North Face is cutting waste by selling refurbished old coats

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To try to create more of a circular economy in the fashion industry, the outdoor gear company is launching a new line called Renewed, made up of old garments cleaned up so well that they’re like new.

If you buy a jacket from a just-launched pilot collection from The North Face, someone else might have already climbed a mountain or run a marathon in it. Called The North Face Renewed, the products are sourced from returns or defective items, cleaned and repaired to the quality of a new piece of clothing, and then sold online at a discount, as part of the company’s move toward a more circular business model.

“It just represents a really important next step in the evolution of our overall business,” says Tim Bantle, a general manager and vice president of lifestyle brands at The North Face. The company recognizes the apparel industry’s waste problem: 85% of textiles end up in a landfill. Even though the company makes products that are designed to last longer than average–items come with a lifetime guarantee, and the company offers repairs–it still had an opportunity to curb waste. Patagonia sells refurbished clothing through a similar online store.

During the new collection’s pilot phase, lasting from June through September, products will come from The North Face’s internal stock, including products that might have been returned under the company’s guarantee. A partner called The Renewal Workshop will professionally clean and restore items so they can be sold online.

Bantle argues that it especially makes sense to prolong the life of complex products like outdoor gear. “Oftentimes, when we think about designing an outerwear product, it really is more like designing a car than it is like designing a T-shirt in terms of the complexity of engineering and the kind of care that goes into the design and development of the product and testing,” he says. “When you’re building the quality of products that we are, but you’re only assuming one life for that, you’re really short-changing all of the work that you’re doing in terms of the design and development process.”

It’s already possible, of course, to find used North Face products on eBay or other resale sites. But the products in the new collection will be restored to like-new quality. The company thinks that it might begin to shift how their customers shop. “How many customers do we have today that might be full-price customers, that might actually buy Renewed product in the future instead?” says Bantle. Other customers, who might not have been able to afford the brand’s high prices in the past, might start buying the products for the first time.

Continue onto FastCompany to read the complete article.

What it Takes to be a Successful Woman in the Field of Architecture

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Gretchen Callejas poses for a headshot in an outdoor setting

By Gretchen Callejas

Frank Lloyd Wright. I.M. Pei. Those are the familiar names of two of America’s best-known architects.

Wright’s distinct prairie-style homes dot the American landscape while Pei’s large but elegantly designed urban buildings and complexes are among the world’s most famous architectural works. Pei’s projects, among others, include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the controversial glass pyramid in Paris’ Louvre Museum courtyard.

But have you heard of Julia Morgan, who designed California’s famous Hearst Castle?

Or trailblazers such as Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman to be officially licensed as an architect, and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize?

It isn’t surprising if you haven’t. According to a January 2019 article in ThoughtCo., which listed 20 famous female architects, the role that women have played in architecture and design often go under the radar.

While architecture has been a male-dominated field, that is not the case at Felder & Associates, where I have worked since its inception in 2012. We have four women and three men on staff. The forward-thinking leadership of the firm’s managing principal, Brian Felder, has played an extraordinary part in making our workplace a gender free oasis in an otherwise industry-wide testosterone-filled desert.

Why is architecture, like so many other professions, such a tough profession for women to crack?

According to a 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times, only 18 percent of licensed practitioners are women although they make up nearly half of U.S. architecture school graduates. This disparity sometimes is referred to as “the missing 32 percent.” Unfortunately, females leave the field in disturbingly high numbers after they’re confronted with lower salaries, given fewer career-building opportunities or find a lack of mentors, who champion for them.

Full-time female architects earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Plus, architecture’s history as a male-dominated profession has contributed to an all-consuming workplace culture that leaves little flexibility for women expected to balance work and family. According to the Times article, 75 percent of female survey respondents had experienced sexual discrimination on the job, and 83 percent believed having a child would hurt their careers.

My personal observations and experiences have confirmed some of these disparities, but I consider myself lucky.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain a successful professional career while balancing family because I have a husband who shares responsibilities and encouragement. Without his support, it would be more challenging to continue with a professional career.

