In time for the one-year anniversary of the destructive Haiti earthquake, a group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MediaLab have rolled out Konbit, an expansive work database for those effected by the devastation, usable by those with computers and without, by those literate and illiterate. Aaron Zinman, a grad student who, along with Greg Elliott, developed the site, explained the opportunity. “Normally (non-governmental organizations) organizations import foreign labor into Haiti due to the difficulty of finding local talent — a problem we are trying to combat.” Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting curt hopkins 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#Real World#web Related Posts The Chicken and the EggKonbit spent a good portion of last year approaching NGOs with the help of consultant Angela Dean at D&A Development Solutions. “We spoke to the UN Development Program, Clinton Foundation, Partners-In-Health, Peace Dividend Trust, at the State Department, and more. Everyone was the same–they thought the project sounded great and to let them know when it was deployed. We wanted more concrete feedback on how to cater the system to their interests, but they were so overloaded already and they didn’t know if this was pure vaporware considering the timing. So we discovered the answer to the chicken & egg is egg.” Now, after beta-testing the system in Miami, the egg has hatched in Haiti. To hear some of the phoned-in audio resumes, click here and select Haitian Creole as the language. If you speak it, here’s where you can also contribute to the translation effort.The project is open source and the code is available on Konbit’s Bitbucket page. The hope is that this process can be rolled out to each new crisis requiring in-country labor. First, however, the chick will have to grow into a hen and lay eggs of its own. To facilitate that, the Konbit folks intend to approach the NGOs who were skeptical the first time out again in January. If the NGOs see the power of the system, it may wind up materially adding to the list of things a competent NGO can do when they’ve got the people they’re supposed to be serving helping them do so. A Resume for the Developing WorldHere’s how it works. A displaced, unemployed Haitian calls the toll-free number (courtesy of Digicel): 5656 in Haiti, or +509 37031042 from abroadCreole (Haitian French) speakers, in Haiti and abroad, call in and translate those messages into English and other languagesNGOs search the database for local laborers who can fill their open positionsThose phoning in are prompted to tell stories that illustrate their experiences. The prompts have been recorded by Haitian radio personality Bob Lemoine and the tool is being advertised with PSAs on Haitian radio, said Zinman. “We have structured the interaction to help people tell what we think are relevant stories from their life that translate into employable skills. We first start by asking the basics–name, gender, education level (to proxy for literacy), can you work at night, and are you physically strong and healthy. Then we ask about their experiences with a wide range of skills. We frame the skill questions with examples to cue them and disambiguate. We ask about first-aid, construction, languages, child care, laundry, sewing, cleaning, repair, and transportation.”For those approaching the site, either as a job seeker, translator or NGO, it is simple and straightforward, as well as graphically arresting. For the NGOs, it helps them minimize labor costs, also a benefit for donors. For those effected by a crisis, not only does it help the NGO serving them to become more efficient, but it gives them extra access to the means to keep themselves and their family safe and fed, work. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…
mike melanson Tags:#Facebook#web Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Earlier today, everyone was talking about Facebook and how it is “planning to launch a third-party commenting system in a matter of weeks.” The only problem, of course, is that Facebook Comments already exists as a plug-in for third-party sites. Facebook confirmed that it is “testing an updated plugin” on both its Facebook Blog and Developer Blog, as it has been for the past year. In that time, all these other real-time comment startups, such as Echo and Livefyre, have had time to prepare for the arrival of the 600 million member strong social network in the commenting space. So far, Facebook hasn’t managed to take over the commenting space and they had a few points to offer on why that’s the case.“Facebook is planning to launch a third-party commenting system in a matter of weeks, according to multiple sources familiar with the new product,” writes CNET’s Caroline McCarthy. “This new technology could see Facebook as the engine behind the comments system on many high-profile blogs and other digital publications very soon.” Of course, if this were the case, why hasn’t this happened over the last year that Facebook has offered the product? McCarthy points to a rather old version of Facebook’s Comment plugin, saying that the “new commenting product is a significantly deeper expansion of this.” And if you look at either of the Facebook blogs mentioned above, you can see a newer version altogether. Take a look at a screenshot from last fall:According to Livefyre founder and CEO Jordan Kretchmer, Facebook entering the comment space is certainly “no surprise.”“We’ve been expecting it for some time,” said Kretchmer, “and have been actively building Livefyre towards the things that we know Facebook will get wrong. Namely: Identity, personas, open data, and non-discriminatory social media integration.”Chris Saad, VP of strategy at real-time commenting system Echo, mostly pointed to Echo’s upcoming launch event when we asked him how Echo had prepared for Facebook’s entrance into commenting, but also agreed that there were a number of areas he expected Facebook to fall short in. According to Saad, Facebook’s commenting system would likely not be real-time, wouldn’t allow for white labeling, wouldn’t allow any other party to own the data and would only allow for Facebook login. On this one point, at least, Facebook may change its tune – Peter Kafka tweeted today that the “new FB comment system [is] designed to work with Google, Yahoo, Twitter sign-ins, if [publication] wants them.”Beyond that, however, Kretchmer expanded on many of the contention points that both he and Saad expressed. “There will be very little or no shared ownership of comment data, and probably no plug and play database syncing for different CMS platforms. I’ve seen the rumors that Twitter and Google auth will be integrated, but my gut tells me that will require connecting those services back to your central Facebook account, which would defeat the purpose of allowing login through different social graphs in the first place. People generally want the option of commenting with different personas, not “anonymously” per se, but personas that they care about and upkeep in the different communities that they comment on. Not allowing for that will diminish the overall amount of conversation publishers will see. For example, I might have something meaningful to say about a controversial topic, but not something I want connected to my true identity.The other really important thing to note, is that larger publishers have their own login and profile systems in place. If Facebook comments doesn’t allow for any kind of Single Sign On with existing user systems (not just other social nets), I can see that being a big barrier for most. Publishers would basically be giving up their own communities to Facebook.”A quick look around the Internet also shows general user perception of a Facebook-only commenting system. People want to reserve the right to anonymity on the Internet and, if not this, then at least be able to exist as a separate persona from their true identity. Facebook can be credited for getting people to openly share this true identity on the Web, but they are still reluctant to use it all over the Web.What do you think – would you use a Facebook comment system on a third party site? Would you log in and leave a comment? Or would you shun the system and the site for other systems like Disqus, Echo or Livefyre?Let us know in our Disqus-powered comments below. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit
Toad for Cloud Databases is a version of Quest’s popular Toad tool specially designed for next-generation databases. So far it supports AWS SimpleDB; Microsoft Azure; Table services; Apache HBase; Microsoft SQL Azure; Apache Cassandra or any ODBC-enabled relational database. It can be downloaded here.Toad got its start as Tool for Oracle Databases (TOAD). Quest bought the tool in 1998 and has continued its development. Toad competes with open source projects such as TOra and SQLTools++.The existing flavors of Toad, such as Toad for MySQL, have long been popular with database professionals. Quest’s move into NoSQL demonstrates how much interest there is in the area. According to RedMonk’s Michael Coté, Toad for Cloud Databases already has over 2,000 users – not bad for a tool for managing relatively new and esoteric technologies. Coté writes that Hadoop is the most popular database among Toad for Cloud users.Quest is positioning itself as a trusted source for NoSQL tools and information. In addition to Toad for Cloud, Quest is running a wiki dedicated to NoSQL. The entry “Survey Distributed Databases” is an extensive overview of burgeoning field of NoSQL players. Quest staffers have been giving interviews on the subject of NoSQL and Hadoop as well. Tags:#cloud#Trends Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… klint finley 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts
