Stop-Start Technology Saves Fuel

The American Automobile Association predicts that by 2020, 8 million new cars will have stop-start technology. Vehicles with this feature automatically shut off when at a standstill and restart when either the brake is released or the clutch is reengaged. With estimated fuel consumption being reduced by as much as 12 percent, the obvious advantage of this technology is fuel conservation. Since all of us want to reduce our costs at the pumps, what's not to like — right?

Driving with Stop-Start Engine Technology

My first encounter with the new Stop-start technology was when I made my first stop during a test drive of a BMW 2013 X1. A red light in the center of dashboard came on, indicating that the system had been activated. Since the engine doesn't actually shut off until it reaches normal operating temperature, I didn't notice anything unusual until later in my test drive, while I was waiting to turn across traffic. When I took my foot of the brake and pressed on the accelerator, the engine restarted immediately, but the car seemed to hesitate, almost as though the engine was going to die. Although I now understand this sensation is not an indication of mechanical problems, it was unnerving. The idea that I might not have engine power when I need it will definitely have an impact on my confidence, particularly in high-risk circumstances.

Stop-Start Technology Drawbacks

  • Although you can deactivate the Stop-start feature on BMW vehicles, to do so, you must turn it off every time you start the engine.
  • In order for the vehicle's electrical systems, including air conditioning, to continue operating when the engine is shut down, a larger, more expensive battery will be needed.
  • The sense that the car is not going to accelerate quickly enough, makes starting after stopping an unpleasant experience.

My Recommendation

Undoubtedly, the Stop-start system will be instrumental in decreasing fuel consumption, particularly when your engine is idling for an extended period of time. It would be a great option to employ while in a traffic jam, but in normal driving situations, I see less of an advantage. Perhaps, in time, the cumulative fuel savings will convince me otherwise, but for now, I recommend that the consumer always have the option to deactivate the system.


New Technology Helps Roger Ebert Speak Again

In 2002, acclaimed was diagnosed with throat cancer, and surgical complications caused him to lose his voice as well as his ability to eat and drink. After spending so many years voicing his highly respected opinions on “At The Movies,” Ebert was forced to resort to pen and paper to communicate. Even after multiple corrective surgeries, doctors were unable to restore the Roger Ebert voice that we had all grown to know.

Now, hope has been restored due to a new technology developed by a Scottish company, CereProc. CereProc was able to develop a computer program that mimicked Ebert’s natural voice nearly exactly. Through watching hours of “At The Movies” commentary, CereProc programmed Ebert’s voice into a computer model that now allows Ebert to speak and sound exactly like himself again. All Ebert has to do is type what he wants to say into a computer, and the voice will speak his words with intonation and the natural nuances we all expect.

While the new voice isn’t perfect, it’s much better than the previous voices Ebert has been forced to live with. Originally, Ebert had to settle for a program he had found on his Mac that read off the words he typed. Since he lost his voice, Ebert has been using a voice named “Alex” through this Apple software he found. He liked this technology because he argued that this was the only program that had understood his punctuation and infused any emotion and inflection into his sentences.

Ebert still wasn’t happy with this voice, however, and as any person would, he wanted to hear the sounds he had become heard his whole life coming out of his mouth. He contacted CereProc, and they immediately began to develop a program that could imitate his old voice. On March 2, Ebert appeared on Oprah to premiere his voice developed by CereProc. Matthew Aylett, the chief technical officer at CereProc, has stated that Ebert is the first person to receive his old voice back in this way.

On their website, CereProc argues that their voice programs fight the common yet obvious problem with computerized voices: they sound mechanical. CereProc’s technology replaces current voices available on Macs and PCs in order to reduce the mechanical sound of the computerized voices and allow you to customize your voice as much as possible.

If interested, you can visit the CereProc website to listen to demos of other voices that have been developed: . Through these demos, you can make your own sentence and see how the punctuation affects the way that the computer says your sentence. It is interesting to experiment with the different accents available including Irish English, Black Country, and American.



How to Add a Walkman Style Mp3 Player to MySpace

I find so many unique things that you can add to MySpace. Just recently I found an mp3 player that looks like an old style tape walkman. I use to love my tape walkman. That was before the CD Walkman, MP3 Players, and all that good stuff came out. But I know some who still use the tape walkman. In this tutorial I will show you how to add an old style tape walkman to your MySpace profile. This tape walkman is a MP3 player. The buttons even work on it.

