Cisco Explains the 7 Deadly Weaknesses of Social Network Users and More in Security Report

first_imgklint finley Social EngineeringCisco warns of the “seven deadly weaknesses” exploited by social engineers:Sex AppealGreedVanityTrustSlothCompassionUrgency IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Even the most savvy users can fall prey to social engineering. For example, Thomas Ryan of Provide Security created fake identity called “Robin Sage.” Ryan was able to get hundreds of government officials and security professionals to friend this imaginary person on social networking sites and, as a result, share personal information with Ryan.According to the report:Clickthrough rates for most malware or spam incidents consistently hover at around 3 percent, according to data from Cisco ScanSafe. While 3 percent may not seem high, imagine the impact of repeated waves of spam to which 3 percent of workers consistently respond to and click on. Even this small percentage is the equivalent of having a gaping hole in the network firewall that cannot be closed. Instead of trying to change human behavior, security researchers are exploring the possibility of changing the way we use software to reduce risks.Java: The New Number One Target Cisco released its 2010 Annual Security Report yesterday. The report covers criminals’ slow shift from targeting Windows PCs to targeting other operating systems and devices, the importance of exploiting users’ trust in their social network friends and the rise of Java exploits, and more.Social NetworksAccording to Cisco, criminals are targeting social network users more aggressively. In particular, criminals are spending more time and effort trying to steal users’ social networking credentials, since that makes it possible to exploit the trust of all that users’ friends.Although the exploitation of trust is crucial, Cisco predicts a decline in simple phishing and social networking scams. The company expects instead a rise exploits similar to the Zeus trojan, which steals banking credentials and propagates on social networks, mobile devices and more. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Related Posts 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Tags:#enterprise#networking Java and PDF are both frequently exploited, but according to Cisco Java exploits rose last year and PDF exploits fell. Java surpassed PDF as the most commonly exploited technology.Cybercrime in the Post-PC EraAccording to the report, Windows has been so prevalent and so easy to exploit that there was no need for criminals to try to exploit other systems. However, the proliferation of other devices and OSes along with improved security in Windows 7 has changed that.However, this move is happening slowly. A report from Forrester on security in the post-PC era notes that mobile device OSes are inherently more secure than desktop OSes due to sandboxing. This means that even jailbroken iPhones and rooted Android phones will be harder to compromise than older Windows PCs. However, social engineers can prey on anyone, regardless of the device they are using.The Cloud: Friend or Foe?The report cites the cloud as having both benefits and drawbacks for security. The drawback is that data can be intercepted while traveling between a server and the devices that access it. The advantage is that having data stored off-device makes it hard to extract sensitive information from lost or stolen devices.Money MulesThe report has an interesting section on “money mules.” Once a criminal has stolen a victim’s bank account information, they need a way to get the money into their own accounts without getting caught. Money mules are people who transfer money from a victim’s bank account to a criminal. One way to do this is to transfer money into the mule’s account, then have the mule wire it via Western Union to the criminals overseas. The recipient of the wire from Western Union might not have to provide bank account information to receive the money, making them more difficult to trace.Some mules are low-level criminals who participate for the money. Others are duped by work at home job ads. Students and people with large debts are often targets.However, there’s a shortage of mules. “Currently, the ratio of stolen account credentials to available mule capacity could be as high as 10,000 to 1,” says the report.Winners of the Cybercrime ShowcaseCisco highlights two winners in this year’s “Cybercrime Showcase” – a “good” winner and an “evil” winner.The Good winner is Thorsten Holz of the security firm LastLine. Holz identified the top 30 servers that the botnet Pushdo/Cutwail used for sending spam. Holz got ISPs to shutdown those servers and, as a result, the rate of spam decreased from 350 billion messages per day to 300 billion per day.The Evil winner is Stuxnet, which we’ve covered frequently.What, No Malvertising?Surprisingly, there is no discussion of malvertising in the report. You can read our post “What You Need to Know About Malvertising” for more about this threat. Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of…last_img read more

Cuba’s Internet Capacity To Increase 3,000x

first_imgTags:#international#news#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts According to a press release from the International Telecommunications Union, a new undersea data cable connected to Cuba this week will increase the amount of the country’s data and video transmission speed 3,000-fold when it becomes operation this summer. The ALBA-1 cable arrived in Siboney on February 9th, linking the eastern Cuban town to the cable’s start-point in the Venezuelan port city of La Guaira. The second part of the project will lead from Cuba to Ochos Rios in Jamaica. The Prestige of the Internet The Venezuela-Cuba joint project has been advertised as a triumph against the United States embargo of the island nation. Venezuela’s Gran Caribe and Cuba’s Transbit hired a Chinese subsidiary of the French company Alcatel-Lucent to lay the cable at a cost of $70 million. It took 19 days for the specialized cable-laying ship, Île de Batz to make the journey from Venezuela. The project is an indication of how important the Internet is, even to countries whose relationship to communications is antagonistic. Currently, virtually no private Cuban citizens can secure an Internet connection. To blog, Cuba’s small blogger community must copy their posts onto a thumb-drive and sneak into a dollar-only hotel to post, or to email the post to compatriots outside the country.Cuba’s BloggersAccording to a leaked diplomatic cable, the Cuban government is more afraid of this small but powerful group of bloggers than it is of its entire old-style dissident population. Nevertheless, according to the press release: curt hopkins Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting “Cuban officials say the country’s priority will be to build more public telecentres and improve Internet access at schools, hospitals and scientific institutions.”Look for Hugo Chávez’s government to provide its Cuban counterpart with extensive filtering tools, perhaps by passing on software and hardware made by American companies like Cisco and McAfee.Siboney photo by Klaus Schaefer | Île de Batz photo from Wikimedia Commons | other sources: BBC, AP/TMC, Cuba Standard 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

LinkedIn Launches Social News Site for Professionals

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting LinkedIn Today will also let you follow particular industries and will deliver the popular stories that are being shared from that sector. You’ll be able to see who is sharing information along with any comments they might have included when posting. “Only LinkedIn gives you this layer of professional identity and search capability on who’s sharing or tweeting an article,” the company says.It’s hard to see how the curation that will happen on LinkedIn will be different from what happens on other social network sites, as many people simply duplicate their shares from Twitter, blogs, or feeds to their LinkedIn profiles. Even more, arguably, don’t share at all to LinkedIn, something that will need to happen more if, indeed, this is effort is to become a useful place for people to turn to for their daily industry news. audrey watters 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#news#NYT#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… LinkedIn has been rolling out new features fairly regularly lately, as it strives to make the professional social network (and all its data) relevant and useful. Today, the company is unveiling another piece of its strategy to make LinkedIn a destination site for more than just job-seekers, with the launch of LinkedIn Today.LinkedIn Today is an industry newspaper, of sorts, available online and via LinkedIn’s iPhone app. It offers headlines and links to the popular stories within certain industries and within your LinkedIn network. You’ll be able to see what others in your profession are reading, as well as “save” articles to read later.LinkedIn Today aggregates industry news, tailored to your professional interests (or, rather, to your industry). The news will be drawn in part from the stories that those in your LinkedIn network are sharing. As the company says in its announcement of the news service, this should provide pertinent information as “you know and trust most of your connections and coworkers, so if they share an article it’s a good signal that it’s something you should be paying attention to.”last_img read more

Is Samsung Building Amazon’s Tablet?

