Presidents open park border post

first_img12 October 2007President Thabo Mbeki, Botswana President Festus Mogae and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba jointly opened the Mata Mata Tourist Access Facility, a port of entry between South Africa and Namibia within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Africa’s first Peace Park.The Kgalagadi, a San word meaning “place of thirst”, is Africa’s first proclaimed transfrontier park and authorities are hoping to increase ease of travel for tourists by creating shorter routes between the three countries, especially since it is popular for its 4×4 wilderness trails.The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park incorporates the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Comprising of an area of almost 3.8-million hectares, nearly twice the size of the Kruger National Park, it is one of very few conservation areas of its size left in the world.There are six different camps, three traditional rest camps and three wilderness camps. The three oldest rest camps are Twee Riviere, (Two Rivers) close to the entrance; Nossob, next to the Nossob River; and Mata Mata next to the Namibian border. Twee Rivieren is the largest camp and also the administrative headquarters.For tourists, electricity and cell phone reception in these areas are available 24 hours, while luxury accommodation is available at Twee Rivieren.The new port of entry is expected to benefit the region by showcasing its unique eco-tourism packages during the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, when thousands of visitors are expected to visit the country.In 2006 the South African government announced a R395-million infrastructure investment in the park, in the lead up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.In preparation thereof, the South African government announced a R395-million infrastructure investment in the park in 2006, which would include the building and upgrading of accommodation as well as the construction of roads within the park.Senior South African officials are also to open the Sendelingsdrift Tourist Access Facility this month, launching the pontoon, a floating platform that tourists will use to cross the Orange RiverThis will form the international border between South Africa and Namibia within the Ai/Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.The opening of the Mata Mata and Sendelingsdrift Tourist Access Facilities are key to the strategy for desert tourism which explores the natural linkage between Kgalagadi and the Ai/Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier parks, South Africa’s Augrabies Falls National Park and the soon to be declared Sperregebiet National Park in Namibia.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Children’s Parliament salute to Madiba

first_img14 July 2011Nelson Mandela will receive a gift of a different kind for his 93rd birthday, with the inaugural Annual Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament to be hosted at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature on Friday, ahead of the great man’s birthday on Monday, 18 July.Children have always occupied a special place in Mandela’s heart. Within his first year as President of South Africa, Mandela had launched the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) as a sign of his commitment to the well-being of children.Children will return the honour of his pledge to their cause by staging a National Children’s Parliament as a way of saluting him for placing them high on South Africa’s national development agenda.Ranked as the key strategic activity in the building of a national child rights movement, the Children’s Parliament is initiated through a partnership between the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities and the NMCF.Welcoming the inaugural Children’s Parliament, Minister Lulu Xingwana said her department believed children should not only be seen but also heard.“Nothing better represents an opportunity to give credence to this collective view than convening a National Children’s Parliament where leaders from various spheres of government can affirm children’s voices with their valued presence.“Holding all of us in authority accountable represents both the spirit and letter that our founding democratic President Nelson Mandela had set in motion on April 27, 1994,” said Xingwana.Holding those in authority accountableThe Children’s Parliament will be held under the theme, “Holding those in authority accountable.” Deliberations will focus on three supportive sub-themes which are health, education and safety and security.Elaborating on the theme, NMCF Acting CEO Moipone Buda-Ramatlo said: “By authority we mean the exercise of responsibility, duty and obligation to act in the best interest of the child to ensure their safety, wellbeing and development at all times.“Families, communities, civil society and all spheres government dare not take leave from the wellbeing of children because in them lies the foundation of the future society envisioned in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”For the first time, government officials will be making a conscious effort to be part of a National Children’s Parliament session hosted under the navigation of Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Lindiwe Maseko.Maseko said the Gauteng Legislature had had its share of civil society voices heard within its corridors, but looked forward to the element of difference that the Children’s Parliament would be bringing.“The future we are battling to create can only be better by trying different but well-meaning approaches to the kind of a future we would like our children to inherit,” Maseko said.Children parliamentarians will receive a salutary message from former President Mandela during the seating of the Children’s Parliament on Friday.Represented at the Children’s Parliament will be five children from each of the country’s nine provinces.The inaugural Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament is scheduled to start at 10am.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Demand more when buying a herd sire

