in case the device crashes so badly you have to start from scratch, you can stash a backup in iTunes for a quick recovery. Also note that all documents on iOS 8 test devices need to be backed up to the new iCloud beta environment for both iOS 8 beta and Mac OS X Yosemite.Apple says that once you download iOS 8 beta, you will not be able to downgrade to earlier versions of iOS. There are ways around this (and we’ll outline them in a later post), but be prepared to be stuck in the beta until the end of the summer, when Apple releases the Gold Edition of iOS 8 shortly before the next iPhone comes out.Preparing For The iOS 8 BetaHere are a few things to note before you download the .dmg file of iOS 8 beta:Have the most current version of iTunes downloaded and ready.Charge your battery. There’s nothing worse than borking a download because you ran out of juice.Download And InstallOn your Mac, go to the iOS Development Center and download the appropriate version of the iOS 8 beta. This will take a few minutes.Open the .dmg file and find the .ipsw file. It should be the only file in the .dmg package.Connect your developer device to your computer and launch iTunes.Click on the iPhone button in iTunes. This will bring up your stats (such as memory use and serial numbers). Go ahead and back up your phone to iTunes now if you haven’t done so already.Press the option button (right click) to update the operating system in iTunes. It’s better to choose the “update” option in iTunes than the “restore” option. A window will open where you can choose the iOS 8 beta .ipsw file. Download it (which will take about 10 minutes).Wait patiently.That is how you officially get the iOS 8 beta. You will likely notice that the beta OS is kind of slow, eats your battery a little quicker than you are used to (especially on older devices), and is generally sort of buggy. This is why you don’t put beta operating systems on your personal devices.A Few Notes Of CautionIn 2013, the iOS 7 beta was extremely popular among both mobile developers and ordinary consumers. The popularity was due, in part, to the big iOS redesign that people just had to see for themselves. It’s also a sign of the democratization of technology, as the spread of tools and know-how enable larger numbers of people to take control of their devices.Last year, that trend turned out to be problematic for many iOS beta users (and, generally, for Apple as well).If you’re not a registered Apple developer and still want to download the iOS 8 beta, plenty of websites around the Internet have historically offered to give you access to the new operating system. These sites ask for your device’s UDID and use it to get you access to the beta software, usually for a fee of between $10 and $30.It’s not clear that this particular trick will still work this year. Apple released a new developer agreement with iOS 8, so these third-party sites might run higher risks offering access to the beta software. That being said, people tend find ways around those sorts of restrictions.While the cheaper fees here might seem like a good deal, doing business with these sites aren’t usually a good idea. In addition to the normal risks involved with putting a not-ready-for-prime-time operating system on your phone or tablet, you’d also be giving some anonymous third party your UDID. That identifier could be used to track you, to advertise to you and possibly even to deliver remote malware to your device.In other words, it’s generally not a good idea to share your iPhone’s UDID. You also won’t get access to the iOS Developer Center, which would let you install subsequent, and presumably less buggy, updates to iOS 8 beta. Don’t forget that as Apple rolls out new versions of the beta, it discontinues old versions; you risk lockout if you don’t update when that happens.So proceed at your own risk. And if you have any doubts, you might want to err on the side of caution and wait for the official release of iOS 8 later this year, lest you find yourself dealing with a balky, prone-to-crashing phone all summer—or worse. Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img dan rowinski Related Posts The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

first_imgThis is the story of one Tweet’s journey.  Friday, April 13th, 2012, was a day people were encouraged to wear purple in support of Military Kids.  Across the nation, communication services in the Cooperative Extension system went to work promoting the event.  News releases were published and a social media effort was pushed out encouraging everyone to wear purple.  We often ask ourselves what is the payback or “reach” of off these new outreach methods.  This is where the story of one Purple Tweet started.On April 5th, one person saw a Tweet about “Purple Up” day from the Military Families Learning Network Twitter channel.  This one person sent one email to the superintendent of one school district in Texas.  The superintendent of Gatesville Independent School District sent one email to each one of his campus’ administrators sharing the hope that staff and students would wear purple on Friday the 13th to support military kids on their campus’.  This may have been the end of this one Tweets adventure, but it wasn’t.On Friday, April 13th, in what was a separate journey, one soldier was finally returning home to his family after finishing his deployment.   Unbeknownst to his children, he was headed home to Gatesville to surprise them.  At 11:30 a.m. he walked into the building and the classroom of one of his children.  He was happily reunited with his child and opened his eyes to find one classroom full of purple on this one special day.  The local newspaper was there to capture the moment.  A few hours later, after everyone had laughed – and cried a little – the superintendent of the one small town, of the one school building, of the one purple classroom, of the one happy family, sent one email back to the person who sent him to message about the Tweet,  “timing is everything!”  Sometimes, all it takes is one!last_img read more