first_imgRelated Posts sarah perez Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Tags:#Amazon#web According to Peter Rojas, former co-founer of Engadget and now co-founder of gdgt, the highly anticipated Amazon Android tablet may be coming from Samsung. Citing only “sources within the industry,” Rojas claims he’s “99% certain” that Amazon is having Samsung build its tablet computer for them and it’s expected to arrive no later than this summer.He also speculates about the possibility of the tablet running Android 3.0 Honeycomb (or not), as well as what type of content Amazon plans to sell on it. (Hint: more than apps!)How Credible the Rumor?Rojas has covered mobile devices and gadgets for a long time, not only at Engadget, which he helped start, but also at Gizmodo. Now his consumer-focused social networking, reviews and support site around gadgets, gdgt, keeps him directly plugged into industry moves and trends.In other words, this is no small-time blogger with a small-time scoop – it’s a rumor whose source is reputable and knowledgable. All that being said, it’s still just a rumor.Amazon Tablet: Honeycomb? Disruptive? Cheap?According to Rojas’ insider info and great big dollop of speculation, the Samsung/Amazon Android tablet should be out sometime soon, probably no later than summer 2011. And, he says, it will likely have something that substantially differentiates it from its competition.The most recently launched Android tablets, notably Motorola’s Xoom and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, have not performed as well as those companies would have liked thus far. This is due to not only the high cost of tablets tied to mobile carrier contracts, but the raw nature of the unpolished version of Google’s tablet-optimized mobile operating system (OS), also known as Honeycomb.With this in mind, it’s not surprising to hear Rojas speculate that Amazon’s tablet may not run Honeycomb as has been expected, but, like its top competitor, the Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, it may use Android as the base for its tablet. It’s also entirely possible that Amazon will build “a totally customized experience that tightly integrates Amazon services,” Rojas said. By doing so, Amazon could reduce the initial cost of the tablet because it would serve as a vehicle that drove sales for the online retailer over time. Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market That idea isn’t so different from how gaming console systems are generally subsidized today – the profit comes from selling games, not the console hardware. Similarly, on Amazon, the profit would come from not only the apps sold through Amazon’s new Appstore for Android, whose pricing has been the center of controversy as of late, but also music and video, and even physical goods, too.It’s not difficult to connect the dots between Amazon’s recent launches – the above-mentioned app store, the new web-baed streaming music and media service called Cloud Drive and the recent changes to Amazon’s online video service, Amazon Prime – and figure out that Amazon is up to something. Still, it’s good to see it confirmed, even if through anonymous sources like this.But the biggest question about the forthcoming tablet, and the one that remains unanswered, is the pricing. Rojas says that if Amazon’s smart, it will be aggressive here, not only beating the iPad, but matching or besting the Nook’s pricing, too. For a truly competitive 7-inch tablet, the price to beat is $250, says Rojas.$250, you say? Heck, for that price, we’ll take two! What about you? A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more

Maine Group Will Award $10,000 Towards a Deep-Energy Retrofit

first_imgThe organizers of the BrightBuilt Retrofit contest plan to award $10,000 to a New England nonprofit organization that commits to a deep-energy retrofit project.The public is invited to vote on which of four proposals is most deserving of the award. The proposals have been submitted by Community Partners of Biddeford, Maine; Farm & Wilderness of Plymouth, Vermont; Freeport Community Services of Freeport, Maine; and Yestermorrow Design/Build of Warren, Vermont. The online voting will continue through November 2, 2010.The winning project will receive:A $10,000 cash awardA $90,000 interest-free loanDiscounted design servicesAccess to an award-winning team of expertsA reduced carbon footprint and lower energy billsA more comfortable, livable, beautiful spaceThe goals of the BrightBuilt Retrofit award are to highlight the affordability and accessibility of deep-energy retrofit projects and to help complete an energy-conserving building renovation for a deserving New England nonprofit organization.Full disclosure: GBA editor Martin Holladay is on the project’s Board of Advisors. Also serving on the board are Tedd Benson, president of Bensonwood Homes; Keith Collins, owner of BrightBuilt Barn; Gunnar Hubbard, principal of Fore Solutions; Allison Zuchman, project manager at Fore Solutions; Phil Kaplan, principal of Kaplan Thompson Architects (an a Podcaster for GBA); Robin Tannenbaum, architectural designer at Kaplan Thompson Architects; Dan Kolbert, owner of Kolbert Building & Renovations; Jessica Lantos, membership manager at the Maine Association of Non-Profits; Jennifer Marapese, interim executive director at the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association; Naomi Mermin, Chair of the Maine chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council; Jim Newman, director of strategy at BuildingGreen; John Rooks, president of the SOAP Group; and Alissa Conroy, vice-president of the SOAP Group.For more information, or to register your vote, visit BrightBuilt Retrofit.last_img read more

Prefab Green Homes: Blu Homes Soldiers On

first_imgTwo years ago, when we last checked in on Blu Homes, a prefab specialist based in Waltham, Massachusetts, the company had purchased the assets of architect Michelle Kaufmann’s mkDesigns, which included modular-home designs marketed as Glidehouse, mkLotus, and Sunset Breezehouse.Glidehouse and Breezehouse are now among the seven Blu Homes models that can be customized via computer program to meet the client’s needs, built in the company’s factory in Springfield, folded up to fit on a semitrailer, and shipped to the site. Setup and finish work take about a week.A story about the company’s design and manufacturing processes – and the ambitions of Blu Homes’ co-founders, Bill Haney and Maura McCarthy – recently posted to the Forbes magazine website. The story’s author, Todd Woody, also posted a follow-up item, in his Forbes Tech column, elaborating on the vision of the owners and the challenges they face in trying to make their way in the tiny prefab sector.Invoking an innovatorHaney and McCarthy say they aim to take an “Apple approach” to the business by offering compelling designs that clients can customize with the help of CATIA (computer aided three-dimensional interactive application) modeling software. CATIA presents 3D images of suggested modifications, as well as their cost, giving both the client and Blu relatively tight control over the process and confidence in the eventual outcome.The company seems to have enough backing, including about $25 million raised from investors, to keep operating in this difficult market, and is even forging ahead with plans to open a factory north of San Francisco.Haney and McCarthy told Forbes that the company has sold 28 homes so far, has orders for 42, and would be in the black if the annual pace of orders and production reaches 50 – a goal the company should hit in 2013, according to McCarthy. At least one observer told Forbes prefab in general is a long way from economic stability, the sector is thinly populated with companies such as Clayton Homes’ i-House and Zeta Communities, both of which are still plugging along.Blu Homes prices start at $95,000 for a shell of the 18×24-ft. version of company’s Blu | Origin model and go to about $500,000, excluding land, permitting, and siting costs.The homes’ general specifications include R-38 structural-insulated-panel (SIP) roofs, exterior walls insulated to R-28, and floors insulated to R-32. Roofs are topped with standing-seam metal roofing. (Click here for a pdf of the specification guide.) The company offers a variety of HVAC options, depending on the model, including hydronic heating and minisplit heat pumps, although all models feature a Venmar heat-recovery ventilator (HRV).Airtightness ranges from 6.0 to 4.0 air changes per hour at 50 pascals pressure difference, says Colleen Barry, Blu Homes’ director of marketing, who adds that the overall energy efficiency of the company’s homes is twice that of a comparable structure built to code. Blu Homes does not currently offer an air-sealing upgrade, Barry says, but it is an option the company is considering as its product line evolves.last_img read more

This Heat Pump Problem Is a Surprisingly Common Cause for High Electricity Bills

first_img Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. The electric resistance element is on all summerHis next step was to turn off the breaker to the electric resistance heat (a.k.a. strip heat) in the HVAC system. This is basically a giant toaster inside the air handler. Heat pumps use it for supplemental heat. In some homes, it’s used as the primary heat source. It’s not cheap, though, especially considering that the same electricity going into a heat pump will yield two or three times more heat.Anyway, the utility investigator turned off the breaker to the strip heat and watched what happened to the meter. In the summer time, turning off the strip heat should have no effect at all on how fast the meter spins because it shouldn’t be running. Strip heat is for cold weather.In this case, the meter went from spinning fast enough to saw wood to moving as slow as a horned passalus (photo below) going for a walk in the woods.“Well, we found your problem, ma’am,” he told her. “Your heating and cooling system was doing both at the same time, making you spend a lot of money to stay uncomfortable.” She lives in a small, simple house in southern Mississippi. It’s only 1,700 square feet. Why then, she wondered, were her summer electricity bills running more than $600?The house didn’t have any energy-hog features like a swimming pool, and she didn’t do stupid things like leave all the doors and windows open while she ran the air conditioner. What could it be?She called her electric company, one of the co-ops in Mississippi, and they sent someone out to investigate. Utility companies get calls like this all the time, and they’ve learned from experience what most of the main causes of high bills are. When the utility investigator arrived at the house, he asked her to tell him anything she knew that might help him.“Well,” she said, “the air conditioner runs all the time, but the house won’t even cool down to 80 degrees.”“Ah, that helps to narrow it down a bit.” He went to work, and it didn’t take him long to find the problem. He measured the temperature drop across the air conditioner coil and found that the air on the ‘cool’ side wasn’t much lower than the air on the warm side. And both were much warmer than they should be.OK, that could be a disconnected duct in the attic, he thought. A look in the attic, however, showed that wasn’t the case here. Besides, a disconnected duct would increase the bill, but it almost certainly wouldn’t quadruple it.center_img Thermostat wiring errorsThis problem often results from a thermostat wired incorrectly so that the system kicks on the strip heat when it shouldn’t. Since anyone can go down to the home improvement store or the Interwebs and buy a thermostat, a good number of these problems result from DIY jobs.It seems crazy to think that someone wouldn’t notice that the heat is running in their home in summer, but they don’t feel heat coming out of the vents. That heat gets mixed with the cool air from the air conditioner. They cancel each other out, both using even more energy because they’re fighting each other.Got high electricity bills in summer that you don’t understand? Check your strip heat.last_img read more

