Mysterious Floating Metropolis Seen Over China

A mixture of panic, fear and awe gripped the residents of the Chinese cities of Jiangxi and Foshan earlier this month, when an ethereal floating city appeared to be hovering amongst the clouds.

It’s the sort of thing you’d usually expect to find in video games, fantasy literature and the deranged ranting of conspiracy nuts (more on them later) – and that’s probably where the rest of the world would have consigned it if the beguiling phenomena hadn’t been captured on video and disseminated to the world via YouTube.

The footage is certainly eerie and doesn’t appear to have been tampered with in any way. In fact, it appears to depict an actual floating city hovering in thin air. Now, there is a perfectly scientific explanation for this unusual sight, but before we get to that, I just had to see what the David Icke crowd were saying about it.

So, after getting my (virtual) jabs, I headed off to YouTube in search of comedy. Here are a few of the best explanations for this event (spelling mistakes and grammatical catastrophes left in deliberately). Enjoy!

First, here’s an observation from a guy who took off his tin foil hat just long enough to share this little nugget with us.

“This is more than just clouds that assume shapes, these are holigraphic pictures, wonder what else they have in store for us, they probably have differant countries developing things in differant areas of technology to make all the tech, miricles start appearing around the world to make us think they are gods, when infact only saten needs technology, The real God allmighty dosnt, he created all and everything!”

…Including Saten and his evil tech? Or am I just being pedantic?

Next up, here’s someone who just went out there one day and never came back:

“I’ve explored about E.T’s and their history on planet Earth , this is true , this is what ancient people called home of the god’s , there are cities in the sky and under the ocean , many of truth is hidden from humans becouse humans like to panic. We are not alone , there are about 100 different alien species on planet Earth , co-existing with us , shapeshifters as well , with more advanced technology than ours”.

…If I were him, I would have explored about the rules of grammar before posting my comment.

Now, here’s an exercise is complete logical disconnect.

“A scientist named AL Bielek, who worked on the Montak Project and the Philadelphia Experiment and other Top Secret Fringe science programs, said that he was taken into the future by ET’s to live in floating cities in the sky around earth, for 2 years. I believed him because I have a close friend who knew him very well and she said that AL was an honest man, before his death in 2011. Or did he die? He maybe there right now in the year 2315”.

Uh huh. I believe in aliens, time travel and floating cities because my mate has a mate who swears it’s true! Your Doctorate is in the mail.

Oh here’s another prize winning pudding brain. Possibly the best of the bunch!

“The point is to make everyone believe there is no God and that aliens exist they’re trying to manipulate you into believe something just like they did with earth it’s flat not round there is Proof about it search it up find it yourselves cause who would believe someone that just says things without showing so please do your research”.

Yes, please do your research before you say crazy, unscientific nonsense such as “the earth is flat!” with a straight face.

Last one now, I promise!!

“It’s actually a breif invasion of parallel universes intervening with our own reality this was proven by scientists and is scientifically possible”

1) No it wasn’t.

2) No it isn’t.

The reality, of course, is far less exciting. The mysterious cloud city is actually an example of a naturally occurring phenomenon known as a Fata Morgana, which is a rarely seen (but very cool) mirage that occurs when a hot atmospheric layer converges with a cool one, creating a temperature gradient that reacts to light. This light then bends, creating the optical illusion that a distant object being witnessed at ground level is higher up than it actually is. This means that the floating city seen in the video clip is actually a projection of the Foshan city skyline itself and was, in reality, nowhere near the clouds.

A quick trip to Google images reveal’s Foshan’s skyline to be very much in keeping with the architectural style of the floating city…

A Fata Morgana is also mooted to be the origin of sailor’s tales about the famous ghost ship The Flying Dutchman. A similar phenomenon, known as a Brocken spectre is thought to be the cause of Scotland’s Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui as well.

It should be noted that a couple of YouTubers actually pointed this out – and were met with a shower of abuse for their troubles, including one user who typed, without a trace of irony “LOOKS LIKE A F*CKING CLOUD TO ME” and another who responded with “Ya, what you say is bullsh*t. The reflection has to look like what it was reflected from dumbass”. Which it does, so, in the immortal words of Captain Kirk, “double dumbass on you!”

