SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – It sounds like the ultimate do-it-yourself project: the print-your-own-home.
In place of bricks and mortar and the need for a construction crew, a customisable building plan which transforms itself from computer screen graphics into a real-world abode thanks to the latest in 3D printing technology.
That dream is still beyond our reach, but several teams of architects across the globe are engaged in efforts to take a major step towards it by creating the world's first 3D-printed homes.
Amsterdam-based Dus Architects is one of the firms involved - it plans to print a canal house in the Dutch capital.
It's worth taking a moment to reflect on that premise; the machine will not modestly 3D-print the usual cup, curtain ring or piece of jewellery, but an actual building.
The printer that will make this possible - the KamerMaker - is a marvel in itself. The name translates from Dutch as "room-maker".
With a shiny metallic exterior, built from the carcass of a shipping container, it is 6m (19ft 8in) tall and would easily fill the average sitting room.
Using different types of plastics and wood fibres, the device takes computer-drawn plans and uses them to make first the building's exterior walls, then the ceilings and other parts of individual rooms and then finally its furniture.
The pieces will be assembled on site like a huge jigsaw with parts attached to each other thanks to some of their edges having being shaped like giant Lego pieces, and the use of steel cabling to "sew" the elements together.
Each part is created using a layer-by-layer process in which solid objects take shape by printing thin "slices" of the construction materials, one level at a time, which bind together.
When I interviewed the architects involved - Hedwig Heinsman and Hans Vermeulen - for the BBC World Service's Click - I was able to stand comfortably with them inside the machine.
Looking across I could see the device's huge print head was connected to a flexible tube running down from the ceiling through which it could pour the heated plasticised material that will ultimately form the house's structure.
As with its smaller counterparts, the print head moves firstly horizontally and then vertically building up salami slices of the 3D object.
The enormous contraption will be able to fabricate individual life-sized rooms in one print session.
I was shown a rosette window frame that had recently been "printed'" as a demonstration.
The young architects were visibly excited. Architecture is normally a slow and painstaking discipline. After graduation their first conventional building, from commission to execution, was six years in the making. This 3D project should be concluded in a fraction of that time.
By the end of this year the fully printed facade of the building will be erected, though it will be several more years before the project is completed.
"We are makers at heart and a 3D printer offers us a DIY kit," says Ms Heinsman.
Mr Vermeulen adds he believes his industry is "at the forefront of new industrial revolution".
Their firm has formed a collective that includes designers and computer scientists who are sharing their expertise and drawing on open-source computer tools to build this canal house.
The 3D printer stands like a work of modern sculpture on a grassy patch outside the collective's slightly raffish offices.
It's not just that it would it be too big to fit inside their offices, the team wants the public to be able to see the virtuosity of this 3D printer in action.
They also have a more regular-sized 3D printer inside their offices which is used to build doll's house-sized architectural models of the canal house on a scale of 1:20. Critically, the instructions for building these small versions are from the same computer files that the architects have designed for the actual house.
The canal house will be built over time from the bottom up.
Ms Heinsman says you might notice a change in the aesthetic of the building as your eyes travel up it.
1:20 scale models were built from the computer blueprints to help optimise the design
"The top part of the facade will be the most beautifully ornamented because by then we will have perfected our knowledge of how the printer works," she explains.
It is unlikely that the finished KamerMaker 3D-printed house will be built as cheaply as conventional canal houses which are mass-produced by developers. But the architects are treating it as an experiment which provides a proof of concept and proof of the unbound limits of 3D printing.
It may seem like science fiction or the kind of fantastical vanity project expected of a millionaire, but this is really a visionary concept of idealistic but level-headed architects operating with modest budgets, whose focus is on social housing.
Developers may not be quaking in their boots just now but 3D printing has the potential to disrupt construction and the very look of our towns and cities.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Former South African President Nelson Mandela has returned home in Johannesburg from a hospital where he spent 10 days under treatment for pneumonia, according to a statement from the office of the presidency.
It was his third trip to a hospital since December, when he was treated during a three-week stay for a lung infection and had a procedure to remove gallstones.