First, you will need to load the generator page to create this tape walkman. To load the generator page, click this link. Give the page a minute to load. If you are on a dial up connection, it may take a minute or two. When the page loads, you will see what the tape walkman will look like on your profile.

Below the walkman, you will see the color fields. You can select the colors for the walkman. Click the two color fields and select the colors that you want by clicking the color in the box and clicking the OK button on the box.

The next option is putting the MP3 player on Shuffle. Drop the box down and select the option of your choice. The next option is where you select if you want the walkman to automatically start. Drop the box down and make your selection. The next option is if you want to allow the public to hear your player. Drop that box down and make your selection.

Now you can start adding your songs to the playlist. You must upload these songs to add them because you need the url for the MP3s. In the playlist field, enter the url for the song in the fields on the left and enter your title in the fields on the right. Once you have filled in these fields, click the Add to Playlist button. You will see your songs below that button. Once you have created your playlist, click the Take Me To Next Step button.

The next page is where you sign in. If you do not have an account, you can quickly create one on this page. You can also skip the sign up part and just get the code. But if you do not sign up, your playlist will not be saved. That option is up to you. If you want to skip the sign up, click the Skip button.

On the next page you will see the code in the yellow box. Copy that code and go to your MySpace profile. Login to your account and go to the edit profile page. On the edit profile page, you will need to paste the code in one of the boxes on that page. Click the Save All Changes button to add the tape walkman to your profile.

To play the walkman, click the play button on the walkman. To skip through tracks, click the fast forward button. To go back, click the rewind button. To pause it, click the pause button.


Super Bowl Commercials are Waste of Money: But There are Exceptions, Such as Tim Tebow Spot

For years, many companies have paid millions of dollars to advertise for 30 seconds during the televised broadcasts of the NFL Super Bowl. One quick commercial with huge creative and airtime costs, though, is similar to forgetting the game plan since it goes against the fundamental principle of advertising—frequency.

Dr. John Tantillo, a behavioral research psychologist and brand expert known as the Marketing Doctor, has been against Super Bowl advertising plans for many years. This year, he said, companies are beginning to heed his advice. They are using other kinds of marketing and branding strategies that are more economical and could be very successful, or even more successful, in reaching football fans along with many other consumers who do not watch the game.

Among the corporate no-shows this year are Pepsi, FedEx, General Motors and GE. Pepsi decided to focus on a social media driven cause communications program that will solidify grass roots appreciation for the brand and the company.

Exceptions to Super Bowl Commercials

However, according to Tantillo during an interview, on occasion a commercial during the big game does makes sense, because there are always exceptions to the rule.

This year’s exception is college football star and NFL prospect Tim Tebow. He will be featured in a commercial that indirectly addresses the issue of abortion. The spot is sponsored by Focus on the Family, a Christian organization, and it showcases pro-life values and tells the story about his mother’s decision to disregard medical advice to terminate her pregnancy. The commercial has generated considerable discussion and a growing wave of controversy even before it has been seen by the public.

“This kind of ad works with a large television audience,” said Tantillo, “because it is not trying to brand a product. Instead, it addresses an issue with a specific viewpoint that makes people think, discuss and debate before and after the commercial has been seen.”

The Marketing Doctor has just published People Buy Brands—Not Companies, and in his book he cites several examples that explain the misnomer about the power of Super Bowl advertising.

TV Advertising Frequency

Tantillo said that not every person watches the game. If money is spent wisely to reach audiences that are watching other programs during game time, Tantillo concludes that the important 18-49 demographic could be doubled. He also indicated that a $3 million campaign can generate higher sales if it is used more effectively to purchase 600 30-second television commercials in the New York market or 800 30-second spots in Los Angeles rather than one commercial during the Super Bowl. This, he said, takes advantage of the marketing and advertising rule of frequency of message.

As president of the Marketing Department of America, Dr. Tantillo also knows a lot about personal branding. He has more than 5,000 Facebook friends and many others who follow his blogs.…

Virginia Tech on Their Way to Tourney?: The Hokies Should be in March Madness

The under-appreciated Virginia Tech Hokies posted a 23-8 record and finished in fourth place in a very rough Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The Hokies posted a 10-6 record in conference and showed why they are the most elite team in college basketball that nobody is talking about.