Another user, rather more patiently, explained that “the media want you to believe its some bullsh*t scientific thing”. Damn media, wanting me to believe in science…

Well, I guess that settles it then. It’s obviously aliens. Or magic. Or magic aliens. FFS.

Workplace adjustments for employees with a hearing impairment

For employees with a hearing impairment, the presence of sound in the workplace can be a daily challenge and a source of frustration. Robin Christopherson looks at how employers can manage potential problems.

Wherever you work, and whatever your role, there is a strong chance that you are routinely bombarded by noise from a variety of different sources. Telephones ringing, printers whirring, music playing on the shop floor or the constant hum of colleagues talking in a open-plan office, the world of work is full of sound.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 17,000 employees in the UK experience deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.

Action on Hearing Loss estimates that at least 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf, but this is a small proportion of the 10 million people with some form of hearing loss, of which it estimates that 3.7 million are of working age. There are no exact figures on the numbers of people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate, but the estimate is around 50,000.

An employee’s hearing can be impaired in many ways; there is a whole spectrum of

hearing ability and there are lots of different causes of hearing loss, as well as a variety of possible implications in the workplace.

Types of hearing impairment include:

  • age-related;
  • temporary or permanent;
  • progressive; and
  • environmental factors.

Impacts of a hearing impairment

As hearing is not something we can “see”, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a colleague’s hearing is impaired. This can make it difficult for line managers to know who to help, and when.

In meetings, presentations, networking events or interviews, a hearing impairment could have an impact on an employee’s ability to do their job, if they are not properly supported or if the working environment is not inclusive of their needs.

There can also often be an emotional response to hearing loss, which impacts on the social and wellbeing of the employee. If you are unable to hear what colleagues are saying clearly, you might miss out on vital information needed for your role, or you might miss the latest bit of office banter, which makes you feel isolated and excluded, having a negative impact on morale.

Reasonable adjustments

Employees with a hearing impairment are protected under the Equality Act 2010 and employers are required to remove the barriers that deaf and other disabled people experience in the workplace. There are a number of different ways to ensure that an organisation is accommodating the needs of deaf or hearing-impaired employees.

Benefits of technology

We are all using technology in the workplace, without really thinking about it, as part of our day-to-day communications. How much of the information you share with colleagues or clients is via the phone, email, your intranet, website, a PowerPoint presentation or a short video? The answer is, of course, nearly all of it.

Technology can work as an enabler as well as a disabler. A message from your organisation’s CEO via video on your corporate intranet can be a really powerful way to communicate with your workforce, but if that video does not have subtitles or captions, you are excluding a proportion of your staff, not limited to those with a hearing impairment but also people whose first language is not English.

A variety of technologies can be used in the workplace to support employees with a hearing impairment. There are some specialist programs available that are specifically designed to support people with hearing loss, but many of the mainstream programs and equipment that your organisation already uses could also be adapted at little to no cost. They include:

  • text messaging, and email;
  • amplified sound alerts built into PCs;
  • a flashing screen on a mobile device when a sound alert is triggered;
  • bluetooth to connect to hearing aids;
  • captions for videos;
  • BSL on-demand services;
  • video calling for signing or lip-reading;
  • palentypists and stenographers; and
  • voice recognition speech-to-text software.

Sometimes the most effective adjustments are made by simply utilising existing resources in a different way. For example, if important company announcements are often given over a tannoy or PA system, which would be difficult or impossible for someone with a hearing impairment to hear, you could also issue the same message via email or text message.

There are also times when specialist adjustments, such as using a palentypist or BSL interpreter, need to be arranged. It is important that the individual employee gets the adjustment that they require, when they require it – because no two people with a hearing impairment are the same.

This article highlights the many advancements that have been made in the field of hearing protection at work, and ten years after the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force we should have completely eradicated high levels of noise or the need to control it into the workplace, the original of this article can be found here.

Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dead At 61

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.

World’s first truly wireless headphones unveiled

The world’s first “true wireless” in-ear headphones have been unveiled at the IFA technology show in Berlin, by Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo.

