Science & Technology
Midland Communications Helps Customers Make the Move to Cloud-Based Services PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by AJ Odish   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:35
Leading Unified Communications Provider Offer Solutions to Enhance Customer Profitability

DAVENPORT, IA - December 31st, 2013 - Midland Communications, a leading provider of unified communications, announced a new program today that enables businesses to migrate from hardware-based technology to cloud-based services. This transition has been accelerated largely due to the maturity of cloud-based services, and their ability to deliver a dramatic competitive advantage across several industries. The impetus for Midland Communications' initiative lies in advancements that have made this technology cost-effective for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Midland Communications' cloud-based services enhance their customers' mobility, security and strategic IT capabilities.
The primary reasons that many SMBs look into cloud-based services are for the inherent benefits of mobility, freedom and workforce flexibility. Midland Communications has been able to eliminate the notion of being "chained" to on premise equipment such as servers or traditional desktops. The average employee is in-and-out of the office and can hardly afford to spend time making additional trips to the office to retrieve files, access certain programs and collaborate with team members. According to Global Workplace Analytics, "Regular telecommuting grew by 79.7% between 2005 and 2012...".  It's no secret that the days of the 9 to 5 business are long gone and the increase in the resulting mobile workforce has created a need for employees to stay connected with company data while having the freedom to be away from the office. Virtual workspaces now allows for complete collaboration across various departments regardless of location or hardware.
Further flexibility can be found in the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment. Employees can access company data across multiple devices, operating systems and much more. For example, salespeople can create sales presentations at the office, drive out to an appointment, and make last minute revisions on their iPad while accessing all of the programs, tools and files that are hosted in the cloud. Businesses that can operate on-the-fly have a huge advantage over their competitors.  This is why so many organizations are moving towards this type of technology.
Additionally, cloud-based services have enhanced security features as well. SMBs should make certain that providers deliver enterprise-grade services such as virus, malware, spyware and rogue employee protection. Customers should also expect 24x7x365 network monitoring and system support so they can always be confident that their data is safe and accessible. Midland Communications offers solutions with security measures in place that are on par with military-grade data encryption and have built-in redundancy across the network.
Lastly, the growth in cloud-based services has enabled providers like Midland Communications to take over the day-to-day management of technology so the customer can concentrate on growing their business. Most business owners have recognized the benefits associated with getting their staff "working ON the business" rather than "working IN it."
"Many cloud-services have evolved from being a cheap, low-cost alternative to becoming more secure than the majority of on-premise solutions," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "There are significant advantages of moving from on-premise equipment to the cloud and it is our role to educate our customers as well as make it an easy transition."

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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What A Year: 45 Fossil Fuel Disasters The Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Jeremy Funk   
Thursday, 19 December 2013 14:06

BY EMILY ATKIN ON DECEMBER 17, 2013 AT 1:26 PM

While coal, oil, and gas are an integral part of everyday life around the world, 2013 brought a stark reminder of the inherent risk that comes with a fossil-fuel dependent world, with numerous pipeline spills, explosions, derailments, landslides, and the death of 20 coal miners in the U.S. alone.

Despite all this, our addiction to fossil fuels will be a tough habit to break. The federal Energy Information Administration in July projected that fossil fuel use will soar across the world in the come decades. Coal — the dirtiest fossil fuel in terms of carbon emissions — is projected to increase by 2.3 percent in coming years. And in December, the EIA said that global demand for oil would be even higher than it had projected, for both this year and next.

Here is a look back at some of the fossil fuel disasters that made headlines in 2013, along with several others that went largely unnoticed.

Pipelines

CREDIT: AP PHOTO/THE NATION-ATCHARA

March 29: An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptures and spills thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas. The ruptured pipeline gushed 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude into a residential street and forced the evacuation of 22 homes. Exxon was hit with a paltry $2.6 million fine by federal pipeline safety regulators for the incident in November — just 1/3000th of its third quarter profits.

May 20: Underground tar sands leaks start popping up in Alberta, Canada, anddo not stop for at least five months. In September the company responsible was ordered to drain a lake so that contamination on the lake’s bottom can be cleaned up. As of September 11, the leaks had spilled more than 403,900 gallons — or about 9,617 barrels — of oily bitumen into the surrounding boreal forest and muskeg, the acidic, marshy soil found in the forest.

