Monthly Archives: August 2019

New possibilities for boron nanotubes

first_imgThe properties that Ismail-Beigi expects would result in boron nanotubes would make them candidates to replace carbon nanotubes in some cases. Metallic systems for one-dimensional electronics could be made better with boron, and it is possible that boron nanotubes would possess higher super-conducting temperatures than carbon nanotubes. “If we’re looking for better conducting nanotubes,” he insists, “it makes sense to start moving away from carbon nanotubes.”The first step in moving away from carbon, Ismail-Beigi says, is understanding the structure of boron nanotubes. “We’re trying to see what is a likely structure for boron, and once you know that, you can determine its properties and find uses.” Nailing down the three-center bonding, and proposing sheets with hexagonal and triangular motifs is one way to understand the structure of boron nanotubes, leading to further theories about how boron may act.“One of the preliminary things that we find is that it seems as though boron nanotubes might change from metals to semiconductors under pressure,” explains Ismail-Beigi. He points out that this is just one of the interesting mechanical properties that might be seen in boron nanotubes. Ismail-Beigi also mentions that the boron structures they have found have conductivity only in the pi-manifold (made from atomic p states). “It is interesting that the electronic conductivity happens in the out-of-plane [pi] states and not the other in-plane ones.”“This entire field is very new,” he continues. “We’ve only just finally figured out where the atoms are, and now we can say what some of the properties might be.”Copyright 2007 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: New possibilities for boron nanotubes (2007, September 27) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2007-09-possibilities-boron-nanotubes.html Even though some scientists have managed to grow boron nanotubes, the nature of their structure is unknown. Different theories have been proposed regarding boron nanotube make-up, but they often result in structures that are not optimally stable. Sohrab Ismail-Beigi, a professor at Yale University, and his graduate student Hui Tang, believe they have found the most stable structure to date. Their theory is based upon something that scientists have overlooked in the past: the importance of the difference between two-center and three-center bonding. “Appreciating these two different bonding schemes explains why the new structures we have found are more stable, and also teaches us more about other possible boron structures yet to be considered,” Ismail-Beigi tells PhysOrg.com.“For carbon nanotubes,” he points out, “the graphene structure based on two-center bonding is most stable. This is not the case for boron. We are talking about an entire new class of boron sheets, with new sets of possible structures, that are more stable than previously assumed.” Ismail-Beigi and Tang’s theory of boron nanotube bonding is published in a Physical Review Letters piece titled “Novel Precursors for Boron Nanotubes: The Competition of Two-Center and Three-Center Bonding in Boron Sheets.”Instead of two-center bonding, in which two atoms share two electrons in a bond, an essential feature of boron is its tendency to three-center bonding, in which “electrons are shared among three atoms simultaneously.” Ismail-Beigi continues: “We really thought about it and realized that three-center bonding makes the new class of boron structures more stable.”When this theory is applied, Ismail-Beigi hopes that it leads to the development of boron nanotubes that can act as conductors in a way that carbon nanotubes can’t. “Graphene, which is used for carbon nanotubes, is a two-dimensional system and not a true metal,” he explains. “With carbon, you take the 2-D graphene and roll it up to make a nanotube. Depending on the precise details of the rolling, you can end up with the fact that of all the tubes of the same diameter, you get conductors only about one-third of the time. And they aren’t very good conductors.”Ismail-Beigi says that boron nanotubes would make better conductors. “It’s a metal, and it’s a matter of robustness.” He goes on to point out that in boron nanotubes, the spiral pattern in rolling (called chirality) would not be as much of a hindrance to conductivity. “In these conductors of the same diameter, chirality would still matter, but all of the boron nanotubes would still be decently conducting.”last_img read more

Jellyfish Robot Swims Like its Biological Counterpart

first_img Dutch zoo breeds own jellyfish Citation: Jellyfish Robot Swims Like its Biological Counterpart (2009, June 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-06-jellyfish-robot-biological-counterpart.html (Left) A living jellyfish and (right) a jellyfish robot made of electro-active polymer artificial muscle. Both jellyfish move by contracting the bell to generate a pulsating motion. Image: Yeom and Oh. As the researchers explain, advances in electro-active polymers (EAP) enabled them to achieve this biomimetic swimming behavior in a robot. One specific type of EAP, ionic polymer metal composites (IMPC), can be used to make actuators that behave like biological muscles, exhibiting large bending under a low applied voltage. The muscle material has several advantages for biomimetic robots, such as compactness, high power efficiency, controllable steering, and quiet locomotion. In this study, the researchers used this material, permanently bending it to mimic the living jellyfish’s bell (the hemispherical top part).“This is the first jellyfish robot based on the electro-active polymer artificial muscle,” Oh told PhysOrg.com. “They could be used as entertainment robots, micro/nano-robots, and biomedical robots in the near future.” Living jellyfish, the authors note, can vary in size from a few inches up to seven feet in diameter. Yet all jellyfish use a similar, simple swimming mechanism. By contracting its bell, the animal reduces the space underneath it, forcing water out through a lower opening near its mouth and tentacles. This pulsating motion allows the jellyfish to partially control its vertical movement. This ability is important, since jellyfish are photosensitive and prefer deeper water at brighter times of day. Although living jellyfish can move vertically, they passively depend on ocean current, tides, and wind for horizontal movement. Previous research on the locomotion of living jellyfish has found that, if the animal’s muscles force the bell to contract at its resonant frequency, less energy is required for movement. In their study, the researchers mimicked the natural pulse and recovery processes of the living jellyfish. They found that the bio-inspired periodic input signal enables the jellyfish robot to obtain a large floating velocity upward; in comparison, harmonic sinusoidal signals do not push the robot upward. Overall, their study has shown that the curved shape of the IPMC actuator can be used to build a jellyfish robot that successfully mimics the locomotion of living jellyfish. Oh added that, in the future, he plans to develop artificial biomimetic jellyfish robots that have integrated self-powered actuators and sensors, as well as an automatic steering system.More information: Sung-Weon Yeom and Il-Kwon Oh. “A biomimetic jellyfish robot based on ionic polymer metal composite actuators.” Smart Mater. Struct. 18 (2009) 085002 (10pp).Copyright 2009 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. Explore further (PhysOrg.com) — “Jellyfish are one of the most awesome marine animals, doing a spectacular and psychedelic dance in water,” explain engineers Sung-Weon Yeom and Il-Kwon Oh from Chonnam National University in the Republic of Korea. Recently, Yeom and Oh have built a jellyfish robot that imitates the curved shape and unique locomotive behavior of the living jellyfish. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Journal shines a light on the high cost of indirect spending as

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2014 Phys.org Credit: Nature, doi:10.1038/515326a. US Department of Health and Human Services; NIH RePORTER database Ledford (backed by a team of researchers at Nature) notes that scanning data obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that there are huge differences in reimbursement rates between different universities—an indication, perhaps, of a lack of standardization in the process. She also notes that the records show that in addition to doling out reimbursements for costs directly associated with research, the government also gives money back to institutions for such things as library subscriptions, Internet access, electricity, and a whole host of over overhead items. Indeed, she and her team found instances of the government paying for depreciation on buildings and even interest on debt.The problem lies perhaps with legislation in the 1960’s that allowed those that receive grants to negotiate with the government entities that provide the money. While this might seem to benefit certain entities (those with the best negotiators), the data shows that virtually all of those entities that receive grants don’t get reimbursed at the levels specified in the grants due to caps and other regulations—few they note get more than 70 percent. The result is that research institutions, which are mainly universities, are finding it more and more difficult to maintain their research initiatives, as they are often money drains.Another interesting bit of information gleaned from the data—just nine universities receive approximately a sixth (a billion dollars) of all funds given out for research—not coincidently, they also tend to negotiate higher than average amounts of reimbursement—Johns Hopkins University, tops the list, receiving almost half the billion all by itself.Ideally, Ledford notes, every penny given out by the government would go towards the direct costs involved in providing research—but realistically, that ideal won’t work. Researchers do their research in buildings that involve overhead and other indirect costs, and expecting institutions to cover those themselves isn’t sustainable. To counter arguments against paying for such costs, she suggests making the entire system more transparent so that anyone looking can very easily see where the money goes and why it’s needed. Citation: Journal shines a light on the high cost of indirect spending as part of research grants (2014, November 20) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-11-journal-high-indirect-grants.html More information: Indirect costs: Keeping the lights on, www.nature.com/news/indirect-c … he-lights-on-1.16376center_img (Phys.org) —Heidi Ledford, a staff writer for the journal Nature, has posted a News Feature piece in the current issue of the journal highlighting how much of tax dollars are now going to support indirect spending when the government hands out research grants. In her piece, Ledford notes that a maze of regulations and indirect costs are making it more difficult for universities and other institutions to carry out their research and suggests that more transparency in the process might make things easier to “bear.” Journal information: Nature Research collaboration among multiple institutions is growing trend Explore furtherlast_img read more

