Two Firsts for a Near-Zero House in Texas

first_imgIt is more than a little encouraging when we see a new near-zero-energy house that not only meets the criteria for a LEED for Homes Platinum rating, but also for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding.That happens to be the case for a 1,332-sq.-ft. ranch-style home recently completed in the West Central Texas town of San Angelo. Showcased during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, the three-bedroom, two-bath house is billed as San Angelo’s first near-zero energy house and the first of its kind in the nation to receive funding through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program.The HUD grant covered the cost of the property’s solar panels, metal roof, and gray-water recycling system, Robert Salas, assistant director of development services for the city, told the San Angelo Standard-Times. The balance on the $152,000 home is covered by a mortgage that will be serviced by the home’s very delighted owner, Caroline Bowman, who spent several years on the San Angelo Community Development Division’s waiting list for prospective homeowners.Lubbock-based Universal Design Consortium, the architecture firm that designed Bowman’s house, notes on its Web site that the design and materials standards used for the home are intended to set the stage for two more HUD-funded projects – San Angelo officials call them “concept homes” – slated for construction in the coming months.An efficiency strategyUDC says a tight envelope and passive solar are at the heart of its design, which also features a high level of adaptability for handicapped occupants. The HVAC system, which features round ductwork for increased efficiency and ease of cleaning, is expected to operate at 98% efficiency.The home’s insulation package includes closed-cell foam insulation in the exterior 3 1/2-inch wall cavities. UDC says it used an exterior 2×4 wall assembly that, in concert with the foam insulation, careful construction, and a PV system that includes a dozen 200-watt panels mounted on a separate storage building, will deliver overall near-zero energy performance.UDC’s president, Steve Mueller, told GBA that data collected on a year’s performance of this first concept home, also known as HUD 1, “will eventually lead us to the overall goal of achieving a zero-energy stance for a building design that can be adopted for low- to moderate-(income) single- and multifamily housing applications.” Bringing HUD 1 true net-zero performance, he noted, would have required a PV system that would have exceeded the community development/HUD budget.HUD funding played a significant role in keeping the project affordable. As Salas explained to the Standard Times, the typical cost of a similar home for low- or moderate-income families that has some energy-efficient elements but is not at zero energy is about $95,000.Mueller added that the project’s cost restrictions were a challenge but by no means unrealistic. “We have always focused on low- to moderate-income households, and we’ve worked on getting the price for constructing the house down. We’ve worked on getting their monthly expenditures reduced to make it affordable,” Mueller told the paper. “That’s what a zero-energy house is supposed to be used for. A lot of people like to do this and show it off. This one is functional, and that’s always been our objective.”last_img read more

What’s Wrong With This Crawl Space?

first_imgThe photo shows an unvented crawl space in a cold climate. The home was built in 1885. This crawl space is attached to an adjacent concrete-floored basement. The foundation walls are made of mortared limestone.Even in the small area captured in the photo, there are a number of problems that compromise energy efficiency, building durability, and life safety.Next week, we will post the answers that a Building America team, NorthernStar, came up with.last_img

What’s Going On With Home Performance?

first_imgI’ve been involved, if somewhat peripherally, with the Home Performance industry for quite a while. I was one of the original group working on Home Performance with Energy Star in Atlanta quite a few years ago. As I learned more about this evolving field, I felt that it was both important and necessary, and thought that it had potential to be a profitable business model.I had concerns that the program was being managed by building science types (read: geeks) who were focused on collecting reams of data from performance testing and using this to sell improvements to homeowners. Fairly quickly, I determined that unless it moved from a technical to a sales focus, it wasn’t going to go anywhere.While there are a few companies who have managed to balance the technical aspects with the necessary sales skills, most auditors and contractors have struggled to create profitable, sustainable business models. Early on, there was a focus on keeping the auditors independent in order to provide an unbiased report that a homeowner could use to compare proposals from contractors for the work. I saw this as a cumbersome model that increased costs, complicated the sales process, and might not help advance the program in any meaningful way. Will it survive into adulthood?The big question is, what will happen to the home performance industy as incentives go away? It will probably fare better in regions with high energy costs, where paybacks are faster. Where energy audits or HERS ratings are required at the time of sale, there may be some more demand.My fear, however, is that in many markets, demand will start to wither, homes will go unimproved, and many of the thousands of trained professionals, many of whom entered the industry after their old careers dried up, will, once again, be looking for new lines of work. Performance enters pubertyFast forward about eight years, and home performance is beginning to mature, benefiting from government and utility incentives designed to stimulate an industry that would sustain itself when those incentives were gone.On the positive side, many local programs have moved to the combined auditor/contractor model, which, despite its drawbacks, does lead to more completed projects. I am concerned that where the auditors are employees of specialized improvement contractors that they may suggest solutions through the lens of their business operations. HVAC contractors may focus on HVAC solutions to the detriment of envelope improvements. Insulation contractors will likely find insulation is the answer to problems they uncover.If all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. I still believe that the combined auditor/contractor model can work, but maybe I am just being naïve.last_img read more

