Friday 29 January 2016

IWCA & GANA Release New Procedures For Glass Cleaning

This GIB is provides a valuable resource as glass products can be permanently damaged if infrequently or improperly cleaned. Glass producers and fabricators recommend strict compliance with this GIB’s prescribed procedures for cleaning glass surfaces.

IWCA & GANA: Proper Procedures for Cleaning Architectural Glass Products

The International Window Cleaners Association (IWCA) and Glass Association of North America (GANA) the have partnered together to provide an updated edition of the Proper Procedures for Cleaning Architectural Glass Products Glass Informational Bulletin (GIB). Architectural glass products play a major role in the comfort of the living and working environment of today's homes and commercial office spaces by providing natural daylight, views of the surroundings, thermal comfort and design aesthetics. Glass usage and condition often affect our selection of where we live, work, shop, play and seek education. This GIB describes cleaning procedures that generally apply to most architectural glass products.

"This joint technical Bulletin is the pinnacle of a huge cooperative effort between GANA and IWCA.,” shares Paul West, IWCA Glass Committee Chair. “The end result is real world cleaning guidelines that will assist in maintaining the integrity of architectural glass surfaces."

Urmilla Sowell, GANA Technical Director, shares her thoughts on the importance of the joint effort between GANA and IWCA. “GANA’s Tempering Division members were happy to partner with IWCA on this important document. This bulletin helps promote best-practice approaches for entire glazing industry.”

This GIB is provides a valuable resource as glass products can be permanently damaged if infrequently or improperly cleaned. Glass producers and fabricators recommend strict compliance with this GIB’s prescribed procedures for cleaning glass surfaces.

“GANA’s Tempering Division members are pleased to announce the publication of the Proper Procedures for Cleaning Architectural Glass GIB. This updated document was a joint effort between IWCA and GANA. The joint group has worked hard to put together a usable document for the entire glazing industry.”

This GIB is a complimentary document and can be downloaded instantly by clicking here. Visit to learn more about the International Window Cleaners Association.

Thursday 28 January 2016

The Waspak - Ergonomic Water Fed Pole Aid

The Waspack - an "Elephant trunk harness" for wfp.
Welcome to Waspak: The Waspak (patent pending on the waspak method) is an ergonomic tool for window cleaning and facade cleaners, working with waterfed telescopic poles. Meet Waspak and discover the benefits!

The Waspak is specially designed for window cleaning and facade cleaners (who work with telescope poles). Waspak is a kind of backpack with a strong tube to which you can hang a telescopic pole. Because the telescopic handle holds the pole, the work load on the body decreases significantly. On the basis of an ergonomic study * is has shown that the work load is reduced by more than 50%. Therefore you may work with the Waspak for longer periods. Working with a Waspak is not only healthier, it is also more efficient! Also available here with prices.

Benefits of Waspak:

  • Quick and easy to use.
  • Over 50% reduction in physical work load.
  • Ergonomic and approved work equipment.
  • Longer working time with the telescopic pole.
  • Waspak is also suitable for working with a telescope pressure washer.
  • It comes with Wasbril, Waspak, teleline, special pulley & an additional bracket.

Wasbril: Special prism glasses for window cleaning and facade cleaners. Prism glasses are made so you don't have to strain your neck. Advantages of Wasbril:

Lightweight (45 grams).
Narrow frame, so you can still see your surroundings.
Glass case provided with micro cloth.
The Wasbril comes only in combination with the Waspak.

These are not new ideas. See Belay Glasses here from a previous blog & below for a review of the Elephant harness from garden equipment users.

The introduction of the Elephant's Trunk (2008), a remarkable invention from Belgium that reduces the weight of any trimmer to just 1kg. 
Elephant's Trunk harness review: You will either love or hate the Elephant's Trunk. It is designed to eliminate strain on the back, shoulder, neck and arm by, effectively, reducing the weight of any hedgetrimmer unit to just 1kg.

The product consists of an adjustable well-padded, wide-strapped harness that is worn by the operator like a backpack. The hedgetrimmer is simply clipped onto the bungee-type wire fed from a spool above the operator's head to take the weight of the machine and transfer it to the hips.

Our first tester found that the overhang got caught in tall hedges. So he tried standing differently to compensate for the height and held the trimmer further from the body, but still didn't like it.

The second found it "weird at first" but after five minutes declared: "The more you use it, the more comfortable it becomes. It certainly takes the weight of the trimmer and I think it is particularly useful for cutting higher material."

The third tester found it easy to use from the start. "It takes all the weight. All you have to do is cut up and down, up and down. It's easy. And it means you don't have to grip the machine so hard - that must help reduce vibrations. It looks daft, but it's good."

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Window Cleaner Wins Robert Hicks Bate Award

Las Vegas rock climber David Allfrey was honored by the American Alpine Club last week, winning the prestigious Robert Hicks Bates Award for most promising young talent. 
Las Vegas rock climber wins award for promising young participant: Las Vegas rock climber David Allfrey got a big nod from the American Alpine Club last week, winning the prestigious Robert Hicks Bates Award. The annual award recognizes a young climber who has exhibited exceptional skill and character in the climbing or mountaineering arts, and who has outstanding promise for future accomplishment.

Having made significant ascents from the Baffin Islands to Yosemite, the ACC took note when in 2014 then 29-year-old Allfrey decided to challenge himself to climb seven big walls on El Capitan in Yosemite in seven days. He recruited professional climber Alex Honnold as his partner. The two set four speed records in the process. In the ACC's announcement, committee chair Rolando Garibotti said, "This is a step up as far as El Cap climbing goes." Allfrey, originally from San Jose, California, started climbing as a kid with his parents. He took a hiatus in his teens and then returned to the sport about 10 years ago with a laser focus on big wall climbing.

