Green Manufacturing

It was only a matter of time before “green” living would venture into home/commercial construction, just as it does with the products we buy and the organic foods that we eat. Green products in this case are those that are used from renewable energy systems (think bamboo) and clean technology equipment used to manufacture those products.

Businesses seem to be jumping on board with this type of certification. Construction companies can now become LEED Certified. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This type of building “provides a way for all buildings claiming to be sustainable to be graded on a common scale.” There are different levels of LEED certification as well, so companies have a scale to go by when deciding what type of certification to go after. The benefits to LEED certification are:

-Happier employees; bigger windows, open spaces usually built with employee comfort in mind

-strong commitment to the community and environment

-lower operating costs

-positive public image; because people appreciate and recognize when businesses are committed to save environmental practices

If you notice now when searching for hotel rooms, you can even opt to search for green hotels. I think this is important for businesses to go green whenever possible. The construction industry, by nature, is a wasteful one and anything that they can do to help sustain the environment is not only important but necessary.

Sources:

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/04/15/green-manufacturing/

http://pressroom.pella.com/fast_facts/113/what-does-leed-certified-mean

http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/exclusive/benefits_of_LEED_certification.htm

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Tech Talk: Ken Swayne | Automation lecture

Listening to Mr. Swayne discuss some of the behind-the-scenes equipment needed to make automation work, really was eye-opening. It’s funny because when you say the word automation, I immediately think of movies like iRobot, RoboCop and equipment such as drones or assembly line type of machinery. I’ve never really put much thought in what makes all of that automation work.

For robotics such as in the movies, you still need someone to not only build the hardware, but even before that, you need someone or a team to develop the software. Someone still needs to be able to program the machine to do whatever the task at hand may be.

I’ve also never considered my car to be something that is automated, but Mr. Swayne mentioned that a cars’ cruise control setting is a form of automation. Behind the scenes in our  automobiles, the system is reviewing terrain, speed changes and plugging in all sorts of data into an algorithm that adjusts the speed of a vehicle going up and down hills accordingly. This all happens pretty much in the blink of an eye so having a trained technician and programmer is essential to the car industry for these types of features.

He also mentioned factory automation and why using robots work in this type of setting. I do agree that using robots allows for more precise work since you are taking the human element of job burnout and fatigue out of the equation. I also agree that using robots in this way can make production lines quicker and are more cost effective.

I’m interested to see where automation takes us in the future. What is one feature in your life that you would love to see automated?

Tech Talk: What’s New?

Google defines Technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” When you come across articles discussing the future regarding the way we travel, this definition definitely applies. Who would have thought that in our lifetime, we would see cars that can drive themselves or that jet packs would be a part of our reality? Well, they are coming. The real question should not be WHEN will this technology be available, but rather, “how will we embrace it when it arrives?”

AIR “TRAVEL”

One technology that Amazon is trying to embrace within its business model, is introducing drones to deliver packages. I instantly begin to picture the drones flying on to my porch and dropping off my package thereby saving manpower, fuel and most importantly time. But one thing I don’t consider right away is what is that doing to the job force that delivers my packages now? Will those jobs become obsolete, or will drone delivery  only take care of places within a certain proximity to an Amazon warehouse or just certain zip codes? This type of technology definitely does present some problems we-collectively-must think about and address before we can fully embrace this as a new type of norm in our lives.

 Automobile Travel

By now, you may know someone with a hybrid vehicle, or you yourself may have one. But did you know that there is an unmanned Google car traveling across town running errands? Of course, there is someone behind the wheel in case of an emergency, but for the most part, the car will be traveling without human interference.  Did you also know that Ford is developing a car that can read road signs and adjust the speed of your car accordingly? Their goal is help drivers avoid speeding tickets and try to reduce the number of accidents.

These are just two small examples of technology that is coming. What do you think about Ford’s car; would you buy it? Do you embrace change and advancement in technology willingly or reluctantly? Feel free to leave comments below.

Tech Talk: Google Products

Google Earth

Google Earth is an amazing app that gives you free satellite images of the Earth and places around the world. You can use the mobile, web or desktop version and you can choose to use the free version or Google Earth Pro.

If you have already dabbled with this app at all, chances are that you’ve probably used it to find your house. If you haven’t, you should try it. It’s neat to see your own home on a satellite photo and interesting to determine when the image of your home may have been taken. One time when I searched for my own home, it showed it when the houses around us were still under construction. Another time was when my in-laws were in town because we could see their car in our driveway using the Street View option.

The images are normally really good resolution and can show such things as hiking trails and terrain of the area you are searching.

Other things you can do on Google Earth (free version):

I used the mobile/app version, clicked on the magnifying glass to search and once I typed in my destination address. Instantly, I was taken from a view of the Earth from space down to more of an aerial view of my neighborhood. There was a marker above my address and using the iPhone finger pinch method, I was able to zoom in even closer to see greater detail.

This is a great app to have loaded and ready to go for when you want to go on your own adventure!

Have you ever used Google Earth and found something unique, strange, or unusual? Leave a comment and let us know what you found!