"[Mandela] has been discharged from hospital today, 6 April, following a sustained and gradual improvement in his general condition," the statement said on Saturday.
"The former president will now receive home-based high care."
Mandela had received similar treatment at his home after a hospital stay in December.
During Mandela's hospitalisation, doctors drained fluid from his lung area, making it easier for him to breathe.
Earlier in March, the anti-apartheid leader was admitted to hospital overnight for what authorities said was a successful scheduled medical test.
Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994 after elections were held, bringing an end to the system of white racist rule known as apartheid.
After his release from prison in 1990, Mandela was widely credited with averting even greater bloodshed by helping the country in the transition to democratic rule.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting white racist rule in his country.
South African officials have said doctors were acting with extreme caution because of Mandela's advanced age.
In Saturday's statement, Zuma thanked the medical team and hospital staff that looked after Mandela and expressed gratitude for South Africans and people around the world who had shown support for Mandela.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Al Jazeera
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Facebook has unveiled a new product, Facebook Home, at an event everyone knew would have something to do with phones and apps and operating systems.
"We're not building a phone and we're not building an operating system," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday. "But we're also building something that's a whole lot deeper than just another app."
Um, OK. Thanks for clarifying that, Zuck.
In all seriousness, though, here's the breakdown on Home, a feature Facebook hopes will make it part of everything you do on your phone.
What is it?
As described by Zuckerberg and others, Home is a "family of apps" that essentially push Facebook content front and center on your Android phone.
Once the phone "wakes up," the home screen and lock screen are replaced with something called "Cover Feed." Images and posts from friends will appear as the new screen's background. Users can flip through and interact with them -- "like" an update, or post a comment -- immediately without having to open a specific Facebook app. One touch takes the user to their apps, or back to the last app they were using.
Home's other big feature was called "Chat Heads," which is a basically a tool that combines Facebook Messenger with the phone's regular SMS text-message tool. Messages pop up regardless of what the user is doing at the time, along with the sender's profile picture, enclosed in a little circle.
The user can decide whether to open the message (without leaving the app or other screen they're on), dismiss it or save it for later with a single touch.
When and where can I get it?
Home will be available in the Google Play mobile store on April 12 for at least some Android phones. Users will be able to choose whether to install it permanently, or for a one-off trial session.
At release, it will only be optimized for Samsung's Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II and the HTC One line of phones. It will run on the Galaxy S 4 and the HTC One when those phones are released, with other phones being added in the coming months.
Facebook said a version for tablets will be released "within several months."
How about my iPhone?
Your wait might be quite a bit longer. Or, you know, forever.
During the event, Zuckerberg repeatedly talked about how Google's open Android system was the perfect place to build Home. It's not unusual for mobile-device makers, most notably Amazon with its Kindle Fire tablets, to tweak the system to suit their own needs.
Apple, on the other hand, has a very closed operating system, giving its developers far less leeway in exchange for what the company says is a smoother, better-developed user experience. Creating something like Home for Apple's iOS system would require an almost unprecedented partnership between the companies.
"Anything that happens with Apple is going to happen with partnership," Zuckerberg said. "Google's Android is open so we don't have to work with them."
Still, Facebook isn't ruling out the possibility, at least not officially.
"This is a first step and we're continuing to iterate," a Facebook spokeswoman said in response to iPhone questions. "We chose to start building on Android because we could build a more deeply integrated mobile experience. We'll continue to test and iterate on the Facebook experience across all platforms. "
What happened to the Facebook phone I was hearing about?
Well, there's not one. While rumors to that effect have swirled for a couple of years, Facebook has always maintained it wasn't "making" a phone. That remains technically true.
But at Wednesday's event, HTC unveiled the HTC First, an AT&T exclusive Android phone that will be released the same day Facebook Home goes live. The phone will have Home pre-loaded as the default version of its operating system.
So it's the closest thing to a Facebook phone for now.
