Sunday, December 24, 2017

Homido's V2

Virtual Reality's main players might be household names (or owned by them), but scratch under the surface, and there's a bustling bevy of lesser-known names jostling for your attention. Usually these fall into two camps, those with quirky features, or deluxe versions of Google Cardboard. Homido's first headset was more the latter, with the distinction of having its own app hub for VR movies and games, and IPD (Inter Pupil Distance) controls, something even Gear VR doesn't have. The French company's back with a new version (called V2) that's sleeker and compatible with more phones. What makes it interesting is the "family" of accessories that will complement it, including a Kinect-like motion sensor -- making Homido's little slice of virtual reality more than just a bourgeois take on bare-bones VR.

The good news is, the improved V2 costs the same as the original Homido VR headset. The less good news, if you're on a budget at least, is that the original cost $80. Not the most expensive mobile VR headset, but still a jump if you were looking to get an upgraded cardboard viewer. The new design promises to be more comfortable, with better ventilation and a more premium feel along with an all-important capacitive button (no more pressing play, then quickly shoving the phone in the viewer). It'll also support large phones including the iPhone 6s Plus.

Homido doesn't want to just be known as a fancy phone holder, though. It's Homido Center app might not be quite the same as OCULUS GEAR VR in terms of razzle-dazzle software stores, but it's a start. Despite not having the influence of the Korean giant, CEO Mathieu Parmentier tells me his goal is to offer the best mobile VR experience possible. "We're the only company to focus this hard on mobile VR and nothing else, and that's how we'll stay. We're specialists."

Parmentier also argues that making a headset that works well with many phones is actually more of an accomplishment. "It seems simple, no electronics etc., but actually the challenge is much harder than making a Gear [VR] for three Samsung smartphones, without adjustable IPD."

The reveal of new accessories for the V2 is proof Parmentier wants to make Homido more of an ecosystem. The new additions include a 360-degree camera ($200), Bluetooth game controllers (Android/iOS costing $40/$60 respectively) and an as-yet-to-be-announced motion sensor. The controllers aren't all that remarkable, but the addition of a 1080p/30fps VR camera plus app for converting videos into a Facebook or YouTube-friendly format (handy in its own right) would make Homido an easy entry introduction to VR video and photos.

As for the motion sensor, less is known. This would be something of a first for a headset at this price, though. Earlier this year, the company demoed it at MWC, allowing users to interact with games physically -- like boxing with your fists. Rumours suggested the sensor might debut alongside the V2, but it looks like this might have been delayed. Once it does arrive, though, this would make Homido an unusually complete, if unconventional little VR ecosystem. That said, only the V2 is available now, everything else will follow "soon."

Monday, October 9, 2017

World Solar Challenge is an Amazing Adventure in Engineering

One of the world’s greatest engineering adventures began over the weekend as more than 40 solar cars are braving the Australian Outback on a 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) journey from Darwin to Adelaide, South Australia.

In its 30th year, the organizers of the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge have made the journey even more challenging in 2017 by reducing the size of the solar array that powers the cars.

Event Director Chris Selwood said the decision was made to reduce the solar array from 6 to 4 square meters because the challenge was about being more efficient with the use of power rather than travelling the fastest. In 2007, the size was reduced to 6sq m from the 8sq m originally allowed in 1987.

“When we started this 30 years ago, the scientists told us that each of us as human beings had 8 square meters of the earth’s surface from which to draw our sustenance. So when we looked at a regulation for how big a solar array could be on a solar car we said eight,” he said.

“As the cars got better, they got faster and in 2006 we crossed that magic threshold of 100km/h average speed between Darwin and Adelaide.

It wasn’t sustainable for us just to be going faster and faster because the World Solar Challenge is not about how fast you can go, it’s about how far you can go. How far you can go on how little energy.”

Selwood said this quest for efficiency meant it was time for a disruptive change in the rules to make the journey more difficult.

