Three Cities Three Decades Three City Managers

first_imgKatie Koester, Homer High School Class of 1998, is currently the City Manager for the City of Homer: “I celebrate the people of Homer–the families who have made it here for generations along with the new families who come to the end of the road, fall in love with this place, and figure out how to make it in this town. This community’s underlying determination to live and persist in Homer means people here are interesting, creative, and diverse. I celebrate the people of Homer because they are problem solvers, because they make Homer the place for their life’s work.” Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is celebrating three graduates who now manage three of the largest cities in the Borough spanning 25,600 square miles. Paul Ostrander, Soldotna High School Class of 1986, is currently the City Manager for the City of Kenai: “Kenai has a diverse history and residents are ardent in their support of their hometown. When people talk about living in Kenai, whether talking about fishing the river or family time on the beach, you can sense the pride they have in our natural resources and community. The statement that, it’s the best place to live in the world, is heard often, and meant wholeheartedly.” Stephanie Queen, Kenai Central High School Class of 2000, is currently the City Manager for the City of Soldotna: “One of the things I really appreciate about Soldotna is how engaged our residents are. We’ve figured out how to work together across public, private, and non-profit lines, to move big projects forward. This has allowed us to accomplish several of the community’s long-standing goals; something we would not have been able to do without strong partnerships.” KPBSD has created individual profiles for each of these City Managers and will follow-up with a four-part series highlighting KPBSD graduates.last_img read more

Army Breaks Ground on National Museum at Ft Belvoir

first_imgArmy leaders broke ground Wednesday at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia on the site of the long-awaited National Museum of the U.S. Army.The 186,000-square-foot facility will cost about $200 million and is scheduled to open in 2019. The Army Historical Foundation, which has worked more than a decade on the project, has raised more than $135 million, primarily from individuals. The organization hopes to raise the additional funds as quickly as possible to keep the construction on track, reported Stars and Stripes.The Army is the only branch of the military without a national museum covering its entire history. The museum, which will be located just outside Fort Belvoir’s gates, will cover the Army’s history from the initial militias formed in Massachusetts in 1663 that would become the foundation for the National Guard through to the modern-day Army. It will feature about 30,000 artifacts and documents — including uniforms, weapons, protective equipment and letters — and more than 15,000 pieces of artwork.Officials estimate the museum will attract 500,000 to 700,000 visitors a year.Army Secretary Eric Fanning said the museum will honor the service and sacrifice of the more than 30 million Americans who have served in the regular Army, the National Guard and the reserves, but it will especially serve to honor men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, according to the story.“This museum will serve as a monument to them — a memorial to all who we have lost and to war’s incredible cost,” Fanning said. “From the Revolutionary War to our fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the Army that has borne the greatest share or our nation’s loss — fully 85 percent of all Americans who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.” Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Diversion of 1B to Border Wall Could Impact Future Budget Flexibility

first_img ADC AUTHOR Lawmakers warned Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that Congress may limit DOD’s future flexibility in moving its funding between budgets following DOD’s decision to reprogram $1 billion of military personnel funding to spend on a U.S.-Mexico border wall without asking Congress first.The Pentagon notified Congress of the funding shift late Monday. The money comes from the recruitment budget of the Army, which did not use all its appropriated funding after falling short of its recruitment targets. It is being funneled to the Department of Homeland Security through DOD’s counterdrug account.The result of not asking Congress first “is likely that the Appropriations Committee in particular will no longer give the Pentagon reprogramming authority,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told Shanahan at a hearing Tuesday. “And I think that’s unfortunate, because you need it.”Shanahan said that was weighed as a risk even before the president declared the national emergency directing construction of a border wall.Smith and other Democrats are trying to block the $1 billion move, as Military Times reported.DOD will also be taking money from some military construction projects that have not yet been awarded, “but we don’t know what the next increment of funding will look like,” Shanahan said.Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class TaWanna Starkslast_img read more

NDAA Roundup Readiness Panel Wants to Increase Privatized Housing Oversight

first_img ADC AUTHOR House Armed Services subcommittees are continuing to mark up the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill. Recent subcommittee actions include:The Readiness subcommittee plans to increase oversight of privatized military housing in its fiscal 2020 defense policy legislation, but current provider contracts are limiting its reach. The subcommittee has dropped language addressing the contracts for fear of sparking litigation, according to a CQ report.The Readiness panel’s draft bill would prohibit installations from using PFAS-based firefighting foam in nonemergency situations. It also would require DOD to transition away from using the chemicals, which have been found in drinking water.The Military Personnel subcommittee advanced its portion of the bill Tuesday. It authorizes a 3.1% pay raise for troops, a basic needs allowance for certain low-income troops and higher reimbursements for military spouses earning new job certifications and licenses when moving base to base.The Personnel panel’s draft approves the administration’s request to increase troops by 7,700 next year. Active-duty levels would increase by 6,215, and reserve levels would increase by 1,507.The Seapower subcommittee’s draft language would block the Navy from retiring the aircraft carrier USS Truman early. The Navy had requested retiring the Truman in its 2020 budget and using the savings to pay for advanced technologies such as unmanned vessels. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both said the administration supports refueling the Truman instead of retiring it.last_img read more

Textron Awarded 512 Million Contract From US Department Of Defense Work To

first_imgLike Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedOBITUARY: Lawrence “Mike” Considine, 63In “Obituaries”Textron Announces New President & CEO Of Textron SystemsIn “Business”Selectmen Concerned About Future Of Textron Property: Fear Of Condos, 40B Project Or Long-Term VacancyIn “Business” WILMINGTON, MA — Below is an announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense:Textron Defense Systems, of Wilmington, Massachusetts, has been awarded a $51,263,809 firm-fixed-price contract modification to the previously awarded $10,209,413 contract for the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile weapon system multiprobe antenna procurement.Work will be performed at its Wilmington location and is expected to be completed by July 13, 2029.—Textron’s Wilmington location laid off approximately 200 employees in 2016 and another approximately 50 employees in 2017. It is believed that only 50 employees currently remain on the 60-acre site. It’s not yet known if this significant DoD contract will result in Textron increasing its Wilmington workforce.last_img read more

