Our Southern Connection

first_imgThe official visit of Brazil’s Minister of Defence, Raul Jungman, along with the Minister of Justice, Mr Torquato Lorena Jardim, and a large delegation that included several Generals of the Brazilian Army comes at a very opportune moment for our country. After more than five decades of being held to ransom by the Venezuelan claim to two-thirds of our national territory, we have at last being granted our request: that the matter be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for arbitration.The Venezuelans, disappointingly but not surprisingly, have opposed the decision of the UN Secretary-General, who selected the option as was his prerogative, since it was one of the methods of peaceful settlement of disputes as adumbrated by Art 33 of the UN Charter, and was incorporated in the Geneva Agreement which was signed by Venezuela. Even though the ICJ’s decision is binding on Venezuela in the international system, we can expect that country to continue with its attempts to bully us.The Venezuelans are caught in an artifice of their own making, since from the moment they created the controversy in 1962, all political elements have made their claim a fiercely nationalistic issue, around which they have all rallied. They have incorporated it into their constitution in a clause beyond their amendment powers. As such, when the ICJ issues its decision, it does not matter which party is in power in Venezuela, they will reject the decision, which is sure to dismiss their claim about the invalidity of the 1899 Arbitral Award.The Venezuelans know that is the most probable outcome, and that is the reason why they have fought tooth and nail to not have the controversy end up in the World Court. In the era when the Arbitral Panel was established, the European powers were sitting in rooms in their capitals drawing lines on maps to divide continents among themselves, and to allege that “deals” were cut to establish boundaries would be to state the obvious. If those borders in the present were to be redrawn to unravel those “deals”, a Pandora’s Box would be opened that would create a global conflagration.As a matter of the historical record, at the time, the British were attempting to extend the western boundary of their colony all the way to the mouth of the Orinoco, and it was the reason why, on the basis of their Monroe Doctrine, the US intervened on the side of the Venezuelans.At the time, all parties were quite pleased that the British were stymied. For the Venezuelans to then accept the present borders for sixty-three years and include them in all their maps etc., and then cry “foul” is a non-starter as a basis for redrawing borders. It is for this reason the Venezuelans have always insisted on a “practical”, non-judicial solution. Unfortunately for them, “boat now gone a falls”.But to counter their belligerence, as we have advised before in this space, Guyana has to replicate the diplomatic offensive it launched in the immediate post-independence period when it repelled their aggressive actions. In this regard, Brazil is a most valuable ally, since it has historically taken offence at Venezuela’s pretentions “Venezuela uber alles” in Latin American leadership. Just as pertinently — as mentioned by Brazil’s visiting Minister of Defence — while Brazil has borders with ten neighbours, it does not have disputes with any. Like it did with our common southern border, these were demarcated quietly, without any fanfare or bullyism.It is important, therefore, to appreciate the significance of the minister’s words, even couched in polite diplomatese:“We understand that South America, like everywhere else in the world, there is no place for force…what we have to do, we have to reinforce the international rights of the people, sovereignty of the people…Brazil understands that, for the stability of South America, the prevalence of international law, resolution of conflicts, and the compromise of justice, peace and democracy will be required from the people of Brazil.”Long live Brazil-Guyana friendship!last_img read more

Qualfon to open new location at Providence

first_imgOn Wednesday, June 7, Qualfon will unveil the second of three contact centre facilities planned for the campus, and the company will highlight the growth of its mission to “Be the best BPO. Make people’s lives better.” When complete, the campus will sprawl 287,000 square feet.Qualfon continues to invest in Guyana because its native-English-speaking population and competitively priced services are unique in the global outsourcingAn aerial view of the 10-acre Qualfon Providence campus shows the blue roof of the newly constructed contact centremarket.Known as one of the largest contact centre campuses in the world, its newest facility doubles the campus operational footprint, adding 55,000 square feet and 992 more workstations. Chief Executive Officer of Qualfon, Mike Marrow stated that they are excited and honoured to lead the Guyana BPO industry growth through its mission and will continue to showcase Guyana as a premier outsourcing destination.The event is expected to draw crowds and dignitaries. Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, and Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes, are expected to be the key speakers during the ceremony.However, presently, Qualfon has approximately 13,000 employees serving international brands across many industries, and its intelligent outsourcing locations span the United States, the Philippines, Guyana and Mexico.Qualfon’s mission to “Be the Best BPO, Make People’s Lives Better” means we invest in our people and, in return, they take better care of you and your customers. Qualfon’s employee retention regularly exceeds the industry average, which creates a people-driven value chain: Our employees stay longer, providing you a higher quality service at a lower price.last_img read more