By having an award from probably the most exclusive organizations within the outside world, odds are that soon Allfrey will have the ability to hang up the phone his window-washing gear.
He moved to Las Vegas three years ago for the easy access to world class climbing and now juggles a training schedule that's anywhere from 25 to 60 hours a week for undertakings like the "Yosemite 7 in 7" with making a living washing windows and occasionally rigging for trade shows on the Strip. He will attend the ACC's award reception in Washington in February. "This is such a huge honor," said Allfrey. "I've put in a lot of time and effort to become a good big wall climber. It's really nice to have people like the leadership at the American Alpine Club recognize that effort."

In his backyard of Red Rock, Allfrey has ticked many hard routes. He is one of four people to make a free ascent of Desert Solitaire, a 12 pitch 5.13b on the Rainbow Wall in Red Rock. With an award from one of the most prestigious organizations in the outdoor world, chances are that soon Allfrey will be able to hang up his window washing gear. To follow his upcoming alpine expedition in Alberta, Canada, visit

The annual award recognizes a youthful climber that has showed exceptional skill and character within the climbing or alpinism arts, and that has outstanding promise for future accomplishment.

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Anti-Shatter, Wraps, Corrugated & Interactive Windows

Every single window at Old Trafford is being covered in clear anti-shatter film to protect players, staff and fans in the event of an explosion in or around the ground. 
Manchester United cover every window at Old Trafford in clear anti-shatter film to protect against explosions in wake of Paris terror attacks: The move comes as Manchester United ramp up security in the wake of last year's Paris terror attacks, with the installation of the sheets at their stadium designed to prevent glass smashing. Workmen are this week making sure each and every window pane has the film attached - a huge job given the amount of glass utilised around the stadium.

Supporters are already being given full body searches as they embark on Old Trafford on match days. A procedure which came in after the alleged Paris atrocities in November in which alleged 130 innocent people lost their lives. The Stade de France was allegedly targeted by ISIS fanatics, who had planned to gain entry to the ground and detonate bombs, but, luckily, were thwarted from entering the stadium.

All fans watching Louis van Gaal's side are patted down on match day entry after being given a full scan and some staff and supporters are also being asked to remove their coats in specific sections of the ground. The new security measures were rolled out for the Champions League draw. They have continued since, with heightened security around the perimeters of Old Trafford to keep the thousands descending on the ground safe in any eventuality.  

United boss Louis van Gaal revealed the experience of that night in Paris had left a number of his players feeling traumatised. The match between France and Germany continued, despite explosions being clearly audible in the stadium during the friendly game between France and Germany. Thousands of fans flocked on to the playing field at full time, scared of heading home as the alleged horrific scenes unfolded in the French capital which left so many dead and wounded.

A building wrap, starting at the base of the Harmon, points pedestrians to CityCenter and the Crystals mall.
How to wrap a building: Think wrapping a present is hard? Try wrapping a building. That’s exactly what owners of the unfinished Fontainebleau have to do, after the Clark County Zoning Commission voted in November to require that an unfinished part of the building, marred by rusty building panels, be covered up by a paint-and-fabric building wrap.

Resort officials were given 90 days to submit designs, then will have six months to wrap the building 100 feet from ground level up on the west side, facing Las Vegas Boulevard. Though the resort recently was listed for sale, County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said owners will have to comply with the wrap regardless. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn bought the bankrupt project five years ago for about $150 million and has been sitting on it since.

Building wraps are common on the Strip; they hover over most corners. Most of the wraps are hung for advertising purposes. Elite Media, a local advertising company, has wrapped many of the valley’s buildings. In 2007, the company draped a Dwyane Wade T-mobile advertisement on the north face of Mandalay Bay. Wade’s ear alone was five stories tall.

It’s too early to know what the Fontainebleau’s covering will look like, but Elite Media President Chad McCowell — who has been wrapping buildings for 15 years — shared some insight about what it’s like wrapping a building on the Strip.

Step 1: Getting approval - Building wraps on the Strip are vetted by the Clark County Zoning Commission. There are no specific guidelines for what commission members approve or deny; approval is discretionary and depends on what the wrap will look like and where it will be placed. The commission can and does put restrictions on wraps, including whether they can contain advertising. In Las Vegas, commercial property owners can wrap their buildings as long as they undergo a sign review with the City Council every year and use the wrap to highlight a product or service offered in the building.

Step 2: Applying the wrap - Advertising agencies, design firms and building owners typically design wraps. The artwork is designed digitally on a computer, just as art for a smaller sign would be, then is divided on a grid, usually into 4-foot-by-25-foot strips, to be printed. A print shop prints each of the strips on a large format printer. The strips are printed either on mesh if they need to be seen through or on vinyl if they don’t. Vinyl gives a cleaner image.

Each strip essentially is a giant sticker with adhesive on the back, covered by paper. Depending on the season and how long the wrap will remain up, the artwork can be printed on a more or less heavy-duty material. In the summer, the surface of buildings can heat to about 250 degrees.

To attach the strips, workers typically use window washing scaffolding to traverse the face of the building. They usually start at the upper left, working top to bottom, then left to right. Each sticker is numbered and corresponds to a numbered grid to ensure it’s placed in the correct spot.

Workers remove a small portion of the adhesive backing at a time and roll the strips down the face of the building, smoothing out bubbles with a scraper or their hands. Wrapping the entire side of a resort-sized building takes about a week to 10 days.

Step 3: Maintenance - The typical lifespan of a wrap is one year to 18 months. Wraps generally can stay up about a year without needing maintenance. After that, the wrap might experience some flagging, when the corners of the pieces start to peel up. Workers easily can pin the pieces back down with adhesive. Wraps also may fade after about six months.