Tags:#Google#NYT#web Google has extended its Gmail SMS chat functionality to three more African countries: Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi. Gmail SMS allows anyone worldwide to communicate with fellow Gtalk chat users even when they’re away from their computer. This year, Google added the extension to Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Zambia. Africa is a continent of mobile users so this tool seems like a good move by Google. Gmail users can send and receive SMS messages for free using the service. (Non-Gmail users can SMS for regular text charges.)Divon Lan, Google product manager for sub-Saharan Africa, wrote on the Google Africa Blog that the mobile carriers that provide the service include MTN, Uganda Telecom and Orange in Uganda, Vodacom in Tanzania and Airtel and TNM in Malawi. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting curt hopkins Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
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. This article is only available to GBA Prime Members As the plane descends into the Las Vegas airport, every arriving visitor notices the stark contrast between the desert environment of southern Nevada and the modern city of swimming pools and irrigated shrubbery. After arriving today, I took the shuttle bus to the Bally Hotel, across the street from the Bellagio. The Bellagio overlooks an 8-acre artificial lake — in essence, the largest swimming pool in town, in a town known for its large pools — where a few lonely ducks swim in the chlorinated water.One of the pine trees bordering the concrete-bottomed lake is dessicated and ill, but the entire top of the tree had recently been spray-painted green, to fool tourists who don’t get too close. When I touched the spray-painted needles, they detached themselves in great falling clumps.Vegas is a strange town indeed for anyone interested in green building, but here I am at the International Builders’ Show, an annual convention on a gargantuan scale.On my first afternoon, I had time for only a quick tour of a small portion of the trade show floor, but I still spotted some interesting products. The first booth to catch my eye belonged to Strata International Group of Glendale, AZ (www.strataus.com). Strata has developed a building system using expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam for walls and roofs. Custom-cut foam panels are assembled into the shape of a building, and then both sides of the foam are sprayed with a fiberglass-reinforced cementitious coating. Once the thin concrete layers are cured, the walls and roof become a monolithic mass, resembling a SIP structure in cross-section, but without the OSB, and without the seams. It looks like an excellent way to build a well insulated airtight home without thermal breaks.Tomorrow I’ll be reporting more news from the IBS trade… Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in
The 2012 ACI National Home Performance Conference was held in Baltimore at the end of March, and was yet again another marathon geekfest. With almost twenty concurrent sessions running from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by more sessions lasting until 8 p.m., it is a feat of endurance to attend this almost week-long event.This year there appeared to be an underground movement (Twitter handle: #ACIafterdark) that threw late-night parties, although I never managed to figure out where they were.Heat-pump water heatersI managed to attend several good sessions this year, providing good data and food for thought. The first panel I attended covered heat-pump water heaters, and what I learned reinforced my position that they aren’t the great hope of energy conservation that many people believe them to be.Presenters shared results from two studies, both showing only very modest energy savings over traditional heaters. As is the case with most things, the total savings depend on many factors including where they are located in the house, use patterns, and the available free air for the heat pump to take heat from. Tests showed most units to be in the range of 10% to 40% more efficient than electric resistant heat.High volume use maxes out the efficient heat pump mode, requiring the use of resistance heat to make up the difference, lowering efficiencies even more. These studies did not address the energy penalty that they may impose in cold climates where they remove heat from the air which offsets some of the total energy savings.John Straube is quotableJohn Straube was, as Allison Bailes put it, “a walking quote machine.”In his presentation on insulating and air sealing roofs and attics, he was, as always funny, entertaining, and informative. One obvious, but often overlooked, point is that air sealing on new homes frequently leaks in short order as new framing lumber shrinks and creates gaps, while air sealing on retrofits lasts much longer since the lumber is more stable. In real terms, a typical 1/16” crack between drywall and top plates adds up to 12 square inches for each 100 feet of wall.My favorite Straube quote of the day: “R-Value is like IQ — when you’re in single digits, you’re kind of an idiot.” In an extended discussion comparing deep-energy retrofits to minor repairs, he referred to the latter as “turd polishing,” pointing out that you can’t always afford the expensive stuff, and if you are “surrounded by turds, it’s nice if they’re shiny.” Can’t wait to see him again.Some geeks are studying marketingThere were almost continuous sessions on marketing, websites, and blogging, and all appeared to be well attended. The geeks have realized that they need to market, and they (we?) were happily taking notes and tweeting away throughout the sessions.Probably my favorite event was an evening session hosted by Chris Dorsi that was delivered entirely in the Pecha Kucha format that restricts each presenter to 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. I was impressed at the quality of the speakers and their ability to get their information across quickly and concisely.Book raffleOn Wednesday evening, Dow Building Solutions hosted a party for our new book, raffling off several copies to the group. Three different people with Habitat won copies, but my favorite photo of the night was John Krigger, co-author of Residential Energy posing with his associate Darrel Tenter and our book. I returned the favor the next day by posing with his.Overall, the conference was very good, and not noticeably different from previous years. I still contend that there are too many sessions and they go on too long. Maybe they should just give up all pretension and switch to a 24-hour conference. If you want to be in a session at 8 p.m., why not one at 3 a.m.?There are still too many presenters who don’t know how to put together a readable, visually compelling presentation, and too many are simply not good speakers. As with most conferences, I would like to see better vetting of speakers, something that should happen as videos of speakers become more commonplace.Although I returned home thoroughly exhausted from the experience, ACI was well worth the effort and I expect to return again.
The best route, Holladay says, is to use an air-impermeable insulation — either rigid foam with seams that have been carefully sealed or closed-cell spray foam.In theory, mineral wool and a clean cement surface shouldn’t support the growth of mold, adds Charlie Sullivan. “But if it’s a retrofit,” he adds, “there will probably be enough gunk there that you can’t clean off that it will still support mold growth.”He suggests that if the homeowner’s objection to rigid foam insulation is the global warming impact of the blowing agents used to manufacture it, choosing expanded polystyrene (EPS) over extruded polystyrene (XPS) is a good option. “But if the homeowner is philosophically opposed to petrochemicals,” he adds, “that doesn’t help.”Another option, Sullivan says, would be to use a product called Foamglas, described by its manufacturer as “cellular glass.”Sullivan’s tip has Chappell-Dick on the phone with the manufacturer, and at first blush Foamglas looks like a great alternative. It comes in 2-by-4-foot sheets, has an R-value of 3.4 per inch, and costs $1.20 per board foot.Fiberglass batts are not really an optionWriting from upstate New York, AJ Builder says the method typical in his area is to frame a wall 1 or 2 inches away from the concrete basement wall, insulate it with fiberglass batts and cover the wall with foil-faced insulation. “No mold issues,” AJ Builder writes.“I don’t know if you are being deliberately provocative, or whether you honestly think that this is the appropriate way to insulate a basement wall,” replies Holladay. “The technique you describe is about two or three decades out of date, and there are plenty of reports of failures resulting from this technique.”“I know it’s wrong,” AJ Builder says. “I also have never seen mold or moisture. We build in gravel and glacier moraine, and poured concrete here is quite water-resistant from my experience. Just telling it like it actually is. No [Rockwool] use, no foam, all batts of fiberglass, done. Thousands.”Be that as it may, Chappell-Dick says, “wood and fiberglass ain’t gonna happen.”What about adding a waterproof membrane to the assembly?If the risk of using an air-permeable insulation is that moisture will condense on the cold, inside surface of the foundation wall, what about keeping the moisture out of the wall assembly with some kind of a barrier?