Thursday 31 July 2008

Nature of Glass Remains Anything but Clear

It is well known that panes of stained glass in old European churches are thicker at the bottom because glass is a slow-moving liquid that flows downward over centuries. Well known, but wrong. Medieval stained glass makers were simply unable to make perfectly flat panes, and the windows were just as unevenly thick when new. The tale contains a grain of truth about glass resembling a liquid, however. The arrangement of atoms and molecules in glass is indistinguishable from that of a liquid. But how can a liquid be as strikingly hard as glass?
“They’re the thickest and gooiest of liquids and the most disordered and structureless of rigid solids,” said Peter Harrowell, a professor of chemistry at the University of Sydney in Australia, speaking of glasses, which can be formed from different raw materials. “They sit right at this really profound sort of puzzle.” Philip W. Anderson, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at Princeton, wrote in 1995: “The deepest and most interesting unsolved problem in solid state theory is probably the theory of the nature of glass and the glass transition.” He added, “This could be the next breakthrough in the coming decade.” Thirteen years later, scientists still disagree, with some vehemence, about the nature of glass. Peter G. Wolynes, a professor of chemistry at the University of California, San Diego, thinks he essentially solved the glass problem two decades ago based on ideas of what glass would look like if cooled infinitely slowly. “I think we have a very good constructive theory of that these days,” Dr. Wolynes said. “Many people tell me this is very contentious. I disagree violently with them.” Others, like Juan P. Garrahan, professor of physics at the University of Nottingham in England, and David Chandler, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, have taken a different approach and are as certain that they are on the right track. “It surprises most people that we still don’t understand this,” said David R. Reichman, a professor of chemistry at Columbia, who takes yet another approach to the glass problem. “We don’t understand why glass should be a solid and how it forms.” Dr. Reichman said of Dr. Wolynes’s theory, “I think a lot of the elements in it are correct,” but he said it was not a complete picture. Theorists are drawn to the problem, Dr. Reichman said, “because we think it’s not solved yet — except for Peter maybe.” Scientists are slowly accumulating more clues. A few years ago, experiments and computer simulations revealed something unexpected: as molten glass cools, the molecules do not slow down uniformly. Some areas jam rigid first while in other regions the molecules continue to skitter around in a liquid-like fashion. More strangely, the fast-moving regions look no different from the slow-moving ones. Meanwhile, computer simulations have become sophisticated and large enough to provide additional insights, and yet more theories have been proffered to explain glasses.
David A. Weitz, a physics professor at Harvard, joked, “There are more theories of the glass transition than there are theorists who propose them.” Dr. Weitz performs experiments using tiny particles suspended in liquids to mimic the behavior of glass, and he ducks out of the theoretical battles. “It just can get so controversial and so many loud arguments, and I don’t want to get involved with that myself.” For scientists, glass is not just the glass of windows and jars, made of silica, sodium carbonate and calcium oxide. Rather, a glass is any solid in which the molecules are jumbled randomly. Many plastics like polycarbonate are glasses, as are many ceramics. Understanding glass would not just solve a longstanding fundamental (and arguably Nobel-worthy) problem and perhaps lead to better glasses. That knowledge might benefit drug makers, for instance. Certain drugs, if they could be made in a stable glass structure instead of a crystalline form, would dissolve more quickly, allowing them to be taken orally instead of being injected. The tools and techniques applied to glass might also provide headway on other problems, in material science, biology and other fields, that look at general properties that arise out of many disordered interactions. “A glass is an example, probably the simplest example, of the truly complex,” Dr. Harrowell, the University of Sydney professor, said. In liquids, molecules jiggle around along random, jumbled paths. When cooled, a liquid either freezes, as water does into ice, or it does not freeze and forms a glass instead. In freezing to a conventional solid, a liquid undergoes a so-called phase transition; the molecules line up next to and on top of one another in a simple, neat crystal pattern. When a liquid solidifies into a glass, this organized stacking is nowhere to be found. Instead, the molecules just move slower and slower and slower, until they are effectively not moving at all, trapped in a strange state between liquid and solid.
The glass transition differs from a usual phase transition in several other key ways. Energy, what is called latent heat, is released when water molecules line up into ice. There is no latent heat in the formation of glass.