Researchers develop flame and water resistant cotton coating that is also selfcleaning

first_img Researchers find DNA can work as a flame retardant (w/ video) Journal information: ACS Nano Credit: ACS Citation: Researchers develop flame and water resistant cotton coating that is also self-cleaning (2015, April 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-04-flame-resistant-cotton-coating-self-cleaning.html The problem with many fire retardant coatings, the researchers point out, is that extended use or repeated washings tends to reduce the effectiveness of the coating. They wondered if adding a water resistant coating might help make a retardant last longer. To find out, they started by dipping a strip of cotton into polyethylenimine, a polymer that is commonly used as a binding agent. Next they dipped the same strip into a vat of ammonium polyphosphate, which is commonly used as a flame retardant. Then they dipped the same strip into a solution consisting of silsesquioxane (a cage-like molecule) and ethanol, which when mixed tends to be hydrophobic.The team then tested the material to see if the coatings would work as they hoped. They hung the strip and then set fire to it at its base—as can be seen in a video they made, the untreated strip quickly catches fire and is soon engulfed—the entire strip is reduced to ashes. The treated strip on the other hand burns for just a few seconds at the base and then goes out.The team explains that the fire retardant works by swelling when heated, which causes a gas to be released that prevents the fire from getting oxygen. The hydrophobic coating works in a way similar to duck feathers, water is repelled at the nanoscale—the coating works by topping a porous base with a rough skin with cage-like molecules.To find out if their coating could withstand ordinary wear and tear, the team subjected treated strips to O2 plasma and by mechanically rubbing it 1000 times. Afterwards it still was resistant to fire and water.The researchers report that the material was also made self-healing by adding a second layer of hydrophobic molecules—when the first layer is damaged, air seeps in and the water in it causes molecules from the second layer to fill gaps in the first layer. (Phys.org)—A small group of researchers with China’s Jilin University has developed a triple-layer coating that protects cotton from water and fire and is easily cleaned. In their paper published in ACS Nano, Shanshan Chen , Xiang Li , Yang Li and Junqi Sun describe how in searching for a way to make fire retardants last longer on materials, they hit upon an idea that also made such materials water resistant.center_img Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: Intumescent Flame-Retardant and Self-Healing Superhydrophobic Coatings on Cotton Fabric, ACS Nano, Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b00121AbstractFlame-retardant and self-healing superhydrophobic coatings are fabricated on cotton fabric by a convenient solution-dipping method, which involves the sequential deposition of a trilayer of branched poly(ethylenimine) (bPEI), ammonium polyphosphate (APP), and fluorinated-decyl polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane (F-POSS). When directly exposed to flame, such a trilayer coating generates a porous char layer because of its intumescent effect, successfully giving the coated fabric a self-extinguishing property. Furthermore, the F-POSS embedded in cotton fabric and APP/bPEI coating produces a superhydrophobic surface with a self-healing function. The coating can repetitively and autonomically restore the superhydrophobicity when the superhydrophobicity is damaged. The resulting cotton fabric, which is flame-resistant, waterproof, and self-cleaning, can be easily cleaned by simple water rinsing. Thus, the integration of self-healing superhydrophobicity with flame retardancy provides a practical way to resolve the problem of washing durability of the flame-retardant coatings. The flame-retardant and superhydrophobic fabric can endure more than 1000 cycles of abrasion under a pressure of 44.8 kPa without losing its flame retardancy and self-healing superhydrophobicity, showing potential applications as multifunctional advanced textiles. © 2015 Phys.orglast_img read more

Giant fungus covering many acres found to have stable mutation rate

first_img Explore further Back in 1983, Johann Bruhn of the University of Missouri became aware of something preying on weak trees in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the tiny town of Crystal Falls. He and a team of researchers undertook a study and discovered the culprit was a honey mushroom—a fungus that has been found to grow into very large networks. They concluded that that the mushroom was approximately 1,500 years old and that it covered approximately 15 hectares of forest—most of it out of sight, underground. The only above-ground evidence of the fungus was honey-colored mushrooms that dotted the landscape in the fall. The team also found that the fungus was able to spread using stringy rhizomorphs. In this new effort, Bruhn and his team returned to the site to take another look at the specimen, which has been added to a select group of the largest organisms in the world.In their new study, the researchers found that the fungus was even bigger and older than first thought. They discovered that it actually spread over 70 hectares and was approximately 2,500 years old. They noted also that adding up its weight showed it to be roughly equal to three blue whales They were also intrigued by its ability to maintain itself over such a long period. They took some samples and conducted genetic sequencing. They found that the fungus had a very low mutation rate, helping it avoid mutations that might at some point lead to its demise.The researchers suggest further study of the fungus might reveal how it keeps its mutation rate so low, information that could be helpful to those studying mutation rates on the opposite end of the spectrum—cancerous tumors. They also note that it is possible the fungus is even older than they calculated. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: James B. Anderson et al. Clonal evolution and genome stability in a 2500-year-old fungal individual, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2233 ‘Humongous fungus’: 25 years later, this Armillaria gallica is bigger than first thought, says researcher Citation: Giant fungus covering many acres found to have stable mutation rate (2018, December 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-giant-fungus-acres-stable-mutation.htmlcenter_img © 2018 Science X Network A team of researchers from Canada and the U.S. has found that a giant fungus covering many acres has a stable mutation rate. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of the extremely old fungus and what they found. Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B Map of all collections of Armillaria. Black dots, C1; open circles, C2; grey dots, all other individuals combined. The outline of the pine plantation and Paint Pond Road are included as alignment features. The present sample, which was larger and more broadly distributed than the previous [1], was designed to find the approximate borders of C1. The dashed line encompasses collections of C1 and includes some non-C1 individuals. Other individuals surround C1. The present sample reveals that C1 is larger and older than originally reported [1]. Based on previous growth rate measurements and estimation of fungal biomass, the revised estimates for minimum age and mass are 2500 years and 4 × 105 kg, respectively. Credit: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2233last_img read more

