Science & Technology
Iowa's support for renewable fuels confirmed with new poll PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk and Donnelle Eller   
Friday, 22 August 2014 12:50

Iowa's support for renewable fuels has been officially confirmed: 77 percent of registered voters surveyed said they support expanding the federal Renewable Fuel Standard to increase biodiesel in the fuel supply.

Sixty-nine percent said a congressional candidate's support for the mandate was an important factor in their voting decisions, the Iowa Biodiesel Board said today.

The renewable fuel standard requires ethanol and biodiesel to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed scaling back renewable fuel targets.

The group commissioned the questions as part of its annual public opinion research. A professional public opinion research firm, Moore Information, conducted the online survey of 517 registered voters. It took place the week of Aug. 11.

The study shows Iowans have a positive opinion about biodiesel in general, the board said. Additionally, after a series of questions on biodiesel, they were highly supportive of expanding the renewable fuel standard, the trade association said.

There are four U.S. House seats and one U.S. Senate seat up for election in Iowa.

"Many of our biodiesel businesses have the pressure of an uncertain market weighing heavily on them right now," said Grant Kimberley, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. "It is uplifting to know that Iowans are with us. They are behind strong federal policy to buoy this young industry in the torrents of the oil industry's opposition."

 
John Deere chooses QC Robotics Team as ONLY US Team to represent US PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Vanessa Douglas   
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 12:55

QUAD CITY ROBOTICS TEAM CHOSEN BY JOHN DEERE AS ONLY USA TEAM TO COMPETE AT THE FLL INTERNATIONAL ROBOTICS COMPETITION IN BRAZIL

Rivermont Collegiate's Middle School Robotics team ROFL (Robots on the Floor Laughing) has been chosen to represent the United States at the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) International Robotics Competition and Festival in Bello Horizante, Brazil this September. With over 14,000 FLL Teams in the U.S, ROFL will be the sole representative from the United States. John Deere is the team's official sponsor through its John Deere Inspire program. The team, based in Bettendorf, Iowa, will depart for Brazil on August 31; the competition will take place Sept. 1-4.

Rivermont Collegiate's ROFL Robotics team was chosen by John Deere to represent the U.S. based on the team's exceptional display of Core Values in Gracious Professionalism and their robot performance during the 2014 state competition.

The theme of the FLL International Robotics Competition and Festival is "Nature's Fury" -which is the same theme of the FLL local, state, and national competitions of the 2013-14 season. The competition will kick off with a fun-filled festival with each team bringing souvenirs from their countries to exchange with other international teams. Wide arrays of activities are planned during the festival to allow each team to engage with one another and form friendships before the competition. The goal of this event is to celebrate each team's accomplishments, as well as create a unique pen-pal opportunity amongst teams and, most importantly, foster an environment of comradery and friendly competition.

The following students comprise the Middle School Robotics team (ROFL) that will represent Rivermont Collegiate and the United States in Brazil: Lauren Schroeder, Ellie Decker, Gabe Heaney, Jessica Elliott, and Nikhil Wagher.

 
How to Curb Distraction during Family Time: No Cell Phone Day PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 11 August 2014 13:53
5 Tips for Enriching Bonds from Musical Maestro Delfeayo Marsalis

If you’re like jazz trombonist and music producer Delfeayo Marsalis, a member of the acclaimed Marsalis family from New Orleans, you appreciate the “old-school” ways of doing things.

For Marsalis, that means doing without automated music created and played at the push of a button, cooking without a microwave and not being too quick to replace a lost cell phone.

“Some people ask, ‘How could you go weeks without replacing your phone?’ But for me, I look at it as a much needed vacation,” he says.

“At the same time, I’m like most other people: when I have a smart phone on me, I find myself checking it frequently.”

While Marsalis isn’t anti-technology, he fondly recalls a time when more people interacted with others who are right in front of them, rather than staring at a gadget in their hand – especially when it comes to family. The father of a young teenager, he offers the following tips for improving quality time by doing without the ubiquity of cell phones.

•  Consider a “No Cell Phone Day.” In fact, that’s the name of his new children’s book, (www.KidsTownPress.com), about a tech-entrenched father who spends a happy birthday exploring New Orleans with his daughter – without his cell phone. A monthly “no cell phone day” allows you to fully engage with the people around you, whether they’re your kids, your parents, or your friends. Without the distractions of work and spam email, you’ll can have meaningful conversations and simply spend time laughing with the people you love. You’ll have those memories to cherish for a long time to come. If you really want to connect with yourself and loved ones, plan on a regular No Cell Phone Day.