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Bull buying season is well underway throughout the cow-calf regions across the country. If your calving season starts in January, you may have already made your herd sire selections for this year’s breeding season. If your calving season starts a bit later, you may be in the midst of making herd sire selections. If you have yet to make your bull buying decisions, there are plenty of opportunities available in the immediate future through public auction or private treaty.As an Extension professional and a seedstock producer, one of the most interesting discussions I can have with a producer is reviewing their thoughts on what they are looking for in a potential purchase for a herd sire. Obviously, there is a wide range of criteria to be considered depending on the production goals and size of the herd. In my experience, a few very consistent themes emerge with discussions on a potential herd bull purchase: calving ease, disposition, and price.Given the value of feeder cattle and the level of expenses associated with beef production today, discriminating bull buyers should demand that potential herd sire candidates be equipped with the proper qualifications to do the job. Prospective bull buyers should expect these qualifications from any operation selling bulls at private treaty or public auction. There is simply too much risk involved in beef production today to take a chance on a sire with a lack of information in the areas of genetics, health, and fertility.Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) allow the breeder to identify the animals that excel in the traits that are important for their operation. The EPDs can be used to determine exactly where a herd sire candidate ranks within a given breed and his potential to make significant improvements in performance of future calf crops. A documented health program should be emphasized with any herd additions regardless of gender. A sound biosecurity plan for the herd can go a long way to help avoid the introduction of a costly disease into a herd.It is my opinion that the most important job qualification that any potential herd sire should possess is a successful Breeding Soundness Examination. This examination gives the purchaser an assurance that a herd sire candidate has the ability to get cows bred. Even mature bulls should have a Breeding Soundness Examination performed prior to turnout before a breeding season. Given today’s economic climate, a cow is too expensive to maintain and feeder calves are too valuable to sell to take risks with poor potential reproductive performance from a sire without a fertility check.Beef producers need to be concerned with a wide variety of production traits if they intend to be successful in this business. Weaning weights, yearling weights, milk, carcass traits, etc. should be prioritized to varying degrees depending on your marketing program. A person that sells feeder calves at weaning will be concerned about weaning weights while a marketer of freezer beef will be more concerned about carcass traits. However, regardless of your marketing program, the traits of supreme importance are fertility (percentage of females bred) and calving ease (percentage of live calves).While calving ease is extremely important, I believe there is a tendency for the typical Ohio herd owner to overemphasize calving ease across the entire herd. The average cow herd in Ohio numbers approximately 17 head with most herds retaining some number of replacement heifers to add to the herd. Herds of this size usually work with one herd sire to cover both mature cows and yearling heifers. If you choose a herd sire with the proper calving ease for the heifers, he should also possess enough quality in the traits of importance such as growth and carcass merit for the mature cows. There are bulls out there that can do many things well, but they can be hard to find and more expensive to own.This brings us to the subject of price. It should be the goal of every cow-calf producer to purchase the best possible bull that fits within a determined budget. I realize that philosophy would result in a wide range of bull prices among producers. A rule of thumb that I have often heard for many years is that the value of a typical herd bull should be equal to the value of two to three market steers or three to five feeder calves at weaning. There are exceptions to these guidelines but an above average bull that excels for traits such as calving ease, growth, carcass traits, etc. will likely demand a premium.I am not about to tell any producer what the correct amount is that they should pay for a bull. However, I would like to offer a few suggestions for producers as they search for their next herd sire.Establish the production goals for your herd and select a sire that compliments the needs of your cow herd.2. Use EPDs, actual performance data, and Selection Indexes to identify outstanding sire prospects.3. Never buy a bull without a Breeding Soundness Examination.4. Select the appropriate age and size that matches the number of cows to be bred. A time-honored rule-of-thumb is to place about the same number of cows or heifers with a young bull as his age is in months. Putting too many cows with too young of a bull is a recipe for open cows.5. A bull that can increase the number of live calves born, add growth, and increase the maternal strength of a herd through daughters retained should be viewed as a sound investment.6. A low-cost bull that may not excel in traits of importance may be purchased just to get cows bred and does little to add to the profitability of the herd. This bull is little more than a “cow settler.”last_img read more

Venrock: Still Hustling After All These Years

