Clipper Race Update: Introducing Dell Ambassador Samantha Harper

first_imgThis is an ongoing series of blogs by Dell Ambassadors competing in the Clipper Race, a 40,000 nautical mile race around the world in 70 foot racing yachts. For background on Dell’s involvement, read our initial blog about this exciting race here.The Atlantic Trade Winds Leg 1 : Liverpool, UK, to Punta del Este, Uruguay : 6,400 nautical miles : 33 daysHello! My name is Samantha Harper and I’m one of two Dell Ambassadors in the Clipper 2017 – 18 Round the World Yacht Race.I’m a member of team Dare To Lead (call sign CV25), one of twelve yachts in this years’ race, sailed under the watchful eye of Skipper Dale Smyth. We’ve just wrapped up the first of eight race legs, which has taken us from Liverpool, UK, to Punta del Este, Uruguay, a journey of over 6,400 miles. It’s hard to condense a 33-day passage into a few pages, but I’ll do my best!Race start (August 20th) in Liverpool was a hive of excitement, and as our boat gingerly exited the Canning Dock area, we were thrilled to see the large crowd of friends and family wearing custom-made Dare To Lead t-shirts. As the boats snuck around each other to gain the best position off the starting line, our skipper Dale let out a warning: “Guys, just to let you know, I can be a bit of an aggressive racer – but don’t worry, I know what I’m doing”. This was met with a mix of both trepidation and gleeful anticipation – with the start line meters away, the engine was shut off and things were about to get real!“As our boat screamed into the tight turn with Garmin only a few metres away, we could literally see their crew ducking for cover.ShareOur teams first ‘test’ came shortly after when it was nearing time to round our first ‘mark’ and Garmin, who was alongside us, decided to turn, crossing in front of us. Picture someone on your right making a left-hand turn and cutting you off. This gave us one of two options:  a) slow and bear away to end up behind them, or b) turn alongside even tighter and not give an inch away.You can guess what option Dale chose.  Remember – “Don’t worry”, right?As our boat screamed into the tight turn with Garmin only a few metres away, we could literally see their crew ducking for cover. I’m sure they felt they would be skewered by our bow! Needless to say, Skipper Dale is a very skilled helmsman and he executed that turn with confidence and precision, as our bowman Justin, 70 feet ahead of him sitting in our pulpit, was calling out distances. With the fleet nipping at our heels, the next few hours became a co-ordinated team effort to optimize every tack as we zig-zagged out of the mouth of the river.Once at sea, we did our best to protect our early lead. Our rivals in the first few days were Sanya Serenity Coast, Unicef, and Visit Seattle, but as the first week came to a close some unfortunate changes in the weather forecast meant that the carefully crafted and tactically clever route we had intended to follow landed us squarely in a wind hole and relegated us to back of the fleet. Such is the life of ocean racing. Sometimes a gamble pays off, and sometimes Mother Nature has other plans!Fortunately, in true Dare To Lead fashion, we kept sailing along with our trademark good humour and teamwork. In a 33-day race, so much can change week by week. Friends and family following the race at home may not realize how little we know about other boats. Although each boat has an AIS (Automatic Identification System) number, that beacon only shows up on our ‘radar’ when boats are within a few miles of each other. Instead, every six hours, each Skipper must upload their boats’ latitude, longitude, and speed, which are then transmitted to the fleet. These updates (aka – “the Scheds”), also include a ranking based on those provided positions. At times these rankings seem completely arbitrary… Unless of course the latest Sched puts us a few positions ahead of our rivals– then naturally it must be accurate!