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27
Mar

How to Become a Professional NASCAR Driver


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So you want to be a professional NASCAR driver? You might be wondering where to even begin. There’s no formula or recipe for instant success, but these six steps can help you reach your goals.

Get Started With Youth Racing

Many professional NASCAR drivers got started at a young age, some as early as four years old. Racing carts at your local dirt track is the best way to get started. Once you are a proven driver, you can quickly move up through the ranks to more advanced races and even stock cars.

Network & Watch Professional Drivers

Networking is an important skill to learn, regardless of your chosen profession. Racing is no exception. If possible, buy a pit pass to your local track and introduce yourself to other local drivers, crew members, and officials. Of course, always be polite and courteous. You don’t want to interrupt anyone who is in the middle of an urgent task. Generally, most people will be glad to talk with you and share their experiences.

In addition, spend time watching other drivers at tracks near you as well as on TV. You can learn a lot through observation. Try to recognize patterns and think about what makes other drivers successful.

Learn the Mechanics of a Race Car

Being a good driver is more than just racing, you also need to have expertise in the mechanics of your car and engine. Network with race car mechanics in your to learn everything you can about your car. Having a reliable car is crucial for any driver, and an informed driver can spot mechanical issues early before getting into trouble at higher speeds.

Volunteer With a Local Driver’s Crew

Once you have a basic knowledge of the mechanics of race cars, offer to volunteer with a local driver’s crew. This experience will help you build your network and skills, as well as give you even more exposure to the racing industry.

Formal Education

In the early days of NASCAR, you might have been able to neglect your education and still become a professional driver. However, according toallpro education is much more important for NASCAR drivers today. NASCAR sponsors are vital and can get you access to the resources you need to be successful. In order to get the attention of sponsors, you will need to be well-spoken and a good representation of the company.  An education will refine your communication skills and prepare you for a professional career.

Stay Physically Fit

Racing is a demanding sport. Driving at 200 miles per hour with a 120 degree track temperature is not an easy feat, and you will need to be in top physical condition to handle it. A regular exercise routine will help build your stamina and endurance. Furthermore, a slim driver will have an advantage over a heavier driver.

Becoming a professional athlete in any sport will not be easy, and becoming a NASCAR driver is no exception. It will take hard work, dedication, and relentless passion for the sport. But if you’re willing to work hard and put in long hours, with a little luck you might find yourself racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup one day.

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27
Mar

These laser goggles let you live out your X-Men dreams


Real-world laser goggles

Many X-Men fans want to be Wolverine, but the cool kids know that Cyclops is the real star. How can you beat lasers for eyes? Patrick Priebe is most certainly aware, as he built a real-world set of laser-blasting goggles to emulate Cyclops’ optic blasts. While the wearable isn’t powerful enough to take down the likes of Magneto, it lets the fortunate user burn cloth and pop balloons just by winking an eye. Unfortunately, you probably won’t get to try the goggles unless you hang out with Patrick. He’s not making additional pairs or offering blueprints, in part because the design is inherently dangerous — it would put high-powered lasers just a short distance from your head, after all. Still, the eyepiece could well be the closest that we get to Scott Summers’ superhero powers without a genetic mutation.

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Via: Gizmodo

Source: AnselmoFanZero (YouTube)

27
Mar

Philips’ new LED bulbs are powered over Ethernet, provide occupancy and climate info to office managers


Get ready for a whole new generation of connected lightbulbs. Philips latest concept replaces an office’s traditional electrical wiring with Ethernet, used to power LED bulbs and pass info to and from each lamp. Each fixture outputs light, but also collects information from a variety of sensors. A motion sensor can track the number of employees in a given area, for example, while a thermometer can report back on the current temperature. Facility managers can track any section of the office in realtime, adjusting lighting and heating from a smartphone app to save on utilities whenever possible. Of course, as you’ll need to replace traditional cabling with Ethernet, the installation itself is sure to cost a pretty penny. Philips quotes a 50-percent reduction in installation costs for PoE over traditional wiring with new installations, however, so if you’re planning to refurbish an office this is definitely an interesting option to consider.

