New Eco-Gadget Saves Upto 80% of Pool Running Costs

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WITH ELECTRICITY BILLS BEING DISTRIBUTED across Southern Spain today, thousands of expatriates will receive an unwelcome reminder of the high cost of electricity in the country. A private swimming pool is considered by many to be a necessary luxury in the hot Spanish summers, but the cost of running a pool in Spain can be astronomical.

With the cost of electricity in Spain amongst the highest in Europe, even the wealthiest expatriate’s cannot afford to disregard their power usage. Only Denmark, Germany, Italy and Ireland pay more for their electricity and budget concious consumers across Spain are increasingly looking toward new technologies to save them money, and reduce the cost of their electricity bills.

A private swimming pool is one of the most common luxury additions to any home in Southern Spain, but the cost of pool ownership doesn’t stop once you’ve paid for the installation. The cost of filtering the water through a pool pump brings an often unexpected long term financial liability that lasts a lifetime.

Electricity-prices-europeBut new technology is about to become available in Spain that can reduce the cost of running a swimming pool pump by up to 80%. Long term savings can run in to thousands of Euros, and as with most of the best new money saving gadgets these days, the idea behind the solution is a very simple one.

Developed here in Spain, the Eco Pool Saver is an elegantly uncomplicated device that moderates the supply of electricity to the pool pump. With 30 programmable speeds, it can be programmed to reduce the amount of power used by the pool pump while still providing water flow and filtration.

Put simply, the Eco Pool Saver is the most advanced and efficient variable speed controller that can be used with up to 95% of single speed domestic pool pumps, and brings immediate measurable savings in energy consumption that pays for the cost of installation in months rather than years.

The revolutionary money-saver is being introduced to Spain by established solar heating specialists Solar Directa in Murcia, who offer professional fitting of the device across the Costa Blanca, Costa Calida, and throughout the Murcia region.

Solar Directa have been providing solar installations across Southern Spain since 2004 and the owner, Keith Owen, is keen to promote the equipment’s plus points. “With the high cost of electricity in Spain, it seems like madness not to invest in the latest money saving technology”, he said. “The cost of installation is minimal compared to the thousands of Euros that can be saved over a lifetime of pool ownership”.

Keith also highlighted the benefits of reduced wear and tear on the pool pump itself, and the pool plumbing connected to it. “Simply adding a timer to your pool pump will reduce it’s lifespan quite considerably. The Eco Pool Saver avoids all those abrupt starts and stops, and keeps the water flowing through the filter resulting in a cleaner, healthier pool”.

The Eco Pool Saver is being distributed exclusively in Spain by Solar Directa, and more information is available from their website or contact them via Facebook.

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1980’s Computer System Still Used by Spain’s DGT

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OUR LIVES ARE BRIMMING WITH SHINY NEW GADGETS and apps. We take pictures and message friends with our latest generation smartphones and work on our glossy new laptops. But the world around us is still filled with the technologies of yesteryear including this 1988 computer system still in use with Spain’s DGT.

They might be fossils of the early computer age but they sometimes still have a role to play in our every day lives rather than just being on display in some museum. I encountered one such fossil last week when I went to renew my Spanish driver’s licence in Alicante.

I couldn’t help but take a picture of it; that’s what we do these days, after all. The worker who was assisting me with the test came back in the room as I took the picture and laughed. I told her I was surprised by how old the system was (the software was dated 1988). She said that it was indeed old, but that it still worked well.

The computer you see in the picture was connected to two levers, which I had to control with my hands. The point of the test was to see if I could keep two tiny black lines within the confines of two swirling white lines – very basic representations of cars driving down roads – to test my hand-eye coordination and my reaction time. Like the machine, the graphics are incredibly outdated.

As it turns out, this is a system that is still commonly used across Spain. The manufacturer, a company called General ASDE, still markets an updated version of the system on its website. The screenshots on the site are not entirely clear, but it seems like this version is dated 1999 – not as old as the one I used, but still ages ago in internet and technology years.