Airport House: Walls and Insulation

first_img BLOGS BY REID BALDWIN Energy Efficiency and Garage Space for an Airplane When I first set out to design our house, I didn’t think very much about construction technology beyond trying to assure myself that what I designed was feasible to construct without extreme costs. (Some of my early designs would have failed that test.)I set out to learn enough about house construction to assure myself that I wasn’t specifying something stupid. I discovered the very interesting field of building science. At websites like Green Building Advisor and Building Science Corporation, I found smart people debating how to go beyond stupidity avoidance to make houses more comfortable, more durable, and more energy-efficient. (Stupidity avoidance continues to be an important aspect of building science.)Although builders in my region have adopted standard methods that are used on the vast majority of houses, there are alternatives. Should I be using them? After considerable research, I decided to depart from standard practice for my region in a couple ways. One such departure is adding a layer of exterior rigid foam. RELATED ARTICLES Insulation ChoicesHow to Design a WallStructure: Exterior Walls Calculating the Minimum Thickness of Rigid Foam SheathingThe Pretty Good HouseThe Pros and Cons of Advanced FramingAll About Rainscreens Editor’s note: This is the one of a series of guest blogs by Reid Baldwin about the construction of his house in Linden, Michigan. The first blog in the series was titled Energy Efficiency and Garage Space for an Airplane.center_img What alternatives do we have?A number of alternative wall structures are in use. One approach to reducing the thermal bridging of the studs is to increase the on-center stud spacing from 16 inches to 24 inches. Another approach is a double-stud wall, which has an inner set of studs and an outer set of studs separated by a few inches. Usually only one set of studs supports the weight of the roof and upper floors.Taping the seams between OSB panels reduces air leakage through the wall. Some builders use a layer of spray foam between studs to reduce air leakage. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) rely on OSB layers bonded to each side of a rigid foam layer to support the structure, eliminating most of the studs (except where SIPs are joined to one another). Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) use continuous rigid foam layers on the outside and inside to provide R-value and use steel-reinforced concrete in the middle to provide the structure and provide the air barrier. By eliminating wood, ICFs avoid wood rot. Each of these alternatives has advantages and disadvantages.After studying alternatives, I decided on a 2×6 wall structure that included 2 inches of continuous rigid foam insulation attached to the outside of the OSB sheathing. I selecting Platinum Insulfoam EPS, which provides R-5 per inch. Since this is not reduced by thermal bridging, the effective R-value of the wall increased from about 14 to about 24.The framing is on 16-inch centers. I discussed 24-inch on-center spacing with the builder, but he had concerns about installing the siding. After some calculations, I decided the effect on overall energy consumption was not enough to make that a battle worth fighting. The layer of continuous exterior insulation makes the heating and cooling loads much less sensitive to framing fraction. That observation made it less painful to see the framers use extra studs in a few places that didn’t seem necessary to me.One drawback of rigid foam is that it dramatically limits drying to the outside in spring. Therefore, it is important to use a thick enough layer of rigid foam to keep the sheathing warmer than the dew point during the winter so the sheathing does not adsorb water. In Climate Zone 5, where this house is located, R-7.5 in rigid foam is enough to accomplish that. What the walls doThe primary functions of the exterior walls are separating the interior from the exterior and holding up the roof and higher floors. Ensuring that the walls will continue to perform these functions well for many years requires a structure that avoids rot, by keeping any wood parts from being warm and wet simultaneously.A second function of the exterior walls is to limit heating and cooling loads. This function requires avoiding the flow of air between inside and outside and resisting heat conduction. The traditional approach to resisting heat conduction is to fill the areas between the studs with insulation. Once this is done, however, the studs themselves become a thermal bridge and provide a path for heat to flow through the wall.A traditional residential wall in Southeast Michigan has wood studs that carry the vertical loads, OSB sheathing to provide rigidity, housewrap to keep out bulk water, and some form of cladding like siding or brick veneer. There is typically cellulose or fiberglass insulation between the studs and drywall on the interior. Some air from inside the house typically gets past the drywall into the wall cavity. In winter, water vapor in that air is adsorbed by the OSB sheathing, which is cold. Hopefully, wetness in the sheathing dries out by vapor diffusion in spring before the wall gets warm enough for rot to form.To reduce heat conduction, 2×4 studs have given way to 2×6 studs, increasing the effective R-value of the wall from about 9 to about 14. Although the nominal R-value of the insulation is greater than that, the effective R-value of the wall is reduced by thermal bridging through the studs. Insulating the rim joist and building in a rainscreen gapOne of the most problematic air leakage areas is the rim joist. To address this, peel-and-stick flashing is added on the outside and spray foam is applied to the interior of the rim joist. Spray foam also is used at the top of the walls to join the OSB sheathing, which is the air barrier for the walls, to the drywall which forms the air barrier for the ceiling.On the outside of the rigid foam, 3/4-inch furring strips create an air gap called a rainscreen. The air gap allows the cladding to dry from both sides and prevents vapor that may be driven out of the cladding by sunshine from going into the wall structure. Screws through the furring strips into the studs secure the rigid foam to the wall. Some areas of the house will have brick veneer cladding, while other areas will have James Hardie fiber-cement siding.In the basement, 2 inches of foam separate the poured concrete foundation wall from a framed wall, keeping all of the wood above the dew point. I looked into alternatives to poured concrete basement walls, such as Superior Walls. The Superior Wall system uses wall sections pre-manufactured in a factory and assembled on site. The wall sections include insulation, which would have allowed elimination of the interior framed wall. Although there are some advantages to the Superior Walls system, I concluded that those advantages were not sufficient to depart from the system my builder is familiar with.last_img read more