Installing Roxul Mineral Wool on Exterior Walls

first_imgAs the landscape around our building site disappears under a rare blanket of snow, the sheathing on our houses has been disappearing under a thick layer of exterior mineral-wool insulation. Known as Comfortboard IS, this insulation has impressed us with its green virtues, versatility, and price.Made in Canada by Roxul, Comfortboard is one product in a line of “stone wool” products that combine the power of rock with the characteristics of insulation wool. Originally inspired by the way wind spins molten lava into fibrous material during a volcanic eruption, stone wool is fire-, mold- and insect-resistant. It’s also water-repellent. This latter feature is attractive in the Pacific Northwest, where building tends to happen year ’round despite the weather.Comfortboard also has excellent thermal properties. The 2 inches of Roxul we installed will add R-8.4 to our walls. (Comfortboard is also available in thinner and thicker boards).Exterior insulation keeps the sheathing warmWhile our staggered stud wall has less thermal bridging than many standard walls, the 2×10 top and bottom plates and rim joists do have some. This exterior insulation helps reduce heat loss in those places and brings the weakest parts of the wall (aside from windows and doors) up to R-20. (The 2×10 wall plates have an R-value of about R-11.6, and 2 inches of Roxul has an R-value of R-8.4.) This level of insulation is better than the average for most 2×6 stud wall systems. Shannon Cowan and Patrick Walshe are building an energy efficient, multi-family house in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia. They chronicle this and other adventures in sustainable family living at their blog, A Green Hearth. RELATED ARTICLES Installing Mineral Wool Insulation Over Exterior Wall SheathingMineral Wool Boardstock Insulation Gains GroundWrapping an Older House with Rock Wool InsulationWindwashing in Exterior Mineral WoolGBA Product Guide: Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation Batts Residential Insulated Sheathing – Design Guide Roxul Report: Fastener Guidelines Roxul: Cladding Attachment and Support Structural Testing of Screws Through Thick Exterior InsulationQ&A: Fastening methods for Roxul ComfortBoard IS Q&A: Installing outie windows with 2-inch exterior Roxul board Q&A: Mineral wool exterior insulation, humidity, and windwashingcenter_img Most of our wall assembly has a higher R-value, of course. The walls will have 9 1/4 inches of cellulose insulation (R-32) plus the exterior mineral wool insulation, for a total of about R-40.Mounted on the exterior like rigid foam, Comfortboard mineral wool has the added benefit of allowing walls to dry out to the exterior (research on this topic is available at the Building Science Corporation website). It helps prevent condensation on the inside of the sheathing by keeping it warm most of the time. (You can use some rules of thumb to figure out what R-value you should have on the exterior of the sheathing — the information is available in an article titled Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam Sheathing — though the minimum thicknesses listed for foam are not as vital for mineral wool, which is more vapor-permeable than rigid foam.)Comfortboard is made of natural, inorganic materials and has a high recycled content. The manufacturer has invested deeply in emission reductions and other green initiatives that help offset the energy used during production. Mineral wool generally has a minimum recycled content of 75%, making products in this category a nice alternative to petroleum-based foams and their greenhouse-warming blowing agents and flame retardants.Recently, some green builders have expressed concerns over reports that Roxul mineral wool products may contain formaldehyde. When we sent an inquiry to Roxul about the formaldehyde question, a company spokesperson responded, “Although a formaldehyde-based organic binder is used during manufacturing, a high-temperature curing phase virtually eliminates volatile compounds. The result is no measurable free-form formaldehyde in the final product and no volatile organic compounds that can off-gas.”Initial installation concernsInitially we were concerned that installation would be tricky due to the softer nature of the Comfortboard. It’s less rigid than foam; its compressive strength is about 5 psi, compared to 25 to 30 psi for common types of rigid foam. It truly feels like a thick wool blanket.Our builders shared some of the same concerns. Gerard Dubenski of Big Coast Construction, working with Penbay Construction in Nanaimo, British Columbia, led the crew who installed the product. None of them had ever used Roxul Comfortboard before. “Comfortboard is softer than foam, but we found that cap nails helped to consistently prop out the strapping at the required distance from the sheathing,” he said when interviewed at our building site.Dubenski and his crew attached the insulation with 2 1/2 inch cap nails tapped in by hand until they were flush with the surface of the Comfortboard. They installed these nails in vertical rows over the studs, which are 16 inches on center. The vertical spacing between nails was 24 inches, so that each 2’ x 4’ piece of Comfortboard (installed with the 4-foot dimension running horizontally) had one nail per stud.In addition to securing the Comfortboard, the nails helped to mark the studs for later installation of the rainscreen strapping (which was anchored to the studs).Adjusting the furring strips to be sure they’re plumb and co-planarWhen adding the 1×4 strapping over the Comfortboard, Dubenski and crew placed one screw at the top and and once screw at the bottom of each furring strip, and then checked it with a long level to be sure it was plumb before adding the remaining screws. “Once we got the hang of it, we didn’t need to fiddle around much backing screws out,” Dubenski said. “We also took care when installing the fiber-cement siding to make a few adjustments.”Now that the installation of the Comfortboard is almost complete (and with more than half of the siding on), Dubenski has a better understanding of the product. He cites a few challenges that arose when mounting boxes for penetrations through the wall. “We installed solid wood backing in places as needed, such as around doors where we wanted to install security screws,” he says. “Now that we’ve worked with it, I can only see it as being easier and easier because we have worked out methods for using it.”Dubenski sees many benefits to mineral wool. “We liked it more than foam. It was easier to cut with a large utility knife or bread knife. We also took pieces [of mineral wool] and submerged them in the pond as a test, because we were so worried about the wall being soggy. The water beaded off. As it turns out, the Roxul will actually help keep the wall dry.”Dubenski recommends the product for a variety of applications, including renovation jobs where the siding is stripped and the owner wants more insulation. “You could do it from the outside without any inside mess. I was definitely skeptical at first, but I am sold on it now. I will definitely use it again.”What about window flashing?Because Comfortboard is made from fuzzy mineral wool, it’s difficult to attach tape or peel-and-stick to its surface. For this reason, our builder and architect advised us to install “picture-frame” strips of 2-inch-thick XPS foam around each window — just enough to nail the window flanges to, and to provide a surface for sealing the rough openings with peel and stick membrane.We’ll provide further details on our approach to window flashing in an upcoming blog.It won’t rot and it won’t support moldAs owners who have watched the construction progress, we have been impressed by the versatility of Comfortboard IS. Its green points are important to us. The product’s affordability adds to its appeal, since it costs about the same as XPS foam.“I’m a fan of mineral wool because it doesn’t settle, doesn’t rot even if continually wetted, is fireproof, and won’t support mold or bugs,” summed up Albert Rooks. (Rooks was quoted in Scott Gibson’s article, “Choosing a Cost-Effective Wall System.”) “It’s like a little piece if the Canadian Rockies (since it’s made of Canadian basalt) covering your house, and nearly as durable.”Not that we need convincing: with this rare snowfall, we can see some of the benefits first hand. And we look forward to enjoying the other benefits down the road.last_img read more

Choosing the Right Wall Assembly (2013)

