Working for the Earth

One of our newest offices, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, has an innovative Earth Day tradition. Formerly Pulse Energy, Yardi Vancouver is a founding member of EarthWork Day (EWD), an annual collaboration with three other environmentally-minded companies. “Held on or close to Earth Day every year, staff from each company dedicate their time on EWD to local environmental projects,” explained Colin Chan, a CSD manager for the Yardi Smart Energy Suite. This year, two projects were taken on the day before Earth Day, Friday, April 21. Each team member receives a small budget of $22 to put toward supplies, and the projects selected are always environmentally conscious. Teams are mixed between the participating companies, so everyone gets to meet and work with someone new. At the end of the day, it’s time for a get together to share snacks, notes and beer. This year’s projects were: Maplewood Flats Habitat Restoration “This is the third year we have participated in this project, restoring habitat for the Anise Swallowtail Butterfly that has gone extinct from the North Vancouver area from urban development,” Chan explained. “We’ve been removing invasive plant species and planting native species in the hopes that we can eventually import caterpillars from other areas where the butterfly still exists and re-introducing it to the area.” The effort at the habitat aids the Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia. “It’s been personally rewarding to see the progress we’ve made from year-to-year. The Wild Bird Trust is a small non-profit with limited funding and resources, so it’s a great feeling to help contribute to the success of their habitat restoration project,” said Jennifer Sinclair, office administrator for Yardi Vancouver. “It has also been a fun annual team-building event for our office!” Garden Planter Construction A Vancouver public low income housing complex needed garden planters to help residents improve food security by growing their own produce. “In one day, the team built 15 planter beds, including some that were accessible to residents who use wheelchairs,” Chan said. Tyler Fawcett, creative director in the programming department, participated in the effort. “We joined forces with BC Housing to construct planter boxes behind two of their residential buildings. 15 new boxes were constructed and filled with soil, to be used as flower and vegetable gardens by the building residents. “Before the boxes were even half-done, many enthusiastic residents had come out to claim their plots in the new garden,” Fawcett shared. Photos from the day appear in the gallery...

Grid-Sized Storage

Late last month, Southern California Edison switched on its newest substations, an 80MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility that will manage peak demand and improve grid reliability. Just off Interstate 15, nestled in the heart of California’s Riverside County, one of the world’s biggest energy storage projects recently roared to life. Part of a collaboration between Tesla and Southern California Edison (SCE), the installation at the Mira Loma substation will be used to manage peak energy demand and stabilize the grid. “Upon completion, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world,” declares a Tesla blog post announcing the project. “When fully charged, this system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles.” Managing Peak Energy The Mira Loma project is one of the first to use Tesla’s new Powerpack 2 for utility-scale energy storage. With an 80 MWh capacity, the 400 Powerpacks will allow SCE to manage energy use during peak hours. The Powerpacks will be charged with electricity generated during off-peak hours and then supplement demand during periods of peak demand. This process will not only save energy; it will allow SCE to maintain grid reliability, deliver better power quality to customers and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. “The system will charge using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of Southern California Edison’s electrical infrastructure which feeds more than 15 million residents,” explains the Tesla statement. “By doing so, the Tesla Powerpack system will reduce the need for electricity generated by natural gas and further the advancement of a resilient and modern grid.” Future Expansion Larger utility-scale energy storage projects are already in the works...

Smart Tattoos

Everyday technology  devices have now become so small that that can be embedded into fabrics, worn as accessories or be attached directly to the user’s body on skin. Your next tattoo could be also functional besides aesthetic. Such “epidermal electronics” are promising, they expand the sensing modalities of current mobile and wearable devices by sitting directly on skin, which facilitates direct access to users’ biomedical signals. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have created a series of smart temporary tattoos that can control devices through touch. The team, together with Microsoft Research, designed the DuoSkin transfers to look like the gold and silver flash tattoos that are popular mostly at music festivals. DuoSkin is made from gold metal leaf, which is a conductive material that can interact with an electronic circuit that respond to touch. Pretty cool, right? Researches devised three different ways in which the DuoSkin can be used, including as input devices that can turn your skin into a trackpad, or a capacitive virtual control knob for adjusting volume on your connected device. First, they used it as an input device, specifically as a controller for a music player. They created design stencils of traditional use interfaces like buttons, sliders and 2D trackpads. They also tried it as an input display that changes pigments, which change to one of its two states when heated beyond body temperature. Another function of these smart accessories is the interface as a wireless communication device that uses near field communication (NFC) tags, which means data can be sent from the tattoo to mobile phones with NFC capabilities. The team from MIT’s Media Lab, led by PhD student Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao together with Microsoft Research also made them possible to be worn as jewelries and tried embedding LED...