“I’m asking about putting the liner on the warm side of an R-10 or R-15 insulation on the CMU stem wall,” Chappell-Dick says. “I presume the dew point then will always be inside the insulation, and thus no condensation. And thus I can use [Rockwool]?”He adds: “Overall goal: to condition a crawl space without using foam.”Holladay finds three flaws with this approach. The first is that air between the fibers of the Rockwool insulation is warm, humid indoor air, “not magic dry air.” Second, daily changes in temperature will create a “pumping action” that provides an air exchange between basement air and the air within the insulation, so that eventually humidity finds its way into the wall assembly.“The third problem,” Holladay adds, “is that the concrete is damp, so that it’s possible for the area between the concrete and the membrane to get damp from that direction, too. The membrane traps moisture, leading to mold.”But lots of basements are insulated with fiberglassRichard Beyer is not understanding why a wall assembly that keeps moisture out of the mineral wool insulation with a waterproofing membrane is going to result in mold.“This proposed system will work providing a back-up dehumidifier and sump pit is added to ward off the unknown here and/or the potential freak storm which could change the drainage dynamics of this property,” Beyer writes. “Did I misunderstand something here?”Further, Beyer says, AJ Builder is correct: many homes in New England have fiberglass installed against raw cement walls with no mold issues.“Sometimes published building science is not always correct,” Beyer says. “Hence, why it’s consistently rewritten when failures occur, no different than our building codes. Most writings come from manufacturers who are selling product and who are filling the pocket’s of specifiers with $$$$.”Beyer wonders why Holladay is suggesting foam insulation when the homeowner doesn’t want the material in the house, adding, “I should also note there are many failures of foam out there, too.”Chappell-Dick also is curious about why a wall assembly in which the mineral wood is isolated from the crawl space wall by a membrane would be a problem.“The most important thing I have learned on this site is that while pure building science is exact and completely unarguable, applied building science is far more nuanced,” Chappell-Dick adds. “And, frustratingly arguable. It’s not so simple as ‘managing moisture.’ We’re managing risk and clients’ expectations, all at the lowest price possible while somehow extracting an income.”Also, says Beyer, building science has been in error many times over the years. For example, galvanized steel joist hangers were once specified in coastal locations, but it’s since been replaced by stainless steel. Why? Because galvanized steel corroded and failed.The membrane will trap moistureThe problem, Holladay replies, is that moisture can come from either direction. “If Andy followed your advice,” he writes to Beyer, “the waterproofing membrane would be chilled by the cold concrete, and would form a condensing surface for moisture in the interior air.”Holladay concedes that some installations using the method that Chappell-Dick proposes are successful. “The method is safer in warmer climates than in cold climates (because a concrete wall doesn’t get as cold in Alabama as it does in Vermont),” Holladay says, “and it is safer in a house with a very dry basement than a house with a damp basement.”But the bottom line is that any wall assembly including a waterproof membrane and batt insulation against a foundation wall is risky, Holladay says. This applies to walls with a layer of polyethylene plastic against the concrete, followed by fiberglass batts, as well as walls where the batts come first, followed by poly. Ditto for walls with two layers of poly and fiberglass in between.“What happens?” Holladay asks. “If you are lucky, and the soil around your house and the air in your basement are dry, these methods can work. In other cases — and plenty of remodelers have seen the failures, again and again — you end up with a moldy mess.“In other words, these sandwiches of fiberglass and polyethylene are risky. You are rolling the dice. But if you are feeling lucky, go ahead and roll the dice.”Our expert’s opinionHere’s how GBA technical director Peter Yost sees it:A crawl space foundation is just a short basement; you need the same three barriers that you need for any assembly — continuous air, water, and thermal barriers — as well as provisions for directional drying.Just as you would not insulate a basement before managing moisture, you need to manage moisture in the crawl space first, and then move on to insulation and air sealing. Check out this resource from Building Science Corporation.And if indeed crawls are just short basements, then check out these other BSC resources.Air-permeable insulations, including mineral wool, need a separate air barrier (and more than one of the BSC foundation details accomplishes this with a sealed rigid insulation layer between the masonry foundation and the air-permeable “cavity” insulation). Above-grade walls can have interior air barriers, like the Airtight Drywall Approach (ADA), but it is hard to consider ADA as appropriate for a crawl space or think of other interior sheathing that you could or would use as an interior crawl space air barrier.Insulating any building assembly on the interior makes the assembly colder; it’s just that masonry walls tend to care a lot less than framed walls, particularly ones sheltered below grade. For me, it’s that portion of the “below-grade” wall that is actually not below grade that is worrisome. And does it really matter if that condensation is only occurring in the portion of the wall above grade? It still represents a problem for any materials that can grow unintended biology.We tend to think of below-grade spaces as damp and cold because they are in contact with the soil and often aren’t moisture-managed. But if a crawl space is moisture-managed, you can air seal and insulate it just like a basement. Also bear in mind that any work to insulate and air seal the crawl space may have impact on levels of radon in the crawlspace and possibly the living spaces above.Using Foamglas is definitely a premium approach: the product has a good R-value, is inert, and is air-impermeable. With any other insulation approach, establish the three barriers and then check for directional drying potential. And frankly, if you can’t moisture-manage the crawl space, don’t insulate it. Andy Chappell-Dick is at work on a house in Climate Zone 5 where the task at hand is to upgrade a crawl space by adding insulation as well as a membrane to block the infiltration of moisture. The catch? The owners want to avoid the use of rigid foam insulation if at all possible.The floor of the crawl space is about a foot below grade, Chapell-Dick writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, and the area seems to be well drained. Foundation walls are made from concrete block (CMUs).He plans to foam in pieces of rigid extruded polystyrene in the rim joist area. To insulate the crawl space walls, Chappell-Dick wonders whether Rockwool Comfortboard 80, a rigid mineral wool insulation, would make a good substitute for rigid foam. Rockwool Comfortboard 80, according to the manufacturer, is non-combustible and chemically inert, and it’s made from natural and recycled materials, including rock. Rigid foam is a petrochemical.A second issue is how the waterproof membrane should be installed: should it be run up most of the crawl space wall, or can it be terminated at the base of the wall? And, Chappell-Dick wonders, does this detail have any bearing on the performance of insulation?That’s the backdrop for this Q&A Spotlight.This is not the place for RockwoolThe inherent air-permeance of mineral wool insulation makes it inappropriate for this application, writes GBA senior editor Martin Holladay.“The mineral wool can’t prevent humid interior air from contacting the cold crawl space walls,” he says. “The likely result will be moisture accumulation and mold.” RELATED ARTICLESHow to Insulate a Basement WallBuilding an Unvented Crawl SpaceFive Ways to Deal with Crawl Space Air From Building Science Corp: Conditioned Crawlspace Construction, Performance and Codes From the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Development and Assessment of Crawl Space Remediation StrategiesFrom Fine Homebuilding: Sealing a CrawlspaceCONSTRUCTION DETAILSInsulated and Conditioned Crawlspaces
Controlling flash floodsRunoff isn’t a trivial problem. In a 2009 article, Environmental Building News estimated that there are nearly 38,000 square miles of pavement in the U.S., an area about the size of Indiana. Almost all of it is impermeable. In cities with older wastewater systems, storm runoff can overwhelm water treatment plans and force untreated waste into local waterways.Wider use of porous paving materials could reduce runoff damage, a problem that is likely to get worse in the future, The Atlantic reports. In promoting its new product, Lafarge Tarmac points to the 2007 floods in Great Britain that did $4.8 billion in damage. Two-thirds of the 57,000 houses affected by flooding were damaged by stormwater runoff, not rivers that overflowed.There are some limitations to porous pavement. For one, it’s not as good as conventional asphalt or concrete in handling heavy loads, making it better suited to driveways, some parking lots and lightly traveled residential streets than major highways.In addition, the surface can become contaminated with dirt, sawdust or silt, diminishing its ability to let water pass through. And although Lafarge Tarmac says Topmix has “excellent freeze-thaw resistance,” there are some concerns that water freezing in the material is a potential problem, The Atlantic said.The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) says that the underlying stone bed makes porous pavement more expensive to install than conventional asphalt. But those costs are more than offset because parts of a standard stormwater management system can be