Life On Mars? Scientists Find Liquid Water On The Red Planet

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Unless you happen to be a natural history buff or a science nerd, the word extremophile probably won’t mean much to you. However, once the world’s public has a chance to fully absorb the implications of a discovery made this month, I can pretty much guarantee it’ll be on everybody’s lips sooner or later.

Basically, an extremophile is an organism that thrives in conditions that are seemingly too extreme to support any kind of life. Last year, for example, scientists confirmed the existence of microorganisms living half a mile below the ice of Antarctica, but that isn’t the weirdest place you can find microbial life. Different types of extremophiles have been observed in places as inhospitable as the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, the driest deserts on Earth, boiling hot springs and even deep sea hydrothermal vents.

This month’s confirmation that liquid water exists on Mars has gotten a lot of people – myself included – wondering if the Martian landscape may include an extremophile, or two (billion, that is). In general, the rule of thumb here on Earth is that water generally supports life. Of course, it’ll be a while before we know for sure if the same holds true on the Red Planet, but the potential implications for such a discovery are literally enormous. It would be final, incontrovertible proof that Humankind is not alone after all and that, somewhere out there, life does indeed exist on other worlds. Just take a second and imagine that.

…But that isn’t to detract from the enormous significance of finally confirming that there is water on Mars, a planet long considered to be dead and devoid of anything even remotely connected with life as we know it.

New data retrieved from a NASA satellite has been used to link the long, dark streaks that appear on Martian slopes with salt deposits. If this is indeed the case, then these salt deposits could allow water to remain in a fluidic state for long enough for it to move around. This is no mean feat, as Mars features average temperatures well below zero and the low atmospheric pressure means that any liquid water would boil instantly. However, it has been theorized that the deposits of salt could change all this, altering the freezing and vaporization points of water and, in the process, allowing for the existence of the life giving liquid.

Long-term observation of the Red Planet corroborates this theory, as the streaks tend to change with the seasons, leading some scientists to link them with trickling water, however this could never be proven, until now.

Luju Ojha, a PhD student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has used data from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which makes use of an instrument called Crism to determine the chemistry at work on the Martian surface, to make the incredible claim.

By employing the Crism data and looking at four separate locations where the dark streaks regularly appear and disappear during the Martian summer, Mr Ojha was able to prove that these formations are covered with salts, particularly magnesium perchlorate, chlorate and chloride, the exact types of salts that are known to alter the freezing and vaporization points of running water.

So, it is fairly safe to say that we now know that there is water on Mars. The next big question (before we get to the possibility of anything living in it) is, where is it coming from? It has been suggested by some that ice exists at a great depth below the surface and by others that the salts are literally pulling moisture from the atmosphere itself. For now, we just don’t know.

…And now back to the million Dollar question, first put to us by the philosopher David Bowie in 1973, Is there life on Mars?

Interviewed by BBC News, Dr. Joe Michalski, a Mars researcher at London’s Natural History Museum was optimistic, “We know from the study of extremophiles on Earth that life can not only survive, but thrive in conditions that are hyper-arid, very saline or otherwise extreme in comparison to what is habitable to a human. In fact, on Earth, wherever we find water, we find life. That is why the discovery of water on Mars over the last 20 years is so exciting.”

The wonderful, exhilarating reality of this discovery is that, through its profound implication, you may very well see within your lifetime an answer to that most vexing (and famously unanswerable) of questions, are we alone in the universe?

Bone conduction headphones let me ditch the boombox, but still cycle safe

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Long bike rides are an easy way to burn calories without terrorizing your knees, but it helps to have some tunes to keep things fun. My rides usually take me through bustling urban streets and isolated stretches of waterfront, so pumping out a soundtrack using a Bluetooth speaker is usually a viable option — mostly, anyway. Unfortunately, the wind-dampened output is never ideal and a high audio volume can burn through battery life, and bringing a backup device adds weight. Luckily, the ideal solution recently crossed my desk: AfterShokz’s Bluez 2S bone-conduction headphones.

If you’re not familiar, this style of device delivers audio as sound vibrations to your inner ear through the bone, bypassing the eardrum entirely. I’d never regularly worn headphones while riding, mostly so I could remain aware of traffic and the world around me. (It’s also illegal to wear them while riding in New York City, at least in both ears.) I found the Bluez 2S struck the perfect balance between weight and audio output, while keeping situational awareness levels high. The experience is quite different from your traditional headphones, though, so they won’t be for everyone.