Honoring Towbes May02

Honoring Towbes

The Housing Trust Fund of Santa Barbara County (HTF) has received a $5,000 contribution from Yardi in honor of the late Michael Towbes, local businessman and philanthropist, and to support the agency’s new South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program. “Michael Towbes was a champion of workforce housing and was committed to the Housing Trust Fund’s mission to expand workforce housing opportunities. Yardi is pleased to be a ‘seed sponsor’ of HTF’s new South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program. We hope that our donation in honor of Michael Towbes will inspire other business to contribute to this worthwhile workforce housing program,” said Gordon Morrell, Executive Vice President of Yardi. Michael Towbes served on the Board of Directors of the Housing Trust Fund for 12 years and the agency greatly benefited from his expertise, experience and generosity. The grant award from Yardi will provide key operational support for HTF as it launches the South Coast Workforce Homebuyer Program, which will provide low-cost down payment loans up to $100,000 to help first-time working households buy an entry-level home in the community where they work. The Housing Trust Fund is a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to expand affordable rental and homeownership housing opportunities throughout Santa Barbara County for working households and our most vulnerable populations.  HTF operates a countywide $6.7 million Revolving Loan Fund for affordable housing in partnership with community lenders. The loan fund provides short-term, low-cost loans to qualified sponsors of affordable housing for the production, preservation, and rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income households. The agency also operates a countywide Workforce Homebuyer Program that provides down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers. HTF was created by countywide community leaders to address our region’s critical affordable housing needs by building innovative partnerships between the...

YMF Austin May02

YMF Austin

Are you familiar with the Yardi Marketing Forum? This biannual event brings multifamily marketers from across the country together for three days of fun, education and inspiration. We just wrapped up our first forum of the year in beautiful Austin, Texas. If you couldn’t attend, here are the top five marketing takeaways that were shared by our guest presenters. Stop Hunting, Start Cultivating Anders Bergstrom, marketing director for Sanuk, opened the Yardi Marketing Forum with his keynote address on “Surfing the Waves of Consumer Change.” He stressed the need in every industry to build a lifelong fan base, instead of targeting consumers with marketing that kills the relationship after the sale. “When it comes to your audience, cultivate. Think of yourselves as farmers,” shared Bergstrom. “Become aware. Become curious. Become advocates for your clients.” Watch the recording of Anders’ presentation on Facebook. Dial in Prospect & Resident Communications Do you feel like your marketing messages are getting lost in today’s increasingly crowded digital space? For our session on “Getting Heard in a Noisy World,” we were joined by Nikki Crosby from Buckingham Companies, Mallory Monsma from NALS and Yardi’s Nima Farkhak to talk about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to interacting with residents and prospects. The panel consistently reinforced the need to be present everywhere your customers are. Crosby noted that Buckingham properties that use social media remarketing far outperform properties that don’t. Monsma shared email tips that have resulted in a phenomenal 50% open rate for NALS, including keeping subjects snappy, limiting frequency and scheduling the month’s emails in advance through RENTCafé. And Farkhak talked about the importance of live chat, citing a case study that netted a RENTCafé Connect user an $80 return for every $1 spent. “The best...