The assistant told me that these systems are “pretty antique” but are still “commonly used” as they have not been recently upgraded and no other system has been approved to replace it. They aren’t cheap either. A brochure dated June 2014 lists the ASDE Driver Test computer system, the latest model with a modern flat screen monitor, at €3,076 (approximately £2,200).

I ended up easily passing the test, and I have to say that despite its antiquated look the system does its’ job. Perhaps there’s no need for new, shiny machines when the old ones are still up to the task.

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Project Titan – Letter Reveals Apple Driverless Car Clues

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A LETTER INTERCEPTED BY THE GUARDIAN newspaper confirms existing theories that Apple are developing their own driverless car to compete with technology giant, Google. But under Apples’ notoriously secretive industrial camouflage, public knowledge of Project Titan is scarce.

The persistent rumours about Apple building some kind of car have felt at times like they were powered purely by Apple fans desperate for something new and exciting. So far we’ve only had theories and mock designs, rather than any actual evidence something was happening.

But now we have something firm: The Guardian newspaper has intercepted correspondence between Apple engineer Frank Fearon and officials from a car testing facility GoMentum Station.

“We would … like to get an understanding of timing and availability for the space, and how we would need to coordinate around other parties who would be using [it],” the newspaper quotes Fearon as writing. The note was sent in May this year.

GoMentum Station is in Concord, a city a good 30 minutes’ drive north west from San Francisco. Formerly a US military naval weapons station, it’s a highly secure facility specifically set up to test driverless car technology with 20 miles or so of road which re-creates some real-world scenarios. This video from Honda gives you a good insight into the industrial technological facility.

Apple is believed to be working on its automotive project at a facility in Sunnyvale, California. Sources revealed that “Project Titan” development is underway inside a top-secret building codenamed “SG5”.

Apple is believed to be hiding its offices under the guise of a shell corporation, SixtyEight Research, that purports to be a market research company. Documents uncovered by AppleInsider revealed company identified as “SixtyEight LLC” paid to import a 1957 Fiat Multipla 600, and Apple chief designer, British-born Jony Ive, is known to have an affinity for classic Fiats.

So what does the latest information reveal about Apples’ vehicular ambitions? Not much, but it does at least offer, for the first time, some concrete evidence that plans are in motion. Until now, we had only known that Apple hired a couple of car industry experts into its ranks, apparently working on something called “Project Titan” although this has never been confirmed by Apple.

So the letters from Fearon – himself an autonomous vehicle expert – to GoMentum Station at least lends some credibility to the rumours. “We are hoping to see a presentation on the … testing grounds with a layout, photos, and a description of how the various areas of the grounds could be used” the letter reads.

GoMentum are, naturally, under a strict non-disclosure agreement about the project, but they did confirm to the Guardian that Apple are “interested”. And why wouldn’t they be? Apples’ vice-president Jeff Williams said earlier in the year that the car is the “ultimate mobile device”, a space you would assume Apple would be desperate to be in.

The question is the extent of what they are building. Are they, as some have said, intending on creating an entire Apple-made car? Or are they perhaps content with providing sophisticated software for already-established car makers to use in their vehicles?

Car makers are understandably keeping a close eye on things. Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne told the BBC earlier this year that Apples’ pursuit of the car market would be highly disruptive. Whatever the approach, it’s safe to say we won’t find out much more until Apple is absolutely ready. GoMentum, in keeping with its military roots, has armed guards stationed at the facility 24 hours a day.

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Windows Phone Website Rendering Issues

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TUCATZ CREATES DYNAMIC WEBSITES that are responsive to screen size and operating environment and render well on smartphones, pads, laptops, and PC’s without the requirement for an additional mobile site. Max Harrison, our Digital Correspondent in the United Kingdom asks, “So why do some websites not look as good on my Nokia Smartphone?”