And while I have quite a few female friends who are architects, I have never worked for a woman nor had a strong female mentor. Contractors and clients often assume I need to ask my male boss for help in understanding construction, codes or a design issue. When I approach a problem with the same assertiveness as a male architect, I’m sometimes labeled with the “B”-word.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of designing buildings before I knew what that encompassed. And now as an adult would I encourage young girls to enter architecture? Absolutely. I would tell young women (and men) entering the field that determination and passion go a long way. You will be successful if you work hard, tune out the negativity and chase your goals with perseverance. If you want to be an Architect, then go be one.

I finally believe that I am in a position to give them a hand. I’ve been around enough to help guide them and try to be the mentor I never had. I’m pleased we have two young women working with us at Felder & Associates. Alma Johnson and Cathryn Sinclair graduated with architectural degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design last year and are interning with us as project associates.

Sinclair says she believes the playing field is more level than ever before but there is always room for improvement.

“I hope to continue to see the gap close,” she says.

For Johnson, success is based on how hard you work.

“Now, the gender gap does exist, but I think that the world is evolving on a more modern idea of a woman in the workplace. I don’t see gender. I see what skill sets I need to acquire to be as successful as the candidate next to me,” Johnson says.

I hope their perspectives will remain true and their positivity high after spending 15 years or so in the industry. I suspect they will reflect on their early days as a time when they had to deal with an old and outdated set of standards.

One thing I know for certain. They are in a wonderful setting to avoid bias and discrimination working at Felder & Associates. We are, thankfully, treated equally regardless of our gender, and we treat one another with mutual respect and understanding.

My hope for young women in architecture is that they will continue to mentor the next generations of women architects, have equal opportunities and respect. One day we will be as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei.

Gretchen Callejas is a project architect at Felder & Associates, where she specializes in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, small scale commercial architecture and high-end residential design. She is also LEED-accredited from the U.S. Green Building Council. Callejas earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Citations:

  1. Craven, Jackie (2019, January). 20 Famous Women Architects. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-female-architects-177890
  2. Stratigakos, Despina (2016, April). Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? LA Times. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
  3. Newman, Caroline (2019, January). Three Generations Of Female Architects Seek To Bring More Women Into The Profession. UVA Today. Retrieved from: https://news.virginia.edu/content/3-generations-female-architects-seek-bring-more-women-profession

 

 

Common Name, Uncommon Path

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Common seated at the panel at the Black Caucus

By Jovane Marie

With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.

Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.

But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”

Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.

“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”

Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”

L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend The Hate U Give New York Screening at Paris Theatre
L to R-Lamar Johnson, Sabrina Carpenter, Russell Hornsby, Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith and Common attend “The Hate U Give” New York Screening at Paris Theatre.

This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.

In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.

“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”

Common performs onstage during OZY Fest
Common performs onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park in New York City.

Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.

Common with classroom full of school children.
Common visits NYC elementary school for Back-To-School fundraising with Burlington Stores and AdoptAClassroom. JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES

“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”

A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.

“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.

Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.

More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.

Common standing posing with his childrens book
Common with his children’s book, “I Like You but I Love Me”.

“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.

On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.

On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.

“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”

10 Things Not to Miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach

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family of four look at WonderWorks museum exhibit

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina — As the summer temperatures heat up, many families will be looking for ways to keep cool. They will also want to entertain, make memories and keep their kids active. One good way to do that is to visit WonderWorks Myrtle Beach, where parents can find four levels of indoor nonstop fun, offering plenty of opportunities for people of all ages.

“Most people are familiar with the outside of our building, but they are not familiar with what goes on inside it,” says Robert Stinnett, regional manager at WonderWorks. “The neat thing is that what we offer on the inside is every bit as interesting and unique. We are here for all ages to experience laughter, fun and joy by diving into history, science and releasing energy with our interactive exhibits!”