Debuting in great style

first_imgThey have been performing all over for years now. But while their songs have entertained music lovers in the Capital for long, it is only recently that Skavengers managed to launch their debut album. The band launched their much awaited debut LP at Cheri in the Capital on Saturday night. The evening saw the eight-piece band — known for creating an electrifying atmosphere —  set the place on fire ‘SKA’ style. They were accompanied by the Reggage Rajahs and Bass Foundation. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The exclusive live set and performance by the troupe was led by Samara C on vocals, Delhi Sultanate (vocals), Stefan Flexi K on the organ and also vocals, Raghav Diggy Dang (guitar) , Tony ‘Bass’ Guinard (Bass), Rie Ona (saxophone), Yohei Sato (trombone). They were joined by the new addition to their bass section —  Shirish Malhotra, who made his debut with the band on baritone sax. The evening saw the music enthusiasts of Delhi sway and dance way to the eclectic mix of drum and bass, jazz and a touch of Electronic with a Ska-styled twist.The Skavengers launched their debut LP amidst much fanfare and cheering from fellow musicians and music lovers and set the night on fire with an electrifying performance with the Bass Foundation and Reggae Rajahs which made it an epic night at Cheri. The album launch and live performance at Cheri kickstarted the group’s India LP Tour as well. They will thereafter go on to Mumbai and Sunburn Festival, Goa with their debut LP.last_img read more

I dont know if going by trends is such a great idea

first_imgRaghu Dixit makes happy music’ says his website. We would gladly agree. After having played in over 20 countries and clocked over 750 shows over the last 12 years, Dixit has had quite a remarkable career. He’s in the Capital to perform live at Blue Frog tonight. Don’t miss it! And while you decide to cancel other events to make place for this one – here are excerpts from the interview…Tell us a bit about where you started from and your initial years in the industry? Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’I started making my music from my early 20s in Mysore. The story of how I got into music is widely read now, but long story short, I discovered music, loved it so much that I thought it was worth it to quit my job as a scientist and jump into this full time! That was 15 years ago, and in 2011, I got the best New Comer award by Songlines magazine, so I think I am still in my early years in this industry.What is ‘your kind of music’? Is there any music that you just don’t like listening to? Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixI’ve always maintained that I think there are 2 genres of music, good music, and bad music. I strive to make as much good music as I can – there is no type of music I don’t like listening to, as long as it’s good. I don’t have any genre based dislikes, though my preference is for folk and world music.How do you think the music scene in India has changed over the last decade?Immensely! from being mostly a hobby for everyone involved, today, we have a festival almost every weekend in India and bands that are of such varied genres and musical styles. I think we have come a long way in the last decade and the next decade will make Indie music huge in India. Are there trends that are coming up now that you can foresee as the next best thing in music?I don’t know if going by trends is such a great idea. I know that a whole lot of people are experimenting with music and technology, and there will be a lot of hits and misses.  Do you have a dream project in mind?I am working on a couple of dream projects at the moment and they will be announced soon.Who are the best artistes you have worked with?Everyone I have worked with has been special in their own way, and it will be very hard for me to single people out for this.What songs are on your playlist right now?A lot of world music, the new John Mayer album, all my essentials, right from Dave Matthews to Michael Jackson!What next for the Raghu Dixit Project?Our album comes out next month, and we should start making a lot of noise very soon about it, that is something we have been looking forward to for the last 5 years almost!How has Delhi been for you? How have the Delhi audience been for you?I love playing in Delhi and we have had some amazing shows there. A lot of people know our music inside out when they come for a gig and there is a lot of singing along and the atmosphere is brilliant! I don’t expect any less this time.Tell us five things you like and dislike about Delhi.I love Delhi, its food and people, and particularly dislike it’s traffic at times and at some points in the year, its weather!last_img read more

Akhilesh dares PM Modi to ban beef exports

first_imgTargeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said those who spoke against “pink revolution” should ban beef exports as they were now in power and alleged that they wanted to disturb the “secular” ethos of the country by raising such issues.Amid the outrage over lynching of a man in the state’s Dadri town after villagers accused him and his family of consuming beef, the Chief Minister today broke his silence saying that “our religion and our country” allow people to live the way they want and respect their rights. Also Read – Punjab on alert after release of excess water from Bhakra dam”A rumour does not have anything in it but a lot can happen because of it. Our Constitution is based on secularism.Our schemes are all based on this principle but some forces want to vitiate the atmosphere.”They want to rake up such issues. These forces talked about pink revolution. We will say today – you are in government now, so ban beef exports. You should build support for banning their export,” Yadav said in an apparent reference to Modi, who had in the run-up to last Lok Sabha elections attacked the then UPA government over meat exports, saying it was encouraging “pink revolution”. Also Read – Union Min doubts ‘vote count’ in Bareilly, seeks probeWithout naming Modi, Yadav said that those who are marketing the country abroad should consider what kind of food is eaten by the people there.”The world where you are roaming, marketing and promoting your country, just think once what kind of food they eat from dawn to dusk. That’s why we should not interfere in each other’s way of life,” he said at a function here.A blame game has erupted between BJP and ruling SP in the state over the killing of the 50-year-old man following rumours that he and his family had eaten beef. Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish was critically injured by a 200-strong mob which barged into their house on Monday night following rumours that the family had consumed beef. Cow slaughter is banned in Uttar Pradesh.Samajwadi Party has accused BJP of deliberately inciting violence ahead of 2017 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh as part of efforts to polarise people while BJP has termed it a failure of the state government to maintain law and order.last_img read more

Lab for testing export goods to come up in New Town

first_imgKolkata: A laboratory to test export goods will be set up in New Town. The state Cabinet has given the approval to allot 40 cottahs of land to Export Inspection Agency, a wing of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to set up the laboratory in New Town. The laboratory will come up at Action Area III.The laboratory will test goods, particularly tea and seafood items, which are being exported. In order to export goods, various certificates are required and the consignments are often rejected as they fail to meet the international standards. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeThe Export Inspection Lab, which now functions from a rented premise, was established in 1963. Its purpose is to ensure development of export trading through quality control.The lab conducts chemical testing on items like spices and condiments, pulses, fish and fishery products, fruit juices, fruits and vegetables, drinking water, carbonated water etc. which undergo tests like Parathion methyl, Aldrin, Alpha-BHC, Copper, Acidity, Moisture, Total ash, Water Soluble ash, Crude Fiber, Volatile Oil and many more.The lab also conducts biological testing on items like fish and fish products, milk and milk products, bakery products, swabs, water and ice from processing industries, beverages etc. which undergo tests like Shigella sp, Total Plate Count, Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp, Coliforms and many more. The lab is well-equipped with skilled professionals to carry out accurate testing services.last_img read more

Baby takin from Berlin dies at Darjeeling zoo

first_imgDarjeeling: The 8-month-old male takin, the youngest of the five takins brought to the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) from Berlin, died on Tuesday.The other four animals are in good health and have been shifted to the display area of the zoological park in Darjeeling. “Charles was the youngest of the takins. He was suffering from acute stomach infection and was under treatment for five days. The animal died on Friday night. The other takins are in good health. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseThey have been shifted to the display area,” said Rajendra Jakher, director of Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park. The zoological park had received five zoo-bred takins from Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde GmbH Zoo as part of an exchange programme in January this year. A pair of red pandas will be sent to Berlin soon in return. Mishmi Takins (Budorcas taxicolor) is a goat-antelope found in eastern Himalayas. The four takins from Berlin that are on display are —Claire (female, two years 10 months) Danny (male, two years 11 months) Ramona (female, one year one months) and Rock (male, one year four months). Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataOn arrival from Berlin they were under observation and regular check-ups were conducted to keep tabs on their health. Recently, they were shifted to the display area and have become a major attraction at the zoo. The zoo was founded in 1958 and specialises in the captive breeding of endangered Himalayan species including Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Tibetan Wolf; Blue Sheep, Himalayan Tahr and Satyr Tragopan (crimson-horned pheasant) Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is the pioneer zoo in India to have initiated the captive breeding programme of snow leopards. In 1986, this programme had been initiated with four snow leopards.last_img read more