The view through the 11-meter high corrugated glass fa ̧cade in Antwerp.
Future applications for corrugated glass panels: Now it is possible to make facades out of corrugated glass, even in laminated glass and insulated glass units, we may think about another possible use in the construction of buildings.
Roofs. Why not? If the improved static behaviour (compared to flat glass panels) works for the windload; why not for the dead load or the snow load when it is placed horizontally, as a roof? The transparency combined with the natural waterthightness of glass makes it a very interesting roofing material. Of course sun shading is an important issue that has to be taken care of.
Walls. Flat glass panels have a very unfavourable structural behaviour concerning axial loads. Buckling or plying will occur very quickly at already low normal-stress levels. For corrugated glass this is far better. A simple test with a piece of folded paper to act like a wall demonstrates the enormous rise in bearing capacity compared to the same piece of paper as a flat panel. Also from a stability point of view: a flat panel tilts over easily while a corrugated panel stands firmly, so a choice for a corrugated panel is obvious. We did make a proposal for a load carrying, corrugated and insulated glass wall as a perimeter to a villa designed by the Dutch architects MVRDV. The German firm of Finiglas was able to make the corrugated insulated glass units in a safe and even cost-attractive way: 120% if compared to a standard brick wall with large glass windows.
Conclusions. Corrugated glass represents a more then 1000% increase in bearing capacity for loads applied out of plane of the glass. For loads in-plane of the glass, the buckling and plying resistances increase also dramatically. When we realise that the glass thickness does not change at all, it is clear that we have a very sustainable application of glass. Architects have pointed out to us that the water-like appearance of corrugated glass is positively better than the dull shimmering of flat glass, leading to a more lively and therefore beautiful facade.

Whatever is shown on the glass is not due to electronics on the glass’ surface itself, but rather, there is a projector-like device on top that beams the interface at an angle.
Corning Reveals Interactive Retail Glass: When we mention Corning, most of the time one would think of Gorilla Glass, as that seems to be their most popular export. However, it seems that Corning has long moved beyond churning out tough glasses for smartphone and tablet displays, in order to remain competitive with the rest of the market.

Dr. Jeffrey Evenson, Corning’s SVP and CSO, shared, “As we extend the technical and design capabilities of precision glass, Corning continues to deliver innovative technologies that enable more connected, interactive, and customizable lifestyles. We’re excited to engage consumers and industry partners in a set of new application opportunities inspired by our vision for the future – all made possible by Corning.” This would include an interactive retail glass that might just spring up like mushrooms in the future if the idea catches on.

Whatever is shown on the glass is not due to electronics on the glass’ surface itself, but rather, there is a projector-like device on top that beams the interface at an angle, and much work could be done to increase the resolution count for the future. What is projected ends up on some sort of matte-like layer that, when you manipulate the icons on the beamed user interface, they will react accordingly.

It remains to be seen whether this will cause folks to enter the store after going through your catalogue of items or not, but one thing’s for sure – you would have to put in additional effort in cleaning the glass window at the end of the day or before your shift starts due to the additional number of fingers, greasy ones even, touching the display all over the place. It looks like what is projected will not look too legible under bright or direct sunlight, as it was demonstrated in a rather dim setting, so we will just have to wait and see how Corning is going to develop this idea further.

Monday 25 January 2016

Alarm Sensors For Glass

Temasek Polytechnic graduate Luke Lim developed a sticker sensor that can detect cracks in surfaces like glass doors or window screens. Called Shatter Alert, his innovation is patent-pending.
Sticker sensor detects cracks in glass doors, windows: Imagine a sticker that can detect cracks in surfaces like glass doors or window screens. Mr Luke Lim, 25, has designed just that, after three years of toying with the concept and testing different materials. The idea started as a project with a course mate when he was in his final year at Temasek Polytechnic (TP), reading computer engineering.

"We wanted to create a sensor that would activate only when the window is broken. Existing alarm and sensory systems are reactive to other sounds like thunder," said Mr Lim, who graduated from TP in 2012. "But we couldn't commercialise it at that point because the technology was too expensive and we had to find a way to bring the cost down."

After graduating, Mr Lim, with the help of his lecturer Kok Boon Kiong and guidance from TP's entrepreneurship centre, developed a prototype that has been on the market since September last year.
It is available through Glass Security, a company Mr Lim set up with a co-founder, who is graduating from university this year.

Mr Kok, a senior lecturer in infocomm and network engineering, said Mr Lim worked hard on his project, even during his national service. "He would burn his weekends coming to TP to find me, continue working on the product and doing research. There's a lot of trial and error and using different methods, and he learnt a lot. He has the belief and passion in his idea, and so I supported him," he said.

In 2013, Mr Lim was awarded a seed grant of $50,000 from Spring Singapore for his patent-pending technology, now known as Shatter Alert. "Based on the touchscreen technology of smartphones, we made the film thinner and more flexible, so that it's possible for it to be attached to surfaces," he said.

The transparent sticker sensor can be stuck on surfaces of any material such as plastic, glass or concrete. It costs about $300 to be installed on two car windows, along with an alarm system. Mr Lim said that he has finalised talks with a Malaysian distributor to supply the product there and is also exploring the market in India. The technology can potentially be used in support structures such as bridges and buildings, he added.

Top Ten Alarm Sensors On The Market Right Now: Glass Break Sensors Review - Why Buy a Glass Break Sensor? A burglary in the night or while you're away from home can cost you valuable items as well as your sense of security. One way to protect your home is to install a glass break sensor that alerts you when a window is broken in your home, allowing entry without your knowledge. These window sensors include the Honeywell FG-730 Glassbreak Detector, Bosch DS1108i Glassbreak Detector and ELK-6040 Two-Way Wireless Glass Break Sensor.

There are several basic types of glass sensors. These types of window alarms come in hard-wired or wireless models and are available as surface mounts or audio discriminators. Surface-mount sensors work by detecting a shock to the glass panels of a window, which is good for windows that don't open, such as decorative side panes alongside a front door.

Audio discriminators work by triggering an alarm when a noise occurs that is on the same decibel level as the sound of breaking glass. This type can be a better option in large rooms with multiple windows. Audio discriminators are normally mounted on a wall or ceiling and can be used to protect windows in an entire room, patio doors and other types of operational windows. Others are designed to work with a transceiver to provide protection for the room.

Glass Break Sensors: What to Look For. Window alarms come in different types to protect stationary and opening windows. Learn about the differences to choose the right one.

Breakage Detection
There are two main ways in which a sensor can detect a broken window: via ultra thin strands of wire or by monitoring the typical audio frequencies that accompany the sound of breaking glass. Those in the first category tend to require extensive wiring and costly glass, whereas those in the second category are much simpler to install, and you don't need to place them on the window. The downside to sound-based glass break detectors is their propensity for false alarms, although discrimination algorithms can ignore some similar types of sound.