first_imgWhile the condensing surface is picking up moisture, Dorsett adds, “at any other point within the batts the fiber temperature is above that temperature, and no condensation occurs.”“If [the condensing surface] is a hygroscopic material such as OSB sheathing, [the moisture] doesn’t condense either, but instead adsorbs into the material, never achieving a true liquid state (unless there is so much moisture entering the cavity from air leaks that the OSB saturates),” he writes.The real risk is that sheathing made from oriented strand board will rot. This problem is known as the “cold OSB” problem, according the GBA senior editor Martin Holladay. When OSB gets wet but never has the opportunity to dry out, it can, in Holladay’s words, “turn to oatmeal.”According to Jesse Thompson, an architect in Portland, Maine, “A double-stud wall with any type of batt insulation is a high-risk wall system in a cold climate, due to the cold sheathing issue.”Lots of houses built that way in the 1980s and 1990s are still standing, Thompson says, but that kind of wall assembly is “too risky for us to recommend.” Michael Roland is designing a new house and trying to choose the right wall assembly. It’s down to a choice between a double-stud wall filled with fluffy insulation, or a single wall wrapped in a layer of rigid foam insulation.“Using exterior rigid foam solves thermal bridging and prevents condensation within the batts in the wall cavity,” he writes in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor. “Double-wall construction also solves thermal bridging, but what about the dew point within the batts? Won’t there be a condensation problem?”That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight. Moisture won’t condense in battsDon’t worry about condensation on batts, writes Dana Dorsett, because it simply won’t occur.“Condensation doesn’t happen in batts,” he says. “Because batts are extremely vapor-permeable, and low-mid density batts are so air-permeable, whenever the coldest surface of the cavity reaches the dew point of the entrained air in the cavity the moisture condenses on that surface, not in the fiber itself.” CONSTRUCTION DETAILS High R-Value Walls: Building Plans for Double-Stud Wall Construction RELATED ARTICLES Avoid OSB sheathing in the first placeAnother strategy is to use plywood or diagonal board sheathing rather than OSB, along with a ventilated rainscreen gap between the siding and the sheathing, Holladay says.“+1 on the plank sheathing and rain-screened siding recommendations!” Dorsett says. “OSB is mold-food, and needs to stay much drier than solid wood to avoid damage. Moisture gets into end grain much easier and wicks further than the side-grain of planking, and the processing heat that uses the wood’s own lignin as the ‘glue’ converts a good fraction of that lignin into simpler wood-sugars more readily fed upon by fungus and mold.”Or, as Lucas Durand points out, in areas where building codes permit, it’s possible to build a wall with structural sheathing on the inside and only a weather-resistive barrier (WRB) such as housewrap on the outside. Durand says the plywood sheathing also is the air barrier and the vapor retarder. As for the details, he offers a link to photographs of his own house, currently under construction in Ontario.And one more approach, as Patrick Walshe suggests, is to use a double wall with exterior insulation, “though of course it would be more expensive.” His approach for a house on Vancouver Island was a 9 1/4-inch-thick staggered-stud wall with 2 inches of rigid rock wool insulation on the outside. Reducing the risk of moisture damageThere are, however, ways of reducing the risk of moisture accumulation and decay in sheathing, as several GBA readers point out.Dorsett says that one approach is to use a hygroscopic insulation — that is, a type of insulation that can absorb moisture — such as cotton batting or cellulose. “The insulation in contact with the cold surface will adsorb moisture too, which results in lower moisture accumulation in the sheathing,” Dorsett writes. “Cellulose can take on quite a bit of moisture before saturating and losing R-value, and can store then re-release the moisture as conditions change.”This characteristic makes it a good choice in thick wall assemblies with high R-values, he says. Dense-packed cellulose also limits air permeability and increases the “moisture buffering capacity.”Fiberglass batt insulation, on the other hand, is not hygroscopic.Thompson seconds the advice. With double-stud wall construction, he suggests careful air sealing and blower-door results of less than 1.5 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure (described as 1.5 ach50, a standard testing metric).“A well-air-sealed double-stud wall (better than 1.5 ach50) with dense-packed blown-in cellulose (not loose fill) or perhaps blown-in fiberglass seems to be a low-risk wall system,” Thompson says. “The worse you air seal, the more the risk goes up with this wall.”A layer of rigid foam insulation also lowers the risk of moisture damage, even with “mediocre air sealing,” because it keeps the sheathing warm. “That’s why Building Science [Corp.] is such a fan of exterior foam,” he adds. “You can be a pretty sloppy builder and still not get building failures with this system.” How Risky is Cold OSB Wall Sheathing?Green Basics: Double-Stud Walls Is Double-Stud Wall Construction the Path to Efficiency on a Budget?Choosing the Right Wall Assembly (2015)Six Proven Ways to Build Energy-Smart WallsCellulose Insulation Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam SheathingGreen Basics: Insulation OverviewInstalling Roxul Mineral Wool on Exterior Walls Our expert’s opinionHere’s what GBA technical director Peter Yost had to say:There are lots of really great points in this exchange, representing good understanding of the hygrothermal performance of materials and assemblies.Some key points:Interstitial condensation during cold months on the first condensing surface in the assembly is always a function of interior relative humidity, as well as the temperature profile of the assembly. Let’s not forget to manage wintertime interior relative humidity as we manage the assembly profile.A continuous air barrier is critical no matter which assembly is selected; interstitial condensation driven by air leakage trumps vapor drive by a long shot.Look at the wetting and the drying. The famous Canadian building scientist, Mark Bomberg, is known for, among many things, this quote: “Our buildings get wet during the winter but don’t rot till the summer.” He was speaking in the context of adding central air conditioning to homes in cold climates; without the AC they were getting wet in the winter and drying out in the summer. Add AC, and the reduced drying sends the assemblies over the moisture management cliff.Some builders using double-stud walls in cold climates are adding a smart vapor retarder, such as 475 Intello or CertainTeed’s MemBrain, to manage moisture drive into the assembly during the winter yet maintain drying to the interior during the summer.Finally, I really like the double-stud wall system, with structural sheathing either on the interior or on the exterior wall. What is a shame is to use structural 2-bys for the non-structural wall. It’s just not resource-efficient. Really light-gauge, cold-formed steel framing, or non-structural 2x3s, or even something like the Site-Engineered Environmental (SEE) stud make a lot of sense to me for the non-load bearing wall.last_img read more

