Archive for the ‘Scuba diving flashlight’ Category

CU-Boulder planetarium upgrading to giant-screen theater

Pátek, Srpen 3rd, 2012

If you’re a planetarium junkie in the Boulder area, your experience is about to get a major upgrade.

The astrophysical and planetary sciences department, home to Fiske Planetarium, announced today the launch of a complete upgrade to the projection and other presentation systems that power the planetarium’s big-screen experience. The remodel will turn the dome of the planetarium into an all-encompassing video theater.

“This upgrade will transform Fiske into one of the most sophisticated planetariums and multimedia centers in the country,” said Douglas Duncan, director of Fiske Planetarium. “We will be able to show the universe, and our local neighborhood, in unrivaled detail — 360 degrees, surround video and sound.”

Since 1975, Fiske Planetarium has provided students and community members an interactive tour of the night sky. The facility’s star projector, known affectionately as “Fritz,” has taught a generation how to find the North Star, constellations and the motions the planets trace in the heavens.

While Fritz heads into a well-deserved retirement, the education experience will move into the digital age. Currently, the star projector can show 6,000 stars and other extra-planetary objects. The new system will have a modern star ball that shows 20 million stars and objects, and now they will even twinkle — just like the skyscape one might observe on a clear, dark night.

The equipment overhaul also will allow Fiske to feature travel, education, art videos and other programs designed especially for this type of high-end projection system.

“We’ll be projecting video equal to covering the entire dome with close to 40 high-definition TVs,” Duncan said. “The amount of detail will be spectacular, rivaling the best theaters in the country. We expect it to become a major Boulder weekend destination.”

Other upgrades include new LED lighting and a new laser system, which should make the Friday and Saturday night laser shows even more eye grabbing.

The improvements also will yield new opportunities for faculty, staff and students on the Boulder campus. The planetarium expects to expand its student intern staff, already responsible for productions like last year’s successful “Max Goes to the Moon” children’s planetarium show. The dome will be available to researchers for video conferencing, and HD and Ultra HD modeling of their work.

Within the last decade, several of the nation’s major planetariums have undergone similar remodeling projects. The Fiske project will take advantage of lower digital technology prices and innovations in the field to perform similar improvements at one-fifth the cost, according to Duncan.

DeLand to join other Volusia, Flagler cities with red-light cameras

Pátek, Červen 8th, 2012

Later this summer, a new set of eyes will be looking for motorists who speed through red lights in this city, the fourth in Volusia and Flagler counties to approve red-light cameras at major intersections.

DeLand joins the ranks of Daytona Beach, Holly Hill and Palm Coast in adopting the controversial program, which supporters claim helps prevent accidents and critics slam as another way to fill city coffers.

Commissioner Leigh Matusick, a staunch supporter of the cameras that were approved 4-1 by the City Commission this week, said the program is not being instituted as a revenue stream for the city.

“This is about traffic safety on the roadway,” Matusick said, adding the idea is to reduce the number of accidents caused by red light runners.

Officials in Daytona Beach and Holly Hill say the program has helped to cut accident rates but failed to provide the financial shot-in-the-arm they were led to believe it would.

Daytona Beach was counting on the cameras to bring in $7.5 million in revenue by the end of September. Officials have since lowered that estimate to $1.5 million, all of which will be owed to the state and the camera vendor.

Holly Hill officials cite lenient judges tossing out tickets written for motorists making right turns on red.

Palm Coast’s program, meanwhile, was the subject of a 2009 class-action lawsuit. An appeals court recently ruled in the city’s favor. The firm that provided the red-light cameras opted to settle.

DeLand commissioners approved a three-year contact with Delaware-based Gatso USA Inc., which also provides a red-light camera, photo-enforcement program to Holly Hill and Daytona Beach. The agreement took effect Monday.

In 2011, the city approved a contract with another vendor to provide the same service but the program was never implemented. The contact was terminated earlier this year by both parties.