eliminated, generally making porous asphalt a less expensive alternative.In addition, NAPA says at its website, porous pavement has proved to be extremely durable. A parking lot at the Walden Pond State Reservation in Massachusetts, paved in 1977, has never been repaved and still drains effectively. There’s nothing especially new about porous asphalt pavement, a material that allows stormwater to pass directly into the ground rather than directing it to a storm drain. But a new video posted at YouTube is proving to hundreds of thousands of fascinated viewers just how effective it can be.Conventional pavement is impermeable, so when it rains the water sheets off — at times overwhelming storm drains and carrying a variety of pollutants with it. Porous pavement allows water to run through, into a bed of packed stone below and eventually recharging groundwater without the damage that uncontrolled runoff can cause.The video, posted in August by Lafarge Tarmac in the U.K., has racked up more than 333,000 views to date. It shows what looks like a concrete truck dumping water onto the surface of a parking lot paved with Topmix Permeable. Instead of pooling around the truck, the torrent of water disappears almost magically into the pavement.The surface can absorb more than 1,000 gallons of water a minute, according to a report at the website ConstructionDive, because of the gaps built into the mix. It’s absorbed into a thick layer of stone beneath the pavement and eventually permeates into the ground or is diverted elsewhere by a network of pipes. RELATED ARTICLESHelping the Environment, One Drop at a TimeHardscapes: Patios and Driveways
Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission have a final settlement concerning charges that Facebook deceived members when it said they could keep their information private on the social platform while allowing it to go public.The settlement requires Facebook to give consumers clear notice and get their consent before sharing private information beyond their privacy settings. Facebook also will be subject to biennial privacy audits by independent third parties.The FTC’s case with Facebook stems from a 2011 investigation into the social platform’s privacy practices. The FTC case stemmed from Facebook behavior dating back to 2009, around the time the company’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed the “death of privacy.”An initial settlement was reached between the FTC and Facebook Nov. 29, 2011. Today’s announcement formalizes that agreement. The government has won similar agreements with Google and Twitter.The FTC lodged seven complaints against Facebook when it began its investigation. Many of Facebook’s privacy practices are well-chronicled, including when it changed to the way member information and privacy settings were displayed without getting prior approval from them. The FTC also claimed that Facebook shared personal data with advertisers all the while claiming that it did not. As well, it kept people’s photos and videos on the site after they had deleted their accounts.In response to the FTC settlement last November, Zuckerberg wrote a memo to Facebook members, “Our Commitment to the Facebook Community,” that admitted mistakes in how he shared their information.“Overall, I think we have a good history of providing transparency and control over who can see your information,” Zuckerberg wrote. “That said, I’m the first to admit that we’ve made a bunch of mistakes. In particular, I think that a small number of high profile mistakes […] and poor execution as we transitioned our privacy model two years ago, have often overshadowed much of the good work we’ve done.”For the past several years, the FTC has targeted online privacy. Earlier this week, the FTC fined Google $22.5 million for failing to honor privacy settings in Apple’s mobile Safari browser. It is the largest fine for privacy violations ever levied by the FTC.Per the settlement, Facebook will accept third-party privacy audits for the next 20 years. Facebook will be subject to civil penalties of up to $16,000 for each violation of the order. Related Posts The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Tags:#Facebook#Government#privacy#web dan rowinski
5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout My brother and his family live in a part of Massachusetts that was affected by the storm, albeit not as seriously as New Jersey. Using FaceTime, I called his iPhone from my iPad and propped the tablet up in front of the TV, to which the video chat screen was being AirPlayed. This allowed us all to sit on the couch and have a conversation with my brother and his wife while our adorable three-year-old niece played hide-and-go-seek with herself in the background. Yes, we could have easily called them on the phone the old-fashioned way, but video chat allowed us to see their faces and interact with them – difference that’s all the more meaningful when you’re locked inside and stressing about possible storm damage. Tablet-Based Entertainment Without CableWhen the call was over, it took about five seconds and a few gestures to switch back to whatever streaming video we felt like watching. It wasn’t just breaking news and social media feeds, either. When my family needed a break from pictures of devastation, Hulu Plus, Netflix and a host of other video content apps were at the ready with virtually unlimited hours of mindless entertainment, including recent episodes of current TV shows. No cable bill required. I happened to be using Apple products to do all of this, but the same could be done with various combinations of tablets, smartphones and platforms like Google TV, Roku or Boxee. In my case, Apple’s famed ease-of-use came in handy, since I had plenty of work to do upstairs and had to hand off the iPad to less tech-savvy members of my family. The iOS interface can actually end up being easier to understand and use than many TV remote controls. We lucked out and the power stayed on. If it had gone out, at least some of the highest-priority communication and information-seeking tasks we needed to do still could have been accomplished from our smartphones. For as long as the batteries – and cellular networks – lasted. john paul titlow Related Posts 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Miraculously, my block in northern Philadelphia was spared from Hurricane Sandy’s worst. As word of nearby power outages spread on Twitter, I was certain I’d wake up to a dark, powerless house on Tuesday. Fortunately for my mother – a last minute refugee from South Jersey who breathes with the aid of an oxygen machine – that didn’t happen. It also allowed us to stay up to date with the latest news, tweets, all of the Instagram photos and video footage of Sandy’s wrath. Throughout the experience, not once did I regret not having a cable TV subscription. For the 48 hours that my mother and sister were hunkered down with a friend and me in my Philadelphia row house, we used my iPad and other mobile devices to stay in touch with the outside world. Combined with the Apple TV and its AirPlay feature, it completely eliminated the need for cable or even a broadcast antenna. As cord cutters, we felt totally plugged in. Philadelphia’s local ABC affiliate streams news broadcasts for free through its iPad app, which allowed us to tune into the kinds of dispatches that only a local broadcast news team can deliver during a natural disaster. Still, it is 2012 and that format very much has its limits. While local newscasters diligently surveyed storm damage at the Jersey shore, other news was breaking live on Twitter, much of it accompanied by photos and video footage. Flooded Manhattan streets. The Con-Ed plant explosion. New York’s pitch-black skyline. All of it was unfolding on Twitter in real-time, as news now does.Hashtags like #hurricanesandy and #sandyinphilly made it easy to break the firehose down into geographic chunks. And it was all displayed on my 46-inch HDTV for everyone to see. Of course, we had to be careful about trusting unverified sources and read tweets with a healthy dose of skepticism. Searching For Crucial Details Online During severe weather, our information needs often extend beyond the scope of what local broadcast news or even free-flowing social media can meet. Sometimes, we need to know very specific things that newscasters may or may not get around to talking about. Is the Garden State Parkway closed? Are the roads leading to my mother’s apartment complex flooded? With emergency hotlines jammed, the best source for details like that is often the Internet. Some counties publish up-to-date information on their own websites. More often, they rely on social networks to get the word out. In far too many cases, the only place to get updates from local government is through reports published by newspapers, whose websites can vary wildly in terms quality and how frequently they’re updated. Hunting for those granular details can seem like a wild goose chase, but searching the Web on a big screen – with other people – is more effective and more satisfyingthan sitting, staring and waiting for a news anchor to tell you the specific thing you need to know. Connecting With Family Over FaceTime And SkypeFor people holed up indoors during a storm, video chat offers a new and comforting way to connect with loved ones in other areas. And using FaceTime on the iPad and beaming it to a television via AirPlay makes it easier for groups of people to do this without crowding around somebody’s laptop. The same is true of Skype or whatever your video chat app of choice happens to be. Tags:#airplay#Apple TV#cord-cutting#hurricane sandy#iPad#television 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…