Bridging different periods of Indian Textile history

first_imgThe Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, in association with the Asian Heritage Foundation, is organising an exhibition of ingeniously woven historic Indian handmade textile forms as a prelude to World Handmade Textile Biennales. The exhibition was inaugurated by Smriti Irani, Minister of Textiles, and Ajay Tamta, Minister of State for Textiles, at the renovated Handloom Haat in Janpath on March 5, in the presence of Padmabhushan Rajeev Sethi, Chairman, Asian Heritage Foundation. The showcase of handmade textiles at the event unfolds an evocative visual language of design, bridging different periods of Indian textile history. Each displayed piece tells a unique story. The five textile forms with deep roots in India and a strong international footprint include Khadi, Brocade, Ikat, Chintz, and Embroider Also Read – Add new books to your shelfWith an aim to deconstruct matrix of threads and fibres, warp and weft associated with the forms, and also to face the changing sensibilities and preferences of the global markets – the proposed Biennales will be organised in the nerve-centers of their practice – Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Srinagar respectively. The Biennales’ team has even initiated an unprecedented exercise to map the five principal handmade textile skills on the international level. The data which has been collated so far is laid out graphically on five world political maps presented at the event. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveBeing the curtain raiser for the World Handmade Textile Biennales, the exhibition is being held at those grounds of the country from where it re-imagined its creative identity after Independence, through a group of visionaries who laid the foundations of National Handicrafts and Handlooms Museum, and All India Handloom Board. Celebrating the living heritage of the county, the ongoing exhibition is a homage to such visionaries, with a hopes to recapture the essence of handmade production across the country through these five textile traditions.last_img read more

Mamata pays tribute to karunanidhi on his first death anniversary

first_imgKolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday paid her tribute to M Karunanidhi on his first death anniversary. Banerjee had on Tuesday evening left for Chennai, where she is scheduled to unveil a statue of the former Tamil Nadu chief minister at the Murasoli office of the DMK. “Tribute to M Karunanidhi, former chief minister of Tamil Nadu, on his death anniversary,” Banerjee tweeted. According to sources, MK Stalin, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president and son of Karunanidhi, has invited Banerjee and several other leaders, including Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, at Wednesday’s memorial meeting to mark the first death anniversary of the party patriarch. Karunanidhi died in Chennai on August 7 last year after prolonged illness.last_img read more

Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthaus Hilarious Mutual Loathing on Hello Dolly Set

first_imgWhen you think about the 1960s, certain things immediately spring to mind, from the Vietnam War and the civil-rights movement to the explosion of the counterculture. Musically, it was a decade that saw the British invasion, with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and the arrival of the singer-songwriter in artists such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. But what you may not realize is that the 1960s was also the heyday of Broadway musicals being adapted for the big screen, and in magnificently big-budget fashion. The film adaptations of West Side Story, Music Man, The Sound of Music, Oliver!, Funny Girl, Gypsy, My Fair Lady, and Bye-Bye Birdie followed a tradition of stage to screen established in the 1950s with hits like South Pacific, Guys and Dolls, and Oklahoma. These 1960s musicals were beloved by both audiences and award shows–they made a ton of money and racked up a whole lot of Oscars. The songs, the sets, the costumes! Sometimes film critics sniffed at the films’ corniness, but nobody seemed to care.So in 1964, when Hello, Dolly!, the story of an 1890s matchmaker named Dolly Levi finding love with a man she’s supposed to match, became the toast of Broadway, it was obvious that the next move would be turning it into a film.No one could have foreseen the pain that awaited.The heads of Twentieth-Century Fox, the studio which had enjoyed a tremendous success with The Sound of Music, went after the film rights for Hello, Dolly! They made a deal with producer David Merrick, who stipulated that the movie could not be released while the play was still running on Broadway. To direct the film, Fox hired Gene Kelly, the singer-dancer legend who had transitioned into directing and had a success with A Guide for the Married Man in 1967, starring Walter Matthau. While Gene Kelly was a household name for his smiling role in Singin’ in the Rain, he had a few sharp edges. Kelly had taken a meeting with the producers of The Sound of Music and turned it down with the memorable words “Find someone else to direct this s—.”Unsurprisingly, Kelly cast Matthau as the male lead of Hello, Dolly! The part of Horace Vandergelder, a “half-millionaire” widower known for his grumpiness, seemed perfect for Matthau, who is perhaps most famous today for playing the sarcastic slob Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple.Carol Channing with David Burns in the stage version of “Hello, Dolly!” (1964)The debate over which actresses best transition from stage to screen has always been a lively one. Julie Andrews was rejected in favor of Audrey Hepburn for My Fair Lady but Andrews kept the lead role in Sound of Music, for example. West Side Story producers cast not a stage actress but film ingenue Natalie Wood as Maria–and then dubbed her singing. But when it came to Hello, Dolly!, everyone was in agreement about the title role. Carol Channing, who created the iconic character of Dolly Levi for Hello, Dolly!, was magnificent–and she would have to go.Channing was 43 years old and a stage star when Hello, Dolly! premiered on Broadway, just the right age for the part. She not only won a Tony but became a national sensation with her brassy warmth and her “huge eyes and monumental smile.” At the 1964 Democratic National Convention, she sang, “Hello Lyndon” to President Lyndon Johnson.But Channing didn’t have a lot of film experience, and there were concerns that her looks–once described by People magazine as “megawattage Kewpie doll”–wouldn’t translate well on the big screen. Among the actresses considered for Dolly Levi were Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, and Shirley MacLaine. Julie Andrews reportedly turned it down.The eventual choice was a newcomer. One of the biggest hits of 1968 was Funny Girl. America fell in love with Barbra Streisand, the self-deprecating, jokes-cracking, talented, vulnerable Fanny Brice who finds love with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Shariff), only to lose him in the end. The film hadn’t quite come out yet, but buzz was strong, and the producers of Hello, Dolly! decided Streisand would be perfect for the lead role, despite the fact that Dolly Levi was supposed to be a glamorous middle-aged widow, and Streisand was 26 years old, fresh from Brooklyn.At first the priority was not dealing with a possible miscasting but finding good locations. The story takes place in 1890s Yonkers and New York City. Needless to say, to use the real NYC for any exterior sets would have been a challenge–the city was a crime-ridden, garbage-piled, urban nightmare headed for near-bankruptcy. Nearby Yonkers was not much better. The film’s producers decided to transform the upstate town of Garrison, New York, into a turn of the century Yonkers. The grounds of West Point military academy were also used. “New York City” scenes were filmed on the studio lot in Los Angeles. Big-spending Twentieth Century Fox reportedly funneled $2 million into re-creating historic Fifth Avenue in L.A.Publicity photo of Walter Matthau in Broadway play “Fancy Meeting You Again.” In his career he won two Tony Awards and one Academy Award.Once filming began, it didn’t take long for Walter Matthau and Barbra Streisand, who were separated in age by 22 years, to start arguing. Streisand was known for requesting retakes on Funny Girl, and when she started doing it on Hello, Dolly!, Matthau, who had just won an Oscar for The Fortune Cookie, was annoyed and then outraged. He called her “Miss Ptomaine.” As things deteriorated further, he refused to be in the same room with the actress who was supposed to be his love interest, except when they were filming a scene.“I have more talent in my smallest fart than she does in her entire body,” Matthau was quoted as saying.And that was not all. Matthau also said, “The trouble with Barbra is that she became a star long before she became an actress. Which is a pity, because if she learned her trade properly, she might become a competent actress instead of a freak attraction–like a boa constrictor.”Autographed publicity photo of Barbra Streisand in film “Hello, Dolly!”As for Streisand, she loathed him just as much, calling him “old sewer mouth.” When it came time for the two to kiss at their wedding, Matthau refused to do it, and a variety of camera angles were used to create the impression that their lips touched without actually meeting.No less a writer than Nora Ephron, profiling Streisand for Good Housekeeping magazine, reported on the personality clashes, and took Streisand’s side. Wrote Ephron: “People who worked on Hello, Dolly! insisted that Matthau was to blame for the difficulty. ‘It’s a very simple story,’ said a friend of mine who was there. ‘She’s twenty-six years old and she’s the biggest star in town. Can you imagine how a big spoiled crybaby like Matthau reacts to playing second fiddle to that?’ Matthau reportedly became so upset he went to complain to Richard Zanuck, the head of 20th Century-Fox. ‘Do I need a heart attack?’ asked Matthau. ‘Do I need an ulcer?’ Zanuck listened politely until Matthau finished whining. ‘I’d like to help you out,’ he replied, ‘but the film is not called Hello, Walter.’ ”Like a stomach virus aboard a cruise liner, the strife kept spreading on the set of Hello, Dolly! Streisand didn’t get along with director Gene Kelly either, and they argued throughout filming. The screenwriter, Ernest Lehman, said Streisand and Kelly were not “meant to communicate on this Earth.” It seems that choreographer Michael Kidd had problems with not only Gene Kelly but the film’s costume designer and wouldn’t communicate with the latter.One of Barbra Streisand’s extravagant costumes. The dress and purse from “Hello, Dolly!” at the Debbie Reynolds Auction Breaks Up Historic Hollywood Collection (The Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles).Author: Doug Kline CC BY 2.0Walter Matthau turned against another of his co-stars, Michael Crawford, who would find fame later as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, over a bet. On a break from filming, Matthau and Crawford visited the horse races nearby and saw a horse named Hello Dolly. Matthau refused to place a bet on it because of his hatred for Streisand. Crawford did–and the horse won. Matthau would not speak to Crawford for the rest of the shoot unless he had to.Not even the costumes cooperated. A gold-beaded gown Streisand wore in one scene weighed 40 pounds, cost $8,000, and had a long train. Twice during rehearsals, she tripped over the nearly three-foot-long train. After dancers tripped over it t0o, the train was removed.Screenwriter Lehman later said of Hello, Dolly!: “The intrigues, the bitterness, the backbiting, the deceits, the misery, the gloom. Most unpleasant. It’s quite amazing what people go through to make something entertaining for others.”Mercifully, the shooting finished, and the producers were desperate to get their movie, which had gone significantly over budget, into the theaters and start making money. But this is when David Merrick’s stipulation came back to haunt them. The stage version was still going strong on Broadway–a new all-black-cast version starring Pearl Bailey was a big hit. Film release was delayed for months.Related story from us: The real “Sound of Music”: Moody Maria married a man 25 years her senior, the family lost their wealth before WWII, and she sold her autobiography to Hollywood for $9,000Hello, Dolly! finally premiered in December of 1969, with fans of Streisand lining up around the block to see it. Critics were lukewarm, and the film did not do at all well for Twentieth Century Fox. The deeper problem was that by this time, audiences were interested in stories like The Graduate and Easy Rider, not the marriage problems of Horace Vandergelder.Gene Kelly never directed another Broadway musical adaptation, returning to acting, though he made unfortunate choices in Xanadu and Viva Knievel!, co-starring Evel Knievel.  The careers of Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau did not suffer, however. She went from triumph to triumph. Streisand rarely talked about the film in later interviews, besides the fact that she shouldn’t have taken the part because she was just “too young.”The film has its fans, admired for its art direction, which won an Oscar, and its musical score. Many feel the highlight of Hello, Dolly! has nothing to do with Streisand or Matthau. It’s Louis Armstrong singing the title song, “Hello, Dolly!” When it was released as a single, the song became a massive hit, reaching number one on the U.S. Billboard charts and ending a Beatles’ streak of three number-one hits in a row. Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “Hello, Dolly!” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.last_img read more