Torres double dumps Real Madrid out of Cup

first_img0Shares0000MADRID, Spain, January 15 -Fernando Torres scored his first Atletico Madrid goals in eight years as the La Liga champions dumped holders Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey 4-2 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday. Already leading 2-0 from last week’s first-leg, Torres stunned the hosts inside the first minute when turning home Antoine Griezmann’s pass to hand Atletico a vital away goal.Sergio Ramos pulled a goal back for Real, but Griezmann and Torres repeated the trick seconds into the second-half to restore Atletico’s lead.Fresh from winning the third Ballon d’Or of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo ensured the home side at least salvaged a draw on the night, but they have now failed to beat Atletico in five meetings this season.Atletico will almost certainly face Barcelona in the last eight, who travel to Elche later on Thursday holding a 5-0 first-leg.Torres was only starting due to an illness suffered by Mario Mandzukic in the day before the game, but had by far his biggest impact since returning to the Spanish capital.“I am very happy. It was a game in which we had to feel comfortable due to the result in the first-leg and the early goal allowed us to play the game we wanted,” Torres told Canal Plus.“The tie was never in danger. We didn’t have to sweat it out.”Meanwhile, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti was left to lament the defensive errors that undid much of his side’s fine attacking play in the first hour.“I am delighted with how the team played in the first-half. You can’t play better,” said the Italian.“The worry doesn’t come from not taking our chances because we played with pace and intensity. The worry comes from the defensive mistakes we made.”Ronaldo paraded the Ballon d’Or in front of an adoring full house at the Bernabeu prior to kick-off.However, it took just 46 seconds for Atletico to silence the home fans as Griezmann broke down the left and squared for Torres to turn home his first Atletico goal since May 2007.Real then laid seige to Atletico goal in search of the four goals they needed to progress to the last eight.Gareth Bale saw a flicked header easily held by Jan Oblak, whilst the Slovenian was on hand to somehow prevent Ronaldo turning home Karim Benzema’s knock-down moments later.However, Atletico’s second choice ‘keeper was at fault when the hosts levelled after 20 minutes as he got nowhere near Toni Kroos’s free-kick and Ramos gratefully headed into an empty net.Mario Suarez made a desperate clearance from just in front of his own goal line to prevent Ronaldo giving Madrid the lead and Oblak made a smart low save from Marcelo as the visitors held on till half-time.And incredibly Atletico struck again within a minute of the restart after half-time in similar fashion as Ramos gifted the ball to Griezmann, who fed Torres and he cut inside Pepe to slot home his second goal of the night.The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker could even have had a hat-trick moments later as he wriggled past Ramos inside the area, but Griezmann took the loose ball from his teammate and smashed a shot just wide.Ronaldo restored parity on the night for Carlo Ancelotti’s men when he stooped to head in Bale’s cross from the left nine minutes after the break.Torres, making his debut for Atletico on loan after returning to his boyhood club for whom he scored 82 goals between 2001 and 2007 this month, was then removed by Diego Simeone with Arda Turan joining Griezmann in attack.Benzema had one final chance to set up a grandstand finish, but he blasted over on the volley from close range to ensure Madrid’s winless streak against Diego Simeone’s men continues.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