first_imgRelated Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#Interviews#start Venrock has quite a history as a VC firm. In the 1930s, Laurance Rockefeller pioneered early-stage financing by investing in the entrepreneurs who started Eastern Airlines and McDonnell Aircraft. In 1969, Venrock was founded to continue this heritage of investing in and building entrepreneur-backed companies, beginning with Intel. You will find a bunch of household names in its portfolio, such as Apple, as well as more recent Web tech ventures, such as CC Betty, BlogHer, Bungee Labs, and SlideShare. Venerable, perhaps, but not one to rest on its laurels, as Brian Ascher explained in our recent interview.Listen to the InterviewDownload the MP3.Questions and MP3 GuideQuestion #1: The Venrock history is amazing: Intel, Apple, etc. How does this help Venrock select and assist great ventures today?Skip to 1:11 in MP3Summary: Brian made it clear that “you cannot rest on your laurels in the venture business. You have to show up hungry and passionate every day.”Question #2: How can Venrock stay focused on early-stage? Do you keep the fund deliberately small?Skip to 2:47 in MP3Summary: Despite a track record that would allow it to raise much bigger funds, Venrock keeps its fund as small as $600 million. In bio tech and clean tech, large amounts of capital are still needed. But Venrock is happy to do small deals for capital-efficient Web tech ventures.Question #3: User experience is critical, and we recognize a great one when we see it. But is it just magic? What can ventures do to create consistently great user experiences?Skip to 4:00 in MP3Summary: Brian emphasized the basics: hard work, lots of testing, and iteration.Question #4: Tell us about Adify. Does Google just suck all the profit from online advertising? How can intermediaries create value today?Skip to 5:20 in MP3Summary: Brian identified three areas of opportunity. First, better targeting by analyzing social media conversations. Second, ad exchanges. Third, branding via video advertising (see below).TurnHere: Crowdsourced Video Ad ProductionOne of the ventures Brian mentioned seems like a great idea. TurnHere answers the need for video ads produced at the right price. Paying a big agency to produce video ads is okay for a big brand, but what about small companies that want the emotional and branding power that only video can deliver but don’t have the budget? TurnHere uses crowdsourcing to pay videographers a fixed fee. Videographers often have spare time in their schedule and would fill it with lower-priced jobs if the process was simple enough. Neat idea: this will be interesting to track.Listen to the InterviewDownload the MP3.center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… bernard lunnlast_img read more

Android Market Passes 10K Apps; Here’s My Five Favorites (With QR Codes)

first_imgGoogle’s Android mobile operating system isn’t as popular as the iPhone, but its application marketplace is wide open and one service tracking Android apps reports that there are now more than ten thousand available. Below are my five favorite Android apps so far, along with QR codes you can scan (I’m using the BarCode Scanner app) to find them immediately in the marketplace.Androlib is the service that’s identified the 10k apps and is also where I got the QR codes to jump to my favorites. Robin Wauters caught and reported on the 10k news first.DefinitionsAndroid is Google’s operating system for mobile phones.QR Codes are two-dimensional matrix bar codes scannable by mobile phone and other devices.Augmented Reality is a class of software that displays data on top of a view of the real world. Tags:#Google#mobile#web What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … marshall kirkpatrick An easy way to share links to your favorite Android apps would be really nice, something like Appsfire offers on the iPhone (our review). In this case we’ll just publish the 2D QR codes for each of these apps. If you download the first one on the list, BarCode Scanner, then you can just hold your phone up to your screen and you’ll be sent to the App Marketplace page for whichever app you point at.BarCode ScannerThis free app scans barcodes and QR codes. It works quite quickly and well. Book ISBN codes will call up Google Books search options, including the option to do a full text search inside the book or read reviews. That’s pretty fabulous; I’ve always fantasized about being able to do a “control-F” on paper books I’m reading. This just might be that kind of experience. Having seen QR codes start appearing in more and more places – this app feels like it opens up a whole new world of fast, easy mobile browsing.TwitterRide It’s not easy to find a good Twitter app on Android. There are a lot of very light-weight ones. TwitterRide appears to be the most stable and easy on the eyes. It does the basics but doesn’t support search. So far I think I like it best, though. Dizzler Music on DemandDizzler lets you listen to a whole lot of songs streaming off the web, for free. You can search by artist or song and it seems to work quite well. Playlist syncing is coming soon, the developer says. Someone in comments said this was like Spotify lite, but it actually looks a lot like Seeqpod (R.I.P.). Wikitude The Wikitude Augmented Reality browser lets you view geo-located Wikipedia entries and user-generated map markup from You can view these Points of Interest as overlays on top of your camera view of the world around you, as points on a map or in a list. It’s awesome. These are the early days of Augmented Reality: software makers need to fine-tune the user experience, users need to learn just how we want to use these technologies and GPS and map makers need to get a whole lot more precise in the the data they offer.That said, Wikitude is pretty fabulous. I spent on hour last night adding Points of Interest in Portland, Oregon (where I live) and I think it’s well worth it for other people to do the same. It’s really easy and as soon as you’ve added them, those points will show up on peoples’ phones running Wikitude.LayarLayar is a Wikitude competitor and is better known. It’s more flashy and commercially oriented, but it’s a must-see as well. Yelp reviews, Google Local Search, Trulia real estate, Wikipedia and many other sets of data can be placed on top of the Layar Augmented Reality browser. It’s got a ways to go until it becomes useful for mainstream users – but readers here are geeks and you don’t want to be left behind on AR. Give it a shot and you’ll be impressed.Those are my favorites so far, how about you? Let us know what Android apps we should check out below in comments. Love ShopSavvy? AppManager? What are we missing? Let us know. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagementlast_img read more