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0px8hudgIsRacing is a 24-hour a day job, and our daily routine on board is broken down into two ‘Watches’; half the crew on deck at all times sailing the boat, and half the crew below, eating or resting.Life on board can become monotonous but there also becomes a certain comfort in the simplicity. Eat, sleep, sail, repeat. Small perks become the highlight of a day: the once-a-week bacon for breakfast, seeing a rival boat pop up on the AIS, weather calm enough to take a saltwater bucket shower off the stern (that’s right folks – no real showers for the whole time at sea!), or a surprise email from home.Emails from home have been a huge morale booster on board and we are very grateful to have reliable computer hardware to provide us with the connectivity to reach out to the real world. The crew shares a 14″ Dell Latitude Rugged laptop (aka ‘the Media PC’) for blog writing, composing emails, photo editing, and of course, reading the latest news updates (supplied in condensed form by the Clipper Race Office – sports scores on request!). Our ships Navigation Station is home to a second Dell laptop which runs our navigation, weather mapping, and communications software, and links to our satellite phones. Without these we would literally be lost!Our Trans-Atlantic voyage on Leg 1 has taken us through a variety of temperatures and weather. This has ranged from scorching heat off the Cape Verde islands, to pelting, icy rains as we closed in on Uruguay. The Doldrums, ironically, were anything but calm, and our worst weather came in the form of the 45 knot winds and squalls off Fernando de Noronha as our tired crew retraced our steps towards the Rhum Line after the successful MedEvac of a sick crewmember.The MedEvac to Fernando de Noronha, an archipelago off the coast of northern Brazil, was both a highlight and a lowlight for team Dare To Lead. For all of us, seeing the Jurassic Park-esque volcanic islands appear to rise out of the ocean as we approached was both beautiful and surreal. Having to say farewell to a sick crew member – who became perilously ill while we were in the middle of the Atlantic – was hard. But the race goes on, and we were determined to prove that you should always be on the lookout for Dale and his band of ‘Dark Horses’!With the bulk of the fleet crossing the finish line in Uruguay only hours away from each other, it is obvious that this years’ race is full of talent and competitive teams. We were the fifth boat to cross the finish line, in sixth place overall in the standings after a redress was given to Greenings. Considering we had to travel over 100 nautical miles out of our way for a MedEvac and still managed to overtake a few teams, we feel it’s a very respectable finish!They say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and as I sit here in Uruguay contemplating the rapidly approaching start of Leg 2 to Cape Town, South Africa, it’s dawning on me what an incredible journey this race has already been.With South Africa being the home country of both our Skipper and our Sapinda Rainbow Ambassador crew members, team Dare To Lead is ready to make this leg our glory leg! Keep an eye out for us on the official Clipper Race Tracker (we hear it’s addictive!).  Thanks to all friends and family back home for following and stay tuned in a few weeks for my Leg 2 wrap up, where I’ll write a bit more about how we live life at 45 degrees, a summary of our Leg 2 adventures, and reveal the story behind the “Dark Horse” moniker!Thanks for reading,-SamanthaAbout Samantha Harper, crew member, Dare To LeadSamantha is a 37-year-old doctor from Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The Dell Latitude Rugged Laptop was made for people like Samantha; when she is not sailing 40,000 nautical miles around the world on board Dare To Lead, Samantha splits her time between working in remote communities as a GP, and pushing herself to the limits mountaineering and running ultra-marathons (she has done the infamous Marathon des Sables, a 250 kilometre race in the Sahara Desert, five times). However, the Clipper Race is Samantha’s first sailing experience, and after initially considering only doing three legs, she signed up for the whole circumnavigation, knowing that once she started, she wouldn’t be able to stop until she completed and experienced the entire thing.last_img read more