The top 10 European goal scorers of 2014/15 revealed

first_img 5. Jonathan Soriano (Red Bull Salzburg): 29 goals x 1.5 = 43.5 points – click the arrow to see the top scoring players across Europe – Red Bull Salzburg are 10 points clear at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga with a goal difference of +50, helped in part by Spanish striker Soriano. 7 9. Harry Kane (Tottenham), Carlos Tevez (Juventus) and Carlos Bacca (Sevilla): 20 goals = 40 points (goals are multiplied by a sum dependent on the strength of the league, in these three striker’s cases by two) Click the yellow arrow above, right, to see the top scoring players across Europe – Harry Kane may be doing all he can to win the Premier League Golden Boot, but across Europe he sits joint tenth among the Continent’s top scoring players. The Golden Shoe (we’re not sure why it’s a shoe, either) is given to the player with more goals than anyone else playing in the other leagues. The top ranking UEFA championships – Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and English – have their goals multiplied by two, while everyone else is 1.5. 7 3. Sergio Aguero (Man City) and Antoine Greizmann (Atletico Madrid): 22 goals x 2 = 44 points – click the arrow to see the top scoring players across Europe – Griezmann is not even a striker but, in his debut season in Madrid, has scored 22 league goals. Aguero, meanwhile, is leading the Premier League goal charts. The Golden Shoe – it’s definitely not a boot – is given to the player who scores more goals than anyone else playing in Europe’s other leagues. The top ranking UEFA championships – Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and English – have their goals multiplied by two, while everyone else in the top nine, as it stands, have theirs multiplied by 1.5.In England, Harry Kane and Sergio Aguero are fighting each other for the Premier League Golden Boot award, but are some way off taking the Continent’s top scoring prize.Click the yellow arrow above, right, to see the most prolific players in Europe. 7. Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel Aviv) and Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon): 27 goals x 1.5 = 40.5 points – click the arrow to see the top scoring players across Europe – Zahavi’s goals have helped the Israeli club to the top of the country’s Premier League and even though Lacazette is playing in the French league, it has not stopped him from being linked with Liverpool. In 31 games, the 23-year-old striker has scored 27 goals. 7 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): 42 goals x 2 = 84 points – Ronaldo shared the award with Luis Suarez last season, but has already scored 11 more goals this season than his total last term. Like Messi, the Real Madrid forward has won it three times, with the first Golden Shoe coming in 2008 when he was a Man United player and the second in 2011. 7 7 7 2. Lionel Messi (Barcelona): 40 goals x 2 = 80 points – click the arrow to see the top scoring players across Europe – Neymar is on 21 goals and Suarez has 16, but that pales in comparison to their team-mate, Lionel Messi, who has won the accolade on three previous occasions in 2010, ’12 and ’13. 6. Neymar (Barcelona): 21 goals x 2 = 42 points – click the arrow to see the top scoring players across Europe – Together with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, the Barcelona trio have scored more than 100 goals this season between them. 7last_img read more

Dopey defense

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! THE arrest and drug scandal of former Burbank City Councilwoman Stacey Murphy clearly left a lingering question for the city’s other elected officials: Will the people of Burbank continue to trust the council after that embarrassing episode?In an obvious attempt to give themselves some distance from Murphy, council members last week adopted drug-testing guidelines. To be clear: This is not a policy, but rather a voluntary program for random testing. The results don’t even have to be made public.It’s understandable for the council to want to reassure the public that it’s not a pack of wild druggies. But adopting a weak and somewhat disingenuous measure doesn’t do much to prove the body’s trustworthiness. Perhaps members should just do a good job of working for the community.last_img read more

Arctic Storm to hit on Christmas Eve but snow unlikely

first_imgIt looks very unlikely that we’ll get a white Christmas but Met Eireann are warning that an Arctic Storm could hit our shores on Christmas Day.After an unseasonably warm and dry December, the forecaster said there is an “elevated risk” of strong winds and rain developing this weekend.The stormy conditions are set to arrive on the night of Christmas Eve and continue into Christmas Day, with temperatures dropping due to Arctic winds. The weather may start to change as early as Thursday, with a slight temperature drop, before gale force winds hit coasts on Friday.“Because it’s wet and windy, there’s always a potential that it will deepen a bit further as a depression, and that there might be a storm,” a Met Éireann spokesperson said.“The atmosphere is becoming more mobile on the Atlantic in the coming weeks.“That increasing jet stream will bring occasional wet and windy weather – more so than we have seen in recent times.” Winds could reach 40kmh on Friday but this also means that it is unlikely to be frosty on Christmas Day.Arctic Storm to hit on Christmas Eve but snow unlikely was last modified: December 19th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Sasol: 100% synthetic jet fuel