The Big Allure of Cheap PV

first_imgThat’s too good of a deal to pass upGBA Senior Editor Martin Holladay finds it hard to argue with the numbers. “Given the figures you have just been quoted, you’d be nuts not to jump at the chance to install the 10-kW PV system,” he writes. “It’s money sitting on a plate. So take it.”McCombe could always borrow money later to make energy-saving improvements on his house, and the money he’s saving on his power bill should make that easier to pull off.Holladay’s one caveat is to check the fine print on the net-metering contract with the utility carefully. Some contracts reset the clock every 12 months, so homeowners won’t get paid for electricity produced above and beyond what they use. Other utilities will pay homeowners for the excess power they generate.“If your local utility won’t pay you for surplus production,” Holladay adds, “you don’t want to buy a PV array that is bigger than your family’s needs.” As the installed cost of solar electric continues to fall and subsidies remain in place, this is a choice many other homeowners could be facing. That’s the topic for this Q&A Spotlight. Net-metering rules are bound to changeGrid-tied photovoltaic systems draw on utility power when output is too low to meet demand, and put electricity into the grid when the system makes more power than the house can consume. That’s where the battery analogy comes from, but there’s a point where this arrangement makes utilities nervous.“As PV penetration rises, and utilities struggle with real time loading and the effects on their distribution system protection schemes as related to heavy penetration, they will be (already are) adding storage/buffer schemes and they are going to want more money,” Chatum writes. “Storage is going to be a huge issue. Using the utility as a rechargeable battery is cheap now but it ain’t gonna stay that way.”Duke Energy plans to ask North Carolina regulators to reduce net-metering rates for homeowners, and utilities have raised concerns about the effects of net-metering rules in Arizona and California as well.In the future, Chatum says, even net-zero energy houses could see the distribution portion of their power bills go up.“The reason is because they are effectively using the utility as a storage battery, sending power to the ‘battery’ on sunny days and drawing power from the battery at night or on cloudy days,” he writes. “Well such PV systems are pretty much using the grid as much as non PV customers, so even if they are net zero and currently only paying something like $7 a year as a ‘customer’ fee, they wont continue to get away with paying that little.“In addition to being expected to pay for grid maintenance like regular customers do, they will be asked to help pay for changes in the distribution system that are needed to accomodate PV.” Until now, Patrick McCombe has believed that improvements to the envelope of his home should come before an investment in photovoltaic panels. Now he’s weighing a deal that seems too good to pass up.McCombe lives in Connecticut (he’s an associate editor at Fine Homebuilding magazine) and he recently attended an informational meeting sponsored by an organization working to lower the cost of PV. Panels could be purchased or leased, but the bottom line was that with federal and state incentives, McCombe could buy a 10-kilowatt array for $15,000.“I’ve always believed that envelope improvements make more sense than PV,” he writes in a Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor, “but the state and federal incentives and super low prices of PV coupled with our very high electric rates has me considering an installation.”McCombe heats his small house with fuel oil, a relatively expensive fuel common to New England. Even though he doesn’t use that much oil, the prospect of weaning himself from this fuel entirely is very attractive.“Am I silly for installing PV first without significant envelope improvements to my very small but not terribly efficient home?” he asks. “In the three years we’ve lived there we’ve needed three tanks of heating oil, so our heating costs are much lower than most folks in New England. Our house is small and reasonably airtight. If we lowered our plug loads, it’s conceivable we could also heat our house with heat pumps or resistance heaters using our 10 kW array.” RELATED ARTICLES Use that money for a ductless minisplitThe offer may be very attractive, writes Dana Dorsett, but installing a type of air-source heat pump called a ductless minisplit would be a better deal.“If you’re burning 250 gallons of oil a year, at $4/gallon (recent-years’ pricing), that’s $1,000/year,” Dorsett says, “It’s very likely that for an investment of $4,000 to $5,000 you can heat with a ductless minisplit at about half the cost of heating with oil (even at 20 cents/kWh) which would have an even better [internal rate of return] than a 10-kW PV array at a post-subsidy cost of $1.50/watt.”Whether McCombe buys the PV system or not, a ductless minisplit is a “no-brainer type of investment,” he adds, that’s a better option than heating with electric resistance heaters powered by PV.As Dorsett sees it, McCombe could meet his heating needs with a 1-ton Fujitsu or M-series Mitsubishi minisplit. The electrical power consumption of those units would be the equivalent of fuel oil at $2.22 per gallon, and McCombe could reduce his heating costs by $445 per year.