Under the terms of DeLand’s contract with Gatso, the firm will be responsible for installing and monitoring the cameras, among other things. The company has identified three intersections where it plans to install cameras — International Speedway Boulevard and Woodland Boulevard, International Speedway Boulevard and Amelia Avenue, and Woodland Boulevard and Taylor Road. Other locations are expected to be added later.

Red-light camera citations cost motorists $158, set by the state. The cost increases to $264 if the fine is not paid within 60 days. The money is divided between the city, the state and the vendor.

Commissioner Phil Martin cast the sole dissenting vote. “I am not against them in principal. They do reduce car accidents,” Martin said, adding he was upset because of the state interjecting itself into something that he felt should have been decided by home rule.

“Philosophically, I’m against it because it was sold as an opportunity to improve safety in communities and then the state debated whether they are legal,” he said, noting in the end, lawmakers approved red-light cameras while at the same time deciding that the state was entitled to a share of the fines.

A head in the clouds

Pátek, Květen 25th, 2012

The master bathroom at 10 Via Aragon in The Dominion luxury-home subdivision has a bathtub, shower, toilet and the requisite lighting to shave your whiskers — but not likely of the ilk to which most mere mortals are accustomed.

The home of neurologist Braden Neiman, his wife, Traci Neiman, and their children is a Zen-like idyll throughout, but nowhere is the concentration of fine woods, luxurious stone, tile and other exotic finishes more pronounced that in that salle de bain.

A $10,000 crystal chandelier, suspended from a marble-tiled ceiling and cloaked by a circular wall of sparkling miniature tile melds its lighting with natural sunlight from high-set, castle-like windows. Calcutta gold marble covers the floor, bath and countertops. A clear-cherrywood dressing room (a closet on steroids) off the bathroom has scads of shelves underlit to make the otherwise mundane activity of shoe selection spectacular.

A mini-fridge is at hand — indubitably for champagne-and-caviar dreams.

For the price tag of $3.5 million, the home should be a looker, and it will indeed get lots of looks this weekend as the 2012 Greater San Antonio Builder Association’s Parade of Homes includes it on the latest incarnation of aspirational homes. More than 40,000 people are anticipated to attend.

The home in the Aragon at The Dominion in the southernmost area, orchestrated by builder Kyle Lindsey, features “some of the most expensive materials that we’ve seen in a long while – a lot of it applied in unusual ways,” said Lindsey.

A $17,000 coffered ceiling, 20 feet high, in the family room (one of several gathering areas) caps cool grey walls concealing eight stereophonic speakers for the sound system, supporting an indoor-outdoor theater created by retracting Nano doors that lead to a travertine patio, pool and swim channel.

Lindsey, conducting a preview while workers bustled all around, pointed out an where a small patch of carpet had yet to be installed in the study, said, “I don’t know what the carpet looks like, but I know it’s expensive.”

A home electronics system makes the environment controllable from near (via an iPad in the wall) or far (from the owners’ iPhone).

With such surroundings, one might expect its occupants to be, well, on the uppity side. Not so, judging by the down-to-earth aura emanating from the woman of the house, who says she will be doing the hands-on house chores herself.

“Scrubbing the soap scum!” Traci Neiman said brightly. “If you’re like me, you’ll be doing it.” Hands on has been her motto on the entire home-building process, she said, noting that she has scoured both bricks-and-mortar stores as well as the electronic marketplace for materials and furnishings.

“It has been a very fun process. We’re really excited. We’ve had two homes and never sat in one of our dining rooms,” she said, explaining their decision to turn a formal dining space into a wine lounge.

Not to worry about the family’s nutritional requirements, there are two other dedicated dining areas.

She fought against the Tuscan trend that is so entrenched that the word trend is now passe. No oil-rubbed bronze finishes here, she said, opting instead for polished chrome.