first_imgA Fischer-Tropsch slurry phase reactor at Sasol. (Image: Emerson Process Management) Janine ErasmusSouth African fuel producer Sasol has become the first company in the world to gain approval from international aviation authorities for use of its fully synthetic jet fuel in commercial airliners. Sasol produces its fuels from coal and natural gas and is the world’s only commercial user of the proprietary coal to liquids (CTL) process used to make the jet fuel.Sasol CTL, as it is known, underwent a testing process that spanned several years before getting the green light from aviation fuel specification authorities. Among these are the British Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for Def Stan (Defence Standard) 91-91 – this governs the requirements for kerosene jet fuel. Other stakeholders – including engine and airframe manufacturers, airlines, relevant oil companies, and bodies such as the International Air Transport Association – were also part of the approval processSasol CE Pat Davies says, “Approval by the international aviation fuel authorities recognises the absolute need to develop aviation fuel from feedstocks other than crude oil in order to meet the world’s growing needs.”For almost a decade Sasol has provided jet fuel that consists partly of a CTL component and partly of kerosene derived from crude oil.Sasol CTL has now been officially classed as Jet A-1 fuel, which is fuel for jet and turbo-prop-engined aircraft. Jet A is the standard aviation fuel in the United States and is only available there, while Jet A-1, which is similar but has a lower freezing point, is sanctioned for use elsewhere in the world.In the US, ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, publishes the ASTM D1655 specification for aviation turbine fuels. It is expected that the latest version of the standard will include the Sasol CTL synthetic jet fuel. ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards development organisations in the world.Helping the environmentTests have shown that emissions from Sasol’s jet fuels are lower than those of similar fuel derived from coal, because of the lower sulphur content. This has positive implications for the environment.The technology also signifies a move away from the use of crude oil as a fuel source. Alternative fuels are the subject of intensive research because of the high cost of crude, and Sasol’s technology can be applied not only to coal but also to gas and biomass. In the context of energy sources biomass refers most often to plant material, but can equally apply to material of animal origin. Either way, it is carbon-based.Countries with high reserves of coal and natural gas will be able to turn these reserves into valuable income using Sasol’s environmentally benign technology. According to Sasol the world has proven coal reserves of an estimated 985-billion tons, with the largest known reserves being in the US, Russia, China, India, Australia, Germany and South Africa. Sasol plans to make its unique technology available internationally.While current approval only applies to jet fuel produced at Sasol’s Secunda, Mpumalanga, plant, the company intends submitting applications for approval for its Oryx GTL (gas to liquid) plant in Qatar and its GTL plant in Nigeria. The latter is a joint venture with Chevron, parent company of Caltex.In addition, Sasol is considering potential CTL ventures in the US, China and India which will also fall under the approval process. Its partner in India will be the Tata Group.Converting coal to liquid energyThe coal to liquids process involves three stages. In the gasification stage the coal is turned into raw gas, which is then purified into a synthesis gas for the next stage. The second stage involves a process known as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. The conversion takes place in a unique low-temperature Fischer-Tropsch Slurry Phase Reactor developed by Sasol, which can produce between 2 500 and 17 000 barrels per day. Here the synthesis gas is converted into heavy hydrocarbons in the presence of a catalyst, typically based on iron and cobalt.Finally, the products of stage two are upgraded depending on the final product required – these range from automotive and aviation fuels and waxes to high-grade lubricants. Upgrades include various chemical processes, as well as refining through a conventional petroleum refinery.Sasol has stated that it has the strategic intent to be a world leader in Fischer-Tropsch chemistry.Reducing South Africa’s dependence on crudeSasol was established in 1950 to protect South Africa, which does not have its own crude oil reserves, from incurring heavy costs due to increasing crude oil imports. Major milestones in the company’s history include the production of its first automotive fuel in 1955, and the establishment in 1990 of its first international marketing company, Sasol Chemicals Europe. This paved the way for Sasol’s extensive globalisation programme.Today Sasol has operations in more than 20 countries and exports its products to more than 100. In addition to its CTL evaluations in China, India and the US, the company is currently working with the South African government on exploring the feasibility of an 80 000 barrels-per-day facility in South Africa.Related articlesSasol’s massive BEE deal Sasol: making liquid fuel from coal Useful linksSasolAviation fuelsASTM InternationalOryx GTLSasol ChevronInternational Air Transport Associationlast_img read more