Sears HQ Repurposed May01

Sears HQ Repurposed

In the United States, the dire need for affordable housing continues. The nation currently faces a deficit of 7.4 million affordable units for those earning less than 30 percent of the local median income. In an effort to develop inexpensive housing in desirable areas, numerous project developers have opted to repurpose existing buildings. Bloomberg reports the account of one such property that is 112 years in the making. Sears Reborn On the West Side of Chicago sprawls more than 1 million square feet of American history. Constructed in 1905, the site served as the original Sears headquarters. It includes a 14-story clock tower, a printing plant, and several additional buildings. Sears occupied the site for 70 years before relocating to its most iconic Chicago home. The site began a slow and unsteady decline, accentuated with failed projects and abandoned spaces. In 2014, Yardi client Mercy Housing Lakefront embarked on a new project at the site, Lofts at Arthington. It would be an affordable housing community that consists of 181 units and on-location social services. Residents would have access to childcare, public transit, and job opportunities in nearby Chicago proper. “We were in a position to come and build affordable housing in a neighborhood with more amenities than more upscale neighborhoods could only dream of,” says Mark Angelini, President of Mercy Housing Lakefront. The redevelopment cost about $55 million. Lofts at Arthington qualified for federal historic preservation tax credits through the National Park Service. It also received low-income housing tax credits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One-third of the units are allotted for residents who earn less than 30 percent of the local median income. The remaining two-thirds have an income cap that is 60 percent of the local median income....

Wellness at Work Apr28

Wellness at Work

The wellness movement has marked another milestone. Structure Tone’s headquarters in Manhattan has been awarded WELL certification at the Silver level from the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. Designed by Gensler and developed by Vornado, Structure Tone’s new 82,000-square-foot home at 330 W. 34th St. is the first office project in New York City to obtain the certification under v1 of the WELL Building Standard. In 2013, CBRE Group’s global corporate headquarters in Los Angeles became the very first commercial office space in the world to achieve WELL certification. Grounded in a body of medical and scientific research, the WELL standard focuses on seven performance categories, including air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. Structure Tone’s recently completed space in the heart of the Big Apple has checked off these innovative features, providing opportunities for employees to interact with the built environment in a way that positively impacts their overall happiness and wellness. These include: The WELL Café The office café provides a variety of healthy nutritional options, including fresh fruits and vegetables. What’s more, an automated system allows employees to customize their own health profile so that they can see what choices they are making and avoid foods that are detrimental to their health. All beverages at the café contain under 25g of sugar and all food selections prioritize whole grains. Signage is also featured to educate employees on the benefits of healthy eating and the hazards of poor nutrition. Fitness Since staying active is key to maintaining one’s health and wellness, the office offers employees subsidized membership to CitiBike, the New York city-wide bike share program, as well as discounted membership to the nearby...

Top 50 Apr27

Top 50

Affordable Housing Finance recently released the Top 50 Affordable Housing Developers of 2016. The list  showcases developers with the most reported affordable units started and completed within the year. Great Companies, Great Timing Yardi clients received 23 out of the 50 available spots on the list: The NRP Group Miller Valentine Group LDG Development Dominium Herman & Kittle RPM Development Group St. Anton Communities Conifer Realty Bridge Housing Corporation Volunteers of America Arker Companies Community Investment Strategies USA Properties Fund Atlantic Pacific Communities BFC Partners Picerne Real Estate Group AHC Pennrose Woda Group McCormack Baron Salazar Related Mercy Housing WinnCompanies The new construction barely puts a dent in the ongoing affordable housing shortage, which now exceeds 4.7 million units. Yet the timing could not have been better. Recent cuts to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as tax reforms, are projected to trigger a decrease in future affordable housing construction. Tighter budgets require developers to work with greater efficiency and accuracy. That is why nearly half of Top 50 Affordable Housing Developers turn to Yardi. Robust Software Yardi ® Construction Management improves projects’ cost control and budget oversight, from their nascent stages to close-out. Users can develop financing plans and monitor agreements from contractors and subcontractors. As the project progresses, users can compare actual costs to the job budget. Both job costs and the general ledger are updated in real time, providing users with the most accurate and dependable information. The comprehensive reporting within Construction Management provides detail and transparency to users, protected with controlled permissions.  Users receive an overview of budgets, revisions, change orders and commitments, each with drill-down options for greater detail. Construction Management seamlessly integrates with Yardi Affordable Housing Suite ™, allowing users to continue project...

