Monday, December 14, 2015

Sea-less Surfing

Technology is always evolving; we see it in our smartphones, our electric cars, and our tablet laptop hybrid concoctions. But it's not just our cool toys that are developing technologically, our environment is too. Large ponds that are actually wave pools are popping up with man-made waves big enough to surf. This advancement will not only change the rules of the surf, but could go on to change the Olympics in time for Tokyo in 2020. 

There are three important positions that can be taken when exploring this new trend - technological, business, and the surfer. 
Wave pools are a popular attraction at many theme parks and have been for many years. However, now there is the capability of creating actual ocean-like waves, with no time for flat-spells, constantly and consistently - two things you're not likely to get in the real ocean. Each wave only takes about 90 seconds, so there's plenty of time for plenty of rides. Four major technology companies in this area currently are set to compete for head title of this new sensation within the next two years. Surf Snowdonia and Wavegarden currently lead the pack. 
In August, Surf Snowdonia opened to the public bringing about the reality of this being a serious business venture. They almost reached their maximum capacity every day it was opened for the first two weeks. Drawing in $30-70 a surfer, it shouldn't take long to profit off of the $7 million expense to build the creation. Once they perfect the barrel wave technology, profits and customers will only increase. Another park is planned to open next year in Austin, Texas. 
This idea definitely draws in surfing fans from around the world. It' a great way to learn how to surf for beginners, yet provides constant waves for pros. However, it isn't the ocean. It lacks the saltiness of the sea, the marine life, and the overall depth and danger associated with riding a huge wave in the middle of the ocean, far from land. Paul Evans, editor of Surf Europe Magazine, for example, is not at all excited about the idea of a perfect wave pool. 

What Evans and the article seem to overlook is the fact this could very well be game changing for the world's view on surfing as a sport, as well as giving new hope to land-locked people. With this technology, waves are always available, making it now eligible to be an Olympic sport. People who have always wanted to try to surf yet live nowhere near the water's edge now have the opportunity to learn and try to surf, almost quite literally in their own backyard. This technology has opened up the world of surfing to the entire world. 

Wave creating and wave riding technology has been previously introduced by many parks, but neither have quite perfected it. Thanks to Wavegarden and Surf Snowdonia, we are closer than ever before.

*This post was originally published on my Info System class's blog

Thursday, December 10, 2015

SkyTruth leads to SeaTruth

Image from Wall Street Journal via Google Images

Illegal fishing, sometimes referred to as pirate fishing, is a huge problem throughout the world, but with new satellite technology, it is becoming easier to catch these criminals at sea. SkyTruth has come up with a way to determine if vessels tracked via satellite are illegally hunting fish.

Image from via Google Images
National Geographic gives readers an insight on the history of SkyTruth, the technology behind it, and the limits or problems the technology currently faces.
In 2012, SkyTruth used satellites and radar to find the ship responsible for an oil spill off Angola by noticing a white dot at the end of a black stretch on the images. Eventually they realized they could use this same detection system to look for pirate fishermen, and teamed up with Pew Charitable Trusts to help. This partnership ended up involving Google and Oceana as well, creating a website called Global Fishing Watch, allowing advocacy groups, fisheries, and governments to view the same information as SkyTruth.
This data is made available because of the Automatic Identification System, or the GPS used by the ships. Originally, this data was intended just so ships wouldn't run into each other or could help vessels in danger. SkyTruth figured out the normal patterns of a ship's movement and can therefore now determine what a given vessel is up to - including illegal fishing.
Unfortunately, there are some loopholes. Some vessels only send up a signal when they are halfway through their voyage, and some transfer their illegally caught fish to other vessels. Some avoid the Automatic Identification System completely! These activities limit the complete accuracy of Global Fishing Watch and allow some ships to slip under the radar. Because of this, SkyTruth is now working on an even more advanced tracking system, a "vessel story", similar to a credit card log. Until then, they are still advancing the Global Fishing Watch website, and hope to make some of its information available to the public in the future.

The article also mentions drones are being used to also collect data and track illegal fishermen, yet they never dive into the drone aspect. It also mentions the White House plans to do something about this, but doesn't mention what. That would be an interesting and informational addition to the already informative article.

According to National Geographic, 20-32% of the wild-caught seafood imported into the United States ends up coming from pirate fishermen. This makes the information relevant to readers; it's where a lot of seafood is coming from! To bring this attention to more readers, this should have also been developed a bit more so more people understand the importance of this issue. It provides a serious question to ponder as well. If illegal fishing stops or is no longer as common, will people in the United States still have the same amount of seafood available to them?

National Geographic Article

*I originally published this article on my Info System class's blog

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The2Tails Mermaid Tails

 Have you ever wanted to be a mermaid? Don't lie; I know you have. Or at least, you know someone who has. Still does even! Isn't it impossible? After all, at first glance, you do appear to be...a mere mortal...a human. With legs. Yuck, what good are they? All you want is a beautiful tail to help you swim in the sea. Well my dear, your wish has been granted.

