Voluntourism: see SA, do good

first_imgVolunteering in South Africa is a richlyrewarding experience.(Image: Aviva)  Volunteering is an increasingly popular form of responsible tourism, otherwise known as voluntourism, and in South Africa opportunities abound for those who wish to do good while they enjoy the local sights and sounds.Volunteering in South Africa falls into two main categories: community- or conservation-based. There is an abundance of worthwhile projects located across the country.Organisations such as Aviva, All Africa Volunteers, Cross-Cultural Solutions and i-to-i, to name a few, facilitate volunteering trips to the country. Most are based locally. Some run their own programmes, while others merely suggest volunteering options – either way, with projects already screened and selected, it could not be easier.Invaluable experienceVolunteering not only gives tourists an opportunity to experience the country as a useful member of the community, but offers a host of other priceless benefits: self-growth, tolerance and understanding of other people and other cultures, new skills and new friends.Many travellers have been able to settle on a career through insight gained while working as a volunteer.“When I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2004 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” wrote Hallie Stover of her South African experience with Willing Workers in South Africa (WWISA). “When I found the WWISA website I knew that this place [South Africa] would change my life.”After her return home, Stover was inspired to go back to university, where she submitted a thesis based on her experience with HIV/Aids youth prevention programmes. She now has a Master’s degree in International Politics and Human Rights.Stephen Thornburgh of Ireland, 23, spent his time with Aviva’s six-week penguin rehabilitation project. He described it, in a testimonial, as a “unique experience”.“With the project itself you get to do pretty much everything from cleaning and feeding to giving medication and learning about penguins and other coastal birds … it was the greatest time of my life which was really made by the people you meet and the activities you can do, like safari and shark cage diving.”Volunteers leave a legacy in indirect ways too – as they explore the country outside of their project, their support of local businesses, crafters and tourism operators results in upliftment for families and the community.Volunteer organisations agree that pitching in to do something tangible is a far better approach than merely donating money, which can lead to reliance on aid, corruption and financial instability. Volunteers, by donating their time and energy, help to set up a sustainable solution that outlasts the short-term effects of financial donations.Nuts and boltsVolunteer fees vary between organisations. The average price is around US$528 to $660 (R4 000 to R5 000) per week, but this is an inclusive fee which covers all programme-related costs such as airport transfers, accommodation, meals and transport.In most cases, once the host organisation has deducted their expenses, the rest of the fee goes to a local charity.The duration also differs from project to project, but most offer a stay of between two weeks and three months. Individuals as well as groups can be accommodated. Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own travel documentation, but host organisations provide all the information required.WWISA oversees a number of short- (two weeks) and medium-term (three weeks or more) projects. Short-term projects range from building new houses and renovating old ones, to children’s camps and environmental programmes.Medium-term projects include teaching at a nearby primary school, assisting at a daycare facility, teaching English as a second language, and microorganic farming in community gardens.All Africa Volunteers, based in the Eastern Cape province, has a wider range of projects covering wildlife, marine, sport, community and cultural issues. A wildlife sanctuary, great white shark and dolphin research, penguin rescue, a community surfing school and a pre-school are just some of the choices on offer.The Volunteer Centre in Cape Town takes volunteers into the townships, where they work amongst impoverished communities. The organisation also arranges six-month youth exchange programmes in partnership with Mozambique-based Ajude and Canada World Youth.UK-based i-to-i offers a variety of volunteer tours, mostly involving community and wildlife work. These include teaching children to read or working in a children’s hospital, animal rescue, and helping raise lion cubs.A number of travel organisations offer their own programmes, such as Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, which runs a football coaching and teaching volunteer project, or Dyer Island Cruises which gives volunteers the chance to learn about shark conservation.These are just a sample of the rewarding tours on offer for those willing to devote a slice of their time to uplifting the lives of humans or animals.last_img read more