Pátek, Květen 18th, 2012

The TV’s four HDMI ports are more than enough for average home use — we don’t expect many living rooms to have more than a Blu-ray player in them these days, especially since most TVs (including the Sony HX850) can record TV shows, making a PVR redundant. The HDMI ports are distributed across the side and bottom panels of the HX850’s rear.

An optional break-out connector lets the Sony HX850 receive analog composite and component video. There’s also a built-in analog composite video port on the TV’s rear facing outwards, along with two of the three total analog audio inputs.

There’s an Ethernet port on the bottom panel and two side-mounted USB 2.0 ports for Internet and external media connectivity respectively. NTFS file systems aren’t supported over USB, so you’ll need to make sure flash drives or hard drives are formatted using FAT. We had no problems playing MKV, AVI, MP4, MP3, WAV, JPG and BMP files on the Sony HX850 through either USB port off an external hard drive.

Wi-Fi is built into the Sony HX850, with 802.11b/g/n supported. The HX850 has Wi-Fi Direct, so content can be directly streamed to the TV from any compatible laptop, smartphone or other mobile device.

Like older Sony BRAVIA TVs, the HX850 supports an optional USB Skype camera which, in conjunction with a Skype app, turns the TV into a big-screen Web video phone.

The Sony BRAVIA KDL-46HX850 is the 46in version of the HX850 Series LED TV. There’s also a 55in KDL-55HX850, which comes with a $700 higher pricetag of $3999.

The 46in screen of our test Sony BRAVIA HX850 is, as you’d expect, a Full HD 1080p one with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The HX850 is equipped with Sony’s X-Reality Pro picture engine for a range of real-time picture quality enhancements like edge sharpening and dynamic contrast.

The backlight of the BRAVIA HX850 is made up of white LEDs arranged around the bezel of the TV. Being an ‘edge-lit’ LED TV the HX850 is reasonably thin compared to most plasma and LED back-lit TVs.

Sony rates the HX850 as a ‘MotionFlow XR 800’ TV. This means it’s a 200Hz panel with backlight scanning, which strobes the LED backlight in between video frames to help smooth out motion. This is the approach taken by most LED TV manufacturers. While the 200Hz mode’s overly-smooth effect may be too smooth for some viewers, having the option is a good thing for those that want it.

After adjusting the BRAVIA HX850’s various video settings — generally lowering colour gain and bias for individual colour channels, raising the colour temperature, moderating brightness and sharpness — we found that the TV’s picture quality went from good to excellent. We would strongly recommend getting this TV professionally calibrated if you purchase it — some minor adjustments can make its picture quality significantly more impressive than straight out of the box.

Colour performance is very good for an LED TV, with plenty of detail and fine gradation, and little to no crushing of detail in heavily saturated areas. Black levels are quite good — not as deep as a good plasma, though — and we didn’t notice any significant clouding or backlight bloom in dark scenes.

Startup Says Toshiba Will Help Propel New Lighting Approach

Pátek, Květen 11th, 2012

Many companies are trying to transform lighting using technology from the world of semiconductors. Bridgelux, a startup with an unusual approach to that quest, on Thursday is disclosing it is getting help from a big player in chips–Toshiba.

The big Japanese company has not only taken an equity stake in Bridgelux but has also allocated manufacturing capacity to make the startup’s products.

Bridgelux, of Livermore, Calif., is among many that see devices called light emitting diodes, or LEDs, as a much more energy-efficient way to illuminate homes and commercial buildings. The difference comes from choices in key materials used in making LEDs.

Most companies fabricate LED chips by laying down a material called gallium nitride on wafers of sapphire or silicon carbide. Another startup, called Soraa, announced a departure from conventional strategy by also using gallium nitride as the foundation, or substrate, for its LEDs.

Bridgelux, by contrast, has opted to fabricate LEDs on the same sort of inexpensive silicon wafers used to make conventional chips. Though some experts have questioned the feasibility of the approach, Bridgelux has argued that the cost improvements possible are worth the risk.