The AfterShokz Bluez 2S is a recent update to the Bluez 2 model, adding the new “PremiumPitch+” technology, which aims to boost the bottom end and prevent sound leakage, alongside slight changes to the external design. There are now perforated openings where the speakers rest on your cheek — before it was a solid surface. Even with this seemingly more exposed design, the Bluez 2S still meets IP55 standards for dust and sweat protection, which I successfully confirmed over an exceedingly hot and humid summer in NYC. The open speaker surface and revamped internals do indeed make a difference in audio quality and volume. It may not be profound, but it’s a noticeable improvement over its predecessor.

The arrival of the 2S dovetails with the announcement of the company’s sporty Trekz Titanium, which hit Indiegogo last month and quickly shot past its fundraising goal. Although we haven’t tested those yet, it’s easy to see the benefit from the Trekz’ flexible design. With the rigid U-shaped plastic band of the Bluez 2S that goes around the back of your head, you can imagine the potential for breaking while bouncing around in a bag. That said, I’ve had them packed in both full bags and jostling around in sparse ones, and nothing has happened to them in several months of use. Also, the headband does get in the way of sunglasses to a certain degree. Since the speakers work best when resting snugly against the cheek, I’ve had the arms of the glasses positioned above the band (outside just feels weird), which tends to tilt the glasses down and crowd my face a bit. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s certainly not a great pairing.

So how do they sound? First, you need to understand that this is an entirely different experience than regular headphones, with its own set of trade-offs. Music will sound a bit different with this type of technology. The overall sound may be a bit duller compared to your standard cans, but you’ll also get a pleasantly spacious head-feel when listening, which is hard to convey. Speech comes across clearly, but the low-end will be lacking in comparison. I frequently have the volume near maximum when I’m hustling on bustling city streets and feeling the music. In quieter environments, however, there’s more headroom in volume flexibility. The claim is that PremiumPitch+ helps increase bass, while dampening vibration and reducing sound leakage. The Bluez 2S may not be the loudest pair I’ve listened too — Damson’s Headbones still hold that title — but they provide plenty of kick without going overboard on the vibration.

It helps to be a glutton for aural stimulation with bone-conduction headphones. Unlike the isolating experience you get with in- or on-ear models, you get both music and ambient sound leaking in — which is part of the benefit for me. As long as you’re not rocking full volume, you can easily have conversations and hear cars approaching from behind, making it a flexible and safer option if music is a must while riding a bike. For the same reason, they’re great when you’re walking around the neighborhood, but the sound of a New York subway will certainly overpower your tunes.

On the hardware side, you get Bluetooth connectivity, a volume control rocker that doubles as a battery check and EQ changer, power and a multipurpose button on the left earpiece. Since I’m right-handed, the left-side button is perfect for me. It can pause/play music, skip tracks, redial the last phone number and take calls with its onboard mic. The battery life is rated at six hours of continuous play and 10 days of standby. Indeed, it’s great to find the headset charged after neglecting it for a week. It takes about two hours to charge up, but I’ve rarely drained the headset fully, so it seems to top off rather quickly for me. Bluetooth range is the standard 33 feet, letting you pair with a computer and wander around the kitchen or nearby room without stuttering. It stays paired with your last device though, so be sure to check it’s not still tied to the computer if you leave the house and don’t hear your tunes. Also, once paired, if the current track isn’t playing still, try skipping forward or back one.

As a comparison, I tested the Damson Headbones, a Kickstarted bone-conduction model from the UK. First, both models get points for awkward naming conventions. The Headbones do have a lot more features including a line-out for earbuds or as a passthrough for non-Bluetooth speakers. They have a bit more playtime at eight hours, APT-X and NFC support, and fold down into a rigid carrying case. As I mentioned, the audio volume is also significantly louder than the Bluez 2S.

This comes at a price, though: The Headbones are more than twice the weight, with a bulky portion that sits at the back of your neck to house the extra flourishes and battery power. Since I ride with a backpack, the hefty rear section bumped up against it making them difficult to wear. While it pumps out a beefier sound, I found the ear (actually cheek) pieces to be a bit too snug and at higher volumes the vibration was uncomfortable. They’re definitely a quality set of bone-conduction headphones, but didn’t mesh well with my needs and preferences.

The bottom line here is that while you’re not going to have the same audio experience as a standard set of headphones, the benefits of the Bluez 2S outweigh the negatives, at least for me in how I use them. I get a comfortable, lightweight wireless headset that provides tunes at a respectable volume, while still being able to maintain awareness about what’s going on around me — an ideal scenario for bike riding. The AfterShokz Bluez 2S is available for pre-order now for $100, while the Trekz Titanium version should arrive in January 2016 for $130.

Bone conduction technology has been around for many years in the walkie talkie accesory market, it has made a several appearances over the years in the leisure headset/earpiece industry, it is perfect for using whilst driving or cycling, like this article shows,  not having to talk into a mic is a massive plus for using this technology.

Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dead At 61

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The world of professional wrestling is in mourning following the death of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper last month. Piper suffered a cardiac arrest whilst at his home in Hollywood, California. He was just 61 years old.

For many kids (including myself) that first became fans in the mid-late 1980’s, Roddy Piper was the definitive wrestling heel (industry jargon for a bad guy). Whether hosting his notorious Piper’s Pit segment, or facing off against Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with partner Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorf) at the inaugural WrestleMania event, Piper was one of the industry’s biggest starts during one of its most popular and lucrative periods.

He was also instrumental in making the WWF (now WWE) brand the biggest in professional wrestling. In addition to headlining the very first WrestleMania event (a pioneering Pay-Per View extravaganza that could easily have ruined the company had it proved to be a failure), Piper also featured in one of WrestleMania II’s three main event matchups, thus securing his position as one of wrestling’s most bankable stars.

His undercard matches at WrestleManias III, VI and (the stone cold classic against Bret The Hitman Hart at) VIII are absolute highlights of a classic era of pro wrestling. He even acted as a guest referee for the main event of Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Younger fans, however, will undoubtedly remember Piper teaming with fellow veterans Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy Superfly Snuka to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV.

In an era defined by outlandish babyface characters with bodybuilder physiques and sometimes questionable in-ring abilities, Roddy Piper stood out as a genuine wrestler’s wrestler, an authentic tough guy – and the necessarily evil counterpoint to the simplistic, superheroic good guys being featured at the time by the WWF.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Roderick Toombs was always an unruly personality. Expelled from school at a young age and subsequently falling out with his father, (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Toombs hit the road, staying in various youth hostels and earning a buck wherever he could. Eventually, the tempestuous youth wound up in a wrestling ring, making his in-ring debut at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

The kid was tough (he had a Black Belt in Judo), displayed a natural affinity for the ring and he had a roguish charisma all of his own. In addition, he really could play the bagpipes. After early stints jobbing in Verne Gagne’s AWA, NWA Houston and Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in Dallas, Texas, Piper debuted for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood promotion and soon became the outfit’s top heel. A slew of regional Championships followed.

Whilst working for promoter Roy Shire in the NWA’s San Francisco territory, Piper developed his character and ring work. In Los Angeles, he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr, Hector Guerrero and ultimately locked up against their father, Mexican wrestling legend Gory Guerrero (father of future WWE Champ Eddie). In The Pacific Northwest, he unseated former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco for Mid Atlantic’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to hold twice more.

In the mid 1980’s, Piper entered Vince McMahon’s insurgent WWF. He was billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland and was well known for being the only wrestler to wear a kilt to the ring. Fans ate it up. Feuding with such stars as Hulk Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jerry The King Lawler and Bret Hitman Hart, to name but a few, Piper always brought out the best in his opponents and it was with the WWF that he became a household name, as well as one of the industry’s biggest ever stars.

In the mid-1990’s, Piper wrestled for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he debuted as one of the company’s headline stars. He feuded, once again, with Hulk Hogan and also battled old rivals such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Whilst working for WCW, he was even chosen to headline ‘Starrcade’, the company’s flagship Pay-Per-View event.

In his later career, Piper made sporadic reappearances for the WWE, briefly worked for TNA, enjoyed a reasonably successful acting career and also hosted his own podcast. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed with the illness in 2006, but had completely beaten it into remission as of last year. Despite the setbacks caused by his ill health, Piper wrestled his last match in 2011.

Although he never held a recognised World Heavyweight Championship, Piper will be remembered as one of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time, a reign that was attested to during his appearance at this year’s WrestleMania XXXI, where he congratulated then-IC Champion Daniel Bryan on his victory. He also held other notable belts, such as the United States Championship, the WWF/E Tag Team Championship (with Ric Flair) and the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

Piper was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, as well as the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

On the August 3rd edition of RAW, the entire WWE roster, each member clad in Roddy’s signature Hot Rod t-shirts opened the show with a very moving ten bell salute in tribute to the fallen legend.

WWE boss Vince McMahon said, “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

UFC Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34-second victory over Bethe Correia to Piper’s memory, “I just want to say that we lost a really close friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter (…) And so I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today.”

Former WWE and WCW Champion (and Piper’s frequent in-ring rival) Bret Hart wrote, “I can’t find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away. He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career. In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy Piper reaching out to help me, I’m sure I would’ve been a mere footnote in wrestling. He was always there for me. He was family to me.” Hart also recalled that, following his stroke in 2002; Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in hospital.

