Tuesday 31 May 2016

What Next? Windows Made From Wood?

Researchers have developed a way to make wood transparent. This new material might one day find use in everything from architecture to packaging. How will window cleaners clean this?
How to make window ‘glass’ from wood - Researchers have figured out how to make wood transparent: Wood is a great building material. Strong and relatively lightweight, it’s also readily available the world over. One thing it isn’t, however, is see-through. So while it makes first-rate walls, it makes really poor window panes. But now, researchers have come up with a nifty way to make wood largely transparent.

This opens up many possible new uses for wood, researchers say. Engineers and architects could use the new material to make large window-like panels that would let lots of natural light into buildings, for example. This might cut down the need for indoor lighting during the day.

Lignin is the brownish substance in wood that makes it opaque. As a natural polymer, it’s made of many small repeating building blocks — chemical bits —  that are linked into a large, chain-like molecule. Lignin, in turn, bonds tightly to the cellulose and other substances in a plant’s cell walls. That’s part of what makes wood so stiff and strong, explains Lars Berglund. He’s a materials scientist at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Materials scientists analyze how the structure of materials at an atomic and molecular level relates to their overall properties. Materials scientists also analyze existing materials and use that knowledge to design new ones.

Removing lignin from wood is part of the process of making paper. In general, the more lignin you remove, the whiter the paper becomes, notes Berglund. But about 10 years ago, Japanese researchers came up with a way to make see-through paper. Their goal was a material that could be used as flexible display screens for electronic devices. Their material let more than 90 percent of the light shining on it to pass through.

Inspired by those results, Berglund’s group set out to make wood that was just as transparent but that didn’t lose its stiffness, as the Japanese material had. And they succeeded. The researchers described their new transparent wood in the April 11 issue of Biomacromolecules.

The chemistry behind clear wood:
The first step was removing that pesky lignin. To do that, Berglund’s team soaked sheets of wood just 3 millimeters (about one-eighth of an inch) thick in an acid bath for six hours. Thicker sheets, including some 2.5 times that thick, were bathed for 12 hours. These baths tested whether the solution would soak throughout the wood. And it did.

Lignin had started out amounting to 30 percent of the wood’s weight. After the acid bath, it made up only 3 percent. The acid did not affect the wood’s overall structure, however. Even the wood's cell walls remained intact. On a microscopic level, the treated wood looked a lot like a kitchen sponge, with many open spaces. With most lignin gone, much of the framework that remained was made of cellulose, another natural polymer in wood.

In a two-step process, Berglund and his team then soaked the leftover wood framework in a chemical known as methyl methacrylate (Meh-THAK-ruh-layt). Also known as MMA, its molecules can link to form a clear, shatterproof material. That plastic is better known by several trade names, including Plexiglas and Lucite.

In step one, the MMA is heated until some of its molecules bond together — but are still liquid. The researchers poured this liquid onto the framework and let it soak in. To speed the process, they put everything in a vacuum chamber. That helped force the solution into the woody framework. Then they baked the material for 4 hours at 70° Celsius (158° Fahrenheit). This bonded the remaining liquid MMA into a clear solid. The new solid was a combination material, or composite (Kum-PAAZ-it).

Making a composite was important for two reasons, says Berglund. First, losing the lignin had left the woody framework relatively weak. What’s more, that material was a cloudy white. That’s because light entering the framework was repeatedly scattered around in many directions. Every time the light passed from the material in a cell wall into an air-filled space inside a cell, or vice versa, the light’s path bent. (The same sort of bending occurs when light passes from air into water, or from water into air. Did you ever notice how a pencil leaning inside a glass of water looks bent at the water’s surface when viewed from most angles?)

Preventing light from bending too much:
That bending of light results from a process called refraction. Every transparent material has something called an index of refraction. . For most materials, that index is a number between 1 and 2, Berglund notes. The higher the difference in index between two materials, the more that light will bend as it moves from one material to the other, he explains.

The framework’s index of refraction, however, is almost the same as solid MMA. That’s a key part of the team’s innovation, says Berglund. That near-match means that light passing through the Plexiglas-wood composite doesn’t get scattered much. So instead of appearing a cloudy white, the composite is largely transparent.