The glass transition does not occur at a single, well-defined temperature; the slower the cooling, the lower the transition temperature. Even the definition of glass is arbitrary — basically a rate of flow so slow that it is too boring and time-consuming to watch. The final structure of the glass also depends on how slowly it has been cooled. By contrast, water, cooled quickly or cooled slowly, consistently crystallizes to the same ice structure at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. To develop his theory, Dr. Wolynes zeroed in on an observation made decades ago, that the viscosity of a glass was related to the amount of entropy, a measure of disorder, in the glass. Further, if a glass could be formed by cooling at an infinitely slow rate, the entropy would vanish at a temperature well above absolute zero, violating the third law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy vanishes at absolute zero. Dr. Wolynes and his collaborators came up with a mathematical model to describe this hypothetical, impossible glass, calling it an “ideal glass.” Based on this ideal glass, they said the properties of real glasses could be deduced, although exact calculations were too hard to perform. That was in the 1980s. “I thought in 1990 the problem was solved,” Dr. Wolynes said, and he moved on to other work. Not everyone found the theory satisfying. Dr. Wolynes and his collaborators so insisted they were right that “you had the impression they were trying to sell you an old car,” said Jean-Philippe Bouchaud of the Atomic Energy Commission in France. “I think Peter is not the best advocate of his own ideas. He tends to oversell his own theory.” Around that time, the first hints of the dichotomy of fast-moving and slow-moving regions in a solidifying glass were seen in experiments, and computer simulations predicted that this pattern, called dynamical heterogeneity, should exist.
Dr. Weitz of Harvard had been working for a couple of decades with colloids, or suspensions of plastic spheres in liquids, and he thought he could use them to study the glass transition. As the liquid is squeezed out, the colloid particles undergo the same change as a cooling glass. With the colloids, Dr. Weitz could photograph the movements of each particle in a colloidal glass and show that some chunks of particles moved quickly while most hardly moved. “You can see them,” Dr. Weitz said. “You can see them so clearly.”
The new findings did not faze Dr. Wolynes. Around 2000, he returned to the glass problem, convinced that with techniques he had used in solving protein folding problems, he could fill in some of the computational gaps in his glass theory. Among the calculations, he found that dynamical heterogeneity was a natural consequence of the theory. Dr. Bouchaud and a colleague, Giulio Biroli, revisited Dr. Wolynes’s theory, translating it into terms they could more easily understand and coming up with predictions that could be compared with experiments. “For a long time, I didn’t really believe in the whole story, but with time I became more and more convinced there is something very deep in the theory,” Dr. Bouchaud said. “I think these people had fantastic intuition about how the whole problem should be attacked.” For Dr. Garrahan, the University of Nottingham scientist, and Dr. Chandler, the Berkeley scientist, the contrast between fast- and slow-moving regions was so striking compared with the other changes near the transition, they focused on these dynamics. They said that the fundamental process in the glass transition was a phase transition in the trajectories, from flowing to jammed, rather than a change in structure seen in most phase transitions. “You don’t see anything interesting in the structure of these glass formers, unless you look at space and time,” Dr. Garrahan said. They ignore the more subtle effects related to the impossible-to-reach ideal glass state. “If I can never get there, these are metaphysical temperatures,” Dr. Chandler said. Dr. Chandler and Dr. Garrahan have devised and solved mathematical models, but, like Dr. Wolynes, they have not yet convinced everyone of how the model is related to real glasses. The theory does not try to explain the presumed connection between entropy and viscosity, and some scientists said they found it hard to believe that the connection was just coincidence and unrelated to the glass transition.
Dr. Harrowell said that in the proposed theories so far, the theorists have had to guess about elementary atomic properties of glass not yet observed, and he wondered whether one theory could cover all glasses, since glasses are defined not by a common characteristic they possess, but rather a common characteristic they lack: order. And there could be many reasons that order is thwarted. “If I showed you a room without an elephant in the room, the question ‘why is there not an elephant in the room?’ is not a well-posed question,” Dr. Harrowell said. New experiments and computer simulations may offer better explanations about glass. Simulations by Dr. Harrowell and his co-workers have been able to predict, based on the pattern of vibration frequencies, which areas were likely to be jammed and which were likely to continue moving. The softer places, which vibrate at lower frequencies, moved more freely. Mark D. Ediger, a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has found a way to make thin films of glass with the more stable structure of a glass that has been “aged” for at least 10,000 years. He hopes the films will help test Dr. Wolynes’s theory and point to what really happens as glass approaches its ideal state, since no one expects the third law of thermodynamics to fall away. Dr. Weitz of Harvard continues to squeeze colloids, except now the particles are made of compressible gels, enabling the colloidal glasses to exhibit a wider range of glassy behavior.
“When we can say what structure is present in glasses, that will be a real bit of progress,” Dr. Harrowell said. “And hopefully something that will have broader implications than just the glass field.”