Vibration Detection
Vibration detection window sensors work by monitoring windows for vibration. When a window is struck by an object, it vibrates before shattering, which sends an alert to the alarm system. These systems are particularly useful for non-opening windows, but they can be set off by natural events, such as birds flying into the window or hail and high winds. Sensitivity settings may allow you to adjust the level of vibration that sets off the alarm.

Power Source
Power sources can be either hard-wired or battery operated. Hard-wired sources are vulnerable during power outages and can be disabled by cutting power to the home, but the power source doesn't need to be swapped out every few years. Battery-operated models don't have this vulnerability, but they do require a battery to run, and these batteries can run out. Some systems combine the two in the event of power outages.

Ease of Installation
Not all window alarms are easy to install. You can choose stick-on sensors, sensors that are wired to the window and operated by battery, or hard-wired sensors that require professional installation. Anything that requires hard installation usually takes longer to set up and may require regular servicing.

Automatic Reset
Some alarms are not equipped with an automatic reset. In alarms with automatic reset, the alarm sounds for less than one minute and then the device resets itself. While this can be a useful option, some homeowners prefer the option of resetting the alarm themselves.

Friday 22 January 2016

Friday Funny - Window Cleaners Girlfriend

Window cleaner, Brad Holmes and girlfriend Jenny Davies
Girlfriend’s general knowledge quiz fail: She’s entertained millions with her curveball answers to simple general knowledge questions. And now Jenny Davies is getting used to life as an internet superstar. The Facebook clip of the 22-year-old, from Fratton, giving her daft answers swept social media being shared internationally.

And the brains behind the video, her boyfriend 24-year-old Brad Holmes, a window cleaner from Southampton, has discovered a hidden talent for blogging and social media marketing. Jenny, a former City of Portsmouth Girls’ School pupil, said: ‘A couple of months ago Brad was asking me questions and he realised that some of my answers were appalling. ‘He made the video and it went viral. It got more than two million hits so he thought he would make another one at the end of the year, but that one has gone even more crazy.’

Brad posted the video on a Facebook page called ‘Brad’s Dad’ that he had set up to show clips of his dad ranting at work. The clip has now been watched nearly 750,000 times since it was posted on January 1, with many people saying they want to see more.

In the clip, Jenny gives her answers with conviction, such as saying she thinks the capital of South Africa is Africa, the creator of Apple is Bill Gates and Winston Churchill discovered America. And Brad says that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her zany logic. ‘She’s got an explanation for it all which is quite funny. She baffles me sometimes,’ he said.

In the past she’s told Brad she thought you could swim under 
Britain and that sat navs speak different 
languages depending what country they’re in. Brad said: ‘I’d never seen anything like it before. ‘She’s got intelligence but there’s no common sense.’

Now the pair, who met because Jenny recognised Brad from his Brad’s Dad Facebook page in a Port Solent pub five months ago, have been stopped in the street by strangers. And they’re in talks with television producers in the hope of making it on to the small screen. But the burning question – is Jenny making it up for the camera? ‘People think I’m putting it on,’ she said. ‘But it’s true. I’m that stupid, ask my friends and family. ‘Even my nan said “where have you got that from?”.’ The latest video...

Brad begins his questions by asking: 'Traditionally how many days of Christmas are there?'
Jenny's answer is: '25. Christmas Day.' 'No,' Brad replies. 'I know what you're thinking, so what about Boxing Day?' She looks confused and replies: '26 then.' 

He moves on to asking: 'Where was the battle of Trafalgar?' Jenny replies that it took place in Trafalgar Square and Brad laughs and tells her she's wrong. 'What else would it have been named after, dumbo?' she replies. 'Obviously it’s Trafalgar Square because that’s where it would have been held. Stupid.'

Next up is a geography question: 'What's the capital of South Africa?' But Jenny is wrong again, replying that Africa is the capital.  And when asked who founded the technology company Apple, she says that it's Bill Gates. 

'On a roulette table if the numbers are zero to 36 how many numbers are there?' Brad continues. Jenny replies: 'I should know this. I used to work in a casino.' But she's wrong again, saying that it's 36.  When Brad laughs, she looks annoyed. 'There's 36 numbers on the board,' she says. 'You're saying zero to 36, so it's obviously 36.'

He then poses another geography question, asking: 'Who discovered America?' 'I don't know,' she says. 'Winston Churchill? How would I know who discovered America? I don't even know who discovered England.' He tries another simple geography question, saying: 'How many countries are in the UK?' 'One,' Jenny replies. 'Don't try to catch me out Brad. One, because we're one United Kingdom. You think I'm stupid.'

So he leaves geography behind and asks: 'If you play football for West Browmich Albion which city are you in?' 'West Brom,' she replies. 'Why are you laughing? We live in Portsmouth and we've got Pompey football club. 'You're from Southampton and you've got Southampton football club. So West Bromwich Albion are going to live in West Brom.'

When asked how many millimetres there are in 100cm, Jenny looks baffled. 'How many what?' she says. 'I don't even know what a millimetre is?' 'What is the Bermuda Triangle?' Brad continues. 'A triangle,' she says. 'I don't know. A triangle in the muda - whatever it's called.'

The video got a mixed reaction from fans, with some saying it was hilarious and others criticising Brad for posting the video. 

Thursday 21 January 2016

This Window Cleaner's Still Going

Super human, Mark Vaz broke a world record while managing to keep doing his window cleaning day job... and he’s still running!
Marathon runner halfway through ‘400 in 365’ challenge: Marathon man Mark Vaz is almost halfway through his outrageous challenge of completing 400 marathons in 365 days despite dislocating his shoulder earlier in the week.

Mark is raising funds for Adoption UK as he attempts to become the first man to run 400 marathons in a year – so more than one a day. The current record is 239 marathons. To put Mark’s challenge into context, he will be aiming to run a total of 10,488 miles, roughly the same distance as flying from London to Sydney, Australia (10,553 miles).