Next Generation Mobile Homes

first_imgUnusual features for a mobile homeVHCB said in a report on the project that the U.S.Department of Housing and Urban Development first developed standards for manufactured housing in the mid-1970s. They’ve been updated several times since then, but mobile homes still put their occupants at a big energy disadvantage and they’ve long been disparaged as poorly built.“Replacing poor quality but very inexpensive homes with homes of better quality that cost more must be considered in the context of the fact that nationally 41% of mobile home-dwellers have incomes below 50% of the area median,” the VHCB says.The prototype includes features that plenty of conventional stick-built houses still don’t have:Double 2×4 walls on 24-in. centers creating 10-in. wall cavities insulated to R-43 with blown-in fiberglass insulation.5/8-in. gypsum wallboard on the interior glued to the studs.5/8-in. Zip System roof sheathing covered with Grace Ice & Water Shield.Roof trusses 24 in. on center with 14 in. of blown-in fiberglass (R-60), plus a floor system insulated to R-44 and sealed with Zip System sheathing and tape.A Conditioning Energy Recovery Ventilator, or CERV that combines an air-source heat pump with a ventilation system that monitors carbon dioxide, humidity, and volatile organic compounds in the air and adjusts ventilation rates as needed.Triple-glazed awning and casement windows manufactured by PVC Industries.A heat-pump water heater.This new breed of mobile home isn’t cheap; the homes cost roughly $100,000 each. But, says VHCB, energy accounts for nearly half of monthly housing costs in a conventional HUD-certified mobile home but should total only 16% in a high-performance model. Renewable energy systems strongly recommendedWith the addition of a rooftop photovoltaic array, this type of the house is designed for net-zero energy operation, says Peter Schneider, a senior energy consultant with Efficiency Vermont, which provides energy efficiency services for Vermont ratepayers and took part in the pilot program.An array of up to 5.5 kW in capacity can be installed on a home 66 ft. long, and 6 kW systems can be installed on a 70-ft. model, Schneider says. That’s about all these roofs will hold, but it should be enough for net-zero operation, and reduce monthly power bills to the service charge alone.“You’re going from a conventional mobile home that is looking at $200 to $300 a month for their total energy costs and taking it down to $16 a month if they put the PV on it,” Pasho said, adding that the quality of construction also is much higher than a conventional mobile home.“For this project we’re working with the state and building them as single module homes with the configuration of a traditional mobile home because they’re designed to be replacement homes in [mobile home] parks,” he said. “You can’t come in and put a nice ranch in there because the park layout is for sausages.”Schneider said a blower-door test of the first unit showed air leakage of 0.9 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure. Once the units are set on their sites and all penetrations for utilities are sealed, the results might be somewhat better. Air leakage rates also may be reduced as Vermod crews gain more experience.The HERS rating will be in the single digits, Schneider said, with the exact number still to be determined based on values allowed for the CERV unit.In all, Pill-Maharam designed one-, two- and three-bedroom models, including one that is ADA-compliant. Pill said the goal was to make the buildings as space- and energy-efficient as possible while keeping them aesthetically pleasing and low in cost. UPDATED on November 6, 2013 with information on the design teamA high-performance mobile home that will use a fraction of the energy of standard manufactured housing and rival the energy efficiency and quality of advanced stick-built homes has made its public debut in Vermont.The first of 10 mobile homes to be produced under the Manufactured Housing Innovation Project was unveiled Oct. 23 in White River Junction, Vermont. The “single-wide” mobile homes, roughly 14 ft. wide and either 66 ft. or 70 ft. long, have features common for high-performance houses but virtually unheard of in manufactured housing: double stud walls, triple-glazed windows, and more than a foot of blown-in insulation in the roof.The project to develop this new type of mobile home is a response to Tropical Storm Irene, which brought widespread damage to Vermont in 2011. Although mobile homes make up just 7% of the state’s housing stock, they represented 15% of the homes damaged in the storm, according to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB).The year after Irene barreled through the state, VHCB, with help from the High Meadows Fund and others, launched an effort to improve mobile home design. They were prompted not only by the disproportionate storm damage but also by two studies published in 2012 that showed people who live in mobile homes pay a lot more for energy than do those who live in stick-built houses.A working group of two dozen or more people joined the effort. Vermod High Performance Manufactured Housing in White River Junction is building them. The houses were designed by Pill-Maharam Architects of Shelburne, VT, in collaboration with Vermod.“This ain’t no mobile home,” Vermod General Manager Chet Pasho said by telephone. “It just looks like one at 50 miles an hour going down the road. This is a high-performance modular home that right how we’re building on mobile home geometry.”center_img People in many states could benefitImproved air quality and energy efficiency would be a big boost in Vermont, where winters are long and common fossil fuels like oil and kerosene are expensive. But Vermont is actually in the middle of the pack in terms of the percentage of total housing represented by mobile homes. The U.S. Census bureau says 6.9% of all Vermont houses were mobile homes in 2008.Elsewhere, the fraction is much higher. The top three states are South Carolina (17.9%), New Mexico (16.4%) and Mississippi (15.2%). And if Vermont’s case is any guide, lots of these mobile homes are showing serious signs of age.“Over 22% of mobile homes in Vermont are pre-1976, the year that the HUD standards went into effect,” the VHCB report says. “These homes are aging out and will need to be replaced with something. Having a super-energy efficient alternative is an important option.“In addition, 45% of Vermont’s mobile home or manufactured housing stock is pre-1990. Although a 25-year-old home is not particularly old if it is stick built, some manufactured homes of this vintage are also beginning to show signs of significant deterioration.”One big problem is how buyers with low incomes will be able to afford $100,000 mobile homes. Although buyers for these first high-performance homes will be eligible for subsidies, a used HUD- certified model can be had for as little as $8,000. Many mobile home park residents don’t have mortgages, and might not be interested or able in taking out a big loan for a new mobile home, no matter how energy efficient it might be.Pasho says the $100,000 price tag does not include a foundation or utility hookups, but early buyers will get a helping hand from subsidies and loans that could bring the cost to as little as $35,000. That’s what the buyer of the first unit will pay.last_img read more

Don’t Hire a Cleaning Crew to Wash Your Solar Panels

first_imgWorried that your rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels are cranking out less power than they should because they’re dusty? Don’t be. Paying someone to wash them is likely to cost more than what you’d gain in electrical output, engineers at the University of California, San Diego, said.According to an article in Laser Focus World, the efficiency of panels that hadn’t been cleaned or rained on for 145 days during a drought had dropped by 7.4%. But washing the panels midway through the summer would have boosted the value of electrical production by just $20.Power losses are greater for commercial installations, but even there probably not enough to justify the cost of a cleaning. For very large installations, however, washing made more sense economically.The conclusions were based on a study of 186 solar installations in California in 2010. Jan Kleissi, the report’s principal investigator, said pollution and dust levels in California are fairly typical of other parts of the country, if a little dustier. In areas that get more rain, panels would tend to stay cleaner, with even smaller energy losses, making for an even more compelling argument against paying for a cleaning.One exception is bird droppings. Rain won’t wash them off and they block virtually all light, the study said. So if your solar panels happen to be in an avian bombs-away zone, it probably makes sense to clean the panels once in a while.The study was originally published in Solar Energy.last_img read more

Can We Fix The Problem Of Unreasonable Tech Searches At The Border?