Hulk Hogan, another of Piper’s famous adversaries, said of Piper that, “He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace”

Other friends, colleagues and admirers of Piper’s included former WWF Champ The Iron Sheik, who said “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba” and multi-time World Champion Chris Jericho Tweeted, “Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and Wrestlemania rival #RoddyPiper. One of the greatest who ever lived, but more importantly a legit sweet family man with a good heart”. Former WWE Divas Champion Paige called Piper a “legend” and Tweeted a picture of a broken heart, an image which reflected the feelings of many a wrestler and wrestling fan.

Roddy’s son, Colt, said that his father was his “best friend” and a “great man” saying that he would miss him forever and “always try to be the man he raised me to be”.

Rowdy Roddy Piper lived a life littered with accomplishments. Not many of us will ever be declared as legendary by our peers and fewer still will be able to stack 30+ Championship reigns anywhere on our resume, but those weren’t the man’s proudest achievements. Piper had been married to his wife, Kitty, since 1982 and is survived by her and the four children they lovingly raised together. My thoughts are with them, as well as everyone else who knew, worked with, or simply enjoyed to watch the late, great man work his magic in front of a capacity crowd. R.I.P Roddy.

How to boost Two Way Radio range?

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A walkie talkie is one of the most essential communication devices which we use these days and its use can be found across a wide range of industries such as construction, military and aviation. To the layman, a walkie talkie is nothing but a radio transceiver which utilizes radio wave signals to facilitate two-way communication for relatively short ranges. Hence, it is also commonly known as a two-way radio. When it comes to walkie talkies, there are several well-known brands that manufacture them. But Motorola has always outperformed its competitors and has constantly come up with start-of-the-art walkie talkie models that are embedded with the latest technologies and features. So let us look at two of its successful two way radio models and then move on to learn more about how to boost walkie talkie range in order to achieve maximum efficiency.

The Motorola DP2400 and DP4400 two-way radios

The Motorola DP2400 is the ideal choice if you are looking for a reliable yet cost effective two-way radio that discharges its duties with flair. Not only does this model offer scalable communication solutions, it also comes with a host of noteworthy features like support for both UHF and VHF, waterproof capability and intelligent announcements based on audio and voice. It comes with 3 programmable buttons and can be operated across 16 different radio channels depending on your choice.

Moving on to the Motorola DP4400, this model makes sense if you want the best and unrivaled audio quality available in modern day two-way radios. In a bit to boost its USP, this model also comes with Bluetooth and GPS capabilities. It supports both the VHF and UHF frequency bands and has five programmable buttons along with an additional button for emergency scenarios. Plus, it can work seamlessly across 32 different radio channels and is designed to withstand splashes and submersions in water.

Tips to boost walkie talkie range

Boosting the range of your walkie talkie is pretty easy if you have understanding of their basic functionality and how they actually work. In case you are not interested in knowing the specifics, you can always rely on the following tips to boost your walkie talkie range-

  • Use fresh batteries – Using fresh batteries have proven to improve the communication range of walkie talkies and make them perform at their peak. Hence, you will be at a lesser risk of experiencing signal drops and disturbances in your communication.
  • Make use of a digital repeater –If your walkie talkie is analogue interoperable like the Motorola DP2400, you can opt for a digital repeater to extend its range. The job of a repeater is to listen to communication at one frequency and then transmit the same in another frequency. So linking multiple repeaters together allows them to cover a large area and thereby boost your walkie talkie’s range significantly.
  • Communicate from higher ground – This is obviously one of the basic thumb rules of walkie talkie communication. When experiencing disturbance in your communication channel or lack of range, it is always advisable to reach for higher ground and then try communicating with your partner at the other end. Communicating from higher ground will eliminate all obstructions that prevent a radio signal from reaching its destination.
  • Take advantage of moist weather – Arid weather conditions are not at all conducive for radio communication as the signals don’t tend to travel as far as you would like to. But that is not the case during moist weather conditions. Studies have shown that radio signals tend to travel much farther when the weather is moist and humid. So always take advantage of moist weather conditions to improve the range of your walkie talkie.
  • Stay clear of large buildings and structures –Any large building or structure will surely impact the range of your walkie talkie and it is advisable to stay clear of them when communicating through it. A radio signal needs to have a clear line of sight in order to travel the farthest distance possible and this is only possible if it does not have any barriers in its path.

Environmental and physical factors are often the culprits for a drop in the range of a walkie talkie. By making use of the above mentioned tips, you can easily understand how to boost walkie talkie range and benefit from it whenever the need arises.

Taking The …. Campaign To Urinate In The Shower (In An Effort To Save Water, Apparently), Goes National

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Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza committed a major social faux pas by peeing in the showers at the gym? Well, it turns out that he wasn’t simply being lazy and disgusting. No, he was actively taking a stand to save the world’s water. Or something.