Getting needy kids hooked on books

first_imgThe project provides hand-madebookshelves to each centre. The goalis to ensure that every book collectioncontains a variety of books, includingencyclopaedias, dictionaries, studyguides, reference books, story booksand picture books.(Image: Chris Dykes) The Bookshelf Project was established inresponse to the desperate need forreading material in many impoverishedcommunities in South Africa. Through theproject, Chris Dykes hopes to facilitatea love for reading in children.(Image: Chris Dykes) MEDIA CONTACTS • Chris DykesInfinity Learning+27 82 363 1958Wilma den HartighFormer US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy once said that a love of books is the best way to enlarge a child’s world. But for many children in South Africa, this is not the reality.Access to books is limited for many of the country’s children, depriving them of the opportunity to develop a love for reading. It also puts children at a major disadvantage when it comes to literacy and educational opportunities.Chris Dykes from Infinity Learning, an organisation that equips children with study skills through various programmes, decided to establish the Bookshelf Project in response to the desperate need for reading material in many impoverished communities in South Africa.The project provides books and bookshelves to any organisation that works with children in such a capacity, mainly in Gauteng province.The project has already set up the infrastructure that will impact the lives of 2 000 to 3 000 children through the eight centres, which have already received bookshelves stocked with books.Stimulating a love for readingDykes says the need for books became apparent in his conversations with staff at children’s centres and schools in underprivileged areas.“It became clear to us that limited access to books was one of the main barriers to literacy improvement,” he says.South Africa has a major literacy challenge. According to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, 80% of South African pupils do not develop basic reading skills by the time they reach grade five.“Our vision for the project is to facilitate a love for reading. I realised that kids need books to read. Many children don’t read because they don’t have access to books, not because they don’t want to,” Dykes says.Building bookshelves and collecting booksHe believes it isn’t enough to just teach a child to read. What children need is something worthwhile reading.“Children have to read books that are interesting, fun and that will help them to dream,” he says. This will help children improve their literacy skills, build their confidence and imagination, and ultimately improve their academic performance.The project has partnered with aftercare centres and schools that have a need for books and are keen run reading groups and homework sessions for the children they work with.“The initiative needs existing infrastructure to provide kids with a safe place to read,” he says.Instead of just distributing books, Dykes and his team also provide hand-made bookshelves to each centre. “Each bookshelf is built at our homes in our free time and no fees are charged for this time,” he says.But he says the project is growing so quickly that he is running out of time to build bookshelves. Soon he will have to outsource the construction to a carpenter.“Doing this is a great job creation opportunity that can also come from the project,” he says.Each bookshelf costs about R900 (US$122) to build and he is negotiating with a local hardware store to get a discounted price on the material needed for each shelf.The bookshelves are 1.8-meters wide and 1.5-meters high and can house 500 to 600 books. The goal is to ensure that every book collection contains a variety of books, including encyclopaedias, dictionaries, study guides, reference books, story books and picture books.All the books are donated by second-hand bookshops, schools and individuals who support the programme.“The response to the project has been phenomenal,” Dykes says. Just recently, a UK-based organisation, Book-Cycle, donated 3 000 to 5 000 books for the project.To date, the Bookshelf Project has collected books to the value of approximately R175 000 ($24 000). Some of the books are not suitable for children and are donated to other charities such as Friends of Rescued Animals and Forest Farm, which supports people with cerebral palsy.Future plansThe Bookshelf Project has a goal to reach at least 10 000 children in the next three years, but Dykes says this is a conservative estimate.He says that the main goal is to collect as many books as possible. In the next few months, he wants to set up a book-collection system involving schools in Johannesburg.To start out, he wants to approach 10 schools to organise book collection days, once a year. In doing this, the project will receive 500 to 600 books every month. He also wants to ensure that each bookshelf is stocked with new books every year so that the children won’t run out of reading material.The Bookshelf Project is a labour of love for Dykes and he is encouraged by the positive response to it. He says that he is also amazed at how well the children have responded to the project.“I met a 16-year-old girl who had never owned a book in her life because her parents are too poor to buy her any books. It was heartbreaking,” he says.Through the project, she can experience the benefits of reading. Children are also taking ownership of the bookshelves by keeping them neat and tidy.“The kids at the centres are just incredible,” says Dykes.last_img read more

What Do Online Documentation and Museums Have in Common?