Snapdragon 835

Back in November, Qualcomm was announcing the Snapdragon 835, a brand-new top-end, tiny chip that will be the heart of the most powerful smartphones to be launched this year. Its arrival will replace the Snapdragon 821 as the company’s flagship chip. The 835 is Qualcomm’s first 10nm chip. Let’s just sit here for a moment and understand what it means. A chip incorporates a circuit and transistors. Think about the transistors as of tiny electronic switches that allow computer systems to get things done. The more transistors you have, the more things you can get done simultaneously. In short, the more transistors you have on a chip, the more powerful the chip is. 10nm reflects a physical distance, but it is a hard size to imagine—1,000 times smaller than a strand of hair or about the size of a few dozen water molecules. What this distance describes is called in technical terms “device half-pitch” and it stands for the distance between a feature on one transistor and the same feature on the transistor next to it. In other words, it describes how far apart the transistors are, or how densely they are packed together. In addition, the device is 35 percent smaller and uses 25 percent less power than previous designs. Currently, Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC are able to manufacture 10nm chips, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep packing transistors more densely. Rumors say that the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Microsoft Surface Phone will carry the chip. LG G6, HTC 11 and OnePlus 4 might house it too. However, since Samsung also produces its own processors, the Exynos series, chances are that at least some of their S8 units will feature Samsung’s own custom-built Exynos chips. Qualcomm confirmed that the Snapdragon 835...

Helping the Hungry

According to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, one in five Cleveland kids goes hungry on a regular basis. Yardi’s Cleveland office recently teamed up in a friendly competition to do something to help. “Since 2013, we have held a non-perishable food drive and competition each year to contribute to the Food Bank’s Harvest for Hunger campaign,” said Karen Parker, a technical account manager on the Cleveland CSD team. “Each year we have topped our previous effort and raised more than the previous. We started in 2013 with 48 employees and collected 375 pounds of donations. This year we have 70 employees and managed to collect 1,735 pounds.” The theme of the effort is the “Fight Hunger Games,” a concept Parker came up with when the popular book trilogy Hunger Games, now also two films, was wildly popular a few years back. “The office is divided into Districts.  Each District is represented by a Tribute.   And the Fight Hunger Games begin,” Parker explained. “Each District brings in supplies and food donations.  These are counted and become part of the final score. The Tributes participate in a round of games.  The scores are totaled and winners announced.” It’s a fun and friendly competition but can get competitive, said Parker, leading to some spirited games of “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Other games included Guess Who and Corn Hole. There’s also a potluck food component that everyone in the office can enjoy. “A soup kitchen is created with staff members bringing in various types of soups, dips, salads and desserts.  A donation of two cans of food will get you all the soup you can eat.  And believe me, it was really yummy,” Parker said. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank explains that the donations are badly needed, especially at...

AI’s Winning Bluff

Artificial Intelligence has reached a significant milestone: beating professional players at the heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em version of poker. Such advancements make the future use of AI in real estate promising, though limited. DeepStack, the program developed by computer scientists at the University of Alberta, in partnership with a team from the Czech Technical University in Prague, is the first system to beat professional players at this game, according to The Globe and Mail. Researchers chose poker because it is an imperfect information game. Unlike games such as chess—where the state of the game can be assessed by looking at a board– poker players cannot know all the data relevant to the game. They must consider elements that are not visible, like other players’ cards. Michael Bowling, leader of the University of Alberta’s research group, explained that since the same type of “reasoning” is involved when solving real-world problems, poker becomes a relevant factor to relate to when developing AI programs. The Game Started a Decade Ago Scientists have been working at this project for 20 years, constantly improving the system that is based on deep learning programming, which mimics the way the human brain acquires expertise. This segment of the story started in 2008, when the Alberta group developed an algorithm that could defeat top human players at the heads-up limit version of the game, in which all bets are of fixed size. The no-limit version of the game is more complicated. The amount players decide to bet is only limited to the number of chips in their possession. A winning strategy often involves betting high when the opponent believes—incorrectly—that his or her hand is the stronger one. In other words, bluffing is at the core of the game. So how did DeepStack...