 For a while, I searched near and far for affordable mermaid tails. I was fine with not necessarily buying one of my own, so long as I got to spend a day as a mermaid somewhere. Turns out, buying my own was actually the cheapest way to go! provides affordable, swimmable tails for all mermaid fans! They have a variety of sizes, from children to curvy adult. Oftentimes, they have sales and giveaways on their Facebook page as well.

Send in your pictures of you in their tails and you might even be featured on their sites!

Of course, the pictures weren't the only thing that interested me about my mermaid transformation (although, let's be honest, they played a major role). I am also a huge water baby, so getting in the water and swimming around was pretty much a must. As a child, you often swim like mermaids or dolphins, imagining what it'd be like to swim under the sea and live like that.
Thanks to the monofin-ed tails, that experience can be a reality. Like flippers, but together as one, the monofin provides powerful kicks to those who try it. It's really quite amazing. One kick can save so much energy and propel you so far, it's an amazing feeling. But be careful, though helpful, they are not a magical device that can make the non-swimmers professional. If you cannot swim, DO NOT try swimming in your fin as it will only be more difficult for you and could end in disaster.

*Photographs taken by Helios Photography

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cruising on the Wi-Fi Waves

Smartphones, smart watches, smart boards, now smart ships. Cruise ships, that is. For any of you who have previous traveled aboard a vessel of the sea, you know the struggles of on-board internet. Super slow speeds, practically dial-up, on the few computers in the "library" room keep ships stuck in the late 20th century. Well, not anymore. Royal Caribbean has announced their new SmartShips and Carnival has announced their new "Got Wifi?" campaign, with other cruise lines quickly following the fleets.
Fortune magazine does a good job of mentioning three key points to this new innovation incorporated into the ships - a step toward the future, new customer opportunities, and customer satisfaction. Faster wi-fi is the key to these upcoming successes in the cruising industry. "O3b Networks, a company that provides ship-to-shore communication systems, started working with Royal Caribbean back in 2011 to upgrade its internet connections. It developed a new type of high-throughput satellite which quadrupled connection speeds, according to Steve Collar, O3b’s CEO". These new speeds transport cruising from a pre-connected time into the current era. Because of the new internet availability found on board, businesses can now take their business conferences, training, and other trips via cruise ships without losing connection to the business world they need to stay connected with while on the trip. Whether this be via internet communications or simply business workers working on the vacation, it means many new customers for cruise lines. But business workers aren't the only new clients gained; millennials that can't seem to be separated from their connections can now stay connected while cruising, opening a whole new world to them.  With wi-fi so readily available now, people stay connected to social media, posting and sharing how much they're loving their cruise-cation, thereby promoting the cruising company and expanding their customers in that aspect as well. After a few trials of the new wi-fi systems were imposed, customer satisfaction jumped 50% because of the connections now available. Such improvement shows wi-fi is a strongly desired aspect of life nowadays, and now not only is it readily accessible from the seas, but the accessibility and connectivity are ever expanding and increasing to support the high demand of the quick-paced connected world we live in.
Unfortunately, the Fortune article fails to mention the losses this new implementation brings forth. It also focuses only on the wi-fi aspect although it is clear more advanced technologies are involved in the new smart ships emerging.
While it is true that this is a major step for cruise lines and cruise-goers, the importance of escaping the prison of a strong cellular or internet connection shouldn't be given up so easily. The world is full of natural beauty, and cruises are certainly a great way to get to experience a lot of that beauty, but if your nose is in your phone 24/7, why bother going on a cruise when you could do the same thing from home?

Fortune Article

*I originally posted this article on my Info Systems class blog;

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Elephant Pants

With the holidays quickly approaching, everyone is scrambling around trying to find the perfect gift. Well, look no further! The Elephant Pants makes the perfect gift for anyone! A portion of all sales made through the clickable link (just click on the top or bottom pictures or "The Elephant Pants" in the previous sentence) go to the African Wildlife Foundation to help raise awareness to elephant poaching and attempt to prevent it. When you order the Elephant Pants, you are helping to save the lives of many African elephants.

So far, $143,419 has been donated to the African Wildlife Foundation through purchases made by customers. They also are very supportive of other causes as well; for Anti-Bullying week they had an anti-bullying campaign completed by the many ambassadors and workers of the company. They've also teamed up with Hmong Hill bags in support of education in third world countries. The Elephant Pants is truly a company that cares about many charitable causes and does it's best to help others.

You don't want harem pants? No problem! The Elephant Pants also sells tapestries, bags, rompers, shorts, shirts, and leggings! Portions of ALL sales, not just pant sales, go to the African Wildlife Foundation! Some items even help other causes as well. In October, a portion Ruby and other red pants went to breast cancer research, for example.

If you're stuck on what to get someone for the holidays, browse The Elephant Pants before you freak out anymore.
Oh, and tell your friends.

PS. Sizes come Standard, Large, and Children's so that's one less thing to worry about!