Google Chrome

Everyone who spends any length of time online has a preference when it comes to using an internet browser. I have used Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Chrome at some point of my online life and personally, I prefer Chrome, by far. I have found it to be faster than the other browsers and prefer the streamlined. A commonality with most browsers nowadays is that they are making improvements to level the playing field. Finding one that suits you may not be as simple as it was in the past.

Benefits of Chrome:

  • Minimalistic design lets the user delete icons off of the toolbar for a more simplistic view.
  • Tab format allows you to have multiple websites open at one time, within the same browser.
  • Incognito mode allows the user to browse without leaving cookies or tracking of activity, unless files are downloaded.
  • One touch bookmarking capability.
  • Personalization options with different themes/color schemes.
  • Intelligent start page with commonly visited webpage.
  • Browser extensions give the user added functionality.

Need more reasons to love Chrome? Check out this list that may make you love it more.  Have you found something that makes you chose the browser you use?

Text to Speech

Google’s Text to Speech is a product that can be used with other Google products such as Google Play books to read the text from books out loud or can be used with Google Translate to read aloud translations or provide insight to pronunciations.

I haven’t listened to many books on tape except for a time or two while traveling to visit family in Florida. However,  I do like the idea of being able to use an e-reader and then using the Text to Speech option while in the car.  I can also see what a benefit it would be to use this feature while traveling abroad for the pronunciations could definitely come in handy.

I found a personal review of this feature from Stefan Svartling and he said it actually helped him hone his speed reading skills. He said that just following along and reading with the reader helped to minimize the natural pauses in his head. That is definitely an added bonus to this feature. I never would have thought to use it for something like that.  Text to Speech does support 15 languages and surprisingly, Svartling’s language of Swedish was not one of them, but he found a work around and is still able to use this great product.

Have you ever used Google’s Text to Speech? What was the benefit that you experienced while using it?

Tech Talk: App Review(s)

Have you ever found yourself searching aimlessly in the App Store trying to find some really cool, useful and of course, free apps to use? Rest assured that I’m right there with you. There are some apps such as Apps Gone Free that will give you a daily update of paid for apps that are free for a limited time. Check out my top 5 recently found, free apps that may be worth checking out.

ANCESTRY

ancestry image

By now you have probably seen this site advertised on television. Ancestry is a popular app to help you locate relatives and information relevant to your lineage. I lost both of my paternal grandparents a couple of years ago and it got me thinking more about trying to find out about our lineage. My grandfather was adopted and was unable to get past a certain point before he was stuck.

Review:

Setting up an account was easy enough to do and the screens were fairly easy to use but entering all of the info and selecting people to add to your family tree became tedious. Within the first few additions to my family tree, the app kept crashing which became very frustrating. Also, it was hard to figure out how to put people in the right place once you had made a mistake.

The nice thing, however; is that you get little leaf icon next to people where there have been records located such as birth, marriage or death certificates. There is a free 7 day trial but after that you have to pay $34.99/ month  in order to view the documents and continue receiving hints about your ancestry. I feel like the common user would need to pay for the information in order for this app to really be effective. I’m not sure how many people are willing to pay for it, but I love the idea of tracing my heritage to see who I may be related to.

ANYLIST

anylist image

I recently stumbled upon this app after finding out that one I was currently using was no longer supported. AnyList has some great, easy to use functionality. Here are some of the key benefits:

-You can share your grocery list with someone else so anyone connected to it could add items to the list.

-You can create as many lists as you want to keep things nice and organized per store.

-You can add to the list by scanning the barcode of an item or by typing it in to the list as needed.

-You can search the web for recipes.

Review:

I found this app to be visually appealing and very easy to use. There is a paid for version that will allow you more functionality with making a weekly meal calendar and saving recipes to the app. The subscription services are either a 12 month family subscription for $11.99 or a 12 month individual subscription for 7.99. I think the average user could use the free version and still see some benefit but I could also argue that using a paid for version might be beneficial for those that like to be organized and have things all in one place.

30/30 PRODUCTIVITY

3030 image

This is a pretty cool app. It lets you set up a task and a time to finIsh it in and works by gestures (think swipe left to delete or shake to undo).  So, if you want to study Math for 40 minutes, take a 10 minute break and then study English, you can set up your tasks and not have to worry about the time getting away from you.

Review:

The concept of this app is pretty unique. I like the fact that I don’t have to stare at a clock to stay on task. In reading some of the app reviews, I was impressed with what people were saying about it. I saw, “amazing” “must have for college students” “perfect for ADD” and surprisingly, “writing my dissertation with this app!” It is pretty easy to navigate and it is very pleasing to look at. I would say that if you are someone that likes to make a task list and cross things off, this would be something perfect for you to try.

CALCBOT

calcbot image

This is promoted as an intelligent calculator. Not that I really need another app similar to a free one that came on my phone, but sometimes there are other apps that I prefer to use.  I know I’m not the only one that feels this way!