The Go With The Flow campaign, spearheaded by University of East Anglia students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, is actively trying to encourage students to urinate in the shower as a way of saving water, apparently blissfully unaware that most students (the male ones, at least) probably already do.

In fact, male students have actually been ‘saving water’ for generations now. In addition to mastering the dubious art of shower urination, young men have also managed to ‘save water’ by urinating in other places, too.

Yes, that’s right, by spending literally decades peeing in places as diverse as the alley outside the pub, our mates’ mum’s carpet, empty beer bottles, abandoned port-a-loos The Download Festival and especially Swindon, male students in the UK will probably have saved the equivalent of the Atlantic ocean by the end of the year (possibly even the weekend, if the drinks are cheap enough).

You’re welcome, everyone.

Joking aside (not really), 20-year-old Chris Dobson, who has almost certainly destroyed his own chances of ever getting any female students to join him in the shower, reckons that if every student at his own Uni does just one ‘number one’ a day in the shower, they will save enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool 26 times over.

Of course, even that isn’t particularly impressive, because, if that happened, all the water would just overfill the pool and flood the changing rooms and the car park, making the entire town centre stink of chlorine – and nobody needs that.

His findings also imply that nobody ever pees in public swimming pools. A fact which most of us know to be false.

In fact, according to ‘Pissy Chrissy’ if all UEA students accepted the challenge (as I said, not counting the 50% of them that probably already do), they’d save a combined £125,000 per annum. If the population of East Anglia joined in, they’d be looking at around £42.5 Million.

“We’ve done the maths, and this project stands to have a phenomenal impact”. Said Dobson, accidentally outing himself as a maths nerd as well as a dude that pees in the shower. Sexy prospect.

As you can extrapolate, the numbers would be amazing if the whole country took part in the ‘challenge’ of pissing in the shower once a day, but personally, I think it would be a shame if it was limited to just the shower. Let’s all find exotic places to pee and, when questioned, simply state that we’re doing it for the planet. The power is yours (a brand new no-prize for everyone that gets the reference).

Of course, the ‘Go With The Flow’ initiative only saves water if you flush after every trip to the loo, which is, in and of itself, a huge waste of water. But we already knew that. In fact, the entire thing would appear to be based on assumptions about other people’s urination habits, rather than any sort of quantifiable facts.

On a final note, I just hope some bright spark doesn’t confuse this latest viral campaign with the ‘ice bucket challenge’  – because, quite frankly, nobody needs that.

…And on that note, I’m off to take a quick shower.

PS – by the same logic, you can also save water by taking a dump in your local Sainsbury’s.

Global Hearing Protection Devices Market: North America has the largest market by 2020

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Hearing protection devices (HPDs) help to reduce the amount of sound energy being transmitted into inner ear and protect ear against hazardous noise. Hearing protection device prevents people from occupational hearing loss due to operational or presence of noisy equipment such as stone saws and rock drills in the work place. It also prevents from non-occupational hearing loss due to recreational activities, loud music and fire arms. Hearing protection devices are of many types such as earplugs, earmuffs, hearing band, canal caps and uniform attenuation earmuffs. A good hearing protection device has various characteristics such as good seal, comfortable to wear and leads to effective communication. Shape and size of hearing protection device varies according to individual’s comfort, size of ear canal and environmental conditions. Hearing protection devices are used while working in industries such as gold mines, manufacturing sites, construction, forestry and pharmaceuticals. In addition, working in military can also cause hearing loss as some weapons are so loud that can cause immediate total loss of hearing. Therefore, hearing protection devices are required to protect a person from hazardous noise exposure. Hearing protection device helps to reduce tinnitus-ringing in the ears. They can also prevent person from fatigue and irritability.

North America has the largest market for hearing protection devices followed by Europe. This is due to technological advancement, increasing awareness about noise pollution hazards and high disposable income in the region. Asia is expected to show high growth rate in the hearing protection devices market in next few years due to increasing prevalence of hearing problems and rising government initiatives in this field.

Technological advancement, passing of health and safety regulations, rising noise pollution level and growing demand for user comfort devices are some of the key factors driving the growth for global hearing protection devices market. In addition, their easy use, low cost and increasing consumer health awareness about noise hazards are driving the hearing protection devices market. However, manufacturing with lesser noise and off-shore manufacturing are some of the major factors restraining the growth for global hearing protection devices market.

