Category Archives: Technology
Oil and fossil fuel is a way of life, powering everything from our cars to our homes to our electricity. We use it by the gallon and store it in a portable fuel tank trailer for household, recreation, and industrial use. Oil is what makes the modern world go round, but it wasn’t always so easy to obtain–not until the efforts of Edwin Drake.
The Need for Oil
Oil was in common use well before Drake arrived on the scene. It was an everyday essential for lamps. Prior to Drake’s work, people all over the world gathered oil around seeps, which described places where oil naturally seeped to the surface through cracks in the ground.
Growing industrialization in the 1850s meant new types of machinery and a growing need for oil. Contrary to what you might think, the oil was necessary for lubrication, not for fuel. Aside from oil seeps, the only other source of oil was whaling. Neither method was especially efficient enough to meet the modern demands, so it was necessary to find some means of getting oil from the ground.
Enter Edwin Drake
Edwin Drake, born March 29, 1819, worked as a clerk, express agent, and various other jobs before finally becoming a railroad conductor. Despite his successes, within about seven years, Drake retired due to illness.
The Seneca Oil Company, founded by George Bissell and Jonathan Eveleth, was a burgeoning business that had split from the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Drake bought stock in Seneca Oil, but he gained employment when he, Bissell, and Eveleth happened to be staying in the same hotel in Titusville in 1858.
He was offered a job to investigate oil seeps on land owned by the oil company. The position required constant back-and-forth travel throughout rural Pennsylvania. Drake, who could ride trains for free thanks to his former job as a conductor, made the ideal candidate.
Drake was motivated to increase production at the otherwise paltry oil seeps. Drake and the owners of Seneca Oil believed that digging into the ground would be the best way to get to the oil, and so Drake dug a mine, which ended with the mine shaft flooding.
Considering the same techniques used for digging salt wells, Drake experimented with various methods before landing on iron drive pipes, which could be forced into the dirt and shale, deep into the oil deposits. The first oil well, which was initially named “Drake’s Folly” by the incredulous locals, was slow going, progressing at about three feet of depth a day. On August 27, 1859, the well reached a depth of 69 feet, and by morning, the oil had risen up through the well.
Drake’s first oil well brought a steady supply of about 400 gallons of oil a day, which was funneled and stored in whiskey barrels, the old-school diesel fuel transfer tanks, if you will.
Most importantly, Drake’s oil well paved the way for improved drilling methods and greater technologies in the twentieth century. We wouldn’t have cars, planes, aviation storage tanks, or any of our modern wonders without Drake’s efforts.
When most people think of the word “pilot,” they think of a person wearing a pilot headset in the cockpit of a commercial aircraft. While there are thousands of commercial pilots working in the U.S., there are many aviation jobs that are actually on the federal payroll.
If you are considering a career in aviation, take a look at some of your federal job options:
U.S. Military civilian jobs: You do not have to enlist in the military to land an aviation job working with the armed forces. Some of the positions that the government opens up to civilians include aircraft mechanics, technicians, engineers, and even administrative workers. Many military employees earn the same salary and benefits, or better, than their peers in other federal aviation categories, like the FAA.
Aviation-specific meteorologist: The aviation industry is one of the largest sources of weather information consumption. These meteorologists are classified as synoptic, which means they take specific, hands-on approaches to relating weather conditions in real-time. Most people are familiar with theoretical meteorology, which forecasts future conditions. This is different from what those assigned to the aviation industry do.
Aviation physicians: The FAA hires a limited amount of these medical professionals to research the effects of flying on humans. Some of the areas that these doctors study include oxygen needs based on altitude, fatigue on pilot performance, and overall reactions from the body during and following time in the air. They also look at the effects of human interactions with consumer items, like a Bose aviation headset and computers, during flight.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators: When an aircraft crashes, these specially trained aviation employees search for answers. They speak with witnesses, examine parts of the aircraft, review flight records, evaluate pilot supplies, and look for other potential clues that point to the cause of the crash. These professionals take a full-scale look at the problems on fatal and non-fatal airplane accidents in order to make flying safer in the future.
Test pilots: These federal employees are trained to fly aircraft with new designs or experimental features to determine their safety. Production test pilots test new aircraft as they come off the assembly line while airline test pilots give new planes a try after they have undergone major changes or repairs. Since these pilots are employed by the FAA, they take special care to make sure all parts of the aircraft meet regulations and are safe for the general public.