•  Play dates that don’t require cell phones. When Marsalis takes his 13-year-old daughter and her cousins out for a fun day out at the mall, followed by a movie and dinner, he makes a deal with them to leave their phones at home.

“We’re all together on these occasions, so there’s no concern for safety, and it would be sad to go through all the trouble of spending the day together while, half of the time, they’re preoccupied with their phones,” he says. “In addition to the occasional outing, we set aside time at home when we can’t use cell phones.”

•  Make dinner time a cell phone-free zone. While food is especially important to any self-respecting son or daughter of New Orleans, sitting down to eat together is a sacred time for every family. Children and adults alike face significant stress and pressures every day in the world outside the home. Closing the doors on that world and coming together for an hour each evening to relax and refresh in the comparative safety of those who most love us is essential to our well-being.

•  Play “What Do I Know without My Cell Phone?” Research suggests cell phones are compromising the short-term memory of children. More and more of us – children and adults alike – rely on our smart phones, rather than our memories, to retrieve information. Exercising our brains with trivia, math and other cognitive games can help all of us stay mentally sharp.

•  Most importantly – don’t be afraid to be bored! Life doesn’t have to be a sci-fi movie all of the time. Ask your child to reflect on their greatest memories to date; chances are 0 percent that the content of those memories will involve cell phones.

About Delfeayo Marsalis

While Delfeayo Marsalis (dmarsalis.com) is known primarily for his work as a jazz trombonist and music producer, and has been involved with youth education for many years. In 2000, he founded the Uptown Music Theatre to provide arts education for the youth of New Orleans. UMT has staged 16 of his original musicals. Inspired by his autistic younger brother, Mboya, Delfeayo has volunteered and presented shows at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, including the therapeutic, “Swinging with the Cool School.” “No Cell Phone Day” is his first children’s book.

 
5 Key Factors to Understand When Selecting a Cloud Voice Provider PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Midland Communications   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 15:58

Leader in Unified Communications Educates Customers on Importance of Choosing the Right Cloud Voice Solution for Your Business

DAVENPORT, IA - July 31, 2014 - Midland Communications, a leader in unified communications, announced today that the company has collected and documented the five telltale signs to look out for when selecting a cloud voice provider. With the appeal of enhanced office productivity and increased profitability, it's no surprise that this technology has taken off. As the benefits of cloud voice continue to stack up, many small and mid-sized businesses are wondering how to choose the right solution. Midland Communications outlines the five most important aspects to consider when evaluating cloud voice.


Strong, Local Presence in the Business Community: Even before you consider the solution selecting the right company to install and service cloud technology is the first step. One of the most important factors to look for is a technology company that operates in the same area that you do. They have a foundational understanding of the market that you are in, they understand the culture, and can administer customer service very quickly. When your partner has a presence in your community you can instantly make changes and interact directly in case any issues ever come up. Inexperienced remote providers can often hide in the Internet abyss, so they don't have to deal with installation problems. Focus on finding a partner that is always willing to meet face-to-face and generate solutions to problems as they arise.


Understand the 3 Critical Factors to Successful Installation: Businesses need to make sure that they are working with a technology company who is well educated in the technical side of a transaction. The 3 most important factors are Quality of Service, a Proper Router and POE Switches. Installing a communications system without paying attention to these aspects can instantly jeopardize performance and call clarity. This is where inexperienced companies cause the infamous jitter, latency and lack of redundancy that annoy many of today's users. When an inexperienced provider sells a boxed, "plug and play" solution, the system usually will not work properly. Without properly assessing the network and reorganizing it so everything is streamlined, users experience a messy network with lots of dropped calls in the short-term, and expensive re-installs in the long-term. More experienced providers understand the complexity and can actually streamline this intricate web of information to deliver better performing cloud voice technology and in some cases, reduce turn their phone system into a profit center.


Offering a Premium/Low-Price Model. The problem here is that low-cost solutions usually do nothing for the business in the long-term, as they lack scalability. Business owners are usually prone to purchasing barebones systems, but in the long-term these end up being much more expensive, due to the shoddy foundation that low-price systems usually offer. As the business starts to scale, more features become necessary and communication infrastructure grows in complexity. Usually the low-price solutions are limited in their functionality, which means that as the business grows and demands more from their communications infrastructure, they won't be able to get this functionality. Simply put, these limitations usually lead to patchwork solutions that can't stand the test of time. Look for providers who assess your business needs in the long-term and refuse to take the quick cash to eventually leave you with a magnified problem later.