The window cleaner from Penkridge, Staffs, is set to complete his 200th marathon in Telford on Saturday 23rd January, despite his earlier setback. The accident happened as Mark set himself the challenge of a triple marathon in a day on Monday 18th January. “I tripped over a log on Cannock Chase during my third marathon,” Mark explained. “It was ruddy painful but my friend Phil, who I was running with, popped it back in so I was able to complete 81 miles in a day.”

Mark, who grew up in Shrewsbury after being adopted, described his challenge, which he started in July, 2015, as an “emotional rollercoaster”. “Every day’s different but I’ve never had any problems getting myself out of bed at 4am to go running, as I love it!” On reaching his 200th marathon, Mark said: “It will be like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders – if you’ll pardon the pun! It’s a real morale-booster to know I’ll be halfway there.”

The 32 year-old’s next big milestone will be his 300th marathon when he runs in the Greater Manchester Marathon on 10th April. Part of Mark’s 400th marathon will see him return to his home town, where he will compete in the Shrewsbury Half Marathon on 19th June. He will also be running from Land’s End to John O’Groats in March, which will be 813 miles in nine days.

Mark, who can be found on Twitter @400in365, hopes to have broken a Guinness World Record after running 90 marathons in as many days last year. The current record is 52 but Mark’s record will not be officially ratified until he finishes his current challenge. Anyone who would like to sponsor Mark can do so by visiting his online fundraising page.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

The End Of Window Cleaning

A scanning electron miscroscope photograph shows the pyramid-like nanostructures engraved onto glass: at 200nm they are 100 times smaller than a human hair. Controlling the surface morphology at the nanoscale allows scientists to tailor how the glass interacts with liquids and light with high precision.
Nature inspired nano-structures mean no more cleaning windows: A revolutionary new type of smart window could cut window-cleaning costs in tall buildings while reducing heating bills and boosting worker productivity. Developed by UCL (University College London) with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), prototype samples confirm that the glass can deliver three key benefits:

Self-cleaning: The window is ultra-resistant to water, so rain hitting the outside forms spherical droplets that roll easily over the surface – picking up dirt, dust and other contaminants and carrying them away. This is due to the pencil-like, conical design of nanostructures engraved onto the glass, trapping air and ensuring only a tiny amount of water comes into contact with the surface. This is different from normal glass, where raindrops cling to the surface, slide down more slowly and leave marks behind.

Energy-saving: The glass is coated with a very thin (5-10 nanometre) film of vanadium dioxide which during cold periods stops thermal radiation escaping and so prevents heat loss; during hot periods it prevents infrared radiation from the sun entering the building. Vanadium dioxide is a cheap and abundant material, combining with the thinness of the coating to offer real cost and sustainability advantages over silver/gold-based and other coatings used by current energy-saving windows.

Anti-glare: The design of the nanostructures also gives the windows the same anti-reflective properties found in the eyes of moths and other creatures that have evolved to hide from predators. It cuts the amount of light reflected internally in a room to less than 5 per cent – compared with the 20-30 per cent achieved by other prototype vanadium dioxide coated, energy-saving windows – with this reduction in 'glare' providing a big boost to occupant comfort.

"This is the first time that a nanostructure has been combined with a thermochromic coating. The bio-inspired nanostructure amplifies the thermochromics properties of the coating and the net result is a self-cleaning, highly performing smart window," said Dr Ioannis Papakonstantinou of UCL.

A smart glass prototype developed by the UCL team. The dark areas are decorated with the nanostructures, which significantly suppress reflections. They also repel water forcing it to form nearly spherical droplets and preventing it from wetting the surface of the glass. The UCL logo is made of untreated glass and appears significantly more reflective compared with its surrounding region.
The UCL team calculate that the windows could result in a reduction in heating bills of up to 40 per cent, with the precise amount in any particular case depending on the exact latitude of the building where they are incorporated. Windows made of the ground-breaking glass could be especially well-suited to use in high-rise office buildings.

Dr Ioannis Papakonstantinou of UCL, project leader, explains: "It's currently estimated that, because of the obvious difficulties involved, the cost of cleaning a skyscraper's windows in its first 5 years is the same as the original cost of installing them. Our glass could drastically cut this expenditure, quite apart from the appeal of lower energy bills and improved occupant productivity thanks to less glare. As the trend in architecture continues towards the inclusion of more glass, it's vital that windows are as low-maintenance as possible."

In only five years, the cost of cleaning skyscraper windows reaches the amount it cost to install them.
Discussions are now under way with UK glass manufacturers with a view to driving this new window concept towards commercialisation. The key is to develop ways of scaling up the nano manufacturing methods that the UCL team have specially developed to produce the glass, as well as scaling up the vanadium dioxide coating process. Smart windows could begin to reach the market within around 3-5 years, depending on the team's success in securing industrial interest.

Dr Papakonstantinou says: "We also hope to develop a 'smart' film that incorporates our nanostructures and can easily be added to conventional domestic, office, factory and other windows on a DIY basis to deliver the triple benefit of lower energy use, less light reflection and self-cleaning, without significantly affecting aesthetics." Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC said: "This project is an example of how investing in excellent research drives innovation to produce tangible benefits. In this case the new technique could deliver both energy savings and cost reductions."

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Suicide Window Cleaner Sentenced

When the 10-bore shotgun was examined, it was found to be in a "poor condition overall" but capable of discharging cartridges. He purchased the weapon, only to discover that due to its condition, realised he had effectively "bought a dud''.
Man given 3½ year sentence for possession of antique gun: A man bought shotgun to take his life but the weapon did not work, court told. A Co Down man was yesterday given a 3½-year prison sentence after police found an antique shotgun and ammunition in his van.

Christopher John Digney, from Struell Heights in Downpatrick, bought the shotgun for £600 in a bid to take his own life but the weapon was in such poor condition that it did not work, Downpatrick Crown Court heard. Judge Brian Sherrard told Digney he was dividing his sentence between 11 months in custody and 25 months on licence. However, as Digney (34) had spent 337 days on remand, he yesterday walked free from court because of his time served in custody.