Here are 10 things not to miss at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach:

  1. Climb. Hit up the ropes course, where guests can test their endurance and locomotor skills as they climb over 28 different obstacles and physical activities in this 3-story indoor course.
  2. Throw. Take your chance at virtual sports, where you can find out what it’s like to pitch to a Major League Baseball player or throw a touchdown pass 50 yards to an NFL player. Virtual Sports allows you to test your athletic skills on a baseball, football, and soccer field.
  3. Ride. Take a seat within the virtual coaster with the ability to turn 360° in every direction. Hold on to your seats, while experiencing virtual physics! You can also feel the sensation of weightlessness like in outer space on the Astronaut Training Gyro Challenge.
  4. Play. Hit up the sandbox and bubble lab! Explore the depths of the ocean, a Jurassic landscape, and a wildlife safari in an interactive sandbox. Interact with various creatures with your hands and mold the sand by building mountains, volcanoes and much more! You can also create bubbles the size of basketballs, and even make a bubble big enough for you to fit inside.
  5. Learn. Test your knowledge about our world’s natural disasters. Show what you know and more from such categories as wild weather, quakes and blazes, manmade catastrophes and extreme disasters.
  6. Imagine. Enter a new dimension of reality and explore the unknown. Visit the Dr. Seuss Taxidermy, where the famous author’s creations come to life. Discover how perception and perspective are used in over 35 exhibits located throughout the Far Out Art Gallery where the unexplainable will come to life and the unusual will be the norm.
  7. Thrill. Enjoy the 12-seat theater that takes guests on an amazing adventure that transcends times, space, and imagination by combining the 3D film with special effects and full motion. Now playing 5 different movies: Cosmic Coaster-Mild, Wild Wild West- Moderate, Great Wall of China-Moderate, Dino Safari- Wild or Canyon Coaster-Wild.
  8. Adrenaline. Take the zipline challenge, where you will soar 50 feet above water and 1,000 feet between towers. This features a constant tension system, which ensures participants a smooth “zip” with intense fun.
  9. Extreme. Check out 360 Bikes, where you will buckle into your bike and start pedaling. You will try to generate enough power to spin a complete 360-degree revolution right back to where you started.
  10. Interact. Get interactive with laser tag! This family fun game combines innovative technology to provide you with a one-of-a-kind interactive experience. The object is to outplay, outlast and outshoot the other players.

“WonderWorks is happy to support energy in motion – we want our guests to feel like each time they come to us, not only are they having a blast, they are using their mind to learn and interact physically with our many hands-on exhibits,” added Stinnett. “Make some fun family memories right here at WonderWorks Myrtle Beach.”

WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach offers 50,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, showcasing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. For more information, log onto its site: wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. Don’t miss Soar + Explore, a WonderWorks sister attraction featuring an over water zipline and outdoor ropes challenge course guaranteed to get your heart pumping from total excitement. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties, group outings and special events seasonally. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. wonderworksonline.com/myrtle-beach/.

Good News for the Oil and Gas Industry

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Arab woman engineer looking at plans

37% of U.S.-based companies surveyed expect to hire new employees in 2019

Looking for a strong industry that is poised for growth and offers a secure, bright future ahead? There’s good news in the global petroleum—or oil and gas—industry. Senior oil and gas professionals in the United States are among the global experts who are confident about the outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2019. Companies across the country are preparing for significant increases in capital expenditure over the coming year. That’s according to DNV GL, a Denmark-based, internationally accredited registrar and classification society that provides risk management and quality assurance services to the maritime, oil and gas, and power and renewables industries.

Full of confidence and buoyed by favorable government energy policies, the majority of senior oil and gas professionals in the United States—71 percent—agree that more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects will be approved this year than in 2018.

These findings have been published in A Test of Resilience, DNV GL’s ninth annual benchmark study on the outlook for the oil and gas industry. The research is based on a global survey of nearly 800 senior oil and gas professionals and in-depth interviews with industry leaders.

The United States has the highest expectation of capital expenditure increases out of all countries and regions analyzed in DNV GL’s study. As many as 43 percent of respondents from the United States aim to increase capital spending in 2019, compared to just 23 percent a year ago. By contrast, only 30 percent of respondents globally expect to see a rise in capital expenditures this year. There are similarly optimistic findings for operating expenditure, with the 31 percent predicting increased expenditures in the United States outstripping both last year’s 20 percent tally and the 22 percent expectation level globally in 2019.

“Surging oil and gas industry confidence in the United States is built on the foundation of improved financial resilience due to hard-earned cost efficiencies, cost discipline, best practice, collaboration, standardization and the continued recovery and stabilization of oil and gas prices for most of 2018,” said Frank Ketelaars, Regional Manager, the Americas, DNV GL–Oil & Gas.