There’s Rot in the Roof

first_imgKramer doesn’t see how he can increase the thickness of the low-slope portion of the roof without affecting the steeper parts of the roof. His proposed fix is to pull off the 1×4 skip sheathing, add a 1/2-inch layer of OSB with a peel-and-stick membrane, then a layer of 30-pound felt, and metal roofing. The 5,000 square feet of 12-in-12 roofing will not be affected.Inside, he’s improved the bathroom fan capacity and covered the tongue-and-groove ceiling with drywall.“In the long run, it is possible that I am going to have to have the entire roof replaced, which will allow adding the R-10 or greater rigid foam and completing the other details, at a very large cost,” he says. “For an interim solution on this small section of roof, what improvement to my plan does anyone have?”That’s the background for this Q&A Spotlight. It’s worse than I thoughtAs is often the case when repairing an older house, the damage Kramer found in his initial assessment was just the beginning. What at first looked like a localized problem in the area of the skylight goes much deeper than that.When workers installed the skylight, “they literally cut a hole in the entire roof structure, added no framing, screwed the deck-mounted skylight on, and covered it with trim,” Kramer writes. “No insulation at the cut, and this was directly above the bathtub/shower…”A few hours later, after he has removed more roofing, Kramer adds this: “The damage is throughout the roof, as you can see in the photo [see Image #2, below]. Not sure what the fix is, but for now I’m just going to remove all the sheathing remnants and ponder if there is a way to move the transitions and valleys up enough to add the rigid foam at R-10. Any suggestions are appreciated.”His plan now seems to be to remove the Styrofoam and replace it with 1 inch of closed-cell foam, sealing the edges with spray foam, then seal all joints with tape. That would be followed by a 5/8-inch OSB roof deck, 30-pound felt, and standing-seam metal roofing. RELATED ARTICLES More evidence comes to lightAs Kramer dives further into the project, he posts a series of photos that suggest asphalt felt woven into the courses of shingles had something to do with the rot that developed later.“Your latest photos provide another puzzle piece,” Holladay says “Now we know the condensing surface for the escaping moisture. The original roofer installed strips of #15 asphalt felt, interwoven with the cedar shingles. It looks like a strip of asphalt felt was applied to the upper half of each course of shingles, as the shingles were installed. In winter, this asphalt felt was cold. This upper layer of asphalt felt was the condensing surface for the escaping moisture.“The moisture was piggybacking on the exfiltrating interior air that was escaping through cracks in the cut-and-cobble foam, and that moisture condensed on the underside of the roofing felt,” Holladay continues. “The moisture was trapped between the asphalt felt and the skip sheathing. The result: sheathing rot.”The problem would be more pronounced on boards higher on the roof because the warm, moisture-laden air would have a tendency to rise.Kramer does some exploratory digging into the steeper sections of roof and concludes it will have to be replaced at some point. So he plans a complete repair for the lower section of roof so it will not have to be reworked later. Once the rafter bays have been insulated, he plans to cover the entire section with 3-inch-thick rigid insulation, taped at the seams, before adding 1/2-inch plywood sheathing and his roof covering. (See image #3 below.)“This means I’ll cut into the two adjoining 12/12 pitches to raise the valley flashing,” he says. “I experimented with this and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.” Not enough room for all that insulationDorsett may have a point, Kramer replies, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of adding 3 inches of rigid insulation to this small roof area without diving into the adjoining roof sections. And that is not something he’s prepared to do.“I can see that the right way would be to add the rigid foam over the top, but I’m trying to find a reasonably efficient compromise which will stop the moisture problems in the future, even if not meeting full R-value,” Kramer says. “The rest of the home has about 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of this roof construction. That’s going to be my next challenge.”His latest, and best plan so far, is to remove the rigid foam from between the rafters and to spray 1 inch of closed-cell foam directly on top of the 15-pound felt separating the roof cavity from his tongue-and-groove ceiling boards.“Then I will re-install the foil-faced Thermax and tape the top surface across the rafters,” Kramer adds. “Essentially, I’m going to be treating the tongue-and-groove as the roof deck, and installing all of my insulation above that. Then I’ll install the metal roof over 30-pound felt. That will give me R-27, (in the cavity, anyways…). I’ll also have to be sure to seal every penetration (drain vent, bathroom fan, skylight).“This seems like it will address the issues for this small space,” he adds. “I’m proceeding with the belief that this small section will be sub-optimal in energy efficiency, but fully durable from a moisture standpoint. “ Cut-and-cobble is ‘risky’The photos tell GBA senior editor Martin Holladay that moisture has probably been accumulating in the roof for years, a result of various air leaks between the framing and the rigid foam insulation that has been cut to fit in the cavities. “The exfiltrating air,” he says, “carries moisture, and the moisture probably condensed on the underside of the cold asphalt felt strips that were interwoven with the cedar shingles.”The bottom line is this: a cut-and-cobble approach to insulation is risky.“Fixing the open section with more cut-and-cobble is only a temporary solution, since you’ll probably end up with more air leaks as the rafters expand and contract due to changes in humidity and temperature,” Holladay writes. “Eventually, you’ll probably need to fix this problem on your entire roof. To really fix this issue, you’ll need to strip all of the roofing off, install new OSB or plywood roof sheathing, some type of air barrier, and an adequate thickness of continuous rigid foam above the roof sheathing.”A better approach now, he adds, would be to strip off all of the rigid foam from above to expose the ceiling boards, and fill the cavities with closed-cell spray foam.center_img Ordinarily, skip sheathing would be fineMost houses have solid roof decks — which these days are made of plywood or OSB, but in the past consisted of sawn boards. The person who roofed Kramer’s house used skip sheathing, 1×4 boards attached to rafters so there’s a gap in between each board. That was a common technique when roofs were finished with wood shingles, because the skip sheathing allowed the shingles to dry out better than solid sheathing did.The technique typically allows any accumulating moisture to escape, Dana Dorsett says.“Cedar shingle roofs on skip sheathing are inherently ventilated to the exterior,” he says, “and in most climates air leaks from the interior would just leak without leaving enough moisture in the skip sheathing to be a problem, but on the foggy-dew western foothills of the Cascades it’s still not always adequate.”It appears from the photos Kramer has provided that the only issues with the skip sheathing appear to be around the roof vent (probably because it wasn’t sealed adequately) and at the bottom edge of the roof over the eaves, “which implies that the inherent venting was ‘working mostly,’ ” he adds.“The damage at the overhang was likely due to a combination of wind-driven leakage of the shingles combined with slower drying due to the colder temperature of the roof at the eaves where it isn’t being heated from below, and scant winter/spring sun to warm it from above,” Dorsett says.Kramer will have to do better than R-10 in insulation above a new roof deck if he wants to meet the 2015 International Residential Code minimum, Dorsett says. “But R-15 above the roof deck would meet code on a U-factor basis (not on an R-value basis) and would give you reasonable dew point margin,” he says. “Using 3 inches of reclaimed roofing polyiso would be the cheapest (and greenest) way to get there.” Our expert’s opinionGBA technical director Peter Yost added these thoughts:Chuck Kramer has gotten much more than he bargained for with his roof and with us! He and I and the GBA online professional volunteer crew have been going full tilt on this one.I have worked on a number of projects with 2×6 tongue-and-groove ceilings and/or roof decks (here’s one example).They work great as finish and structure but they leak air like a sieve. And because the t&g deck extends through and beyond the gable and eaves to make great overhangs, they leak everywhere: through the field of the ceiling, at penetrations and to the outdoors directly at eaves and gables. The pattern of moisture damage often follows these pathways, as well as up into peaks due to stack effect and moist air being more buoyant than dry air (given the same temperature).Here is some interesting additional information about this home:1. The current occupant moisture load is apparently quite modest: just two occupants, few plants, dryer properly vented to outdoors, no wood stored inside conditioned space, no open combustion (e.g. propane cook stove or oven) etc.2. The previous occupancy moisture load is likely to have been quite high. Evidence of moisture upon move-in by current occupants includes: staining streaks (watermarks) on window frames, ceilings, and walls; and a wood stove with a big, open pot of water on top; and poor or no exhaust venting in bathrooms.3. Although a blower door test has been conducted on the home, Kramer never got the results. He does, however, remember quite a bit of the “flow” coming from upstairs.4. Much of the moisture damage — rot and insect tunneling — appears to be historical rather than current or recent.So, Chuck Kramer is and needs to continue to address two connected issues: household moisture loads and roof air leakage. He needs to manage air leakage at all of the pathways enumerated above, and assess the continuity of his air barrier with a blower door aided by smoke stick and/or IR imaging. He needs to monitor indoor relative humidity, especially during the winter, with a reasonable monitoring device (see the link to “Measuring (and Understanding) Humidity” in the sidebar above) and identify and manage sources of household moisture should levels exceed 35% to 40%.By the way, it would be a good idea to check the original Q&A post because Kramer has built a great photo series there. Cut-and-Cobble InsulationHow to Build an Insulated Cathedral CeilingAll About Attic VentingHow to Install Rigid Foam on Top of Roof SheathingCombining Exterior Rigid Foam With Fluffy Insulation GBA Details: Exterior Roof Insulation RetrofitMeasuring (and Understanding) Humidity Chuck Kramer’s home in Enumclaw, Washington, was built in the 1980s with unvented cathedral ceilings, insulated with cut-and-cobble rigid foam insulation and roofed with cedar shakes. A small section of the roof is showing signs of water damage, and now Kramer is trying to find a way of repairing the problem area without tearing into the rest of the roof.As Kramer explains in a Q&A post at Green Building Advisor, the trouble seems to be in an area measuring about 150 square feet. This part of the roof, with a slope of 4-in-12, is surrounded by two other roof areas with a 12-in-12 pitch.From inside to outside, the roof assembly consists of 2×6 tongue-and-groove boards, 15-pound asphalt felt, 2×6 rafters, 1×4 skip sheathing, and cedar shakes interwoven with strips of 15-pound asphalt felt. The rafter cavities are insulated with two 2-inch-thick layers of foil-faced polyisocyanurate foam insulation and 1 inch of Styrofoam beadboard.“Most of the roof is 12/12 pitch,” he writes. “A small section above two bathrooms is 4/12, with two 12/12 pitches joining two sides with valleys. In that section, a skylight was cut in after initial construction, maybe in the late ’80s… The 1x4s [the skip sheathing] and a small part of the tops of the rafters are damaged by rot, particularly badly around the skylight.”last_img read more