Ongoing innovation in hearing protection devices would develop opportunity for growth of global hearing protection device market. Rising number of mergers and acquisitions among companies and increasing focus on style, fashion and aesthetic appeal are some the major trends that have been observed in global hearing protection devices market. Some of the major companies operating in the global hearing protection devices market are Honeywell International Inc., 3M, ADCO Hearing Products, GN ReSound, Centurion Safety Products Ltd, Amplifon, Delta Plus, Elvex Corporation, Hellberg Safety AB, Moldex-Metric AG & Co. KG., Siemens Audiology Solutions and Sonomax Hearing Healthcare, Inc.

As this article shows, Hearing protection devices are an important part of a lot of peoples working lives, protecting peoples hearing is a very important part of health and safety legislation.

Covert and Comfortable: A new generation of earpiece designed to maintain awareness

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This is a common issue in many industries, the police, event staff and door staff all have to wear earpieces for a long time, this little device is great. We still need to be convinced if this is the answer to a curly tube.

Developed by a team of audiologists using technology originally created for the hearing-aid industry, earHero is a tiny earpiece that provides increased sound clarity without limiting a user’s ability to hear their surroundings, while being small enough to be discreet.

“The response has been really positive. Most guys hate wearing a typical earpiece; after a 10-hour shift, their ears are burning,” said Matt Murphy, founder of earHero. “They just want to do their jobs and be able to hear everything around them without being in pain.”

Built for extreme comfort

Used by the Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement agencies around the U.S., earHero is more comfortable than a traditional “coiled-tube” earpiece and can be adapted to any standard radio used by law enforcement. Its two tiny speakers, secured by thin silicone guides, fit securely in your ear, providing clear audio without blocking out the sounds around you, all while preventing ear fatigue.

In fact, the earpiece is so unobtrusive that you’re able to comfortably talk on the phone without removing it.

Offers Total situational awareness

A traditional earpiece sits in one ear with a coiled tube leading to the radio, so an officer’s hearing is essentially impeded. Not only does listening through a single ear require the volume to be louder, which can potentially drown out ambient sounds, it also impedes our natural sense of sound localization—the process by which we locate a sound.

“Say you hear something over your right shoulder,” Murphy said. “Because the sound came from the right side, it will be a little louder and come a little bit sooner to your right ear than it will to your left ear. Your brain processes this information and tells you that the sound came from your right. But, with one ear essentially plugged, your brain isn’t able to perform this localization.”

earHero doesn’t obstruct the natural process, allowing users to accurately locate sounds. Having the highest level of awareness of your environment when on the job can be crucial. With earHero, you’re able to hear whisper-level sounds from yards away and determine where they’re coming from.

Easier on your ears

The design of earHero is not only more effective from a performance standpoint, it also is safer for your ears. Because earHero uses tiny speakers in both ears, you can achieve clarity with a lower volume than you would be able to through a single ear. This translates into less pressure on the inner workings of your ear.

In addition, the earHero is small enough to fit inside the ear without obstructing it, meaning that you can hear more and the pressure inside the ear has a way to escape. The result is a more comfortable experience, but also one that is less likely to lead to hearing loss.

Indeed, earHero offers law enforcement professionals a comfortable, effective and covert earpiece option. Its innovative design is easy on the ear and does not impede situational awareness.

Source –

I Just Got a Spy Earpiece…Now How Do I Wear it?

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In simplest terms, the loop goes around your neck and the small earpiece goes inside of your ear. It is important, however, to ensure that the loop is well concealed, otherwise it can totally give the game away. Wear a high collared shirt or blouse in order to hide the loop around your neck.

The earpiece itself is usually flesh coloured (different shades and skin colours are available), but even if it isn’t, the earpiece is so small that people are unlikely to even notice it.

The microphone needs to be positioned near to your mouth, but not so near that people can see it. Once again, a high collar will be of some service here, because you can place it underneath the collar line (spy earpiece microphones tend to be rather powerful for their size – but remember to test the whole setup first before you go into the field). If you happen to be wearing a tie, then so much the better, because the microphone can be easily clipped behind the tie (where it is very unlikely to be noticed).

Next, take the loop (making sure that it is under your clothing) and ensure that you can easily access the battery, beeper button and any other attached gadgets. You can run the battery straight into your pocket, provided your shirt is long enough, or, if you’re feeling particularly clever, you could even cut a small hole inside of your jeans pocket and thread the beeper/battery through the inside of both your shirt and your jeans (this will also work for your phone).

The hardest things to hide will be your attached cellphone or two-way radio. The cell can sit, quite happily, in your pocket (in fact, people generally expect you to be carrying one anyway), but the earpiece’s connection to the headphone socket must not be seen (keep it under your clothes, as discussed above). The two-way radio option is a little more difficult. Two-ways can be hidden on your belt (underneath loose-fitting garments), around your back (again, covered by clothing) or even strapped to your leg. It is definitely harder to hide a two-way, so it isn’t the ideal option for prolonged covert usage.