Most in-ear headphones that are advertised as “wireless” actually have a cable connecting the two earpieces. They are known as wireless because they do not require a cable to connect to a media player or a smartphone.

The W800BT headphones, developed in partnership with audio group Gibson Innovations, consist of two earbuds that work independently from each other and deliver a balanced sound across a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz. They connect to each other and to a smartphone wirelessly, using Bluetooth.

Onkyo claims that the headphones offer a clear and accurate audio experience with passive noise isolation. The right earpiece also includes a microphone to enable hands-free calls and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled device.

World’s first truly wireless headphones unveiled – Telegraph

They come with a charging case for storing the headphones with its own internal battery, providing up to 15 hours of talk time and 12 hours of music reproduction.

“The W800BT allows you to immerse yourself in audio in a free and natural way,” said Sebastiaan Gruijters, Onkyo Business Leaders at Gibson Innovations. “We’re proud to showcase this genuine breakthrough innovation here at the IFA in Berlin.”

The W800BT in-ear headphones are priced at €299.99 (about £220) and will be available in Europe from November 2015.

Onkyo also unveiled a pair of high-resolution on-ear headphones at IFA, in partnership with Gibson, as well as a new range of portable high-resolution audio speakers.

Gibson has been an investor in Onkyo since January 2012, when it acquired a majority share of Onkyo USA.

“We strive to achieve an optimum balance between the ideal acoustic design and a deep understanding of how we, as humans, interact with technology,” said Matthew Dore, sound and acoustics engineering lead for Onkyo products at Gibson Innovations.

2 Way Radios In The Construction Industry

The use of Two way radios on a construction site is the best way to achieve efficiency by saving time, increasing productivity, and enhancing workers’ safety. A Two way radio device allows workers on a construction site to communicate with each other instantly. The radio is incredibly instrumental where the site manager has to communicate to hundreds of workers spread across a large contraction site. On a construction site, workers are always moving around carrying heavy loads and operating machinery. The working environment requires heavy-duty communication devices such as the 2 way radio models. The radio ought to have the same specifications as the radio military personal. These features include shock resistant, water, and dust resistant to guarantee durability for up to 10-15 years. These specifications ensure that the device can operate in harsh environments without spoiling.

A construction manager may need to reach out to workers on a crane, up a sky-scrapper, management office, and security personnel on site using a single network. The 2 way radio enables construction workers to communicate over all these possible barriers and achieve clarity and reliability in communication. Whether, it is rainy or windy, the Two way radio will deliver top-notch communication efficiency. The noisy construction environment does not affect the clarity of the 2 way radios.

The Two way radio helps improve the safety of workers while on a site . The radio can make emergency calls in explosive environments such as places with combustible dust or even flammable gas. The radio has an emergency alert features that sends instant distress calls, even when a worker is unconscious. For instance, Man Down features sends an automatic alert if a worker falls or the device stays in a horizontal position for a long time. There is also the Lone man function that ensures any worker isolated, in case of an emergency, has special communication options. During emergencies the radio adjusts its system by interrupting group conversations to allow the distress call to go through to the control centre. Such a function is critical to a situation where a worker is alone and in trouble.

Using the Two way radio guarantees a reduction in both operation cost and delays. Radio communication ensures that construction managers can pass urgent messages quickly to the different departments working on a site. If there are any changes in the course of the day, the manager does not have to call for a meeting or wait until close of business to communicate. The Two way radio offers the perfect speed to communicate changes during construction work. The technology also saves on the cost of paying cellular charges if the company is using a mobile network to communicate on the site.

Most radios comes equipped with GPS tracking that aid both security and efficiency. Site managers are able to locate the position of all workers using the communication device. Making it possible to track the movement of vehicles on site and the position of equipment such as forklifts, backhoes, and excavators. The GPS tracking functions also helps construction managers to improve on-site security by identifying where their equipment is. Since most construction workers will use a 2 way radio device, communication is sure to improve deliveries to and from the construction site. In case of a vehicle breaking down, the control room can receive the messages and arrange for support without wasting time.