Determining Sub-Slab Rigid Foam Thickness

first_imgWhen, if ever, should you consider installing a continuous layer of rigid foam under a concrete slab?The answer to this question depends on at least four factors: (1) your climate zone, (2) the height of the slab with respect to grade, (3) whether the room above the slab is used for living space; and (4) whether the slab has hydronic heat.The most common insulation materials for use under a concrete slab are extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Of these two materials, green builders prefer EPS, because EPS is manufactured with a more environmentally benign blowing agent than XPS. (For more information on this issue, see “Choosing Rigid Foam.”)If you prefer to avoid the use of rigid foam insulation, you might want to consider installing mineral wool insulation under your slab. For more information on this approach, see “Sub-Slab Mineral Wool.”Insulation requirements for slab-on-grade floors can be found in section R402.2.9 of the 2012 IECC and 2015 IECC, as well as section N1102.2.9 of the 2012 IRC and 2015 IRC. Code requirements for slab insulation are very poorly written; in fact, they are almost unintelligible. Here’s my translation:The “picture frame approach” is illustrated below.For most slabs in Climate Zones 3 through 8, it’s important to install vertical insulation at the slab perimeter — even if you decide to omit horizontal sub-slab insulation. The only exception to this rule is when termite populations preclude this type of insulation. If you are unsure of whether termites are a serious problem in your area, seek local advice.For a basement slab, the vertical insulation at the perimeter of a slab is usually only 4 inches deep. But for a slab on grade with a frostwall foundation, the vertical insulation at the perimeter of the slab will usually range in depth from 2 to 4 feet.In a cold… Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Start Free Trial Already a member? Log incenter_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Memberslast_img read more

Getting the Right Minisplit

first_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log in Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details. Curious readers regularly post questions here at GBA on how to size minisplit heat pumps and how to select the right equipment. Although our web site contains dozens of articles on the topic, the questions keep coming — so it’s time to provide some straightforward guidance on this issue.The first required step for anyone who wants to install HVAC equipment is to perform a room-by-room load calculation. In other words, the designer needs to calculate the anticipated heating load for each room under the coldest likely conditions, as well as the anticipated cooling load for each room under the hottest likely conditions. Although most people have heard of load calculations, which are code-required, this step is often ignored.Getting an accurate load calculation isn’t easy; most HVAC contractors grossly overestimate design heating loads and design cooling loads. For more information on obtaining an accurate load calculation, see these articles:The typical bedroom has a design heating load of 2,500 BTU/h or less — far less than the rating on a typical ductless minisplit head, which usually ranges from 9,000 to 12,000 BTU/h. If your HVAC contractor is advising you to install a separate minisplit head in each bedroom, it’s probably time to choose a different contractor. (Of course, an unusually large bedroom that is poorly insulated, leaky, or equipped with very large windows may have a much higher design heating load than average — so it always pays to do the math.)Instead of installing a ductless minisplit head in each bedroom, a better approach would be to install a minisplit head in a nearby common room — perhaps the living room or hallway — or to select a ducted unit instead of a ductless unit.According to GBA reader Dana Dorsett, a self-taught minisplit expert, “In most houses the ‘head in… center_img This article is only available to GBA Prime Memberslast_img read more

Google’s Cultural Institute: Serious And Valuable, But Not A Lot Of Fun

first_img7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid fruzsina eordogh Why You Love Online Quizzes Tags:#art#Digital Humanities#Google#hack#history#Web Culture center_img How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Related Posts The world has just gotten a cool new free virtual museum, the one that Google built.  Aptly named Google’s Cultural Institute, the Internet-based multimedia site showcases first-hand testimonials, photographs, artifacts and manuscripts that until last Wednesday, you had to take a plane trip or at least pay an admission fee to see.A Museum MilestoneMuseum of Polish History called the Cultural Institute “a real revolution.” Avner Shalev of Yad Vashem – also a Cultural Institute partner – said of the project, “it might be seen as one of the major milestones in modern history.”  Not only is Google’s Cultural Institute providing public access to documents otherwise previously unavailable for mass consumption, the project is “taking away the notion of physical custody of archival material” noted Razia Saleh of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in a mini-doc about the project.Building on the success of Google’s Art Project launched in February of 2011 in conjunction with now over 150 museums, Google partnered with 17 additional foundations and museums to launch 42 free digital exhibits as part of the Cultural Institute.Not A Light-Hearted ExperienceThe 42 exhibits are a solid foundation and focus on World War II, the Holocaust and South African politics. Light-hearted or uplighting fare is few and far between. Google’s Mark Yoshitake has acknowledged the project will expand in the future though.The exhibits themselves are displayed on a horizontal timeline, with navigation predominantly left and right arrows on both sides of the screen (you scroll across as opposed to scrolling down). This orientation makes sense when thinking about how exhibits are displayed in the real world, and Google has done a good job with its darker color scheme in keeping the site beautiful but solemn.My Personal ThoughtsEager to experience this revolutionary and game-changing web project, I spent a couple of hours perusing the site’s offerings. It wasn’t a life-altering experience, but I could immediately see its usefulness, especially if I was researching a moment in history covered by one of the digital exhibits. Personal items that you would only see in a museum were also included in the exhibits, including photographs of Frank’s infamous diary in the Anne Frank exhibit, and pictures of locks of hair in the Tragic Love at Auschwitz exhibit. These items were diligently added by curators trying to create in-depth stories about their subjects – and I certainly appreciated them. But I couldn’t help but feel their impact on me was cheapened when viewed through the Internet as opposed to me seeing it in person.In a good museum, getting lost can be half the fun. Google’s Cultural Institute isn’t built yet for this type of free-form exploration, though I was able to achieve a bit of that same sense of discovery by browsing through the photo collections of LIFE and Getty Images, a search that was surprisingly clunky for a Google product. While browsing, I found this 1985 photo of former Libyan leader Gaddafi and a whole section of photos about the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. As a refugee from a former Soviet Union-occupied country, I was disappointed by the lack of cohesive exhibits about the USSR (or Hungary), but the vast photo collections might one day be organized like the previously mentioned 42 exhibits. (Some additional treats I found: this photo of a gay couple walking by graffiti on the Berlin wall, Boris Yeltsin making a fist while a portrait of Lenin looks on, and an anti-NATO communist propaganda poster from 1981.)Would I visit the Cultural Institute again? Definitely. But it in no way replaced the experience of an actual museum. If anything, it made me appreciate my local (and physical) institutions a bit more.last_img read more