“We make no excuse for this being the hardest solar car event in the world,” he said, adding that only 30 percent of teams typically completed the journey.

He said the only way the cars could keep travelling the same distance at the same speed with a smaller array was to completely redesign the vehicles from the ground up.

The event, which began on Sunday, has seven Australian entrants including teams from South Australian education institutions TAFE SA, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide. High profile international teams include Cambridge University, Tokai University and past winner Solar Team Eindhoven from the Netherlands.

Spencer Olds, a student leader from the Adelaide University Solar Racing Team (AUSRT), said to be competitive his team would need to travel at an average of 80km/h for the entire five-day trip.

“Travelling at that speed across the desert is incredibly tough. The solar array needs to be highly protected so we’ve done a lot of work to ensure that it will stay safe from all the sand in the desert,” Olds said.

The AUSRT team, which hopes to place in the top 10, is using a modular system, which allows swap out parts of solar array if they get damaged.

“It’s real-world engineering with this solar array. We are learning how to get as much out of it as possible,” Olds said.

“At full sun, we should get about 1kW of power out of it. That’s a tiny amount but it’s enough to power our car.”

He compared 1kW to roughly the power of a small toaster.

Event Director Selwood said a variety of practical uses come out of engineering these cars.

He said an example was a Dutch team that developed a coating to make their car more aerodynamic and had the side effect that dirt won’t stick to it.

“If you applied that to a conventional car, you’d probably never have to wash it,” Selwood said.

“Some of them push the boundaries not normally associated with cars but are important to the hi-tech industry and advanced manufacturing,” he said.

Besides the engineering challenges, Selwood said teams travelled to Australia from all over the world because of the sheer adventure.

“The attraction for teams to undertake the seemingly impossible task is the great adventure of crossing Australia, crossing the central heart of this ancient land. It’s always a spiritual journey crossing the country,” he said.

Teams are expected to begin arriving in Adelaide on Oct. 13.

Also see the best portable solar panel on the market GOAL ZERO NOMAD 20

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Brightest Tactical Flashlight Reviews

If you benefit from the use of a tactical flashlight (for example: SUNJACK LIGHTSTICK )
 in your professional capacity, then you’ll have first-hand experience regarding the usefulness of certain manufacturers’ products and the advantages of those flashlights have over other brands. However, the absolute brightest tactical flashlight may just be out of your reach for a number of reasons, the most important of which will be explored below. Whether you’re on the market for the best tactical flashlights for self-defense precautions, for general-purpose use around the house, for outdoor environments, or even for professional deployment, discover all you need to know about chasing the highest lumen rating through our tactical flashlight reviews and discussions.



Although you can get a maximum brightness output of a whopping 2000 lumens, operating this tactical flashlight at the lowest setting is still enough to find your way around your dark house. The pack comes with lots of great accessories which include a smart charger amongst many others, but it’s perhaps the seven operational modes you’ll be most impressed with (Eco, Low, Medium, High, Turbo, Strobe, and SOS).
  • The beam’s power doesn’t only reside in the 2000 lumen output, but also in the 1050 ft distance it covers; you get a minimum of 100 yards at maximum brightness
  • The brightness level remains constant, thanks to digital regulation
  • No problems if you insert the batteries incorrectly; it has inverted polarity protection
  • You can light up the whole room instead of just illuminating one isolated spot
  • Recharging takes a bit of a while, due to the battery size
  • One-handed use can be a bit tricky with the rear-located buttons

If it’s a lot of light you want, that’s what you get in abundance with this tactical flashlight. It’s amazing!