Crown prosecutor Laura Ivers said the shotgun was discovered in the back of a van inside a locked attaché case at Digney’s then address in Strangford, Co Down, on October 28th, 2014, two days after he purchased the weapon. Also recovered from the van were shotgun cartridges, an imitation weapon and a black balaclava.

Ms Ivers said the Crown could not gainsay Digney’s intent, adding there was no evidence to suggest the items were used for criminal offences. Defence barrister Eugene Grant QC said the incident occurred at a time when Digney, a self-employed window cleaner, was going through difficulties in his personal life, including the demise of a long-term relationship with the mother of his children, which resulted in depression and suicidal thoughts.

Mr Grant also spoke of the effect the death of a child Digney had when he was 17 had on him throughout his adult life. The barrister told the court his client’s intention of possessing the shotgun was to take his life. He bought the weapon, only to discover that he could not fire it. Mr Grant also told the court there was “no sinister purpose” for the balaclava, as it was part of the protective clothing Digney wore for industrial cleaning work. Judge Sherrard said he accepted Digney was suffering from a “number of stressors” .

Monday 18 January 2016

Soap Nuts

Soap nuts, which are berries from South Asia, are biodegradable, non-toxic, non-allergenic and antimicrobial.
This Natural Wonder That Can Fit in Your Hand Can Replace All the Cleaning Supplies in Your Home: Going all-natural with cleaning supplies, as well as personal care products and food, equates to a lot of great benefits for our health, the environment and animals. With less demand for chemical-based products, that means there is less cause for creating them, slowing down the manufacturing of lots of chemicals and all the byproducts that eventually make their way to our water sources, air, and land. It makes a lot of sense to use natural things that won’t harm us.

Another benefit that many folks miss out is that, when made at home, all-natural cleaners can be a huge relief to our wallets. Soaps nuts are an absolutely fantastic, all-natural, renewable means of making our own cleaning solutions, without all of the dirty stuff. You can use them for everything from laundry to dishes, and even personal hygiene! What’s more is that they are super cheap, and with just a few other basic ingredients (and recipes), all of which are inexpensive as well, it’s very easy to compile a home-cleaning DIY collection that’ll perform every bit as well as the chemicals but at a fraction of the cost.

The Starter Kit - Just like with healthy food, healthy cleaning products begin with real ingredients rather than synthetic chemicals. Nature provides all the things we need to feed ourselves, and similarly, all the things we need to keep our surroundings clean. In addition to soap nuts, to get started with DIY cleaners (as well as personal care products), there are a few things worth buying in bulk and keeping around the house: borax, washing or baking soda, Castile soap, vinegar, and essential oil (citrus generally feels right, but options abound). All of this can be found in nature and costs very, very little for the amount of items they’ll produce. Even so, it’s a good idea to understand the basics of each of these elements:

Borax is a mineral found in some salt deposits and is an extremely alkaline substance that can cause serious skin burns when not diluted or trouble if ingested, but it is a powerful cleaner often used with clothing. (Note: It is not boric acid!)

Baking soda, from which washing soda is made, comes from the ground in the form of nahcolite, and it is used in all sorts of natural cleaning and personal hygiene concoctions, including toothpaste and dishwashing soap.

Castile soap is an entirely plant-based soap and for about a dollar a bar. It can be ordered online.
Soap nuts grow right on trees and contain an element — saponin — that softens the surface of water so that it can clean things better. They are easy to grow organically, very inexpensively, and completely renewable.

Doing the Dishes - Manufactured dishwashing liquids, soaps and powders can be harmful for our personal health and the environment, and in fact, the use of questionable chemicals with carcinogenic characteristics (for us and animals!) and damaging properties to the environment (especially our dwindling water sources) is protocol these days. Instead, we can make simple, safe dishwashing soap — used for hand-washing or in a machine — with soap nuts and a few other ingredients. Try mixing 1 cup of each borax and washing powder with two tablespoons each of grated castile soap and ground soap nut shells. For light loads in the dishwasher, it’s perfectly functional to just use soap nut liquid detergent, made by boiling the crushed soap nuts for about half hour.

Cleaning the Clothes - Probably the most common use for soap nuts is with laundry. The saponin found in the berries (nuts) softens the water so that it can effectively penetrate clothing and get it clean. By placing a few berries in a cloth sack (the number varies from a couple with hot water to half a dozen with cold water) and washing clothes with a normal cycle, we can do away with harmful elements found in laundry detergents and fabric softeners with a single easy-to-use naturally occurring item. For those who prefer liquid laundry detergent, use a couple of ounces of soap nut liquid.

Washing the Windows - What good is a beautiful view of that backyard garden or the park across the way if the windows are smudged and dirty. It’s understandable: We want clean windows. However, it’s not worth, nor is it necessary, using a bunch of chemicals like ammonia and 2-Butoxyethanol to get there. Soap nut liquid (1 Tablespoon) with a little vinegar (2 Tablespoons) and some water (1/2 cup) will cut the grime away without the damaging effects commercial window cleaners additionally provide. It’s so simple and cheap that one can’t help ask why we would have ever done it another way.

Scrubbing the Surfaces - Lastly, we scrub everything, worried about harmful bacteria and whatever else that might be lingering on our kitchen counters, the bathtub bottom or even the toilet seat. Of course, we are worried. We want our families to be safe. But it doesn’t take much investigation to figure out that many of the products we use to combat bacteria are just doing damage in their own way and not just to our health but also to the environment. But, you could make a soap nut scrub to get the job done economically and ecologically. Either use the soap nut liquid as is or combine it with a little vinegar and water for a general surface cleaner.

For those not familiar with soap nuts, they are nothing new. They’ve been around and been used as a cleaner for centuries. They can be ordered online for super cheap, and they are very easy to handle.