Angola pledges $60m to fund landmine clearance in national parks

first_imgThe Angolan government has announced a $60 million commitment to clear landmines in Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga national parks in the country’s southeast.The region is part of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area — home to incredible natural biodiversity, but also one of the most heavily mined regions of Angola.International funding for landmine clearance has fallen by 80 percent over the last 10 years, and without new funding Angola will miss its target of clearing all landmines by 2025.The HALO Trust, a demining NGO, and the Angolan government hope that clearance of landmines will stimulate conservation in southeastern Angola and provide alternative livelihoods such as ecotourism to alleviate poverty and diversify the country’s economy away from oil. The Angolan government has pledged $60 million to clear landmines in two national parks that form part of southern Africa’s highly biodiverse Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.The country’s environment minister, Paula Coelho, made the announcement June 17 at a conference in London. The government has contracted the U.K.- and U.S.-based HALO Trust to clear 153 minefields in Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga national parks in the country’s southeastern province of Cuando Cubango.“We are enthusiastic to be part of the initiative of the protection of the elephant and to develop long-term plans for protected areas,” Coelho told the conference.Paula Coelho, Angolan Minister for the Environment, announces a $60 million commitment by the Angolan government to mine clearance at a conference at Chatham House in London. Image courtesy of the HALO TrustAngola’s wildlife was decimated during 41 years of conflict — a 14-year struggle for independence followed by 27 years of civil war — that finally ended in 2002. In southeastern Angola, displaced civilians hunted wildlife to survive, while the UNITA faction, a belligerent in both conflicts, slaughtered elephants and sold the ivory, with the backing of the apartheid government in South Africa, to buy arms.From 2004 to 2005, following the end of the civil war, aerial surveys by Michael Chase, a conservation researcher and founder of the South Africa-based group Elephants Without Borders, found signs that the elephant population in Luiana was increasing; at the same time, tracking of elephants tagged with collars in neighboring Botswana and Namibia showed they were returning to their former range in this part of Angola.The Angolan government didn’t allow any further studies until 2015, when Chase returned as part of the Great Elephant Census. The Angolan portion of the census counted 3,400 elephants and an alarming carcass ratio of 30 percent, indicating threatening levels of poaching.The civil war that followed Angolan independence was one of the many proxy battles of the Cold War, with UNITA backed by U.S. allies, and its main rival, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), supported by the Soviets. As financial and military aid poured into the country, large amounts of ivory and rhinoceros horn were flowing out, according to a 1996 South African government inquiry. Vast numbers of landmines were laid: a 1997 report by Human Rights Watch found that 51 different types of mines, manufactured in 18 different countries, had been found in Angolan soil. Southeastern Angola saw the heaviest fighting during the civil war: in Cuando Cubango province alone there are 22 square kilometers (8.5 square miles) of confirmed minefields.Seventeen years after the end of the war, landmines continue to restrict access to farmland across this part of the country, making it difficult for the government to extend development here, and deterring would-be ecotourists while at the same time creating ideal conditions for poachers, for whom the rewards offered by wildlife trafficking syndicates make the risk worthwhile.“The land mine issue is something that is very important to remove because we [need] our economic development,” said Rui Mangueira, the Angolan ambassador to the U.K. “Angola could be one of the most beautiful destinations.”Conservation, development and landmines: Interconnected issuesThe southeastern corner of Angola is a vital piece of the 520,000-square-kilometer (201,000-square-mile) Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), which includes both formal wildlife refuges and communally held land with rapidly growing populations. KAZA was set up in 2011 to manage this vast cross-border area with conservation as the primary form of land use, developing it as a sustainable tourism destination to benefit its resident communities while allowing wildlife, including megafauna such as the African elephant, to roam freely across historical ranges regardless of national borders.Clearing mines from the Angolan section of the KAZA transfrontier area is crucial to allowing wildlife like this elephant to roam freely across borders. Photo: YoungRobV/Flickr CC NC by 2.0In 2015, scientists returned to the region to explore the headwaters of the Okavango Delta, the largest freshwater wetland in southern Africa, as part of the National Geographic Society’s Okavango Wilderness Project. Navigating between the minefields with support from the HALO Trust, the team found a wealth of biodiversity, including more than 80 species new to science; to date, only 11 of them have been formally described.Also speaking at the London conference, Kai Collins, director of the Okavango Wilderness Project, described the difficulty of operating in the region: “We couldn’t even get the teams in to start the expedition … without the assistance of HALO guiding us through the most heavily mined areas.”“There is also a poverty that rises directly from the presence of these hundreds of minefields,” said James Cowan, CEO of the HALO Trust. “The communities that live in these areas cannot develop economically and become reliant on poaching and bush meat.”Clearing landmines: A mammoth taskAngola has set a target of clearing all landmines from its territory by 2025. The national mine action agency, Comissão Nacional Intersectorial de Desminagem e Assistência Humanitária (CNIDAH), has cleared 56 percent of Angola’s known minefields to date. CNIDAH’s clearance work has been supported by international groups including the Mines Advisory Group, Norwegian People’s Aid and the HALO Trust, and has been heavily reliant on foreign donors.But international funding for mine clearance in Angola has fallen drastically in recent years, from $48.1 million in 2005 to just $3.1 million in 2017. This fall was in part caused by a brief period when Angola reached middle-income status due to a rise in the price of oil, its main export. The loss of international funding has been compounded by a downturn in Angola’s economy; at current rates, Angola won’t achieve its mine-free vision until 2046.The Angolan government hopes that ecotourism in areas like Cuando Cubango can help diversify its economy, as it has in neighbouring countries like Botswana. “The Angolan government knows it needs to diversify beyond oil,” Coelho said at the conference. “Angola knows it needs outside expertise and investment to help preserve its environment.”Collins said he hopes the demining work can bring about change in southeastern Angola. “The opportunity is there of wildlife populations that just need to recover and be protected from poaching,” he said.The Okavango Wilderness Project is looking at ways to create a “conservation economy” in the hope that as local people gain access to sustainable farming practices and alternative livelihoods through ecotourism, poaching and hunting for bushmeat will decrease.The Angolan section of KAZA is also crucially important to the wider vision of an area where wildlife can roam freely across borders. In neighboring countries, instances of human-wildlife conflict are increasing as animal populations recover. KAZA’s supporters hope that a landmine-free Angola could offer important additional space for wildlife to disperse.“Elephants, they do not recognize borders, they do not have passports but move freely,” Coelho said. “I would like to … open the corridors so that the pressure in the [southern African] region can be less and elephants can return home.”Banner image: HALO Trust operatives clearing land mines in Angola. Image courtesy of the HALO TrustFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by terna gyusecenter_img Animals, Biodiversity, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Elephants, Endangered Species, Environment, Ivory, Ivory Trade, Mammals, Migration, Monitoring, Poachers, Poaching, Research, surveys, Tagging, Wildlife last_img read more