dan lyons Slowly but surely, Google keeps building out its Google+ social network and becoming a stronger rival to Facebook. Today the company is announcing the ability to let people sign in on websites with their Google+ credentials instead of creating a unique user name and password.At first glance this seems like no big deal. After all, you can already do the same thing with your Facebook and Twitter IDs. So in a way, Google is just playing catch-up. And for now there are only 10 developers committed to using Google+ sign-ins. They include Shazam, Fitbit and Fancy, plus the Guardian newspaper and USA Today.But Google claims its system is better than what other social networks offer. “In many ways it’s a leapfrog technology,” says David Glazer, Google+ engineering director.There are typical Google goodies like two-step verification. But another cool thing Google has done is create a seamless connection between the desktop and mobile. Sign up for Fancy on your desktop Web browser, for example, and you’ll be asked if you’d also like the Fancy app on your Android smartphone. Say yes, and without taking your phone out of your pocket the Fancy app gets downloaded and installed onto your Android phone. Next time you take out your phone, there’s the app. “It’s kind of a wow moment,” Glazer says. “It feels like magic.”More ControlAlso, while Facebook and Twitter basically just authenticate someone’s identity, Google+ sign-ins give users better control of how their activities are shared.Find a new song that you like, and you can share that information with just one of your Google+ circles, or even with just one individual, or with no one at all. That way you’re not constantly spamming all of your friends with an announcement about every story you’ve read or song you’ve listened to.You can also just create a list of things you’ve liked on your profile, so people can find those things but only if they actively go looking through your profile to see what you’ve been up to lately.That should be a better experience for users, but it’s also potentially better (and more valuable) for advertisers. Let’s say I’m looking for new music, and I know my neighbor Tony always finds cool stuff. There are two ways I might find recommendations from him. One is that he might single me out and send me a recommendation for a particular song that he thinks I’ll like. Another is that I might go to his profile and check out what songs he’s discovered lately.In either scenario I’m much more likely to buy something (and thus much more valuable to advertisers) than if I was just one of hundreds of Tony’s friends who get randomly sprayed with every song that Tony listens to.Microsoft’s PlaybookIn a way the Google of 2013 is taking a page from the Microsoft “close follower” playbook of the 1990s.Google wasn’t the first company to do search, or maps, or smartphone operating systems, or email or social. What Google has done, over and over, is let others go into a market first and make mistakes. Then Google goes in, figures out which features people like and which things they wish could be different, and then tries to build a better version of what others have built.Like Microsoft of old, Google often gets derided when it first enters a market, but it keeps on iterating and getting better. In 2008, Android was a joke. By 2010 it was catching up with Apple. By the end of 2012 Android was on 75% of smartphones being sold worldwide, versus 15% for Apple. Why? Because Google did for smartphones what Microsoft did for personal computers, by creating an operating system and licensing it to dozens of hardware companies.Ghost Town?Google+ has taken its share of abuse. Back in November 2011 Farhad Manjoo of Slate declared Google+ was dead. A blogger at Forbes said the same thing. Then in 2012 came the articles about Google+ being a ghost town.But Google kept chugging away, and by the end of 2012 claimed to have 500 million members on Google+.People can and do quibble with Google’s numbers, arguing that most of the users it claims aren’t very active. Many don’t even go to Google+ itself, but just interact with it via other Gooogle sites.Google counters by saying that the real goal of Google+ is to gather social information to make Google’s core search product more effective.Sign-ins are just another part of this. It’s unclear whether developers will view Google+ as important enough to merit adding Google+ sign-ins to their apps. But it seems clear that Google is not giving up on its “ghost town” just yet.Here’s a video Google created to explain the sign-in feature: Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Tags:#Google Image courtesy of Reuters. A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts
What Google Won’t Let You DoGoogle does not want developers placing their own advertising in their Glassware. Part of this is likely because Google wants the user interaction to be free from clutter and pleasing to the user. Another reason may be that Google would rather be the one monetizing the data collected from Glass through its own apps and services – like Google Now. Google prohibits developers from gathering data of any kind for advertising purposes and will not allow developers to charge fees or collect payments for downloaded apps. Developers may not tie payment to virtual goods or upgraded functionality.Essentially, Google has made it impossible for developers to make money from Glassware apps. No ads, no in-app payments or “freemium” functions will be allowed. This should help protect the user experience, but may slow developer participation past a certain point. Why would developers bother to create Glassware timelines and cards if they can’t make any money from it?Are you going to build apps for Google Glass? Let us know your plans in the comments. Since the user is so fond of cute little kitties, she might decide to find the nearest pet store after adding a cat to her most recent picture. Glass can do that as well. Glass will fetch the user’s location, run the search and “pin” a card to the user’s interface as they move around in search of a pet store. Timeline + CardsThis timeline + card interaction is the primary method of building apps and functionality for Glass and for users to interact with the hardware. Timeline cards can be text, images, HTML or video. Essentially, anything you can create on the Web can be created as a timeline card in Glass. If you add the capabilities of Glass to what we know of the timeline cards, we begin to get a clearer picture of exactly what can be done with Glassware. The primary hardware features of Glass will be location ability, photos with a 5-megapixel camera, videos shot in 720p, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 12GB of usable memory synced with Google cloud storage (16GB Flash memory total) and a full-day battery for “typical use.”So a user could take a picture, search the contents of it, save the picture to a Google+ profile. If a user subscribes to a service, that service can send push notifications through Glassware tied to location. Examples could go on and on. Thoughtful and innovative developers will have a field day with Glass capabilities, extending what a smartphone can do to a device specificallydesigned for augmented reality. Glass can be tied to a smartphone through an app called MyGlass. To enable GPS or SMS, Glass will need to be tethered to a smartphone through MyGlass.Guidelines For GlassGoogle has four primary guidelines for developing for Glass: 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Tags:#app development#developers#Google#Google Glass#mobile Design for Glass: Do not design for another device, like a smartphone, and import to Glass. Because Glass is unique in how users interact with it, Google suggests that you developer directly for it.Don’t get in the way: Apps should be for users, not for developers. Don’t be pushy with notifications and other information.Timely: The goal is to provide users with up-to-date information with Glass. Make sure your app responds with correct information in a timely manner.Avoid the unexpected: Imagine walking down the street and Glass sends you an unexpected notification. This can be annoying or even dangerous. Make sure the user has given explicit permission to be notified in Glass. Add A Cat: User InteractionUsers of Google Glass interact with apps on a timeline. These items, or “cards” display information to users (like weather, business information, search results and so forth). Glassware is accessed from the cloud, not locally on the device, and developers call upon a RESTful endpoint to carry out actions such as creating new cards, updating cards, receiving input or subscribing to Glass push notifications.Google uses the example of a cat to show off examples of the Mirror API. For instance, a user could automatically composite a picture they have taken with a random picture of a cat accessed through the API. Here is a work chart from Google on how a developer could “add a cat to that.” Why You Love Online Quizzes Google Glass just got a little bit more real. If you were worried that Google’s augmented reality glasses were a pie-in-the-sky concept that might not ever become a real product, you can relax. That is not going to happen to Google Glass.Google released the tech details to Glass this week – along with everything that developers need to know to build apps for the specs. Called “Glassware,” the Google Mirror API is designed to let developers create innovative, useful and fun apps for the forthcoming Glasses.What can you build and how do you build it? Let’s break it down.Java Or PythonGoogle recommends two programming languages for building apps for Glassware: Java and Python. For Java, developers will need Java 1.6 capability, Apache Maven for part of the build process and the App Engine SDK for Java. Apps can then be built in Eclipse, an integrated developer environment (IDE) for app building. Developers will need to create an OAuth verification and tie their Google account to their Glasses and allow access to Google’s Glassware API and access the SDKs. It is essentially the same for Python, except you do not need Maven or Eclipse. Developers use the App Engine SDK for Python to start. Related Posts dan rowinski
