Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ever heard of crowdfunding?

Please check out an IndieGoGo campaign for the Speaker Pod.  

Read some of the details about the Speaker Pod below, but please check out the URL to see ALL the info about this great little gadget, and view a video that shows how the Speaker Pod works - you'll be able to hear the difference in the audio as soon as you put a smartphone or MP3 player on the Speaker Pod.

Crowdfunding is a way for small businesses to raise money to produce their products.

You aren't donating anything - you are a backer, and for your pledge you receive rewards - including a Speaker Pod or two.

I'm helping a friend with this, so please check it out if you like listening to music on your smartphone, or if you just like helping small entrepreneurs realize a dream.

If you love to listen to music wherever you go and are tired of carrying cables around, the Speaker Pod is for you!  Join the Pod People!

Speaker Pod represents big sound in a small package. With its innovative acoustic mechanism, Speaker Pod delivers sound that is crisp, clear, and full-bodied. Sound emanates from your phone's speakers and envelops your ears, with no need for wires, cables or Bluetooth!

Our Speaker Pods, which come in snazzy green or basic black, have a starting cost of just $24!
Unlike our first iteration of this technology - the Boom Bx - Speaker Pod is powered by a rechargeable battery. Not having to buy batteries equals a savings cost to the consumer, and is of course a benefit to the environment. All the user has to do is use a mini USB (included) to charge their Speaker Pod.

The Speaker Pod has a simple on/off switch, which is much better than a push button when it comes to quality. (We discovered this with our Boom Bx, which had a push button. We quickly learned that an on/off switch is much more reliable.)

Simply turn the Speaker Pod on. Then, turn on your smartphone or MP3 player  and start playing music. Place this device on the Speaker Pod, and immediately the music, crisp, and clear, will soar out into the room.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The spread of tobacco across the Middle East

The "New World" - a world that had existed for centuries of course, with indigenous inhabitants, before it was "discovered" by Spanish and English explorers during the 1500s - gave the "Old World" and "the East" many products.... not the least of which was tobacco.

In the "New World" tobacco was smoked in a variety of small pipes, or in cigars or cigarettes. The indigenous peoples used these for their religious ceremonies.

When the British brought tobacco to the lands of the Middle East such as Persia (now known as Iran) the tobacco was too harsh to be inhaled frequently, so an inventor somewhere in that region invented the water pipe, in which the smoke from burning tobacco was filtered, making it more palatable.

Modern day Iran - notice it is located to the north east of Africa.  Can you identify the countries surrounding it?

Smoking from a water pipe, or hookah, became popular in the 1500s and continues to do so today.

When people from the Middle East began emigrating to England and the United States in the 1800s, they brought the water pipe with then, although it never achieved the popularity that cigarettes and cigars did.

Today, however, the use of electronic, portable hookahs - hookah sticks or hookah pens as they are called is increasing. Instead of using tobacco, people use fruit flavored liquids which are vaporized and then inhaled.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just where are Mason County and Pierce County?

Plumbers in Mason county and plumbers in Pierce county can be found by searching for them on the internet. But just where are these two counties?

According to Wikipedia:
Mason County is a county located in the U.S. state of Washington. As of the 2010 census, the population was 60,699.  The county seat and only incorporated city is Shelton. The county was formed out of King County on March 13, 1854. Originally named Sawamish County, it took its present name in 1864 in honor of Charles H. Mason, the first Secretary of Washington Territory.

Mason County comprises the Shelton, WA Micropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Seattle-Tacoma, WA Combined Statistical Area.

So, what's that terminology mean?

1. What is an incorporated city?

2. What is a Micropolitan statistical area?

3. What is a Combined Statistical area?

I'm glad you asked!

1. A municipal corporation is the legal term for a local governing body, including cities, counties, towns, townships, charter townships, villages, and boroughs. When such a municipality wants to become a self-governing entity, under the laws of the state or province in which they are located. Often, this event is marked by the award or declaration of a municipal charter.

2. A United States Micropolitan Statistical Areas is an urban area based around an urban cluster  with a population of 10,000 to 49,999. The micropolitan area designation was created in 2003. Like the better-known metropolitan area, a micropolitan area is a geographic entity used for statistical purposes based on counties and county-equivalents.

The OMB (Office of Management and Budget) has identified 576 micropolitan areas in the United States. The term "micropolitan" became popular in the 1990s to describe growing population centers in the United States that are removed from larger cities, in some cases by 100 miles or more. Lower land and labor costs have led some micropolitan areas to develop many housing subdivisions and suburban cultures similar to those found in larger metropolitan areas.