July 30: About 50 tons of oil spills into the sea off Rayong province of Thailand from a leak in the pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc. It was the fourth major oil spill in the country’s history.

August 13: An ethane and propane pipeline belonging to Tesoro Corp. running beneath an Illinois cornfield ruptures and explodes. Residents heard a massive blast and then saw flames shooting 300 feet into the air, visible for 20 miles.

September 29: A North Dakota farmer winds up discovering the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, the size of seven football fields. At least 20,600 barrels of oil leaked from a Tesoro Corp-owned pipeline onto the Jensens’ land, and it went unreported to North Dakotans for more than a week. An AP investigation later discovered that nearly 300 oil spills and 750 “oil field incidents” had gone unreported to the public since January 2012.

October 7: An Oil and Natural Gas Corp. pipeline that carries crude from the offshore Mumbai High fields to India ruptures and spills at an onshore facility, but oil winds up flowing into the Arabian sea because of rainfall.

October 9: A natural gas pipeline explodes in northwest Oklahoma, sparking a large fire and prompting evacuations. No injuries or deaths were reported.

October 30: 17,000 gallons of crude oil spill from an eight-inch pipeline owned by Koch Pipeline Company in Texas. The spill impacted a rural area and two livestock ponds near Smithville and was discovered on a routine aerial inspection.

November 14: A Chevron natural gas pipeline explodes in Milford, Texas,causing the town of 700 people to evacuate. The flames could reportedly be seen for miles.

November 22: An oil pipeline explodes in Qingdao, China, killing 62 and setting ocean on fire. The underground pipeline’s explosion opened a hole in the road that swallowed at least one truck, according to Reuters, and oil seeped into utility pipes under Qingdao.

November 29: A 30-inch gas gas pipeline in a rural area of western Missouri ruptures and explodes, sending a 300 foot high fireball into the air.

Coal Mines

February 11 An explosion in a coal mine in northern Russia kills at least 17 miners in a shaft saturated with methane gas. Rescue workers said 23 people had been in the shaft at the time. The blast occurred about 2,500 feet underground.

February 13: Very large landslide hits a colliery in Northern England. No injuries, but Dave Petley, a geology professor at Durham University, said it “may well be the largest and most significant landslide in the UK for a decade or more.”

February 13: A 28-year-old mining machine operator was killed when he was pinned between the tail of the remote controlled continuous mining machine and the coal rib in an underground mine in Illinois. Timothy Chamness had only been a mine machine operator for 6 months when the incident occurred.

February 14: A landslide hits the Phillippines’ largest open coal mining pit, burying at least 13 workers and killing at least 7. The accident was the third to occur in mining sites in the country over the last six months.

February 19: A large rock cliff collapses on top of a coal mine in southern China, burying and killing five people, including two children. An estimated 5,000 cubic metres of rock fell on Yudong village in Kaili, in the country’s Guizhou province.

March 13: A 63-year-old man with 40 years of mining experience was killed underground when he was struck by a large piece of roof rock. The rock that fell was approximately 6 feet long by 5.5 feet wide and about 5 inches thick.

March 29 and April 1: The Babao Coal mine explosions kill 53 people in China. The coal mine company responsible, Tonghua Mining (Group) Co. Ltd., was later found to have concealed the death toll in the incidents, additionally concealing deaths of six workers in five accidents in 2012.

May 11: Illegal mining causes an explosion in a Chinese coal mine that killed 28 and left 18 injured. China orders production suspension at all coal mines in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China’s 16th-biggest coal producing province, after the blast.

July 16: A landslide at a coal mine in Bulgaria claims the lives of two people who were discovered underneath 50 meters of land mass. It was the fourth major landslide in the Oranovo mine in the past eight years.

August 10: Seven people in India are killed after a landslide in a coal mine in the Sundergarh district of Odisha. The incident occurred while people from nearby villages were collecting coal from the “over-burdened” dump yard located near the mining area.