Nearly 85 percent of the light shining onto one side of a hard sheet of the composite will exit out the other side. It’s even possible to read through the material if the writing is held behind it closely enough. Matching the index of refraction for each material in the new composite “is a very smart approach,” says Amit Naskar. He’s a materials scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. “I like their work.”

Berglund and his colleagues think their transparent wood could be used to make big panels that replace windows. These could let lots of daylight into a building. By day, less artificial lighting — and energy — would be needed in such buildings.

But Naskar can envision other uses. Because it’s both clear and strong, the new composite can be used in the packaging industry, he says. And because the composite is about twice as strong as plain Plexiglas, it could either replace that material or help product designers use less of it. For example, something now made of Plexiglas alone could use the same thickness of the new material and end up with a product twice as strong. Or, they might use just half as much — which would weigh only half as much — and have a material as strong as the original.

Finally, Naskar notes, designers  wouldn’t have to keep the composite transparent. They could dye it any color. He envisions engineers might then then use the material to make things like vehicle parts.

Monday 30 May 2016

Unger’s Latest Water-Fed Pole Aids The Smaller Start-Up

Unger’s latest water-fed pole aids the smaller start-up.
Unger’s latest water-fed pole aids the smaller start-up: Taking pride of place on the Unger stand at ISSA/INTERCLEAN is the nLite One, the company's latest water-fed window cleaning pole.

Like the company's original nLite Connect extension pole it is available in glass fibre as well as in a premium carbon fibre pole. "The nLite One is fully telescopic which means there is no need for any pole extensions," said Anna Maslova, UK marketing manager. "It is quick and easy to set up and can be fully extended, collapsed and adjusted in a matter of seconds."

She adds that the glass fibre version of the nLite One has another major advantage. "When the smallest version of the pole collapses down it measures just 90cm in length," she said. "This makes it ideal for entry-level window cleaners because it will easily fit into smaller vehicle. It is also particularly suitable for ground-level work."

NLite poles are designed for use on glass and building facades, on solar panels and for cleaning signs and vehicles. The carbon fibre version of the nLite One is available in four length options while the glass fibre pole comes in six lengths. The version that collapses to 90cm - the 1.5 metre mini-pole - is claimed to be particularly suitable for abseiling and cradle work.

Also on display on the Unger stand is the Stingray system for use on indoor windows, plus the Nlite HydroPower DI pure water filter.

Friday 27 May 2016

Call Out For Window Cleaning Equipment Suppliers

Call Out For Window Cleaning Equipment Suppliers - Act Now!
Window Cleaning Page Trade Show 2016 - September 2016 will see the return of the Window Cleaning Page Trade show, this time at a new venue in Northampton. Fed up with visiting advertised window cleaning trade shows & only 5% of the stalls have anything to do with window cleaning? This is the show for you! Mark (Munro) it in your calendar - 10th September! 

The show, which has been held in Dorset for several years, aims to bring together window cleaners and window cleaning companies from across the UK, with many of the sectors biggest names, including Unger, Ionic Systems, GrippaTank and Spin-a-Clean already signed up to attend. And event organiser Mark Munro is hopeful that this year’s show will be the best yet. He said: “Last year’s show was the biggest so far, but 2016 is already shaping up to be bigger with four months left to generate further trade.”

See some videos of the previous show here.

The new venue, Billing Aquadrome, sees the show move from its former home in Dorset to Northampton, but Mark feels that this decision was crucial to the continued growth of the event. He explained: “I had to move the show to the Midlands as I believed that we had outgrown Dorset, and that a more central local will hopefully appeal to more attendees. “We needed a venue more suited to a much larger audience, yet still keeping the family-oriented appeal and we feel that Billing Aquadrome is that place.”

Mark added that he hopes the show will continue to boast the family-friendly atmosphere, and believes that the Aquadrome, which includes a funfair and marina on the Nene River, is the best place to maintain this.

“This year’s show will not only be for the window cleaners but also for the whole family. There will be family entertainment and the show is located within a huge family park, so there’s plenty for the family to do while you play with the grown up toys at the tradeshow area,” he said.