The evidence that the bet will pay off will become apparent as a result of the Toshiba alliance, predicts Bill Watkins, Bridgelux’s chief executive.
Toshiba, of course, is the second-largest maker of flash memory chips and has a long history of high-volume manufacturing. Its facilities and expertise should help the quest to drive down LED costs, Bridgelux believes.

There are no official details about product pricing yet. But Steve Lester, Bridgelux’s chief technology officer, estimates that an LED bulb that now costs $30 at retail can be driven down to the range of $5–the kind of price level that is likely to make LEDs seem affordable to many more people who now buy incandescent of fluorescent bulbs.

Watkins won’t provide any numbers about Toshiba’s bet on the effort, but he is not shy about suggesting it is substantial.

“This is the biggest R&D investment in LEDs ever,” he said. “This is going to change the game.”

Ethiopian Airlines Takes Delivery of the Second 737-800 Sky Interior Aircraft

Sobota, Duben 28th, 2012

Ethiopian Airlines, the fastest growing African airline, is pleased to announce that is has received the second next-generation Boeing 737-800 Sky Interior Aircraft. The airline placed a firm order for 10 of its kind back in December 2009.

“As a customer focused airline, we are largely investing on modernization of our fleet. The new 737-800 Sky Interior aircraft is built with the 21st century technology to provide our customers with comfort and style to make air travel an unforgettable experience” said Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines.

The new Sky Interior 737-800NG offers several unique features including larger overhead bins. The innovative design allows the bins to hold 48 more bags than the standard overhead bins. Sculpted sidewalls provide customers with a feeling of spaciousness while the updated window makes the windows appear larger.

In addition, it has Brighter and longer-lasting LED lighting systems are installed in the aircraft which can be programmed to create desired effects during flight times, such as soft blue sky overhead. The cove lighting provides a welcoming feel for customers as they board the aircraft. Intuitive placement of switches and call buttons and speakers above every row of seats to improve sound quality are additional features that enhance the customer experience.

The new 737-800 Sky Interior will initially be deployed on Ethiopian flights to the East African tourist destinations such as Mombasa, Nairobi, Dar-Es-Salam as well as Seychelles during the day time and to Dubai, Kuwait, Delhi and Bombay at night.

Ethiopian Airlines is the first carrier in Africa to purchase state-of-the art Boeing 777-200LR with five of its kind in the fleet. The Airline will also receive Africa’s first 787 Dreamliner in summer 2012. Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the most technologically advanced airplane with less fuel consumption and carbon emissions compared to other similar sized airplanes.

Ethiopian Airlines, one of the largest and fastest growing airlines in Africa, made its maiden international flight to Cairo in 1946. With the latest addition of new services to Seychelles, Ethiopian provides dependable services to 66 international destinations spanning four continents.

Ethiopian is proud to be a Star Alliance Member. The Star Alliance network is the leading global airline network offering customers convenient worldwide reach and a smoother travel experience. The Star Alliance network offers more than 20,500 daily flights to 1,293 airports in 190 countries.

Ethiopian is a multi-award winner for its commitment and contributions towards the development and growth of the African aviation industry and in recognition of its distinguished long-haul operations enhanced by the introduction of new routes and products.

Take advantage of your smart meter to save on your electric bill

Neděle, Duben 1st, 2012

Cool weather has been giving us a nice break on our electric bills, but we all know what’s coming soon.

So now may be the time to try out a free online tool tied to your home’s smart meter that tracks your electricity usage by 15-minute intervals, provides charts of usage over two years and allows you to analyze how many kilowatts that old air conditioner and that new big-screen TV are sucking.

Accessing the tool is easy and can lead to savings on your monthly bill.

Arlington homeowner Nick Schroeder embraced smart meter technology and checked in daily as he made energy changes to his house and his usage habits.

“A lot of my changes were little things to save on energy that added up to a lot,” said Schroeder, facilities engineer at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Oncor has installed smart meters in most of North Texas over the past two years. If you don’t have one yet and are in Oncor’s territory, you will get one soon. The electric transmission company has installed close to 3 million smart meters, covering most of its customer base, said Chris Schein, Oncor’s spokesman. Remaining customers will have the new meters by year’s end, he said.