The flexible nature of the Two way radio network accommodates construction sites of different sizes. Whether it is a large construction company, a medium sized company, or a small contractor the 2 way network delivers. A big construction company can enjoy the increased calling ability using a single network. If multiple sites use the device, it is possible to have an integrated system that shares the same network but does not allow for interferences. The small contraction company can use a few radios on the single network and cut on cost. Therefore, it is possible to employ the services of the communication devices in different circumstances. Construction managers today are aware of the need for good communication in their sites. An efficient communication network ensures that everyday work is stress-free for the managers and the supervisors.

Ancient Chinese Statue Contains Mummified Remains …And Those Remains Contain Fascinating Artefacts.

A 1,000 year-old Chinese statue of the Buddha, which contains the mummified remains of a long-dead Buddhist master, has been scanned to reveal hidden artefacts that were tucked inside the body centuries ago.

The statue was scanned prior to being exhibited in the Netherlands as part of an exhibition of mummies, receiving multiple CT scans, DNA testing and an endoscopy, some of which revealed a few unlikely surprises hidden within the corpse.

The team that scanned the remains included Buddhism art and culture expert Erik Bruijin, gastrointestinal and liver specialist Raynald Vermeijden and radiologist Ben Heggelman, all of whom were fascinated to discover the presence of an unidentified material (in place of the internal organs) within the abdominal cavity, this material was joined by mysterious scraps of paper with Chinese writing upon them.

The body is known to be that of a Buddhist monk named Liuquin, a follower of the Chinese Meditation School who died around the year 1100.

Experts have suggested that the mummy of Liuquin may be a case of self-mummification, a slow (and presumably rather painful) exercise that included starvation, poisoning oneself and ingesting materials designed to aid in the preservation of the body after death.

One ancient Japanese method of self-mummification known to historians would entail a 1,000 day diet of nothing more than nuts, seeds and water, this was then followed by another 1,000 days of eating nothing but roots and pine bark and drinking a special tea made from the sap of a Chinese lacquer tree. The tea was toxic, but it apparently repelled maggots and destructive bacteria, thus aiding the preservation process. At the culmination of this severe diet, the monk would be sealed in a stone tomb and effectively buried alive.

1000 days after the monk had passed on, the tomb was then opened and if the had been preserved, he would become a venerated temple relic.

Those that had decomposed simply remained sealed in the tomb.

It is likely that master Liuquin preserved himself using similar methods.

Although this may sound unfathomably grisly to modern ears, it should be kept in mind that, to the practitioner, such an action was likely considered to be among the highest level of meditation and the monk’s colleagues may well have viewed his statue as a sort of ‘living Buddha’ for a great many years.

At present, Liuquin will be on display in the Budapest Museum of Natural History, but there are plans to send him over to Luxemburg in the summer.

This mummy-housing statue is the only one of its kind ever discovered. The piece offers scientists, theologians and historians a privileged insight into the spiritual practices of the supremely dedicated Chinese monks that lived and died a thousand years before us.

Sepura: Market-leading communications solutions for hazardous environments

Our complete TETRA solutions for hazardous environments provide loud, clear, safe communication in the toughest conditions, and are custom designed to meet the challenges typically found in mining, maritime and oil and gas environments.

When compared to analogue, NXDN, proprietary and GSM radio based systems, TETRA offers increased functionality and, crucially, higher data throughput for telemetry and data applications.

Fully certified to the highest level

The STP8X range is IECEx/ATEX certified – the highest level of classification available for Intrinsically Safe radios. The first IP67, submersible, TETRA Intrinsically-Safe radio on the market, the STP8X handheld radio has a host of unique features:

  • market-leading audio for clear communication even when drilling or excavating
  • large, hi-resolution display: crystal clear in all conditions, including bright sunlight
  • MicroSD image viewer – ideal for looking up hazardous material data
  • extended battery life
  • reduced keypad option for use with gloved hands

A comprehensive range of IECEx/ATEX certified accessories is also available.

The complete solution

We offer a full suite of extensively tested and certified products to complement our STP8X IS range and enable confident working in challenging conditions.