November 23: While working inside a coal mine in Ohio, a 32-year-old man was killed when he was struck by high pressure hydraulic fluid after a valve broke. Ryan Lashley had worked at The Century Mine, which was the site of another near-fatal accident that month.

November 27: A coal mine in northern China’s Shanxi Province is hit with a landslide that buried several excavators and kills two people.

December 4: Gas explodes in a coal mine early in eastern China’s Jiangxi province, killing at least six workers.

Offshore and Onshore Rigs

January 22: A Devon Energy natural gas rig in Utah catches fire, causing evacuations for half a mile radius of the rig. No injuries are reported.

July 7:hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas well drilling pad in West Virginia explodes and injures seven people, four with potentially life-threatening burns. The explosion occurred while workers were pumping water down a well, part of the hydraulic fracturing process for recovering gas trapped in shale rock. The tanks that recover the water and chemical mixture after they return to the surface are what reportedly exploded.

July 27: BP’s Hercules 265 offshore gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana explodes, enveloping the rig in a cloud of gas and a thin sheen of gas in the water. After spewing gas for more than a day, the rig finally “bridged over,” meaning small pieces of sediment and sand blocked more gas from escaping.

August 20: A gas rig belonging to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan exploded in the Caspian sea while workers were carrying out exploratory drilling, when it hit a pocket of gas at unexpectedly high pressure.

August 28: A “well-control incident” at an oil drilling rig in rural south Texas causes an “intense” explosion after workers were drilling horizontally into the Eagle Ford Shale, causing homes to be evacuated. No injuries reported.

Train Derailments

March 27: A Canadian Pacific Railway train derails, spilling 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in western Minnesota. Reuters called it “the first major spill of the modern North American crude-by-rail transit boom.”

July 6: A unit, 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil derails in Lac-Megantic, Canada, causing an incredibly tragic fire and explosion. Forty-two people were pronounced dead, 30 buildings downtown destroyed. Emergency responders describe a “war zone.” 2,000 people evacuated because of toxic fumes, explosions, and fires.

July 18: 24 cars of a 150-car coal train derail in Virginia, spilling more than a thousand tons of coal along the roadside.

October 19: A train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derails west of Alberta, Canada, causing an explosion and fire. No injuries were reported. Nine of the derailed cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas and four carried crude. The crude oil cars were intact and kept away from the fires with no indications of any leaks.

November 8: A 90-car train carrying North Dakota crude derails and explodes in a rural area of western Alabama. Flames spewed into the air on a Friday, only finally dying down by Sunday, in what the Huffington Post called “the most dramatic U.S. accident since the oil-by-rail boom began.”

December 9: 19 cars of a coal train near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway derail, spilling coal onto the ground. The train had four locomotives with 103 cars, each carrying about 75 tons of coal. The train was headed from a mine in Carbon County, Utah, to a utility company in Mojave, California.

Power Plants and Refineries

April 4: Federal safety officials eventually make Georgia Power pay $119,000 in penalties after an explosion at one of its coal plants. The blast injured two people and was caused by a buildup of hydrogen and air inside a generator.

April 5: Residents near an ExxonMobil refinery begin to smell “burning tires and oil” after the refinery leaked condensate water that accumulated while the company was flaring gas. Through the leak, ExxonMobil announced that it had released 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 10 pounds of benzene. According to readings at the spill site, the refinery measured 160 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide and 2 parts per million of benzene in the air.

August 8 and 15: 15,000 liters of oil spills into local streams in Cuba, after two separate instances at the Sergio Soto Refinery. The oil spill was the result of a negligent operator who failed to properly secure the residuals trap used to contain the hydrocarbon. While some of the oil was able to be contained, much of it was pushed upstream because of strong rainfall following the spill.

August 28: Approximately 20 gallons of partially refined petroleum from a New Jersey refinery spills into the Delaware River, after a leak in a heat exchanger that is part of the refinery’s crude oil processing unit. The spill was reported two hours after workers discovered it, when they realized it was going into the river.

September 10: An explosion at the Deely 1 coal power unit in Pennsylvania caused cascade housing damage. The explosion happened after coal dust in a silo caught fire.