first_imgIt happened on the border.In May 2010, Pascal Abidor, an Islamic studies doctoral candidate at McGill University, was traveling from Montreal to New York City when he was stopped in the tiny border town of Champlain, New York, by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. Abidor, who is of dual American and French citizenship, and is not a Muslim, triggered agents’ worst fears. When they turned on Abidor’s computer, they found pictures of Hamas rallies; thumbing through his passport, agents saw stamps from past trips to Jordan and Lebanon.The pictures were part of Abidor’s doctoral dissertation, the travel part of his research. But that didn’t matter to the agents. Abidor says he was handcuffed, taken off the train, and detained in a cell while agents interrogated him about his belongings and his interest in Islam. Hours later he was freed. But his laptop remained in custody for 11 days. When it was returned, Abidor later reported, there was evidence that his personal research files, and even photos and chats with his girlfriend, had all been opened. In September of 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on his behalf. Now Abidor is suing the U.S. government on grounds of civil rights violations in a case that has become the face of defending the right to digital privacy and due process at America’s borders. “The government asserts that when it comes to electronic devices, people who cross the border have no rights,” Abidor’s lawyer Catherine Crump said in a 2010 interview. Now more than two years later, the Federal District Court opinion could have a lasting impact on the how and why border agents search electronic devices – especially when there is no suspicion of illegal activity. What’s At Stake In the wake of 9/11, the government has touted national security as a means to wield extremely broad border search power (here is the Department of Homeland Security’s official search policy). Although the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, U.S. courts have been clear that its protections simply don’t apply at the border. In the name of national security and fighting terrorism and crime, border agents operate pretty much carte blanche.Apart from the hassles and humiliations, here’s the problem: American citizens are losing their civil liberties in the name of national security. Travelers keep detailed personal and business data on their devices (which would otherwise require a warrant to search), and letting agents paw through potentially confidential and sensitive info is a real concern to legitimate travelers and the companies for which they work. A prime example is another case the ACLU is arguing, House v. Napolitano, wherein computer programer David House’s laptop, camera and USB drive were confiscated for 49 days because of his association with the Bradley Manning Support Network (Manning allegedly leaked thousands of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks).The feds tried to have the case thrown out, but a judge in the Massachussetts Federal District Court said that the government’s border search power did not supersede House’s First Amendment rights, a ruling that could set the stage for courts limiting how the government administers border searches.Playing The NumbersFrom October 2011 to the end of August, 2012, nearly 12 million travelers endured secondary security screenings after entering the U.S., according to the Department of Homeland Security. The ACLU contends that between October 2008 and June 2010, more than 6,600 people had their electronic devices searched as they crossed U.S. borders.The United States Customs and Border Protection says 36,000 people are pulled aside for secondary searches every day; of that number about a dozen are screened for their technology. That adds up to some 5,000 electronic device screenings a year, with nosy agents pilfering through travelers’ personal information. And while border crossing violations typically elicit thoughts of criminals and drug trafficking, that’s not usually at issue in electronic searches. “Why do you lose all your rights if you step in an airport (or over a border),” asks Matthew Tollin, a Harvard-trained attorney and founder of wireLawyer. “The current setup doesn’t make any sense.” There needs to be a reasonable suspicion to check someone’s laptop or smartphone, says Tollin, a designation he characterizes as “much lower than probable cause,” but a lot different “than not needing any basis at all.”Fixing The ProblemUpcoming court decisions in the Abidor and House cases are the most likely way to limit digital searces by border agents. But privacy advocates are looking at other avenues as well.One approach is to raise awareness of the issue, says Tollin. This means setting up websites, lodging complaints with groups like the ACLU, creating grassroots campaigns and hounding representatives and lawmakers. If Congress gets enough pressure from constituents, it’s possible that it could draft bills to change U.S. policy. But it’s hard to imagine passage of any laws that could be construed as soft on national security and terrorism.Another longshot possibility would be an executive order from the President. Obama could create an executive order to set clearer precedents for search and seizure at the border. “It’s a simple matter of tweaking the standard,” Tollin said, noting that the Obama is committed to peeling back some of the civil liberty abuses of prior administrations. But unless it becomes a priority, Presidential action remains unlikely.“It’s a tough change,” Tollin admits. “Everybody understands screening laptops for C-4 explosives. Everybody understands it’s a safety matter getting on a plane. The question here is when you turn the computer on and start reading somebody’s personal files, snooping around for stuff you don’t have the right to do, it’s a huge invasion of privacy. There’s plenty of things they can have that are not criminal, that are not terrorist, that they just don’t want the government to know.”That’s one reason many travelers now choose to store sensitive files not on their devices, but on cloud-based systems. That way, the data is as needed but not available for review by border agents or anyone else who has access to your device. Even if a device is confiscated, travelers can still access their secure data.Photo courtesy Shutterstock. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… adam popescu Related Posts Tags:#privacy#security center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Watch Out CNN: New Twitter Search Capabilities Will Rule Breaking News

first_imgA Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Tags:#twitter jon mitchell Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videoscenter_img Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Related Posts Twitter Tuesday announced new search capabilities that give it the upper hand as a breaking news destination over basically every other news organization on the planet, from newspapers to cable networks to websites and everything in between. When a new search begins to trend on Twitter, Twitter’s new API will send the query to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service, where humans will categorize it to help make it more relevant to readers. Then Twitter can populate its Discover section with live, topical streams of news.If they want to keep up, other organizations that exist to break news need some new ideas, and fast.This development fills the one gap that Twitter can’t cover with algorithms alone: context. Twitter already knows what terms and searches are popular, but it doesn’t know what they mean. Why is “Big Bird” trending? Is there a good episode of Sesame Street airing right now? Did someone who created the show die? Or was the giant puppet used as an absurd example in a political debate? The answer to those questions determines where information about “Big Bird” should go, whether it’s “television,” “politics,” or, I don’t know, “death.”Twitter Is The NewsThis contextual step is critical for making a news destination relevant. And if Twitter itself can master relevance, what’s the point of other news sites? They’re slower, and they have less information about what’s happening and what’s interesting to people. News organizations had better start thinking about how they can continue to matter in a world where Twitter is the destination, not just a pipe for sending links.As of right now, it still takes a lot of manual labor to get meaningful news out of Twitter. Journalists like me spend a lot of time sifting through Twitter and stringing the news together into a story that makes sense. That’s why you go to a “news” site to read the news.But Twitter is increasingly where breaking news emerges. That’s just a fact. The instant something happens in the world, if there’s a computer with an Internet connection nearby, someone is posting it on Twitter, and then the news industry reacts.So if Twitter can now assemble the raw materials of breaking news into a meaningful place to see and understand what’s happening anywhere in the world, on just about any topic, the instant it starts to matter to people, why would anyone get breaking news from another source?How News Sites Can Stay RelevantI already find my news exclusively on Twitter, but I’m an edge case as a journalist. I click links all the time, sure, but I don’t care what site the links go to. I care only that they seem relevant to what I see happening on Twitter. These new Mechanical Turk-driven search topics will make relevance much easier to determine for the legions of people who don’t mow their Twitter lawns as obsessively as I do.What can news organizations do other than write for what’s trending on Twitter and hope for clicks?Well, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to write only about ideas that rise from connections that are hard for computers to make. The story has to get its meaning from the complexities and eccentricities of people. If there’s nothing more to the story than the news itself, people are going to get it from Twitter.Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.last_img read more