3. A Combined Statistical Area (CSA) is a grouping of adjacent metropolitan and/or micropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the United States and Puerto Rico. The United States Office of Management and Budget defines combined statistical areas based on social and economic ties measured by commuting patterns between adjacent MSAs.

The areas that combine retain their own designations as metropolitan or micropolitan statistical areas within the larger combined statistical area. The primary distinguishing factor between a CSA and an MSA is that the social and economic ties between the individual MSAs within a CSA are at lower levels than between the counties within an MSA. CSAs represent multiple metropolitan or micropolitan areas that have a moderate degree of employment interchange. CSAs often represent regions with overlapping labor and media markets.

(When working with government entities, you must get used to acronyms.)

Whenever you do a search for businesses in your area, and it doesn't have to be plumbers in Mason county or plumbers in Pierce county, always give a thought to what you can learn during that search!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pop quiz: What is Mt. Baker's claim to fame?

From Wikipedia

Mount Baker also called Kulshan, is an active glaciated andesitic stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc and the North Cascades of Washington State in the United States. Mount Baker has the second-most thermally active crater in the Cascade Range after Mount Saint Helens.

After Mount Rainier, Mount Baker is the most heavily glaciated of the Cascade Range volcanoes; the volume of snow and ice on Mount Baker, 0.43 cu mi (1.79 km3) is greater than that of all the other Cascades volcanoes (except Rainier) combined. It is also one of the snowiest places in the world; in 1999, Mount Baker Ski Area, located 14 km (8.7 mi) to the northeast, set the world record for recorded snowfall in a single season—1,140 in (2,900 cm).

I'm planning  a 50-state trip next year, and of course must start in Washington state, work my way down to California, then start the journey back north again through.... what state?

I was looking for Mt. Baker lodgings on the web and came across Snowater lodge, which is quite close to Mt. Baker - being located on the Nooksack River.

The thing about this lodge - in fact probably every timeshare rental in Washington state in this area, is that there's not going to be any internet. That is going to be a shock to the system!  But, after a year of working hard doing research on geography, I'm going to need a break from the internet.

So make note of Mt. Baker lodgings, and plan your own virtual trip around the United States.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Map Reveals the Geography of American TV News

From the Atlantic:

Most Americans—some 55 percent—get their news from television. That’s more than double the number who look to the web first, and more than five times the number who turn to print.
So television news steers, to a great degree, our political discourse. But unlike text on the page or screen, it remains more difficult to analyze. TV arrives as sound and moving images—both of which algorithms have a harder time making sense of.
That’s why a recent pilot project from the Internet Archive is so welcome. Using the Archive’s massive archive of television news, Georgetown scholar Kalev Leetaru tracked all the locations mentioned on U.S. television news between June 2009 and October 2013, then plotted them on a world map.
On the foundation’s blog, archivist Roger Macdonald writes that the map constitutes the “first large-scale glimpses of the geography of American television news, beginning to reveal which areas receive outsized attention and which are neglected.”
Internet Archive
Leetaru’s project isn’t the first to examine quantitatively how TV news represents the world. Last year, scholars in Germany and Israel examined how domestic TV news sources in different countries covered “foreign news.” MIT’s Media Lab, too, has mapped where the Boston Globe directs its attention; they’ve also looked at how often online news sources speak to men and women.
But the Internet Archive's map seems to be the first to depict the breadth of U.S. news. Looking at the map, I quickly found some rarely-covered areas that surprised me. Talking heads, apparently, rarely mentioned North Dakota, despite its booming economy.
To make the map, Leetaru used the massive library of closed captioning held by the Internet Archive. Macdonald explains the process, called “fulltext geocoding”:
These algorithms scan the closed captioning of each broadcast looking for any mention of a location anywhere in the world, disambiguate them using the surrounding discussion (Springfield, Illinois vs Springfield, Massachusetts), and ultimately map each location.
Underlying problems, therefore, might lurk in the data: “Two pairs of shoes” might be captioned—and thus interpreted—as “Two Paris of shoes.” But the prototype represents what’s now possible at the intersection of algorithmic text-reading and geographic visualization. Someday, data like this might inform more than the (worthy) world of media studies—it might help news organizations make decisions about where under-covered stories might be lurking.  
One more thing: I’d love to see this map with the population filtered out: Does the I-95 corridor’s large population justify its massive coverage, or is it indeed over-represented? (It’s hard not to think of this XKCD classic.) I’m struck, though, by the visualization’s similarity to the famous Earth at Night image. It seems an image so awesome, so unfathomable, we can only always be referencing it in maps like these.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Events of 1792

Nautical Exploration
Joseph Whidbey, an English naval officer, circumnavigated the island named after him in 1792,  on Captain George Vancouver's ship.