Pedro injects life in Chelsea’s season in English Premier League

first_imgLIVERPOOL (AP): Pedro Rodriguez was signed by Chelsea to inject some life into the English champions after their lacklustre start to the season. He took 30 minutes to do just that. The Spain forward scored one goal and set up another in his first half-hour of Premier League football, setting Chelsea on its way to a 3-2 win over West Bromwich Albion and a first victory of its title defence. “How many top players come to England and don’t perform immediately,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said of Pedro, who joined for $33 million from Barcelona. “People ask if he is the right player, can he adapt? … It’s very nice for him to perform the way he did.” Crisis averted for Chelsea, which had opened with one point from two games, but there’s still a way to go to catch first-place Manchester City. City earned its third straight win this season – and a club record-equalling ninth victory in a row – by beating Everton 2-0, thanks to second-half goals by Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri. With eight goals scored and none conceded, it is an ominous start by a team looking for a third title in five seasons. “You see a team that are at their very, very best,” Everton manager Roberto Mancini said of City, “when they only need half a chance to hurt you. They are really enjoying their moment.” Liverpool is the only other team with a 100 per cent start, ahead of its match at Arsenal on Monday that wraps up the third round of games. Watford drew 0-0 with Southampton in yesterday’s other game. Rodriguez’s bright display overshadowed another tough afternoon for his new captain, John Terry. A week after getting substituted – for the first time in 177 matches under Mourinho – during a 3-0 loss at Man City, Terry was sent off against West Brom for a professional foul in the 54th minute when his side was 3-1 ahead. Chelsea conceded almost straight away but held on comfortably at The Hawthorns, restoring some order after drawing 2-2 at home to Swansea and getting overwhelmed by City. Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved James Morrison’s 14th-minute penalty before Rodriguez scored the opener in the 20th, trading passes with Eden Hazard and sending in a shot that deflected inside the near post. Ten minutes later, Rodriguez turned provider by driving in a cross-shot that was bundled in by a sliding Diego Costa at the far post. West Brom reduced the deficit through Morrison, only for Cesar Azpilicueta to restore Chelsea’s two-goal cushion by racing onto Costa’s lay-off and slotting in a low finish for his first Premier League goal. Spain internationals scored all of the visitors’ goals. City finished last season with six straight wins, perhaps keeping coach Manuel Pellegrini in a job, and has carried that run into this campaign after spending more than $150 million this summer. Raheem Sterling – signed for £49 million (US$76 million) – has added an extra dimension to City’s attack and is providing a different problem for opposition defences, which is allowing others like David Silva and Yaya Toure to shine. Silva and Sterling were involved in the build-up to Kolarov’s 60th-minute opener, with the left back charging upfield and running onto Sterling pass to beat American goalkeeper Tim Howard at his near post. Nasri exchanged a one-two with Toure before chipping Howard from close range for the second in the 88th. “What other teams think about our team is not our problem,” Pellegrini said when asked if City was making a statement to its rivals. “The important thing is to be a consistent team until the end.” enjoying their momentlast_img read more

NBA: Suns spoil James’ big night

first_img Hornets 86, Rockets 80: Chris Paul had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in his third game after injuring his right thumb, to lead visiting New Orleans. Juwan Howard had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets. Mavericks 110, Nets 77: Josh Howard scored 29 points and Keith Van Horn added 23, going 5-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half, in Dallas’ 11th consecutive win against visiting New Jersey. Jason Kidd scored 19 points and Vince Carter had 17 for the Nets. Nuggets 100, Bucks 93: Carmelo Anthony scored 38 points and Denver coach George Karl won in his return to Milwaukee. Michael Redd scored 25 points, but Milwaukee never led and lost for the fifth time in seven games. Pacers 91, Bulls 89: Stephen Jackson scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half and Anthony Johnson’s basket with 3.9 seconds remaining sent visiting Indiana past Chicago. Andres Nocioni finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for Chicago. Heat 100, Jazz 94: Dwyane Wade followed his third career triple-double by nearly getting his fourth, finishing with 31 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in visiting Miami’s win. Andrei Kirilenko had 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and Mehmet Okur finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz. Spurs 80, Grizzlies 79: Tim Duncan made a layup off an inbound alley-oop pass from Manu Ginobili with 7.2 seconds left to lift San Antonio over visiting Memphis. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Eddie House scored 12 of his 17 points on 4-for-6 long-range shooting in the fourth quarter for Phoenix. Shawn Marion had 25 points and 12 rebounds and Steve Nash 20 points and 15 assists for the Suns, who shot 55 percent. Raja Bell added 23 points, including 5-of-6 3-pointers, and Boris Diaw 18. Wizards 114, Hawks 106 (OT): Gilbert Arenas scored seven of his 33 points in overtime and visiting Washington earned its seventh consecutive victory over the Hawks. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler each finished with 23 points for the Wizards. Mayfair High grad Josh Childress dunked to give Atlanta its final lead with 2:05 left in overtime. Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 23 points. Pistons 114, Bobcats 91: Richard Hamilton led a balanced attack with 19 points, and Detroit beat visiting Charlotte. Primoz Brezec led the Bobcats with 18 points, while Gerald Wallace scored 14 and reserve Jumaine Jones added 12. center_img The Phoenix Suns overcame a 46-point performance by LeBron James to beat the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers 115-106 Saturday night, their ninth victory in 11 games. James told USA Basketball chief Jerry Colangelo before the game that he would play for the U.S. team at this year’s world championships and the 2008 Olympics, then put on an all-world show that included eight assists and seven rebounds. But it wasn’t enough against the deep, high-scoring Suns, and the Cavaliers lost their third in a row, matching their longest skid of the season. last_img read more