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Don Marsh - the Pod-Cast King

Don Marsh, the window cleaner from Gainesville, Florida has decided to end his video's that advise new starters to the business. The sixty pod-casts were a great source of information for old & new window cleaners & will be missed by the majority. Don's reasons are given below. His forum is still running though at Squeegee's by mail. I've also added another video entitled "sex on the job" that Don made ten months a go & gave me good laugh at the time - filmed with a smirk in the corner of his mouth.

So who will take over Don's crown? I feel that Mark Strange of Beautiful View window cleaning from Toronto, Canada, now on his fifth window cleaning video (below) may save the day. In this edition, Mark talks about the Wagtail & the good & bad points. Don's videos will be missed, I think he gave a lot to the window cleaning industry without even knowing it! Thanks Don!

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Hold the Front Page

Those guys at window cleaning resource are back again for season two of "window cleaning resource nation." A show dedicated to news & tips in the world of window cleaning and a little fun on the way - so 'kick back' & watch with a bottle in hand & legs akimbo by the keyboard. Starting again this Friday here.

The popular "ask a salesman" gives you insights & direction into getting those new accounts & how to go about it, also from the window cleaning resource stable & featuring Sean - the actual sales guy.

Window Washers Add Sparkle to Little Rock Skyline

See main story & video here.

Little Rock is home to the tallest building between Memphis and Dallas—the Metropolitan National Bank Building. On Monday, Channel 7 tagged along as window cleaners William Teas and Todd Gentry got to work, and gave us a bird's eye view. (Todd Gentry, Window Washer) “Being way up there is a totally different story--when you look down and everything looks like a match box car, and people look like ants walking around. It kind of makes you a little nervous, and your muscles start cramping up and you start wondering whether you are about to do it or not.” At 40-stories tall, the building has thousands of windows. Up this high, safety is a top priority. (William Teas, Window Washer) “I've seen a couple of guys have close calls, but never me. I've been cleaning windows since I was 16 or 17-years-old, and I've never had any close calls. Not me personally. I always double-check everything and re-check. The key is to keep your fear up there.” Standing on the roof, wearing a full-body harness, it's time to get strapped on to a small seat and climb over the edge. (Teas) “You kind of have to forget about where you are for a minute. Don't look down. It's not a bad job. It has its ups and downs.” It's a job that is definitely not for someone scared of heights. But for Teas, it's a job he loves--and one that has taken him all over the country. (Teas) “Ever since I've moved here to Arkansas, the city has just come alive--blossomed in to a big city. I’m getting in on the ground floor of an up-and-coming city.” Teas and Gentry say it take about eight weeks to clean the entire building.

Monday 28 July 2008

Skylight Fall

Man falls through skylight at GVSU Kirkhof Center: Allendale, Missouri - Emergency crews say a window-washer fell through a skylight at the GVSU Kirkhof Center and was rescued after dangling from a cable inside the building. The accident happened around 1 p.m. this afternoon on GVSU's Allendale campus. Campus security says the man who fell was John Badour, an employee of Gemmens Caulking. They say Badour was applying caulking to windows in a skylight when the glass broke under him. Officers say Badour's safety harness kept him from falling all the way to the floor below. Badour dangled on the cable for several minutes until co-workers pulled him up to safety. Campus security officer Minh Lien says Badour suffered a cut in the fall, but no serious injuries. The man was taken to Spectrum Butterworth as a precaution. No one else was injured.
This follows on from last week in Brampton, Canada: A window washer survived a harrowing tumble off the roof of a Brampton apartment building last Wednesday afternoon when he managed to crash through a window into a top floor apartment.

Getting High On Window Cleaning

Skegness, UK: A cannabis farmer who grew almost £250,000 worth of the drug in the belief it would be legalised has been jailed for six years today. 'Obsessive' Steven Green, a window cleaner was so sure the law was about to change he spent hours inventing equipment to market in readiness. He hoped to make his fortune from a tailor-made hydroponics system and a threshing machine he invented to harvest cannabis leaves.Lincoln Crown Court heard how cannabis plants were recovered when police raided Green's home in Friskney in March last year. Just four months later officers returned and found 11.2kg of cannabis, worth £28,000, said Christopher Geeson, prosecuting. Cannabis plants with a potential yield of a further 99kg - worth up to an estimated £247,000 were also found, the court was told. Green claimed he grew the plants simply to develop his inventions and denied he ever intended to supply the drugs to anyone else. But at the end of a trial a jury convicted the 33-year-old, of Halfway Cottage, Main Road, Friskney, of possessing drugs with intent to supply. He had earlier admitted charges of producing cannabis, illegally possessing cannabis and amphetamine and illegally abstracting electricity. Passing sentence, Judge Michael Heath told him: "Your defence was a work of fiction and an insult to the jury's intelligence. "You set up a sophisticated cannabis-growing operation that was in effect a cannabis factory. That was clear from the amount you produced. "Philip Bown, defending, said Green worked as a window-cleaner by day but became 'obsessed' about cannabis away from his job. He told the court: "He comes across as an intelligent but rather eccentric individual who saw business opportunities in various aspects. "He thought he could market the electrical devices and the shredding machine. He thought he could sell them when cannabis became legal. "He added: "He now presents as a very chastened and rather defeated man who considers at the moment that his life is almost at an end. "He is clearly capable of using his skills to a proper ability. Hopefully in the future he will use his ability to devise machinery in a lawful way."