Ready For Anything Apr24

Ready For Anything

How well a business manages a natural disaster or other emergency depends on its degree of readiness before, during and after the event.  There is no way to guarantee that your workplace will never have to deal with a natural or man-made disasters, but by being prepared and communicating effectively employees can stay calm and get through it in good shape. Even with good plans in place, it’s important to have the right products on hand to ensure your employees and business are safe. Staples, offers some tips on equipping your business for an emergency: Purchase the basics (and then some). This includes everything from fire extinguishers, emergency preparedness kits, long-term shelf life water and food, crank-powered cell phone chargers, emergency lighting (flashlights, lanterns and glow sticks, for example), extra batteries, blankets and exit signs. Order the appropriate personal protective equipment.  If employees work with potentially hazardous materials, you need to provide the right kind of protection for them, such as gloves, helmets, and respiratory protection. When PPE is used properly, it can dramatically reduce the risk of injury on the job. Stop injuries before they happen. Slips and falls are major causes for concern in a facility, so being aware of how to prevent them will help avoid dangerous injuries. This includes purchasing items like the right cleanup equipment, floor mats and carpets, and even signage for wet floors or slippery areas. Make sure the safety supplies you order are Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-compliant. Your specific business needs may vary, but safety standards don’t, so make sure everything you’re purchasing is up-to-date and safe to use. Products available from Yardi Marketplace™ can help your staff prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and natural disasters.  Get your property ready...

Electric Planes

Electricity powers motorcycles, cars and boats, but how about planes? In recent years, research has been dedicated applying such technology to the aviation industry. Even though the price of oil per barrel has dropped lately, we still pay a hefty price for carbon-based fuels, and our planet absorbs ever-increasing levels of pollution. In 2011, the e-Genius, a two-seater aircraft built by the engineers at the University of Stuttgart, climbed more than 20,000 feet in under two minutes and reached speeds of 142 miles per hour. It flew uninterrupted for 300 miles. The aircraft burned no fuel and has zero emissions, because it was equipped with an all-electric motor powered by a single battery. Another fantastic component was the cost: during a 62-mile stretch of its historic flight, the plane used about 25 kilowatts of electricity for a total energy cost of just over $3. NASA has been investing heavily in electric planes, too—the agency has been focusing on designing and building the X-Series, a line of environmentally-friendly airplanes. Test pilots and engineers at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. are “flying” a simulator designed to mirror exactly the specifications of the X-57 Maxwell, which will be NASA’s first piloted X-plane in two decades. The X-57 will be the first NASA X-plane to feature a fully distributed electric propulsion system, which researchers will use to demonstrate an increase in cruise energy efficiency, as well as reductions in carbon emission and aircraft noise. That is expected in early 2018. NASA isn’t the only one interested in the Tesla of the skies. Wright Electric, a U.S. startup, announced on their blog the “Wright One,” an electric 150-seater concept that runs on batteries and can handle flights under 300 miles. These short trips make up to...

Pocket EKG

Ruthless and unbiased, heart disease kills 610,000 people per year in the United States, amounting to one out of every four deaths in the country. A leading cause of death across both genders, the CDC estimates that over half of the nation’s deaths can be attributed to heart disease. Doctors say early detection is key, by the time significant warning signs like chest pain and shortness of breath are detectable, it might already be too late. Unfortunately, for many Americans, a trip to the doctor’s office can be complicated and costly. But what if an EKG could fit inside your wallet? A new mobile EKG device can monitor cardiac health and track the early warning signs of hearth disease and stroke. Mobile Monitoring AliveCor, the makers behind Kardia, a mobile, pocket-sized EKG monitor, believe they’ve found a solution. A little smaller than a business card, the Kardia comes outfitted with two metal plates designed to receive basic information about the user’s heart, including heart rate, blood pressure and – most importantly – atrial fibrillation. Users simply place their fingers on the device and wait for the data to be transmitted to Kardia’s mobile app. The focus on atrial fibrillation is significant because changes in this particular data set are often an early warning signs of stroke. Most hospital-grade EKGs measure 12 different aspects of the heartbeat, but focusing on atrial fibrillation, AliveCor was able to shrink their mobile electrocardiogram down to a gadget that easily fits in the palm of your hand. “[It is] the most common arrhythmia, the one that we need to detect, doesn’t need all 12 EKG leads,” AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra tells Wired. “And it’s not invasive at all, it’s just like brushing your teeth every day.” Comprehensive Reports The Kardia...