Autodesk: Hey, Free Apps Are Harder To Make Than Enterprise Software

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… To me, though, the most interesting part of the story is what the heck a professional software company like Autodesk is doing mucking around with free mobile apps for consumers.Bass said the company first got into the area almost by accident. “The first thing we did was Sketchbook – a piece of professional software that was relatively unsuccessful… Nobody knew about it. Then two guys went and turned it into an iPhone app,” Bass said. “If I had been asked,” he added,” I would have said it’s the stupidest thing I’d ever heard of. Who would want to fingerpaint on an iPhone?”That product now has 15 million users. Overall, Autodesk’s mobile products have gained some 100 million users in three years, compared to 15 million users of its professional products gathered over 30 years. The company is now building apps “as fast as we can,” Bass said.Why Build Apps?Sure, the apps are popular, but why would an professional software company dive into apps? It certainly isn’t for the money, at least not yet. While Autodesk’s consumer revenue will double this year, Bass said, “We don’t make enough [on consumer apps] to pay the rental on this floor.”The real reason? “A huge amount of learning about how people really want to work with their tools,” Bass said. Autodesk needed to figure out “how quickly you had to get someone from knowing nothing to satisfaction” in order to eliminate the learning curve and make professional software as satisfying as consumer apps. “If it’s easy to do in your personal life, why is it so hard in the business world?” he asked.Compared to modern consumer apps, he said. “Enterprise software sucks.” The message has become, “less expensive means easy to use, more expensive means really difficult to use,” Bass said. “We have to remedy that!” Increasingly, professionals want the ease and convenience they get in their personal lives in their business environment as well – and are intolerant when the don’t get it. Business software companies that don’t give them that “will be losers,” Bass warned.Enterprise Software Can Be SloppyThat’s a challenge for Autodesk, because “we are an enterprise software company,” Bass acknowledged. Thirty percent of company revenues come from 1% of customers. “The very biggest companies in the world,” including huge automotive and aerospace manufacturers, buy thousands of licenses, he said. And they run their businesses on that software.In the development process, he explained, “you can be a little bit sloppy with professional applications,” figuring that “they use it all the time, they’ll figure it out.” Developing the variety of devices makes you pay more attention to detail, Bass claimed, particularly when something doesn’t work. Consumer app users want “instant gratification,” he said, and “we’re trying to push that into our professional products.”The company is already translating what it’s learned in apps to full-scale software. One example is so-called Marking Menus: Rather than put the menus at the top of the screen, the idea is to overlay the menus on top of the place where you are working. “It makes even more sense when it’s your finger,” Bass said, “but why not the mouse?” Will The Enterprise Go Social?The final frontier for enterprise software is probably social. These days, we get constant access to social information in our personal lives, but that turns opaque in our professional lives, Bass said.But he believes that professionals “want to and are willing to share – even though that’s a little taboo in the enterprise world.” So Autodesk is bringing social aspects into its professional tools. Upcoming products, including Autodesk 360, now in beta, will translate the “social graph” to the “design graph,” letting users Like and share on an ad hoc basis, he said.Put all this together and it begs the question: Is there any real difference between consumer apps and enterprise software? Looks like we’re about to find out.Top image by Fredric Paul fredric paul According to Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, creating free smartphone apps is much more difficult than building expensive professional and enterprise software.“People are more demanding for a low-cost consumer thing than they are for [expensive] profressional products,” Bass told me in a sit-down at the company’s slick gallery space in downtown San Francisco. “The cheapest things have to be the easiest to use,” he explained. They don’t get a user manual or training classes to show people how to use them.From AutoCad To AppsThat’s a big deal to Autodesk, which made its name with high-end design and engineering software like AutoCad and Revit, but has made an aggressive move into smartphone and tablet apps in the last few years.And it’s especially releveant because on Tuesday morning the company introduced Autodesk ReCap, the “industrial strength” version of the free consumer product called 123D Catch, introduced in 2012. The products are designed to create “intelligent 3D data” from captured photos and laser scans.center_img 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Related Posts Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… Getting Ready For Touch ScreensAutodesk also needed to learn how to take full advantage of multi-touch interfaces, Bass said. “Clearly, the next generation of desktops will have multitouch,” he said, and “we will change our products to take advantage of that… Direct interaction is a more natural way for people to work with their models.”The transition isn’t as simple as you might think. For one thing, there’s a more “emotional connection” with touch screens, Bass believes. “You interact with it in a slightly more intimate way. You actually touch it – that’s different than a keyboard and mouse.”And there are also practical considerations. On Windows, for example, many things are called up by hovering the mouse over an area of the screen. That generally doesn’t work with touch.Finally, despite the fact that consumer apps aren’t a big money maker right now, “if you have an attentive, engaged audience of loyal consumers, you can find a way to make money on it”, Bass predicted. “Look at Twitter.”last_img read more

Google Glass Users Can Now Upload Directly To YouTube With Fullscreen BEAM

first_imgWhat it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … readwrite Related Posts Fullscreen, a media company founded in 2011 and built entirely on YouTube, announced Friday afternoon the first Google Glass YouTube app, letting users seamlessly upload video directly to the service. The app is called BEAM and it also gives users the option to share the URL via Twitter with the automatic #throughglass hashtag. Prior to Fullscreen’s app, Glass users were restricted to sharing video through their Google+ accounts. Check out Fullscreen’s video below: Tags:#Google Glass#now#social media#twitter#YouTube Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement And here is the company’s step-by-step breakdown of how to broaden Glass’ video-sharing reach: Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img

Twitter’s IPO Filing Makes Its Debut

first_imgA Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit readwrite Twitter’s long-anticipated initial public offering went public on the SEC’s Edgar site. The company hopes to raise $1 billion through stock sales and plans to trade under the symbol “TWTR.” Tags:#IPO#social media#twitter Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationcenter_img The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Related Posts Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…last_img