Time is the essence, to get in on the pre-show advertising & to save your space, suppliers are urged to contact Mark now at prices that are a snip compared to other trade shows. Get earthy with real window cleaners, ask what they really want & show off & sell your products. The Window Cleaning Page Trade Show will take place on 10th September. For more information, email Mark Munro at markmunro009@btinternet.com, or call 07766 557461.

Thursday 26 May 2016

The World's Weirdest Skyscrapers

The world's weirdest skyscrapers – in pictures: From the Elephant Building to the ‘Death Star’, architects and developers are going to ever stranger lengths in their efforts to stand out from the crowd. Where will this ridiculousness end? Click all pictures to enlarge.

Above - Elephant Building, Bangkok: Designed in 1997 by one of Thailand’s most celebrated architects, Sumet Jumasi, this triple-towered oddity pays homage to his country’s national animal. Boasting 32 storeys of offices, shops and luxury apartments, the building’s ‘ears’ are multi-storey balconies while the tusks are home to its management company.

Porsche Design Tower, Miami: Amazingly, America’s ‘cars in towers’ narrative is not done yet. Porsche – better known as manufacturers of flashy sports cars – is building a 60-storey skyscraper in Miami. But rather than regular ground-level or subterranean parking, the pièce de résistance of this $560m building is its three drive-in elevators. When the building is completed next year, its drive-in lifts will allow residents to bring their beloved vehicles right up to their apartments. Apparently there’s space for up to four cars in some units.

Umeda Sky Building, Osaka: Osaka’s 19th-tallest building consists of two 40-storey towers connected by a ‘floating garden observatory’ on the top two floors. But just for a bit of added fun, the empty space between the buildings is criss-crossed by the world’s highest glass escalator. Those suffering from vertigo may wish to look away now.

Castalia, The Hague: In the Netherlands, this pair of towers is desperate to blend in with its nation’s architectural heritage – not easy when you’re 104 metres tall. Constructed in 1998 using the core of an older building, the renovation added a 35m Dutch gabled roof on each tower – purely for decoration. Home to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Castalia is more fondly known as ‘the tits’ of Den Haag, thanks to those perky rooftops.

Abraj Al-Bait Towers, Mecca: Rising over the holy mosque of Mecca in western Saudi Arabia, this 600m Big Ben copy (also known as the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel) is the third tallest building in the world – with the world’s largest clock face, naturally. The tower looms over what was once a desert but is now home to luxury apartments, shopping malls and hotels for all the pilgrims who travel to this holiest of sites at this time every year.

Aqua, Chicago: Designed by American architect Jeanne Gang in the city that invented the skyscraper, Chicago’s 82-storey Aqua tower happens to be the tallest building in the world designed by a woman – but that’s not why we’re including it. To capture the urban views, balconies jut out into the sky giving the tower its undulating figure, resisting the angular typologies of Chicago’s traditional tower design.

Tianzi Hotel, Langfang: This bizarre 10-storey creation made it into the Guiness Book of Records for being the world’s ‘biggest image building’. Perhaps not a skyscraper in the traditional sense, the beaming depictions of Fu, Lu and Shou (Chinese gods of fortune, prosperity and longevity) certainly stand out against the skyline. Enter the hotel through the white bearded fellow’s right foot, and take a nap in the hotel’s most luxurious suite – located in his giant peach.

Robot Building, Bangkok: Just down the road from the Elephant Building, architect Sumet Jumasi designed the HQ of the United Overseas Bank as a 20-storey robot representing the computerisation of banking and friendly face of modern technology. Every feature of this android has a practical use: the eyelids are sunshades, the eyes are meeting rooms, and the antennae are lightning rods. Jumasi said his robot was a protest against ‘bland international style in architecture’.

AlDar Headquarters, Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates boasts the world’s tallest skyscraper, the 830m Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and now is also home to the world’s first circular skyscraper. No longer restricted to using steel-frame technology to create tall, straight towers, the UAE-based MZ Architects have built a revolutionary ‘stacked dinner plate’ prototype – at a cost of around £1bn.