Steve Kerr provides clarity on Durant, Cousins rehabs

first_imgCLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos or videos on a mobile deviceOAKLAND — Steve Kerr on Friday sought to clarify the status of Kevin Durant’s injury and prognosis.Thursday night, after Warriors victory, Kerr had said the calf injury that has sidelined Durant for the past three games was “a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning.”Friday, before the Warriors departed for Portland, Kerr drew a more nuanced picture. “What did I say last night, …last_img read more

Mobile swipe machines take off in South Africa

first_imgMobile transaction machines are becoming popular. More food outlets have enlisted theservices of the mobile machines. (Images: Bongani Nkosi) MEDIA CONTACTS • Paul Kent Managing DirectorSureSwipe +27 11 581 1216  RELATED ARTICLES • Mobile money grows in Africa • Bidvest first South African bank to trade Yuan • Capitec gets nod from Swiss • World-class banking for 2010Bongani NkosiThe mobile swipe-card machine industry is booming and looks set to grow further, as more businesses and consumers in South Africa realise how convenient and safe the devices are.An increasing number of establishments are enlisting the services of such machines, said Paul Kent, managing director SureSwipe – an independent supplier.The gadgets have gained popularity as local consumers have become more confident in using them.“It’s almost unheard of for a business not to have a portable swipe-card machine,” Kent said.Debit cards are being used more and more in swipe machines, as opposed to credit cards – although the latter still dominates the market. Debit card users now account for about 30% of the market share, Kent said, but he predicts that by 2012 the market will be 50% debit and 50% credit cards.Debit-card usage is “around 30% at present and growing fast”, he added.The machines, also known as speedpoints, have grown in popularity over the last 12 months as new, faster technology has been introduced. About two years ago the industry was still using “first-generation machines that were not as reliable”, said Kent.Swipe-card machines are very popular in the hospitality sector, Kent said. These days one doesn’t need actual cash when eating out or even enjoying a drink at a bar, as a waiter can bring the handy device to your table.Grocery outlets, both big and small, have also introduced the machines in some of their branches. Furniture and clothing stores are using them too.“For consumers, the peace of mind of watching the transaction taking place in front of them, and the convenience of the machine being brought to their table, if they are at a restaurant, … is a significant advantage,” Kent said.“This market is growing rapidly and soon we might tell our grandchildren that once cards were taken from us and swiped some distance from us,” he added.Rental agreementSwipe-card machines are supplied by all four major banks in South Africa – Absa, Standard Bank, FNB and Nedbank – and groups like SureSwipe. Kent said the industry standard is for suppliers to rent out the devices and provide internet connectivity for them.He said they charge businesses R400 (US$58) per month to rent out a mobile machine and R250 ($36) for a fixed machine. Internet connectivity is R119 ($17.20) per month for a portable machine and R180 ($26) for fixed one.“This is the industry standard. With these machines, rental is more expensive than connectivity.”Machines currently available in South Africa take between 10 and 20 seconds to complete a transaction. Kent said his organisation is now eyeing machines that are much faster, like those recently introduced in Brazil, which “cut the time of a swipe to less than three seconds”.New mobile phone technology is changing the way payments are made overseas. Kent said that in the US, consumers can make purchases using their smartphones.With these gaining significant market share in South Africa as well, the country may not be too far away from adopting such payment methods.“The technology is advancing rapidly – from wireless links to satellite transmission – and even capacity to swipe using smartphones,” Kent said.Preventing fraudThe prevailing concern for retailers is that swipe machines use sim cards for internet connectivity, which Kent said can be taken out and used in any mobile phone. “For instance, a waiter could take this out and use it in his or her cellphone to make personal calls. It is quite difficult to do this, but not impossible,” he added.Another concern is that older credit cards can be used without the consent of the owner, as they do not require a secret pin code for machine transactions – but banks are aware of this and have started introducing a pin system for such cards.Debit cards are generally safer, as a user always needs to enter his or her secret pin number when buying or withdrawing money.If a credit card is lost or stolen, it needs to be reported to the police and bank as soon as possible, so it can be barred.“If the credit card company has frozen the account, the machine will decline the card and the credit card company will receive an alert about the transaction,” Kent said. “Overall, credit-card swipe machines can also prevent fraud or criminal activity.”last_img read more