Field Talk is a monthly blog post sharing the voices of early childhood providers who serve or have served military families of young children with disabilities (birth to 5 years old). We hope you find it to be educational, personable, and encouraging.This month we welcome Ellen Argo, PT. Ellen works at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN . This interview was edited for length and clarity.Describe your current role.I am a Physical Therapist, and currently work as an Assistant Manager in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Department at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Fifty percent of my job duties are administrative and 50% are in patient care, mainly in the Acute Care and NICU setting.What’s your favorite part of your current job?Interacting with patients and their families is by far my favorite part of my job.Tell us about experiences you have had working with military families.Although my current position is in an acute care setting, I have worked with military families in the outpatient setting as well. During the past 15 years, I worked with military families who have had children in the NICU, children who have had acute illnesses or injuries and are in the hospital, and children who need outpatient physical therapy due to congenital, chronic, or acute conditions or injuries. I have worked with children from birth to 21 years of age.How did you find yourself working with military families?I moved to Clarksville, TN, a “military town” due to its proximity to Ft. Campbell, and began working in a pediatric outpatient clinic in 2002. I transitioned to a job at Vanderbilt in 2003 and because of its nature as a major children’s hospital, I continued to work with military families and their children there. Since then I have worked in another outpatient pediatric setting in Clarksville, TN, and continued at Vanderbilt as well.Describe a rewarding experience working with military families.There are SO many that it’s hard to choose only one! I once worked in the NICU with a family whose baby was born prematurely and had several significant health issues. The father was deployed but when the baby was born and the health issues were apparent, the father was allowed to come home for a period of time. On the day before he was supposed to return overseas, he and the mother were visiting the baby in the hospital and they arrived as I was beginning the baby’s PT session for the day. I had the honor of getting to teach the father how to perform infant massage on his tiny daughter—and it was the first time he was able to hold her.Describe a challenging experience working with military families.Early in my career working with military families I found it challenging when I needed to help a family order equipment or orthotics. Negotiating the Tricare system was a little different than working with commercial insurance.From your experience, how are military families similar and different from other types of families? How do you change your practice between families?All families want the best for their children and will go to any length to get it. It seems to me that military families rely more on friends and other non-family relationships for assistance with “life.” With deployments and trainings, frequently families often have only one parent or neither parent present and able to participate in therapy sessions. The internet and other technological advances have made it possible for the parent who is not present physically to participate in other ways such as videos of activities for caregivers to do at home with a child or “Skyping” to discuss a child’s progress.As providers, how can we support military parents who are deployed or away frequently due to trainings/school? It is important to remember that as providers it is not our job to tell families what to do, but rather, to help educate families so that they can make the best decisions for their children and families. The work of PT does not happen in the clinic or during the PT session-it happens at home, when the family is playing with, caring for, or otherwise interacting with their child. As providers it is imperative that we avoid judging families who are not able to follow through with our recommendations and work with the families to identify barriers and create recommendations that work within the family structure.Describe a specific stressor that military families with whom you have worked have shared or experienced.One stressor of deployments is the knowledge that the family members at home may or may not have regarding the deployed family member’s safety and when contact is infrequent and/or limited. I remember one occasion when a pre-teen patient arrived at the clinic for physical therapy with her mom, who was visibly distressed. As we began the session, the mother discreetly explained to me that earlier in the day she had received a call from the father, who was deployed. She explained that he had been with his unit earlier in the day when it was attacked. There had been one fatality and several injuries, although the father was not physically injured. The father had called to alert the family that he was ok, but he couldn’t talk on the phone for long or give more information. The mother chose to bring her child to PT to maintain a sense of “normalcy” for her and the child, but the stress of the situation clearly had an impact on the child’s performance that day.What “insider” tips or advice do you have for service providers working with military families who have young children with disabilities?Become educated about the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) and develop rapport with someone at the EFMP program. That was invaluable for me.If you could change or improve one thing for military families with young children with disabilities, what would it be?At Vanderbilt I work with numerous providers, many who do not understand the challenges faced by military families. I would love if non-military providers had more information so they could understand the challenges and rewards of military life. The MFLN blog is a great opportunity!What types of resources have you sought out to feel more confident and competent at meeting the specific needs of military families? (e.g., trainings, blog posts, organizations, etc.)I have worked to develop rapport with people who are on staff with Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS) and EFMP.This post was written by Robyn DiPietro-Wells & Michaelene Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.
By: Jason M. Jowers, MFTOn September 18-20, 2018, MFLN held their 2018 Virtual Conference entitled, “Cultural Competency: Awareness, Action, and Advocacy. The conference included six interactive webinar sessions that addressed topics such as privilege and power, race, equity, dis/ability, intersectionality, authentic dialog, sexual orientation, gender expression, and health disparities.On the second day of the conference, September 19, MFLN Family Development hosted a session entitled, “Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression within Families.” Dr. Jenifer McGuire from the University of Minnesota was the presenter for this event and shared the research that she and her collaborators have been working on. Dr. McGuire’s engaging session began with an overview of sexual orientation, sexual expression, gender fluidity, and gender roles. The conversation then highlighted working with and advocating for families with diverse family structures, sexualities, and genders. She also explored diverse families and family members within the context of the military experience, including current and historical policy norms. She introduced the Family Gender Environment tool, a measure that has provided insight into the viewpoints of parents and adolescents in diverse families and how they navigate within the topics of sexual orientation and gender expression.Several of the insights of this VC session include:Ways to increase the level of comfort that professionals can have when talking with clients about gender expression and sexual orientation.That the power of family can be a social institution that models societal norms of a larger culture. Families teach children how to socialize but can lead to policing of norms, including those surrounding gender roles and gender expression.That parental reactions to gender variance in their children include acceptance, ambiguity, and rejection. These reactions can co-occur or fluctuate.These parental reactions have huge impacts on family relationships and psychological issues.In a military context, deployments, transfers, and family moving can impact children who are gender nonconforming when they have move to a new base or have to change schools.To be aware of the impact these issues can have on families, but also the importance of family as a safe and affirming place.This session also included ways that professionals can work with diverse families, both military and civilian, and be inclusive of sexual orientation and gender expression issues in their practice.If you are interested in the Family Gender Environment tool and other measures provided by the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota click here.If you happened to miss this Virtual Conference Session, you can view the archived version of the presentation here. CEUs are still available for credentialed social workers, family therapists, and professional counselors up until September 19, 2019.