Usually, when a tactical flashlight output gets as bright as 2000 lumens, you know you have to compromise in many other areas. This LED tactical flashlight from NITECORE goes against that trend however because you also get decent peripheral lighting. In action, powered by original Nitecore NL 183 18650 batteries, you can rip through the thickest mist and if you drop the flashlight, 1.5 meters is how far the impact-resistance protects it.
  • Rotation-operated switch manipulates the flashlight’s many functions, making it very easy to use
  • The regulation of the flashlight’s temperature is very good, which saves energy and makes it very comfortable (doesn’t get too hot in your hands)
  • The light output mode chosen offers consistent performance (brightness levels remain constant)
  • One of the better memory features in a tactical flashlight, which saves power by working with the regular light modes
  • It seems just a little bit too big to be a proper tactical flashlight
  • The light appears to get a bit warmer when compared to some other tactical flashlights in its class, but it’s not really a deal-breaker
This is an extremely bright flashlight which adds up to some good value for the money you’ll spend.


This professional tactical flashlight from Solaray weighs a mere 5 ounces, yet it packs a decent punch in terms of its light output and performance. We’re not sure about the 1200 lumen claims, but it is bright enough to get the job done well, featuring five modes; SOS, Strobe, Low, Medium, and High.
It’s powered by two 3.7Volt 18650 batteries which come included, otherwise, you can use 3 triple-A batteries as well.
  • Being able to use AAA batteries via the adapter is a nice additional touch
  • It zooms very smoothly and features a zooming functions which actually works
  • Great flooding beam which doesn’t generate a hot spot
  • The flood beam also doesn’t result in any over-spilling
  • We’d have a hard time confidently acclaiming this to indeed be a 1200 lumen flashlight, but it is still very bright nevertheless
  • It’s a bit of a mission to fit the batteries in correctly
Well, we can’t fault the manufacturers for producing a tactical flashlight that pretty much does what it claims. You get great output with this flashlight, running on batteries that give roughly the same performance in a 2800 Nitecore 18650 battery.


This tactical flashlight only weighs 0.26 pounds, but will give you up to 1.25 hours of running time on the CR123A batteries (included).
630 lumens is more than decent and is a luminous flux claim which is refreshingly close to reality.
  • Attaches safely and conveniently to your firearm (like a Glock 21) and you can even do it one-handed while your hand never gets close to the muzzle
  • Fits a wide range of firearms very securely
  • Its aluminum build makes it go well with most guns it’s fitted on, making it look like one unit
  • It’s really quite a durable tactical flashlight which will last through multiple thousand rounds while maintaining great form and functionality
  • The strobe light mode appears a bit of a challenge to select, which may make you feel as if it doesn’t work at all
  • The door to the battery compartment seems to be the least securely-built part of the flashlight
If you are okay with giving up about 5% accuracy on any target you’re aiming to shoot at, at up to about 16 feet away, the flashlight’s bright spot can be used to replace your firearms aim. The mounted tactical lightwith the help of an sight attached to your handgun, the accuracy will be doubled.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

How to Prevent Ice Dams and the Roof Leaks They Cause

Here we're in the middle of another cold Massachusetts winter months and enjoy each winter here in New England many home owners will have important difficulties with ice dams causing brick pointing contractors and shingle damage.

Even though it may look as if ice dams are an unstoppable force of character, they're in reality quite preventable. Attics and cathedral or vaulted ceiling regions which have been properly incorporated into the total building envelope do not have problems with ice dams and icicles from the chilly seasons. During the use of suitable insulation and ventilation methods ice dams could be stopped cold (pun intended).
brick pointing bronx

Here a Normal situation for the formation of ice dams:

A home has a build up of snow on the brick pointing Bronx.
The temperature outside is below freezing.
The warmth within the loft is above freezing, hence increasing the temperatures of the brick pointing NYC to over freezing.
Due to the warm brickwork pointing contractors, the snow on top of it starts to melt from the ground up.
This melted snow water attempts to run off and down the roofing contractors Bronx NY.
The moment the water reaches the edge of the roofing contractors Bronx NY it gets exposed to the freezing air.
The water refreezes as ice rather than snow in the gutters, if present, and along the borders of the roof.
As more and more melted snow water continues to run down the roofing contractors Bronx NY it simply keeps freezing behind and in addition to the previously frozen run off, forming a bigger and bigger ice dam.
So How Do Ice Dams Cause Roof Leaks?