The high performing eXTRAS Solo TETRA base station has been specifically designed to meet the demands of industrial organisations. Offering low power consumption, it can be configured to automatically reduce or shut down RF power output in an emergency situation.

The SICS-NET TETRA dispatcher allows operators to track vehicles and personnel, visualise location via building and street maps, and communicate efficiently through a combination of voice and data. Man-Down and Lone Worker emergency notifications further ensure worker safety in potentially hazardous conditions.

The Message application allows email, SMS and SDS messages to be received on IS radios, removing the risk of workers covertly carrying non-IS devices such as smartphones into hazardous areas.

STProtect, the only TETRA-based integrated lone worker protection and indoor location system on the market, maps to user-supplied building plans, allowing control of access to restricted areas and swift location of staff members – particularly useful in an emergency. Fully scalable, STProtect is also compatible with our Man-Down and Lone Worker solutions, further enhancing user safety.

You can find sepura products at http://www.sepura.com and you can find this original article at yourcommunicationnews.com. 

How Do I Choose a Good Two Way Radio?

Choosing a good two-way radio is relatively easy. In fact, the vast majority of radios are ‘good’ in the sense that they will do their specified job to a reasonable standard.

With the majority of two-ways, you don’t need to worry about operating systems (like you would with tablet PCs) or compatibility issues* (like you would with games consoles). All you really need to worry about, in fact, is what you want to use your radio for; this is by far the most important question you need to ask yourself if you’re ever buying a walkie-talkie or two-way radio.

If you’re just looking for a way to keep track of the kids on your next cruise, or you want something to add a bit of fun to your next outdoor excursion, then all you really need to do is find a trusted brand and buy a medium-priced model. It’s as simple as that. However, if you’re a businessperson and looking to buy a radio with a license, then you need to be a bit more careful. In that respect, you definitely want a trusted brand and you definitely want to consult a specialist before you invest in your equipment.

If you happen to fall somewhere in the cracks between these two examples, we’ve prepared a ‘fact sheet’ (of sorts) for you.

  • There are Four Main Types of Two-Way Radio

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) – Is a higher-powered radio, popular for its reliability and versatility. GMRS is the most common choice among users.

FRS (Family Radio Service) – Is usually more of a basic model, lower powered, but generally cost-effective.

MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) – Is an unlicensed radio that only has a limited capacity. MURS radios are not a particularly popular choice, although they do have their adherents.

And finally,

CB  (Citizen’s Band) – It is called different things in different countries, but CB is a personal service and is a popular choice, however it does require a long antenna. Good for drivers, though.

  • Wattage is Important

No, we’re not talking about that Italian-sounding hybrid of a bluebottle fly and Cyril Sneer from the ‘Star Wars’ prequels here; wattage is the measurement of watts, as in power output. Wattage is important in radios because it affects licensing. In the UK, for example, radios that have a power output greater than 0.5 watts require a license to use.

It is also important to note that any radio, no matter the power output, will automatically downgrade to a half watt when operating on FRS-specific channels.

  • Keep Signal Coverage in Mind at all Times

Two-way radio manufacturers do a lot of lying and exaggerating about the range of their products. Their claims almost never take into account the signal interference caused by objects in the way, natural obstacles, atmospheric conditions and a plethora of other variables.

On average, the actual signal coverage for any given radio is between one and two miles. CB radios can communicate over longer distances, but those extra long antennas can make them tough to carry around!

  • Privacy Codes are Useful Things

 If you’re using your radio in a busy area (i.e. where there are lots of other radio signals bouncing around), you will probably find that the available channels get used up pretty quickly. However, a radio that provides CTCSS will offer a ‘privacy code’ function that allows you to subdivide your channels by creating a combination of channel and code, this will allow you to better communicate with others, even if the available channels are full.

It should be noted, however, that this function does not make your conversation private; it just reduces the levels of other signals in the area that your device may be intercepting.

Much of the information listed here was sourced from 2wayradionline so look them up if you want to know more.

How Do Walkie Talkies Work?

