Laurie Foster: Preparing ‘Champs’ stars for global stage

first_img‘Champs’ 2016 is now consigned to the history books. In some cases, it has unearthed, and in others, cemented a more than fair share of awesome talent. It never ceases to amaze how much is being done with so little. In this regard, Foster’s Fairplay, focusing on the future at the world level, will be looking in particular at two athletes, drawn from the many coming to mind. That the country is now the envy of the world in the area of sprints is impatient of debate. The recent feats of the Kingston College (KC) phenom, quarter-miler Akeem Bloomfield and sprinter Nigel Ellis out of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and described in knowledgeable quarters as the real deal only serves to drive home the point. Coming from a history-making 44.93 at last year’s world spectacle event, Bloomfield has his compass set beyond that stage. So confirmed coach Neil Harrison, who sees the World Junior Championships in July and a spot on the Rio Olympics team as the season’s chief objectives. Although no such crystal-ball glance is coming from Ellis’ camp, a wise coach must see the repeat 10 teens as a promise of things to come. Another point to be made here is that the cash-rich Bahrain trek has claimed a couple of the nation’s fast men who were understudying the Bolt, Blake, Powell top rung. Ellis, barring being steered in that direction, could ‘run in’ on one of the vacancies created. A few years ago, the highly respected track and field legendary disciplinarian and JAAA president, Neville ‘Teddy’ McCook, was hosting a top-ranked administrator in the business. Enthralled with the island’s outstanding global performances, the visitor requested to be taken to where “these fantastic athletes did their training”. The pride-ridden ‘Teddy’ headed for the North Street campus of his own KC. After about one hour of watching some of Jamaica’s most gifted young athletes, the seemingly impatient guest, with a flight to catch, asked if they could relocate to the spot, as previously requested. With no regard for his shortness of stature, Teddy drew himself to full height, made a two-handed, all encompassing sign and said, “You are standing on it”. Against this background and an ever-mushrooming storehouse of talent with less-than-adequate quality or quantity of proper facilities for preparation, a recent comment by the sport’s world governing boss is quite interesting. That Usain Bolt has rescued the sport has become almost a clichÈ at forums across the world. Well, Lord Coe is calling for “more Usain Bolts”. Once the suspicion that such call is a request for a lifeline to be thrown to a badly drug-tainted sport is accepted a way forward can be sought. Typically, what is not mentioned is the role played by the equally excellent, coach, Glen Mills, who has stage-managed the Bolt act. However, that is for a different story at another time. Having said all that, there can be but a single response to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president’s musings. There is a role here for Dr Warren Blake, local athletics’ top man. Picking up on the ‘more Bolts wanted’ comment, he should meet with the good upper house British parliamentarian and assist him and track and field to rise above the ongoing Russian drug debacle. Coe should be invited to assemble his IAAF executive in an initiative to afford Jamaica the infrastructure pivotal to enhance its already glorious product. The Coe remark could not have come at a more opportune time, with a new Government taking office. For a start, a synthetic track in every parish would be handy. A travelling cadre of talent scouts, fuelled by some of the current high-performance-oriented coaches, would also have to be slotted in. Much like Coe, the Jamaican president needs to turn a few things around. This would be a lasting legacy to his tenancy. Image cleaning is required both in Monaco and here, and Coe has left a door open. Enter, Dr. Blake. For Feedback, email FANTASTIC ATHLETESlast_img read more

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South Africa improves performance in annual Nation Brand Index

