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SA internet use passes 5m mark

first_imgPartial map of the internet. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. The length of the lines are indicative of the delay between those two nodes. (Image: Wikipedia) MEDIA CONTACTS • Arthur Goldstuck World Wide Worx +27 11 782 7003 [email protected] [email protected] number of South African internet users rose to over 5-million in 2009, finally breaking through the 10% mark in internet penetration for the country, which has a population of 49.3-million.This is the key finding of the Internet Access in South Africa 2010 study, conducted by World Wide Worx and jointly sponsored by Cisco. The headline data, released in mid-January, shows that the internet user base grew by 15% in 2009, from 4.6-million to 5.3-million, and is expected to grow at a similar rate in 2010.“The good news is that we will continue to see strong growth in 2010, and we should reach the 6-million mark by the end of the year,” says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide WorxReshaad Sha of the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group says that this can only benefit the economy. “A sustained growth in internet penetration is a key factor that will positively influence the economy of South Africa,” he says.“The varied range of application services and social networking platforms used by local consumers has fuelled the uptake that we see today.”Growth in the number of internet users in South Africa was relatively stagnant from 2002 to 2007, when it never rose above 7%. However, this rate almost doubled in 2008, and continued accelerating in 2009.World Wide Worx found that the landing of a new undersea cable on the South African coast was only one of a range of factors behind the growth.Of greater significance was the granting of Electronic Communications Network Service licenses to more than 400 organisations. This meant that service providers who were previously required to buy their network access from one of the major providers could now build their own networks or choose where they wanted to buy their access.The result was that a market previously characterised by a limited range of providers and services suddenly exploded as small providers were able to repackage the services provided by the large telecommunications corporations in any way they wished. The large providers, in turn, began to offer far more competitive packages to both customers and resellers.World Wide Worx found that a second key factor in growth over the past two years has been the continued uptake of broadband connectivity by small and medium enterprises migrating from dial-up connectivity. Each company moving from dial-up to ADSL, for example, extended internet access to general office staff. This process was found to add an additional one to 20 new users to the internet user base for every small business installing ADSL.While the headline findings examine the general numbers of users, the final Internet Access in South Africa 2010 report, due to be released in March, will highlight the extent of new fibre-optic networks laid down across South African cities and between the cities. It will also examine the impact of the range of new undersea cables that will be in place by the end of 2011, and which is expected to enhance competitiveness even further.“In the coming year, operators will begin to leverage the combination of new undersea cable capacity and new fibre-optic networks to supply corporate clients and resellers with bigger, faster and more flexible capacity,” says Goldstuck.“Almost every large player in the communications industry has realigned its business to take advantage of this relentless change.”Sha adds: “South African consumers and businesses are demanding access to online applications and services that can only be experienced via high speed connectivity, such as fibre-optic networks. The year ahead will see the proliferation of high speed connectivity materialising more widely than ever before.” The final Internet Access in South Africa 2010 report will be available in March 2010. The cost of the report will be R11 000 excluding VAT.last_img read more

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Charter ‘boosted banking access in SA’

first_img27 September 2012The percentage of South Africans with a bank account increased from 47% in 2005 to 63% in 2011 after the launch of the country’s first Financial Sector Charter in 2004, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.Addressing more than 350 delegates from over 70 countries at the opening of the 4th Global Policy Forum in Cape Town, Gordhan said South Africa’s experience of the Financial Sector Charter provided a lesson on how to confront the challenges of financial inclusion.The first charter was negotiated in 2004 and resulted in the Mzansi bank account, which has been taken up by three-million users, while banks also began rolling out more branches, he said.The second Financial Sector Charter was gazetted for comment by the Department of Trade and Industry in March.Gordhan said the long-term sustainability of financial systems hinged on the ability of these systems to serve all citizens.“The inequality, the social and political distrust of elites, and the neglect of the poor and the impoverishment of millions as a result of the financial crisis, that we still haven’t recovered from, poses serious challenges to the economic, political and social stability and progress of ourselves,” he said.He said the National Treasury was developing a “twin peaks” regulatory framework for financial services which would come into effect in the next 18 months.The new model would see the development of different regulatory focuses between prudential regulation and consumer protection, while the National Treasury would remain responsible for policy implementation, including one of encouraging greater financial access.He said an IMF report on financial stability released in April was concerning, as it indicated that innovative products were already being developed to sidestep the new financial regulations.The financial sector is faced with various challenges, include a disconnect from the real economy, said Gordhan, who pointed out that banks needed to serve more people and entrepreneurs to generate growth and create jobs.Another challenge was how multi-national banks were serving emerging markets, he said.It was also important to develop regulations to ensure that the poor were protected should new crises emerge.Central banks also needed to ensure that their respective banking sectors weren’t overly dominated by a few big banks, as this could stifle competition and the development of new and affordable financial products.Also addressing the conference on Wednesday, the deputy governor of the central bank of the Philippines, Nestor Espenilla, said the central bank’s policy of focusing of micro finance had led to 200 community banks providing financial services to almost a million micro entrepreneursEspenilla said that along with increasing micro finance, the Philippines government had also encouraged more financial education and consumer protection.Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more