Unveiled by CEO Peter Chou, the First will be a mid-range phone that looks vaguely like an iPhone 5, with a 4.3-inch screen and dual-core Snapdragon processor. It will sell for $99 in the United States.
Folks looking for a high-end HTC phone may be more inclined to wait for the HTC One, which launches on April 19.
What are folks saying?
"Jokes aside, I think Home is a very smart thing for Facebook to do. At least for now. Really is a blanket over Android. Need to play with it." -- MG Siegler, columnist, TechCrunch
"Wonder when Twitter and others will introduce their own "super apps" that take over lock screen, home page.... ." -- Stephen Levy, senior writer, Wired
"It's nice-looking enough, for what it is. But what it is is an assumption that users want to use Facebook to filter everything they do with their smartphones ... . Putting friends first isn't a bad concept for the smartphone experience. But Facebook thinks that friends = Facebook and Facebook = friends. If this were ever true, it isn't now." -- Jesse Brown, columnist, Maclean's- www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Just last week, we heard a rumor of the iPhone 6 featuring a polycarbonate body and a 4.5-inch screen. Even though the iPhone 6 is most likely a year away from officially being debuted as many people are expecting the iPhone 5S to be released this year, a set of concept images for the iPhone 6 have been released today, and they look mighty impressive.
The concept images created by Martin Hajek feature an iPhone 6 with a 4.8-inch screen, no home button and a look that resembles the iPad Mini. The iPhone 6 in Hajek’s concept isn’t as large as the Galaxy Note 2, but could certainly compete with the rumors 4.99-inch Galaxy S4 and the 4.8-inch display of the HTC One.
Removing the home button on the iPhone 6 may be a bit of a stretch considering how much iOS relies on it. If Apple considers making any changes to its home button, we think they’d introduce a slimmer button rather than nixing it from the iPhone altogether. Seeing how Apple updated its 30-pin dock connector with the slimmer Lightning connector, we think the company knows slim is in.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Police have arrested around 150 people accused of burning dozens of Christian houses in eastern Pakistan after a non-Muslim was accused of making offensive comments about Islam's Prophet Muhammad, police said Sunday as Christians rallied against the destruction.
The Christian demonstrators blocked a main highway in Lahore and police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters who demanded assistance from the government.
Government spokesman Pervaiz Rasheed promised the government would help hem rebuild their houses, but the Christians expressed dissatisfaction with the way the government was handling the incident.
"I have been robbed of all of my life's savings," Yousuf Masih said, standing close to his burned house. He said the government's announcement that it would give 200,000 rupees ($2,000) compensation to each family was a joke.
The incident began on Friday after a Muslim accused a Christian man of blasphemy — an offense that in Pakistan is punished by life in prison or death. On Saturday, a mob of angry Muslims rampaged through the Christian neighborhood, burning about 170 houses.
The Christian man is in police custody pending an investigation into the allegations.
Those who rioted are being investigated for alleged arson, robbery, theft, and terrorism, said police officer Abdur Rehman. The Pakistani police usually arrest rioters to tamp down public anger, but those accused are rarely convicted.
The law is often misused to settle personal scores and rivalries.
Akram Gill, a local bishop in the Lahore Christian community, said the incident had more to do with personal enmity between two men — one Christian and one Muslim — than blasphemy. He said the men got into a brawl after drinking late one night, and in the morning the Muslim man made up the blasphemy story as payback.
Such accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan can prompt huge crowds to take the law into their own hands. Once an accusation is made it's difficult to get it reversed, partly because law enforcement officials and politicians do not want to be seen as being soft on blasphemers.
According to Human Rights Watch, there are at least 16 people on death row for blasphemy and another 20 are serving life sentences.
Last year, there was a rare reversal of a blasphemy case. A teenage Christian girl with suspected mental disabilities was accused of burning pages of the Quran. But she was later released after a huge domestic and international outcry about her treatment. A local cleric where she lived was arrested and accused of planting the pages in her bag to incriminate her, a rare example of the accuser facing legal consequences. However, he was later freed on bail.