Absorbing Rohingya refugees difficult for Bangladesh US

first_imgUS State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert The United States has acknowledged that thousands of Rohingya refugees created a “difficult situation” for Bangladesh.“I know it is a difficult situation for Bangladesh, as it is for any country, to absorb refugees,” US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a regular press briefing in Washington on Thursday.The US State Department published the entire proceedings of the press briefing of its spokesperson on its website.“What we’ve seen there has been very concerning to the US government as we care about what is happening to the population there. We care about what is happening to the population there [in Rakhine],” said Nauert.Asked if the US might slap a sanction on Myanmar for human rights violations, Nauert declined to comment saying the US was currently having “diplomatic conversations at this point”.“Any potential sanctions are just not something that I could comment on this time. Either – assuming that they might happen, or might not happen,” she said.“We are deeply concerned by the troubling situation in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state,” she said, adding there has been a significant displacement of local populations, following serious allegations of human rights abuses, including mass burnings of Rohingya villages and violence conducted by security forces and also armed civilians.“We, again, condemn deadly attacks on Myanmarese security forces, but join the international community in calling on those forces to prevent further violence and protect local populations in ways that are consistent with the rule of law and with full respect for human rights,” she said at the briefing.She said the United States is working through the United Nations and other international organisations to assist tens of thousands of civilians who have fled to southeastern Bangladesh since 25 August.“We call on the authorities to facilitate immediate access to affected communities that are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance,” the spokesperson said.“We are also communicating with Myanmar’s neighbours and other concerned international partners on efforts to end the violence and assist affected communities there,” she added.About access of aid workers and journalists to the Rakhaine state, the spokesperson said, “We’d like to certainly call on the government of Myanmar to allow better, greater access for reporters and journalists to be able to enter that country and be able to provide accurate information about what’s going on the ground.”“There also remains a humanitarian situation, where it is very difficult for humanitarian aid groups to be able to get in and provide the supplies and the support that is necessary. We are continuing to have conversations with the government, not only about the violence there, but also about those issues of journalists and also, perhaps more importantly, the humanitarian aid situation,” she added.last_img read more

Rashidul Hasans pen seal and memories

first_imgRashidul HasanMartyred intellectual Rashidul Hasan was picked up from his home 46 long years ago by the collaborators, the razakars, but the memory of that day remains fresh in the mind of his daughter Rokaiya Hasina. She was a student of class six then, in 1971. She is now in her fifties, but those last moments with her father seem just yesterday.Rokaiya had grasped her father’s right hand. One of the khaki-clad persons at the doorway had asked, “Are you Rashidul Hasan?” When he replied “yes”, they simply grabbed him and dragged him away.A pen and a signature seal of Rashidul Hasan remains preserved at the fourth gallery of the Liberation War Museum. Below these items it is written that this teacher of Dhaka University’s English Department was picked up by razakars and Al Badr from his home on 14 December 1971.Eldest daughter of Rashidul Hasan, Rokaiya Hasina, is a Rabindra Sangeet artiste. Speaking to Prothom Alo, she said, her father had been moved by the dream for freedom nourished by the Bangalis during the turbulent days of 1969. He was a great admirer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was not directly involved in politics, but would join the public meetings and gatherings. He would inspire his students with the spirit of independence. He would keep in contact with the freedom fighters in various ways during the liberation war and extend his assistance in any way he could. The Al Badr members reported this to the Pakistani army officers.Rokaiya was sitting in her Dhanmondi residence, sharing memories of her father.Rashidul Hasan earned his BA (Hons) degree from the English department at Dhaka University in 1958. That same year he began teaching at Narsingdi College. Then he joined Edward College in Pabna. Next, in 1967, he joined Dhaka University as a lecturer.Rokaiya Hasina said that her paternal family roots were in the village Boroshija of Birbhum district in West Bengal, India. Rashidul’s education till the higher secondary school level was at Boroshija. His elder brother lived in Dhaka due to government service and so Rashidul was admitted to Dhaka University. He did not return to India after completing his education. He married Begum Rokaiya in Boroshija and they had three children – Mahmud Hasan, Rokaiya Hasina and Suraiya Amina.During the liberation war, Rashidul Hasan would live in the Dhaka University teachers’ quarters, at building no. 23, next to Sergeant Zahurul Huq Hall. There was a sprawling slum along the road next to that building. On 25 March the Pakistani armed force went on a killing spree at the slum. They also entered the teachers’ quarters and carried out killing and torture.Rokaiya Hasina said, the Pakistani soldiers broke down their door, entered their home and began breaking things in their drawing room. Everyone in the family was hiding under the beds. Many people that night were dragged from the slums and from the university and killed on the roof of that very building. The next morning 32 bodies were found on the roof.Rashidul Hasan and his family left that house two days later and went to stay with acquaintances in Rayer Bazar. They returned to the campus after a month. This time they moved to house no. 28 on Savage Road (now known as Isha Khan Road). Professor Anwar Pasha of the Bangla department lived in the house next door, no. 30. Anwar Pasha and Rashidul Hasan were both from the same area in Birbhum and so had developed a close friendship. Their families were close, too.Rokaiya Hasan related, on 20 September the Pakistani soldiers took her father way from the university and kept him in custody at the Ramna police station. He was accused of motivating students to join the liberation war. Rashidul Hasan’s family would visit him every day at the police station. He was released after 12 days.When air raids began in December, there were blackouts every night in Dhaka. Everyone was scared. Anwar Pasha told them to go to their house. Rokaiya recalls, “We would go to Anwar uncle’s house after dinner every night. Then every morning we would move back home after a cup of tea.” They were preparing to go back home on the morning of 12 December too when Anwar Pasha told them to have breakfast. Rashidul Hasan’s favourite meal of khichuri and omlettes was being prepared and hence the delay.Breakfast was almost ready when suddenly there was a loud knocking on the door. Anwar Pasha opened the door and about seven or eight men in khakhi oufits with their faces covered in black cloth burst in. They asked, who is Anwar Pasha? When he identified himself, they tried to push him towards the door. Rashidul Hasan went and stood in front of the door, trying to block the way.With a tremble in her voice, Rokaiya recalls, “I was so scared and I grasped abba’s hand tightly. Anwar kaka was staring at abba, as if pleading that he do something. Abba kept asking the men where they were taking Anwar Pasha. One of them was in the verandah with a paper in his hand. He asked abba’s name. When abba told them his name the man indicated the paper, telling the others, ‘His name is on the list too. Bring sir along.’ They took them both away. From the verandah we saw them being blindfolded and taken away in a minibus.”The bodies of Rashidul Hasan and Anwar Pasha were found 22 days later. The bodies of the intellectuals had been buried in two holes in a jungle area of Mirpur. Relations of the dead persons identified the bodies by their clothes. Rashidul Hasan and Anwar Pasha’s bodies were there too. After their janaza at the university central mosque, they were laid to rest by the mosque.Rashidul Hasan’s relations live in West Bengal and they wanted Rashidul Hasan’s wife and children to go back there. But they did not. “Mother would say, my husband gave his life for this land. I will not leave. She brought us up with great difficulty. We received no special help at all,” said Rokaiya.They had to leave the university quarters. When she first came to power in 1996, the prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued directives to allot a house for them, but that did not materialise. Rokaiya Hasina said they have no regrets. Their father gave his life for the country and that was their pride.*This piece, originally published in the Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir.last_img read more