Sunday 27 July 2008

The Lotus Effect & Hydrophobic Coatings

The lotus effect in materials science is the observed superhydrophobic (also super hydrophobic or super-hydrophobic) and self-cleaning property found with lotus plants' leaves. In some Eastern cultures, the lotus plant is a symbol of purity. Although lotuses prefer to grow in muddy rivers and lakes, the leaves and flowers remain clean. Botanists who have studied lotus leaves have found that they have a natural cleaning mechanism. This cleaning mechanism was discovered by Wilhelm Barthlott in 1982. He also holds a patent. The microscopic structure and surface chemistry of the leaves prevent them from being wetted by liquids having a contact angle of greater than 90° to an unstructured surface of the same material. With contact angles to water of up to 170°, droplets roll off a leaf's surface like mercury, taking mud, tiny insects, and contaminants with them. This is known as superhydrophobicity, or more commonly, the lotus effect. Water droplets on taro and nasturtium leaves exhibit similar behavior. Some nanotechnologists have developed treatments, coatings, paints, roof tiles, fabrics and other surfaces that can stay dry and clean themselves in the same way as the lotus leaf. This can usually be achieved using special fluorochemical or silicone treatments on structured surfaces or with compositions containing micro-scale particulates. Super-hydrophobic coatings comprising Teflon microparticles have been used on medical diagnostic slides for over 30 years. It is possible to achieve such effects by using combinations of polyethylene glycol with glucose and sucrose (or any insoluble particulate) in conjunction with a hydrophobic substance. Water repelling glass panels have also been brought onto the market for use on the roofs of conservatories. StoCoat Lotusan is an exterior coating (paint) that mimics the microstructure of the lotus leaf surface, gaining similar water-repellent and self-cleaning properties, termed the Lotus-Effect. Water does not adhere to the surface, but rolls off the paint, picking up and washing away debris in the process. By remaining dry, the coating also resists mold, mildew, and algae. Though hydrophobic, the coating is highly permeable to water vapor. Lotus effect superhydrophobic coatings applied to microwave antennas can significantly reduce rain fade and the buildup of ice and snow.
Don't forget to check out the fish swimming around on the lotus leaf here.

Artificial Lotus Effect: Carbon nanotubes with nanoscopic paraffin coating form superhydrophobic, self-cleaning surfaces. Never wash your car again? Never clean your windows? These may well become reality if it becomes possible to produce the right coatings—coatings that imitate the self-cleaning effect of the lotus blossom. A research team led by Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (Trivandrum, India) has made significant progress toward this goal. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, these scientists have successfully produced a superhydrophobic, self-cleaning surface. Their success results from carbon nanotubes having a nanometer-thick paraffin coating with the help of a rigid aromatic molecule called para-phenylenevinylene. The lotus plant has given its name to a natural self-cleaning mechanism: The extremely water-repellent (superhydrophobic) surface of its leaves causes drops of water to form spheres, which roll off the leaf, sweeping any dirt away. The lotus leaf is equipped with 3 to 10 µm “bumps” that are in turn coated with a nanoscopic water-repellent coating. The bumpy structure minimizes the area with which the water can come into contact and the water-repellent coating keeps water from getting into the valleys between the bumps. The water cannot coat the leaf and simply rolls off. The researchers started with carbon nanotubes—long, hollow fibers made of carbon atoms in a honeycomb-like arrangement. Using a self-assembly process, they attached organic molecules to the exterior of the tubes. These molecules consist of a short backbone of aromatic six-membered carbon rings that supports several long hydrocarbon chains. The aromatic rings attach themselves firmly to the honeycomb structure of the nanotubes; the hydrocarbon chains act like a paraffin-like coating. The research team applied a dispersion of these adducts to glass, metal, and mica surfaces. Once dry, the result was a water-repellent coating with stable self-cleaning properties. Electron microscopic images show that the coating does not have a regular structure like the leaves of the lotus, but does have comparable nanoscale roughness. Water has as much trouble coating these artificial surfaces as the lotus leaf. A tilt angle of 2° is sufficient to cause water droplets to roll off. Like the lotus, any dust is removed from the surface by the water droplets.

Window Cleaning for Vietnam Vet'

State’s VFW reaching out to younger veterans: Ben Mastridge, a window cleaner, returned from the Vietnam War with a hole in his foot and patriotism tucked in his back pocket for safe keeping. “When I first came back in 1966, I didn’t immediately join the VFW,” he said. “I didn’t want to think about the military. A lot of Vietnam veterans didn’t initially join a post because of the atmosphere we came home to and you didn’t always feel welcome.” Recently elected as junior vice commander for the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mastridge said he’s now determined to help modernize that organization. That way, he said, no veteran would ever get a cold reception again. Mastridge, who is 65, owns a window cleaning service in Bensalem. He said being his own boss has allowed him the freedom necessary for his new position as junior vice commander. “A lot more people are coming back damaged mentally and physically from Iraq and Afghanistan. And we have service officers in our clubs to assist these veterans and regional service officers with even more information and training,” he continued. “We need to dispel the myth that the VFW is just a bunch of old guys with their own bar selling cheaper beer. Last year alone, we raised more than $2.5 million to help the families of soldiers fighting overseas,” he said. The Pennsylvania VFW said it has 120,000 members in 540 posts across the state. Mastridge received the Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal and the Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Unit Citation. He served in the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Division and was injured when a mortar blast sent shrapnel through his foot while in an artillery battery area in Vietnam. He eventually joined the VFW in 1994 and now is a member of the Billington Post.