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Source: Philips

27
Mar

AT&T’s Galaxy Note 3 gets a bite of Android 4.4 KitKat


Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 may already be running the latest version of Android in some places. Here in the US, however, most carriers still haven’t updated the faux leather-covered device to KitKat. But, starting today, at least a good number of Note 3 owners will be getting a taste of it, with AT&T announcing that its version of Android 4.4 is now rolling out to the 5.7-inch handset. You can expect to experience quite a few new things as part of this, such as a revamped user interface, improved GPS and the option to choose a default messaging app. The update is said to be available now — all you need to do is tap your way to that Software Update menu, download the goods and voilà.

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Source: AT&T

27
Mar

Amazon will reportedly launch a free video streaming service


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All signs point to Amazon revealing its set-top box in New York City next week, but that’s just one part of its massive media onslaught. According to a fresh report from the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce giant will eventually launch a free, ad-supported service that’ll allow its customers to stream television shows and music videos for the low, low price of $0. The caveat? It’s all ad-supported, so be prepared to let your eyes glaze over from time to time. The big question here is how much content will be available gratis. Sources told the Journal that customers can likely access Amazon’s original series (think “Betas” and the like), with licensed content possibly coming down the road. Don’t expect too much crossover between whatever this is and Amazon’s existing Prime video service, though. It’s in the company’s best interest to save the good stuff for the folks who shell out $99 a year, if only because they wind up buying loads of other things too.

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Source: Wall Street Journal

27
Mar

Macworld 2014: Avegant Shows Off ‘Glyph’ Mobile Personal Theater [iOS Blog]


Avegant’s Glyph headset originated as a Kickstarter project that ended in February, earning more than 1.5 million dollars. The company is showing off the Glyph at Macworld, giving users a first look at the head-worn mobile theater.

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The Glyph, which is currently in the alpha stages of development, is essentially a set of headphones with a built-in screen that flips down for a fully immersive media experience. Rather than using a traditional display, Glyph incorporates a Virtual Retinal Display that uses an array of micromirrors that reflect an image directly onto the retina of the eye, which produces a very clear image.

Avegant’s demo headset at Macworld was showing a 3D underwater scene complete with a jellyfish floating around, all of which looked ultra crisp after the headset was properly adjusted to eye width. The image seemed much clearer than traditional 3D images, though the display itself felt a bit small. According to the company, the device is designed to emulate an 80-inch screen approximately eight feet away with a 45 degree field of view.


Glyph is individually adjusted for each user and it is even able to incorporate glasses prescriptions for optimal viewing. The company also says that the micromirror technology prevents eye strain and nausea commonly associated with other conventional headset displays.

The product is being designed to work with all kinds of media input, plugging into any HDMI source including iPhones and MacBooks to display video games (complete with head tracking), streaming movies, and more. The final version will be powered via battery, and the company’s goal is to have enough battery life for a full-length movie to be watched — approximately two to three hours.

The Glyph uses a simple HDMI input to display anything in your content library, from the movies that you already own to streamed Netflix over your iPhone to the desktop environment in your Mac or PC. The Glyph is also great for gaming, whether in playing Call of Duty Ghosts on your Playstation or Real Racing on your mobile phone. And with an integrated 9 Degree of Freedom head-tracker, a whole world of interactive gaming, Point of View (PoV) imaging and interactive storytelling is within our reach.

While the alpha model that is being used for demonstrations is quite bulky and weighs in at 1.5 pounds, the company says the finished product will be quite a bit slimmer. During a demo, Glyph’s creators also emphasized its ability to be worn as a traditional set of headphones, flipping down the screen when appropriate, as a way to distinguish it from other headset-style displays such as the Oculus Rift.

Glyph can be preordered for $499 from the Avegant website. The product is expected to ship during the first quarter of 2015.

    



27
Mar

Sprint calls up new MVNO, Ciao Mobile



Sprint’s latest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Ciao Mobile is up and running with no-contract service plans. With plans that range from $35-$60, the prepaid carrier joins Virgin Mobile USA and Boost Mobile in offering service through Sprint’s network.