Microsoft Begins Restoring ‘Invisible’ Windows Phone Apps

first_imgTags:#apps#Microsoft#music#Windows Phone#Windows Phone 8 On Friday, when I tried to push Slacker from the Windows Phone website to the phone, the process failed. (Pushing an app from the website to the phone requires the user to turn on the Find My Phone feature.) If that process fails, Microsoft sends a link to the app via email. The update process failed with an error code, 805a0194, a Marketplace error message. But the process worked fine on Monday. The only glitch I noticed was that my “history” of songs didn’t connect to those songs, but to “radio” stations auto-generated by the artist.A Microsoft spokeswoman denied that Microsoft may have been tempted to cut out competition to its newly-launched Xbox Music app, which launched a short time ago. Both Spotify and Slacker offer a la carte searches and radio-style streaming, as Microsoft’s services does.Overall, the number of “invisible” apps was small, and shrunk with the Monday updates. But music remains an integral part of the mobile experience, and app discovery is key to Microsoft’s future, as its Mimvi purchase shows. More than its competitors, Microsoft needs to ensure that the process goes smoothly. Related Posts markhachman Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Customers purchasing the new HTC Windows Phone 8X – the first to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 – may have faced an odd lack of some popular music apps, issues which Microsoft addressed on Monday.On Friday, Spotify, Slacker, TuneIn and podcast app 8Tracks didn’t show up on the version of Windows Phone that’s built into the phone itself. But they did appear on the Web-based version of the store – which, most likely, a new customer would never bother visiting if they couldn’t find the app on the store itself.The problems could be tied to be a few possibilities: First, the HTC 8X devices given to members of the press at the recent Windows Phone launch to test were labeled as pre-production hardware, even though the final 8Xes shipped Friday. Another possibility is that Windows Phone isn’t showing apps it deems incompatible with Windows Phone 8, even though, in some cases, the app is compatible. There’s also the possibility that it’s a holdover from a digital certificate glitch that Microsoft discovered and supposedly fixed in mid-August, that prevented apps from being published for a short time. The most likely reason, according to Ryan Polivka, the director of marketing for TuneIn, is that Windows Phone 8 hasn’t transferred all of the other apps over to the new mobile operating system. “The reason we’re not in the Marketplace right now for W8 is because the ingestion engine hasn’t completed making all WP7 apps available on W8,” he wrote in an email Monday. “Apparently this should be resolved within a few days.”Whatever the reason, however, these “invisible” apps only exacerbate one of the perceived problems with the Windows Phone platform: a lack of apps.Playing Catch-UpKevin McLaughlin, a Web developer with Level 3 Communications, first highlighted the issue for me in the comments section of ReadWrite’s hands-on with Windows Phone 8, where I noticed that streaming-radio app Slacker didn’t appear to be available for Windows phone, based on the on-phone search. “These have been in the store for some time but no one can find them for some reason even though a simple search with the name brings them up,” McLaughlin wrote of Slacker and Rovio’s Angry Birds. “I have found this with multiple apps people say are not in the store.”He was right. As of Friday, listings for Slacker, TuneIn and 8Tracks appeared on the Web page, but not on the phone. Gas Buddy was also in the same camp, although most of the invisible apps seem, apparently coincidentally, to be clustered around music.After ReadWrite contacted Microsoft on Friday, however, some of the apps began resolving. Slacker was restored as of Monday morning, and now appears within the Windows Store. Spotify, an app that lacked even a Web page, also appeared on the phone, but with a note that it wasn’t downloadable due to the 480×800 resolution that the HTC 8X uses.It’s likely that an app like Gas Buddy doesn’t show up because, unlike Android, some apps written for earlier versions of the Windows Phone aren’t compatible with Windows Phone 8. It’s one of the unfortunate legacies of the Windows Phone 7 platform that will isolate apps designed for Windows Phone’s early adopters – which some have dubbed a “sucker punch” against Windows Phone fans. If doesn’t update the app, it will fade away, trapped in the shrinking puddle of Windows Phone 7 devices.Quantity vs. Quality?Android, which counts more than 400,000 “regular” apps, according to AppBrain (plus 150,000 of what AppBrain deems “low-quality” apps), still holds a commanding lead over Windows Phone. But Google recently told Bloomberg that the number of apps is 700,000, the same number Apple claims to have. Microsoft executives said at the Windows Phone 8 launch that Microsoft’s Windows Phone app ecosytem now includes 120,000 apps across 191 countries, including 46 of the top 50 most heavily used apps on other platforms. Microsoft appears to want to match the other two platforms in quality, rather than quantity.Part of Android’s advantage, however, is that even creaky, ancient Android apps still maintain compatibility with newer versions of the OS: Air Attack for Android, for example, was designed for Android 1.5, which debuted in April 2009. That allows it to remain in the Google Play Store, and keep selling.But a spokeswoman for TuneIn said that the listing on the Windows Phone Web site, where the app was listed for Windows Phone 7, was a mistake. Polivka confirmed that the app was Windows 8 compatible. “The TuneIn website being out-of-date shouldn’t impact store discoverability,” a TuneIn representative added in an email. “But again, they are looking into this.”Spotify, whose headquarters are in New York City and without power, couldn’t be reached. But interestingly, the company’s listing on the Windows Phone website has been eliminated. But on Spotify’s Web page, the company’s Windows Phone app supports several Windows Phones, including all Windows Phone 7.5 or “Mango” devices, although only for Spotify’s “Premium” tier of service. WMPowerUser claims that Microsoft revoked the “sideloaded” Spotify app earlier this month, although users have also posted an outraged 20-page thread detailing the app’s numerous bugs and calling for updates.More Popular Apps Coming To Windows PhoneMicrosoft representatives said late Friday that new, optimized Windows 8 apps will begin rolling out soon. “The Windows Phone 8 platform was designed to run existing 7x apps, but some may require a degree of optimization given the new hardware and software capabilities,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are working with popular developers like Spotify and encouraging all developers to test their apps with our new SDK to help ensure that apps and games run great and take full advantage of new features. We expect the catalog of existing app titles on new devices to grow steadily over the coming weeks and months, and a Spotify client for Windows Phone 8 is in development and will be available in Q1 2013.”In early August, Microsoft revealed a technical issue in early August that shut down app publishing for a short time. “Some customers who try to download a new app may see an error message,” Microsoft’s Todd Brix wrote. “If they’re attempting to update an existing app, they might repeatedly be prompted to retry the update.” What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech …last_img read more

How Amazon’s Rising Headwaters Could Threaten Google

first_imgderek brown Guest author Derek Brown is a technology executive and analyst who blogs at One Blind Squirrel.Jeff Jordan, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz with the Midas touch, recently opined that Amazon’s e-commerce capabilities and successes represent a meaningful threat to Google’s product-search-related advertising business.I will take Jeff’s thesis — with which I fundamentally agree — one step (maybe even more) further by saying that I believe Amazon is one of the few companies that has the ambition, permission, structure, and, maybe most important, data, to actually beat Google at its own game.What Makes Amazon DifferentAs an Internet equity research analyst from 1996-2009 — go ahead… throw your drink on your screen and curse me loudly enough that the barista hears you — I had a front seat to The Show. I covered Amazon from its days as “just” a bookseller and Google when it was still a private company, in addition to eBay, Yahoo!, Excite,, Netflix, Omniture, aQuantive, CNET, E*TRADE, and many other industry-defining companies.(See also: The Epic Battle Between Apple And Google Is Over)From the earliest days, it was clear to me (and a few others, obviously) that Amazon was no ordinary company, at any level. However, three attributes set it (far) apart in my mind:Vision and ambition that were orders of magnitude beyond those of others team that I encountered (until, that is, I met Google);A cult-like dedication to customer experience/satisfaction that permeated every decision made by every person at the company; and,A business model that not only valued long-term cash flow and absolute profit potential, but also deemed near-term profits and profit margin largely irrelevant.Individually, these characteristics have been powerful; in combination, they have been revolutionary. Jeff Bezos’ worldview gave his entire team permission — in fact, it gave them the mandate — to think Big, with a capital “B.” Customers’ pure delight with every Amazon interaction gave the company permission to sell (almost) anything to (almost) anyone.And, finally, management’s clarity of financial intent (i.e., to perpetually focus on long-term potential) has, from day one, conditioned shareholders and Wall Street to expect a business that will forever be amorphous and unpredictable, with razor-thin margins.The Yin To Google’s Yang, Sort OfLiberated from more typical corporate constraints, Amazon has evolved like few other companies in history — from its humble origins as an online bookstore into: Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute, Amazon Marketplace, Amazon Flexible Payments Service, state-of-the-art warehouses (~70) everywhere, Amazon Cloud Player, AmazonFresh, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Prime, A9, Amazon Simple Storage Service,, Silk, Amazon Cloud Drive, Zappos, Amazon CloudFront, Kindle, and so on.Sound familiar? It should, because this transformation mirrors that of Google, itself, which began as “just” a search engine company focused on “organizing the world’s information,” and has now become: Gmail, Maps, Apps, Drive, Chrome, Android, Motorola, YouTube, Wallet, Voice, Google Cloud Storage, Shopping, Chromebook, Google App Engine, Google+, and so on.(See also: How Google Is Kicking Sand In Apple’s Face)While not perfectly matching each other solution-for-solution, Amazon and Google now find themselves overlapping across, and competing within, most major categories of Internet-fueled technology and business. SaaS. Hardware. e-Commerce. IaaS. Enterprise. Media. Consumer. Applications. Browsers. Storage. Payments. Consumer. Tablets. And so on.Amazon’s Trump Card: DataDespite all these evolutions and comparisons and similarities and overlaps, I actually think there’s one final aspect to Amazon’s business with which Google cannot (yet) directly compete, and which may prove to be the difference-maker in this faux-ish battle: Data.With 17+ years of history and hundreds of millions of transactions across almost every category of goods, Amazon now has massive quantities of data about the actual buying habits of tens, if not hundreds, of millions of consumers around the globe. Not just what people are searching for (Google, though actually has it too). Not just what people “like” (“like” that, Facebook).(See also: Will Facebook Go Out With A Bang?)Not just what people want (Pinterest, though actually has it too). Not just what people tweet about (Twitter). But the items that people actually pay for with their own hard-earned dollars!Armed with this unique transaction- and SKU-specific data, at scale, has the potential to become one of, if not the most signficant advertising platforms in the world, in my view — matching, if not besting, Google.Look at it this way: if advertisers pay Google $44 billion per year for connecting them with consumers that it oftentimes thinks have interest in their product(s), what might those same advertisers be willing to pay Amazon for connecting them with people they know are interested in their products (or those of their competitors, or those in which they will soon have interest)?What That Data Might Be WorthFor instance, do you think Volvo, Toyota, Lexus, Ford, et al., might be willing to pay a small fortune to be introduced to an individual in Huntington Beach, CA, who suddenly begins buying newborn diapers by the pallet? What about Gymboree? Gerbers? Whole Foods? Safeway? Fab? Gap? Pottery Barn? Ross? Home Depot?Similarly, how much interest might be generated among home decor vendors, local service providers (e.g., physicians, athletic clubs, veterinarians), home maintenance vendors, etc., by a change in shipping and billing information for one of’s long-time customers? Say, someone whose pattern of purchases are highly suggestive — remember, has developed one of the best predictive commerce models in the world for its own e-commerce franchise — of a home with at least one child and one dog, an avid athlete/runner/yogini, with a taste for gourmet cooking and a passion for gardening, among other attributes?And these hypotheticals say absolutely nothing of the extraodinary value Amazon could (theoretically) deliver to its customers/partners by sharing with them relevant online transaction activity that might follow said advertisements, effectively offering a closed loop marketing environment unlike any other.By some accounts, Amazon has (finally) started focusing on the business potential of advertising. For years, it has run ads on its own sites. Then, in late 2010, the company also began serving advertisements on others’ sites, introducing what is, in effect, a full-fledged online advertising network. But these are just warm-ups in my mind — Amazon methodically experimenting (as is its custom) and purposefully tiptoeing around the edges of its potential.I’m convinced the day will come — sooner rather than later — when Amazon unleashes its data and announces itself as an advertising powerhouse. And, when it does, I think the gloves officially come off and the real battle with Google commences.Lead image via Flickr user Jorge Lascar, CC 2.0 Tags:#Amazon#Google How Intelligent Data Addresses the Chasm in Cloud Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img Related Posts Serverless Backups: Viable Data Protection for … Cloud Hosting for WordPress: Why Everyone is Mo…last_img read more