As the oil and gas industry prepares to increase capital and operational spending, DNV GL’s research reveals that companies in the United States also risk relaxing their tight grip on the cost efficiencies established during the recent market downturn. The proportion of respondents whose organizations will assign top priority to cost efficiency this year has fallen from 35 percent in 2018 to 15 percent in 2019; the lowest globally. In turn, the old spending habits that affected the sector during the pre-2014 period of high oil prices may be returning. A whopping 42 percent of respondents in the United States believe that suppliers will drive notable price inflation this year.

And what does that mean for the industry? Good news—hiring will be on the rise. Senior oil and gas industry professionals report they are looking to recruit new talent this year: 37 percent of U.S.-based respondents expect to hire new employees in 2019, compared to just 20 percent in 2018. New DNV GL research shows that 85 percent of gas and oil industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, up sharply from 60 percent in 2018. This compares with 76 percent reporting confidence among respondents globally.

Key Trends for 2019

  • 85% of oil and gas industry leaders in the United States are optimistic about the industry’s growth prospects in the year ahead, compared to 60% going into 2018

 

  • 71% expect more large, capital-intensive oil and gas projects to be approved this year than in 2018

 

  • 42% believe suppliers will drive notable price increases this year

 

  • 15% say cost efficiency is a top priority for their companies in 2019, compared to 35% in 2018

The mouse of the future? Your eyeballs

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picture of person using their eyeball to control their mouse

By Katharine Schwab

Most of us control our technology using our fingers and hands, whether that’s through touch screens or a mouse. But for years, individuals with disabilities have used their eyes as a way to control digital interfaces.

Tablets like the Tobii Dynavox EyeMobile+ give people with cerebral palsy and other conditions the ability to use the internet, communicate, and even play games using just their eyes as a mouse.

Now, researchers are experimenting with ways to bring eye-tracking technology to general users. At the annual ACM Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference last week, scholars presented three new methods for able-bodied people to take advantage of a user interface that has mostly stayed within the realm of assistive technology. The experiments show how using your eyes as a tool to control a computer could make everyone more productive, not just people who are disabled. It’s an example of the power of inclusive design: When technologies are built to accommodate users who have disabilities, everyone else benefits, too.

Proofreading emails–or any other chunk of text–with just your eyes

One of the most annoying things about writing is typos: They’re inevitable, but they’re a pain to go back and fix. Academics at the University of Auckland and the University of Bath presented a research paper at CHI that proposes using your gaze to fix those pesky little mistakes and navigate a chunk of text. First, you look at the typo you want to fix (something you’re probably doing anyway). Then, you start typing. The program, called ReType, identifies the word you’re trying to change based on your gaze, and replaces it with whatever you type. Then, you just have to press enter to continue, enabling you to keep your hands on the keyboard as you continue to edit your mistakes. Your cursor then stays in the location you just edited, enabling you to insert or delete text there. It turns your eyeballs into a mouse.

The study included a variety of keyboard users, some of whom had used gaze-tracking technology before, and the researchers showed that the method was able to match and sometimes beat the speed of using a mouse. Plus, users liked it: “We were very pleased to hear from a number of users that they expect ReType to be helpful in addressing and preventing repetitive strain injury,” Gerald Weber, a computer science lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, tells Fast Company via email, referring to the musculoskeletal damage that’s caused by small repetitive tasks like clicking, typing, and using a mouse. Currently, Retype is just a prototype, but the research team has patented it and wants to turn it into a product.

Navigating through code without ever using a mouse

Studies have found that developers spend about 35% of their time navigating through their code while they’re working. When they’re debugging, they spend about 50% of their time looking for information–something that slows them down considerably.

Using eye tracking to communicate with colleagues

As more people work remotely, collaboration across distance can be difficult. But a study from researchers at Pomona College that was presented at CHI shows how eye tracking could act as a collaborative tool. The researchers focused on the challenges of collaborating on a piece of writing while working in different places, something that has become common with the popularity of tools like Google Docs. They conducted a study with 20 pairs of academics, each of whom had an eye-tracking device at the bottom of their screen that showed their collaborator where they were looking within a digital text editor. After completing writing tasks where they did and did not have access to the location of the other person’s gaze, the study participants reported more mutual understanding, higher joint attention, greater flow of communication, and increased awareness of what their co-author was doing when they could see where their partner was looking. (The eye-tracking technology only shows up within the text editor, so collaborators wouldn’t be able to spy on each other’s eye movements outside of that context.)