“This is a very rough cut, but it’s the right ballpark,” he says. “Assume that you’ll replace both the minisplit and the inverter in 20 years, and the PV panels in 40 years — the short-term internal rate of return isn’t the same as a lifecycle cost. But there’s no up-side to sticking with oil heating at the current price/performance point of minisplits, quite independently of the PV question.”For further thought, Dorsett refers McCombe to a a research paper published by the Rocky Mountain Institute.center_img PV Systems Have Gotten Dirt CheapAn Introduction to Photovoltaic SystemsGreen Basics: Ductless Minisplit Heat Pumps Just Two Minisplits Heat and Cool the Whole HouseHawaii’s Solar Battle Major Utility Wants Lower Net-Metering Rates Arizona Approves New Fee for Solar Customers Hold the phone: What happened to green?“What in the hell happened to the original shade of green,” writes Sonny Chatum, “where people wouldn’t dream of using PV without first minimizing energy use?”His advice: reduce his electricity as much as possible first. Then add the PV. “Don’t join the hundreds of thousands of people who have just thrown up PV just to get some [solar renewable energy certificates] and they could care less about doing the right thing in terms of energy efficiency,” Chatum says.A 10-kW solar system is “huge” for a typical house, he says, and if McCombe has a small house he may not even have room for the panels on his roof. He could meet his electricity needs with a PV installation, but only by reducing demand to a minimum and using the utility as a “rechargeable battery.”“Ideally, you want the electric utilities out of the picture as much as possible,” he says. “Use them for a battery for now, but minimize that use partly by, again, minimizing your electricity need. This is because the utilities are starting to complain about being a free battery service, and, trust me, they will start getting heavily paid again for heavier battery use, so use them as little as possible.”A deep energy retrofit helped Chatum cut his electricity use almost by two-thirds, and he’d probably be able to meet the demand with a reasonably sized rooftop array.“I think it’s disappointing,” he adds, “that Green Building Advisor has to a large degree lost sight of the original shade of green.”Responding to Chatum, Holladay notes, “If a PV array provides residential electricity for cheaper than it costs to buy the electricity from your local utility, it’s obvious that homeowners will choose it. Remember, I advised Patrick not to install an array that is any larger than necessary to meet his family’s annual needs. And if you read GBA regularly, you’ll realize that we still stress conservation and efficiency.”McCombe explains his motivation to Chatum: “It’s just so darn cheap to buy PV panels right now.” But he adds, “One thing I fear: the utilities will start charging PV owners surcharges or higher rates for grid power. Isn’t there discussion of this in California?” Our expert’s opinionGBA Technical Director Peter Yost had these thoughts:I decided the best thing to do on this one was check in with Mark Sevier, my good friend, former colleague at Building Science Corp., and now an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineer in Massachusetts. In his “spare time,” Mark has built a zero-energy home, and is currently working on an electric car conversion project based on the original Honda Insight. Most of his efforts at work and home have been related to understanding the key criteria to reducing environmental impact for the good of future generations.Here is Mark’s cut on this issue:“I agree that it makes sense to review the cost of conservation in relation to generation, especially if a home is in reasonable shape from an energy perspective and applicable enclosure retrofits pencil out as very expensive.“I first came across this issue on a superinsulation retrofit project, where the addition of 4 inches of foam on the top of the roof (increasing the assembly from about R-40 to 60) yielded only an additional ~$20 per year in energy savings, for what was probably $10,000 of capital cost (a fairly complex roof assembly, as you might expect). Take that same $10,000 and spend it on $4/watt PV today (even with no incentives) and it would roughly yield ~$500/year in electric savings in Massachusetts vs. the $20/year in gas savings from the extra roof insulation. PV paybacks can be short in comparison to “over-conservation.”“Conservation measures like insulation have diminishing returns, while generation from a PV system yields nearly linear returns. The conservation returns curve is steep at low R-values, but is rather flat by the time it gets to R-20 or 30. Each doubling of R-value provides half the savings of the previous one, so it’s worth looking at what it costs for each next R, and comparing it to PV on a lifetime basis. Because this isn’t simple, it isn’t usually done; “expert” intuition takes its place.“If your house has insulated wall and ceiling cavities, double-glazed windows or single-glazed windows with storms, and all reasonably accessible and major hole air sealing has been done, it’s probably time to look into PV if you have good solar access. My intuition is that Massachusetts code is probably close to optimum on conservation (that is, if builders actually and completely meet the code), and the next step is on-site generation. But don’t take my word for it, take a look at the math on the projects you’re looking at.”Mark made one last point:“It is true that someone has to pay to maintain the grid infrastructure and keep the lights on when it’s nighttime, so the current net metering situation will have to change at some point. If people don’t want to pay for grid support, they can go buy the hardware necessary to get along without it, and in so doing realize how cheap it was to just pay for the grid.“Consider as well that PV penetration is so small right now — and the utilities and their regulators are slow moving entities — that most PV installations that go in today will probably have paid for themselves before the rules change, and the rule change probably won’t be retroactive to those who put in systems under the past scheme.“In Massachusetts, regulators specifically changed the net metering structure in 2010 to help get more renewables in place faster, so I don’t see this being reversed anytime soon in states where there is a push to add renewable generation.”last_img read more

Does Silicon Valley Look Like “Silicon Valley”?