Review:

All of your entries are saved to a history tape so you can view later or pull them into your current calculation. There is also an expression view that will let you see all that you’ve entered so you won’t wonder where you left off in a long list. There are some in app purchases to let you personalize the color scheme. Those are only $0.99 per theme pack if you wish to purchase. Other features include:

-currency convertor: which comes with the pro version for $1.99

-scientific functions

-favorites button that will let you save commonly used calculations

All in all, this is a calculator app but it may be more user friendly and if you like some of the features mentioned above, it may work. Better for you than to iOS version.

TODAY’S DOCUMENT/NATIONAL ARCHIVES

natl archives image

I thought this app sounded really interesting when I first saw it in the App Store.  It is an archive of the world’s most important and intriguing documents and provides you a look into a new one each day.

Review:

If you are like me and are becoming more interested in history as you get older, this app may be something to look in to. You can view the actual document, tap an icon to view it in a typed format and even share it with others directly from the app. This app is very user friendly and allows you to scroll through past entries to review again or see any you may have missed.  Some examples of what you fight find are, Eli Whitney’s patent document for the Cotton Gin, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent drawing, or the photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. If you like history mixed in with some interesting old pictures and documents, this is definitely one to download.

So there you have it. Those are five of my latest app suggestions and reviews.  Do any stand out to you as ones that you might download to check out? If you’ve stumbled onto any must-have apps, I’d love to hear what you have found. Feel free to leave a comment below and share it with the rest of us!

Today’s Workout

Today’s workout was a really good circuit workout. We had another big class today and i think its because of our upcoming race. There are about 23 of us that had a moment of temporary insanity and signed up for the Spartan Race. If you’ve never heard of it, you should definitely check it out.

We are doing the Sprint which is a 5k only with obstacles along the way (think rope climbs and wall climbs). Personally, I’m doing it just to say I’ve done it and certainly not for time. I’ve got about 6 weeks until race day. Yikes!!

Today we had a 10-station circuit designed for you to go all out for 4 minutes at each station. I’m finding that I’m able to continuously burn more calories each week and build up my stamina which is nice for me considering the challenges I’ve faced not really seeing any weight loss over the last several months.

What did you do to get active today?

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Pantone Color of the Year 2013

Pantone

I don’t know how many of you follow fashion or home decorating sites/trends, but I love when Pantone announce their color of the year or particular season. A lot of times, I would go shopping and wonder why some colors were more popular than others. Or why certain shades were getting more visibility than others. Now I know that it’s because of things like this.

Who is Pantone you ask? According to their About Us section of their page,  they are a “world-renowned authority on color and provider of  color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries. The PANTONE® name is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication from designer to manufacturer to retailer to customer.”

2013 brought about the announcement of a new color of the year. Emerald.  I love emerald and have to confess that I don’t wear enough of it. So, I am vowing to embrace this shade into my wardrobe for 2013, starting with this beauty.

jade

 

What do you think of their color of the year choice? Do you wear green now? Do you think this will influence your shopping decisions at all?

Southern Sass | Black and White

jacketJacket: Southern Grace

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this jacket. I don’t even have it in my possession yet, but I still love it! I have tried it on though so I’m not totally crazy.

This is a longer length coat which is nice, but I love the tweed/chevron print of the jacket, the big buttons and the fact that I can wear this with my leggings and it will cover the things that it needs to cover. =)

This is going to be a favorite of mine, I can tell.

 

**UPDATE** I now have this jacket in my possession and yes, it is quickly becoming a favorite. It is thick enough to keep me warm on these chilly Tennessee days we’ve had recently but not too bulky that I can’t wear a sweater underneath to really layer up and stay warm. If you are local to Knoxville and need a great place to find boutique style clothing at affordable prices, I suggest that you check out Southern Grace. You can find them via their facebook page too to stay on top of new arrivals! Be sure to ask for Ashley Hankla!

First Week is in the Books

Dream/Vision Board

Dream/Vision Board

Can you believe that  the first week of the new year is already in the books. How are you doing with your resolutions (if you made any)? I’m doing pretty good so far. Here are some of my successes:

-eaten out only twice

-started to work on our 2013 budget

-made our Dream/Vision board for this year

-started working out again

-started to get back on track with my eating habits

I realize it’s only Jan 7th, but hey, you have to start somewhere right? I’m hoping that by starting 2013 this way will not only create momentum but will encourage me to continue to do things to simplify, organize and take control of my life!

To stay on track of eating better for the week, I wrote down the breakfast, lunch and snack plans for the week. This helps me see what I’ve bought grocery-wise that maybe I’ve forgotten about. A typical breakfast (last week and this week too) was a frittata and a fruit salad. We filled it full of onions, peppers, shredded carrots and spinach. I cut up strawberries and blueberries and included a can of mandarin oranges that had been in my pantry in last weeks fruit salad. This week I substituted the mandarin oranges for pineapple. YUM-O!!

Healthy lunch

Hummus and Turkey Wrap w/bowl of chili

For lunch last week I decided to do a wrap with a cup of homemade, clean-eating chili. I put roasted red pepper hummus, spring mix greens, shredded carrots and low sodium boars head roasted turkey on a gluten-free wrap. What a yummy lunch. I thought I’d get bored eating the same thing for several days in a row, but surprisingly, I did not! Hooray for small victories!