first_imgJohannesburg, Thursday 8 December 2016 – Brand South Africa today welcomed South Africa’s improved performance in the annual Nation Brand Index.  South Africa now stands at 35 of the 50 nations assessed.  This is an improvement of three places from the 2015 Nation Brand Index.Speaking about the results, Brand South Africa’s CEO Dr Kingsley Makhubela said, “South Africa’s improved performance can be attributed to improved perceptions of our governance, immigration and investment, and people.  This speaks directly to the work we are doing as a country in implementing the National Development Plan and programmes like Invest South Africa.”“In addition, our Nation Brand continues to be admired for our unspoiled natural beauty, with 13 nations ranking South Africa in the top 25 countries being assessed.  Moreover, we are recognised internationally for our efforts to preserve the environment.  In this regard, South Africa moved up 6 places to stand at 29th of 50 nations.  This resonates with the brand of the country as a good international citizen.“Our sporting prowess continues to impact positively on perceptions about the country.”“Furthermore, an increased desire of global citizens to live and work in South Africa, concern for equality in society, and academic reputation help drive the larger than average gains for South Africa’s Immigration and Investment reputation this year.”“As we conclude 2016, we can take pride in the strides our Nation Brand has made in its performance in this and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.  In both indices, we have seen South Africa build on improvements from previous years.  We can say with confidence that our country is going in the right direction as a globally competitive Nation Brand,” concluded Dr Makhubela.South Africa’s performance on the pillars of exports, culture, and tourism remains remains unchanged from 2015.Notes to the EditorThe NBISM measures the images of 50 nations with a randomised sample of 20,445 respondents. Respondents are asked to rank a countries image, power and appeal of a nation across various dimensions.The NBISM consists of six dimensions: Exports, Governance, Culture, People, Tourism, and Immigration/ Investment. Of these dimensions, Exports, Governance, Immigration/Investment are considered a country’s hard performance measures; whereas Culture, People and Tourism are considered a country’s soft powers.About Brand South AfricaBrand South Africa is the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country’s brand reputation, in order to improve its global competitiveness. Its aim is also to build pride and patriotism among South Africans, in order to contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship.last_img read more

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Google Maps Ditches Tele Atlas in Favor of Street View Cars and Crowdsourcing

first_imgRelated Posts frederic lardinois Tags:#Google#news#NYT#web 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market After a flurry of activity around Google Maps over the last few weeks, it now looks like Google is also ditching Tele Atlas as its data provider for Google Maps in the US in favor of a do-it-yourself approach. Google had been using data from Tele Atlas’ maps since September 2008 after moving away from Navteq’s data after Navteq was acquired by Nokia. Now, Google will use its own data, which it will supplement with data from government sources and a crowdsourcing approach.Thanks to its Street View cars, Google already has a pretty dataset for even some of the more obscure locations in the United States, and the company has also recently expanded its efforts to launch more Street View data in other parts of the world. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Last week’s update to Google Maps introduced new ways to report errors for Google Maps users, so Google is clearly thinking about using a crowdsourcing approach to mapping for Google Maps. Google also announced that it now includes data from a number of US government organizations like the Forest Service and the US Geological Survey in its maps. In the US, the Census Bureau creates a fairly accurate base map, and this data is available freely and represents the core data set for the OpenStreetMap project. With Map Maker, Google also offers an easy-to-use mapping product that even non-geographers can use to create and edit maps and which Google has already employed to let its users create maps for countries where no accurate maps existed until now. While the new maps that were launched last week also include new errors, the overall detail of the maps has clearly increased and now even includes data for the boundaries of land parcels in some municipalities. Why?The question, of course, is why Google plans to make its own maps now. For one, chances are that Google is currently paying Tele Atlas a lot of money for using its maps. Mapping services are notoriously protective of how their data can be used, which is one of the reasons Apple can’t offer turn-by-turn directions in the built-in mapping application on the iPhone, for example. Google probably wants to be free to do whatever it wants with its maps without having to worry about licensing issues. By providing its own maps and an API for others to use these maps, Google could potentially become a major competitor to Tele Atlas and Navteq now, and if Google continues to make these maps easily available to developers without cumbersome licensing restrictions, it could bring radical change to the mapping business.last_img read more