Lost Stanley Kubrick script discovered in perfect shape to be filmed

first_imgStanley Kubrick, director of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Lolita, wrote a screenplay in the mid-1950s that for reasons no one is sure of went into a drawer and disappeared. Now it has come out again, and it’s finished and polished, in perfect shape to be filmed. The 100-plus-page script, titled “Burning Secret,” was based on a 1913 novella written by the Austrian Stefan Zweig, who was very popular in the 1920s and authored, among many novels and plays, Letter From an Unknown Woman, made into a film.Burning Secret was recently found and brought forward by Nathan Abrams, professor of film at Bangor University and an expert on Kubrick, who said in an interview with The Guardian, “I couldn’t believe it. It’s so exciting. It was believed to have been lost.”Stanley Kubrick, during filming of his movie 2001: a Space Odyssey. (Photo by Dmitri Kessel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)He added: “Kubrick aficionados know he wanted to do it, [but] no one ever thought it was completed. We now have a copy and this proves that he had done a full screenplay.”Kubrick’s screenplay, co-written with novelist Calder Willingham in 1956, follows a predatory man who pretends to befriend a young boy at a spa resort in order to seduce his married mother. This has raised comparisons to Lolita, in which the main character becomes close to a widow in order to seduce her young daughter.“The son of a Kubrick collaborator, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, has shown me a copy,” Professor Abrams told the BBC. “It seemingly checks out. It’s most likely that said collaborator was going to work on the film had it been green-lit.”Stanley Kubrick, aged 21, in 1949.The script was written about the time of the release of Kubrick’s early film The Killing, starring Sterling Hayden, who later said the director was “cold and detached. Very mechanical, always confident.”Kubrick with showgirl Rosemary Williams in 1949.The speculation is that the script did not go forward in the mid-1950s because the subject matter was too risque. “The child acts as an unwitting go-between for his mother and her would-be lover, making for a disturbing story with sexuality and child abuse churning beneath its surface,” said Professor Abrams.Kubrick himself directed Lolita in 1962, following his success with Paths of Glory and Spartacus.Professor Abrams told the BBC, “I would argue that what we can see draws a direct link between this film, between Lolita, Barry Lyndon, The Shining and culminating in Eyes Wide Shut.”Great Hollywood legends quotes“Elements of this film, although it didn’t get made, have fed into his other films,” he said. “We can trace his thought over 40 years.”The last film Kubrick directed was Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, which, like Burning Secret, was based on a novella written by a Viennese author.Adolphe Menjou and Kirk Douglas in ‘Paths of Glory’ (1957)In the case of Eyes Wide Shut, it was Arthur Schnitzler’s 1926 novella Dream Story. Kubrick changed the time and setting to modern-day New York City, with mixed results. It is clearly not New York City to anyone who knows the city–Kubrick filmed it in London because he did not ever travel to the United States, his native country.“He never left England, never, not once,” said Sydney Pollack, Kubrick’s friend who appeared in Eyes Wide Shut. “Wouldn’t get on a boat, wouldn’t get on a plane, wouldn’t do any of that.”Read another story from us: Fifty years later comes Stanley Kubrick explanation of baffling end of “2001: A Space Odyssey”Pollack said that Kubrick was excellent at chess. “He had a chess player’s mind…That’s why it was so maddening to work with him as an actor, because it was not at all uncommon to do a hundred takes. You would wonder, ‘Why in God’s name is he doing this? How can he find something different after take 60 or 65?’ The actors found it torturous but you know it produced something different in human behavior that just doesn’t get produced otherwise.”Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.last_img read more