Taking the bloom and gloom out of Lake Erie

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It’s been one year since a massive algae bloom in Lake Erie contaminated the drinking water of more than 500,000 Ohio residents. Since that time, we’ve seen an increase in legislative actions and governmental commitments to reduce fertilizer runoff. Yet the harmful algae that showed up last summer have bloomed again. This summer’s catastrophic rains have caused farm fields to flood, sending fertilizer into Lake Erie. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year’s algae bloom could be the second largest on record.Nutrient efficiency and soil health practices can create a powerful antidote to Lake Erie’s bloom and doom cycle. But farmers need more support and guidance in making changes on their farm. And they need to know that these practices won’t reduce yields.That’s why an innovative platform called SUSTAIN is taking off. SUSTAIN provides agricultural retailers with training on the best tools and practices for reducing fertilizer runoff and increasing soil health — but also focuses on maintaining productivity. Earlier this summer, a group of central Ohio retailers became SUSTAIN authorized — and while it’s not a silver bullet, this effort has enormous potential to keep Lake Erie’s algae blooms at bay. SUSTAIN growthSUSTAIN was created by United Suppliers, a cooperative of 650 locally owned and controlled agricultural retailers, in coordination with the Environmental Defense Fund. The platform is reaching farmers directly since it authorizes and informs their primary source of information and advice — their retailer.By the end of 2014, more than 100 sales employees were authorized as SUSTAIN advisors and another 100 will be authorized by the end of 2015, across Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio. Any farmer visiting those SUSTAIN locations will be getting the best available advice on how to navigate the fertilizer runoff world. And they’ll have access to proven, field-tested products and techniques to improve nutrient use efficiency and soil health — and protect their yields. Training the trainers in Western Lake ErieIn late July I attended a SUSTAIN training in Dublin, Ohio. The goal was to educate the staff of Novus Ag, one of United Suppliers’ retailers, about fertilizer management so that they could advise their farmer customers.The training provided Novus Ag staff with key insights they could communicate to farmer clients, including that fertilizer runoff doesn’t just lead to air and water pollution, it also costs growers money. Retailers learned about the “4Rs” of fertilizer management, how to implement these principles, what efficiency tools are available, and how to successfully bring these tools to their farmer clients.With the high level of enthusiasm I saw from the staff at Novus Ag and the commitment of United Suppliers to get 10 million acres enrolled in SUSTAIN by 2020, both the growers’ bottom lines and Lake Erie will benefit.last_img read more

Old VCR Codes Have Been Junked

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Throw another one on the pile of outdated technologies. The last VCR Plus+ codes to ever be generated were sent to publishers on May 20th, according to severalnewspapers.VCR Plus+ were the codes you used to need to videotape a television show. They were generated by Rovi (formerly Macrovision) and provided to the print media where they were published in the TV listings. Once upon a time, the only visible field in a video recorder was the set of LED numbers on the front. Using the VCR Plus+ code, you could instruct the machine to record such-and-such a channel at a specific time. These days, with DVD player on-screen displays, the codes are no longer needed, and the number of new video recorders using the codes are essentially zero. Indeed, television has already begun a migration to the Web. Google announced Google TV at I/O on the same day that the last VCR Plus+ codes reached newspapers. Online television site Hulu has been going for three years already.The VCR Plus+ code disappearance is a rare convergence of, arguably, three different types of defunct tech: newspapers, video recorders and the codes themselves. Not many people I daresay will miss them. But what about the folks who took the time and extraordinary effort to master their use? Will there remain a small group of furious television watchers out there shouting, “They can have my VCR Plus+ code when they pry it from my cold, dead hand?”Thanks to Larry Price for the tipcenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting curt hopkins Tags:#Real World#web last_img read more

What Will We Do With All Those Solar Panels When Their Useful Life Is Over?