As General Election Begins Cruz Escalates Battle Against ORourke

first_imgFor much of the past year, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz did not acknowledge Beto O’Rourke’s name — or even, for a while, the fact that he had a Democratic opponent for re-election.That abruptly changed Tuesday evening, when Cruz convened several state reporters for a conference call in the final hours before polls closed in the state’s primaries.“Tonight’s election marks the beginning of the general election,” Cruz said. “In November, the voters of Texas will have a clear and stark choice for the United States Senate. Congressman O’Rourke is a left-wing, liberal Democrat — he is running like Bernie Sanders across the state, and the voters of Texas will have a decision of what policies and values reflect their own values.”For the next several minutes, Cruz proceeded to lay out a detailed case against O’Rourke, portraying him as dramatically out of step with most Texans when it comes to at least three issues: guns, immigration and taxes. Alluding to certain bills O’Rourke had authored, Cruz spoke with the ease of an incumbent who knew his challenger’s record well — and was more than ready to start wielding it. O’Rourke did allow one jab at Cruz, noting that Texans have a choice in November between a challenger who has been holding town halls throughout the state for almost a year and an incumbent who spent a chunk of his first term running for president. “Which of the two are going to have a better idea of what’s going on in Texas?” O’Rourke asked.To be sure, Cruz is still the favorite in November as he seeks a second term. Texans have not elected a Democrat to statewide office in over two decades — and it’s been even longer since they sent one to the U.S. Senate.Among Cruz’s allies and supporters, there is an acknowledgment that the money and enthusiasm O’Rourke has generated is real. But they do not believe it will be enough to overcome Texas’ strong Republican tradition.“I think Congressman O’Rourke’s fundraising has been pretty impressive, but I still believe that Sen. Cruz will win handily,” Texas’ senior senator, fellow Republican John Cornyn, told reporters after early voting last week in Austin. “Texas is still a red state. It’s good to see competitive elections, but I don’t think it’s going to be all that competitive.” O’Rourke is certainly working to make it competitive, proving to be not only an impressive fundraiser but also a relentless campaigner.  He has crisscrossed the state for dozens of town halls, visiting 226 of Texas’ 254 counties, and hitting many areas that have been historically neglected by Democrats.His efforts have drawn attention from far outside Texas, and while few in Washington are ready to declare Texas in play this year, it is certainly a part of the discussion. Republicans have a slim 51-member majority in the Senate, and after Nevada, their list of pickup opportunities this election cycle does not go long before reaching the Lone Star State.“Tonight’s results are the latest demonstration of Beto’s strong campaign and the tremendous grassroots enthusiasm behind him,” David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement after it was clear O’Rourke won the nomination. “Sen. Cruz spent years looking out for himself instead of doing anything to help hardworking Texas families, and voters will hold him accountable for his unpopular agenda: more expensive health care, privatized education and higher taxes for working people — so his rich and powerful friends can get another handout.”If his actions Tuesday were any indication, Cruz is eager for the fight. Asked on the call if he is open to debating O’Rourke before November, the senator appeared to have no reservations.“I’m sure we’ll see a debate in this race,” Cruz said, noting that he’s sparred with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on national TV three times. “I am not remotely afraid to debate left-wing liberal socialists.” For Cruz, it was a remarkable escalation in his approach to O’Rourke, signaling a new chapter in the race — and not just because the two formally secured their party’s nominations Tuesday night. According to unofficial returns, Cruz easily fended off four little-known challengers with 85 percent of the vote, while O’Rourke got an underwhelming — but still successful — 62 percent against two rivals.Cruz did not let up on O’Rourke as the returns came in, releasing a radio ad featuring a country music song ridiculing the El Paso congressman.“If you’re going to run in Texas, you can’t be a liberal man,” a singer croons in the ad, which also jabs at O’Rourke for going by “Beto” — a nickname dating back to his childhood — when his real first name is Robert.Cruz’s call and the ad punctuated a period of increasing hostility against O’Rourke that began last month, when O’Rourke reported raising nearly three times more than Cruz over the first 45 days of 2018, $2.3 million to $803,000. Furthermore, O’Rourke whittled down Cruz’s cash-on-hand advantage to just over $1 million.O’Rourke has been taking the new level of incoming fire in stride. In an interview after Cruz’s call Tuesday evening, the El Paso congressman largely declined to fire back.“All I can tell you is I’ve been listening to the people that I want to represent in Texas in almost every county across the state,” O’Rourke said. “I’m making their priorities my priorities.” Marjorie Kamys Cotera: O’Rourke/Robin Jerstad: CruzU.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso (left), and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Sharelast_img read more