Miscellaneous

January 27: A barge carrying 668,000 gallons of light crude oil on the Mississippi River crashed into a railroad bridge. An 80,000 gallon tank on the vessel was damaged, spilling oil into the waterway, which prompted officials to close the river for eight miles in either direction.

September 15: Fuel tanks explode at Virgin Islands gas station, resulting in a huge blast and a fire and causing two injuries. The St. Thomas community of Bovoni was evacuated and traffic was diverted after the explosion.

October 1: An underground fuel reservoir explodes on a Czech Lukoil petrol station on a highway in Prague, killing one person and injuring two.

November 23: Five are hurt after a gas tank near a drilling rig explodes in Wyoming.

December 14: Thousands of gallons of gasoline spill into a harbor in southern Alaska on Saturday after a pump used to funnel fuel into boats is accidentally severed. The 5,500 gallon spill occurred in the small village of the village of Kake, whose residents rely on fish and subsistence to get by.

UPDATE

The original list incorrectly listed a pipeline explosion in New Mexico as occurring on August 20, 2013. It occurred in 2006.

 
Loebsack Statement at Siemens and MidAmerican Wind Energy Announcement PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:57

Ft. Madison, IA – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today at the event to commemorate the largest wind expansion in Iowa’s history by Siemens and MidAmerican Energy. The event highlighted the impact of the job creation from the expansion project and economic benefits wind energy brings to local communities around the country. Congressman Loebsack was joined by Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, MidAmerican Energy CEO Bill Fehrman and Siemens Energy CEO Mark Albanze.

“I am thrilled with today’s announcement by Siemens and MidAmerican that Iowa will expand its leadership in wind energy production. This announcement means jobs for our highly skilled workforce, and demonstrates the continued strengthening and competitiveness of Iowa manufacturing. It also means continuing investment in Iowa’s clean energy infrastructure. This is what encouraging our homegrown energy and the Production Tax Credit are all about – jobs and clean, renewable energy sources.”

While at the event, Congressman Loebsack also reiterated his call for Congress to renew the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy that is set to expire at the end of the year. Loebsack has long supported wind energy production and led the way in the House to renew the PTC. Last year he was named a USA Wind Champion by the American Wind Energy Association.

“It's utterly unacceptable that the House packed up and left town for the holidays without extending the PTC, which is why I pushed to keep Congress in session and working. I will continue to fight to get the PTC extended as soon as possible. Despite the complete dysfunction in Washington, I’m hopeful Congress can come to an agreement. As we witnessed today, here in Iowa, the PTC isn’t a partisan issue.”

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Quad City Engineering and Science Council (QCESC) hosting Quad Cities FIRST® LEGO® League Regional Qualifier Tournaments December 14th and 15th at the Putnam Museum PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Christine Cournoyer   
Friday, 13 December 2013 11:17

Local Children Aged 9 to 14 Apply Research and Robotics To Explore Natural Disasters with FIRST ® LEGO® League “NATURE’S FURY” Challenge

The non-profit Quad City Engineering and Science Council (QCESC) is proud to be the organizer for the 5th annual Quad Cities Tournament held at the Putnam Museum.  Since 2009 when the first QC Tournament was held with 13 teams, the program has continued to grow.  In 2013, as outlined below, there will be FLL/ Junior FLL Events held on 3 dates with a total of 109 teams, 700+ students supported by 130+ volunteers.

This is a fast-paced, high energy event that will be enjoyed by all ages and expose everyone to the exciting world of robots, engineering, computer program, creative problem solving and most importantly, TEAMWORK! 

The events are free and open to the public.  Further information is available at www.qcesc.org including pictures from past events.

The Schedule of Events for both days: (December 14th and 15th):

7:00 AM

Doors open for volunteers only

7:45 AM

Door Open/unlock for Teams

7:45 - 8:20 AM

Teams Arrive & check-in (one coach) and teams setup in Pit 
(Children's Village located beside Putnam)

8:00 AM

Mandatory Judges Meeting with Judge Advisor (1st Floor behind theater)

8:30 AM

Mandatory Coaches Meeting (2nd Floor Theatre Balcony)

9:00 AM

Opening Ceremonies (Grand Lobby)