DISCLAIMER – Usually, we’re a pretty mild-mannered bunch, but every so often, we get a question that we’ve answered so many times that we just don’t know what to say in response to it anymore. For my part, I’m tempted to say ‘magic fairy warriors’, ‘pixie dust’ or just ‘spit and happy thoughts’ – but no, I’m not going to do that. In any instance, this is the last time I will be answering this question. So, after this, you guys will have to look into the archives for answers (still, you might be able to find some good stuff back there).

All joking aside, the science behind the walkie-talkie is fairly simple to grasp (which is good, because otherwise I’d be out of a job!). I’ll render it here as a series of steps.

STEP ONE – Having tuned the walkie-talkie to the appropriate frequency (and charged the battery), you push the PTT (Push To Talk) button and speak your message.

STEP TWO – The vibrations of your voice shake a small membrane inside the walkie-talkie’s microphone.

STEP THREE – The radio’s processor then converts those vibrations into an electrical signal, which it pushes upward towards your walkie-talkie’s antenna.

STEP FOUR – The electron particles housed inside the antenna become excited (they will only respond to the set frequency) and this, in turn, ‘pushes out’ the message in the form of a radio signal.

STEP FIVE – The radio signal is then intercepted by your partner’s walkie-talkie antenna, where the incoming signal excites their electrons (which are attuned to the same frequency, of course). These electrons then in turn translate the signal into an electrical impulse, which is subsequently decoded by the processor and played out via your partner’s speakers. It is exactly the same process as you just experienced except that it has been reversed.

The fact that walkie-talkies do this practically in real time is actually nothing short of amazing, when you think about it.

Part of the reason that walkie-talkie technology has been so very successful since its initial inception is that it works very well and is very easy to use. In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find a simpler, more useful and more user-friendly technology this side of the wheel!

Thanks for your question (and I’m sorry about the rant earlier, Claudia!), hope my answer helps. If not, then I’d go with the magic fairy warriors.

Concept Headphones That Won’t Get You Killed While Biking

“EVERY SINGLE DAY, I see at least five or six people with headphones on while cycling,” says Gemma Roper. The designer and recent graduate of London’s Royal College of Art finds the habit a troubling distraction but also an understandable tactic of using music to soften a harsh daily commute.

The problem is that cyclists also need to stay alert to certain sounds in order to be safe while weaving through traffic. Riding is already dicey in London, Roper says, because the local infrastructure accommodates bus and car traffic over cyclists. The city has seen eight cyclist fatalities so far this year; last year, there were 13. Roper decided that music pumping through earphones shouldn’t contribute to the risk. Her Safe + Sound headphone design uses bone conduction to play tunes through wearers’ cheekbones, instead of directly into their eardrums, so they can still detect ambient noise.

Bone-conduction headphones work by playing soundwave vibrations on top of bones, which then transmit the waves into to the Cochlea, or inner ear, bypassing the delicate eardrum. It could work anywhere on the body but works best near the ear. The technique itself is old—Beethoven, who was deaf, crafted a crude conductive listening device by biting on a metal rod attached to his piano—and a few other headphone makers have rolled out models using the technology in recent years.

Roper’s Safe + Sound are made with cycling helmets in mind. Most of the bone-conduction headphones on the market are wrap around the ear (like these, and these), with nodes that rest more or less where a helmet strap would sit. Asking cyclists to layer up headgear is an uncomfortable and unreasonable ask. At the same time, making any modifications to the helmet that might deter a rider from wearing one is out of the question. So Roper created something that could clip onto to a helmet’s straps. While testing out the idea, she also found that asking cyclists to tote around two pairs of headphones will slow down adoption, so her buds convert into a regular pair of headphones; the modular bone-conducting pieces fit magnetically into a pair of gold muffs.

London has yet to pass a ban on wearing headphones while riding a bike, and only five states in the U.S. forbid the practice. For now, Roper’s design, a working prototype, could be the transitional object cyclists need before giving up their headphones cold turkey.

Wearing a headset or a pair of earphones whilst cycling is a dangerous game to play, particularly in busy cities. This headset from broadbandchoices.co.uk is a simple idea and more importantly is safe. 

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