Ramnits heist bags 45000 Facebook passwords

first_img Computer experts warn of Bin Laden malware scams Citation: Ramnit’s heist bags 45,000 Facebook passwords (2012, January 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-01-ramnits-heist-bags-facebook-passwords.html Ramnit’s command and control center is visible and accessible, and the security experts were able to determine the precise number of Facebook victims, which consisted of 69 percent from the UK, 27 percent from France and 4 percent from other countries.When Ramnit first started causing mischief in 2010 it was considered as a low-level threat, comments SearchSecurity.com.That assessment has changed. Ramnit’s operators were able to graduate from an older generation of techniques to infect files to morph it into something more powerful, adding Zeus source code to the mix. Trusteer, another security company, warned that the worm had acquired the ability to inject HTML code into a web browser.A worm is a type of malware that secretly integrates itself into program or data files, and infects more files each time the host program is run. Ramnit can infect Windows executable files, HTML files and other file types.Ramnit’s subsequent target was finance, bypassing two-factor authentication and transaction signing systems. In gaining remote access to financial institutions, Ramnit was able to compromise online banking sessions and was able to penetrate corporate networks. Even before the latest Facebook heist, Seculert, using a sinkhole security tool, counted 800,000 machines as infected with Ramnit from September to the end of December 2011.Ramnit’s presence is not immediately obvious. The worrisome nature of Ramnit is compounded by the fact, say experts, that users tend to use the same password for a number of web-based services, which may include not only Facebook but their mail, a VPN, and others..Blogger reactions to the news have ranged from “Change your passwords, and often!” to “Don’t click any links, never, no matter from who or how interesting!” Considering the very definition of social networks and why they are used, that kind of advice may be timely but curiously counter to the whole point. Suspecting friends and relatives of having virus-choked messages and afraid to share links for fear of infection run counter to the reason why users sign on to social networks. Behavioral trends and countertrends will get interesting too.Another troubling sign of the times is what cybercriminals now see as choice game. E-mail worms are so Yesterday, say computer security experts.Malware writers are replacing old-school worms transmitted via email with their malware now targeted for social-networks. (PhysOrg.com) — Ramnit, the bank-thieving worm, is at it again, this time scoffing up Facebook accounts. The latest oh-look-another-threat is one that security watchers say could get ugly. Ramnit has grown up since it was first discovered as a virus in the wild in 2010. Security company Seculert has posted a January 5 blog saying that Ramnit has stolen 45,000 Facebook login credentials. The accounts are mostly in the UK and France. The security firm, which has been tracking Ramnit, discovered the stolen Facebook cache in its Seculert labs. Seculert in turn passed on to Facebook the stolen credentials that it found on Ramnit servers. © 2011 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. Explore further More information: blog.seculert.com/2012/01/ramnit-goes-social.html Number of Ramnit Infected Machines Between September 2011 and December 2011. Image: Seculert.last_img read more

Dubai opens Marvel theme park with minor hiccups

first_img DUBAI — As summer temperatures soared outside, the world’s largest indoor theme park, featuring popular Marvel and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened its doors to the public on Wednesday in the Middle East’s tourist hub of Dubai – the latest in a myriad of new attractions here.The first visitors at the 1.5 million square-foot (140,000 square meters) park reflected the diverse crowds that visit and live in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Middle East’s largest mall and a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree that is dotted with luxury hotels.Saudi women dressed in abayas, the traditional loose black robes, and full face-veils, rode alongside tank-top wearing British tourists and Indian families on the park’s roller coasters and attractions.Several families with young children complained that some of the rides stalled. Others said they were thrilled by the adventure park’s indoor boulevard, which leads visitors through Marvel and Cartoon Network zones, a “Haunted Hotel” and a Lost Valley Dinosaur zone.The IMG Worlds of Adventure park recorded about 3,000 visitors on Wednesday as temperatures rose to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) outside.Ali al-Subai, a visitor from Saudi Arabia, said he was happy the Gulf region has a place like this to visit during the summer. The 26-year-old said he visits Dubai at least four times a year and hopes his country too can one day open similar theme parks.“It’s very, very nice. Better than I imagined,” he said. “We wish for this in Saudi Arabia – the rides, the cinemas.”Dubai ruler and United Arab Emirates Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid toured the more than $1 billion park earlier on Wednesday.More news:  Universal enhances popular Harry Potter vacation package with new perksThe adventure park is one of two major theme parks opening this year in Dubai, part of an effort to attract 20 million tourists annually by 2020, when the emirate is to host the World Expo. Last year, some 14 million people visited Dubai, according to the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The highest share of visitors came from neighbouring Gulf countries, with Saudi Arabia topping the list.Teens Abdullah Jameel and Sultan al-Suweidi, both from Dubai, said they enjoyed the park more than Universal Studios in Singapore. They said the IMG Worlds of Adventure park wins because of shorter lines and more exciting rides.They beamed after riding the Velociraptor roller coaster, which swoops through the indoor park, then juts out into the Dubai desert before going back inside. Another main attraction is the Predator roller coaster, with its sharp, vertical drop.Spider-Man too has his own ride, a spinning roller coaster that propels riders through a New York City skyline, soaring much like the fictional superhero would as he fights to save the city from the sinister Doctor Octopus. A Cartoon Network-themed Powerpuff Girls scrambler glides and spins riders upside down, while a 5-D theatre experience takes guests through an animated Ben 10 battle scene.The park aims to attract up to 30,000 visitors on peak days. Along with its 22 rides and attractions, the park offers visitors 25 retail outlets and 28 food and beverage outlets that are expected to contribute to nearly a quarter of the park’s overall revenue. At the high-end Marvel Vault store, an extravagant Hulk-inspired gold display that holds a pen with precious stones costs almost 115,000 dirhams ($31,300 USD).More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalDespite thrills at every turn, British tourist Tariq Collins said the entry ticket cost of 300 dirhams ($82) for adults and 250 dirhams ($68) for children was “a bit pricey.” He said there were not as many attractions for his five-year-old daughter as he’d hoped there would be.“Apart from that, great. Very nicely done,” he said, before adding that some of the rides were not working.The park’s Chief Executive Officer Lennard Otto said this is not uncommon in the theme park industry.“No theme park today, whether it’s Disney or Universal, has 100 per cent upkeep time on their rides,” he said. “Rides will break (down). They’re the same as any other technology. The key for us is to try and manage the experience after that.”Otto said the park plans to add five more attractions in the coming five years. It’s “definitely a new feather in Dubai’s cap,” and helps fill a gap in the Gulf market for quality entertainment destinations, he said.In October, a $2.8 billion theme park is slated to open on the main highway connecting Dubai with Abu Dhabi, the UAE seat of government.Dubai Parks and Resorts will feature a Six Flags, a Legoland waterpark and roller coaster, Bollywood-themed rides and shows, and a Motiongate movie-themed park with a Smurfs village.Abu Dhabi is already home to Ferrari World and is planning a Warner Bros. themed park. By: Aya Batrawy << Previous PostNext Post >> Share Thursday, September 1, 2016 Dubai opens Marvel theme park with minor hiccups Tags: Dubailast_img read more