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts There was an interesting article recently in The Wall Street Journal by Isacc Arnsdorf that discussed how art gallery and museum patrons are studied as they move through art exhibits. The objective is simple: measure how people navigate through and engage with the art. When I read the article, I immediately thought of some of the things that we’re doing at MindTouch, but really there’s a broader lesson to be learned here. As co-founder and CEO of MindTouch, Aaron has grown a small open source project into one of the world’s most widely used and successful collaboration platforms. Prior to co-founding MindTouch, Aaron was a member of Microsoft’s Advanced Strategies and Policies division and worked on distributed systems research.A well-curated art show is not just a bunch of paintings in a room. Items are grouped together to evoke certain ideas. The placards next to artworks that give context details about the author, the era, the method of composition educate the viewer and in doing so make the exhibit more enjoyable. The online documentation offered by a company to its users works the same way in relation to the company’s products or services. This curation results in a more interactive, useful, and engaging documentation resource. This process goes beyond simply counting page views.If a museum is lucky enough to have a Picasso on display, the name alone probably makes it a destination piece. Users of all art-appreciation levels will want to pay it a visit. Picasso in that sense is a great common denominator across audiences. And like a Picasso, there is probably a set of documentation that product users flock to first, such as tutorials, FAQs, and feature pages. As the WSJ article shows, to get the full value of having a Picasso on exhibit, you must learn the best ways for your audience to find and view your content. Just as curators want to help audiences appreciate and understand artwork other than their Picasso, documentation creators want their audiences to understand where and how to find information beyond those first, most popular pages.Are You Learning From Your Users?Observing your patrons is only half the exercise. Both museum and content curators must take the information their given and turn that into action. An excerpt from the article explains this well: Based on what they see, the museums may rearrange art or rewrite the exhibit notes. Their efforts reflect the broader change in the mission of museums: it’s no longer enough to hang artfully curated works. Museum exhibits are expected to be interactive and engaging.This is exactly what good documentation is about learning from your users, taking their feedback and making decisions on what areas of documentation need to be updated, improved or perhaps removed altogether. This curation results in a more interactive, useful, and engaging documentation resource. This process goes beyond simply counting page views.Do you know what your users are searching for? And when they search, do you know what they find, or more importantly, don’t find? If your patrons are continually asking for a Monet and not finding one, they’re going to go to another museum. The same is true for what users are searching for online. Repeatedly seeing Monet in the list of performed searches – with no resulting content – is an indicator of an unmet customer need. A Virtual Suggestion Box at Each Painting Back to those exhibit notes. Data from the museum observation showed an interesting trend even for works by famous painters: only 1/4 of the exhibit notes were read. What did they learn from that? A big problem that the Detroit museum hopes it has solved: getting visitors to read the written descriptions and analysis next to the art. In its pre-renovation studies, it found that the most-read text, between a Matisse and a Picasso, was read by just 26% of visitors. Four panels were read by just 2% of visitors.So the museum cut the write-up’s lengths to 150 words maximum from 250 to make them appear less intimidating. Curators also broke up blocks of text with bullet points, subheadings, color and graphics.This is a great example of learning from your users. In this instance it was gleaned from visually tracking visitors. This is not unlike community scoring that you see online for product reviews, or ranking articles on a blog or news site. This capability effectively provides a mini suggestion box at each page users can rate it thumbs up or thumbs down, along with giving suggestions for improvement. It’s interesting to me that this approach has been replicated offline, in a seemingly unlikely place. Whether you’re curating a museum or designing a new technology, your customers will never do exactly what you predict which is why monitoring their behavior can teach you so much about your product. In this case the offline world is in many ways learning a lesson from the techniques of the online world. But it’s worth noting that this is a business issue that applies to startups and businesses of all types. Listening to your customers, and doing so in smart, sophisticated ways gives you a competitive advantage, and there’s no way around that whether you’re the newest Twitter client or a local bed and breakfast.Photo by srboisvert guest author 1center_img Tags:#Trends#web#Web Culture A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Stifling accounting rules threaten jobs and science at Spanish institutes