first_img9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… I hit the streets of San Francisco on an all-too-warm afternoon with camera and notebook in tow, scouting for people wearing what I thought of as the “tech uniform”—the studiedly casual California look associated with startup culture.You know the look—company T-shirt, jeans, and the omnipresent hoodie. You’ve seen this fresh-from-the-dorm look in films like The Social Network and now in HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” the series that cunningly stereotypes the Bay Area’s tech scene. Does reality reflect the Hollywood stereotype?I grew up in the Bay Area, so I already had an idea in my head, shaped both by pop-culture images and my own lived reality. Documenting the style, I hoped, might make me question my assumptions, as well as understand the genesis of this tech style—if indeed there was a singular style to be found.In my head, the tech uniform looked a lot like this:The Tech Uniform: Programmer Drag? As noted fashion thinker and ReadWrite muse RuPaul once noted, we are born naked. The rest is drag.So even as a software developer grabs whatever’s clean in his dresser, the choices he makes reflect the culture he lives and works in. Perhaps it’s not drag as much as code—an algorithm designed around efficiency. Whatever you call it, it’s a social construction, not something you’re born with or issued when your plane lands at SFO.The hints are all there: the branded tees and hoodies, the two-wheeled transportation, the stubbly face in transition from a goatee to a beard. Yes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made hoodies and Adidas flip-flops famous—or infamous. But this image isn’t based on any single person’s reality. It’s an amalgamation of many converging ideas of what startup culture looks like. The idea of a tech uniform, we should note, is also stereotypically male—not so much gendered as male by default, created with the presumption of a male-dominated tech community.  It’s the intersection of many depictions of the “tech guy”, bred both within the culture and outside of it. As author and early Facebook employee Kate Losse wrote, the myth of the “brogrammer” is more a creation of the media than a reflection of reality. Now startup employees are emulating the stereotype, wherein lies its danger.What’s wrong with T-shirts and jeans, you might ask? On the surface, nothing. But the idea of a uniform, whether prescribed by authority or by social pressures, raises questions about who’s wearing it, and hence in the group, and who’s outside. Without a uniform, there can’t be an other to exclude.Clearly I need a company-logo hoodie. I appear to have violated the dress code. #OpenAir #San FranciscoStyle— Tekla Perry (@TeklaPerry) April 24, 2014Perhaps it’s the trickle-up effect within the tech community: Young startup entrepreneurs straight out of university carry their casual academic dress into the workplace, from whiteboard sessions to board meetings. In a culture that worships young founders, the startup boss in the graphic tee and cargo shorts sets the tone for the rest of the company.Suddenly, coworkers and investors are dressing to match the man—and so often it’s a man—at the top. Newer employees follow suit. Next thing you know, the whole company looks like it would fit in a lecture hall. There’s also a trickle-down effect, as external representations in film and TV weigh on people’s fashion choices.Think about Mark Zuckerberg. Now think about Jessie Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Then think about Andy Samberg parodying Jessie Eisenberg playing Mark Zuckerberg in the The Social Network. Suddenly, the image of the “guy who works in tech” is not only cemented in the minds of the tech community themselves, through three layers of representation and imitation.Madame Tussauds recently revealed a waxen, shoeless Mark Zuckerberg, with a T-shirt, hoodie, jeans, and brandless MacBook. (Apple’s always so fussy about its appearance.) Along with being barefoot—not a look he’s styled for almost a decade—he’s also sitting in a chair cross-legged, which is pushing the chill factor pretty hard. This is the image that will greet tourists from all over the world, an image that will affirm and reify their idea of Silicon Valley. It doesn’t matter that the Zuckerberg figure doesn’t look much like the nearly 30-year-old man who took the stage recently at a Facebook developer conference.  