An Overview of HID Lighting

first_imgThree recent columns provided a brief history of lighting, an overview of fluorescent technology, and a look at the challenges of improving streetlights. Following a side trip into the issue of “passive survivability,” I’m returning this week to illumination with an overview of high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting.HID lighting involves creating an arc of electricity in a sealed bulb containing mercury vapor and other gases. One of the advantages of HID lighting is long lamp life—which is important in outdoor and hard-to-reach indoor applications. Another advantage is the potential for very high light output from a concentrated light source—useful in illuminating Fenway Park, for example. All HID lamps require a ballast to produce the proper electric current to start and then maintain the electric arc. Because of this ballast, most HID lamps take several minutes to turn on (referred to as restrike delay)—which is one of their drawbacks.There are four basic types of HID lighting:Mercury vapor is the oldest type of HID lamp and still the most common outdoor lighting in some areas. When new, mercury vapor lamps produce a bluish light, though it yellows (and dims) as the lamps age. The efficacy of mercury vapor lamps is mediocre (20-60 lumens per watt), which is better than incandescent, but not as good as most fluorescent or other HID lamps. Because of the relatively low efficiency of mercury vapor lamps, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 banned their manufacture and sale in the U.S. beginning in 2008. So, as the older mercury vapor lamps in use today fail, they will have to be replaced with other options. As described a couple weeks ago in the story about West Dummerston Village, replacing older mercury vapor lights can be problematic.High-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps produce a yellowish-orange light (low “color temperature”); these are fairly common along highways. HPS lamps use high-frequency, high-voltage current to ionize xenon gas in a sealed bulb. This process vaporizes a sodium-mercury amalgam, and when an electric arc passes through this gas mixture electrons are released from the sodium atoms, producing the visible light. The efficacy is very high (up to 150 lumens per watt—compared with about 15 for incandescent lamps and up to 100 for the best linear fluorescent lamps). The light quality of most HPS lamps is quite poor, however, with a color rendering index (CRI) of just 20-25, compared with 85 for the best fluorescent lamps and 100 for incandescent light bulbs (a few newer HPS lamps are better, but with an energy performance penalty). This means that colors don’t look natural under HPS light. HPS light output also drops off significantly over time—“lumen depreciation” in tech-speak.Low-pressure sodium has the highest efficacy of any light source today (up to about 200 lumens per watt) but the light quality is the worst, with a CRI of close to 0. In fact, under the deep-orange low-pressure sodium glow, it’s hard to distinguish a red car from a blue car. Most light sources produce a wide spectrum of light, while low-pressure sodium is limited to a very narrow band—in the orange part of the spectrum. Due to this “monochromatic” nature of the light, astronomers like low-pressure sodium, because they can use filters to block out its light pollution. In towns near astronomical observatories, such as Tucson, Arizona, ordinances are sometimes passed to allow only low-pressure sodium for street lighting.Metal halide has emerged as the most popular form of HID lighting. Introduced around 1960 as a modification of mercury vapor lamps, metal halide lamps incorporate mercury vapor along with such metal halides as sodium-iodide and thallium-iodide. The result is a reasonable efficacy (50-115 lumens per watt) and much better light quality than other HID light sources, with much whiter light and CRI ratings of 65 to 93. They also will restart more quickly if they are turned off (restrike time of just a few minutes). While the efficacy is lower than that of high-pressure or low-pressure sodium lamps, metal halide light shows off colors much better, so it is often possible to get by with lower total light output, thus achieving savings. The expected lamp life of metal halide lamps (10,000 to 20,000 hours) is lower than that of HPS, some of which are rated at over 30,000 hours.The light quality of metal halide lamps is good enough to use indoors, and you will commonly see this form of lighting in big-box stores, warehouses, and other buildings with high ceilings—though in these applications, newer T-5 hi-bay fluorescent lighting, which can be turned off and on instantly, is now providing serious competition. Metal halide is also now the outdoor light source of choice along streets, in parking lots, and in sports stadiums.A big drawback to all HID—plus fluorescent—lighting is the mercury required to produce light. Mercury is a potent toxin, and both the mining of mercury and the disposal of lamps can release the mercury into the environment. Next week we’ll look at LED lighting, a relatively new technology that avoids the mercury.last_img read more