Antilia building, Mumbai: The 27-storey private residence of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, was named after a mythical island in the Atlantic, and is said to have more floor space than the Palace of Versailles. The building boasts three helicopter pads, underground parking for 160 cars, and requires some 600 staff to run it – all for a family of five.

Fake Hills, Beihai : Is your overly flat city in need of some rolling hills? Why not just build them, as the Chinese coastal town of Beihai did. This ‘does what it says on the tin’ residential development, designed by MAD Architects, combines high-rise and groundscraper typology to emulate mother nature’s contours in what is otherwise a very low-level city.

Lippo Centre, Hong Kong: Nicknamed the Koala Buildings for the way their extrusions cling to the glass towers, American architect Paul Rudolph – best known for his brutalist concrete structures – hoped to make this skyscraper a little less ominous by adding the C-shaped extensions to Lippo’s exterior. Instead he made it look like something straight our of Transformers.

Sutyagin House, Arkhangelsk: Wooden skyscrapers could be the future of flat-pack cities, but one man in Russia set the precedent almost 25 years ago. Nikolai Sutyagin (a former gangster) spent more than 15 years piecing together this wooden house on the outskirts of Arkhangelsk, continuously adding new levels until it grew to 13 storeys. Without a permit for his precariously balanced structure, the building’s tower was demolished a few years ago, and the remaining four storeys burned to the ground shortly afterwards.

‘Cell Phone Building’, Kunming: Despite appearances, this 11-storey building in China’s southern Yunnan province is actually quite functional. The screen is the upper-storey window for the penthouse office, while the buttons let light into the lower offices. But we can’t help thinking this old-school handset is due an upgrade by now.

Marina City, Chicago: In the 1960s, when the US’s obsession for the automobile was in full swing, architect Bertrand Goldberg designed these two, 65-storey residential towers with no fewer than 896 parking spaces inside each one. Incredibly, the lower 19 floors of the skyscrapers still house nothing more than a spiral parking ramp. With Chicago now facing an affordable housing crisis, maybe it’s time to put the cars outside?

Tour Triangle, Paris: While many major cities have witnessed a high-rise boom, Paris has remained relatively low-rise thanks to restrictive building regulations. But the ban was finally lifted in 2010, and this 42-storey glass pyramid is due to land, UFO-like, in the 15th arrondissement in 2020. As the first modern tower to be built in central Paris for more than 40 years, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.

Cross Towers, Seoul: Danish studio BIG (architects of the New York Dry Line) has proposed the godfather of all clickbait architecture for South Korea’s Yongsan Business District development: ‘the Hashtag’ skyscraper. Designed to get around height regulations while maximising density, the two high-rises are connected by horizontal towers, forming a hash. Although still waiting for the green light, it seems only a matter of time before this #bigdream becomes a #bigreality.

Tower Infinity, Seoul: Also coming soon in Seoul, the 450m Tower Infinity was dubbed the world’s first ‘invisible tower’ by its designers, GDS Architects. Projectors and cameras on the façade will capture the view around the skyscraper before stitching them together in a real-time display, giving an illusion of invisibility – perhaps not the best idea given the tower’s location, right next to Seoul’s Incheon Airport.

Full Moon Tower, Baku: With AlDar’s headquarters having set the precedent for disk-shaped skyscrapers, the Azerbaijani capital will soon be home to not one but two new massive rotund buildings – known as the Full Moon and Crescent Moon hotels. Designed by South Korean firm Heerim Architects, some are suggesting the Full Moon Hotel – with its indented hole and slick facade – took inspiration from the Death Star in Star Wars.

Phoenix Towers, Wuhan: The British architects Chetwoods has unveiled plans for this pair of skyscrapers in the Chinese city of Wuhan. When completed, the taller of these colourful towers should top the Burj Khalifa by 172m, and is intended to beat Saudi Arabia’s impending Kingdom Tower to the title of world’s tallest building when it opens in 2017/18. As if that’s not enough, the smaller tower promises to house the world’s tallest garden.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

This Window Can Help Power A Skyscraper

Click to enlarge.
This window can help power a skyscraper: Imagine if windows could be designed to collect the electricity used to power a home or a skyscraper. The technology that could make that a reality might be closer than you think. In fact, it could be ready by next year, said John Conklin, the president and CEO of SolarWindow Technologies Inc.