Earth Day Apr19

Earth Day

In preparation for Earth Day on April 22, we are exploring a few ways to celebrate that can benefit your business while promoting sustainability. More than 190 countries celebrate Earth Day every year. Individuals, families, and organizations combine efforts to support sustainable initiatives. Aside from employee participation and donations, businesses largely miss out. The sustainable programs below offer notable benefits to for-profit entities. Yardi Smart Energy Suite Yardi Smart Energy Suite includes products for total insight and management of your energy consumption and costs, including REC purchases and Yardi E2 Insight. Combining your energy initiatives into one platform for utility billing recovery, paperless utility invoice and payables processing, HVAC optimization and smart thermostats, let’s you leverage the data with your property management information for better results. The mobile-ready stack of energy management solutions can be customized to meet your needs and facilitate the greatest cost savings for your company–without sacrificing tenant or employee comfort. Yardi E2 Insight You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Yardi E2 Insight collects cost and usage data down to the individual building meter. The reports generated allow you to precisely measure and moderate your energy usage. Program analytics can be adjusted to account for seasons, building size, occupancy, and other factors to ensure that you report the true performance of your assets. Modules within Yardi E2 Insight dashboard facilitate easy benchmark reporting. Get effortless access to the data that you need to complete complex reporting requirements. Such reports can help your company qualify for portfolio-wide certifications issued by GRESB and ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. For more on Yardi E2 Insight, call (800) 866-1144 or request more information online. Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) It is now cheaper than ever to offset the harmful emissions that your company generates. The prices...

LIHTC Update Apr18

LIHTC Update

The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program creates more than $8 billion per year to develop and rehabilitate affordable housing units. According to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, LIHTC is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today. More than 2.7 million affordable housing units have been developed over the past 30 years though LIHTC. However, there is uncertainty about the continued success of the program. Potential changes to income tax law are delaying affordable housing projects currently in development, and projects in the planning phase are suddenly challenged with budget shortfalls. History of LIHTC The LIHTC program was signed into law in 1987 and is monitored by the Internal Revenue Service. Housing finance agencies in all 50 states oversee the daily administration of the program. LIHTC differs from the approach the federal government takes towards other housing programs. Instead of using federal funds to build and manage housing resources across the county, the LIHTC program gives states, investors, and affordable housing advocates the ability to plan, finance and build projects that best fit their local needs. Nonprofit housing developers acquire tax credits from their state housing finance agencies based on a competitive process. States award credits to projects they deem most valuable based on pre-defined criteria. Awarded non-profits then turn around and sell tax credits to private investors such as banks and corporations. Those investors save on their annual tax bill and nonprofits raise capital to build housing. It’s a win-win for all. Future Uncertainty Because the sale of tax credits is a bidding process, prices are based on the need for investors to reduce their tax burden. If that need is reduced through tax reform, then there is less competition for tax...

Best Smartwatches

The battle for the prized piece of real estate on your wrist is heating up. Choosing the smartwatch that’s right for you isn’t easy and they aren’t for everyone. For some, a more basic fitness tracker or watch might suffice. But if you want something more versatile, smartwatches deliver smartphone notifications, fitness features, apps and more to your wrist, allowing you to leave your phone in your pocket. Best overall: Appel Watch Series 2 The Apple Watch Series 2 is the company’s second-generation of smartwatch and iPhone companion. Apple is making a big play for sports watch owners adding GPS track runs and cycling session sans iPhone and it’s now fully waterproof up to 50 meters and offers swim tracking in the pool and in open water. Apple also introduces a Breathe app to help you relax. We all need that, right? And where to put that it has the best band selections for all fashion lovers out there. From ultra-comfy silicone options co-developed with Nike, through thousands of third-party options, all the way to decidedly haute couture offerings crafted by Hermès, the Apple Watch Series 2 comes with better selection of wristbands than any fitness tracker out there. This enables you to switch between sporting a utilitarian health tracker and a high-fashion accessory without losing track of your activity. Features: GPS, Swimming friendly, Apple Pay, two-day battery, heart-rate monitor. Unisex. Price: from $369 Best for fitness tracking: Garmin Vivoactive HR While the Apple watch and the LG Watch Sport are both capable of sport tracking, the Garmin Vivoactive HR features beside a dedicated GPS mode for running, cycling and swimming like Apple Watch and LG Watch Sport does, it also gives you data on golf and indoor gym work. The Vivoactive HR reports metrics into Garmin...