Geek Film Review: Star Trek Into Darkness Breaks The Prime Directive

first_imgbrian s hall Among the stunning visual battles and non-stop action, some of the best moments of Star Trek Into Darkness are tender human moments. Those that reveal the budding – and sometimes acrimonious – relationships still being formed aboard the new Enterprise. Kirk and Spock. Spock and Uhura. Scotty and the warp core. Each actor more closely subsumes their role in this latest Star Trek iteration. Chris Pine is Kirk. Zachary Quinto is Spock. Zoe Saldana is Uhura. The film places them all in peril, and forces each of them to save the other. The bonds of a lifelong friendship and wholehearted commitment (and a long line of potential sequels) to one another are forged.Stumbling Off The Enterprise 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Related Posts The action-packed Star Trek Into Darkness begins with a mad dash, a swirling, red-fueled explosion – and a lesson: sacrificing your own life, or abandoning your sworn duty, is always right provided the cause is just. An attack upon Starfleet, Captain Kirk’s loss of his command – and an Earthly betrayal – are enough to propel the crew of the Starship Enterprise into action.Red Alert: Spoilers aheadDirected by J.J. Abrams, Star Trek Into Darkness incorporates all the action scenes, special effects and humor necessary for a summer blockbuster, while effectively maintaining the focus on the beloved characters: Kirk, Spock, Bones, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Uhura. There is enough action to satisfy the Trekkie newbies and just enough homage paid to the original Star Trek television series to make hardcore fans blush. A joyfully clever twist on what is – still – the best Star Trek movie ever, should satisfy all. Abrams allows each character his or her moment moment to shine. He unabashedly tosses Tribbles, Klingons, red suits and Mr. Spock all into the pot even as he constructs a version of the series able to stand on its own.   Where the movie fails is when the focus shifts to characters not on the Enterprise. Khan is a bit too superhuman, Klingons are easily bested in a fight, Starfleet is an inexplicable tangle of unstated relationships, and the beautiful people of 23rd century Earth are essentially bystanders to the action. All is forgiven, however, as each successive scene raises the stakes: from Spock inside a volcano to Kirk piloting his shuttlecraft on Kronos, to Sulu righting the Enterprise before it crashes and burns back on Earth. Despite the film’s scale and speed and fights and explosions, Star Trek Into Darkness ultimately reveals the indelible rise of geek culture. The Enterprise – and all of Starfleet – is overflowing with smart, highly technical, amazingly skilled men and women ready to build, repair and imagine as their life mission. Best of all, unlike in the original series, in today’s version the highly intellectual Spock and the brain-enhanced Khan get all the best action scenes. 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe Appcenter_img In the future, smarts and focus are rewarded. Through intellect, bravery and a can-do attitude – all pure geek –  all obstacles are overcome. Theirs is a world of magic-like technology, blistering focus and an eager embrace of faraway worlds, beings, and cultures. We are the better for it. Violating the prime directive (through sacrifice and the abandonment of sworn duty) from the start of the film, signals that this new Star Trek crew won’t always adhere to the rules and conventions long-time fans have come to expect. That’s OK. They have proven themselves worthy of piloting the Enterprise. In the grand pantheon of Star Trek, Into Darkness is among the best of the bunch.(See also: 10 Great Sci-Fi Films That Got The Future All Wrong)(See also: Geek Film Review: Iron Man 3 Reveals It’s A Tech World After All)Images courtesy of Paramount.  5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout The Dark Side Of TrekInto Darkness begins on the lush world of Nibiru then ventures to the dark, barren Klingon homeworld of Kronos before jetting across London and San Francisco – and Jupiter. As is appropriate to any Star Trek movie, the center of the action always returning to the bright retro-future beauty of the Enterprise itself. Abrams’ journey is pure, escapist fun that is not without its faults. Into Darkness avoids many of the probing questions on the human condition that the original Star Trek series so loved to tackle.  The story is surprisingly muddled. If there is a message here, it is lost amongst the frenetic pace and boisterous effects.Despite its departure from Trek’s original plotlines, we can forgive this new film for not posing the deeper questions. We love these characters and want to follow them on their many adventures. The original vision of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s technology-drenched, optimistic worldview of the future may simply have won us over. Even if the present cultural zeitgeist does periodically push us onto the darker side, Star Trek’s vision of smart people creating amazing technologies that ultimately lead us to the stars and possibly salvation, seems always welcome. 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Tags:#film last_img read more

Life insurance Policies: Make Sure Loved Ones Can Find Them

first_imgBy Gladys Lawrence, AFCPE-FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship InternEvery year more than a billion dollars in life insurance benefits go uncollected mainly because beneficiaries do not file claims. How can military families ensure that their loved ones collect the money that they intended their beneficiaries to have?Keep life insurance policies in a safe place.  A safe deposit box, safe, or designated home filing system is recommended. Ensure that one or more trusted people also have access to insurance documents, if military families chose to put them in a safe or safe deposit box. These people should have a separate key. This is a small but important point: check to see that all keys to box actually work properly. If life insurance policies are put in a safe,  make sure one or two other trusted persons have the combination to the safe.Advise service members to make a list with the names of the insurance companies, phone numbers, policy numbers, pay off amounts, and the name(s) of beneficiaries. Use this form from Rutgers Cooperative Extension to record important financial data. File this list away and let trusted family or friends know about it or physically given another copy to them.  Policyholders can also put a copy in their safe deposit box or safe.Remember, taking a few simple steps now can save a service member’s family money and stress during a very vulnerable time in their lives.This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on August 2, 2013last_img read more