There are numerous federal jobs in aviation if you know what you want to do. A career with the federal government can prove to be financially rewarding and span several decades.
Preparing for a trip overseas takes some serious planning. You must consider everything from bottled water to electrical outlet adapters to ensure the best trip possible. The U.S. Travel Association reports that nearly 42 percent of Americans report flying for pleasure and 48 percent for business annually. Whether traveling for fun or for work, take a look at these 10 must-have items to make the most of your international journey.
- Headphones: Look for noise-cancelling headphones to tune out noise on airplanes and in hotel rooms. You may be sleeping at odd times, so it is important to have a means of blocking out the daytime (or nighttime) noise of your destination.
- Smartphone battery extender: Invest in a better battery, or at least an extender, for your smartphone. You will use your phone for navigation or business reviews, which will drain your power quickly with fewer opportunities to charge.
- Slip-on shoes: When you are flying, wear comfortable slip-on shoes to make getting through security a breeze.
- Sleep mask: Give yourself a better shot at sleeping any time of day with a sleep mask that blocks out the daylight.
- Comfortable pullover: It is much easier to add clothing when the temperature drops than to remove your base outfit. Buy a fleece pullover specifically for travel, or throw your favorite sweatshirt in your carry-on bag.
- Snacks: If you are traveling with kids, snacks are essential. Pack some nonperishable food in your carry-on and luggage. Items that travel well include granola bars, cereal, and pretzels.
- Outlet adapter: Find a universal adapter that works no matter what country you visit. You may actually want to buy several of these.
- WiFi hotspot: Rent a prepaid WiFi hotspot when you travel overseas. You never know what the global Internet access charges will be at your destination. Play it safe and pack your own mobile Internet connection.
- Business cards: Who knows what connections you might make during your travels? Even if you are not traveling for business, pack a few cards with your contact information in case an opportunity arises.
- First aid kit: Prepare a small kit with some basic items, like bandages, burn cream, and pain relievers. This will save you from paying higher prices for these items in tourist areas.
You may also want to consider buying a travel router, wireless printer, or portable scanner if you often take international business trips. What items are on your must-have packing list when you travel internationally?
If you have spare time on your hands and want to try something new, why not get a hobby? Most of us work 40 hours a week, go home, and wait for the next day to start. Life does not have to be so mundane though. There are plenty of things you can do for enjoyment, and this doesn’t mean sitting on the couch and watching television. A hobby is a great way to relieve stress and let go. Think of it as your own personal escape, a passion that makes you unique. In this economy, having free time really is a luxury, so why waste it?
If you are like most people, you are likely struggling to think of hobbies that may interest you. Few of us know what we like to do until we actually try new things. That said, here are five ideas to help you get started on your new life journey.
5 Hobbies to Consider
- Flying – There truly is no better way to experience that larger-than-life feeling than floating miles above the Earth in an airplane. You can start by using a flight simulator until you are ready to practice the real deal. Keep in mind that pilot training courses can be expensive and time consuming. Trainers often require students to log an extensive number of hours before they are allowed to fly alone. Once you have passed the training course, make sure to buy the gear you need from a pilot store. For instance, a flight computer is an essential tool that all professional pilots use for navigational purposes. If you plan to travel long distances, don’t forget to buy flight cases for storing clothing and other carry-on gear.
- Volunteering – If you want to get involved and give back to your community, consider volunteering for a non-profit organization. Find a passion that interests you and contact local programs and organizations (dog shelters, homeless shelters, churches, etc.).
- Gardening – Get in touch with nature by planting your own garden. Growing fruits and vegetables and working with flowers and plants is relaxing and enjoyable. A key benefit to the former is that you will eat healthier, too!
- Reading – Sometimes reading a good book is all it takes to be happy. Unplug that television and put those video games away. Reading is a timeless hobby that is cheap and enjoyable. It is sad to think that so many people these days have never stepped foot in a library.
- Fishing – This is an excellent way to experience the great outdoors. All you need for hours of pleasure are a fishing rod, a tackle box, and some bait. You can just sit back and let go of your daily worries out on a boat.
While certainly not all-encompassing, one of these options should at least appeal to your interests. It never hurts to experiment. The great thing about hobbies is that you are completely free to test the waters. After all, that is what makes the process so fun in the first place.