Soap nuts are an effective cleaning agent that grow on trees!
How to Make Soap Nuts Liquid: There’s more than one way to skin a soapnut. While you can use the nuts directly in your washing machine to clean your laundry, you can also glean the magical nectar from inside the soap nut by turning it into a tea-type liquid. With this liquid, you’ll be able to do many things. You can use it as liquid laundry detergent. You can use it as dishwasher detergent. You can clean your counters, your windows, and your cat with it. You can get rid of dandruff with it.
  • Here’s what you need (to start the process): 
  • Soap Nuts Liquid Recipe
  • 15-20 soap nuts
  • 6 cups of water (plus more as you’re boiling)
  • Sterilized container to hold the liquid

Boil the soap nuts in the 6 cups of water for about 20 minutes. Add another cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes. Add another 2 cups of water and boil again for 10 minutes. Strain the nuts from the liquid and store in the sterilized container. It’s best to store the straight liquid in the refrigerator, as it will turn rancid after a while. Keeps in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Now, as you’re boiling the liquid, keep an eye on it. Otherwise, it will start to suds a little and might boil over. 

While you’re boiling the goodies, mush the nuts around with the back of your spoon to get all the saponins out. Okay. Now we have liquid. Liquid that will do many fun things. As mentioned, this liquid doesn’t keep forever. You need to store it in the fridge, and even then it’ll only keep for a week or two. You can freeze it, into ice cubes. And then … then you can just toss a couple of soapnut liquid ice cubes into your washing machine when you do the laundry or when you need them.

Friday 15 January 2016

Hanging From The Skies

The buildings where they work are equipped with a built-in ‘suspended scaffold platforms’, commonly known as a ‘swing stage’.
Hanging from the skies – A chat with the window cleaners of Kuwait’s skyscrapers: If you suffer from vertigo, window-cleaning is not the job for you. But for some some, it’s an everyday task. The job is challenging considering the safety risks for the cleaners, especially in Kuwait where safety precautions are not always implemented or enforced.

Kuwait Times spoke to several window cleaners who work in Kuwait City skyscrapers and was amazed by their bravery. “Yes we are insured and our salary is better than regular cleaners,” said Yousef Mazumder, a Bangladeshi supervisor. He told Kuwait Times that in the event of an accident, the worker’s family can claim monetary compensation from the company.

“This job is quite dangerous but every worker undergoes a series of training and workshops; we have safety briefings every time they ascend and descend for the job; we prepare them mentally and I always tell them to relax and not have any worries whilst up there,” he noted. Muzumder’s job is to ensure each and every member of his team is safe at the end of the day. “My job is to keep them safe on the job site and make sure that they are all at ease with each other. Personal problems should be left on the ground,” asserted Mazumder.

The buildings where they work are equipped with a built-in ‘suspended scaffold platforms’, commonly known as a ‘swing stage’. These machine is regularly maintained and also have locally-based engineers and technicians to help in case of a breakdown. “We have regular checks regardless whether we have a problem or not. The good thing is that they are just a call away. When I call for help, within minutes they are here. My objective every day is to finish the job with zero accidents,” Mazumder said.

It can take up to a month to clean the façade windows of a 30-storey glass building. While cleaning glass faced skyscrapers, a team must have at least 10 people plus a supervisor to oversee the process. The suspended scaffold is permitted to carry two to three workers to perform the cleaning job. An operator is usually stationed in the control room to communicate with the cleaners on the swing stage. “We work as a team. It needs coordination. The cleaners can only swing sideways; but lowering or moving the platform is done by the operator in the control room,” Mazumder explained.

The swing stage is also equipped with several safety tools and equipment including built-in harnesses attached to the bodies of the cleaners and the platform . “I instruct them to wear the harness at all times. There are other cables here inside this swing stage; these are used to support the platform to prevent unnecessary movements when a strong wind blows. The rope also serves as a support in the event of a breakdown. They are also connected to the glass windows in the building, so we are really safe,” he assured.

Jenat Ali Sheikh from Bangladesh and Saru Munam from India are two of the window cleaners who scale the heights of some of Kuwait’s tallest skyscrapers. “This is my job and I do this every day without fear,” Sheikh said. “I am not afraid anymore; in the beginning it was scary, but not now. Anyway, all jobs are dangerous even if you are in an office; you go out in the street you don’t know whether you’ll reach home alive,” he reasoned.

Munam said they were carefully trained before getting the job as window cleaners. “I underwent training for about one or two months. Initially, we start from the first floor; then every day, if we can tolerate the height, they increased the floors until the top floor; It’s a process – you will be replaced if you cannot tolerate heights,” Munam said.

The scaffolding carries about five buckets of water and some chemicals to clean the windowpanes. When all the water is consumed, the operator lifts up the swing stage to replenish it. Cleaners perform the job manually using the chemicals and other cleaning tools and equipment. Generally, chemicals are added to water and a brush or cloth-covered wiper is dipped into the resulting solution and used to scrub the glass. A squeegee is then used to sluice the dirt and water mixture from the glass.

Note: Suspended platforms are access platforms for one or more workers with manual or motor driven devices for raising and lowering via ropes. Platforms may be fitted to high rise buildings or skyscrapers, or assembled from components to suit the architecture and nature of work being performed. These can be either temporary or permanent. Both have their own unique governing codes and regulations. Permanent suspended platforms are often known as building maintenance units (BMU) and their platforms are also known as gondolas in Europe.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Window Cleaning Rescues & Suspicious Deaths

The aerial ladder platform (ALP) that was brought by the department of fire and emergency services to rescue us looked like a toy from the 22nd floor where we were stranded for almost 10 hours. "The emergency services personnel and others watching us from the ground floor looked so tiny," recalled Akbar Hussain, 22, one of the two window cleaners who were stuck outside the World Trade Centre in Yeshwanthpur for a large part of Monday evening.
Window cleaners stuck outside 22nd floor rescued after 9-hour operation (Yeshwantpur, Bangalore): Duo were dangling more than 200 feet above the ground in an open-air platform for nearly nine hours before being rescued by Fire Department. Dangling in an open-air platform more than 200 feet above the ground, two labourers clung on to dear life for nearly nine hours while rescue teams figured a way to extract them to safety. The window-cleaners were stuck outside the 22nd floor of the World Trade Centre at Yeshwantpur.