Google Is Starting War On Child Pornography, Not Ending

first_imgbrian proffitt Tags:#children#Google#law#pornography Google is creating a global database of child abuse images that the company hopes, when shared with other search engines, will help eradicate child pornography from the Internet. While this is certainly a goal worth fighting for, sadly it is also a goal that is out of reach.Given that Google shared their new program with U.K. publication The Telegraph, Google was certainly responding to increasing political pressure from the U.K., most notably Prime Minister David Cameron’s remarks on June 10 that called Google and other search engine companies out for enabling the proliferation of such images on the Internet.The new program certainly sounds promising: the company will be working to create a database of flagged images within a year’s time that will be shared with other search engines in the hopes that such content will “be wiped from the web in one fell swoop,” the Telegraph proclaimed.Unfortunately, the end of all child pornography is not going to be the result of such a program, as images of raped and abused children will not be eliminated from the Internet but – at best – far less likely to come up in search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.Google Giving Director Jacqueline Fuller detailed the program with far less hyperbole on Google’s official blog Saturday:Since 2008, we’ve used “hashing” technology to tag known child sexual abuse images, allowing us to identify duplicate images which may exist elsewhere. Each offending image in effect gets a unique ID that our computers can recognize without humans having to view them again. Recently, we’ve started working to incorporate encrypted “fingerprints” of child sexual abuse images into a cross-industry database. This will enable companies, law enforcement and charities to better collaborate on detecting and removing these images, and to take action against the criminals. Today we’ve also announced a $2 million Child Protection Technology Fund to encourage the development of ever more effective tools.Even if these horrific images are identified, that doesn’t automatically remove them from the Internet. It takes law enforcement and Internet service provider intervention to do that, as Filler stated.And there’s the fact that, for all their power, Google and the other search engines do not have the entire Internet tracked. Estimates vary wildly, with some guessing that Google may have up to 12% of the Web indexed, and others pegging that percentage as low as 0.04% of total Web content.Whatever the figure, no one would ever give any of the search engines out there the credit for indexing the entire Web. Nor will the search engines ever get there, at least not the way they work now.Search engines rely on following links to new content on the web. So, if a site containing illicit content is not linked to any other site, the search engines won’t even know it’s there.And, even if they were able to find the site, search engines still abide by a site’s robots.txt file, something that all automated web search crawler engines examine before stepping across a site’s threshold. If the robots.txt file says no search engines allowed (and there are various legitimate reasons why an administrator might want to keep such crawlers out), then there’s no indexing that will happen.Google could, in the interests of hunting down illicit content, ignore the robots.txt restriction, but busting that honor system would negatively impact a lot of sites that have done nothing wrong.Content can also be hidden on sites by putting it behind forms. Search engines don’t index pages that are created when a form is filled in and then auto-generated by the content of that form. If they did, then search results would be inundated with product catalog content every time we looked for men’s shirts.To be clear, Google’s program is a strong step in making it harder to find child pornography on the Internet – and that’s a damn good thing. But sources that are known by purveyors of this content will still be available to provide material that exploits children. All the search engines are doing is making it harder for new searchers for this content to locate such content.In the long run, politicians and citizens should be happier: if this program is successful, child pornography will be vastly decreased from easy public view. But this will be just a Potemkin village – a clean-looking version of the Internet that will not reflect the fact that these terrible images are still out there – just better hidden.Image courtesy of Shutterstock. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…last_img read more


NCP, BJP lock horns in graduate constituency

first_imgThe NCP has geared up to ensure the defeat of BJP candidate Niranjan Davkhare in the Konkan graduate constituency election to be held on June 25.The NCP will be fielding Najib Mulla, Mumbra MLA and close associate of party MLA Jitendra Awhad. Mr. Awhad said, “Najib will be taking on the BJP candidate Davkhare. We are fighting to win this election. Those who wanted to leave have defected from the party. Now those who have faith in the party will be given an opportunity. We will ensure the BJP loses this election.”Sources in the party said that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had held a meeting of senior party leaders last week and instructed the cadre to ensure Mr. Davkhare’s defeat. A senior NCP leader on condition of anonymity said, “First of all, party leaders are hurt over his decision to join the BJP. Secondly, letting him win the seat would send a wrong message among party activists that anyone who joins the BJP gets the position of power. We cannot let that happen and therefore he has to be defeated.”For the Konkan graduate constituency, which is spread across Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar and Thane, the NCP have tied up with the Peasants and Workers Party. It is also likely to get support of other regional parties such as the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi. A day after Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced that his party would be contesting future elections on its own, the party said that Thane’s former mayor Sanjay More would be its candidate.Graduate and teacher constituencies in Mumbai will also go to the polls on June 25. The graduate constituency is currently being held by Health Minister Deepak Sawant of the Sena. The party is yet to announce its candidate. Kapil Patil , belonging to Sharad Yadav’s Loktantrik Janata Dal, currently holds the teacher constituency and will be contesting the June 25 poll.last_img read more