first_imgResearch jobs were lost at the Solar Platform of Almería in Spain because stifling new accounting rules blocked funds. geogphotos/Alamy Stock Photo By Tania RabesandratanaMar. 22, 2018 , 2:00 PM Stifling government accounting rules are threatening scientific projects and jobs at several Spanish research bodies. Scientists at both the Spanish Oceanography Institute (IEO), headquartered in Madrid, and the Solar Platform of Almería (PSA), a large solar research center in the Tabernas Desert, have expressed concern about what they see as senseless red tape that holds up spending.Some 340 staff at IEO—60% of the total—sent a manifesto to the press last week to warn that the center is “collapsing.” The problems compound the plight of Spanish science, which suffered from budget cuts during the country’s recent economic woes and faces a proliferating bureaucracy aimed at controlling spending.IEO’s troubles stem partly from rules that apply to five public research bodies, known as OPIs in Spanish, with a total of 1700 researchers. Under accounting regulations introduced by the current conservative government in 2014, a team of six state auditors must preapprove every purchase at IEO, which has nine research centers across the country and five research ships. As a result, projects and recruitment have been severely delayed and IEO spent only half of its budget last year, down from 90% in 2013, according to the manifesto.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)center_img Stifling accounting rules threaten jobs and science at Spanish institutes Researchers have trouble recruiting staff or buying equipment even if they receive funding from outside Spain, says Manuel Ruiz Villarreal, a physicist at IEO’s A Coruña branch and the principal investigator of four projects funded by the European Union, including an effort to predict the health risks of toxic algal blooms. Ruiz Villarreal says the auditing system, known as “prior intervention,” should be lifted for projects that receive external funding and are already subject to checks after the money is spent.Other OPIs must adhere to similar rules, but the manifesto says the situation is worst at IEO, which signatories say reveals a “structural problem” in the institute’s management. “We’ve been raising the alarm for several years,” Ruiz Villarreal says. “As a researcher, I can’t go to the minister of the treasury myself. Our management has to tackle this.””It’s true we are having difficulties,” admits IEO Director Eduardo Balguerías Guerra, who says the institute needs time to adapt to the rules but denies that its activities are paralyzed. “All the OPIs and the secretary of state are working very hard to solve these problems,” he says. Until Spain’s 2018 budgets are approved, additional restrictions will continue to exacerbate the difficulties, Balguerías Guerra says. But after that, he thinks the situation will improve.Carmen Vela, state secretary in charge of research, development, and innovation, has admitted that IEO had “problems in its day-to-day management” and “had a bad [budget] execution.” Vela told members of the Spanish congress’s economy, industry, and competitiveness committee on 14 March that the institute’s low spending was due to a large building project that did not get approval last year. She also conceded that the “prior intervention” system has created difficulties for the OPIs and said she is taking steps to minimize damage. But some observers say a patchwork of emergency measures won’t provide a lasting solution.PSA, the solar energy center, is part of an OPI called the Center for Energy, Environment, and Technology, which has also suffered from a 2016 regulation stipulating that funds received before September must be spent before the end of that same year. PSA scientists say this rule makes no sense when a grant is meant to be spread across several years, as many EU grants are. In the first 6 weeks of this year, PSA lost 14 research jobs out of a total of 40 because funds received earlier were blocked and the center couldn’t advertise the posts, says Sixto Malato, a scientist in PSA’s research unit for the solar treatment of water. He stepped down from his role as PSA director last November to protest the rules.A total of €6 million, the entirety of PSA’s research budget, is blocked and will have to be gradually returned to the European Commission with interest if the rules are not reversed, Malato says. “The government has to recognize their mistake,” he says. “We’re not asking for funds, we’re asking [the treasury] to let us use external funds that will be spent in Spain and create jobs in Spain.”last_img read more