The melted snow water doesn't immediately freeze anymore after the ice dam has started to take shape. When the ice dam has built up a bit it literally makes a dam that traps the remaining portion of the water hoping to run off the roof repair Bronx behind it. While this trapped water will gradually freeze, it might take some time and during that time some of the shingles on this roof repair Bronx, behind the ice dam, are basically submerged in water.

Now, of course, your roof repair Bronx shingles are obviously supposed to guard your house against the weather i.e. rain and snow. But most roofing materials aren't meant to have a pond or river on top of those.

So What Can You Do To Prevent Ice Dams?

First and foremost you must recognize that proper insulation and ventilation is the key(see image on right). If we are talking about an attic area then typically this means that the insulation should run up the walls of your residence then over the attic floor joists forming a perfect insulation envelope. In the attic scenario, only the floor of the attic ought to be insulated, not the underside of the roof repair Bronx NY!

Proper ventilation is also required. Outside air has to have the ability to join the attic so the attic temperature is just like the temperature outside. You attain this ventilation through using gable vents, soffit vents, and roof repair Bronx NY.

In roof systems with attic areas below them, it is fairly straight forward to get a contractor that knows what they're doing to correct any problems so far as proper insulation and ventilation. However, brick pointing Bronx systems with a cathedral ceiling below them that have these issues are a lot more of a project to correct, but they might be corrected.

So as to have a properly ventilated and insulated cathedral ceiling the contractor must install baffles within each rafter bay before installing the insulation. These baffles allow air to flow through the soffit vents and the ridge vent which keeps the underside of the brick pointing Bronx the identical temperature as outside. If these baffles are not installed in your cathedral ceiling then the contractor will have to eliminate the present sheetrock and insulation from your ceiling so as to properly ventilate the region. This sort of project will be costlier than an attic undertaking.

Besides the ice dam issue, if your attic is warmer than the outside temperature you're also wasting a great deal of money heating that space. So basically you're spending extra money on your heating bill for the privilege of growing nice huge ice dams and icicles that cause waterproofing Bronx leaks and destroy your roof repair NYC. Kind of makes it even worse when you think of it that way doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Africa's portable solar revolution is thwarting thieves

When South Africa’s government started giving laptops to off-grid schools, James van der Walt spotted an opportunity for a solar panel ( for example: GOAL ZERO NOMAD 13) business. But his market research revealed a problem: of 12 schools he visited, 11 had previously lost solar panels to thieves. So he decided to pack his system into a reinforced shipping container, creating a secure, mobile power station that could be shut away at the end of each day.

The prototype Solar Turtle has survived its first year powering a school in the Eastern Cape, despite civil unrest that forced the school to close for three months. Save for some scratches where someone tried to break in, the unit came through intact. “Nothing got broken, nothing got damaged,” says van der Walt. “It was like, ‘Yes, it’s actually working’.”

Solar Turtle is just one example from a clutch of startups trying to navigate the challenges of Africa’s off-grid electricity sector with mobile, flexible solar technology. It’s part of a mosaic of businesses, social enterprises and philanthropic schemes fuelling talk of an African “solar revolution”. Other startups include Juabar and ARED, which supply portable solar kiosks for phone-charging businesses in Tanzania and Rwanda respectively, creating jobs while boosting access to clean, cheap energy.

New ideas and declining costs are already leading to a dramatic uptake of solar technology across Africa, according to a report published this week by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Investors' neglect of small-scale renewables threatens universal energy access

Van der Walt is not alone in using shipping containers. German firm AfricaGreenTec created a similar grid-in-a-box for villages in Mali to attract investors nervous about the vulnerability of conventional technology in unstable regions. “This way we can recover the whole thing if there is any crisis,” says founder Torsten Schreiber. “We only need a few hours to put it on a truck and leave.”