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Pumpkin Field Day coming Aug. 17

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Autumn will be here before you know it and if you are a pumpkin grower, you won’t want to miss the Aug. 17 Pumpkin Field Day.The event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Western Agricultural Research Station, 7721 S. Charleston Pike South in Charleston. Registration will begin at 5:30 p.m. The field day will offer beginning and experienced growers valuable research updates regarding disease management, insect management, weed control, and new pumpkin and winter squash varieties.Current production information designed to help growers will be presented during a research plot tour by experts from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension. OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of OSU’s College of Food Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.“The field day will feature some traditional and new projects on the tour,” said Jim Jasinski, OSU Extension Educator and Integrated Pest Management Program Coordinator. Included will be a seven-treatment powdery mildew fungicide demonstration trial, a powdery mildew fungicide drip irrigation trial, a pumpkin variety trial with 20 hybrids ranging from small to large fruit and a variety trial with 11 winter squash varieties.There will be presentations on how to identify and control weeds, insects and diseases. After formal presentations, growers will have time to revisit any of the plots in more detail and talk to specialists.Pre-registration is required by Aug. 15. There is a $5 per person fee, payable at the event. To pre-register, go to www.surveymonkey.com/r/pumpkin17, or call 937-462-8016 and leave a message.last_img read more

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HP Slate Tablet will be Microsoft Based Enterprise Device

first_imgPotentially clearing up some confusion regarding HP‘s intentions concerning its Slate tablet, HP Personal Systems Group VP Todd Bradley said yesterday at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference that the Slate would be an enterprise focused device running a Microsoft operating system. The announcement follows PC World’s discovery a device called the “Slate 500” is being listed on HP’s web site.HP has registered the trademark PalmPad, suggesting the company will release two different products: the enterprise focused, Windows based Slate and a consumer focused, Palm branded device.The Slate was demonstrated at CES in January by Steve Ballmer, but has had a turbulent history since. Rumors of its demise started immediately after HP’s purchase of Palm, but HP was still listed as a partner with a forthcoming Windows tablet at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.The announcement is good news for enterprises waiting for a Windows tablet. ASUS recently announced its Eee Pad will run Android instead of Windows, and Microsoft dropped its own Courier tablet project.Despite being slow to reach the tablet market, Windows 7 sales have been strong – Microsoft announced it has sold 175 million licenses. Microsoft also reported a record fourth quarter. Related Posts Tags:#enterprise#news#Products Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Nowcenter_img Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… klint finley IT + Project Management: A Love Affairlast_img read more

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We’re Pouring Millions of Tons of Salt on Our Roads