At $35 customers can score unlimited voice,  text, and MMS; the $45 plan tosses in 500MB of data. Go all-in for $60 and you’ll have unlimited data on your device. So what’s the catch? Thus far, the only device you’ll find on their network is the HTC Evo with a $199 price tag. Yes sir, that Evo phone from a long time back, but running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

Looking down the road, Ciao plans to offer a $10 smartphone option with unlimited LTE data. The trade-off here will be that you’ll have advertisements on your lock screen.

The post Sprint calls up new MVNO, Ciao Mobile appeared first on AndroidGuys.

27
Mar

Microsoft sets Office Mobile free on Android



Microsoft has updated its Office application for Android and iOS making the productivity suite free for home users. Whereas it previously required a subscription to the Office 365 service it is now free for all. As one might expect, Office Mobile lets users create, edit, open, and save documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint format. Those on Business accounts still need to subscribe to Office 365 if they wish to access Office on their smartphones.

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The post Microsoft sets Office Mobile free on Android appeared first on AndroidGuys.

27
Mar

Macworld 2014: BearExtender Shows Off iOS Compatible Edge Wi-Fi Extender [iOS Blog]


BearExtender, known for its Wi-Fi enhancing products like the BearExtender Turbo, is demonstrating its new no-frills Edge Wi-Fi extender for iOS devices, Macs, and other electronic devices at Macworld.

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Compatible with 802.11ac networks, the easy-to-use Edge is a long range Wi-Fi boosting device that is able to plug into an outlet in any room where existing Wi-Fi signal is weak. Unlike its previous boosting products that were limited to Macs, the Edge is BearExtender’s first product that is compatible with iOS devices like the iPad and the iPhone.

Both Macs and iOS devices can connect to the BearExtender Edge through a simple setup screen with no software to install. Edge will ship in the summer of 2014, and interested customers can visit the BearExtender website to sign up for a notification when it is available.

Though pricing has yet to be announced, BearExtender says the Edge’s price will be in line with its BearExtender Turbo device, at approximately $70.

    



27
Mar

Facebook: A visual history


Sit down. Strap on your virtual reality headset. Now you’re navigating the crowd of your online friends, sparking face-to-face conversations in a virtual world peppered with branded “experiences.” Gone are the days of clicking through images of your friends’ far-flung vacations; now you walk the beaches of Fiji, sipping tropical drinks, watching and hearing the waves crash like you’re there — because you are.

At its start, it was a college-only collection of user profiles and groups based on shared interests.

In the not-too-distant future, our online interactions could feel a lot more real. That’s why Facebook has invested $2 billion in Oculus VR, anyway. It’s attempting to own the next big shift in computing and communication. Acquiring a startup with popularity on the upswing is a move that we’ve seen before from Mark Zuckerberg, but there’s more to his company’s sustained growth. Back in 2004, The Facebook looked more like a database than a key player in social networks. At its start, it was a college-only collection of user profiles and groups based on shared interests. Students on college campuses around the US were logging on and spilling all of their deets on a bare-bones interface. However, the rather sterile aesthetics wouldn’t last long.

Other social sites predated Zuckerberg’s project, but none of them kept pace with the mass sharing and design tweaks that have contributed to Facebook’s longevity. The company has even taken to retooling key pieces of the interface several times in a span of a few months to keep content consumption on the up and up. The old adage is “form follows function,” and the folks in Menlo Park are clearly familiar with the sentiment.

While Facebook is busy figuring out what the future of social networking will look like, let’s take a look back at where it’s been.

Social Networks Take Root

Friendster wasn’t always a social gaming site, and though it may not be the first, it was a pioneer of widespread adoption for virtual interaction. As you may remember, that particular social hub debuted back in 2002 and drew over 100 million users through 2011. Focused on user info and a circle of internet acquaintances (ahem, Google+), the hub never evolved much beyond the profile-based system that enabled contact management and sharing between users and their networks. After years of declining traffic in the states, Friendster relaunched in 2011 with a gaming focus and most of its traffic shifted to Asia.