It’s unsurprising that entrepreneurs are seeking routes into Africa’s off-grid solar sector. More than 630 million people lack electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Energy Agency. The majority of additional investment required to achieve the UN target of universal energy access by 2030 needs to go into off-grid and mini-grid systems, it has said.

One hope is that electrification won’t just bring light, TV and phone charging, but spawn new industries too. Africa GreenTec’s prototype, launched in south-west Mali’s Mourdiah village in 2015, offers a glimpse of what’s possible. Locals used to throw away 80% of their goats’ milk, says Schreiber, but thanks to energy for cooling from the solar container, they now use it to make cheese. Mango juice is also newly on sale.

Despite the buzz around such ventures, most are very small and in need of funds. Commercial investors have shown some appetite for backing bigger players such as solar systems business M-Kopa Solar, which raised $19m in one investment round last November. But young, innovative startups still rely on money from donors and so-called impact investors, who look for social benefits as well as a financial return, says the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association’s executive director, Koen Peters.

Schreiber’s experience at Africa GreenTec bears this out. Having crowdfunded the money for four containers (at around €150,000 a go) he is now looking to mainstream investors to back 50 more. This plan would make him the biggest decentralised energy provider in Mali, he says, but is too small for venture capitalists approached to date: “They told me ‘If you need $100m, come again’,” he says.

Is big business a force for good for African farmers? Read the highlights from our live Q&A
Join us for an online debate on November 22nd 1-2pm (GMT)about the role of multinational companies in Africa’s agri-food sector

Solar startups are also vulnerable to competition when they have proved their model and are ready to grow, says Itamar Orlandi, senior analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Pioneers often work really hard to create consumer awareness just to see their margins and market share disappear once their success attracts competitors,” he adds.

Research on a Zambian mini-grid by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) reveals another, potentially knottier, challenge for electrification startups with big dreams. The 60 kilowatt pilot in Mpanta, a fishing village, lost customers when a six-month fishing ban kicked in, says Oliver Johnson, senior research fellow at SEI’s Africa Centre. Designing the right system, or payment plan, requires deep understanding of local conditions, he says. “The big question is how do you scale up things that need to be context-specific?”

Answering that may get easier as domestic expertise and supply chains grow – something Gillian Davies, a renewable energy expert at UK-based international development consultancy IOD PARC, has been monitoring. She points to emergent solar panel manufacturers in Kenya and Ghana, and the fact you can now take a renewable energy degree in Malawi’s Mzuzu University. This shift to domestic capacity and expertise will ultimately help with finding solutions that better match local, or at least regional, conditions, says Davies.

Products that directly boost income generation may also have an advantage over generic electrification when it comes to creating sustainable, scalable ventures, says Toby Hammond, whose Kenya-based company Futurepump sells solar-powered irrigation pumps to small-scale farmers. “Being able to irrigate a crop in dry season when you wouldn’t otherwise be able to grow anything translates directly into income for the farm,” he says. “It’s more bankable.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Guest Post: Crafting Your Handmade Patchwork Quilt

To begin your handmade patchwork quilt you will require cloth. Patches can make up a fashionable, yet old-style quilt that will last for a lengthy time to come. You simply cut the pieces of your material to develop patches as well as design, stitching in simple numerical lines. If you are producing the customary handmade patchwork quilt, you will need fabrics, incorporating lengthy stripes, squares, arched shapes, and rectangles. You are able to leave out the shapes that curve if you do not care to go all the way through the steps of creating an intricate handmade patchwork quilts.

Assembling A Handmade Patchwork Quilt
At the time of designing a handmade patchwork quilt quilters will use patches to construct a quilt with a lot of segments, such as the quilts that resemble the Picasso arts, or else the basic quilts. Once you gather your patches, you will need to form blocks of your cloth. The blocks in crafter language include the "corn and beans," motifs, "turkey tracks, maple leaf, Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" and so on.