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Alcatraz East Crime Museum to Hold 2nd Annual Graffiti Art Contest

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Artists busy preparing for the Alcatraz graffiti contest

Drive through any city in America and you are bound to see some graffiti. Some people love it, while others hate it. These images, letters and paintings found on buildings, bridges and other surfaces can often signal decay and bring property values down.

This has prompted many cities to create designated graffiti art spaces, and many businesses have commissioned artists to create murals to deter graffiti on their walls. Putting graffiti art into the spotlight, Alcatraz East Crime Museum will be holding its 2nd annual Graffiti Art Contest on Saturday, June 1, 2019. All graffiti artists are invited to compete for cash prizes and the chance to have their work on exhibit in the museum.

“We are happy to encourage people to think outside the box and work with those who love this form of public art,” explains Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits at Alcatraz East Crime Museum. “This contest gives artists a chance to showcase their talent and a rare chance to have their art featured in a museum.”

The artists who are selected to compete in the contest will be staged in the parking lot behind the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. The event is open to the public. There will be three winners, who will be awarded $750, $350, and $200 respectively. Each of the three winners will also have their graffiti art put on exhibit inside the museum.

Contestants must pre-qualify by entering online and must be at least 18 years old. The deadline to enter for consideration for the contest is May 8, 2019. Artists can review the full guidelines for the contest at: alcatrazeast.com/graffiti-contest/.

The judges’ panel includes local representatives of law enforcement and the arts, including Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Richard Catlett.

In 2018, Alcatraz East Crime Museum held its first annual graffiti contest, with contestants from Picture of colorful cartoonish graffiti on wall with a bulldog looking onboth the local area and surrounding states. The grand prize went to Steve Hall of Maryville, Tennessee.

“Everyone competing was very kind, and it was inspiring to see all different artists with different talents, backgrounds, mediums, and ideas come together and celebrate their art,” says Emily Overbey, an artist who competed in last year’s competition.

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They are located near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The museum is always adding to its collection, and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime-solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children and $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.

Energy Efficiency Takes the Lead in Job Growth

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hands holding a world globe

Energy efficiency added more new jobs than any other industry in the entire U.S. energy sector in 2017 and now employs nearly 2.25 million Americans, according to a new jobs analysis from E4TheFuture and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

The new report, Energy Efficiency Jobs in America 2018, finds energy efficiency workers now outnumber elementary and middle school teachers and are nearly double the number of Americans who work in law enforcement.

“This good news buoys us beyond politics to unite a focus on the positive,” said Steve Cowell, president of E4TheFuture. “We have long known that energy efficiency is a major source of jobs, and by conservative estimates, about one in every hundred U.S. adults now works in energy efficiency. Efficiency is also a key strategy for meeting multiple policy objectives. It saves money, improves health, lowers carbon emissions, and creates local jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

The report highlights energy efficiency’s growing economic importance. Efficiency added 67,000 new jobs in 2017, making it the fastest-growing job category in the energy sector. Energy efficiency employs twice as many workers as all fossil fuel industries combined. Efficiency workers now account for 35 percent of all U.S. energy jobs.

“We all know energy efficiency creates savings for consumers and businesses with every month’s electric bill,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “We also now know that energy efficiency creates jobs – millions of them – all across America. These are good-paying jobs at your neighborhood construction company, upgrading windows and installing insulation; at your hometown HVAC contractor, installing heat pumps and high-efficiency air conditioners; at your local factory, manufacturing Energy Star appliances and LED lighting systems; and at thousands of related companies nationwide.”

Among the states, California leads energy-efficiency employment with 310,000 jobs, followed by Texas (154,000), New York (117,000), Florida (112,000), and Illinois (87,000). Seventeen states now employ more than 50,000 workers and the 25 states with the most energy efficiency sector jobs all now employ more than 30,000 workers (1.9 million total). Only four states saw a decline in energy efficiency employment in 2017.