Air Canada gives clients easy access to the western side of Ireland

first_imgAir Canada gives clients easy access to the western side of Ireland Tags: Air Canada, Ireland, New Routes Wednesday, March 21, 2018 Michael Smith Posted bycenter_img Share TORONTO — Air Canada prolonged St. Paddy’s Day celebrations from the weekend with an event in Toronto last night, during which the airline promoted new routes to the Emerald Isle.New flights and extra capacity include Air Canada’s new nonstop Toronto-Shannon and Montreal-Dublin routes starting this summer, and the Vancouver-Dublin and Toronto-Dublin routes moving to the mainline Air Canada product.“It’s been a long time, almost 10 years since Air Canada last flew into Shannon from Toronto,” said Declan Power, Head of Aviation Development, Shannon Airport. “Even by Irish standards, that’s a long courtship.“We’ve been engaged with them for the last 10 years and now we’re delighted to know that the wedding will finally take place on the 4th of June when Air Canada will come back into Shannon.”Jim Kelly, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada was also in attendance, and was credited with creating stronger ties between Ireland and Canada in both business and travel. “Connectivity is the lifeblood of trade, connectivity is the lifeblood of tourism, and both have flourished more than ever in recent years,” he said.More news:  Experience Ireland: the Emerald Isle’s mythical talesThe new routes will continue to expand the capacity that Ireland has been enjoying from airlines in recent years. The Shannon route, in particular, will add convenience to many tours that start and/or end on the western side of the island.For more information, go to aircanada.com. << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Committee approves LaFave bill to give credit for high school internships

first_img13Mar Committee approves LaFave bill to give credit for high school internships The House Workforce and Talent Development Committee today unanimously approved legislation by state Rep. Beau LaFave, giving high school students the opportunity to earn course credit for completion of an internship or work study program.“Employers across the state need students with real-world experience. For far too long we have over-emphasized college readiness to the detriment of the skilled trades,” said LaFave, of Iron Mountain. “Many high school students start career development before they graduate. This program will encourage students to take advantage of opportunities in their own backyard because career exploration and on-the-job training is also part of education.”LaFave pointed out that his legislation will help fill the growing demand across Michigan for skilled trades professionals, giving students in the Upper Peninsula and across the state more education outside of the classroom.Current Michigan Department of Education guidelines allow work-based internships in grades 9-12. His legislation will streamline this process and cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. Students can work four to 10 hours a week and, with the local district board of education’s oversight, will receive credit for graduation.The two-bill legislative package also safeguards funding for school districts, allowing students participating in an internship or a work experience program off campus to continue to qualify as a full-time student.During today’s committee testimony, LaFave shared letters of support from the Gladstone, Carney-Nadeau and Breitung Township school districts. Also supporting the legislation are the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Great Lakes Education Project.“Education does not begin and end in the classroom,” LaFave said. “This legislation puts students into a professional business environment where they can grow while learning practical, real-world experience. This tool will help students decide what they do or do not want to do for the rest of their lives.”House Bills 4106 and 5676 advance to the House for its consideration. Categories: LaFave News,Newslast_img read more

The next great insect repellent might come from a

first_imgThe next great insect repellent might come from a strain of bacteria that lives inside a common parasitic worm. A study published Wednesday in Science Advances has found that a compound derived from these bacteria is three times more potent than DEET in repelling mosquitoes. More research must be done to demonstrate its safety, but this bacterial chemical could play an important role in the fight against mosquito-borne illness.Susan Paskewitz, a professor of entomology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who oversaw the study, explains that the project started in the lab of her late colleague, Que Lan. She and her student Il-Hwan Kim were studying bacteria called Xenorhabdus budapestensis, which lives inside the tiny roundworms called nematodes. These nematodes parasitize insects in the soil, sneaking into their bodies and releasing hordes of Xenorhabdus, which soon kill the insect. Then, without the insect’s immune system to contend with, the nematodes devour the carcass and multiply.According to Paskewitz, Lan wanted to crack Xenorhabdus’ insecticidal code in hopes that it might lead to a novel mosquito killer. She put the bacteria into the artificial blood supply she feeds to her mosquito colonies, hoping they would ingest the bacteria and she could track whether the mosquitoes were harmed. But her mosquitoes wouldn’t go anywhere near the treated blood, much less ingest it. “The mosquitoes would die from drying out rather than touch the thing,” says Paskewitz. That observation stuck in Paskewitz’s mind, suggesting that something produced by these bacteria make might be useful as an insect repellent.Since the 1940s, the chemical DEET has been our first line of defense against mosquitoes. It’s still the most effective repellent we have. But DEET has its problems. One is stigma. “As a public health entomologist, I believe that DEET is an effective and safe product to use [the EPA agrees], but I do know that some consumers are concerned about synthetic chemicals,” says Paskewitz. “Whether those concerns are founded in evidence may be beside the point. What matters from my perspective is that people don’t have a barrier to using repellents, so that in the event of the next Zika or West Nile virus outbreak, we’re prepared.” DEET also needs to be reapplied often, which can leave people exposed if they forget. And at high concentrations, DEET can melt plastic, making it difficult to imbue DEET into clothing that could be worn for longer-lasting protection.What’s more, DEET’s effectiveness may not be permanent, according to Silvie Huijben, an evolutionary biologist and disease ecologist at Arizona State University. “There is some evidence that resistance to DEET can evolve in mosquito populations, and mosquitoes can also learn to overcome their aversion to DEET,” she says. Because living populations can evolve in response to single interventions, it’s best tackle the problem from many angles. “In that sense, there is a void to be filled,” Huijben says.To see if Xenorhabdus could fill that void, Paskewitz and her collaborator Mayur Kajla first had to isolate the potential repellent from everything else the bacteria produces. To home in on the active compound, Kajla isolated smaller and smaller components of a sort of bacterial soup and tested whether each mixture repelled mosquitoes.Kajla explains that since we don’t yet know whether this substance is toxic, scientists can’t just slather a subject’s arm in Xenorhabdus, stick it into a swarm of mosquitoes and see if they bite. So instead, he put a mixture of mosquito food – basically, fake blood dyed red — inside a skin-like sausage casing membrane. He soaked cheesecloth in the bacterial soup and layered it over this casing. Then, mosquitoes had 30 minutes to feed, after which the researchers counted how many mosquitoes were engorged with red bellies. The better the repellent, the fewer red bellies. Eventually Kajla identified the repellent compound that the bacteria secreted. Chemical analysis revealed it to be part of a class of chemicals known as fabclavines. With the repellent identified, Kajla then used the same setup to see how it fared against existing repellents. “We were surprised at how well the bacterial repellent worked,” says Kajla. You’d need three times as much DEET and eight times as much picaridin, another effective repellent, to repel the same percentage of insects.The researchers varied the concentration of the fabclavine mixture and observed that at lower concentrations, most mosquitoes landed on the feeding apparatus, but only about half fed. This suggests that, at low concentrations of the mixture, mosquitoes are repelled by the taste, but not the smell. By contrast, almost no mosquitoes landed and none fed when there were higher concentrations of the chemical, suggesting the mosquitoes were repelled by the smell alone. Kajla says, “at this point we don’t know how the deterrent is affecting mosquitoes, but it could be both taste and smell.””This is a really exciting result,” says Matthew DeGennaro, a neurogeneticist at Florida International University who studies mosquito genetics and was not involved in the study. “DEET is almost like magic, and we don’t find things that work as well as it does everyday.” DeGennaro also raised the possibility that the mosquitoes’ repulsion might be an innate, adaptive strategy to avoid getting anywhere near the deadly Xenorhabdus that harbor the compound. More work needs to be done before you can douse yourself in this bacterial concoction and head into the woods with abandon. According to Paskewitz, fabclavines may be difficult to chemically synthesize at scale. But “bacterial fermentation, which is used to produce the widely used insecticide Bt could work for fabclavines,” Paskewitz says.According to Huijben, the broader fight against mosquito-borne disease is changing, and repellents may play an increasingly important role. In the case of malaria, which she studies, mosquito populations are adapting around once effective measures. Bed nets proved effective in preventing the transmission of malaria via mosquitoes, which historically happened during evening hours when mosquitoes fed. But Huijben says mosquitoes are evolving to feed outside during the daytime, when their food source isn’t safely snoozing under a net. If fabclavine proves safe, effective and practical for human use, the ancient methods of the roundworm and its bacterial partners in crime could prove to be the latest weapon in the race to ward off mosquitoes.Jonathan Lambert is an intern on NPR’s Science Desk. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