9:30 AM

Teams participate in judging sessions & robot performance rounds

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Jr FIRST LEGO League Expo - Section 1  (2 Teams Sat & 1 Sun.)
(Connection Gallery - 2nd Floor Outside Palmer)

12:15 -  1:00 PM

Lunch Break (2nd Floor Theatre Balcony)

1:00  - 2:40 PM

Teams participate in judging sessions & robot performance rounds

1:00  - 2:30 PM

Jr FIRST LEGO League Expo - Section 2  (8 Teams Sat. & 7 Sun.)
(Connection Gallery - 2nd Floor Outside Palmer)

2:20 - 3:00 PM

Teams clean up their pit areas while judges deliberate

3:00 - 3:45 PM

Outreach activities  (Grand Lobby)

3:45 PM

Closing ceremonies & awards (Grand Lobby)

2:20 - 3:00 PM

Teams clean up their pit areas while judges deliberate

3:00 - 3:45 PM

Outreach activities  (Grand Lobby)

3:45 PM

Closing ceremonies & awards (Grand Lobby)

 

Background:

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $16 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.

The LEGO Group is a privately-held firm based in Billund, Denmark. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities through high-quality, creatively educational play materials, and its employees are guided by the motto adopted in the 1930s by founder Ole Kirk Christiansen: "Only the best is good enough." For more information, visit  FIRST®, the FIRST® logo, FIRST® Robotics Competition, FRC®, FIRST® Tech Challenge, FTC®, and Gracious Professionalism® are registered trademarks of the United States Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®). LEGO®  and MINDSTORMS® are registered trademarks of the LEGO Group. FIRST® LEGO® League, FLL®, Junior FIRST® LEGO® League, Jr.FLL®, NATURE’S FURY®, and DISASTER BLASTER® are jointly held trademarks of FIRST and the LEGO Group. ©2013 FIRST ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®

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Midland Communications Fosters Technology Adoption with K-12 Schools PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by AJ Odish   
Friday, 13 December 2013 10:40

Leading Unified Communications Provider Helps Education Leverage Today's Technology

DAVENPORT, IA - November 31st, 2013 - Midland Communications, a leading provider of unified communications, announced today that the company will be launching a program designed specifically for the education market. Today's teachers are utilizing outdated technology which is not only robbing them of much needed functionality but is also incurring unnecessary expenses during tough economic times. Midland Communications is actively spreading awareness about several of today's technology advancements which increase a school's capacity to collaborate, establish continuous communication channels and most importantly, improve overall campus security.  These developments are affecting the lives of students, teachers, faculty, administrators and parents alike.

"Today's school phone system is not like our parents' phone system," stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Midland Communications. "Today, we're able to provide educators with dramatically greater levels of communication and security than ever before. Frankly, this technology simply didn't exist in years past, and we're thrilled to finally be able to bring this caliber of technology to our school systems, for a cost that they can actually afford, especially since the features are much needed."

One of the growing concerns of schools across the nation is security. With the unfortunate growth of domestic terrorism, this issue of campus safety has come to the forefront of discussion. Recent advancements in technology have given Midland Communications the ability to increase overall campus security like never before. One example is the development in instant messaging capabilities. For instance, in the event of an intruder on campus, students and teachers are now able to receive instant notification on their phones and 911 lockdowns are immediately initiated. In the event of such an emergency, two-way classroom communication allows teachers to speak back and forth with a central office than waiting for help. Such security is invaluable and provides far greater levels of comfort for parents and local district officials of schools that are deploying this type of technology.

Another far less dramatic usage for the same instant mass messaging technology, is targeted group messaging. An example of this in action would be if a basketball game were being cancelled, all patrons, students, athletes, officials, parents and transportation could immediately be notified of the cancellation, instead of having to coordinate with everyone separately. Furthermore, these messaging functions also ensure that the sent messages are delivered, received and read by the intended recipient, adding a new element of clarity.

Another in-classroom example of new technology impacting educators is the fact that teachers can now eliminate the mundane repetitiveness of taking daily classroom attendance. It is now commonplace for students to have cell phones and teachers can now take attendance with the push of a button via cell phone. "There are plenty of features and advancements to examine that enable schools to communicate more effectively, enhance security, and save time for educators and students," added Mr. Smith.

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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