Keeping It Clean For 18 Years

WAUPUN, WISCONSIN — For hundreds of Dodge County residents who love an unblemished view of the world Alan Kohl is their go-to guy. That's because Kohl, a window washer for 18 years, never leaves a job until a window is spotless, and the customer can see nothing but the image on the other side of the glass. "I took over from my Uncle Merlin Kohl who started in the window cleaning business with my dad in the 1950s," said Kohl who cleans windows for businesses and residents in Dodge County. After graduating from Beaver Dam High in 1975, Kohl started working right away by driving a milk truck. "I delivered milk to homes and schools. But over the years the competition got bigger. So big they even started selling milk in gas stations. After nine years the company folded up, and I folded up with them," said Kohl. Next Kohl worked for Service Master. "We'd did everything from carpet cleaning to cleaning fire damage," he said. That business was going well, but then came the call. "My uncle decided on retiring and asked me to take over his accounts. I said OK," said Kohl. Alan Kohl said his grandfather Frank Kohl started a business in Beaver Dam in the 1930s and eventually Alan's father Milton, and Milton's brother Merlin (the sons of Frank Kohl) joined Frank. "Then grandpa went to another business, investing in real estate and fixing up homes and gave the old business to my uncle and dad. That was in the 1950s, and each brother had his own window cleaning business, each having his own account." "My father is 78-years-old and is still active in cleaning store windows, although it's just Tuesday's and Fridays now," said Kohl. Why does the 78-year-old Kohl still clean windows? "I enjoy the conversations with everybody," said Milton Kohl. "And I don't only clean windows, in the spring and fall I help with storm windows." For Alan Kohl the motivation is different. "I like my independence. I like being outdoors when the weather is tolerable and I like traveling around Dodge County to places like Beaver Dam, Waupun, and Mayville." Kohl says he also likes scheduling jobs so that he can handle everything himself. "And, I like a steady flow of work." Kohl said this year's bad weather set things back a bit for him. "Earlier this year I was playing catch-up a lot, but my customers understood." Kohl said many people ask him for the secret of cleaning windows. "It's using a squeegee, rather than towel drying," he said. "And use it fast. Once the water evaporates, you won't remove the spots. A squeegee instantaneously removes the spots." Another tip Kolh said is to wait until the window is in the shade. "A cool window is easier to clean than a warm one."

Saturday 26 July 2008

The Japanese Squeegee & Bucket

Seiwa a company from Okayama, Japan have brought out a new squeegee that locks on to the pole without cones by utilising a sprung clip very similar to Unger's but without the cone. "As cones are not required, the poles are compact and easy to carry, at the same time, their appearance is quite good" - or so its claimed. Copying both Unger & Ettore in their design, it also has a variable lock for squeegee angles & for the applicator as well. Sizes of channel go from 4" to 18" in both channel & rubber.


One-touch lock: Fixing and releasing of head oscillation motions can be done easily with the one-touch lock. The head angle has 11 different positions and can also be used free-standing.

Adjustment of oscillation: The oscillation level can be adjusted by turning the knob. Please use a coin when adjusting the knob

What caught my attention more was the bucket design -I reckon this has been overdue for a long time & I think they are nearly there with this improved shape...

Water-proofed storage: By changing the height of sides, the storage space is water-proofed. This is extremely useful for accommodating cloths and tools.

Excel Systems UK - WFP Trolley

Andrew Mccann previously of "Pure Freedom" has now gone solo set up his own company called Excel Systems. & released a new kind of trolley. Here are the details:

*Compact yet extremely rugged*Amazing 35 litre capacity*Very easy to move around*Will work any length of pole on the market*Fully electronic flow controller*Auto on/off *No exposed working parts*Heavy duty battery*Battery condition indicator on board*Simple plug-in battery charger*Heavy duty steel roller bearing wheels*Double strainer to protect the pump*Very professional appearance.*Ready to work “Out of the box” No assembly required*Space to advertise your own company if desired. Also included: 20ft reach 4 section high quality telescopic pole which collapses down to just over 4ft so it can fit in any vehicle and can do downstairs windows easily because of it’s short collapsed length. Full water filtration system comprising of a very efficient 200 GPD (Up to 600 ltr output) Reverse Osmosis system. Deionisation vessel filled with resin to ensure total water purity and high quality TDS meter.


Friday 25 July 2008

Window Cleaning Animals

Its Friday evening, put your feet up & just check out some of these animals, knowingly or unknowingly cleaning these windows in the videos. The first two videos are actually from a company that puts out screen-savers windows for computers or mobile phones. My Monitor Pets are sure to be a hit with the ladies, but also as pointless as the i-wash.

Moving on, real life window cleaning animals........

And finally for added content, some tiger cubs making the job a hard one. The final video is a little long!

Thursday 24 July 2008

Is Your Window Cleaner Licensed?