Also on Sunday, a suspected U.S. missile strike killed a foreign militant who was riding on horseback in Datta Khel in North Waziristan, according to three Pakistani intelligence officials who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Usually when we get a peek at Google's Mountain View home it's to gawk at the latest Android-related statue but a Vanity Fair article posted today showed the company's future HQ plans. After initiating plans for a new structure next to the existing Googleplex and then abandoning them last year, it's opting for a new facility designed by Seattle firm NBBJ (which also created offices for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) in another area of the city. Planned to open as soon as 2015 -- potentially ahead of Apple's halo-shaped new digs -- it's called Bay View and consists of nine buildings connected by bridges over 42 acres.
According to Google it's designed for many workers to operate just on natural light, and avail themselves of the many cafes and green roofs. Quoted in the article is civil engineer David Radcliffe, who claims that employees will never be more than a two and a half minute walk away from each other, which, along with the bent floorplan of each building, is intended to create opportunities for innovation through "casual collisions". These are just some of the tidbits included in the article waiting beyond the source link, but we're still trying to figure out where they hid parking spots for all the self-driving cars.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Homing pigeons (Columba livia) have been prized for their navigational abilities for thousands of years. They've served as messengers during war, as a means of long-distance communication, and as prized athletes in international races.
But there are places around the world that seem to confuse these birds—areas where they repeatedly vanish in the wrong direction or scatter on random headings rather than fly straight home, said Jon Hagstrum, a geophysicist who authored a study that may help researchers understand how homing pigeons navigate.
Hagstrum's paper, published online Wednesday in the Journal of Experimental Biology, proposes an intriguing theory for homing pigeon disorientation—that the birds are following ultralow frequency sounds back towards their lofts and that disruptions in their ability to "hear" home is what screws them up.
Called infrasound, these sound waves propagate at frequencies well below the range audible to people, but pigeons can pick them up, said Hagstrum, who works at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.
"They're using sound to image the terrain [surrounding] their loft," he said. "It's like us visually recognizing our house using our eyes."
For years, scientists have struggled to explain carrier pigeons' directional challenges in certain areas, known as release-site biases.
This "map" issue, or a pigeon's ability to tell where it is in relation to where it wants to go, is different from the bird's compass system, which tells it which direction it's headed in. (Learn about how other animals navigate.)
"We know a lot about pigeon compass systems, but what has been controversial, even to this day, has been their map [system]," said Cordula Mora, an animal behavior researcher at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who was not involved in the study.
Until now, the two main theories say that pigeons rely either on their sense of smell to find their way home or that they follow the Earth's magnetic field lines, she said.
If something screwed up their sense of smell or their ability to follow those fields, the thinking has been, that could explain why pigeons got lost in certain areas.
But neither explanation made sense to Hagstrum, a geologist who grew interested in pigeons after attending an undergraduate lecture by Cornell biologist William Keeton. Keeton, who studied homing pigeons' navigation abilities, described some release-site biases in his pigeons and Hagstrum was hooked.
"I was just stunned and amazed and fascinated," said Hagstrum. "I understand we don't get dark matter or quantum mechanics, but bird [navigation]?"
So Hagstrum decided to look at Keeton's pigeon release data from three sites in upstate New York. At Castor Hill and Jersey Hill, the birds would repeatedly fly in the wrong direction or head off randomly when trying to return to their loft at Cornell University, even though they had no problems at other locations. At a third site near the town of Weedsport, young pigeons would head off in a different direction from older birds.
There were also certain days when the Cornell pigeons could find their way back home from these areas without any problems.
At the same time, homing pigeons from other lofts released at Castor Hill, Jersey Hill, and near Weedsport, would fly home just fine.
Hagstrum knew that homing pigeons could hear sounds as low as 0.05 hertz, low enough to pick up infrasounds that were down around 0.1 or 0.2 hertz. So he decided to map out what these low-frequency sound waves would have looked like on an average day, and on the days when the pigeons could home correctly from Jersey Hill.
He found that due to atmospheric conditions and local terrain, Jersey Hill normally sits in a sound shadow in relation to the Cornell loft. Little to none of the infrasounds from the area around the loft reached Jersey Hill except on one day when changing wind patterns and temperature inversions permitted.