Prior to commencing your handmade patchwork quilt you will have to choose the block scheme. You have the selection of the 4-patch scheme, or else the 9-patch. The patch block schemes make up grids, that fill in a variety of simple lines in numbers along with shapes. The 4-patch is one of the customary patterns used to make customary quilts furthermore is one of the more simple quilt patterns. The 9-patch is additionally used, yet other models are made up on other geometric grids. When you learn to quilt you may wish to start with the lower block inches, you will what's more have to know how to make up borders to perfect your quilt. Quilting for beginners should not be complicated, by sticking to simple quilt patterns is a way to make this less hobby less daunting.

The 4-patch is 4-squares factored into a numerical grid. For example, you can draw a box, draw a cross inside, and count 1-4 to accomplish the 4-block scheme. To continue to the 4-patch scheme you would have to include squares, stripes, etc. The whole idea behind the 4-patch scheme is that you can make use of a selection of patches to create a colorful quilt.

Once you elect on the type of your handmade patchwork quilt, you will want to think about your schemes. If you are working the 4-patch scheme on blocks, around 4 inches then you will want to cut your patches 2 inches in squares. The higher the scheme, the more patch inch squares you would need. For example, if you were to produce a 12-block scheme, you would require twelve patches and cut in six-inch squares. On the other hand, if you were having the 9-patch idea, choosing the 12-inch blocks then you would need to cut your patches into 4-inch squares. Now you are able to make your templates. Templates in crafting vocabulary are patterns, which are cut from heavy-duty fabrics, or materials. You must have the templates to produce an easy squared quilt, or else prepare to have a fight on your!

You'll end up with a spectacular creation and a handmade patchwork quilt to be proud of on the proviso you abide by simple quilt patterns. Keeping things easy is the secret when you learn to quilt your handmade patchwork quilt.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Five Tips For Creating a Business Blog

Five Tips For Creating a Business Blog

Starting a business blog is no easy task. There are lots of things to think about and lots of things to consider. Sometimes companies think to big to fast, which could be setting the blog up for failure before it even launches.

The key thing to remember when creating a new business blog is to start simple and then expand. Going from 0-60 in two seconds sounds like fun, but there are a lot of risks involved. It’s better to ease into it by focusing on creating good content, measuring growth, and learning how users interact with the blog.

Here are five things to think about when before creating your business blog.

Time Crunch:Launching a blog takes time. There has to be hosting, software installed, a design created, a template created from the design, testing, content creation and approval from management. This is not a process that can be done in a week or two. Rushing it only leads to mistakes and stress.

The best thing to do is create a plan and make sure to give enough time to each step of the process.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

5 Reasons Why Business Blogs Fail

5 Reasons Why Business Blogs Fail

With over 100 million blogs tracked by Technorati, there is a tremendous amount of momentum and motivation for businesses to take advantage of all the marketing, PR, support and revenue opportunities that business blogs can bring.

Sometimes it seems there are more “blog consultants” than there are business blogs due to the ease of using free blog software like Blogger or What’s easy to get into is also easy to get out of and many business blog efforts that started out with optimism have petered out like a car out of gas.

Dying corporate blogs (hat tip mykl) are completely avoidable, especially if you understand why they often fail and plan accordingly. Here are 5 of the top reasons why business blogs never make it.
  • No clear objectives. With all the buzz and promise of increased search engine visibility, improved customer communications and PR, many companies task their IT group to “set up a blog” without ever planning exactly what the key objectives are. A few weeks later, you’ll often hear, “OK, we have the blog installed and a few posts made, where’s all the traffic? What do we do now?”There are many reasons to start a business blog ranging from PR goals like building thought leadership and better connecting to customers to serving as part of a SEO program by archiving newsletters, FAQs and “link bait” content. The key is to identify the objectives for the corporate blog, get key metrics identified and create a content creation and promotion plan consistent with reaching those goals.