Before The Facebook arrived, Myspace was the largest social network on the web. It launched in 2003 and morphed into its then-popular social format while amassing millions of users through 2008. In fact, it has been reported that in 2005, Myspace considered buying Zuckerberg’s site for $75 million before passing. Moving through a News Corp. acquisition and other key transitions, Myspace stuck to portal-like functionality that relied heavily on music and other entertainment content. In the meantime, emerging social media darlings like Facebook and Twitter sought to develop and roll out new features on the regular. The new kids on the block paid attention to how people used their sites and services, and made sure to keep ease of use at the forefront of any new functionality or design tweaks. It turned out to be the difference in continued growth.

Myspace implemented design updates along the way, but they were largely aesthetic and lacked the introduction of key features needed to foster a loyal long-term user base. The site relaunched last year after a “community-led” redesign process, but it still has a heavy focus on entertainment — music in particular. There’s an artist-curated My Radio feature and mobile apps that serve up easy access to content, however it appears to be too little too late. The choice to keep the profile-centric setup, and its inability to roll out new features quickly, doomed the site.

The Beginning

In the early days, user profiles on Facebook were all about information. As you can see from the above image of a profile page in 2005, a person’s favorites, relationship status, birthdate, interests and, most importantly, contact info were compiled into a single, easily accessible page. It was very much a digital Rolodex, and not too far removed from the likes of Friendster and Myspace. Each piece of data that you entered placed you in a group based on that criterion. Holmes High School Class of ’02? Your classmates are there. Graduating from that college you’re attending in ’06? Your fellow graduates are a click away. Heck, you could even harness the power of cult classics like Donnie Darko when searching for fellow enthusiasts. Of course, the Wall was there for leaving notes, too.

News Feed

Once you open up a service to anyone, you’ve got to keep new features coming on the regular in order to keep users coming back. The masses likely wouldn’t have sustained interest in an online directory, and Facebook wasted no time making the necessary tweaks. It added Photos in 2005 while it was still a campus exclusive. The UI for snapshots has been retooled regularly since then, but the ability to share galleries from Spring Break and other exploits has been available from the start. What began as a means to share images with friends online turned into a life-logging activity as time went on.

Nearly a year after galleries of summer vacations and ski trips found a home on Facebook, it introduced a new feature that would become a key piece of its functionality: News Feed. No more clicking through to a user’s profile page to get the latest on their activities. That info was now arranged in chronological order when you logged in. Status updates, photo posts and more were compiled in a scrolling list of the latest from your friends. Info from Pages arrived on the feed in 2007 and the all-important Like button for each bit of content landed in 2009.

Once the News Feed became the epicenter of activity on Facebook, design tweaks began to roll out as needed. Just weeks ago, it announced that the next version was on its way, citing the never-ending quest to make its offerings easier to use while keeping them tidy. This marks the third design overhaul of the site’s hub in about year, further confirming Facebook’s modus operandi: Keep what’s important easily accessible.

Going Mobile

Over the past couple of years, Facebook has aggressively focused on mobile engagement, but its first foray into mobile actually began back in the spring of 2006. The first offering, a mobile-friendly site, dubbed Facebook for Mobile, launched then and the first native app outfitting the OG iPhone hit iOS in the summer of 2008. Even in the early days of smartphones, the social network was already facilitating sharing on the go. Android, Windows Phone and other operating systems would get their own native apps upon their arrival, with the expected regular updates to add new features and refresh the UI.

After rounds of rumblings spanning several months, the long-rumored “Facebook Phone” broke from cover in April 2013. Sure, other devices had dedicated buttons for quick and easy sharing, but the HTC First offered a skinned Android OS, called Home, built entirely around the social network. The company labeled Home as something between a full-fledged OS and the average app. In terms of aesthetics, the offering took on Facebook’s clean look with photos at the forefront. Cover Feed gave a rundown of the current happenings and Chat Heads offered pop-up style text updates from Messenger convos.