first_imgBy GREG BREININGEnsiaIf you live — and drive — in a northern or mountainous climate, you’ve seen highway trucks spreading loads of rock salt on snowy highways to melt the ice. But where does the salt go?A lot of it ends up in our lakes and streams. A recent study of 371 lakes in North America — most in the northern states and southern Canada — showed chloride concentrations rising in more than a third. More than two dozen were nudging toward levels harmful to aquatic life. Extrapolated to all lakes in the U.S. northern Great Lakes and Northeast regions, about “7,770 lakes may be experiencing elevated chloride concentrations, likely due to road salt runoff,” the study concludes.U.S. road maintenance departments have been spreading salt on streets and highways to melt snow and ice since the 1940s, but the use of salt skyrocketed over time — from 0.15 metric tons (0.16 tons) per year during the 1940s to about 18 million metric tons (19.8 million tons) per year today. Road salt use is common and growing throughout Canada, Europe, Japan, China, and even South America. As much as 60 million metric tons (66 million tons) may be applied worldwide each year. Unlike chemicals that break down into less harmful compounds, road salt persists and may remain in water and soil for years, until it eventually is diluted and carried away by moving water. Low-salt solutionsResearchers have experimented with salt substitutes such as beet juice, which lowers freezing temperature and melts ice as the sugar it contains dissolves on the road. But the sugar is a fertilizer that feeds algae growth.“In most lakes, we already have enough nutrients going in, particularly in clear, infertile lakes. They’ll be more green and less transparent and less aesthetically pleasing to most people,” says Relyea. “The less transparent the water becomes, the less valuable the attraction to tourists and the less income that comes into communities.”Many states regulate road salt storage. But many do not. And none specifically regulates the application of road salt, says Asleson. Instead, road maintenance departments are encouraged to use best management practices. New Hampshire offers a voluntary certification and training program for private applicators maintaining large surfaces such as parking lots. Likewise, Canada has developed a “code of practice” for road salt use.The MPCA has created a web-based tool for public works departments and other winter maintenance pros to help evaluate their own programs, from small details (Do they overfill their salt and sand trucks?) to big issues (Do they stockpile road salt outside?). “We’ve looked at every aspect that we could with this core group of winter maintenance experts to find every opportunity possible to reduce salt use,” Asleson says.Asleson thinks the biggest single change to use less salt is switching to liquid solutions. The brine spreads more evenly, stays put and begins working immediately because the salt is already in solution. As a result, spraying liquid brine is more effective while using less salt. Asleson says cities that have switched to tanker trucks have reduced salt use by up to 70% and paid back their equipment investment in a year or two.In northern New York, Relyea says, local governments have been adopting so-called live-edge plows. The plow blade, rather than being solid, is divided into short independently moving sections that follow the contours of the road and better remove snow and ice. That leaves less ice to be removed by chemicals, reducing salt usage. “You still salt, but you don’t salt as much,” he says.“The salt issue is biologically very complex, but I think it has motivated people to think about how we can simultaneously have safe roads and healthy ecosystems,” says Relyea. “If communities could have the ability through technology to purchase less salt, to salt fewer times, pay less truck driver time and help their lakes that are big tourist attractions, it really can be a win-win for everybody involved. It’s not really about posing the health of ecosystems against public safety.” Despite the ever-greater use, road salt’s effects on streams, lakes, and groundwater have been largely ignored until recently. As recently as 2014, when biologist Rick Relyea began studying the effects of salt-laden runoff at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “the world of science didn’t pay very much attention to the impacts of road salt on water,” he says. “Now we’re paying much more attention.”Recent research is showing that in many waterways, chloride is on a persistent upward trend, with potential to harm aquatic communities and even impair drinking water.Neither Relyea nor other researchers suggest highway salting crews should sacrifice public safety for the sake of healthy streams and lakes, but they say there are ways to cut salt use without impairing winter road maintenance. RELATED ARTICLES Toll on waterwaysDugan’s paper tracks long-term chloride concentrations in North American lakes with detailed available records. Most were in what researchers called the “North American Lakes Region,” which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ontario, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.Mean chloride levels ranged from hardly any at all to 240 mg/liter, above both U.S. and Canadian standards. About 10 percent in the lakes region exceeded 100 mg/liter. And perhaps most concerning, slightly more than a third of the lakes overall showed persistent upward trends in chloride concentrations. Same old saltTo melt ice and prevent the accumulation of new ice on winter roads, highway crews apply salt. In the U.S., salt use is heaviest in the Midwest, Great Lakes region, New England, Alaska, and the northern Appalachians. Road salt is mostly sodium chloride, the same stuff you sprinkle on food, but in coarse granular form. When it dissolves in slush it lowers the freezing point, causing ice to melt. For the same reason, salt is spread on sidewalks and parking lots.More expensive alternatives, such as magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, work better at temperatures below 15°F (-9.4°C). “But they still have chloride, so they’re not any better for the environment,” says Brooke Asleson, metro area watershed project manager for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).Chloride is the component of salt of greatest concern for aquatic life. Chloride has been shown to be benign at low concentrations, but as concentrations increase salt can kill plankton, disrupt aquatic communities, increase algae blooms, and stunt fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a long-term threshold for aquatic life of 230 milligrams per liter. Canada’s guideline for long-term exposure is 120 mg/liter. (For comparison, seawater has a chloride concentration of nearly 20,000 mg/liter.)