Finally, we advise you to check the whole thing out in the mirror first. Make sure that outside influences such as wind, rain, pushy crowds or actions such as running to catch a train are not going to expose your subtle setup. If you think you are too exposed, try different permutations on the advice provided, until you find something that works for you.

The Shakespeare Code: Does a 400-Year-Old Portrait Offer a New Image of The Bard?

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Historian and botanist Mark Griffiths claims to have cracked a centuries old code, revealing a brand new image of William Shakespeare.

The picture appears on the title page of the 1598 volume ‘The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes’ by the horticulturist John Gerard.  Apparently, Griffiths was able to decode a Latin cipher “of the kind loved by the Elizabethan aristocracy” which then revealed the identity of the man in the picture as William Shakespeare.

If he is correct, then this picture is the only demonstrably authentic portrait of the famous playwright that exists from his lifetime. But remember, I said ‘if’ – Mr. Griffiths is by no means the first person to make such a sensational ‘discovery’.

It is a spectacular claim for sure, but one that is fast gaining currency in the international news media. The only accepted images of The Bard are the famous picture from the cover of Shakespeare’s First Folio and the effigy on his monument in Stratford-Upon-Avon, both of which were created some time after his death.

Griffiths, who is presently writing a book about Gerard, came across the picture whilst browsing a first edition copy of ‘The Herball’. The image appears to have been created by William Rogers, the first English engraver and a man of much renown in his own right. Copperplate engravings, such as the ones he made of Queen Elizabeth I, are key pieces of historical evidence for the study of England in Tudor times.

Rogers’ title page shows four male figures surrounded by flowers and symbols, so Griffiths decided to try and discern the identities of the four men.

One of the men is apparently Gerard himself, whilst the second image appears to depict the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens. The third man is assumed to be Lord Burghley, who was an adviser to the Queen and a patron of the book’s author. The three aforementioned men could be readily identified using existing portraits from the period. However, the identity of the fourth figure, clad in classical Roman garb, wearing a laurel wreath and holding a both an ear of sweetcorn and a fritillary flower, eluded him.

Griffiths began to read up on the sort of codes, ciphers and hidden messages frequently used in Tudor times and, from his research, he concluded that the identity of the fourth man had to be Shakespeare himself.

For Griffiths, there can be no doubt at all that this is the definitive image of William Shakespeare, “For me, it is not about doubt or supposition. I’m faced with a series of facts that I can’t gainsay, as much as I try. This is what these facts are, these are what the plants are, this is what they signify, this is what the symbol decodes as. All of that adds up to Shakespeare. I can’t make that – and believe me I’ve tried – add up to anybody else but Shakespeare.”

However, some of the ‘clues’ unearthed by Griffiths do seem to be somewhat strange, to say the least. For example, the image around the fourth man shows an arrowhead with an ‘E’ stuck to it, alongside a figure four. For Griffiths, this equates to the Latin word Quater, which was (apparently) a slang term for the number 4 in games of chance. Add the ‘E’ on the end of the word and it becomes quatere, which is the infinitive of the Latin verb quatior, meaning ‘ to shake’. Accordingly, Griffiths believes that the number 4 seen nearby can also be interpreted as a spear. Literally, this means ‘shake spear’.

Another ‘clue’ is the presence of the word ‘Or’. Apparently, Shakespeare’s father was presented with a golden coat of arms around the time that ‘The Herball’ was being written – and the heraldic symbol for gold is ‘Or’.

Elsewhere, he also points out references to various Shakespeare writings, particularly Venus and Adonis, in which a fritillary flower appears. He even goes as far as to suggest that the ear of sweetcorn is a reference to a single line of dialogue from Titus and Andronicus.

So, is it Shakespeare’s picture, or is Griffiths simply getting carried away looking for clues as to the identity of a so-far-unknown man who lived 400 years ago? Opinion is so far divided and, given the age of the text and the many-fold interpretations offered by the image, it seems doubtful that anybody will be able to either conclusively prove, or disprove, Griffith’s theory.

Professor Michael Dobson, Director of The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham said that, “I can’t imagine any reason why Shakespeare would be in a botany textbook. It’s a lovely picture. Everybody is very fond of it. But that doesn’t mean that he had anything to do with it apart from the fact that he read it. (…) It’s a man in a toga, holding a little bit of a corn on the cob in one hand and a fritillary in the other.”