Apple (Again) Promises To Fix iOS iMessage Bug

first_imgThe failure of Apple’s iMessage service is a major black eye for the behemoth maker of iPhones. Apple’s messaging service has been experiencing bugs where messages fail to send (or take a long time to send) since the release of iOS 7 last year. Recently, many users that have switched from Apple’s iPhone to Android smartphones have reported that their texts are still stuck in Apple’s cloud and not being delivered to the intended recipient. And the problem isn’t new. iMessage has been trapping user text messages since iOS 5 was released in 2011.The problem occurs after a user switches to another smartphone operating system but their phone number is still attached to an iMessage account on Apple’s cloud. Even though the user has a new smartphone, iMessage continues to recognize the users phone number as being tied to iMessage and then fails to deliver texts. Apple suggests that users disconnect their phone numbers from iMessage before buying a new smartphone. The iMessage bug does not affect texts between iPhone users.See also: Apple’s Revenge: iMessage Might Eat Your Texts If You Switch To AndroidApple is facing a class-action suit in California over the various iMessage failures. Apple has repeatedly attempted to fix the various problems plaguing iMessage, but new issues keep on cropping up. In October, 2013, Apple issued an update to iOS 7 that was intended to fix the problem that it said affected “a fraction of a percent” of iMessage users. According to Ina Fried from Recode, Apple’s iMessage problems were made worse by a server bug that Apple attempted to fix. Apple promises a fix in the future, but does not specify when the fix will be available for users.“We recently fixed a server-side iMessage bug which was causing an issue for some users, and we have an additional bug fix in a future software update,” Apple told Recode.  dan rowinski Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Related Posts What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech …center_img Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Tags:#Android#Apple#Google#iCloud#iMessage#instant messaging#SMS#texting The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technologylast_img read more

Yamaha races to connect the things to the IoT

first_imgTags:#Connected Devices#IoT#robotics#Yamaha Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Japanese conglomerate Yamaha has launched its own Advanced Robotics Automation platform, a system that connects Internet of Things (IoT) and other devices together.The platform looks to lower the cost of automated production lines and provide more compatibility between IoT products, according to Yamaha.See Also: IIoT could boost GDP by $15 trillion, though data barriers remainThe integrated controller is compatible with 91 models and 202 individual variants, including SCARA robots and controllers, making it highly valuable in a market of fragmentation and incompatibility.Adding an integrated controller removes the need for a controller in each robot or device, which heavily reduces the amount of time a company will spend setting up an IoT system. It also reduces the amount of space required, according to Yamaha.New ground for YamahaIoT is still a fragmented world, where one device may not work with another, and all of them may not work with an application or platform. Yamaha is trying to fix this by adding a controller that is supported by hundreds of devices, but that still won’t be enough for major industrial developments that use thousands of devices.That said, the company is exploring new ground and with a strong list of compatible devices, it may be able to win over some businesses that are looking to start their IoT operations in the next few years.Yamaha is not one of the most well known IoT brands, but it has been pushing into the market steadily over the past few months, egged on by its strong robotics and electronics division performance. Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…center_img David Curry Small Business Cybersecurity Threats and How to… Follow the Pucklast_img read more

Credit Cards: Friend or Foe?

first_imgBy Emilie Papageorgiou, AFCPE-FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship InternCredit cards can wreak havoc on financial security when used irresponsibly, but when used properly, also can have many benefits! It is important for all consumers, including military families, to consider the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards before taking the plunge. Credit cards can help build a credit history, protect some purchases, and provide a backup plan when emergencies arrive. However, if cardholders are not careful, credit cards can also blow the family budget, causing unwanted debt and causing purchases to cost more due to high interest rates.The best way to reap the benefits of credit cards is to pay off the balance each month and avoid costly fees and interest. When cardholders are unable to pay off the balance in full, they should pay as much as their budget allows over the minimum payment. This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on September 6, 2013.last_img read more

Act Your Financial Age

first_imgBaby Boomers (Born 1946-1964, Age 55-73 in 2019)Determine when to claim Social Security and develop a strategy to provide income from investmentsLearn about Social Security, Medicare, and pension benefits as you approach the age of eligibilityInvestigate later life housing and living costsLearn about required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement savings plansTry to pay off all debt before retirementTake advantage of available “senior discounts” Young woman By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, boneill@njaes.rutgers.eduPFMP staff serve service members and their families at all ages and stages of life from young enlisted personnel getting a credit card in their 20s to those receiving retirement pay decades later. Thus, it is essential to understand how different generations handle money. Below are some examples of generational differences:Millennials spend the most of any generation on eating out and Generation X spends the most on housingMillennials are more likely than other generations to not carry around any cashCredit card use and credit scores increase with age as do health insurance premiumsYounger tax filers are more likely to use software and older tax filers more likely to hire a tax professionalEach decade of one’s financial life has suggested recommendations. Below are action steps for the four generations that are currently in the workforce or retired. Positive action steps taken as a young adult should continue throughout one’s adult life. A military homecoming. Portrait of an African American woman wearing navy camouflage uniform standing outdoors with her family. Her husband is holding their 5 year old son who is in the middle between his parents. Return to article. Long DescriptionGet strategic about philanthropy and/or gifting to family membersTalk to children/heirs about finances and estate planningStreamline and consolidate financial accounts and downsize and/or donate excess “stuff”Take RMD withdrawals from tax-deferred retirement savings plans (e.g., 401(k)s and Traditional IRAs)Make sure family members and/or advisors know where to find personal and financial documentsAdjust lifestyle to declining real income, if neededFor additional information about financial tasks for different generations, review the Military Families Learning Network webinar Financial Planning Transitions for Different Generations. Return to article. Long DescriptionGeneration X (Born 1965-1981, Age 38-54 in 2019)Continue to invest for the long term in stocks or stock mutual fundsDiversify investments and periodically rebalance portfolioEnhance employment skills (build human capital)Try to “max out” retirement savings plan contributions; take advantage of catch-up contributions at age 50+Talk to aging parents about their financesPrepare a will and living will if one wasn’t already created Mature/Silent/Traditionalist Generation (Born 1927-1945; age 74-92 in 2019) Return to article. Long DescriptionPhotospin/Ruslan KudrinMillennials or Generation Y (Born 1982-2000; Age 19-37 in 2019)Train for a career and become financially independent from parentsLearn to budget and “pay yourself first”Develop a repayment strategy for student loansBuild an adequate emergency fund (i.e., 3 to 6 months expenses)Build a positive credit historyDevelop investing expertise and start investing for retirementBuy life insurance to protect dependents and/or student loan co-signersBalance YOLO (You Only Live Once) and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) mindsets with financial security Return to article. Long Description read more