That happened to match a day when the Cornell pigeons had no problem returning home.
"I could see how the topography was affecting the sound and how the weather was affecting the sound [transmission]," Hagstrum said. "It started to explain all these mysteries."
The terrain between the loft and Jersey Hill, combined with normal atmospheric conditions, bounced infrasounds up and over these areas.
Some infrasound would still reach Castor Hill, but due to nearby hills and valleys, the sound waves approached from the west and southwest, even though the Cornell loft is situated south-southwest of Castor Hill.
Records show that younger, inexperienced pigeons released at Castor Hill would sometimes fly west while older birds headed southwest, presumably following infrasounds from their loft.
Hagstrum's model found that infrasound normally arrived at the Weedsport site from the south. But one day of abnormal weather conditions, combined with a local river valley, resulted in infrasound that arrived at Weedsport from the Cornell loft from the southeast.
"What [Hagstrum] has found for those areas are a possible explanation for the [pigeon] behavior at these sites," said Bowling Green State's Mora. But she cautions against extrapolating these results to all homing pigeons.
Some of Mora's work supports the theory that homing pigeons use magnetic field lines to find their way home.
What homing pigeons are using as their map probably depends on where they're raised, she said. "In some places it may be infrasound, and in other places [a sense of smell] may be the way to go."
Hagstrum's next steps are to figure out how large an area the pigeons are listening to. He's also talking to the Navy and Air Force, who are interested in his work. "Right now we use GPS to navigate," he said. But if those satellites were compromised, "we'd be out of luck." Pigeons navigate from point to point without any problems, he said.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Have you seen those ads that seem to be all over the Internet these days? They say something like "make $1,000 per week from the comfort of your own home." Now it should go without saying that such schemes are not very reliable and should be avoided in most cases. But that still leaves the question: Can you really make money from home?
The truth is, you actually can. But you first have to understand what your skills are and how to market them effectively.
With the economy still struggling and many people faced with underemployment or unemployment, it's understandable that many would show an interest in building an income on their own terms. And even those who currently have work would often prefer to create a career that would allow them to work from home.
[Related Article: 5 Ways to Get Out of Debt: Which Will Work for You?]
So for anyone in those circumstances, here are four of the best ways to make money from home:
1. Become a virtual assistant
What does "virtual assistant" mean? Well, it can refer to any person hired part-time or full-time to provide remote assistance -- usually in a role similar to a traditional administrative assistant. Often, you will work for one person who is very busy -- too busy to handle it all on their own.
And that's where the opportunity is for you. The tasks of a virtual assistant will often include things like screening your boss's e-mail, booking travel, making appointments and phone calls on behalf of your boss, managing his or her calendar, and taking care of other things that come up.
This is a field that is growing surprisingly quickly, and there are many websites where you can find work as a virtual assistant, including Indeed,WAHM and Elance. In most cases, you will need to present a resume and/or show some experience that would prove your ability to handle these types of tasks well.
2. Tap into your creative strengths
Many people enjoy some type of creative outlet, and with the wide availability of opportunities on the Internet, you can frequently turn your creative streak into a source of income. For example, if you like to make crafts then you can use Etsy to build a devoted audience of customers who are willing to pay for your handmade items.
Another obvious option is for people who enjoy writing. There are countless requests on sites like Elance for all different types of writing. Polish your writing ability and then start bidding on some of these writing jobs. At first, you'll be doing this a few hours a week, but over time, you can build up a dedicated clientele and make a full-time living off your writing.
There are some really unexpected ways you can use your creativity to make money from home. One of the more surprising ways to make money would be to look for work as a voice actor -- meaning that you would lend your voice to narrate videos, radio ads, or any other type of media. These freelance jobs can actually pay pretty well. And there are countless other surprising ones like these listed at the sites above.