Signing up takes just a few minutes. With a recent electric bill in hand, you can look at data from 48 hours earlier to up to two years prior, depending on when your smart meter was installed. The charts showed that my house averaged around 40-50 kilowatts a day in March, well below more than 100 kilowatts a day I burned through last August.

Schroeder, who came in second in Oncor’s Biggest Energy Saver contest last year, said he began checking his usage and making changes to his house (built in 2005) before he entered the contest. He spent around $2,500 on energy upgrades, he said.

Among the big changes was adding 6 inches of attic insulation ($600) and a full radiant barrier in the attic ($800); buying an Energy Star front-load washer ($350), solar screens on his east and west windows ($300) and a programmable thermostat with Web interface and iPhone application ($100). He installed a more efficient blower motor on his builder-grade heating/air-conditioning system for around $150.

All of his other changes were relatively low-cost, including compact fluorescent light bulbs and timers and caulk and weather stripping around windows and doors.

Schroeder also said he changed some of his usage habits and used ceiling fans more, ran fuller loads in the dishwasher and laundry, set his computer to automatically shut down and barbecued more outside instead of using the oven or microwave.

“Once people go to take a look at their usage on the website, it’s got a pretty high retention level,” Schein said. “They may not go back daily or weekly, but they do return on a semi-regular basis.”

Oncor is planning an educational/marketing push later this spring to encourage people to tap into their smart meter accounts. The utility will also hold another Biggest Energy Saver Contest (last year’s prizes included a Chevy Volt and Energy Star appliances).

Stem Innovations iZon Remote Room Monitor Review

Sobota, Březen 31st, 2012

Stem Innovations iZon Remote Room MonitorClick to EnlargeLike an overly fat tube of lipstick, the iZon Remote Room monitor is basically a large cylinder. At 3.4 inches high and 1.25 inches in diameter, it’s small and unobtrusive. Toward the top is the lens, and below it is a small microphone and an LED. We like its clean white finish, but a black version should also be offered, for those who want to conceal it better. The back of the iZon has a miniUSB port, which is used to power the device (it comes with a nice long cord and a wall plug).

The bottom of the iZon is curved and magnetized, so it can rotate easily in the included base. This is a nice feature, as the camera lens itself can’t rotate. The iZon also comes with screws and anchors, so you can mount it to a wall or ceiling.

Getting the iZon up and running was pretty straightforward, taking a solid 10 minutes. First, we downloaded the free Stem:Connect App to our iPhone 4S, and created a free Stem account. Then, we plugged in the iZon, which automatically starts beaming out a Wi-Fi signal. Then, using the Stem:Connect app, we connected to the iZon via Wi-Fi, and configured it to connect to our home wireless network.

From that point, whenever we opened the app on our iPhone, we could see video from the iZon camera. Here, we could also configure the camera to send us alerts whenever it detected motion or sound, and to automatically upload video from those events to our private YouTube account. We liked that we could adjust the sensitivity of the settings, which will be useful for anyone who has a cat.

When you open the app, each iZon camera you registered (you can theoretically have up to 200 on a network) shows up as a thumbnail displaying the image currently seen by the camera. Beneath are three icons: A person (for motion detection), an ear (for sound detection) and a sun (for the LED light on the camera); if any of the icons is blue, it means that that particular feature is activated.

Sure enough, when we turned alerts on, then walked in front of the camera, a message popped up on our iPhone within seconds. In the app, we opened the Alerts section, where it listed each incident with the date and time and a small thumbnail, and, in theory, lets you view the YouTube clip. Cleverly, recordings begin about 5 seconds prior to the alert, so you can see the person as he’s walking into the frame.