Are MotionBased Gaming Technologies Right for Your Business

first_img Q: I hear companies are hacking motion-based gaming technologies for new applications. How do I get in? A: It’s true — gaming consoles have launched an industry that has nothing to do with play. The technologies at the heart of Nintendo’s Wii U, Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 and Sony’s SOEmote are making motion capture (mocap), gesture recognition and facial rendering easy and cheap enough for entrepreneurs to hack and turn into wholly new businesses.Toronto-based GestSure Technologies, for example, uses a Microsoft Kinect module to create touch-free medical operating room tools. And Los Angeles-based Styku uses the Kinect module to scan consumers’ bodies and create a remote virtual fitting room where customers can “try on” clothes before making an online purchase. Nice fit, indeed.To get the complete story on how low-cost mocap has sparked a startup blitz, we sat down with Marty Smets, an ergonomics simulation engineer at Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich.How does your company use MoCap? At a car company like Ford, motion-sensing technologies are an integral part of the design and manufacturing process. It helps us anticipate things like how drivers will see speedometers. And it flags us on how workers must move to build cars safely. The process shaves something like eight to 14 months off a four-year vehicle-development time. That is major money.How did this enterprise-level tech become a small-business opportunity?Business-grade motion tracking was once strictly the stuff of $250,000 camera systems and pricey processing software found in special effects films like Avatar or at Ford. No more. The $150 Xbox Kinect uses a low-cost depth sensor and camera to “see” in three dimensions. When the Kinect and the Wii came online, developers began messing with them, creating hacks en masse and giving rise to sites such as KinectHacks.net. Soon the web was flooded with new mocap ideas.It can’t be that simple for a small biz to get into.Actually it is. Microsoft recently released a formal, supported developer’s kit for the Kinect. For about $250 anybody can buy the software and tools needed to build robust mocap services. All that’s needed is the ability to program in basic computer languages–talent that can be found at any local college or technical school. To help advance the technology [startup accelerator] TechStars even launched a startup incubator specifically for Kinect-based ideas.How does this market work? Fortunately the game console manufacturers are taking their cues from Apple’s success with courting small developers through the App Store. Apple provided the tool and then opened it up to app-makers and asked, “How clever are you?” And as we’ve seen, the sky’s the limit in terms of imagination and potential moneymaking ideas. This story appears in the September 2012 issue of . Subscribe » Add to Queue Are Motion-Based Gaming Technologies Right for Your Business? Jonathan Blum –shares Technology Register Now »center_img Next Article Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business 3 min read October 11, 2012 Magazine Contributor Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel.last_img read more

Airbnb Hostess Who Earned 61000 in 9 Months Now Faces Eviction Judge

first_imgSharing Economy Geoff Weiss 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List –shares Former Staff Writer Noelle Penraat is a prime exemplar of the money-making prospects currently available via Airbnb: the 62-year-old New York native made $61,000 off of her sprawling Upper West Side duplex in just nine months.But now, like many of the home-sharing startup’s most entrepreneurial hosts, Penraat is weathering a regulatory onslaught. A New York City judge ruled earlier this week that she must stop renting out rooms in the apartment immediately, and that her landlord has grounds to evict her, according to the New York Post.That’s because Penraat “has been profiteering from a rent-controlled apartment partially subsidized by another government program,” wrote Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead in her injunction. (Because she makes less than $50,000 per year, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Program exempts Penraat from any rent increases.)Related: Good News for Airbnb Hosts and Uber Drivers: Here Comes InsuranceAnd like countless other New York City residents, Penraat’s neighbors have also taken umbrage with her revolving door. One submitted to the court that the “constant barrage of strangers” left him fearing for the safety of his family. Penraat’s building also contains a Montessori school attended by 175 children, according to the Post.Penraat, who has hosted 135 guests since February 2012 and could have earned as much as $118,300 on an annual basis, argued that there was nothing illegal about renting three of the apartment’s four bedrooms to “roommates,” reports Law360. But Edmead shot her down.In New York, the battle against Airbnb is highly fraught. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released a scathing report claiming that 72 percent of all rentals in the city are illegal. And unlike other major U.S. cities like San Francisco — where Airbnb rentals are slated to become legal in February — Penraat’s case seems to suggest that New York City regulators aren’t willing to back down.Related: This Anti-Luxe Lodging Startup Will Put You Up in a Half-Built Treehouse For $19 Add to Queue Airbnb Hostess Who Earned $61,000 in 9 Months Now Faces Eviction, Judge Rules Next Article The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. December 26, 2014 2 min read Apply Now »last_img read more