Long gone are the days when blackboards were teachers’ best friends. Chalk and dry erase markers have been replaced with computers and tablets as the teaching tools of choice. An estimated 85 percent of schools have multimedia computers in classrooms, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As new teachers enter the profession, and veteran ones adjust to the changing demands of the classroom, digital adaptation is vital to the teaching career.
Here are a few ways to keep teaching effective and relevant in the digital age.
One of the main reasons people are wary of technology is because it changes so quickly. The truth is that not every digital initiative is a success or sticks around for very long after inception. This should not discourage teachers from trying the latest trends though. Each digital learning experience paves the way for a faster learning down the road, which benefits students and teachers alike.
2. Take advantage of organizational software.
Digital applications don’t just have to benefit students. Teachers, coaches, and administrators can use the latest technology to better their own workflows. Investing in band director software, for example, can streamline the creative and logistical processes. Everything from checklist applications on a smartphone to FileMaker hosting services give educators an edge when it comes to accomplishing everything in their lesson plans.
3. Build a team.
Every school should have a team of interested teachers to head up technology initiatives. If your school does not have an official group, form an unofficial team of your own. Come together once a month to discuss the latest trends, what is working in your classroom, and where the technology initiatives for your school need to go in the future. You may even want to include a few students to get the opinion of your target learning group. Discuss everything from FileMaker licensing to the technology that you wish existed.
4. Set and measure goals.
Like any teaching methodology, digital technology needs planning to be effective. When you try a new tactic, give yourself a trial period and reassess the effectiveness at the end of that period. Do not assume that all technology is a good thing in your classroom. Some initiatives need to be abandoned. If that happens, pick up where you left off and try a different approach, digital or otherwise. The only way to find the best digital fit for your classroom is to try out a variety of options before deciding on the best one.
Technology is an invaluable tool, making your job easier and giving your students a rich, fulfilling education all at once. Remember that what works for one classroom may not work for yours, so feel free to experiment and get your hands dirty.
Entrepreneurs are a brave lot. They need the courage to move forward with ideas, often when no one else understands them yet, and the bravery to take risks in order to net a big return with time. It is a tough road. In fact, a Harvard working paper reports that only 18 percent of first-time entrepreneurs succeed. Entrepreneurs should not see this number as discouragement. They should go into any new business venture with eyes wide open.
If you are thinking about taking a leap of faith and becoming an entrepreneur, here are some things that will boost your chances of being part of that successful 18 percent.
- Talented workforce: Entrepreneurs’ passions runs deep for their businesses. If it were up to most of them, they would do all the tasks themselves, but there are simply not enough hours in the day. Take the time to find experienced, talented, and trustworthy employees so you can delegate responsibility without worry. You also want to ensure that the employees dealing with your clients are well-versed in customer service basics.
- CRM software: Customer relationship manager software is a streamlined way to handle interactions with current and future customers. For entrepreneurs just beginning a small business, managing customers may simply mean one location for all of the contact information of clients. Larger companies may have complex systems with all kinds of customer data, social media, promotions, analytics, etc. From simple CRM systems to more advanced FileMaker CRM solutions, entrepreneurs need automation in their most basic tasks.
- Business journal: Keep a handwritten or digital journal of ideas for your business. Even the smallest details could lead to pay offs in the form of popular products or services later on. This is a great way to keep your thoughts organized and constantly inspire yourself to take your business to the next level.
- Local partnerships. Reach out to other businesses and organizations in your community to promote your product or service. Find complimentary companies and swap business cards or agree to mutual referrals. Get involved with community outreach opportunities and show your support for your client base.
The road to a successful business is rocky, and you never know which way it will veer. Cushion your chances for success with the right employees, partners, CRM software solution, and organized ideas. Combine your business savvy with your creativity to bring customers the best version of your company.
Thinking with an eco-friendly frame of mind is not just a nice thing to do. It is becoming a necessity of life. Did you know that the average consumer generates almost five pounds of trash every single day? That adds up to 1.5 tons of trash annually per person! Stats like these have ignited a debate about the carbon footprint each of us leaves on our planet. More consumers are demanding environmentally friendly options when it comes to purchases, including the items they put in their homes and use every day.
If you are looking for ways to make your home more eco-friendly, consider these four suggestions:
- Install solar panels. This is an especially smart, long-term money-saving option for people who live in sunny climates. When it comes to solar panels Arizona installers and companies in other areas of the country can be found with a basic online search. As you’re considering solar panels installation companies you contact can make suggestions on the best places to install the panels for optimal use in your home. Businesses should also consider the commercial solar panels Arizona installers offer.