The latest generation of Nokia and Microsoft smartphones utilise Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. During the development phase we test new websites on a stock Motorola Android smartphone, the latest iteration of Apple’s class-leading iPad, and both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox web browsers to ensure that they render as perfectly as possible. If they don’t we re-code the offending page elements.

Microsoft don’t offer much support for web developers, and instead choose to offer development support only for those involved in the production of applications for the latest generation of Windows Smartphones. Thus, despite previous software fixes from Microsoft some sites still don’t render well on these devices.

Note that the updates promised by this pre-emptive article from The Verge were actually missing from the Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade, and the only additional notable support for web content was the inclusion of support for HTML5 video content.

The latest version of the Windows Phone operating system, Windows 10 Mobile starts a limited consumer roll out today (10th April). It includes an updated browser with a new web rendering engine currently only known as Project Spartan which we’re hoping will fix more of the rendering issues on Windows smartphones.

However, questions over how many handsets will actually receive the update, and pre-published documentation stating that Spartan won’t support some legacy technologies natively like Browser Helper Objects or ActiveX, indicate that this could be another missed opportunity by Microsoft.

We understand the importance of cross-platform accessibility, but as developers, until the consumer uptake of the latest Microsoft mobile technology improves (currently representing just 2.4% of the total mobile market and falling 2014 Q4) it’s just not worth making rendering changes for mobile Windows systems which will most likely result in reduced quality rendering on the remaining 97.6% of devices out there.

We also have to consider the demographics of the potential customers for the businesses we build websites for. In the case of the website in question, the Kudos Villas Estate Agency website in Spain; their target consumers are 45+, asset heavy, cash rich buyers already invested heavily in Apple or Android hardware. Given the consumption statistics available, uptake of Windows Phone mobile devices in this consumer segment is likely to be sparse at best.

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The Importance of SEO for Small and Medium Businesses

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SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO) is what increases your chances of being found when customers search for a product or service like yours with Google, Bing, and other search engines. If a customer is using a search engine to find what they need and you don’t show up, you don’t exist.

There are many ways to get the word out about your business: flyers, radio commercials, paid online advertising, and more; but all of those things cost money.

On the other hand, if customers find your business while using a search engine it’s like free website traffic (also called organic traffic). Though you may spend some time optimising your website, you’re not paying for each new lead like with pay-per click (PPC) advertising.

SEO is important because it is the most cost-effective way to bring in new customers that your business. So why don’t more people do it? SEO takes time and patience to do right. Most people just want fast results and aren’t willing to invest the time, but it never happens over night.

On page SEO is the most important aspect of SEO because it is completely within your control. This includes making sure your website uses all the right HTML tags and structured data to correctly markup your content, which is colloquially referred to as technical SEO due to the code related nature of it.

Essentially, this markup tells search engines what your website is about, what the important things are, and how to interpret all of it. The more you help search engines understand what your website is about, the more qualified leads you’ll get from search engines.

In addition to technical SEO mentioned above, the rest is content focused and consists of the words you use on your website. For example, if you use words like accounting, taxes, marginal tax rate, exemption, invoice, IRS, audit, etc., search engines will assume you’re an accountant and your website is about accounting. When users enter search terms (also called keywords) into search engines like these, they’ll be more likely to find pages on your website related to these keywords.

This concept is particularly important for local small and medium businesses. If you’re a plumber, customers won’t find you by typing ‘plumber’ into Google, but if you’re a plumber in London and customers type in ‘london plumber’ there’s a much better chance they’ll find you. This is called localised SEO. Most websites don’t use localised SEO at all.

This is why on page SEO is so important. If you use the right HTML tags and structured data to markup your content, Google will know what you do and where you are. So, when customers in your area are searching they’ll find your business.

If you’re using the right advanced structured data, Google can even show your phone number and where your business is located to potential customers. That’s why on page SEO is so important.

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