Pictured: Window cleaner Ken Norrie gives Cllr Gerry McMullan pointers watched by Doug Atkinson, SLWCN

Fifers are being reminded that they should only use licensed window cleaners with a new campaign from the Scottish Licensed Window Cleaners' Network (SLWCN), Fife Council and the Fife Community Safety Partnership. By law, window cleaners must be licensed by the local council in order to operate. This ensures they have undergone a thorough police check, have identity badges, public liability insurance and work according to health and safety rules. Cllr Gerry McMullan, Chair of the council's Licensing & Regulation Committee said the campaign aims to raise customer awareness about the benefits of licensing. "A lot of people probably don't realise that we license window cleaners to make sure Fife consumers are protected. The system's there to make sure you know who's looking through your windows!" "A great deal of crime is conducted throughout Scotland by bogus workmen calling on the most vulnerable of our society. By highlighting the fact that window cleaners require a licence to operate, we in Fife are supporting the legitimate tradesmen and their good work and stopping the rogue dealers that exist within our communities. "Douglas Atkinson of the SLWCN explained, "We are working with councils all over Scotland to highlight the licensing scheme, which is for the general public's protection, and I'd like to thank Fife Council for the work they are doing to promote the issue. "There are a lot of unlicensed window cleaners who put themselves, their workers and customers at risk. I urge anyone looking for a window cleaner to go to or contact the council to check out who is licensed to operate in Fife before making a choice." But it's not just domestic customers that need to check their window cleaners. The SLWCN estimates that around 80% of commercial properties are cleaned by unlicensed workers. A Fife licence is needed to operate in Fife - those issued by other councils are not valid. All window cleaners should have visible identity badges, which show the Fife Council logo, their individual licence number and an expiry date. The badges help deter rogue traders and can offer peace of mind for customers, especially the elderly. Councillor George Kay, Chair of the Police, Fire & Safety Committee, says this is a clear advantage. "Regulating businesses of this kind is really important to improve community safety. Only use a licensed window cleaner and ask to see their ID when they turn up. If your window cleaner doesn't have an ID badge, please report them to Crimestoppers." Anyone can phone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report an unlicensed window cleaner working in their area. Those caught may be reported to the Procurator Fiscal's Office. Posters and leaflets with full information about licensed window cleaners will be available locally.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

The Buzz & Other Window Cleaning News

Brian Paxton of "A better view window cleaning" is featured on USA's Indiana's business spotlight with host Tony Scelzo (or is it Ben Affleck?) on the underground business channel. Rainmakers is a business networking organization that provides a platform for Indiana business professionals to be more and serve more. This really is a great way to hold a business club & get your name out there!

Window washer survives fall Brampton, Canada: A window washer survived a harrowing tumble off the roof of a Brampton apartment building last Wednesday afternoon when he managed to crash through a window into a top floor apartment. Peel police received several calls at 2:45 p.m. when the man fell at 2 Silver Maple Court in the area of Dixie Road and Clark Boulevard. He was reportedly hanging from the building before he was able to smash the window into a 21st floor apartment and take refuge inside. Police say the man was not hurt. The Ministry of Labour is investigating the incident to determine exactly what happened.

Canbera, Australia: Abseiling about work, not pleasure: There will be no recreational abseiling down the historic John Gorton Building in Parkes any time soon. Tenders have been called on behalf of the Department of Finance and Deregulation to supply and install ''abseiling points'' in John Gorton Building. But United Group Process Solutions facilities manager Frank Curran said the new abseiling system was about work not pleasure to allow window cleaning and facade upkeep. ''In previous years, the guys who abseiled off that building, they had a system called a counterweight system where they just tied themselves basically to big blocks that weighed more than them, obviously, and that then became outlawed, as you can imagine,'' he said. The building had been maintained from the ground or with external lifts in the meantime. Tenders for the new abseiling system close on August 18. It would be configured not to detract from the design of the building, which had its foundations laid in 1927 but was not officially opened until 1956.
The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts and the Department of Finance and Deregulation are tenants in the building.

UK: Myhome International seems to belong to a different age. The group came up with the idea of franchising domestic services such as oven and carpet cleaning, window cleaning and lawn cutting for "cash-rich, time-poor" customers. The AIM-listed company, which is in breach of some of the covenants within its £8m bank facility, crashed 38% yesterday after announcing it was discussing plans for a possible equity fund raising at a major discount to the current share price. The board says talks to restructure debt with Lloyds TSB are at a constructive stage. Avoid say the Independent. Previously featured here.

UK, Sodexo wins £3m-worth of MoD work: Caterer and facilities management company Sodexo has won two Ministry of Defence (MoD) contracts worth almost £3m in combined annual turnover. Sodexo will partner with Serco to provide catering, bar management, hospitality, cleaning and grounds maintenance for the 800 personnel based at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire. The contract involves 140 Sodexo employees and runs for five years. Sodexo has also signed up to work with Fleet Support Limited, the engineering and support services group, for three years at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The company will provide soft services including window cleaning, recycling and bird scaring at the site, which is home to the historic Mary Rose, HMS Warrior 1860 (pictured) and HMS Victory.

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a miraculous escape from death, a 23-year-old woman reportedly fell from the 10th floor of a commercial building in Preet Vihar area of east Delhi on Tuesday afternoon but suffered only minor injuries. The incident may be miraculous but there have been similar cases earlier too. Last month, a resident of Matunga in Mumbai, Riken Vora, fell off the ninth floor balcony of a building only to land on a parked car and escape with injuries. In the same city, the wife of a CEO lived after a fall from the 18th floor. A 37-year-old window cleaner had survived a 47-storey fall while a five-year-old had survived nine storeys. Children with their supple bones can survive falls more easily, say doctors.