Vincent Van Gogh and the Issue with his Ear – What Really

first_imgTo many, Vincent Van Gogh is seen as a tormented and depressed artist who suffered from a terrible mental illness. It is reported that he ate the paint he used for his creations and would drink turpentine as a way to commit suicide.One of the most widespread stories about him and his battles though is when he cut off his ear.However, new reports show he may not have actually done this act himself.Vincent van GoghIt’s a story that has been passed on throughout art history – on December 23, 1888, Van Gogh, during one of his frenzies, cut off his ear with a razor.This horrific act is documented in many of his paintings and drawings, such as his Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe, and hasn’t really been something that has been questioned, until now.Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889, Courtauld Institute of Art, London.Some art historians now say that there is possible proof that Van Gogh did not cut his ear off, but rather lost it during a row with his friend Paul Gauguin, also a painter.They believe that Gauguin was growing tired of living with Van Gogh and was going to leave his famous Yellow House in Arles, France so he could venture off to do his own excursions.Gauguin, c. 1895, playing a harmonium at Alphonse Mucha’s studio at rue de la Grande-Chaumière, Paris (Mucha photo)On his way to do so, Van Gogh and Gauguin had a huge fight which resulted in Gauguin allegedly drawing a sword and cutting off Van Gogh’s ear.It’s not entirely known why Gauguin had a sword or felt the need to use it, but it’s widely believed it could have been part of his fencing equipment as he was a passionate fencer.While there is no hard evidence of this, many historians point to Van Gogh’s letters and drawings as proof. In one of his many letters to his brother Theo, Van Gogh writes about how Gauguin lost his fencing blade and gloves while at the house.Letter 716: Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin to Emile Bernard. Arles, Thursday 1st or Friday 2nd November, 1888.There’s also Van Gogh’s sketching of an ear with the inscription “ictus” on the bottom which is a Latin fencing term for “hit.”However, this new theory isn’t without protests. Many other art historians disagree with this statement, pointing out there really being no concrete proof of these claims.While they say it might have happened, the truth may never truly be known.Self-portrait, 1889, private collection. Mirror-image self portrait with bandaged earThe quietness of Van Gogh about these accounts may be due to a “pact of silence” the two artists made together. In his last remarks to Gauguin, he says, “You are quiet. I will be, too.”This may have meant nothing, or perhaps was an ode to their pact to never let the truth about his severed ear be known.Many believe it was Van Gogh’s way of trying to save his friendship with Gauguin and prevent one of his only friends from being sent away to jail for this horrendous deed.Worn Out by Vincent van Gogh.However, it was never to be. As Gauguin left Van Gogh to pursue other adventures, Van Gogh fell into an even deeper depression.Van Gogh eventually took his ear that he had saved, wrapped it in a clean cloth, and later quietly handed it over to a young maid working at a brothel as a sign of affection for her.The maid was quite horrified to find what was inside and alerted the authorities, causing Van Gogh to be recommitted back to an asylum.Read another story from us: World’s First Painting Produced By Artificial Intelligence Fetches Huge SumHe was soon taken away was kept under the close eye of medical professionals. However, it was all too much for this lonely artist. On July 29, 1890, Van Gogh committed suicide by shooting himself, taking the secrets of this mystery with him forever.last_img read more

VIDEO Member of Trumps inner circle is an internet famous viral trickshot

first_img Advertisement They say everyone in Washington has a secret, and that’s definitely true of 27-year-old President Trump aide Johnny McEntee. It turns out McEntee, who appeared in the Trump team’s “thumbs up” photo on Air Force One – celebrating the one year anniversary of his election – has a previous life as an internet famous viral trick shot YouTube star from his time playing quarterback at the University of Connecticut from 2008-2012.A politico profile of McEntee detailed his unexpected rise through the Trump organization from viral QB, to campaign volunteer, to trusted aide within the President’s inner circle. Per the story:“A former low-level Fox News staffer and campaign official, now makes $115,000 a year as Trump’s personal aide and body man. How he rose to this level of prominence is in some respects the quintessential tale of success within Trump’s organization, where loyalty and looks often matter more than résumé. Athletically handsome and a sharp dresser—one former campaign official called him “so pretty”—McEntee arrived at Trump’s doorstep in August 2015 with no more qualifications than his determination to make the boss happy.McEntee also loves to troll the press on Air Force One, which could explain his meteoric rise with the President: For months, he has played a practical joke on unwitting staffers by handing them a note, “signed” by Trump, whose signature McEntee has perfected. The note usually gives the staffer a hard time about something, or an “atta-boy” for all of the work they are doing. Only later does McEntee reveal that he wrote it, as other staffers usually start laughing. Many hang on to the notes as keepsakes. “For context, it’s about having fun,” one former White House staffer hastened to explain. “Not trying to undermine the U.S. government.”If you want to have a career long career in Washington, this is the type of internet video you want to have lurking around, ask Texas rep Joe Barton. Here’s one of Johnny “Nuclear” Football’s viral trick shot vids that got over 7 million views back in 2011:last_img read more

Kevin Mawae Delivers Unreal Speech About Greatness to ASU Football After HOF

first_imgKevin Mawae was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame over the weekend and gave an incredible induction speech, in which he thanked his dad for instilling the work ethic in him that would eventually make him an 8-time Pro Bowl center and get him to Canton.“People always ask “who were your greatest role models and who did you look up to growing up?” The answer has always been YOU” @KevinMawae on his parents being his greatest role models. #PFHOF19 pic.twitter.com/BxeGm0aCUt— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) August 4, 2019 Advertisement Instead of soaking up the glory of his ultimate career achievement, Mawae showed up the very next day to attend the first day of Arizona State training camp, where he serves as the O-line coach. While still wearing his gold jacket, he delivered an unbelievable speech to his players about what it takes to be great. It turns out Mawae is pretty good at this speech thing.WARNING: Make sure you’re not anywhere near a wall when you watch this or you’ll likely get down in a 3-point stance and run through it.🗣 Upon his return from Canton, @KevinMawae challenged the team to do one thing. pic.twitter.com/jytGv7zyBW— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) August 6, 2019last_img read more