Cannabis Medicinals Sales Expected to Reach 2 Billion by 2020

first_img Legalization of medical marijuana in more than half the states has created a booming market for medicinal and personal care products. Cannabis Medicinals Sales Expected to Reach $2 Billion by 2020 Each week hear inspiring stories of business owners who have taken the cannabis challenge and are now navigating the exciting but unpredictable Green Rush. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Next Article Easy Search. Quality Finds. Your partner and digital portal for the cannabis community. November 15, 2016 Image credit: Jupiterimages | Getty Images Listen Now Cannabis –shares Guest Writer dispensaries.com A new report shows sales of cannabis-based medicinal and personal care products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are likely to skyrocket in the next four years.The market for CBD products will reach $2.1 billion in sales by 2020, according to projections from “The CDB Report” from the Hemp Business Journal. That’s a huge leap from the estimated $115 million in CDB sales expected in 2016, making CBD among the fastest growing segments of the legal marijuana and hemp industries.The report, based on interviews and insights from dozens of experts in the hemp, CBD and marijuana industries, projects a robust future for the CBD industry. Hemp Business Journal did the report in partnership with SPINS and BDS Analytics, two firms that specialize in consumer data.Related: 10 Cannabis Startups You Need to WatchCBD a distinct market from THC.CBD is the chemical compound in the marijuana plant found to cause relief from various ailments, including inflammation, anxiety, pain and muscle spasms. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another chemical compound found in high concentrations in marijuana, CBD causes no “high”. The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology called CBD “a potential medicine for the treatment of neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative injury, vomiting and nausea, anxiety and schizophrenia.”The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies cannabis inder Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use.” Nonetheless, the Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for clinical trials of a CBD-based drug made by GW Pharmaceuticals that treats Lennox-Gastauf syndrome, a severe form for childhood-onset epilepsy.More products are hitting the market nationwide now that 28 states and the District of Columbia allow for legal medicinal cannabis.Related: Broad Voter Approval for Cannabis Has Likely Ignited Explosive GrowthCBD products on the rise.According to the report from Hemp Business Journal, $450 million of the projected $2 billion in CBD sales will come from hemp-based sources.The report also lists and provides information on some of the bigger names in the CBD market, including GW Pharmaceuticals, Insys Therapeutics, CV Sciences, Bluebird Botanicals, Atalo Holdings, CW Hemp, O.pen Vape and Dixie Elixirs.Outside of use by medical professionals, CBD products also are reaching the marketplace. Puration has released a new CBD-infused bottled water called EVERx CBD. The company hopes to reach $1 million in sales in 2017 for the new product.There are hundreds of CBD extracts, oils and rubs that can be used for pain management. There also are products for beauty, such as hair and skin care. You can even buy CBD-based oils for your pet that can be used to treat pain, arthritis, inflammation, anxiety and nausea, among other conditions.Related: Legal Marijuana a Big Winner in Elections Across the CountryClearly, CBD products provide another side to the cannabis plant that many are still learning about. Non-psychoactive and already proven to help with pain for different medical conditions, consumers continue to try CBD products in increasing numbers.And, if the Hemp Business Journal report is accurate, those numbers will continue to increase to the tune of $2 billion in sales in the course of just the next four years. Green Entrepreneur Podcast 3 min read Add to Queuelast_img read more

DirectLync Shakes Up Small Business Marketing with New Digital Marketing Platform

first_imgThe New Platform Brings Together All the Essential Sales and Marketing Tools in One Place, Changing the Way Businesses Use Marketing TechnologyDirectLync announces the launch of its digital marketing platform for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The platform’s integrated approach to digital marketing brings together all the essential tools – contact management, email marketing, social media management, website CMS, and reporting and insights – into one easy-to-use platform, saving users over 14 hours a month in efforts managing data from different sources. The all-in-one platform is aimed to help SMBs easily execute their sales and marketing activities and get a more holistic view into their channel performance.DirectLync is founded on the principle that custom design and integrated technology solutions should not be limited to enterprise corporations. The US Small Business Association says there are 30.2 million small business in the US. The platform offers these businesses a more affordable alternative to current enterprise solutions.Marketing Technology News: New Platform from Parabolt Helps Retailers Capture The “Magic Moment” of Sales“The siloed approach to marketing is a painful and time-consuming experience for SMBs,” said Kevin Lynch, President and Founder of DirectLync. “Many sales and marketing teams are using multiple platforms to manage digital efforts or skipping out on digital marketing because of time constraints. Analyzing reports and attributing success to campaigns is nearly impossible. SMBs are an impactful part of our global economy, and they need to be equipped with easy-to-use, affordable, and integrated solutions.”Marketing Technology News: Regions Bank Taps IBM’s AI to Power Next Generation Customer ServiceAccording to a Capital One Spark Business survey of small business owners, 76 percent of owners face marketing challenges, and 64 percent feel they’re unable to effectively market their businesses the way they’d like to. DirectLync helps solve this problem by providing them with the tools they need to perform and track marketing and sales initiatives across channels.DirectLync offers a 30-day free trial and four different pricing tiers starting at just $20 per month. In 2019, they plan to introduce expanded features and new tools to the platform.Marketing Technology News: Huawei Enables Smart Finance with “AI+DATA” DirectLync Shakes Up Small Business Marketing with New Digital Marketing Platform PRNewswireApril 30, 2019, 6:17 pmApril 30, 2019 digital marketing platformDirectLyncemail marketingMarketing Technology NewsNewsSocial Media ManagementSpark Business survey Previous ArticleVideo Conferencing Equipment Supplier, IVCi, Lists and Explains How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Video ConferencingNext ArticleTray.io Raises $37 Million Series B Funding to Usher in the Era of The Automated Enterpriselast_img read more