The iZon records VGA video at 30 frames per second, which is fine in theory, but less so in practice. Its low-light performance leaves something to be desired, too. Even in a moderately lit room, our face registered as a blur as we walked about 10 feet in front of the camera. While colors were fairly accurate, it felt like we were watching previously unseen footage of Bigfoot.

You can also view live video from the camera on your phone or iPad. When you’re on the same network as the camera, you can view live video for as long as you like, but if you’re viewing remotely, you’re limited to 5-minute increments. It’s an odd limitation, but we didn’t find it particularly annoying.

Brundidge plans upgrades

Pátek, Březen 23rd, 2012

Brundidge officials took the first step towards a $1.3 million improvement project for its water meter and control system.

The project will include new automated meter reading systems, control valve improvements and installation of new water meters, as well as infrastructure work to equalize water pressure throughout the city. Officials said the project would not increase water rates for residents.

“Do I advocate moving ahead with this project? Absolutely,” said City Manager Britt Thomas. “This is a tremendous opportunity and a good investment. Water is our most precious resource and we should protect it.”

The improvements will be funded primarily through loans. The city will first hire Polyengineering of Dothan to proceed with the engineering necessary to meet the May 1 deadline for the city’s application for a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan. The cost of the construction engineering will be $62,000.

The city then will apply for a $975,000 low interest loan from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The loan will be used to install an automated meter reading system at a cost of $646,884 and make control valve improvements to the city’s water system at a cost of $125,000.

Thomas also advocated the installation of an automated meter reading system for the city’s electric system.

Thomas estimated that the additional cost to the city would be around $300,000, bringing the total for both projects to $1.3 million.

The benefits to the city, other than the automated meter reading system for the water department, would be evident in the tying in of the city’s water tanks, equalized water pressure throughout the city and improved capacity to fight fires, Thomas said.

“The interest rate for the $1.3 million loan would be, today, 2.6 percent but would be subject to the market on the day the bond is closed,” Thomas said.

In other business, the council accepted an ARRA 52 Lighting Grant Bid of $65,391 for the installation of 125 LED lights to continue the placement of the lights to Southern Classic Foods on North Main Street, to the last light pole on South Main Street and on Galloway Road and S.A Graham Boulevard.

The funds for the LED lighting project were made available from the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We were fortunate to get the stimulus money to initiate the LED lighting project,” Thomas said. “Not all of the stimulus money was used so funds were made available again. We received additional funding and are using that money to complete the lighting in areas that were not included in the initial project.

Lemoyne streets get new look in proposal

Pátek, Březen 16th, 2012

Lemoyne residents on March 5 turned out for a public meeting to review the proposed design for the second phase of the borough’s streetscape improvement project.

Presented by Christy Staudt, project manager for Traffic Planning and Design Inc., which is the consulting engineer for the project, improvements are proposed primarily on Market Street from Eighth to State streets, and on Seventh Street from Market to Willow streets.

Proposed improvements on Market Street include bicycle lanes, new concrete and brick trimmed sidewalks and upgraded bus stops.

The proposed design also calls for lighting, new plantings that would provide color in the winter and a school zone near Lemoyne Middle School.

The proposed elements on Seventh Street include one-way traffic going north from Willow Street to Market Street to increase pedestrian safety, walking zones and a flashing, pedestrian-triggered warning sign at the Seventh and State streets crosswalk.

Staudt said lessons learned from the first phase of the streetscape improvement project, which was completed in 2010, have been applied to the proposed phase two design.

Traffic-calming bump outs, an element of the phase one improvements, which some residents have said make navigating Market Street west of Third Street awkward, are proposed for Market Street in phase two.

But in phase two, the bump outs would be closer to the curb than those installed in phase one. The current proposal calls for fewer, to maximize parking.

The proposal also substitutes the brick crosswalks from phase one with pressed asphalt, which would resemble brick, but would be smoother to drive over.

Phase two of the streetscape project will be funded by a $1.5 million Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and a $100,000 Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority grant.

PennDOT and Lemoyne Borough Council have not yet approved the proposed design. Work could begin in the fall.