first_imgGreen Basics: Photovoltaic SystemsTesla Begins Solar Roof ProductionSolar Thermal Is Really, Really DeadGreen Building in the Cheap Energy EraPV Systems Have Gotten Dirt Cheap Laws and regulationsIn the U.S., most of this progress is happening without the guidance of regulations. There is currently no federal standard or requirement for end-of-life management of photovoltaic panels that don’t meet the standard for hazardous waste — and they they typically do not. No major state rules have been established for these non-hazardous wastes, either.Heath at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory notes that the state of Washington passed legislation last year requiring manufacturers to finance the recovery and recycling of panels sold in the state. It’s the most advanced legislation focusing on solar panel recycling so far, but the regulations aren’t expected to be fully implemented until 2021. Heath also notes that Washington is not one of the largest solar-dependent states. In California, which is a major solar state, legislation is still likely years away.Outside of the U.S., though, there is a model to follow. The European Union’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive requires producers to finance end-of-life treatment of solar panels sold in Europe.Similar federal regulations in the U.S. are unlikely in the near future, according to First Solar’s Raju. But given the massive amount of solar panels expected to be falling out of service in the coming decades, experts predict that more encompassing regulations are inevitable.“I think it is just a matter of time,” says Raju. “I would personally be very surprised if 10 years down the road we don’t have a similar program in place.” Training and costUntil there’s a steady stream it will be hard for recyclers to focus more of their business on solar panels. In order to make sure they’re ready, though, the solar industry is creating programs to train commercial recycling companies to understand what’s in manufacturers’ products and how to break them down, according to Evelyn Butler, senior director of codes and standards for the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group representing solar power companies and photovoltaic manufacturers.Butler says the group is also working with recyclers to share data about what components and materials they’re processing so that they can start to track and forecast their waste.A recycling facility gives photovoltaic panel producer First Solar a way to extract components from defunct solar panels for eventual reuse. [Photo credit: First Solar]“We’re still pretty early on in the process, but we’re hoping that in five or 10 years we’ll be able to provide industry data on that,” she says.Some photovoltaic companies are leading their own recycling efforts. First Solar, one of the largest photovoltaic providers, has long offered recycling for its products. Over the years, its recycling process has gradually improved, according to Sukhwant Raju, the company’s director of recycling operations.“Our company has over 100 million modules out installed, but they may be another 10 to 15 years away from getting to their end-of-life stage,” he says. “As the time passes, our technology cost is coming down, but at the same time, the volume of the scrap increases. So that gives us economies of scale.”The company’s long-term goal, Raju says, is to make sure the process is cheap and efficient enough to deal with the expected surge of decommissioned panels.The total cost has to be so low that nobody has to think about any other option than to recycle. “Within the last eight years I’ve seen tremendous reduction in that cost,” he says.In conjunction with better recycling methods, the company’s panels are designed to be conducive to recycling. Up to 90% of the glass and semiconductor material in its decommissioned panels can be reused in new panels or other glass products. This post originally appeared at Ensia. Part of the problem is that solar panels are complicated to recycle. They’re made of many materials, some hazardous, and assembled with adhesives and sealants that make breaking them apart challenging.“The longevity of these panels, the way they’re put together and how they make them make it inherently difficult to, to use a term, de-manufacture,” says Mark Robards, director of special projects for ECS Refining, one of the largest electronics recyclers in the U.S. The panels are torn apart mechanically and broken down with acids to separate out the crystalline silicon, the semiconducting material used by most photovoltaic manufacturers. Heat systems are used to burn up the adhesives that bind them to their armatures, and acidic hydro-metallurgical systems are used to separate precious metals.Robards says nearly 75% of the material that gets separated out is glass, which is easy to recycle into new products but also has a very low resale value. Not only that, but what’s available to recycle is something of a moving target. As solar panel technology improves, manufacturers are slowly finding ways around using components that would have value to recyclers, like copper and silver.“So the underlying commodity value of these things keeps going down,” Robards says. The less value a recycler can extract, the less incentive there is to recycle.Despite the challenges, ECS has been ramping up its photovoltaic recycling capacity. “It’s a semi-decent growth area these next few years but exploding about 2020 and beyond,” Robards says, anticipating the millions of metric tons of panels expected to come off-line.center_img Solar power is having its hockey stick moment. Since the early 2000s, the amount of solar panels being installed worldwide has been growing exponentially, and it’s expected to continue to do so for decades. By the end of 2015, an estimated 222 gigawatts worth of solar energy had been installed worldwide. According to a recent report from the International Renewable Energy Agency, that number could reach 4,500 GW by 2050.But the solar panels generating that power don’t last forever. The industry standard life span is about 25 to 30 years, and that means that some of the panels installed at the early end of the current boom aren’t long from being retired. And each passing year, more and more will be pulled from service — glass and metal photovoltaic modules that will soon start adding up to millions, and then tens of millions of metric tons of material.“It’s not too far off that those are going to be coming off line, and we’re going to have a waste management issue,” says Garvin Heath, a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a solar power expert. “It’s fair to say that it’s starting to become more widely recognized as an issue that we’re going to need to start working on pretty soon.”The solution many are looking to is recycling. But the ability to handle the coming flow of PV modules is not yet sufficient. “There’s some infrastructure,” Heath says. “I wouldn’t say it’s especially well established at this point.” Nate Berg covers cities, science, and design. He is based in Los Angeles. RELATED ARTICLESlast_img read more