While other Android apps were accessible with Home, it wasn’t until October of that year that deeper integration launched, bringing more of a user’s content to lock and home screens. Despite opening up Home to a smattering of other devices in addition to the First, both the handset and the non-OS have yet to see widespread adoption and are viewed by many to have been a bust.

Facebook Ads

We’ve all seen them since they became embedded in the News Feed, but ads on Facebook actually started rolling out in 2006. They appeared in the form of banners then, with the formal rollout of the company’s successful platform being officially announced in late 2007. Focusing on targeted ads based on user activity, Facebook has placed these sponsored promotions on the right-hand sidebar and within the main activity feed for the site on the web and mobile devices, draped in the appearance of any other shared item from an internet pal. The long arm of Facebook’s ad strategy has also extended to once-ad free Instagram, and while it’s promised to keep WhatsApp a commercial free zone, Zuckerberg’s hinted at an ad-filled future for Oculus.

The Constant Redesign

Although Myspace looped back with a massive redesign last year, the steep decline that led to its mere $35 million sale has been widely attributed to sticking to its profile-centric setup. Not until the site had all but left the minds of former users did it reach out to entertain feedback. Facebook, on the other hand, has been keen to watch how its now 1 billion users share and consume content, adjusting the UI and adding new features to keep what’s of individual importance on top and easily accessible. This strategy doesn’t just apply to the web; it’s carried out across the desktop, mobile and supplementary apps like Messenger, too.

Facebook has been keen to watch how its now 1 billion users share and consume content.

In recent months, Facebook has adopted a public beta for testing new features inside its apps. The outfit now publicly seeks out user feedback on changes to mobile software offerings — mostly within Messenger up to this point — before beaming the tweaks to all of its iOS and Android user base. The designers in Menlo Park have also been quick to adjust when a change doesn’t work out quite as intended. As we’ve already mentioned, News Feed has been retooled a few times in the last 12 months in response to criticism.

This rapid-fire approach can be seen in bigger changes as well. Projects like the @facebook.com email service, Poke, Places, Deals and Camera have all struggled to gain traction and many were eventually shuttered. For all the failures, however, introductions like Graph Search and Messenger have proven to have lasting significance and usefulness. With a growing interest in reader-style apps like Flipboard, Google Newsstand and Feedly, Facebook unveiled its Paper app in January. Citing the need for a “distraction-free” reading experience, the company inserted itself in an area it felt needed improving, and sought to do so with better design. It’s too early to tell if this pet project will pay off and it’s currently only available for the iOS faithful.

The Next Big Things

While declining traffic amongst teens may be a growing concern, Facebook’s track record shows it’s willing to rejigger its offerings to cater to what users want, even if that means spending some cash. The company nabbed up Instagram in April of 2012 for $1 billion, adding a loyal base of users concerned with sharing even the smallest details of everyday life. In response to Snapchat’s rising popularity and a reported failure to buy that particular service, Instagram Direct added photo swapping between users outside of the regular snapshot timeline in late 2013.

Investing heavily in design and letting form follow function, with a little shopping thrown in, is still paying huge dividends 10 years in.

Global efforts ramped up last month with the whopping $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition, locking down its several hundred million users and proven success in free messaging and upcoming voice features — an area that’s been of interest to the social network for quite some time. When expanding its reach and increasing shared content, Facebook’s moves show that sometimes design isn’t enough, and expanding by buying up the competition’s unique feature set is another avenue for growth. It’s even banking on virtual reality as the next big thing for not only gaming, but also for communication as a whole by snatching up Oculus.

With all of the successes, questionable moves and an increasingly mobile mindset, Facebook is still the largest social network on the web and tallies 1.23 billion monthly active users, far exceeding its closest rival, Twitter, which counts 241 million users per month. Investing heavily in design and letting form follow function, with a little shopping thrown in, is still paying huge dividends 10 years in.


To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we’ll bring you a new story every week in March that explores how the social media landscape has changed. Check out our hub every Wednesday for more from of our 10 Years in Social Media series, and keep your eyes out for more ’10 Years In’ content in the months to come.

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