If you’re creating a Halloween themed project or need scary horror music for your film or video, these top tracks will set the spooky tone.Every Halloween or horror themed project is complete with a soundtrack of eerie music! The right music can drive intensity, build suspense and get your audience’s heart rate skyrocketing.In this post, we’ve rounded up the top royalty free Halloween music for use in your video and media projects. Whether, you need a creepy film score or background track for your zombie themed app or game, one of these top tracks should fit the bill.We work exclusively with the leading production music composers to create high quality, affordably priced music tracks for media. For usage, our Standard License allows you to use our royalty free music in multiple projects without any future fees or royalties.Give your next project feelings of suspense and tension – check out our showcase of the best royalty free Halloween music:
Quickly navigate Premiere Pro with these essential shortcuts. Being ‘shortcut savvy’ is the best way to speed up your video editing.Interface and navigation shortcuts are worth learning, as they will save you a bit of time. Keeping your fingers on the keyboard as much as possible will make you a faster video editor. In this post, I’ll share a few Premiere Pro shortcuts that optimize my video editing process.Select WindowThere are 9 shortcuts for selecting the various windows in Premiere Pro. Memorize these or make your own shortcuts.So, say you have a custom layout and you don’t see the Media Browser. Just press Shift + 8 to bring it up, instead of going to the Window Menu.Toggle Source/Program Monitor FocusSelect the Source or Program monitor with one mouse click. I use a custom shortcut (F2) instead of Shift + 1 or +2, as it is one key and quicker.I always try to use one key shortcuts for toggles when possible.Navigation with the Number PadYou can quickly move to a specific timecode or plus/minus frames using the number pad. This works in the Source Monitor, Program Monitor/Timeline (just make sure you have the desired window selected).To move a specific number of frames: type + or – and number of frames on the number pad. To move to a specific timecode: simply type the number on the number pad. For instance, 3 is 3 frames, 3. is 3 seconds. Let me show you how it’s done:Zoom to SequenceThe shortcut to zoom in and out of your Premiere Pro timeline is /. You can map it for those coming from FCP or Media Composer.It works as a toggle, so if you are zoomed in and press /, it will zoom out so you can see the whole sequence. Press it again and you zoom back in. Very handy.Arrow Keys and JKLCombine the arrow keys with the reverse/stop/play functionality of the JKL keys:Step Back: Left ArrowStep Forward: Right ArrowStep Backward 5 frames: Shift + Left arrowStep Forward 5 frames: Shift + Right arrowGo to Previous Edit Point: Up ArrowGo to Next Edit Point: Down ArrowIf you’re unfamiliar with using the JKL keys for controlling playback see our previous blog post here.Scroll Wheel and Modifier KeysCommand or Control coupled with the middle scroll wheel works like the Hand Tool (for all of you Photoshop users out there). This is handy when you are zoomed into the timeline and want to see another part of the timeline without zooming out.Option or Alt combined with the middle scroll wheel zooms in or out (this is the same functionality as using the – or = keys).Marking & Playing ClipsThe easiest way to mark clips in Premiere Pro is with a shortcut:Mark Selection: /Mark Clip: XClear in and Out: Option + XPlay In to Out: Option + KPlay Around: Shift + K Play Around simply plays the area in the timeline around where the playhead is placed. Where it starts playing is determined by the Playback Preference. I set mine to 3 seconds for Preroll & Postroll. It starts 3 seconds before and goes to 3 seconds after the playhead.Additionally, I generally turn on Looping with Play In to Out or Play Around. This is useful for fine tuning your edits.
Easily create muzzle flashes with built-in tools in Final Cut Pro X.Though overused and often lazily placed into YouTube videos, muzzle flashes are still awesome when used appropriately. Anyone with a hundred dollars and a basic understanding of Final Cut Pro can put VideoCopilot’s Action Essentials into their videos. It’s an awesome product (with loads of action effects)…but in this post we’ll do one better and show you how to create a muzzle flash effect for free!The following FCPX muzzle flash video tutorials cover:Shape LayersDirectional BlursColorizing ShapesCreating Light FalloffCompositing Elements For your next project instead of creating the VFX in post try creating effects on-set. For inspiration try checking out our post on the top 10 practical effects of all time.This video series was first shared on Dan Allen’s Youtube Channel. Thanks for sharing Dan!Have any tips for creating muzzle flashes in FCPX? Share in the comments below.
Trying to pull off a realistic fight scene? Learn from a professional stuntman how to choreograph a fight sequence and translate those stunts to the camera.If you are anything like me, you grew up wanting to be a stunt performer in a big blockbuster action movie. It seems like such an awesome life to dream about. Jumping off buildings all day and beating up bad guys isn’t too bad of a gig. So, we decided to live out our childhood fantasies of becoming stuntmen. We hired John Cann of Action PAC stunts to come teach us how to create a typical fight scene. From punching for the camera to effective throws, John went through and taught us all of the basics of stunt work, which we’re going to share with you today. Punching for the CameraNow there’s a few fundamentals you need to remember when punching for the camera.Keep the phrase on target, out of distance in the back of your mind when doing stunt fighting. This means that your punches should be on target (the face, body, wherever you may be aiming), while maintaining a healthy distance from your opponent. Punches should never make contact on set. Since you’re working with a 2D space through your camera’s lens, you need to frame the punch correctly in order to sell the hit.Don’t forget to maintain eye contact. When you have a choreographed fight scene with another actor, maintaining eye contact is incredibly important for both participants. Eye contact will help you anticipate their movements and make sure that they haven’t forgotten the choreography. When you don’t keep eye contact, you might continue on with the choreography and duck while they throw an unexpected uppercut. If you don’t see it coming it could leave you with a broken jaw.Keeping your arms extended is where stunt fighting differs from realistic fighting. In a real life bout, you would keep your arms bent and close to your core to maintain momentum in your punches. But on camera, real punches don’t translate well. You have to reveal your arms to the camera for it to pick it up. So when you are throwing your punches, keep your arms extended out while throwing those haymakers. It may feel weird for someone who has previous boxing/fighting experience, but it will look a whole lot better on screen.For every hit, you need to make sure that your punches “cross the plane” of the camera. Imagine that there is a pane of glass going from the middle of the camera lens to the middle of your opponent’s face. To sell a punch, your fist needs to break that pane. Crossing that plane simulates a hit. Just pair it with a sound effect and you’ve connected a punch.Maintaining ControlWhen doing stunt work, the person who is at most risk of harm should always be the person in control of the situation. Take a choking stunt for example. The person getting choked should be pulling towards themselves, while the person choking should be pulling away. This is one of those tricks that doesn’t feel right when performing the stunt. But, since both actors are using muscle to pull, the flexed muscles will sell the choke. The camera can’t tell which way the force is going.Tossing Someone SafelyOnly boring fights stay upright. When you want your scene to get down and dirty, including a tossing stunt can bring gritty realism to your choreography. The one thing you need to remember for a throw is that the person getting tossed should be in control of their fall, while the tosser should only be guiding them. When someone actually gets thrown, you open yourself up for an accidental injury. Luckily we had stunt mats to practice our throws. But, you can use anything soft to practice these throws on, such as couch cushions or a mattress.The mats are only for rehearsal. You can’t really just have a mattress conveniently laying on the floor in your scene for someone to fall on (unless your scene is in a mattress factory). You are actually going to be hitting that floor. To protect ourselves, John provided us with stunt pads to cover up the places where we would get hit. If you don’t have access to stunt pads, skating pads or even low-profile protective gear like lacrosse equipment can protect you.Adding Props to Sell the FightWhat’s something that always ramps up the action in a fight scene? Breakable objects, of course! For our scene, we used breakaway chairs and pool cues, as well as sugar glass bottles. The breakaway chairs we used had all of the metal screws removed from the joints and replaced with wood glue and toothpicks to keep it together. The pool cues had weak points sawed into the middle so that they broke immediately when they made contact.Sugar glass is Hollywood’s choice when it comes to glass breaking stunts. It’s an extremely brittle substance, and will break easily when it makes contact. The bottles cost about $20 each, so if you’re on a budget you can try making your own:Putting It All TogetherYour fight needs to flow, and that flow relies heavily on motivation. If someone gets punched a few times, they’ll come back swinging even harder. A scene with only punch/return punch can stagnate quickly, so ramp up the intensity as the fight carries on. You want the fight to seem like it’s life or death, and not just a quick exchanging of blows. So work with your opponent to create a dynamic scene, rehearse it multiple times, and get shooting!Want to learn more about filmmaking? Check out these articles:7 Reasons You Should “Script” Your Documentary ProjectsWhat Can Production Insurance Do for Your Film or Video?Interview: Filmmaker America Young on Stunts, Directing, and PersistenceYour Guide to Getting Started Shooting RAW Video