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An Epidemic of Duct Disease and Enclosure Problems

first_img Allison Bailes of Decatur, Georgia, is a speaker, writer, energy consultant, RESNET-certified trainer, and the author of the Energy Vanguard Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @EnergyVanguard. Call #2: No cooling anywhereA three-story townhouse, probably less than 10 years old. One zoned system served the first and second floors. Another system served the third floor.Problem #1: Dirty filter (photo #2 below). We were 2 for 2 here. Again, the coil probably had frozen up but melted before we arrived. We checked the refrigerant charge at the condenser, as well as the superheat temperature. After replacing the filter and cleaning the condenser coil, the system worked fine.The third-floor system wouldn’t come on at all. Phil figured that the capacitor was blown, and indeed it was. When he opened the condenser panel to take a look, the condenser cap was blown outward (photo #3 below), the telltale sign that it had “popped.”This house also had a pretty bad duct system, but the homeowner couldn’t afford to do anything about it. That would be quite expensive, too, since the first and second floors are served by ducts that are mostly buried behind drywall. Thinking of buying a townhouse? You may well end up with a similar piece of crap.Lessons: (1) Homeowners should replace the filter regularly. (Have I mentioned that yet?) (2) Capacitors last about 5 to 7 years, according to Phil, so you’re gonna lose your AC sometimes. Even worse, it’s most likely to happen in hotter weather because the AC runs a lot and the capacitor doesn’t have a chance to cool down. (3) Have a knowledgeable pro take a look at the HVAC system if you’re thinking of buying a townhouse. Well, when I say it worked, I mean that it started blowing cool air again. We know that because we had direct access to the cool air while we were in the attic: A 12-inch supply duct was completely disconnected from the supply plenum, as you can see in the photo above.That’s a lot of cool air being lost to the attic. I wonder how long it was like that. When Phil asked about cooling in all of the upstairs rooms, the customer told him that her sister’s room was pretty hot even before the AC went out.A third problem showed itself when we measured the static pressure. In this system, designed for 0.5 inch total external static pressure, we found 0.9 inch. That means reduced air flow. In this case, as in many, the system is probably oversized for the house and the blower is oversized for the coil, so the reduced air flow is probably about the right amount, sort of. It’s certainly not efficient, though.Looking around the attic, I saw a fourth problem: a Swiss cheese building enclosure. It had vaulted ceilings, attic kneewalls, and lots of air leakage sites. It had insulation that missed being in contact with the air barrier. And the cable guy screwed things up again, too.Lessons: (1) Homeowners can keep their AC running by changing the filter. (2) Homeowners can spot disconnected ducts by poking their head in the attic or crawl space. (3) Too many duct systems have air flow problems. (4) You can cool a tent with an air conditioner, but you’ll spend extra money doing so. Call #5: Cooling problem upstairsThe homeowners here are in the process of moving into this 50-year-old home in Atlanta and have noticed that it’s difficult to cool the upstairs. The closets get very hot and the laundry room gets even hotter. Yes, they have a typically bad duct system, but the bigger issue in this home is heat gain.If you’re a home energy pro, you know what the problems are already just from photo #7 below. This house had 5 dormers on the front, and you can see two of them in the photo above. The attic spaces get very hot. The walls aren’t insulated well — or at all. The vaulted ceiling insulation isn’t doing its job either. Heat pours into the conditioned space.We couldn’t get into the spaces between the dormers to see how well they were insulated, but the laundry room (photo #8 below) on the back side of the house had a scuttle hole. Before even looking into that attic, though, I knew that those innocent-looking surfaces you see in the photo were guilty of First Degree Heat Gain. I could feel it in the air of the room. I could feel it by how hot the walls and ceilings were. Looking and seeing no insulation on many of the surfaces only confirmed what I already knew.Lesson: Even with a functional air conditioner, some building enclosure problems are so bad that they really need to be addressed. This is one of those cases. At the end of the day…I really hate that expression, but in this case, I did indeed get to the end of the day of my ride-around with Phil of Moncrief Heating & Air. And, at the end of the day, I saw a bit of what HVAC service pros see every day. I imagine many of them suffer from PTSD.When an air conditioner service company gets a “no-cool” call, their immediate concern is to get the AC performing up to its capacity again. Many customers only want that cool air blowing out of the vents again and don’t want to go further. Of course, many of those no-cools are easily preventible by regular maintenance, like changing the filter.Some customers, however, have the resources to fix the bigger problems, and are