With workers in 99.7 percent of U.S. counties, energy efficiency has become a nationwide job engine integral to state and local economic growth. More than 300,000 energy efficiency jobs are located in America’s rural areas, and 900,000 jobs are found in the nation’s top 25 metro areas. One out of every six U.S. construction workers are involved in energy efficiency, as are more than 315,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the report.

More detailed breakdowns of energy efficiency jobs for all 50 states and the District of Columbia—including job totals for every state’s congressional and legislative district and maps of each state’s top counties—can be found at e2.org/eejobsamerica.

Other key findings:

  • 11 percent of energy efficiency jobs are held by veterans, nearly double the national average for veterans’ share of employment (6 percent)
  • In 40 states and the District of Columbia, more Americans work in energy efficiency than work with fossil fuels
  • Construction and manufacturing make up more than 70 percent of U.S. energy efficiency jobs
  • More than 1 million energy efficiency jobs are in heating, ventilation, and cooling technologies
  • Energy efficiency employers are expecting 9 percent job growth in 2018
  • Energy efficiency now employs workers in 3,000 of America’s 3,007 counties
    · Small businesses are driving America’s energy efficiency job boom, with 79 percent of energy efficiency businesses employing fewer than 20 workers.

Source: e4thefuture.org

Facebook just bought a furniture shopping startup

LinkedIn
facebook-shop

Facebook has acquired GrokStyle, a shopping startup that uses AI to help you buy furniture and other items for the home. The move, which was reported by Bloomberg, is the latest sign yet that the social network is looking to push deeper into e-commerce in 2019.

Facebook spokesperson Vanessa Chan confirmed the acquisition saying, “We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook. Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities.”

GrokStyle, which was founded in 2016 according to CrunchBase, is a San Francisco startup specializing in visual search. The company is known for technology that allows shoppers to search for furniture and other items by taking photos with their phones. Last year, the company partnered with Ikea on its augmented reality furniture app.

In a note posted on its website, the company said it had “only scratched the surface of what is possible with computer vision.”

“Our team and technology will live on, and we will continue using our AI to build great visual search experiences for retail.”

It’s not clear exactly what team within Facebook GrokStyle and its “AI capabilities” will be a part of. But it’s another potential sign that Facebook plans to move deeper into shopping features.

The company has been steadily adding shopping features to Instagram, but hasn’t said much about similar shopping experiences in other places.

Continue on to Mashable to read the complete article.

Five New Year’s Resolutions Would Be Novelists Should Set

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With the New Year right around the corner, it’s a great time to start thinking about your resolutions. Everyone should set goals at the beginning of the year, so they have some idea of what it is that they want to accomplish.

In other words, by setting goals you will solidify your long-term vision for what it is that you want to achieve. There are some great resolutions for writers to set that will keep them productive and working toward their publishing goals.

“Every January we get a fresh start, we get a chance to make plans about what we want to complete in the New Year,” explains Annalisa Parent, writing coach and award winning author. “It’s so important that writers make resolutions every January. By getting those goals out of your head and down on paper, you will be one step closer to making them happen.”

Many people are skeptical about setting New Year’s resolutions, fearing that they will not see them through. While it’s true that many people do abandon their resolutions within weeks of making them, there are many others who stick with them and are successful in accomplishing what they set out for themselves. You can never accomplish a goal that you don’t take the time to set.

Parent is an expert writing coach who has helped many writers through all aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing their novel. Here are five New Year’s resolutions she offers for every writer:

  1. To finish your novel. Every writer seems to have an unfinished novel on their hands. Make 2019 the year that you finish the novel so that it’s no longer nagging you. Once you get it done, you will feel better about it and can move toward the next steps to get it published.
  2. To read more. Every writer needs to be an avid reader. If you haven’t been getting much reading done, it’s important to make it a priority. Whether you read a book a month or a book a week, you need to keep reading. It’s important because it helps expose you to what’s been written and published.
  3. To work with a writing coach. Working with a writing coach can do wonders for your writing career. It can help you get organized, finish your book, get your book published, and market your book in a successful way.
  4. To embrace your writing style. Everyone has their own writing method, but some people don’t embrace it. Instead, they try to change it, which doesn’t seem natural. Make 2019 the year you embrace your writing method and go with it, seeing where it may lead you.
  5. Go beyond your comfort zone. It’s difficult for people to go beyond their comfort zone when it comes to writing. This year, make a commitment to go beyond that comfort zone and see where it leads. Try new things, because you may find they are extremely rewarding and enrich your writing life.