The tech guy turns into a costume, and programmer drag comes into existence.The Brogrammer Myth Becomes RealityIf brogrammers did not exist, the producers of “Silicon Valley” would have to invent them. As Losse, the early Facebook employee, noted in her essay on the myth of the brogrammer,  the term, a portmanteau of “bro” and “programmer,” gained traction in the media in recent years despite starting as an inside joke, a mocking of overcompensatory masculinity among programmers who recognized that their profession was not particularly butch. A developer who rejected “typical” programmer personality traits like nerdiness and introversion in favor of the sporty gregariousness of a college jock or fraternity pledge would not have fit in well at Facebook or anywhere.Yet as startups and technology became a sexy, mainstream phenomenon, and programming widens in its appeal, the “brogrammer” myth, picked up by the media, turns into an ideal. You can have it all, kids—startup riches and bro-sanctioned masculinity! Thus the uneasy marriage of the hoodie and the Under Armour compression T-shirt, the hipster bike pants and the designer jeans in today’s Silicon Valley.If watching HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which paints brogrammers as code-typing, conniving bullies in tight T-shirts with the wrong kind of Valley accent, hurts a little, it’s because it cuts too close to the truth. Take a stroll around San Francisco’s South of Market district, though, and you’ll see fewer fist bumps and spandex tees and more men who look like the show’s main character, Richard, in his button-up shirt and slacks.And that’s where “Silicon Valley” inches closer to the real deal. The parody approaches parity with reality.The Street Styles Of SoMa Marcus Ubungen of Goodby Silverstein wears a t-shirt, dark wash jeans, sneakers, a messenger bag, cap, and thick rimmed glasses.I wasn’t going to find the answers watching TV shows or reading essays on the Web, so I decided to set out and document San Francisco’s real styles.Kanyi Maqubela of Collaborative Fund wears a grey button up, jeans, Toms, and a backpack.Setting forth from ReadWrite’s San Francisco headquarters—at Third and Townsend, a block away from Caltrain and in the heart of SoMa, I began my search for the real tech uniform. Scouting people for photos in such an enclosed tech bubble is not an easy feat. Everyone has somewhere to go, lunch to get, people to meet. Avos’ Vijay Karunamurthy wears a plaid button up underneath a grey sweater, dark wash jeans, patent black shoes, and a gym bag.Marcus Ubungen, a film director who works out of downtown San Francisco at Goodby Silverstein, stopped to pose before hopping into an Uber—reminding us that the apps on one’s phone are as much a part of the uniform as the T-shirt on one’s body. The trend seemed to be stylishly casual from the start. San Francisco favors comfort over fussy and complicated outfits.Kanyi Maqubela, a venture partner at Collaborative Fund, says most of his colleagues wear limited-edition sneakers to work—an option that combines a studied ease with deliberate self-expression. I caught up with Vijay Karunamurthy of Avos in line at Philz Coffee. Karunamurthy, who helped create Avos’s Mixbit video app, doesn’t think Silicon Valley techies pay too much attention to what other people wear. That leads individuals to feel more free to be who they are. He calls it “casual with a purpose.”A Flock Of Coders’s “Silicon Valley” paints groups of programmers as a stereotyped flock of five—”a tall skinny white guy, short skinny Asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair, and then an East Indian guy. It’s like they trade guys until they all have the right group.” This stereotype defied discovery—I couldn’t find a group like this if I tried. But I did catch this trio emerging from GitHub’s San Francisco headquarters. David Newman (left), Jake Boxer (center), and Fabian Perez (right) of GitHub.These three GitHubbers took a different stance towards tech culture’s widespread dress-for-comfort attitude. GitHub’s David Newman wears a pastel blue shirt under a darker blue, crew neck sweater. He pairs this with grey jeans, brown suede shoes, a gold watch, a thick rimmed glasses.GitHub’s David Newman describes that attitude as “intentionally casual.”He explained that often in a tech company, newer employees will want to wear clothes marked with the company logo in order to represent the brand. After the initial phase of decking themselves out in head-to-toe company merch, employees then go through a period of distancing from the brand.Jake Boxer of GitHub wears a dark blue t-shirt, dark grey jeans, black sneakers, a black GitHub hoodie, and thick rimmed glasses.The science of a tech company shirt is really complex. Wearing newer shirts could signify a newbie—a new hire. Non-company shirts may be worn by a longtime staffer comfortable in his role. Or these longstanding employees might also wear older company T-shirts, with outdated logos, to indicate all the years they’ve put in. At this point in the conversation I felt as though I was being taught the etiquette of a 17th-century French court.This idea that specific T-shirt customs within a tech company can follow certain rules and imply meaning, power, and hierarchy is a fascinating one.It’s an example of how the everyday fashion choices of bosses and coworkers influences others in the company. Employees may not judge one another for their brand of plaid for the day, but a 2008-era GitHub shirt? That alone speaks volumes.GitHub’s Fabian Perez wears a button up plaid shirt underneath a dark blue v-neck sweater. He pairs this with camel pants, dark blue sneakers, and sunglasses.Logowear also makes statements about class and attitude towards wealth.Jake Boxer, a developer at GitHub, points out that most people in tech just wear what they can get for free. That conveys a certain attitude towards material possessions that’s common in the tech