Meet VoLTE, The Future Of Phone Calls

first_imgThe Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology When LTE debuted in the U.S., carriers had to figure out how to make voice calls work while pushing out 4G smartphones to customers. Most carriers adopted a stopgap measure called “circuit-switch fallback” in which LTE handles all data connections, but phones call back to the 3G network when you make a call. VoLTE effectively obsoletes this hybrid technology.VoIP vs. VoLTEYou might look at your smartphone and say, “Hey, I can already make voice calls over my data connection! I have Skype and Google Hangouts!” It is true, you can indeed make voice calls using your data connection with these apps, which are referred in the cellular industry as “over-the-top” (OTT) services because they supersede a carrier’s own voice and messaging services.You may be using LTE to make voice calls with these apps, but you’re not using VoLTE. Services like Skype, Hangouts, WebEx or Fuze are what is called Voice Over Internet Protocol—VoIP. These services work on your 3G or 4G LTE devices because they use your data connection through the Internet, not the traditional voice network from the carriers.As U.S. cellular carriers networks evolve, VoLTE will compete with more directly with OTT services like Skype.Benefits Of VoLTET-Mobile is one of the first cellular carriers in the United States to institute VoLTE phone calls on a limited range of smartphones, starting in Seattle. In an announcement last week, T-Mobile chief technology officer Neville Ray described the technology behind the company’s VoLTE offering:If you’re like me and love digging into the underlying science, here’s how it works. (If this doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip this bit.) VoLTE calls will be carried over IP [Internet protocol, or packet switching] on our LTE network instead of a circuit-switched path on our 4G HSPA+ network. This is advantageous because your phone stays on our wicked fast LTE network to make a call. The tricky bit in all this is the smooth mobility between our various radio layers. Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) is a new LTE Advanced function and we’re excited to be the first to deploy it in the U.S. All of this basically helps ensure that your capable phone won’t drop a call if you leave an LTE area and it switches to 4G HSPA+ or 2G coverage.Technologies like Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity are fancy terms used to described the central tenet of VoLTE. For the first time, voice and data will be living together in harmony on the same radio layer, meaning that smartphones won’t need to displace back to 3G or a different spectrum frequency to handle both capabilities.See also: Why Your Cell-Phone Bill Should Be Going Down—But Isn’tWhat this means is that, as LTE is expanded in the U.S., old 3G networks like CDMA or HSPA+ will wither away. Verizon said last year that it will begin phasing out its 3G network at the start of 2014 and other U.S. carriers are planning similar rollbacks. The future of voice and data in the U.S. is LTE (and future advancements, like LTE Advanced), and carriers see no need to maintain costly old infrastructure. Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementcenter_img If you haven’t already, soon you’re going to be hearing a lot about a new standard for making mobile phone calls: VoLTE. It stands for “voice over LTE,” but what it really means is that before long, your voice calls are going to be transmitted across the airwaves using the same technology the Internet pioneered for data. See also: Why Your Cellphone Bill Should Be Going Down—But Isn’tVoLTE, an acronym sure to be coming soon to a mobile-phone advertisement near you, promises two immediate potential benefits to consumers: clearer calls with fewer dropouts and the ability to use voice and data services simultaneously (which some, but not all, carriers offer already). For the carriers, it means more efficient use of their allocated radio spectrum, meaning they can serve more customers without additional network investments.(What VoLTE almost certainly won’t do is lower your phone bill, as carriers have a habit of charging more for network improvements that actually save them money.)To understand how VoLTE is supposed to manage all these improvements, you have to understand why traditional LTE couldn’t carry voice.Circuit Switched Vs. Packet SwitchedLTE is the current gold standard for mobile data (it stands for “long term evolution”), although you may know it better as “4G.” LTE makes it possible to download or stream Internet video far faster than its predecessor 3G networks—but as it stands, LTE doesn’t carry voice calls. Instead, carriers with LTE fall back to older 2G and 3G networks for calls.Voice over LTE will change that.LTE’s speed advantage stems from the way it handles data. 3G network standards like UMTS and CDMA basically open a dedicated channel between nodes to handle voice, text and data, a technique called “circuit switching.” This is a simple, but fairly expensive practice in network terms; it’s as if you got a dedicated lane for your morning commute that no one else could use. Great for you; terrible for everyone else.See also: Meet The “Real” 4GLTE, by contrast, is based on an Internet technology called packet switching. In such networks, a sender divides up any sort of data—email, Web pages, a Netflix stream—into small packets of equal size, each of which carries an “address label” bearing its ultimate destination. The sender tosses these packets onto the network, where they’re directed toward their destination at every juncture, or “node.” They ultimately all meet up at their destination, where they’re reassembled and delivered to the recipient.This is a lot more like your actual morning commute, in which you have to share the road with everyone else heading somewhere. Like your commute, packet switching sounds a bit haphazard, and it can be—but it’s also a fantastically efficient, flexible and robust way of transmitting information. Until now, though, it wasn’t any use for mobile voice calls, which still require circuits (and circuit switching). Tags:#4G#Apple#AT&T#cable#Carriers#Cell phones#Google#lte#Microsoft#Skype#smartphone#Spectrum#Sprint#T-Mobile#verizon dan rowinski The cellular operators are just starting their marketing campaigns around the evolution of LTE. T-Mobile claims what it calls “HD Voice” (clear voice calls over cellular) and Verizon claims to be rolling out what it calls XLTE, which is basically just extra spectrum for its existing LTE network to operate. Sprint’s Spark network isn’t an advance of LTE either, just a new mode of how it aggregates its various spectrum and varieties of LTE (TD-LTE and FD-LTE) into a more efficient package than its previous 4G offerings. Smartphone manufacturers will benefit by the ability to trim how many radio receivers they place in smartphones. Instead of needing to support disparate networks with a variety of chipsets, they can just rollout phones with chipsets directed at specific carrier spectrum requirements. For consumers, the benefit is harder to see. VoLTE will fix the unwelcome problem of not being able to use voice and data on a phone at the same time for some carriers, and calls may be clearer and less prone to be dropped going forward. VoLTE is an important evolutionary step in mobile computing, but it’s still possible that many consumers will hardly notice the change.  last_img read more