Video Editing: Animation and Keyframe Basics in Adobe Premiere Pro

first_imgAnimate and modify fixed effects in your Adobe Premiere Pro timeline to create basic animations.  In this post we’ll show you how.In an earlier post we took at look at the into the fixed effects options in Premiere Pro.  In this post, we’ll learn how to animate them.Simply put, you can quickly animate elements in your Premiere Pro timeline by clicking on the little stopwatch icon besides an effect name in your Effects Control panel:But let’s dig deeper than that.  How can you create animations using keyframes in Premiere Pro?  What are keyframes, anyway?A Bit of History on KeyframesThe term keyframe goes back to the early days of film, when the first animated film “Gertie the Dinosaur” was created.  The keyframe signals the start and end of on-screen animation.  The use of keyframes in animation was popularized by Disney, where many of the early principles of animation were worked out.  In those days the senior animators would come in at the start of the day and create the keyframes.  Once they’d finish creating those keyframes, they would go off leaving a junior animator to work the rest of the day creating the ‘inbetweens’, the intermediate frames between the keyframes that give the animation movement.  I have heard these junior animators described as “tweeners”, for the type of time intensive work they were assigned to do.Fast forward until today.  Premiere Pro is going to assume that you are the ‘Key Frame Animator’ in that you are going to specify the starting and ending point of an animation by adding keyframes.  Luckily, the in-between work is processed and Premiere Pro is going to take on the role of ‘tweening’ the intermediate frames so that the animation will look natural and smooth.Nerd Alert: The technical term for this is called interpolation which, to quote Wikipedia, ‘…is a method of constructing new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points’. The known data points are your keyframes and the interpolated points are what Premiere Pro creates.Creating Keyframes in Premiere ProWhen you are ready to specify the starting point of your animation you click the stopwatch next to the property you want to animate.  YOU ONLY PRESS IT ONCE!! Think about the stopwatch as an animation ‘toggle’ – you click it to say I want to animate and if you click it again you will be getting rid of any animation you have created. So press it once to toggle on animation for that property and your first keyframe will be created.Stopwatch Depressed and First Keyframe CreatedThe next step is essential for you to create animation and is a step that is often forgotten when someone starts learning animation. What you MUST do now is move your playhead. If you do not move your playhead and then change the value you are animating you will not be animating but just changing the value of the keyframe you have just created. However, if you move forward in time and then change the value you will have created animation.Animation Motion PathPlay-Head Move and Value Changed Giving a Second KeyframeAs you can see from the above, two things have happened. Firstly, you have created a second keyframe telling Premiere Pro where you want the animation to finish and secondly, you have created a motion path which can be seen on screen if you have the word ‘Motion’ selected in the Effect Controls Panel.Motion Path Closer LookThe motion path shows you quite a few things about your Premiere Pro animation…The little squares at the start and the end of the dotted line represent the keyframes. These can be selected in the program monitor and moved with the mouse if you want to reposition them.The little dots on the line represent the ‘interpolated’ frames that Premiere Pro has created to give smooth motion to your animation.Nerd Alert: You can tell the speed of an animation by the relative distance of these little interpolated frames. If the frames are close together then that means the item doesn’t have to move very far one frame to the next and so will move slowly. If these dots are wide apart that means the item is moving a long way one frame to the next and so will move quickly.The other not so obvious thing you can see on this motion path are two solid circles a little after the first keyframe and about the same distance before the next keyframe. These are handles (known as Bezier Handles) which can be used to change the path of your animation.Moving the Bezier HandlesOnce moved, the path of the animation is changed. However, you can change both the position and the length of these handles. Longer handles create more dramatic curves while shorter handles smooth the curves off somewhat. Experiment with position and length to see what they do.Nerd Alert: It is usually considered good practice to make sure that the total length of the Bezier handles on a path do not exceed the total length of that path.To play your animation back, simply move the play-head back before the first keyframe and hit the spacebar. This is how you can see your animation and so make appropriate changes.  There is however one ‘gotcha!’ that you need to be very careful about.If you’re going to modify a keyframe,  you must insure that the playhead is on the exact frame where your keyframe is placed.  Otherwise, you will inadvertently create another keyframe.  Oops!Now you understand the basics of animation it is important that you play with it until you it becomes a natural process for you. Start by animating the Premiere Pro fixed effects and then move on to effects that you can add to your shot such as the ‘Lens Flare’ effect (this is a great one to learn).One last note on animating rotation; if you keep increasing rotation you will get something that looks like the following…Rotation Values in Premiere ProWhat this ‘2×245.0’ means is that the item had been rotated 2 complete revolutions + 245 degrees.And if it all goes wrong? You will be pleased to know that there is a ‘Reset’ button next to most effects.Just note, when you hit the reset button this will reset the values back to their ‘out of the box default values’.  It WILL NOT turn off any animation stopwatches you have depressed and will actually add keyframes to your animation! So, if you want to reset and get rid of all your animation to start again, make sure you hit the reset button AND toggle any animation stopwatches off to get rid of all your keyframes.Well, that’s the basics of animation in Premiere Pro.  Experience is the best training tool, so start experimenting!last_img read more

Video Tutorial: How to Create a Film Look in Post

first_imgWant the ease of shooting digitally but the look of film? What can you do in post production or editing to make your digital footage appear more filmic?In the following video tutorial video production pro Matt Scott tackles the burning question “How do you create a classic film look?” There are certain things you can do on-set (lighting, lens choice) to simulate more of a film look, but during post production is when many of the film emulation tricks really come into play.This video tutorial covers the fundamentals of giving your digital footage a film look during video editing including:Modifying Aspect RatioUsing Blending Modes for Film GlowApplying Film Grain (download Matt’s FREE film grain from the Downloads tab here)Additionally, Matt dissects what color and curve properties are indicative of film – and the steps necessary to apply these looks in post (see a quick before and after shot below). The video editing application used in this tutorial is Grass Valley Edius, but the same principles can be applied in any video editing application.Thanks for sharing Matt? Check out the corresponding blog post here.Do you have your own tricks for creating a film look in post production? Share them in the comments below!last_img read more

How To Calibrate Your Color Grading Monitor

first_imgCheck out this free webinar to learn how to calibrate your color grading monitor.Learning the essentials of how to calibrate your grading monitor is key to being able to assure your clients that your image is true and accurate.In this free webinar from SpectraCal you can get a very thorough introduction to the theory and practice of calibrating your display and how to use the CalMAN 4 and 5 tools to do just that. The audio is a bit rough, but if you can bear through it there’s tons of great info:How To Calibrate Your DisplayImage from VanHurkman.comIn this recent blog post from colorist and trainer Alexis Van Hurkman, you can learn how to use LightSpace CMS and DaVinci Resolve 10 to calibrate your plasma client display. Alexis’ article goes into detail on how to use automated LUT calibration with his particular grading suite set up, but you can use the technique with almost any display.While I’m discussing my particular use case, it’s worth pointing out that these procedures are identical for calibrating any kind of display, be it plasma, LCD, OLED, or projection. In fact, with plasma displays soon to be discontinued by Panasonic (according to the last news I’ve heard), the various debates about whether or not plasma is truly suitable for professional use shall eventually become moot. However, for now, plasmas are still very much in use at facilities around the world, so this information is still relevant.Check out Alexis’ article for a great read on using LightSpace CMS, Klein K-10 colorimeter and using a calibration LUT inside DaVinci Resolve 10.last_img read more

Color Grading Tips For ‘Mixed Camera’ Projects

first_imgUsing footage from different types of cameras can make color grading a challenge. Here are some tips to make the process easier.One of the most difficult tasks for a colorist is matching shots from different formats. No matter how great your eye may be, there’s no denying that it takes a lot of work to get the color from a DSLR to match a RED DRAGON or a GoPro.Every camera has its own color science and therefore responds to grading differently, which can pose a great challenge for colorists working on mixed format projects. Here are two tips that I’ve found helpful when working with mixed camera projects:1. Focus on ContrastPhoto courtesy of Robbie Carman of Amigo Media. No matter what you do, and how many color keys you try to pull – there will be color differences from camera to camera. This means you’ll need to look for other ways (as opposed to just color balance) to tie images together. In my opinion, contrast is one of the best ways to do so.By keeping your levels consistent throughout the piece (in this case we used slightly lifted shadows and punchy highlights), there’s a universal look that starts to let everything gel together.2. Use the Right LUTI like to add a film emulation LUT to everything I work on, and on projects like this, it’s especially important. Rather than choosing two separate LUTs for the narrative and doc footage, I opted to use the same LUT across both to help smooth out any minor inconsistencies in the source footage. In the end, the Fuji stock that I’d used definitely helped tie it all together, giving the piece a sense of uniformness.Keep in mind, that even when employing these tips you’ll still need to do a lot of work to match your shots properly. Color keys, balancing, windows, and other techniques can and should be used to get the look you’re after… Just make sure to always find more than one way to tie it together.Looking for additional color grading tips, tricks, and techniques? Take a look at these helpful articles from your friends at PremiumBeat:Color Grading Tips and Cinematic Looks in SpeedGrade5 Reasons to Get a Color Grading Control SurfaceBlockbuster LUTs for Video Editors and ColoristsEver had to color grade from different camera sources? Tell us about your process in the comments below!last_img read more

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