6 Lessons in How to Build a Successful App

first_img The winners: Angry Birds, fart generators, doodles. The losers: almost everyone else.Thanks to fairy-tale success stories, “app-preneurs” abound. But the truth is that most apps lose 76 percent of their consumers after the first three months of use–which means that even in the unlikely event your product is chosen from among the daily App Store deluge, any ad or freemium revenue streams would dry up quickly.So how do you build an app that will attract loyal users, one that’s strong enough to support a profitable company? To find out, we went behind the scenes at Los Angeles-based inMarket, the development firm responsible for CheckPoints, a free shopping app that allows users to check in at more than 1 million retailers to earn discounts toward goods — essentially digitizing paper coupons, bridging online and offline commerce.Todd DiPaola, president of inMarket, and his brother Mark, CEO, sold their El Segundo, Calif.-based marketing agency Vantage Media in 2002 for roughly $150 million and used those proceeds to develop CheckPoints, which launched in late 2010. Now they’re gearing up for a sequel app, List Bliss–this time, backed by a team of 20 and some lessons from “a month of hard knocks.”What they learned on the first go-round was that rushing the development process can lead to a buggy product. “CheckPoints encountered difficulty with a few bonus features we wanted to add at the launch,” Todd DiPaola says. “We wound up removing them until a later version when we could give it the focus it needed.”Building an app is like building a house,” he adds. “You need to put time into thinking about what the rooms are going to look like before you start building.” That attention to detail has paid off: The inMarket network has more than 20 million users.”Building an app is like building a house. You need to put time into thinking about what the rooms are going to look like before you start building.”–Todd DiPaola, InMarketWith the launch of List Bliss, inMarket is offering a user-friendly tool for creating grocery lists. It’s the first in a suite of planned apps aimed at simplifying mobile shopping. The app allows users to scan bar codes to add items to their lists; it also keeps track of ingredients already in their pantries, enables sharing of lists with family and friends for more efficient trips to the store and incorporates coupons and product reviews. It costs nothing to sign up; an ad-free premium subscription version is $1.99 per month.”With List Bliss, we’ve made it a point to keep the feature set focused, so any launch bugs can be corrected easily,” DiPaola says. “We have a ton of new features in store for our users a few weeks after launch, but right now our priority is to make a rock-solid version 1.0.”Here’s how a critical weekly progress meeting at inMarket went down, along with general tips for businesses to keep in mind for their own app-development processes. But the most important piece of advice may also be the most obvious: As DiPaola says, “It should just work.”For six weeks, Todd DiPaola and his team–vice president of technology Kiran Rao, vice president of production Ricky Juarez and three other development staffers–have been brainstorming. They’ve checked out the competition, evaluating the features in existing list apps, and they believe they have come up with a product that will appeal to their target market: the Midwestern mom, a “fresh” smartphone user who doesn’t even know she needs a better shopping list.The point of today’s meeting–at inMarket’s bright, cozy office on hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard in L.A.’s Venice district–is to boil the List Bliss design down to the absolute essentials. “Great apps,” DiPaola contends, “aren’t bloated.”The login page is a cartoon cow pasture with a nerdy but cute mascot named Mr. Listo, whose purpose is to add “sparkle” to the app. (This worked well with Mr. CheckPoints, who’s so beloved, his fans have requested toys and stuffed animals in his image.) Mr. Listo will show up in animations while List Bliss elements are loading; say, chillin’ and sipping a drink as items are crossed off the grocery list.First on the agenda is user sign-up. The process for Facebook and e-mail logins gets the OK from the team. But a proposed one-step Register and Subscribe button is nixed; the developers figure that even if 10 percent of users want the premium version, the 90 percent who would want only a free version might see the option as a roadblock and get turned off or confused.Lesson learned: The fewer registration buttons, the better. Impatient users will look for any excuse to back out of downloading an app.The home screen has three proposed feature buttons: Grocery List, Pantry Inventory and History. But some on the team think not enough people will use History to justify the effort and expense it would take to build it. However, shelving it for a future release or premium feature is a possibility.”It’s a cool feature, but let’s see if users want it,” Juarez suggests. “If they do, we’ll add it, and it will show them that we’re improving the app and listening to them.”Lesson learned: Watch out for feature creep. A great app is designed with a specific set of purposes in mind, and when you add unnecessary items, you dilute that functionality.The heart of the product, the Grocery List, went through many iterations as the team considered potential uses. “There were, like, 87 versions of this,” DiPaola estimates. The challenge is to offer functionality that appeals to a broad spectrum of users–from those who want the app to work as a simple digital notepad, to “power users” who want the ability to keep track of very specific items (e.g., Golden Delicious vs. Fuji apples), make notes, create categories and even break the list down into price per item for budgeting ease. The solution? The app opens to a default Grocery List screen, with an Edit button that takes power users to their own page for additional functions.Lesson learned: To make people devoted to your app, offer features no one else has–but make sure the design is flexible, customizable and intuitive.The most heated discussion revolves around the Save buttons on the Edit page. Some on the team argue that app users are aware that changes are saved automatically, so there’s no need for buttons that take up precious screen space. Others think moms need to be reassured their changes are “safe.” A compromise is reached: A large, central Save button stays, but a redundant button that had been in the upper-right corner is eliminated to cut down on screen clutter.Next, one developer pulls out his iPhone to demonstrate a problem on the working List Bliss prototype. He shows that moving items on a list by dragging them around interferes with the Delete action. To fix this, the team decides that accessing the drag function will require an additional action–a tap or a hold–to distinguish between the two gestures.Lesson learned: Sweat the small stuff. Every design element must be considered in terms of efficiency and functionality. Also, keep testing even the most minor functions, because as the app goes through its iterations, new problems can be created where none previously existed.”It’s inevitable there will be at least one bug, or a developer will get sick, so we try to prepare before the hurricane hits.”–Todd DiPaola, InMarketTo celebrate the launch of List Bliss, DiPaola has commissioned a Mr. CheckPoints piñata. But even before the party is over, there will be troubleshooting (not to mention the scramble to create tablet and Android versions of the app). “It’s inevitable there will be at least one bug, or a developer will get sick, so we try to prepare before the hurricane hits,” he says.It helps to have beta testers give perspective on simplifying user experience. “Sometimes you’re just too close to the product,” DiPaola says, noting that a great last-minute change made by his team involved consolidating two input fields into one. Bigger changes will be deployed in version 2.0.Additionally, a few weeks before launch, inMarket built up a customer-support system. The team partnered with a company that establishes the infrastructure for a customer-support ticketing system and spent time bolstering the self-help section of the List Bliss landing page. That last item is one many developers don’t realize they need until after launch, when they start to see the bad reviews from unhappy users.Lesson learned: Don’t be afraid to make last-minute tweaks or to let a trusted outsider test your product. Obvious solutions might not seem so obvious at the beginning of the process or to those deeply involved in the development. Try to anticipate potential usage problems and have customer-service options in place.Although List Bliss has a big head start on user acquisition because of CheckPoints’ existing user base, inMarket has planned a comprehensive marketing strategy for the new app: going after coverage in media and blogs; search-engine marketing; in-app advertisements; and Facebook data mining. And DiPaola is trying to keep things creative.”For CheckPoints, we did a fun video showing Mr. and Mrs. CheckPoints shopping that was well-received,” he says. “We’re working on one for List Bliss, because it’s good to have something entertaining that people can relate to, and will hopefully go viral and reach more users.”When it comes to reviews, it’s important to hit the App Store “hard and high,” DiPaola says. The more four- and five-star reviews you get at the beginning, the higher your app will rank on Apple’s charts–and the easier it will be for people to discover your product.Lesson learned: For the few apps that manage to go viral, great. But don’t expect users to grow on trees. You need to get out there and woo them. This story appears in the August 2012 issue of . Subscribe » Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. August 23, 2012 9 min read Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Register Now »last_img read more