“By making writing goals for the New Year, you are letting the universe know you are making writing a priority,” adds Parent. “It’s time to give your writing the time and attention that it deserves, so you can live your publishing dream. Do that, and you will be very happy and fulfilled with where it leads you along your career path.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors looking to traditionally publish. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel without an Outline won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books, and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She has been a featured speaker on writing-related topics across the globe, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book.

For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her coaching services, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book TheSix Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent has worked with writers all over the world. She offers writing coaching services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. Parent focuses on three main areas: Quality, Clarity and Creative Flow, all through a neuroscientific approach. For more information on her services and to set up a chat about publishing, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com or book a one-on-one chat session at datewiththemuse.com/publishnow.

Meet the 26-year-old entrepreneur turning high-school gamers into varsity athletes

LinkedIn

With his PlayVS e-sports platform, Delane Parnell is creating a valuable scouting grounds for new tech talent.

Sporting a pair of black Jordan 11 Cap and Gowns that look like they were just unboxed and a dark baseball cap that casts a slight shadow over his baby-cheeked face, Delane Parnell fields questions from the audience at this September’s TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual San Francisco assembly that has become a startup kingmaker of sorts. He shares the stage with Jason Citron, founder and CEO of Discord, a messaging app for video gamers with more than 150 million users, and—after a $50 million fundraising round in April—a valuation of $1.65 billion. Parnell’s PlayVS (pronounced play versus), an e-sports platform for high schools, has yet to even launch. But the 26-year-old Detroit native exudes confidence. “Investors are starting to realize that gaming is the next social paradigm,” says Parnell, answering a question about e-sports’ mainstream popularity. “And they want a piece of it.”

You don’t have to look far for evidence of gaming’s influence. It’s all over YouTube and Twitch in how-to videos and live-streamed sessions of FIFA 19 and Assassin’s Creed. A robust ecosystem of e-sports competitions is rising as well, with game publishers, entertainment companies, and even colleges and universities creating leagues and events for pro gamers and amateurs alike. The largest tournaments, for titles such as Dota 2 and Call of Duty, can fill stadiums and dangle purses of millions of dollars. According to research firm NewZoo, revenue from e-sports-related media, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees is expected to nearly double from 2014 to reach $1 billion this year. Goldman Sachs projects e-sports viewership to reach 300 million by 2022, putting it on par with the NFL.

For all the organizations rushing into e-sports, a hole remains: high school competitions that engage the estimated 75% of American teens who already play video games. Parnell is filling that void with PlayVS, which lets schools create leagues and host virtual and live competitions. Though he’s diving into an industry full of well-funded sharks, including Amazon (Twitch’s parent company) and Discord, Parnell has an edge. In January, PlayVS signed an exclusive, five-year e-sports partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the organization that oversees varsity sports and activities at nearly 19,500 public and private high schools across the country. The first test season of a PlayVS-powered competition, for the popular multiplayer game League of Legends, commenced this October at high schools across five states, and the company is gearing up for its official inaugural season in February.

Parnell is now on a roll. Last week, just five months after PlayVS closed its $15.5 million Series A, the company announced a $30.5 million round from investors that include Adidas, Samsung, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the VC arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers“I don’t care if you’re gaming on your phone, on a console, or through a cloud service,” Parnell says. “Gaming in high school, even if it’s tic-tac-toe, will run through us.”

If he succeeds, he could effectively control a pipeline that would feed into the burgeoning pro leagues. It took the NBA two decades after its first draft to start recruiting players from high schools, but e-sports leagues are already tapping young talent. A 13-year-old recently signed with a European pro Fortnite team. Given the venture capital and startups flooding into e-sports today, Parnell could create another, equally valuable conduit: one that enables high schoolers—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds—to parlay their interest in gaming into lucrative tech jobs. All he has to do is convince schools that e-sports deserves to be taken as seriously as football and basketball.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.