Floating Solar

Floatovoltaics is the name given to the floating solar plants that have started to pop up all over the globe—Japan, the UK, Brazil, the U.S. and Australia. This type of system is relatively new, but seems to gain popularity. It’s easy to understand why, the floatovoltaics preserve land, while minimizing the aesthetic impact. Kyocera TCL Solar LLC is one of the pioneers of the technology; they state that the floating system is not only typhoon-proof (due to their sturdy, high-density polyethylene and array design), but also superior to their land-based counterparts because of the cooling effect of the water, which enables them to work more efficiently. Kyocera’s word is to be listened to as they are the developers behind the largest floating solar power plant in the world—in a joint venture with Century Tokyo Leasing Corp. In 2016, the company started developing a 13.7-megawatt floating solar power plant on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, managed by the Public Enterprises Agency of Chiba Prefecture in Japan for industrial water services. The system will consist of approximately 51,000 Kyocera modules installed over a fresh water surface area of almost 2 million square feet. The project is expected to generate an estimated 16,170-megawatt-hours per year, enough to power almost 5,000 typical households, while offsetting about 8,170 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. The planned launch date for the solar plant on the Yamakura Dam is spring of 2018. Japan was somewhat forced to find new surfaces on which to install photovoltaic panels mostly due to the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants. Other countries and regions view solar power as the solution to the drought that’s been drying up their hydroelectric plans. In 2015, Brazil announced that it will build an overwhelming 350-megawatt...

Jose Martinez Apr13

Jose Martinez

For college students leaving UC Santa Barbara, the pull to stay in Santa Barbara can be strong. With beautiful beaches and mountains, a friendly city with a small town feel, and the chance to participate in all sorts of fun recreational sports, many consider this part of California to be paradise. For Yardi Development Manager Jose Martinez, that was the case when he was about to graduate from UCSB ten years ago. He had the added desire to stay close to his hometown of Oxnard, just 30 minutes south of Santa Barbara. A computer engineering major at UCSB, Martinez didn’t want to give up the chance to build a career with a strong company. He had worked hard as an undergrad to build up his computer programming knowledge, and wanted to put those skills to good use in his first job out of college. At a UCSB Career Fair, he discovered Yardi Systems, a Santa Barbara-based software-as-a-service provider for the real estate industry that was growing fast. Martinez submitted an application, was interviewed, and accepted a position with Yardi’s military housing division, then a new product for the company. “The team was implementing U.S. Army installations onto the software, and mapping data from a non-Yardi database onto Yardi’s platform. I had taken a SQL course in my last year of college because I suspected that was what companies might be looking for. I jumped in and was helping with SQL scripting solutions for military housing clients,” Martinez recalled. Fast forward a decade, and Martinez now heads the programming team for the Specialty Solutions suite, which includes projects for a variety of non-traditional housing markets. He oversees 40 employees, including software engineers, quality assurance specialists and technical writers. A portion of the team is based...

Travel Tech

For many international business travelers, crossing a border means more than just a stamp in their passport. It also means making sure cell phones and laptops stay secure. Whether it’s an intrusion from foreign hackers or the evermore-invasive surveillance of customs officials, protecting sensitive data – both personal and business – has never been more complicated. As a result, more and more jet-setting corporate employees are making sure to secure their devices before their trip and while on the move. “Although mobile devices can facilitate connecting back to headquarters and maintaining workflow, the risk for exploitation of these devices and the information accessed can greatly increase on overseas travel,” warns the US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). Before Departure The OSAC’s best practices guide for traveling with mobile devices suggests several steps business travelers should take before stepping out the front door. As a matter of course, all nonessential devices should simply be left at home. Data can also be kept local through a backup on an external hard drive or a secure cloud-based service. For travelling devices, it’s important to make sure all software and apps are up-to-date. That means upgrading passwords with stronger variables and initiating file encryption with tools provided by BitLocker, TrueCrypt or Apple Firevault. Bluetooth and GPS should also be disabled and available firewalls enacted. During Travel Once you’re on the road, there are plenty of ways for your device to be compromised. In addition to maintaining physical control whenever possible, the best way to protect your device in transit is to power down before entering customs. As an added step, Wired recommends disabling any biometric access – like Apple’s TouchID – and sticking to PIN accessibility. It’s good practice to disable automatic Wi-Fi connections and use a...