first_imgBy Molly C. HerndonThe Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event, held June 2-4, featured daily Twitter chats focused on the topics discussed in that day’s webinar. The webinar speakers were on hand to answer questions and to dig deeper in to the topics discussed in the 90-minute sessions. Here, you can view all the tweets shared during these daily chats, including great discussion on promoting positive financial behavior change and resources to share and use with clients.last_img

first_imgPlease join MFLN Military Caregiving Wednesday, May 23 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, for our free webinar entitled ‘Detour Ahead: Planning for Contingencies on Your Caregiving Journey.’Like many things in life, caregiving is a journey, not a destination…Even the best laid plans – or map, if you will – have unintended obstacles and barriers resulting in a change of direction. While the caregiver cannot anticipate every scenario, there are some common issues that caregivers may be able to anticipate. Too, knowing there may be detours ahead may be able to help the caregiver better cope when problems arise. This session will explore some common issues in caregiving and provide some tips for when these detours occur. We will also discuss some critical thinking/decision-making skills that can help caregivers take apart and analyze unanticipated detours. Presenter:Andrew Crocker, MSExtension Program Specialist II in Gerontology and HealthTexas A&M AgriLife Extension ServiceContinuing Education Credit Available!The MFLN Military Caregiving concentration will apply for 1.0 continuing education (CE) credit from UT School of Social Work for credentialed and licensed professionals. Additionally, Certificates of completion will be available for participants interested in receiving training hours.Interested in Joining the Webinar?To join this event, simply click on Planning for Contingencies on Your Caregiving Journey. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense APAN system, but is open to the public.If you cannot connect to the APAN site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on YouTube Live. Mobile options for YouTube Live are available on all Apple and Android devices.This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on May 4, 2018.last_img read more