“Just that contrast makes you realize we don’t have a good idea of what concentrations are really harming our environments,” says Hilary Dugan, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Center for Limnology and lead author of the North American lakes study, published this spring in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.In many cases, the U.S. and Canadian thresholds are already being exceeded. Keeping freshwater “fresh,” according to Dugan’s paper, “is critically important for protecting the ecosystem services freshwater lakes provide, such as drinking water, fisheries, recreation, irrigation, and aquatic habitat.”center_img Trophic cascadesWhile chloride is not yet poisoning our waterways, chloride does have the potential to change aquatic communities, stunt fish growth, aid exotic species, and even affect tourism.Rick Relyea is director of Rensselaer’s Jefferson Project at Lake George, a deep, clear 32-mile (51.5-kilometer)-long finger of water in northern New York. Relyea and colleagues monitor the lake and conduct experiments in artificial habitats to determine the effects of chloride and other components of salts on aquatic life.High road salt concentrations induced a “trophic cascade,” reducing zooplankton and producing an upsurge in their food, phytoplankton, which seemed to thrive in the high salinity. “When some activity like road salt harms one species, it’s usually not the end of the story,” says Relyea. “It indirectly affects a lot of other species.”Relyea’s team also found that exposure to salt drove zooplankton evolution toward salt tolerance. “Those zooplankton populations that were knocked down by a lot of salt actually bounced back and started doing really well,” he says. That tolerance was passed on to subsequent generations. “That’s really the hopeful message,” he says. “It’s not that we should ignore the issue. It’s hopeful that we could buy some time until we solve the issue.”In another study, tadpoles raised in salty water became male rather than female frogs at a 10% greater rate than expected. The team doesn’t understand the underlying mechanism, says Relyea, but “the explanation is clearly that we have converted some of the females into anatomical males while they are tadpoles.”Relyea found that salt levels in Lake George are rising but are still far too low to impair aquatic life. Streams in the watershed are a different story. Chloride concentrations spike to levels 100 times greater that those found in lakes, and remain high through the year as chloride leaches from soils. “That’s probably true throughout the northern U.S. and Canada,” Relyea says.Other research has shown that salt can affect trout growth. Calcium chloride had the greatest effect of common road salts, at chloride concentrations of 860 to 3,000 mg/liter. The effect was greatest at the highest concentration, reducing weight of rainbow trout by more than 30%. “If you grow more slowly, you can be more susceptible to predators, it will take you longer to be reproductive, you will lay fewer eggs,” says Relyea. “Growth for a fish is everything.”Relyea says the sodium in salt can trigger the release of other metals from soil that run into waterways. Released calcium can favor some species over others. “Now you make it easier for some invasive species, like say Asian clams, zebra mussels, various snails — you make it easier for them to get a foothold if they ever arrived in your lake,” he says.Road salt also damages and kills vegetation, though the effects are concentrated within 200 feet of roadways.High salt use can cause problems for humans, too. Salt seeps into groundwater, raising the salinity of drinking water. In Madison, Wisconsin, where Dugan lives, “That’s a huge concern for municipalities and water treatment plants,” she says. And according to research by the EPA and U.S. Geological Survey, high chloride increases the corrosion of poisonous lead from old water pipes. Calcium chloride (center) and magnesium chloride (right) improve traction at lower temperatures than sodium chloride (left), but they are more expensive and still cause environmental harm.Dugan attributes the increased levels to factors such as more roads, bigger roads, more traffic, and more parking lots. The lakes with the greatest long-term concentration of chloride were those with the greatest proportion of impervious surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, in their watersheds. But it didn’t take a lot — as little as 1% road surface within a half-kilometer (third of a mile) of the water body. “It was a surprisingly small percentage of impervious surface that led to long-term increases in chloride,” says Dugan. “I’m not sure that anyone expected that percentage to be so low.” According to her study, 27% of large lakes in the United States have more than 1% impervious surfaces nearby.Much of the salt runs off these surfaces shortly after it’s applied or with spring melt. But some of it seeps into soil, creating a “reservoir for chloride,” Dugan says. “Even if we stopped applying road salt today, there’s a high likelihood that chloride levels [in lakes] would continue to increase for awhile as some of those chlorides flush out of soils.”Dugan’s big-picture look at North American lakes squares with Asleson’s finer-grained analysis of Minnesota’s Twin Cities, in which 19 lakes currently exceed the water-quality standard for chloride. And chloride concentrations were increasing in most Twin Cities lakes.“When you have a watershed area that has a road density of 18% or greater [in the entire watershed], that’s where you’re most likely to see water quality problems because of winter deicing salt,” says Asleson. Is Your Drinking Water Safe?Promoting Green InfrastructureSeattle’s Pioneering RainWise ProgramHelping the Environment, One Drop at a Time Greg Breining is a journalist and author who has written more than a dozen books. He is a principal of Breeze Communication Arts. This post originally appeared at the website Ensia.last_img read more

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