Seth Greenberg

Is there a coach who gets more out of his players than Seth Greenberg? Despite injuries to key players every season, Greenberg has his team compete at the highest level in the toughest conference in college basketball. Perhaps the only coach who has his players giving as much effort is Brent “Buzz” Williams of Marquette University. Both Williams and Greenberg should be dancing their way to the NCAA Tournament and March Madness this season.

Greenberg has helped Junior Guard Malcolm Delaney blossom into a star. If Delaney played for a perennial power such as Duke or North Carolina, he would be mentioned as a player of the year candidate. Delaney is a star and has excelled under the watchful eye of Greenberg.

To go along with Delaney, Greenberg has Junior Forward Jeff Allen and Junior Guard Dorenzo Hudson showcasing their talents on a regular basis. The threesome of Delaney, Allen and Hudson can lead the Virginia Tech Hokies to a strong performance against any team in the country.

The Virginia Tech Team

Besides the “Big Three” of Delaney, Allen and Hudson, this Hokie team is well-balanced and always put the needs of the team above their own statistical glory. Players such as Terrell Bell, J.T. Thompson, Victor Davila and Erick Green have the Hokies poised to make a run.

In recent seasons, the Virginia Tech Hokies has been overlooked and disrespected by the NCAA Selection Committee. This season, if there is justice, the Hokies will take their well-deserved position in the field of 65.

Joe Lunardi

Joe Lunardi is the NCAA Bracketology guru from ESPN. As of Saturday night at 7:30 pm, Lunardi has the Hokies as one of the final four teams to make it in the tournament. Fans will soon see if the committee agrees.

Selection Sunday

Tomorrow night at 6pm, the world of sports will turn to the CBS and ESPN and see if their postseason dreams will become a reality of a disappointing nightmare. Whether the Virginia Tech Hokies make it or not is still up for debate. However, if there is any justice and/or objectivity within the selection committee, Seth Greenberg and his never-say-die Hokies will make a run in this year NCAA Tournament.…

Microsoft Kin Smartphones Hit the Market Yhis Spring

This month, Microsoft unveiled its new Kin smartphones, aimed at the younger, social-media savvy market. The hardware is made by Sharp, and should go on sale through the Verizon service provider starting in May. Here is a rundown of the Kin One and Kin Two specs.

Built for Social Networking

Both phones have a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, although the keyboard on the Kin Two is wider and more convenient for two-handed texting. The Kin Two may be more useful for the Facebook or Myspace user, who tends to require more words for posts and comments. The Kin One keyboard is built for quick texters and would be more popular for Twitter users, who can type quick and easy sentences with one hand.

The camera on the Kin Two is an 8 megapixel with built-in flash and HD video. Quick uploads to Facebook or Twitpic are easy with this unit. On the Kin One is a 5 megapixel with SD video capabilities. Both cameras work great in low light, and each cameras offers touch-screen editing and uploading.

Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other popular social networking apps are instantly available when the phones are unlocked. A unique features of these two Windows Phones is the ability to share interesting news from one network to another. This function, labeled “Kin-Spot” allows users to click and drag news items from Twitter into Facebook, and vice versa, for instantaneous updating.

Not a Practical Business Phone

Microsoft explicitly markets the Kin One and Kin Two as “an experience for the social generation.” Therefore, neither phone is as practical or useful in business as the more popular smart phones, such as Apple iPhone or Motorola Droid. Although features like calendar, mail, and weather are built into the Kin phones, it requires a few extra screen taps to get to these functions. The iPhone and Droid have these applications readily available on the main screen.

According to a recent study by Pew Internet, three quarters of US teens aged 12-17 use cellphones, and half of them text on a daily basis, some sending more than 100 texts per day. This social teenage market is Kin’s Target, which is why the Kin Studio feature – which syncs up many of the internet’s most popular social media tools and docs in one easy-to-use timeline – is available almost immediately when the Kin is powered on.

Kin Release Dates

Originally advertised to be released in late April, the dates were pushed further into the Spring for some last-minute software updates. Verizon is now projected to release the Kin in late May, just in time for kids to pick up these new phones for summer vacation.…

AA and AAA Battery Charger Guide: Introduction to the Best Chargers for NiMH Rechargeable Batteries

From LED flashlights to GPS units to home blood pressure monitors, the humble AA and AAA batteries still rule. Making full use of these versatile batteries (and going green) means using rechargeable NiMH batteries, and using the right chargers for them.