first_imgYours in learning,Brigitte Scott, Ph.D.Director of Program Development and EvaluationMilitary Families Learning We are just a week away from the start of the virtual conference! Are you ready? No matter where you are with your own cultural competency skills, this conference and all those participating in it are here to support you and your growth. Cultural competence is a journey—a commitment to exploring ourselves, the world around us, our actions in it, and how our actions impact others. No matter where you find yourself along your cultural competence trajectory, this year’s conference will have so much to offer you. Building our cultural competence takes a multi-pronged approach to learning and behavior change. As I’ve been speaking with presenters and watching the conference sessions unfold, I am reminded that one of the many ways we can think about building cultural competence—no matter our previous experiences with it—is to think about hard and soft skills.As professionals, we all work to build both hard and soft skills in our daily activities at work and in our communities. Hard skills are things that we can learn, measure, and test; they are often skills that we need to do our jobs and do them well. This year’s conference is certain to support us in building our hard skills around cultural competence: we’ll be learning and talking about key terms such as privilege and oppression, power, micro-aggressions, and disparities. We’ll better understand the difference between equality and equity, learn about the social and medical models of disability, and take a hard look at data that shed light on inequities from several angles. We’ll walk away with assessment tools and frameworks that will help us provide the best possible services to the diverse families we work with. All of this knowledge will inform our daily activities and support increased cultural competence in our professional responsibilities, helping us to become successful allies and advocates. But so much of building our cultural competence lies in soft skills—those skills that are important to us as individuals, define who we are, and provide insights into our personalities, our priorities, and our authentic selves. These are leadership and communication skills; things like creativity, how we handle conflict, and how we make decisions; and include qualities such as flexibility, confidence, and work ethic. Though not an exhaustive list, these are some of the soft skills we’ll have opportunities to explore and develop over the course of the virtual conference, with the hope that we’ll be prepared and motivated to continue the journey long after the conference is over. We’ll engage in self-reflection, sharing, authentic communication, handling conflict, and practicing awareness. While we won’t get to exchange knowing nods or have coffee in person, we will have plenty of opportunities to interact with each other. We’ll have the usual chat box during the conference sessions, and the ability to private message friends, colleagues, and new additions to our professional networks. But this year, to support the building of those essential soft skills, we have a few more opportunities for you to take advantage of. Have you seen or are you already participating in the Storytelling for Cultural Competence pre-conference journaling activity to begin practicing self-reflection and awareness? You can start this journaling experience at any time. It is self-paced, and will continue throughout the conference. You’ll notice guiding questions that you’ll see in each conference session as well as in the conference journal, providing opportunities for you to reflect on prior knowledge, and help you get ready to contribute to meaningful conference conversations. Have you had a chance to sign up for and participate in the conference forum, where you can share and dialog with others? This is a forum open to conference participants only, and will be a private and safe space to share experiences, network, and reflect. Throughout the conference, we’ll be here participating along with you in our own journeys of cultural competence. But we’ll also be here to see what our learning network can offer those of you who are really looking to continue your journey with those you’ve engaged with during the conference. What WILL happen after the conference when you take all you’ve learned back to your workplace? What will it be like? Will you get to practice your new skills? Will you have support? We don’t know the answers to those questions, but as educators and professionals committed to high-quality professional development opportunities, we want to be there with you to find out. We want to know what we can do to help. And so after the conference, we’ll be looking for ideas from you: What do you need? How can we assist you? One of my most favorite things about my job is that I get to think about how we can help you—help each other—be lifelong learners. I want to know what we at the MFLN can do to help you on your learning paths with the resources we have. Don’t be shy! Let us know!One more exciting bit to share is that my colleague Alicia Cassels has developed a wonderful podcast series called Show Up Inspired. Her podcasts focus on how professionals can bring their best selves to our work. Cultural competence, hard skills, soft skills—these are all a part of that. But so is self care. So is building our personal networks. So have a listen on your commute, or while you work out, or fold laundry. Alicia will be continuing to develop this podcast series this year, with the idea that it will be appealing to all our network participants, much like having an issue-based conference on cultural competency. So please, join us, whenever you can, however you can. “Bring” your colleagues, spread the word, and maybe even reserve a conference room for your department so you can all participate together. We’ll be offering free continuing education credits to social workers, case managers, and registered dietitians for most of the sessions. I hope to see you next week, and look forward to learning not just with you, but from you.last_img read more

first_imgSmart Folders should make file organization easier and serve as a shortcut for you as an editor. They also work across different file extensions…not just Final Cut Pro.This video was created by Industrial Revolution, Thanks for sharing guys!How do you keep your files organized? Share in the comments below. Smart Folders are a free way to find and organize your video editing project files on a Mac.Keeping files organized is a skill that many editors are not good but it’s super important when working on multiple projects at the same time. As an editor you’ve probably accidentally deleted files because they were improperly organized. Obviously that is not a fun situation to be in. Fortunately Apple computers have built-in Smart Folder capabilities specially designed to help you sort through project files on your computer. The following video by Industrial Revolution explains how to create and utilize Smart Folders on a Mac. The video covers:Creating Smart FoldersSetting file extension parametersCreating date parameterslast_img read more

first_imgIn this exclusive tutorial, we show you how to create a custom write-on effect in Cinema 4D.Write-on effects are really cool in 2D, but in the following tutorial we will take the effect to a new dimension. If you’re a 3D designer, chances are you often create 3D text. So instead of simply having your text stay still, why not have it animated?In this video tutorial I demonstrate how to create an animated write-on effect in Cinema 4D, along with a pretty clever shatter effect. The tutorial covers:Choosing FontsUsing SweepsUsing the Bend EffectUsing CamerasUsing the Shatter EffectYou can also download the project file using the following download link.[maxbutton id=”22″]If you have any questions regarding this tutorial please feel free to ask in the comments below!Check out more Cinema 4D Video tutorials in the Cinema 4D section of the PremiumBeat blog.last_img read more