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency for n00bs

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Q&A: How is a bitcoin mined? A look at the virtual currency 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: Bitcoin and cryptocurrency for n00bs (2018, January 8) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-bitcoin-cryptocurrency-n00bs.html Everyone is talking about it, but no one actually understands it. Read this and impress your friends by explaining bitcoin. Explore further This article first appeared on Particle, a science news website based at Scitech, Perth, Australia. Read the original article. Provided by Particle In a restaurant the other night, I overheard an older couple talking about how their son had made a whole bunch of money with this “new fake online currency”.They were, of course, talking about bitcoin. Bitcoin is indeed an online currency, but it is very far from fake. At the time of writing, one bitcoin was worth over AU$20,000.Bitcoin and blockchain (the technology behind it) was also the subject of a full-day event as part of the recent West Tech Fest in Perth.The reason technology folk are all excited about bitcoin is that it is seen as a way to privately and securely exchange currency through the internet (although, like every technology, bitcoin is not perfect, and researchers are already finding holes).Cryptocurrency?Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency, which basically means it’s a type of money or medium of exchange that uses cryptography to ensure the security of transactions.While there are now many different types (you may have also heard of Ethereum), bitcoin was the first and is still the most well known type of cryptocurrency.What bitcoin isn’tThe most obvious entry point to understanding bitcoin is to first start with why bitcoin is different. Or in other words, what bitcoin isn’t.Bitcoin isn’t like conventional currency in four key ways. First, it isn’t issued by the government. Second, it doesn’t have any physical instrument. Bitcoin is entirely digital and only exists online. Third, it doesn’t require a bank.And fourth—and perhaps the most important difference between bitcoin and conventional currency—is the ledger. Ah, and what’s a ledger you ask? Think about your bank statement—it’s a type of ledger. On it, you see a list of transactions—the money going into and out of your account. The bank controls the ledger, and only you and the bank are able to see those transactions.In the case of bitcoin, the ledger is public, and because it is distributed, it is controlled by no one. But while the ledger is public, the entries are anonymised. Perth-based Ian Love, CEO of Australia’s first digital asset management company, Blockchain Assets, describes this as “transparency with anonymity”.Bitcoin mining for fun and profitAnother term you may have heard is ‘bitcoin mining’, which is another way of obtaining bitcoin rather than purchasing it with regular money.To understand how mining works, we again need to think about the distributed nature of bitcoin’s ledger.Another way of getting your head around a distributed ledger is by thinking about the internet itself, which was designed as a decentralised, distributed network of computers that no one person or group controls. (This, unfortunately, is under threat as net neutrality laws are being dismantled in the US, but that’s a story for another day.)The work of maintaining bitcoin still needs to be done, but since no one person or group (like a bank) controls it, the work is distributed. This is what bitcoin mining is—it’s adding transactions to the ledger or the blockchain. Anyone can do it with their computer, and you’re rewarded for giving your computing time through bitcoin.In this way then, just as the values of traditional currencies were once linked to gold, the value of bitcoin can in a sense be seen as linked to electricity.The Geocities era of blockchainRemember the early days of the internet, when no one could have really predicted Facebook or cloud computing? That’s the time we’re in for bitcoin and blockchain. And if you consider that blockchain allows for the trading of all sorts of things, not just currency, the possibilities are almost endless. read more

Novel machine learning technique for simulating the every day task of dressing

first_imgPutting on clothes is a daily, mundane task that most of us perform with little or no thought. We may never take into consideration the multiple steps and physical motions involved when we’re getting dressed in the mornings. But that is precisely what needs to be explored when attempting to capture the motion of dressing and simulating cloth for computer animation. More information: Paper: www.cc.gatech.edu/~aclegg3/pro … ess-synthesizing.pdf Computer scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Google Brain, Google’s artificial intelligence research arm, have devised a novel computational method, driven by machine learning techniques, to successfully and realistically simulate the multi-step process of putting on clothes. When dissected, the task of dressing is quite complex, and involves several different physical interactions between the character and his or her clothing, primarily guided by the person’s sense of touch.Creating animation of a character putting on clothing is challenging due to the complex interactions between the character and the simulated garment. Most work in highly constrained character animation deals with static environments which don’t react very much to the motion of the character, notes the researchers. In contrast, clothing can respond immediately and drastically to small changes in the position of the body; clothing has the tendency to fold, stick and cling to the body, making haptic, or touch sensation, essential to the task.Another unique challenge about dressing is that it requires the character to perform a prolonged sequence of motion involving a diverse set of subtasks, such as grasping the front layer of a shirt, tucking a hand into the shirt opening and pushing a hand through a sleeve.”Dressing seems easy to many of us because we practice it every single day. In reality, the dynamics of cloth make it very challenging to learn how to dress from scratch,” says Alexander Clegg, lead author of the research and a computer science Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We leverage simulation to teach a neural network to accomplish these complex tasks by breaking the task down into smaller pieces with well-defined goals, allowing the character to try the task thousands of times and providing reward or penalty signals when the character tries beneficial or detrimental changes to its policy.” Explore further Clegg and his collaborators at Georgia Tech include computer scientists Wenhao Yu, Greg Turk and Karen Liu. Together with Google Brain researcher Jie Tan, the group will present their work at SIGGRAPH Asia 2018 in Tokyo 4 December to 7 December. The annual conference features the most respected technical and creative members in the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques, and showcases leading edge research in science, art, gaming and animation, among other sectors.In this study, the researchers demonstrated their approach on several dressing tasks: putting on a t-shirt, throwing on a jacket and robot-assisted dressing of a sleeve. With the trained neural network, they were able to achieve complex reenactment of a variety of ways an animated character puts on clothes. Key is incorporating the sense of touch into their framework to overcome the challenges in cloth simulation. The researchers found that careful selection of the cloth observations and the reward functions in their trained network are crucial to the framework’s success. As a result, this novel approach not only enables single dressing sequences but a character controller that can successfully dress under various conditions.”We’ve opened the door to a new way of animating multi-step interaction tasks in complex environments using reinforcement learning,” says Clegg. “There is still plenty of work to be done continuing down this path, allowing simulation to provide experience and practice for task training in a virtual world.” In expanding this work, the team is currently collaborating with other researchers in Georgia Tech’s Healthcare Robotics lab to investigate the application of robotics for dressing assistance. Robot teaches itself how to dress people The researchers’ method then updates the neural network one step at a time to make the discovered positive changes more likely to occur in the future. “In this way, we teach the character how to succeed at the task,” notes Clegg. Citation: Novel machine learning technique for simulating the every day task of dressing (2018, November 20) retrieved 17 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-11-machine-technique-simulating-day-task.html Provided by Association for Computing Machinery 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. Computer scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Google Brain, Google’s artificial intelligence research arm, have devised a novel computational method, driven by machine learning techniques, to successfully and realistically simulate the multi-step process of putting on clothes. Credit: SIGGRAPH Asialast_img read more