Wasim Ahmed and Akbar Hussain were stranded while working in the WTC at Yeshwantpur on Monday.
Wasim Ahmed and Akbar Hussain – from Uttar Pradesh – were lowered from the roof of the 32-storey building on a pedestal at 8 a.m. in a day-long exercise to clean the glass façade of the tower that houses numerous multi-national companies and consulates. The pedestal was being manoeuvred by a machine. Around noon, the apparatus got stuck at the 22nd floor. Their colleagues tried to fix the machine, but failed. Then they tried to hoist them to the roof, but did not succeed.
When all efforts to rescue the duo failed, the Fire and Emergency Services personnel were alerted. By then, it was 5.45 p.m. The extendable ladders of the two fire tenders fell short by a long margin. The ladders could reach a height of 175 feet. Wasim says, “We were stuck for nearly nine hours and were scared out of our minds. It was a long way down. But, we were confident that the wires holding the pedestal would not break. The fact that it was only the machine that was malfunctioning and there was no problem with the ropes gave us some measure of confidence.”
Eventually around 9 p.m., officials broke glass panes on the 22nd floor and pulled the duo to safety. A police officer, who was part of the rescue operation, said, “The glass had to be broken carefully to ensure neither the duo nor those below were injured during the process. The pieces would be blown a little distance by the wind – which is dangerous as the complex houses a mall – before they hit the ground.” An official of the Fire Department said the duo were not wearing helmets or safety gear. More detail here.

Window cleaner trapped on platform outside Canberra building: A window cleaner and a mechanic had to call the fire brigade for help when they became trapped on a raised platform in Canberra on Saturday morning. The men were working on the fourth floor on the top of a building on Constitution Avenue, in Campbell, when the platform stopped moving. They called triple zero shortly after 7am.
The Emergency Services Agency said it sent the ambulance, a pumper and the Bronto Aerial Platform to help. "A firefighter was able to fix the mechanical issue of the hydraulic platform they were working on," the agency said in a statement. "ACT Fire & Rescue did not have to use its Bronto Aerial Platform. The two men have been safely lowered to the ground." No one was hurt in the incident.

He had no identification on him but now, nearly two weeks later, the OPD has identified the man as Fallbrook resident, window cleaner, Mark Andrew Slaughter, 45.
Death of Fallbrook man called ‘suspicious’ (OCEANSIDE): A man found injured on an Oceanside bike path on New Year’s Day and later died was identified Wednesday as a Fallbrook resident. Mark Andrew Slaughter, 45, died under what police are investigating as suspicious, Oceanside police Lt. Leonard Cosby said. Slaughter was found along a bike path on South Coast Highway, near Eaton Street, about 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 1, police said. He had head and face injuries, and was taken to a hospital. He died a short time later.
Cosby said an autopsy was conducted but the Medical Examiner’s Office was not able to determine what caused Slaughter’s head injuries or what caused his death. Internet sites show Mark Slaughter as owner of Focus Window Cleaning Service in Fallbrook. Investigators are asking that anyone with information about the case or about Slaughter’s movements on Jan. 1 call them at (760) 435-4892.

Police cover the body of a domestic helper who fell out of the window of an apartment in Kowloon City on Wednesday.
Indonesian maid falls to death in window-cleaning accident: An Indonesian maid fell to her death on Wednesday when she was apparently doing some cleaning work at a window of an apartment in Kowloon City. The domestic helper, a 21-year-old who bears the first name Titik, came to Hong Kong just two months ago, according to Ming Pao Daily. The accident took place at midday at a building named Elite House on Argyle Street.
A security guard said he rushed outside the building after hearing a loud thud. He saw a woman lying on the ground unconscious, prompting him to immediately call the police. When the police and medical personnel arrived, they pronounced the woman dead on the scene. Blood stains and broken pieces of a flower pot were found on the floor. The police didn’t find any suicide note on the person or inside the flat, leading them to believe that the maid may have fallen from the window accidentally.
Cheung Kit-man, chairman of Hong Kong Employment Agencies Association, said that in the past two years there had been a total of fourteen cases of domestic workers falling out of windows. Domestic workers are often not careful, he said, noting that some maids tend to lean way too out from windows when cleaning. Under current law, the Hong Kong government requires an employer to buy insurance for their foreign domestic workers. Family members of the maid are eligible for compensation, and the cost of transferring the body back to homeland will also be covered.

Spate of suicides in China still largely unexplainedThe unnatural deaths of seven government officials in less than a month have raised concerns among members of the public, as the causes of some of the deaths have not been explained. Yang Xiaojun, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said only limited information has been provided from official sources, and it’s not sufficient to stop the public from speculating. He said he believes the results of investigations into the deaths are a matter of public concern and that governmental departments need to explain the causes in a timely manner.
Earlier this year, the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee issued a notice requiring the public release of detailed information about deceased officials. According to a report in Southern Weekly, 112 officials committed suicide from August 2003 to April 2014, with 39 percent of those dying in their offices, 33 percent at home and the rest at parks or clubs. Hao Zhuang, security chief in Jiaohe, Jilin province, died after falling from the window of his sixth-floor office on Monday morning. The local government made a statement, saying Hao fell from the window accidentally when he was cleaning the window glass and died of critical injuries despite emergency medical treatment. No other details were available.
Also on Monday, Wang Jinwei, 50, head of the finance bureau of Enshi, Hubei province, died after falling from the roof of the residential building where he lived. No explanation for his death has been released. According to a report by Legal Evening News, officials who died of unnatural causes recently include Xiao Wensun, mayor of Liuzhou in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, who drowned in a river on Nov 4; Zhang Jianwei, head of the disciplinary department of China Nation Offshore Oil Corporation, who died in his office on Nov 3; Wang Pin’gang, senior vice-president of China Shenhua Energy Co, who died on Oct 29, the same day the former head of the land and resources department in Xiamen, Fujian province, surnamed Lin, hanged himself in a park; and Chen Hongqiao, president of Guosen Securities, who committed suicide at his home on Oct 23.

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