US Regulators Aim to Close Wild West Frontier of Bitcoin

first_img Register Now » 9 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. August 14, 2013 Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. Americans are all about new frontiers. But the frontier of digital currencies represented by Bitcoin — for so long the province and playground of crypto-anarchists, monetary-theory wonks and libertarian idealists and, more recently, the site of major venture-capital investment — may soon be closing.Late last week, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued subpoenas to 22 Bitcoin companies, demanding information about their practices under the guise of learning more about the Bitcoin industry. The agency followed up on Monday with a memo explaining its interest in regulating virtual currencies.Attempting to defuse concerns among New York City’s tech community, the DFS said it is not the enemy of innovation, but is dedicated to enforcing the law and bringing cryptocurrencies “out of the darkness and into the light of day through enhanced transparency.””If virtual currencies remain a virtual Wild West for narcotraffickers and other criminals, that would not only threaten our country’s national security, but also the very existence of the virtual currency industry as a legitimate business enterprise,” Benjamin Lawsky, New York state’s superintendent of financial services, said in the memo.Today, the best asset a Bitcoin business can have is an attorney. But few lawyers have sufficient knowledge of Bitcoin and its interaction with existing legislation, such as the Bank Secrecy Act, to advise startups, says Marco Santori, chairman of the regulatory affairs committee of the Bitcoin Foundation.Santori, who represents early-stage tech companies at the New York City-based firm of Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP, is one of only a handful of lawyers in the world who has extensive experience working with Bitcoin businesses. “First and foremost, I try to restructure a company so that it is not implicated by the regulations,” he says. “But if that’s not possible, then I help the company come into compliance with the regulations. And right now, that is what everyone in this industry is doing.”Related: Investors See Opportunities in Bitcoin’s High-Risk Market’Not playing around’The subpoenas were only the latest in a series of recent actions taken by U.S. agencies that show Bitcoin is becoming a subject of serious government attention. The House of Representatives’ 2014 Appropriations Bill for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies includes a request for an FBI briefing to House members on the subject of cryptocurrencies and their potential use for money laundering and other criminal activities.”The briefing should describe the FBI efforts in the context of a coordinated Federal response to this challenge,” reads the bill, which was finalized late last month.The tide of government action began rising in March, when the U.S. Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the Treasury Department, released guidance forecasting how it would apply existing law to virtual currencies. In essence, FinCEN said that if you’re exchanging bitcoins for fiat currency, or even one virtual currency for another, then you are a money transmitter for business purposes. This classification shuts smaller players out of the market, because there is a high threshold to registering as a money transmitter.Even for companies that could clear the hurdles to registering as money transmitters, the new guidelines meant requiring customers to divulge their personal information. For instance, Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange market, requires U.S. traders to provide a scanned image of their driver’s license or passport, plus proof of residency, such as a utility bill.For American startups, that meant an end to doing business with many die-hard Bitcoiners. “It absolutely cuts out the big swathe of your customer base, who at this stage are those crypto-anarchists who embrace Bitcoin because it does not embrace the government,” Santori says.The next blow came in May, when the Department of Homeland Security seized funds belonging to Mt. Gox. The Tokyo-based exchange failed to register its U.S. subsidiary as a payment processor in the United States, which left its funds available for seizure as the prelude to an investigation.The seizure “made it clear that the federal government wasn’t playing around,” says Santori. “FinCEN was serious about the guidance. And so now what we’re seeing at every convention, on every message board, in every corner of the industry, is this new obsession with regulation.”Founders of Bitcoin-related companies find themselves in a catch-22, he adds. Investors don’t want to deal with them until they are compliant with the law, but they can’t get their compliance in order without a lawyer, and they can’t hire a lawyer without investors because of the expense.Ironically enough, like a Wild West town preventing decent folk from moving in, the government’s actions leave the space more open to potential bad actors than it would be otherwise.”We’re in this weird limbo where only quasi-legitimate or illegimate businesses can operate, because they don’t have anything to lose,” says Adam Levine, editor-in-chief of Let’s Talk Bitcoin!, a twice-weekly podcast featuring news and analysis of the Bitcoin industry.Related: Winklevoss Twins Move to Launch a Bitcoin FundPonzi schemes and Bitcoin dreamsOne such illegimate operation ended last month. On July 23, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Trendon Shavers, a man in Texas who allegedly ran a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme and defrauded investors of more than $4.5 million between September 2011 and September 2012.In bringing a lawsuit against Shavers, Santori says, “The message was very clear: The SEC will regulate investments whether they are denominated in dollars, puka shells, bitcoins, potatoes, they don’t care.” That was a blow to another segment of the Bitcoin industry — people using bitcoins as an alternative investment class or as a vehicle for raising capital.On August 6, a federal judge ruled that Bitcoin is “a currency or form of money,” giving federal prosecutors the go-ahead to pursue a case against Shavers. Because bitcoins can be used to pay for goods and services and can also be exchanged for government-issued currencies such as the U.S. dollar and the Chinese yuan, Judge Amos Mazzant held that Bitcoin should be treated as money for legal purposes.A few days later, New York’s banking regulator issued its subpoenas. On the same day, the U.S. Senate’s committee on homeland security sent a letter querying financial regulators and law enforcement agencies on the potential misuse of currencies such as Bitcoin. It has been investigating virtual currencies for the past few months, according to The New York Times.This flurry of government action is not dissimilar from actions taken when the U.S. government decided to crack down on file-sharing. The rise of the mp3 file format for digital music was a watershed for copyright lawyers, Santori says. “This is like that, except orders and orders of magnitude greater. We’re not talking about a niche of copyright law. We’re talking about money.”Levine makes the same analogy. “The thing that gives me the most hope for the resilience of Bitcoin is that despite the amount of money and legal power and time that has been put into fighting file-sharing, it’s worse now than ever,” he says.Entering the mainstreamWith increasing government scrutiny, Bitcoin businesses are responding in all kinds of ways. Some are seeking to register as money transmitters, if they haven’t already, or even suspending operations until they can be sure they are compliant with state and federal law. Others will leave the country or cancel plans to do business in America. Erik Voorhees of Coinapult, once an employee of New York-based BitInstant, now lives in Panama.Another option is to “ride the coattails of an existing money transmitter,” Santori says. For an existing money transmitter, there is a business opportunity in allowing a Bitcoin startup to use its license.Other companies are simply refusing to jump through the hoops required to do business in America. Many feel that Bitcoin has value in Third World countries with worthless currencies or runaway inflation, whose citizens could use it as a store of value that the government can’t ruin.”Bitcoin is not an American invention, and it’s not an American system,” Levine says. “The United States has far more barriers to entry than any other country on earth right now.”But he and others describe a community, even within the U.S., that is optimistic despite the volatility and uncertainty of the current climate. There is a sense that Bitcoin, or at least cryptocurrency in general, is unkillable no matter what the government does.In some cities, grassroots Bitcoin trading groups have sprung up. Since May, Bitcoiners have been gathering in New York City’s Union Square to buy and sell bitcoins for cash. “If you push on centralized exchanges, you cause the creation of decentralized exchanges. And I can tell you for a fact that two are being created right now,” Levine says. “If you push on decentralized exchanges, you cause the creation of face-to-face exchanges.”Yet there is even a case to be made that more regulation is a sign of the currency’s success, according to George McHugh, an analyst for BTC Global, a Bitcoin consultancy firm for businesses. “The Bitcoin community is well on its way to being the most successful stateless society in history by demonstrating the legitimacy of stateless money to the State itself,” McHugh wrote in a blog post for BTC Global earlier this week.Santori agrees. “The future is rosy. Bitcoin is entering the mainstream. It’s kind of like childbirth — it’s a painful entry, but it’s entering nonetheless.”Related: Angel Investors Form Group to Fund Bitcoin Startupslast_img read more

This Gizmo Wants to Make Your Shower Smart Cutting Your Water Use

first_img This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. November 4, 2014 3 min read There’s a water crisis in California right now. And to help people use less water, one entrepreneur is working on a device that will make your showers much more efficient.  A crowdfunding campaign for the Eva Smart Shower launched on Indiegogo this week, and what entrepreneur Torrey Tayenaka wants to do is cut the amount of water that you would otherwise use in your shower by half. The technology is patent-pending, but the plan is to use money raised through pre-sales placed through the Indiegogo campaign to go into full production with the product, Tayenaka says.If the production process goes smoothly, then the Eva Shower device, which is available for pre-sale on Indiegogo for $149 and thereafter for $199, will be installed between the wall and your shower head.Related: Reddit Co-Founder: Crowdfunding Is Powering a Second, Much Bigger RenaissanceThe Eva Smart Shower has sensors that will, according to a prototype design, monitor where a person is in the bathroom and adjust the water flow accordingly. For example, if you turn on the shower and the water reaches your ideal temperature, but you are not in the shower yet but still futzing around the bathroom, the Eva Smart Shower will shut the water flow off until you actually get in the shower. Also, the sensors aim to track where you are in the shower such that if you are not standing directly under the shower head, the water flow will ease.An associated smartphone app will monitor your water use and if you want to set goal times for how long your showers should last, then the Eva Smart Shower system would alert you when you are dallying too long in the shower.Related: Indiegogo Co-Founder: When What It Means To Be A Fearless Entrepreneur ChangesSanta Ana, Calif.-based Eva Smart Shower is the brainchild of a team of designers and product developers working to build the gizmo outside of their day jobs. “We have this awesome team all working together hustling on the side late nights and long weekends to make a product that we think can really make a huge difference in the way people view their water usage and waste as well as help people save tons of water every day,” said Tayenaka, in an email to Entrepreneur.com.Outside of Eva, Tayenaka is the CEO and founder of a video advertising agency and has previously on the team that created Kite, a wearable mosquito repellent patch. He came up with the idea while using a sink in his office bathroom that is auto-activated.  A bit of caution is probably a good bet here. Crowdfunding campaigns launching without a working prototype have a risky track record.Related: Y Combinator Partner on Crowdfunding: It Makes Our Job Hardercenter_img Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Enroll Now for Freelast_img read more