Why Every Project Needs a Production Designer

first_imgProduction designers are essential for successful film and video projects. Find out how you can improve your workflow with these talented filmmakers.Cover image via the Netherlands Film Academy.I love visual arts — I wish I could draw and paint better, and I wish I were a Photoshop expert. In short, I admire production designers. They do all of these things, and they do them well.Concept painting from Rise of the Planet of the Apes.What cinematographers have in common with production designers is an acute sense of light and space and how to capture it through a lens. Their combined efforts advance the story visually. Words become light, color, texture and setting. And if production designers can’t build what they need, they’ll find a good location that is both camera- and production-friendly.The production designer works for weeks on a project before the cinematographer even begins to prep. While cinematographers buy in on the initial design of the film, they begin their real work when plans, sketches, and concept art have already laid out the look of the film. In most cases, the production designer can’t wait for the arrival the director of photography to get started.Image via The Pacific (HBO).Since DPs illuminate and frame the drama, a production designer needs to know which lenses a cameraman plans to use, the lighting design, expected camera movements, and the tone the DP wants to create photographically. This is when cinematographers and production designers really forge their working bond. Their work blends three-dimensional reality with the two-dimensional photography. This is a quiet but exciting relationship that relies on imagination, creation, and promotion — until the realities of the production rein them in.Production Designer William Sandell had to build the ship’s ballroom right-side up and upside down on Poseidon.Virtually every physical detail of a production gets reviewed in prep:Add a window here. Make this wall ‘wild.’ Go with wallpaper instead of paint. Don’t use chrome. Not so many mirrors please. I’ll need a ceiling piece for the bedroom set. Can a dolly fit through that door? Make these light switches practical. We’ll use backings instead of a green screen for the big window in the living room …Directors are a part of this process, too. They might have particular colors they like or locations they prefer, but if the DP and the PD present a unified case for something, directors will usually go along.It’s important to resolve as many issues as possible during prep because once the shooting starts, the whole mindset of the team changes. It’s not unusual for set construction to be taking place during principal photography. When time permits, I’ll always walk over and check on the progress of the new set and start thinking about camera and lighting.Image via the Netherlands Film Academy.Throughout photography, the DP and the production designer continue to talk about the daily work and what’s ahead. The PD will watch dailies to get a sense of how the DP is shooting the picture — including what you can what you can’t see. This may help the PD shift efforts between background and foreground props and set decorations. He or she might not worry about the deep background as much since it’s being kept dark in the lighting scheme. The PD might also urge the DP to shoot slightly wider establishing shots to highlight the sets a bit more. It’s a fair request, too – the art and construction departments work very hard to build great sets on a tight budget with limited time.From early on, the production designer and the DP work very closely to plan everything the audience will see in the film. All that’s missing are the actors, and they’ll weigh in on their new world soon enough.For more information on production design, check out this article by Jonathan Paul.Do you have tips for production designers? Let us know in the comments.last_img read more

Video Tutorial: What Does “Dirtying the Frame” Mean?

first_imgWith this technique, you can add even more dynamic movement to your moving shots and more depth to your simple shots. So how does it work? All right, if we can all be mature about this, it’ll be a lot easier to explain this technique. I mean, easier said than done; I want to share with you one of my favorite filmmaking tricks, and it’s called “dirtying the frame.”Go ahead. Take a minute.Okay, dirtying the frame is my go-to method to give moving shots more movement and simple shots more depth. Here’s how it works.Find the angle and subject you want to capture. If the frame doesn’t seem interesting enough, you can use objects, props, and even characters in the foreground to give it depth. If the foreground object doesn’t serve a purpose outside of stylistic enhancement, be sure to blur it out more with a wider aperture or a longer focal length. This will ensure that dirtying your frame doesn’t distract your audience.Dirtying the Frame can also be used to capture the POV of a character, either by filming over their shoulder to gain perspective or filming to imply someone who’s watching from beyond the frame. This is a great way to enhance the creep factor of any shot.Take a look at the full video for more tips on how you can use this technique to add some drama to your cinematography. And if you’re looking for more video tutorials? Check these out.Video Tutorial: Creative Video and Photo Ideas using Fireworks3 Visual Effects You Can Create with a Whip Pan TransitionVideo Tutorial: Top 10 After Effects Mistakes To AvoidMake Your Titles And Graphics Pop with This Advanced Glow EffectCreate a Responsive Infographic in After Effectlast_img read more

On Breaking and Establishing New Patterns

first_imgHere’s a pattern:You compete for your prospect’s business. You make it to the presentation stage. They say they like you a lot, but you cost more than your competitors. You lose the business.Here’s another pattern:You call your dream client to check in each quarter. They tell you nothing’s changed. You ask them if it’s okay to call them and check in again in another quarter. They happily agree.Here’s one more pattern:Your boss is a jerk. He doesn’t understand that it’s not your fault that you aren’t producing results. He tries to get you to change what you’re doing. You quit and get a new boss. The new boss is a jerk.The One Thing You Can ChangeThe common denominator in each of these patterns is you. If you continue to do the same thing over and over again, you will produce the same result over and over again. The only thing that you have any real ability to change is you. And how lucky we are that this is true.You can break unhealthy patterns at any time you choose. You can stop doing what you are doing when it isn’t working and do something different instead.Establishing Virtuous PatternsHere’s a different pattern:You win your dream client. You solve their problems and they’re happy with you. Instead of becoming complacent, you bring your dream client a new, unsolicited, value creating idea. Your dream client is even happier. You repeat this every quarter.Here’s one more pattern:You call your dream client and they refuse to give you their time. You nurture them by providing them an actionable, valuable idea or insight. They still refuse to give you the time of day. Nurture. Nurture. Nurture. Nurture. Your dream client is dissatisfied. They agree to meet with you.We fall into patterns. Some of them are vicious. Others are virtuous. To break unhealthy patterns and establish new ones, you have to change what you’re doing.QuestionsWhat are some of the patterns that you have fallen into that don’t serve you?Are there any patterns that you’ve adopted that served you at one time but that no longer serve you now?What are the healthy patterns of activity that are producing results for you now?How could you do even more of what is already working?Who has a pattern that you can follow to produce the same result they’re producing? What’s that pattern?last_img read more

Burning Brightly Still

first_img 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 The human spirit desires liberty. Everyone, everywhere in the world, should have what the human spirit desires most of all.The desire for liberty, freedom, burns like an ember in the souls of people in every nation on earth. It always has. It always will.What has made the United States exceptional for the last 237 years has been the fact that it has been an inspiration for those around the world who know in their hearts that liberty is their birthright.Let us always remember to be that example for those whose embers burn. And let us  remember that, no matter how faint those embers burn, the human spirit will always refuse to be snuffed out or extinguished.Let the embers burn brighter here–and everywhere on earth.Happy Independence Day!last_img read more