Alex Lambrinides of window cleaning resource has just released a close up view of the 50 foot Hi-Flo Carbon-tec by Unger. He demonstrates how the water fed pole & sections go together & a closer look at that trolley. Now in the shop!

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Window Cleaning Odds & Ends

They want a cleaner downtown Madison, USA: This year, PIC members said, their committee intends to forge ahead and develop strategies to improve, beautify and revitalize Madison’s Downtown Historic Business District. The PIC noted it has been working on ways to persuade merchants and landlords to take greater pride in the community by improving the overall look of the downtown district. “We strive for cleaner sidewalks and storefronts, and better maintenance of our beautiful historic buildings,” said Stephen Whitehorn, co-chairman of the PIC and himself a Madison landlord. “Not only will a better appearance attract more shoppers, but we feel it will attract other businesses to Madison, too,” Whitehorn said. “Our goal is to have a beautiful, busy and thriving downtown.” Window-washing and merchant street sweeping events are also being planned.

USA: Titus Anderson has opened Squeegee Squad, a professional window cleaning franchise, in the Alexandria lakes area. He was an apprentice with the headquarters in the Twin Cities for one year prior to starting the residential and commercial window washing in Alexandria. Since 1999, more than 7,000 satisfied homeowners and builders have chosen Squeegee Squad as their trusted neighborhood window cleaner. Anderson can be reached at

Windows, glazed areas and thermal efficiency, Australia: Builders are well aware of the regulations underpinning thermal efficiency standards, but it is still important to know how different specifications are determined and what the most important rules of thumb are when designing or assessing a commercial or residential building. Steve Ketzer from Viridian (formerly Pilkington and DMS Glass.) , says windows and glazed areas are of fundamental importance to the quality of a building’s insulation characteristics. Critical elements are as follows: Width of spacer in double glazing: a 6mm space is adequate, but 12–16mm maximises the insulation of the unit. Typically, a 12mm air gap is 10% better than a 6mm gap. Types of window frame: to achieve 5 Star and more, specification of energy efficient frames will lower U values significantly. Type of glass in window: tinted glass will lower the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), but not the U value. Low-E on surface 3 will typically lower the U value by up to 20%. In double glazing, the outside of the outer panel is surface 1, the inside of the outer panel is 2, the outward-facing side of the internal panel is 3, and the face that faces the interior of the room is 4. By having the Low-E coating on 3 rather than 4, the coating is protected from air movement and also from any potentially harmful cleaning. It can also better reflect some of the solar radiation that hits the window. Gas fill in double glazing: using argon rather than air can improve the U value by 10 - 15%. Type of spacer: selecting the appropriate spacer will improve conductivity and thermal efficiency of the window.

USA: Traditional cleaning services are expanding, and they have a new option for insurance coverage that is keeping up with their growth. NIP Programs has introduced MaintenancePro®, a customizable insurance program for the facility cleaning and maintenance services industry. The program targets janitorial and light maintenance segments of the industry, including janitorial services, indoor and outdoor maintenance, window cleaning, and carpet and upholstery cleaners. Both commercial and residential cleaning and maintenance businesses are covered through MaintenancePro.

Canada: Local celebs recall humble first summer jobs: We have been talking to local personalities and asking them to share their first job experiences and to share the lessons learned from their humble beginnings. Stephen Brunet is a retired teacher who's known today as the mayor of Bathurst, now serving his second term. He said his first jobs as a student were at a family-owned auto junk yard and at the Eaton's department store as a window washer.

Duluth, USA: Greg Poe, 54, got his pilot’s license at 19. That was after he worked for two years as a window washer, freight mover and carpenter’s assistant to save the $2,000 he needed to pay for his training. Poe, of Boise, Idaho, became fixated with flying as a child. “When I was a kid in the ’60s, the space program was just getting going and it really captured my imagination,” Poe said. “I was just fascinated.” Poe made the jump to a professional stunt pilot when he was 38. This year, he will fly in 22 air shows. “It’s one of those things where you wake up and realize how lucky you are,” Poe said. “I’m a 54-year-old child.” Poe flies a Fagen MX2 that will be running on ethanol when he performs this weekend.