This is something that would revolutionize clean energy for large commercial buildings, which are the company's primary target market, Conklin told National Observer. “I truly believe it’s one of the most disruptive and perhaps one of the single greatest breakthroughs in clean energy ever,” he said.

Maintaining the window's transparency a challenge:
Designing the technology has meant working out solutions. The biggest has been ensuring the windows remain transparent while still generating enough electricity. The windows require a special coating that turns ordinary glass into a conductor that transforms energy into electricity that feeds directly into the building's power system.

During Maryland-based SolarWindow’s early years in 2009 and 2010, a number of individuals told the firm’s team that it would be impossible for them to create a transparent photo-voltaic technology. “We defied that,” Conklin said.

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) has been working with SolarWindow on the technology and the two partners are now focused on ensuring that the coatings can work on larger areas of glass. “Challenges are always there. Nothing is easy in this area,” said Maikel van Hest, a senior scientist in the Thin Film and Processing Group within the National Center for Photovoltaics at NREL.

Right now, SolarWindow estimates that its technology can generate 50 times more energy than rooftop solar panels would in a 50-storey building. Using all four sides of the building, in a 50-story glass skyscraper, this would consist of six acres of glass - enough to provide far more than the one megawatt of power that would come from a rooftop solar array, Conklin said. This is much more space than what's available on a skyscraper’s roof. “The name of the game is real estate,” he said.

Overall, the refurbished windows could offset the equivalent of the emissions from vehicles traveling nearly 3.5 million kilometres by reducing energy demands in a 50-storey building, Conklin estimated. But he also noted that skyscrapers use huge amounts of energy and that the new solar windows would only cover somewhere between 30 to 50 per cent of total power consumption. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the environment, a tremendous opportunity for renewable energy and especially for tall towers and skyscrapers to finally get some renewable energy.”

Home owners might one day find the same technology in their houses. The more glass a home has, the more power it would be able to generate. But for now, SolarWindow plans to pursue the more lucrative commercial market first, where Conklin believes there are significant business opportunities. He said the commercial market is huge, estimated to be a $100-billion global market for flat glass and fabricated windows. Out of that, SolarWindow is targeting some five million commercial buildings in the U.S.

Here's how the SolarWindow works:
SolarWindow’s organic photovoltaic technology uses ordinary window glass and then applies different layers of coatings made of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen are applied. Transparent conductors form two layers. Between the two is a third layer, which absorbs light. When it comes in contact with the chemical coating, the solar energy is transformed into electrons. The movement of the electrons produces the electricity on the surface of the glass. The conductors on each side transport the electricity to ultra-thin wires inside the window frame. Those in turn feed the energy into the building’s electrical systems.

Conklin, an industrial consultant who has studied chemical engineering, helped develop similar surfacing coating techniques used in the fabrication of the United States Stealth Battleship prototype while at Excel Precision Inc. He is also the founder and vice president of National Solar Systems, LLC, a New York-based renewable and alternative energy design and installation firm.

SolarWindow is not alone in trying to develop solar-powered windows. Some companies, for example, have small strips over the glass that absorb the light. But these strips wind up creating a pattern that’s almost like having window blinds, according to van Hest.

But while no company has yet managed to commercialize a truly see-through window, SolarWindow says their windows will be like any other windows and will come in architecturally desirable tints and shades. “That’s the nice thing about SolarWindow’s photovoltaic, the way they’re doing it. It’s not obstructing your view from the outside world,” said van Hest from NREL, the U.S. government lab.

But he added that with every step comes a new hurdle, such as choice of materials or how those materials are applied. “Yeah there’s definitely some hurdles, but we have pathways on taking those hurdles and taking it to the next step, which would be commercialization.”

Paula McGarrigle, managing director of SOLAS Energy Consulting Inc. in Calgary, said SolarWindow’s concept is great. “I love the idea of using the horizontal spaces on windows to generate electricity.” According to McGarrigle, the economics of the technology will depend on a number of variables such as the energy load of the building, how much surface area is available on a building and the power prices of a jurisdiction.