In the first of our two-part series, we’ll cover some things you’ll need to know as an actor (or filmmaker) if you’re going to be in front of the camera.Either you’re a brand new actor or you’re a filmmaker and you have non-actors coming to work on your set. If you’re a new or non-actor, you want to be prepared and professional. If you’re a filmmaker, you don’t have time, nor do you want to break down everything your non-actors need to know. So, you need a crash course to prepare yourself or send to your new cast.Well, let’s go.Practice Your LinesImage via guruXOX.Before you even arrive on set, you want to know your lines! This may sound obvious, but I can’t stress this enough. Don’t just read them a few times to “get familiar” with them — memorize them! Know them word for word, know the scene, understand it. Believe me, having your lines memorized is the first step to good acting. Once you have them memorized, drill them so that they flow comfortably from you. You won’t come off as natural if you’re stumbling over the words or if you’re focused on remembering the lines instead of acting.Practice delivering them across a range of emotions. If it’s a dramatic scene, make sure you’re able to deliver the lines casually, and vice versa if it’s a casual scene. The reason for this is to make sure you feel comfortable with the dialog, no matter how you deliver it. When you show up to rehearsal or set, the director may have you deliver the lines differently than what you were expecting. If you’re new to acting, this could really throw you off.Of course, not every gig is going to give you lines beforehand. They may still be writing them or they may have you ad-lib. In this case, just try to learn as much as you can about the character from the director.Create Your CharacterWho are you playing? What’s her backstory? What does she like to do? Who is she? As an actor, you need to embody your character. Sometimes directors or screenwriters will have a very detailed character breakdown explaining the character’s history, hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, etc. If so, study this and research it. Imagine how this history affects the character in the events of the film, practice ad-libbing as the character, moving as the character.However, more often than not, you won’t receive such a detailed character breakdown, if any at all. So, make up the character yourself. Of course, you must base the character on how they appear in the script and definitely be sure to talk it over with the director. But don’t be afraid to bring in ideas of your own! You just want to make sure they get approved.“What if my character only has one scene or just a few lines?” Still develop the role. You don’t need to write this character a biography, but you want to make sure they’re as real as possible. The more you understand about your character, the easier it’ll be for you to embody them.Take Acting ClassesIf you’re brand new to acting (and if you have time prior to production), take an acting class. Make sure it’s a film acting class because theater acting is quite different, and it will show on camera. If you can’t make it to a physical location for classes, check online resources like MasterClass.com or even YouTube.Practice Landing on MarksMarks, typically made from paper tape, are tools to help actors stop and stand in the same spot during each take. It’s very important to practice this skill. In theater, if you land a few steps or inches off your mark, it’s not really a problem because the audience can still see you. However, if you don’t land on your mark on a film set, you’ll likely end up either out of frame or out of focus, or both.When moving toward your mark, you can’t stare at it to make sure you’re on target. You need to be able to do so without looking directly at it. This requires a little practice, but it doesn’t take long to get used to using your peripheral vision to land on your marks naturally. Simply get some masking tape and set up a few “T” marks at various distances from a starting location. Practice walking to them and stopping naturally, only checking your accuracy after stopping. Once that gets easier, pick up the pace! Jog to your mark, run to your mark.Study FramingThe framing of a shot will determine how much of an actor appears onscreen. This is important because it dictates how much room you, as an actor, have to work with. If the director frames you in a mid shot, the camera sees you from the waist up. So, in that shot, the audience won’t see what your legs are doing but they’ll definitely see what your arms are doing. If you’re in a close-up, the audience will only see your face and not the way your hands move when you talk.Image via Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company).If you’re in a wide shot, you have much more freedom. You can move around a few steps, you can incorporate your legs, and you can even flail your arms! But the closer we get to a close-up, the less you can move before stepping out of frame.You also need to understand framing because it affects body language and props. So much of how we communicate comes from body language, and we often talk with our hands. Body language is crucial to acting because it brings realism and depth to the character. Hardly any normal person stands like a statue when they speak, especially if their voice has any emotion in it. This affects you as an actor because if you’re framed in a medium close-up, we won’t be able to see you gesture with your hands — unless you consciously lift them into the frame.Often, those hand movements can really emphasize an emotion or differentiate a character’s personality, but only if we can see them. The same goes for props. If you need to wave around a prop or hold a glass, we need to see it. It may feel natural to hold it one way, but depending on the framing, you’ll have to adjust.Clarify ExpectationsMost importantly, you need to clarify expectations for your performance. You need to act, yes, but what else? Things like nudity, kissing (or more), stunts, foods you may have to eat, and costume choices are things to discuss before taking on a role. If you agree to a role thinking your scene is a date at a pizza parlor, then when you show up on set and the director asks you to eat bugs, wear a skimpy outfit, kiss your date, and then take a hit and fall to the floor, you’re in for a surprise.Yes, it’s the filmmaker’s responsibility to tell you these things ahead of time, but not everyone is professional, and they may neglect to share important information (I’ve been there). Don’t let them trick you! Know the expectations. And if you agree to them, don’t let them change while shooting. This is very important. You won’t make it as an actor just because you’re willing to do anything. You’ll make it as an actor because you’re professional and you practice your craft.Lastly, make sure you know where the set is and how long it takes to get there — and be sure to show up at least ten minutes early. Practice everything above, establish clear expectations with the filmmaker, and prepare for the shoot! In the next article, we’ll dive right into what to expect and what to know when you’re on set.Cover image via guruXOX.Looking for more filmmaking tips and tricks? Check these out.The Lost Joys of Using DIY Filmmaking EquipmentThe Dana Dolly: A Quintessential Cinematic Tool for FilmmakersHow DPs Make the Shift from Commercials to Features and Back AgainHow to Hire a Film Crew for Your Next Passion ProjectTips for Avoiding Stress as A Solo Filmmaker
Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now Dogma is a belief so strongly held that it becomes the truth. It’s an ideology so stubbornly held that it doesn’t allow for any new evidence or ideas to change it. It especially resists conflicting ideas from the outside world.Your dogmatic beliefs might be around your sales process. Or maybe you have a dogmatic attachment to some sales methodology. Maybe you are dogmatic in your belief that you shouldn’t have to prospect in this age of inbound marketing and social media. Or perhaps your dogma is something else.What makes dogma so dangerous is that it doesn’t allow for new and conflicting information. And in a world that is changing ever faster, holding onto to old beliefs—beliefs that may no longer serve you—is a dangerous business.Here’s a quick example. I have a deeply held belief that cold calling is the most effective method for prospecting. But if that belief were so strong that I believed that no other method of prospecting could be effective, that would be unhealthy. It would eliminate other effective methods of prospecting, maybe even my dream client’s preferred method of being approached.Here’s how you avoid dogma.Allow Your Beliefs to Be QuestionedAnything that fails to grow dies. Anything that refuses to take in things from the outside world dies too. If you refuse to allow what you now believe to be questioned, you are refusing to take in information from the outside. Are your beliefs so strong that you bristle when you hear ideas that conflict with them? Does that ever happen to you?The first step in avoiding having your beliefs become dogma is not to judge all ideas by your existing beliefs. Instead, you remain open to new ideas, especially ideas that conflict with your existing beliefs. You hear people out without making any judgments about right or wrong, truth or lie.It’s not easy, but there is power to be found in taking in new ideas, especially ideas that conflict with your existing beliefs.Purposely Seek Conflicting IdeasAn even more powerful way to avoid having your beliefs become dogma is to purposely seek out conflicting ideas. Ideas that are in direct conflict with what you believe can be powerful in improving your results.Instead of reflexively rejecting ideas that conflict with your beliefs, try to find out why others value those ideas. Try to find the truth in the ideas that conflict with what you believe. Try to discover when those ideas could be valuable.Become AgnosticThe more tools you have in your toolkit, the more prepared you are to deal with different circumstances. Being agnostic means being open to using whatever works and whatever the circumstances demand. In a rapidly changing world, you need ideas.Being agnostic doesn’t mean you don’t believe anything. It means you don’t have a religious devotion to something that you adhere to even when something else might work better. You use what works when it’s useful, and you discard what doesn’t work when it isn’t useful.If you are agnostic, you can remain open to new ideas. You judge them by their useful under some set of circumstances.QuestionsWhat beliefs do you hold so deeply that they’ve become dogma?How long has it been since you questioned those beliefs? Have you ever?How do you ensure that you are continually taking in new ideas?How do you react to ideas that conflict with your dogmatic beliefs?How much better would your results be if you were willing to shed some of your dogmas and open up to some new beliefs?