Timer Chargers

Timer chargers are the cheap chargers often bundled with rechargeable batteries in supermarkets.

They do work, but can overcharge batteries and shorten their lifespan. They are reasonably safe if the batteries are drained before charging, but will overcharge already-charged batteries.

The Energizer Rechargeable Battery FAQ states:

“Using the batteries to end of life prior to charging is recommended when a timer based charger is used. A smart charger monitors the cell condition during charge and prevents overcharging and subsequent negative impact on battery cycle life.”

The longer the charge time, the safer. The “fast” 15 minute or 1 hour chargers should be avoided as these can overheat the batteries, further reducing their lifespan.

How to identify timer chargers

  • Fixed number of hours to charge batteries (can be 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 12 hours).
  • Cannot charge one battery alone, must charge 2 or 4 at a time.
  • Need to be switched off or unplugged from the wall socket (to reset the timer) before the next set of batteries can be charged.

Smart Chargers

Topping-up batteries before they are fully discharged is useful

  • Fully discharging a battery (to less than 1 volt) can reduce its lifespan.
  • Unused NiMH batteries can lose some of their charge after a few months (self discharge).
  • Charged and discharged batteries are often mixed up in the same drawer.

“Smart” or “intelligent” chargers allow topping-up and avoid overcharging by accurately monitoring the voltage of the batteries.

They also often have advanced features such as

  • Safe full-discharge of batteries (discharge until 1 volt).
  • Reconditioning overcharged batteries (multiple charge/discharge cycles, this can take a few days).
  • Measuring the actual charge capacity of a battery (this can take a few hours or days).

How to identify smart chargers

  • Will be prominently labeled as such by the manufacturer.
  • Can charge any combination of batteries, including just one (independent charging circuit).
  • Often displays battery’s charge state (empty, 1/3, 2/3, charged) on the front panel.

Power Source

For international travel, auto-switch chargers that can run off both 110 volts AC and 230 volts AC are essential.

For use with solar panels, the battery charger should have a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug, or a 5 volt USB plug (depends on the solar panel).

Battery Charger Brands

Maha (PowerEx) and La Crosse Technology are known for their smart chargers.

More well-known consumer brands such as Sony and Eveready also sell smart chargers. Care should be taken as their smart chargers can look similar to their timer chargers.

Investing in a Good Charger

Considering that a NiMH AA battery costs a few dollars, and that it could last 500 to 1000 charges with proper use; a smart charger could easily pay for itself in a few years.

Timer chargers should be avoided. Shortening the lifespan of batteries doesn’t just waste money, it also isn’t environmentally friendly.…

Sauna Technology in a Wrap

We all know that there are hundreds of ways advertised to help us lose weight. All of these different weight loss methods have their own unique principles and procedures to follow. One such way for losing wigged that you may not know too much about is the use of sauna technology like the sauna wrap.

Let's take a look at some of the different ideas behind these body wraps and whether they may be right for you.

One of the biggest advantages of using an infrared sauna wrap to lose weight is that they can easily be used at home. That is one of the main reasons why many US homes now have these along with many people in various parts of Europe.

Many people understand that sauna wraps work on the theory of a water reduction method. That is, as you wear the body wrap it helps in generating heat from inside, which lets you lose excess water from your body in the form of sweat. This slimming effect is logical, as your body is mainly constituted with water.

This is actually what occurs when you properly follow the instructions of these wrap kits as you are instructed to drink a lot of water which will help you to produce excessive amounts of sweat. As you are sweating you will begin to lose weight and get a healthier body as you are also eliminating toxins in your system that have built up over time. You will feel your skin is getting better and you have a healthier digestive system.

There are various sauna wrap kits you can choose from and they each have their own methods and procedures to follow. They do include items that are usually common to all of them like a vinyl sauna suit, cotton elastic wrap, belt and instructions. Initially it might be difficult for you to understand the instructions that are included but they often provide videos from which you can use to help you get set up and started with their different ways of losing weight.

While you use this method of sauna technology, you must not only drink right but eat right as well. If you have good eating habits and you work out properly then you will have a very good chance of experiencing long lasting results. If you continue with proper eating and exercising habits then you certainly should be able to maintain a good figure and physique even if you do not use the sauna wrap regularly. If this approach to weight loss appeals to you do a little research to find the products best suited to you and give it a try.