Negotiation Power with the Carrier. Some of the best features of phone systems require successful integration with telecommunication carriers. Local providers have the ability to port numbers, allocate proper bandwidth and probe the network to determine whether the carrier can support the bandwidth demands you will be placing on them. This is another reason why only local providers are best suited for business interactions.


Long-Term Contracts. Plainly put, only deal with companies that don't require long-term contracts. The fundamental reality of a long-term contract is that it favors an underperforming provider. This misaligns incentives and shifts the transaction in favor of the provider rather than the needs of the customer. Deal with a company that has enough faith in their ability to serve their customers so well that they propose a month-to-month, cancel-anytime agreement. This will eliminate a lot of providers from the equation but does wonders to ensure that your provider's incentives are aligned with your best interests. Most companies that get caught in those contracts find that they are virtually unbreakable. If you see a long-term contract, run.


By focusing on these criteria, businesses can ensure that they are working with only the best providers, who will leave them with a more powerful, robust and efficient network to run their business.

ABOUT MIDLAND COMMUNICATIONS

Midland Communications began more than 60 years ago in 1946 as the Worldwide Marketing Arm of Victor-Animagraph Projectors. In 1977 a communications division was formed due to a partnership with NEC America. Today, As a distributor of NEC America, for 33 years, Midland Communications has a customer base of more than 3,000 satisfied customers that include general businesses, government agencies, Universities, colleges, hospitals, and hotels.
Midland provides a wide range of communication services including VOIP, PBX and key systems, Wide Area and Local Area networking, computers, Computer integration, voice mail, CCIS, and video conferencing and paging systems. Our philosophy is simple, provide quality products at a fair price, backed by an average emergency response time of twenty minutes, and the best service in the industry. For more information on Midland Communications, call (563) 326-1237 or visit www.midlandcom.com.

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Governor Quinn Announces Completion of Cutting Edge Broadband Network PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Monday, 04 August 2014 08:06

*** UPDATED ***

$100 Million Illinois Century Network Construction Brings Ultra-Fast Access to Communities Across 55 Counties

NORMAL – Governor Pat Quinn today announced the completion of a nearly $100 million, four-year project to install more than 1,000 new miles of high-speed fiber-optic broadband infrastructure across 55 Illinois counties. Supported by the Governor’s Illinois Jobs Now! construction program, the project created nearly 700 jobs expanding access to high-speed broadband services for schools, libraries, hospitals and internet providers throughout Illinois. The network is part of the Governor’s agenda to create jobs and drive Illinois’ economy forward.

“High-speed internet access is a proven economic engine,” Governor Quinn said. “This expansion of Illinois’ broadband backbone will create jobs and drive economic growth for generations to come.”

“Investing in technology strengthens our public education system,” Illinois State University Board Chairman Rocky Donahue said. “I want to thank Governor Quinn for his vision, leadership and partnership with ISU on this project.”

To finish the project, engineers, equipment operators, technicians, splicers, laborers and electricians worked together to bury more than 1,000 miles of new fiber optic cable, and “light up” about 750 miles of existing “dark” fiber. All told, about 1,800 miles of fiber-optic cable are now in use across Illinois because of this project.

The new network directly connects approximately 400 anchor institutions, including community colleges, universities, libraries, health facilities, K-12 schools and public safety agencies. Local internet providers can connect to the network to extend Internet service into communities with few or nonexistent high-speed options.

Students throughout the state are already benefiting from faster access to online learning tools made available through the ICN investment.

“Our Internet speed is 25 times faster than before, with plenty of room for future growth,” Iroquois West Community Unit School District #10 Information Technology Director Brian Eggemeyer said. “The ICN’s increased capacity will have a positive impact on every student in our district for years to come.”

The project was funded by a $62 million competitive award from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) which was made possible by a $24 million commitment from the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program and nearly $10 million in other university, local and private resources.

The 55 Illinois counties included in the new broadband network are Adams, Bond, Brown, Cass, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, DuPage, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Fulton, Grundy, Iroquois, Jasper, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, Lawrence, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Madison, Mason, McDonough, McHenry, McLean, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Moultrie, Peoria, Piatt, Pike, Richland, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Shelby, St. Clair, Tazewell, Vermilion, Will and Woodford.

The project was coordinated by the Illinois Broadband Opportunity Partnership (IBOP), a statewide consortium of public and private sector partners organized by Governor Quinn and led by Illinois State University’s Central Illinois Regional Broadband Network (CIRBN) and the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS).

Governor Quinn has invested more than $71 million in broadband infrastructure throughout the state as part of his Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction program. This investment has leveraged more than $250 million in additional federal and private funding. Through these projects, more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable have been installed across Illinois.

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