- Update windows. Up to 20 percent of a home’s heat or air conditioning is lost due to outdated windows. This can take a bite out of your utility budget over time. Consider replacing just a few windows in your home at a time to cope with the upfront costs. New windows not only save money, but also add to the aesthetic appeal of your home and increase its resale value.
- Plant a garden. What better way to get in touch with the planet than by getting in the dirt and gardening? If you have space for a full produce garden, great. If not, consider even a small herb garden to provide fresh spices when you cook. This is also a good way to show your kids that not all food comes from a shelf in the grocery store. Make each member of the family responsible for one plant and celebrate gardening success with recipes that include the crops.
- Switch to energy efficient appliances. Dishwashers, washing machines, and hot water heaters are just a few of the many energy efficient appliances available on the market. Making a total household switch will likely take several years but is a good way to stay eco-friendly in the long term.
Putting a little extra thought into home improvements and everyday activities can make a positive impact on the environment and your wallet. Take some time to think of a few ways that you can make your home more eco-friendly today, tomorrow, and in the years to come.
If you know that you need a change in your career but aren’t sure which direction to take, consider some of the hottest job prospects. In Part I of this series, I discussed the need for personal trainers, accountants, software developers, and social media managers. I’d like to continue that conversation here and point out a few more fields that are in need of trained professionals.
Take a look at these trending career choices:
- Marketing analysts: For those unfamiliar with this career, this is it in a nutshell: these professionals research the groups most likely to buy a product and give advice to companies on how to best promote their products and services. Strong math and analytical skills are needed for this job and many companies require a Master’s degree before considering new hires. Look into receiving an undergraduate and graduate degree in finance or marketing to best succeed in this field.
- Human resources: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in February 2013, business and professional services added just over 73,000 jobs. This number, along with a rise in information services and healthcare positions, means that human resources departments are hard at work finding the right people for job openings. A degree in human resources is often required by companies, but adequate experience is enough as well.
- Programmers: This category can range from a network technician to a software engineer. There are even freelance programmers that use their knowledge to help a variety of clients. Each company’s hiring requirements for this field are different. Some will require a Microsoft Certified professional, while others just want people with experience. Consider a degree in computer science to best find a career in this field.
- Corporate event planners: As more companies see revenues rise following years of recession, they are spending more money on networking events. Unlike private event planners, corporate ones are generally employed full-time to handle all the meetings, conferences, and special events of a particular company. A smart degree for this field is one in marketing, promotion, or even hospitality. High levels of organization and social skills are also necessary.
It is always best to choose a job based on your interests and not simply on a paycheck. These are merely suggestions. Do some soul-searching to find the right career for you. Finding a good job fit should have a positive impact on your quality of life and level of happiness.
It is never too late to change the course of your career. Whether you are a recent high school graduate just starting out or a professional with 20+ years of experience in need of a change, the resources are available to make new career paths possible at every phase of life. Online courses make it convenient for people to make a living and learn new things in the process. Even traditional college campuses are becoming more accommodating to students by offering greater flexibility in degree programs and course scheduling.
If you are unsure which career is right for you, take a look at these trending options:
- Software development: This is the field that has produced the most jobs since 2010. The reason? Companies are eager to get on board with emerging technology, specifically in mobile areas, and want to hire people with the knowledge to develop technology innovations in-house. If this sounds like the field for you, look into programs in computer science. A software developer can expect to make as much as $90,000 annually in his or her first few years on the job.
- Personal training: As baby boomers continue to age and society places more emphasis on physical fitness for all ages, personal training certification is becoming a hot commodity. The great part of this accreditation, as well as a functional training certification, is that you are able to stay in shape while helping others do the same. Sound like a good fit for you? Look into personal training certification online programs.
- Social media management: It is no secret that social media is part of the everyday routine of many Americans. Businesses are trying to benefit from this fairly new form of interaction with customers, which makes a job as a social media manager in high demand. This fall, Newberry College will become the first school to offer a degree in social media management, but people with degrees in Public Relations are also a good fit.
- Accounting: While this may not sound like a “hot” job prospect, people who choose this field have a high level of job security. This is actually the number two career since 2010, behind software development. Most companies that want to hire accountants require a degree in accounting or finance, but both programs are fairly common and easy to find at the university level.