In his defense, Mr. Griffiths has posited that Shakespeare may have been patronized by Burghley and that he could potentially have worked with Gerard on the book, hence his appearance on the cover, but critics of the theory find this hard to swallow, especially due to the lack of any hard historical evidence to back it up.

World-renowned Shakespeare expert Stanley Wells took his disdain to Twitter, saying (slightly flippantly) “So apparently Shakespeare went around in fancy dress holding a fritillary in one hand and a cob of corn in the other.” Of course, the ‘fancy dress’ could be symbolic of the man’s connection to the theatre, but equally, it could be a romanticized portrait of a nature spirit.

As reported by The Guardian, Griffiths hit back at his critics, saying, “What we have here is a series of incontrovertible facts. I dare say people will think: ‘Oh no. It’s not him.’ But there is no other construction that can be placed on these facts. It is not an assumption that he is Shakespeare, it is algebra … it is an equation.”

Erm…No it isn’t. It is a series of educated guesses, aided and abetted by what seems to be more than a little wishful thinking.

The image and indeed the story as a whole, may put science fiction fans in mind of the 2007 ‘Doctor Who’ adventure ‘The Shakespeare Code’, in which a young and handsome Shakespeare portrayed by Dean Lennox Kelly (and eerily similar to the man pictured in ‘The Herball’) aids The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones in expelling Carrionite witches from The Globe Theatre. Indeed, Griffiths himself compared the image of a young, good-looking Shakespeare to the appearance of a contemporary film star.

So, when we gaze upon this Elizabethan image, are we looking at the only authentic picture of William Shakespeare? Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, however the fact that Mr. Griffiths is now claiming to have uncovered a new play by Shakespeare does suggest, that, whether he manages to convince us or not, we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.

What’s Two Way Communication?

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Two-way communication is actually a process through which two parties communicate with one another in a reciprocal manner. Basically, it is something that lets you know that the other person has listened and understood you just perfect. Sometimes, it can also can also be referred to as a form of public relations process where a company and another group share ideas. Here is a detailed description of two-way communication and its applications in the field of business.

The Model

Two-way communication involves an individual or group expressing an idea, which is then received and comprehended by any other group or individual. The message is processed by the receiver who then returns with a message. This message is further received by the first sender, thereby letting both parties to communicate with each other and understand the ideas.

The detailed two-way communication model comprises of several specific steps. The first step is to create an idea that a party wants to deliver. The mode of transmission is chosen by the sender to organise symbols and words for transmission. Then the message is transmitted via the selected method. The next step is about allowing the other party to receive a message, that also transfers the initiative to the receiver. Further, the receiver decodes the message to understood it exactly how it was meant to be according to the sender. Some employers tend to ignore this when providing instructions and assume that telling someone is enough. But it is important to realize that communication is ineffective until there is proper understanding. The last step is the use of the message or communication by the receiver who may discard it, complete the job as directed, save the information etc.

Modes and Applications

People and organisations engage in two-way communication in several different ways through a variety of modes and devices. One of them is face-to-face contact which involves two or more people gathering within the same space and talking to each other directly, thereby allowing for the greatest or best possible communication ranges ensuring the perfect transmission of verbal or non-verbal signals. Another very effective mode is telephone that also lets the voice tone and inflection to help in communication to the meaning of the message. Written formats, whether letters, text messages or emails, can also prove to be quite effective, but usually they lack the nuance and subtlety often found in verbal modes of communication.

When it comes to the features and parameters associated with two-way communication systems, the list ranges greatly from basic hand held two-way transceivers using an individual channel to the very complex systems enabling the sharing of different channels between a large number of users. A number of elements such as geographical location, frequency band, system costs, number of people involved and purpose of communication work as the deciding factor while selecting the type of system. A very essential feature for all types of two-way communication systems is the compatibility and co-ordination of each and every component.

Two-way communication systems have always been used by a large number of businesses for staying connected with their staff or employees while working inside or outside the office premises. Some spheres that use two-way communication regularly are mass communication, public transportation, construction businesses, aviation, advertisement, security, marketing and several others. Police department, fire personnel and emergency response teams also use the two-way communication systems such as telephone, computerized dispatches or radio that allows the professionals to stay informed and updated about the activities of their teams or employees.

Types of Two-Way Communication

When it comes to public relations or marketing, two-way communication basically involves two types of processes – Asymmetric communications and Symmetric communications.

Asymmetric communication takes place between two parties with one of them usually holding more control or power over the process. Typically, this happens in case of a huge company that engages in Public Relations to communicate a variety of ideas to specific markets or general public.

Symmetric two-way communication involves two parties being equal in the process. Such process is generally used by a company to let customers give more feedback that works for bringing improvements to the business. The expression also makes the customer feel a sense of value to the company.