[Related Article: 3 People Who Dug Out of Deep Debt]
3. Share your skills locally
Sometimes it is necessary to change your perspective in order to see all the skills that you truly have. Do you play an instrument? If so, you could no doubt teach music lessons to young people (or anyone) in your community. All you'd need to do beforehand is a bit of lesson planning. You can even offer a discount for the first 10 people who sign up in order to get your name out there and help spread the word.
Along the same lines, if you have patience and basic knowledge of high school math, science or literature, you could easily work as a tutor for students in your community. If so, that can be a great way to make money from home. And remember, you can always get the textbook and brush up a little before you do your tutoring!
4. Use the assets you have
This last possibility will seem like the easiest or the hardest way to make money from home, depending on your particular circumstances. Do you have things laying around your house that you no longer need? If so, then you can make extra money by selling them on eBay!
And these days, it has become much easier to make money by renting out a spare room in your house -- or even renting out your car. If you want to rent a room, AirBnB is probably the first place you'll want to start. And Getaroundis a great site for renting your car, although it's only available in certain cities right now. Of course, there is always some risk with letting a stranger stay in your house (or use your car) but if you are looking to build your income from home, this is one of the quickest ways.
No matter what you decide to try, give it some time and ask for advice from people who have some experience with it. And if you want more insights, check out our Career Tips resource center. Good luck!
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Just like with any change of season, winter brings a new list of repairs and maintenance projects you'll need to take care of around the house. But don't be tempted to just crank up the heat and snuggle up with a blanket and cup of tea. It's important that you make sure your home is properly insulated. If it's too drafty, not only will you be uncomfortable, but you'll also waste a ton of money heating it. Luckily, the video above gives an easy way to check for poor insulation and fix the problem before it drains your bank account.
First, figure out what part of the windows drafts are coming from with an easy trick. Light a candle and carry it near the window. When the flame starts to flicker, you know there's air blowing nearby. Then, hang heavy curtains to help block the airflow.
Another inexpensive way to heat your home more efficiently is creating reflective insulation. All you need to do this is a piece of cardboard and some aluminum foil.
Watch the video above for more details on these easy and inexpensive ways to save energy.- www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Police have found human remains in the burned-out home of the New York state ex-convict who killed two firefighters and believe the victim is the gunman's sister.
Police Chief Gerald Pickering said on Tuesday the remains were found in the charred house that 62-year-old William Spengler shared with his 67-year-old sister, Cheryl. A medical examiner will need to determine the identity.
Police say Spengler armed himself with a revolver, shotgun and military-style rifle before he set his house on fire to lure first responders into a pre-dawn death trap on Christmas Eve.
Pickering says Spengler "was equipped to go to war".
Spengler killed himself as seven houses burned around him. A friend said Spengler hated his sister, but police say a motive has not been determined.
It was revealed by police earlier on Tuesday that Spengler also left a typewritten note saying he wanted to burn down his neighbourhood and "do what I like doing best, killing people".
The two to three-page note left by Spengler didn't give a motive for the shootings, Pickering said.
He declined to divulge the note's full content or say where it was found, but he read one line from it: "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighbourhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best, killing people."
Spengler served 17 years in prison for the 1980 hammer killing of his grandmother.
The dead men were identified as police Lieutenant Michael Chiapperini, 43, the Webster Police Department's public information officer; and 19-year-old Tomasz Kaczowka, also an emergency dispatcher.
Pickering described Chiapperini as a "lifetime firefighter" with nearly 20 years in the department, and he called Kaczowka a "tremendous young man".
The two wounded firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, were in stable condition on Tuesday, the chief said. Both were awake and alert and are expected to recover.
Authorities said Spengler had not done anything to bring himself to their attention since his parole.
As a convicted felon, he wasn't allowed to possess weapons. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said Spengler led a very quiet life after he got out of prison.
A friend said Spengler hated his sister. Roger Vercruysse lived next door and recalled a man who doted on his mother.
"He loved his mama to death," said Vercruysse, who last saw his friend about six months ago.
Vercruysse also said Spengler "couldn't stand his sister" and "stayed on one side of the house and she stayed on the other".- www.shfaqna.com/English