culture.Yet there remains a yearning for more: Dressed in GitHub’s signature Octocat-branded hoodie alongside his sweater-clad colleagues, Boxer tells me he regularly looks towards his more fashion-forward coworkers for style inspiration, because as he puts it, using video-game-inspired slang, “We could all level up a little bit.” Not that one has much to aspire to. It’s hard to level up when the average level is so low. Fabian Perez, a designer at GitHub who comes from the northeastern U.S., finds fashion in San Francisco’s tech culture uninspired compared to what he’s used to.A Moving TargetLumen Sivitz (left) of Mighty Spring pairs a dark grey t-shirt with dark wash jeans, brown boots, a messenger bag, and tortoise shell sunglasses. Dan Wiesenthal (right) of MyProject also wears a t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, a messenger bag, and sunglasses.I caught Lumen Sivitz, CEO of Mighty Spring, next to his bike. Besides leaving a smaller carbon footprint, this choice of transportation plays a huge part in one’s work attire. (Try biking to work in a three-piece suit.)Sivitz says that his outfit depends on the context of his day. He’ll wear a button-up for business meetings, for example. He says none of his colleagues appear to invest too much in what he’s wearing—again, a theme that in tech, you dress for yourself.MyProject engineer Dan Wiesenthal agrees that the tech bubble is a relatively judgement-free zone in terms of fashion, where comfort and individuality take precedent over getting in the good style graces of a colleague. What I appreciated most was the idea that all that mattered in getting ready in the morning was their happiness for the day. Sivitz and Wiesenthal explained that “… it’s all about the right T-shirt,” paired with some brown boots or sneakers. So much meaning in such simple garb.So maybe TV does get it right sometimes. I saw bits and pieces of my stereotypical tech-guy avatar at various points in my photo journey; a fixie bike here, some Warby Parker glasses there, and company T-shirts everywhere.Like so many other styles of clothing, the tech uniform is a mishmash of street style and mainstream influences. Through it all, there’s a fundamental idea: Dressing not for success, but for happiness. It’s a dream we can all aspire to—if only putting on the uniform was all we had to do to live the fantasy of today’s Silicon Valley.Photos by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite, Illustration by Nigel Sussman and Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite  stephanie ellen chan Related Posts 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnoutcenter_img Tags:#Brogrammers#Clothing#fashion#Mark Zuckerberg#Outfits#programmers#Silicon Valley#Silicon Valley Street Style#social network#soma#style 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

Pricing to Win or Execute

first_imgIt’s easy to focus on pricing your offering to win your dream client’s business. You consider what your dream client believes they need in the way of pricing, and you consider what your competitors are likely to quote.When you consider what your dream client wants in the way of pricing, you end up dealing with their desire to have better, faster, and cheaper, an appealing idea that your competitors have been selling them for a long time. The lie that this is possible is why so many people still distrust salespeople, but they still hold onto the dream that merely switching partners will allow them to realize this dream (which might be more accurately described as a hallucination).When you consider your competitor’s pricing, you end up in all kinds of trouble.First, you have no control over what they offer. The problem with competing with someone who is willing to destroy themselves to win the business is that they are willing to go someplace you are unwilling to go. Trying to match them only means you destroy yourself instead of allowing them to destroy themselves. It’s a poor strategy.Second, your competitor’s price has nothing to do with the value that you create. You have to price your offering based on the value you create, and if you create more value, you have to capture more value. Which brings us to the truth of this issue.You have to price your offering to execute for your dream client. Your price needs to ensure that you can—and will—deliver the outcomes that you sell. It doesn’t help you or your dream client to price your offering to meet their expectations if it doesn’t allow you to deliver the goods. It’s also a mistake to match or beat your competitor’s price to win the business, only to fail your dream client because you couldn’t afford to serve them.When we sell, we help our clients understand the investment necessary to produce the results they need. This isn’t easy to do. And it is made more difficult when your prospective customer has unrealistic expectations and when your competitors are willing to sell a dream that won’t come true. But selling the value you create and the right investment is what professional salespeople, trusted advisors, or what I call Level 4 Value Creators do. It’s what differentiates and defines us. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more