interested in doing so, and that’s why HVAC companies are well suited for home performance work. Once you know about building science, you understand that “the box” is only one component of the heating and cooling system, which also includes the duct system, the building enclosure, and internal heat gains. Then it becomes difficult to go in and just change out a filter or capacitor without also addressing the other problems.Moncrief has been around since 1898, so they’re used to focusing on the box, like most HVAC companies. In the past decade, though, they’ve begun the transition to putting HVAC in the context of home performance. They’re addressing the duct system problems and regularly measure static pressure, for example, and have been involved with some spray foam jobs to fix faulty building enclosures.If you’re in the HVAC business and not doing these things, just look at all the business you’re missing out on and all the customers you’re not helping as fully as you could. If you’re a homeowner, keep in mind that your problems with cooling may have other causes. Also, change your filter. Go, do it now. I changed mine today, and I’m embarrassed to admit that it was past due (although not as bad as the two above). RELATED ARTICLES Air Conditioner BasicsThe Magic of ColdGBA Encyclopedia: Air ConditioningClimate-Specific Air ConditionersKeeping Ducts IndoorsDuct Leakage TestingSealing DuctsHot-Climate DesignSaving Energy With Manual J and Manual DWindow-Mounted Air Conditioners Save Energycenter_img When an air conditioner breaks down in hot weather, homeowners reach for their phone. The HVAC company then sends someone out to the home with the immediate goal of getting the AC running again so the occupants will cool off. The thing is, though, that most homes have problems that run deeper than the cause of the broken air conditioner.Last week, I spent a day going on calls with Phil Mutz of Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning. It was a good reminder for me of what it’s like to spend all day responding to homeowners’ air conditioning complaints. I’ve written before about the summers I spent going on calls with my grandfather, who owned an HVAC, electrical, and plumbing company in Leesville, Louisiana.Phil and I went out on five calls last Thursday, four of them for homeowners with problems keeping their homes cool. We got the air conditioners running again without much difficulty, but we also saw a lot of other problems begging for attention. Here’s a brief rundown on what we found. Call #3: No cooling anywhereThis was one of those cases that’s both really easy and really hard. Their system wasn’t coming on at all. It’s a zoned system. We went into the attic and asked the homeowner to turn it on. And…Voilà! We fixed it. Well, not really. The system came on and started cooling again. Phil figured there’s an intermittent problem with the zone control board. Maybe it just needed a reset and will work fine now. A more likely possibility is that Moncrief will be back out there trying to track down exactly what’s happening.Intermittent problems can be very difficult to find and fix. “I don’t like to replace parts unless I catch a problem while it’s happening,” Phil told me.Oh, and again, the duct system was a mess. Lots of flex. Ductboard junction boxes (photo #4 below) squishing flex ducts. The standard fare.Lessons: (1) As with computers, rebooting solves some problems. (2) It’s hard to find a house with a good duct system. Call #4: Water damage on ceilingThis one was different, and the water damage had to do with a bad condensate line. But let’s cut to the chase and go straight to the duct system. The air conditioner we looked at was in the unconditioned attic. We were there in mid-afternoon, so it was HOT up there. I don’t generally sweat a lot but I was sweating that day. Anyway, you can see what we saw in photo #5 below.How many problems do you see there? Here’s my short list:System and ducts in unconditioned atticSupply duct coming straight off of endcapSloppily installed flex ducts with poor support and excess lengthProblem #2 means that the duct coming off the top will get more than its fair share of the air. That big turn of ~120° will choke it down a bit, but still, you shouldn’t put a supply duct right at the end of a plenum or trunkline. (Mike MacFarland of Energy Docs in California does this on some of his jobs, but he says it only works when “your supply takeoffs are well designed/thought out, and when you provide supply dampers for all outlets at the plenum for airflow balancing.”)Photo #6 below is another example of how poorly the installers of this system understood air flow. Sharp bends add a lot of resistance!Lesson: No matter what the cooling problem is, it seems that most homes visited by an HVAC repair person are full of bad duct systems. Call #1: No cooling upstairsThis was a fairly new house, probably less than 5 years old. The system had power, so we went straight to the attic and found the dirty filter you see in Photo #2 (below). The AC hadn’t been cooling at all, so Phil figured that the evaporator coil had frozen up. We replaced the filter and turned it back on. The ice had melted after they turned the system off, so when we turned it back on, it worked.last_img read more

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