USA: Serving & preserving: At 85, he's lost a step or two along the way and he walks with the measured pace of someone up in years. But just as telling in any explanation of his deliberate gait is the dignity of a man who has little to prove after more than 70 years of service. First as a child, then as an adult and for many years as a venerated elder, Parker has worked at the historic downtown Hampton church longer than anyone else on record. He started by washing windows and scrubbing floors, then moved up to cutting grass and digging graves before taking on the demanding responsibilities of St. John's sexton. He said, 'Are you going to listen and do what you're told?' and I said, 'Sure,' " Parker recalls. "I went from dusting pews to scrubbing floors and washing windows. I washed every window in the parish house inside and out and then I'd go over to the church and wash every window there, including the stained glass. I climbed up and down all over the place on those ladders." Full Interview here.
Window cleaners win contract gains in MINNEAPOLIS - Just two days after 46 of 48 window cleaner members of Service Employees International Union Local 26 authorized their bargaining team to call a strike, they reached settlement on a new two-year contract. The window cleaners unit unanimously ratified the contract April 28 with Columbia, Marsden, and MSI. The agreement:• Provides an immediate pay raise for journeymen with another guaranteed raise January 1, 2009. • Reduces health insurance costs. Employee cost for single coverage dropped to $25 per month July 1 from as high as $210 previously. Family coverage dropped to $400 per month from as high as $600 previously. With these changes, the employer health insurance contribution will increase from $260 per month to as much as $500 per month. • Increases employer pension contributions, disability pay, and life insurance.Local 26, which also represents building janitors and security officers, reached landmark contracts for those workers last year and earlier this year. Previously: Workers who hang from skyscrapers, cleaning windows on some of the area’s largest and tallest buildings, are seeking union representation. Employees at MGS Professional Building Maintenance on Tuesday presented owner Michael Sweat with cards showing that a majority of the company’s workforce want to be represented by Service Employees International Union Local 26. Window cleaners are a small but significant part of Local 26, which represents primarily janitors and security guards, Salmonen said. He works at MSI, a unionized window cleaning company that employs about the same number of workers as MGS. The two largest window cleaning companies in the Twin Cities – Columbia Building Services, Inc., and Marsden Building Maintenance are also unionized. But many smaller companies, such as Minneapolis-based MGS, are not. “They have guys doing the exact kind of high rise, rappelling work as we do, but they’re getting $10 or $12 dollars an hour,” Salmonen said. “We’re around $20 with the union. And they have no medical whatsoever there, no retirement, no anything.” Another issue in the organizing is safety, he said. While union window cleaners go through a two-year apprenticeship program, non-union companies often send workers up on tall buildings with little training. MGS cleans windows at many private and public buildings in the Twin Cities, including the College of St. Catherine, Court International and Kellogg Square in St. Paul, and Butler Square, Hilton Hotel, Mill City Museum, Federal Courthouse and University of Minnesota parking ramps in Minneapolis. The window cleaners want Sweat to voluntarily recognize their union based on the fact that the majority of workers have signed cards, rather than go through a lengthy National Labor Relations Board election process, Salmonen said. The workers will follow up Tuesday’s action to make sure Sweat meets with them, he said, and “we want to make sure it’s a meeting at a time that his employees can all attend.”

Tips help keep your home sparkling clean, grime free by Ed Madan (pictured): Number 5. Fly spots: Sometimes you see fly spots on window. Rubbing alcohol will take them right off. 6. Cleaning window sheers: A great way to clean them is fill your bathtub with warm water, drop in several denture tablets and let the sheers sit overnight. You’ll be surprised how clean they will get.

U.K.Window cleaner Rob Malden was living in a caravan in his garden until Tuesday this week, when repair work to his home was finally complete. Water invaded his home in Church Lane, Three Mile Cross, last year – despite the four foot wall around his house. He said: “Living in a caravan is not ideal at all. Most of my belongings are still in storage because you can’t fit in everything from a three-bedroom house into a tiny caravan.” In the aftermath of the flooding, Mr Malden had difficulty contacting his insurer Norwich Union. It then took a further three weeks before a loss adjuster assessed the damage, during which time he stayed with his daughter in Bracknell.
And finally in Australia: The largest giant squid from Australian waters, close to the biggest ever found, is on the menu for a public dissection, then a rough reassembly. Nature lovers and the morbidly curious turn up as much as two hours early, and some hold children on shoulders. "We'd just like to treat it with some dignity. This is not going to be some kind of splatter-fest," museum squid expert Dr Mark Norman says. The immature female squid would have been about 12m long. It was caught in fishing nets in June, raised from 550m and put on ice intact, minus a few tentacles. Dr Norman says it is the best and freshest giant squid he's tackled, and took three painstaking days to thaw. Lucia Greenhatch, 6, is in the front row. "I liked it when they pulled everything out." "The male has a 1 1/2m penis it uses like a nail gun," Dr Norman explains. They are cannibalistic, so mating rapidly and escaping is a very good idea for the men.
They are safe, though, from human consumption. "If we ate this squid, it would taste like window cleaner."

Monday 21 July 2008

The SL-X Water Fed Pole

Alex Gardiner of Gardiner Pole Systems releases a few more video's of the SL-X water fed pole. From the Gardiner Website: Enjoy the strength and lightness of Carbon-Fibre with the compactness of a truly versatile pole. Fully telescopic pole with the ultimate strength of high-technology Carbon-Fibre material. Easily allows you to clean ground floor windows and reach third storey windows with the same pole. Replaces several different poles at one go. Meets and exceeds all HSE recommendations. It has easy action quick-release clamps that allow for low drag extending of each section, low friction section surface allows for super-fast extending/ retracting and minimum wear of each section. Lightweight, compact alloy clamps are stronger and 30% lighter than equivalent plastic/nylon clamps. Sections can be simply removed if you require a shorter pole. Reach 29' 9"ft, Actual length 24' 9"(without gooseneck). Weight 1540g, Closed length 5ft 7 inches, Base diameter 35mm.

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