Conklin said the cost of SolarWindow’s technology would be “low,” and calls it a “very small add-on price point to an existing window,” which would be paid back in less than one year for a skyscraper.

Solar power from all four sides of a building:
In order to get their technology to market, SolarWindow needs to raise additional capital. To date, the company has relied on private placements from investors. The firm also wants to form partnerships with glass and window fabrication companies as well as chemical companies.

Conklin, who describes himself as risk-averse, said it’s not his intention to start the company up in a $45-$50-million production facility when glass manufacturers already exist. “We’ve already demonstrated our process can be seamlessly integrated into a glass manufacturer or window fabricator and coated right at their facility.”

Partnerships with the right chemical firms are important because the technology employs various chemicals applied to glass to generate the electricity. Such partnerships will enable SolarWindow to hold down its operating expenses and capital costs while achieving an affordable price for the windows.

The technology is able to generate power on all four sides of a building, not just on the south-facing side in the Northern hemisphere. Conklin said the coatings can create electricity under shaded, diffused and low-light conditions.

That ability to use the same glass on all four sides of a building will make the technology attractive to architects, developers and designers who are looking to generate renewable energy but still maintain the aesthetic beauty of a building, Conklin added.

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Window Washer Wang Wants Work

Window washer Wang wants more work.
Economic Slump Leaves Tough Choices for Shanghai Job Seekers (Shanghai): For many job seekers in China, opportunities for work are best found in coastal cities such as Shanghai, where more than half its 24 million people come from other parts of the country. But as the cost of living continues to rise and the Chinese economy slows, some are considering returning home to look for work. Those who do, though, are also finding it hard to leave.

Tough times; Wang Congran left his home in Henan province when he was 15 and has lived mostly in Shanghai since then. He tried working in a factory for a while, but once he switched to window washing, he was hooked and now prefers a different sort of production line. “I am used to the work and if I had to do something else, if I had to work in a factory, I don’t think I could stand it,” Wang said, adding that the pay for factory work is not that good.

For the past year or so, he said, finding window washing jobs has become increasingly difficult. China has more than 200 million migrant workers, individuals like Wang who flock to the cities for jobs and opportunities.

In many ways though, Shanghai has become his home. Wang and his wife live in the city, and like many other migrant worker couples, their children live hundreds of kilometers away with their grandparents in their hometown. He said the slowdown has affected his wife’s work too. Before, she could work 12 hours a day and get overtime pay. Now, he said, the TV factory where she works has limited her to eight hours a day.

The couple would like to stay in the city, but soon they may have to make a choice. Their current residence, which has been an affordable place to live until now, is slated to be torn down. “It’s hard to say [what will come next],” he said. “If the house my wife and I are living in is torn down, we may have no place to stay. Shanghai is much too expensive,” Wang said.

Monday 23 May 2016

Dressing For The Job

Dressing for the job: It worked for "Men in Kilts!" Abdulahi Olatoyan at work in Nigeria.
This Dapperly Dressed Window Washer Is Social Media’s Latest Success Story: There’s an old saying about how you should “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” — and the sentiment has never been more true than for one young man in Nigeria. 

Abdulahi Olatoyan was a student at Nigeria’s University of Ilorin but was forced to leave due to financial reasons after his father died. In order to support himself, the 30-something began washing car windows on the streets. What made Olatoyan stand out from competing washers? His formal manner of dress. Rather than wearing the typical tee and jeans, he wore a dapper blazer and shirt with a bowtie and matching pocket square. 

Struck by Olatoyan’s distinguished look, celebrity photographer Daniel Sync took his portrait and wrote about their meeting online: “So, I bumped into this well suited windscreen cleaner yesterday in Ogun State. We need more innovative citizens like Abdulahi in Nigeria. Well spoken Abdulahi Olatoyan who is in his early thirties is a University of Ilorin dropout, who turned to the street after the demise of his father to make a living and save enough money to start a business.”

“He hopes to return to school to finish his studies one day,” Sync added. “Photographing and speaking with Abdulahi today inspired me and I do hope that you are inspired by his story, too. If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

That was only the beginning. In the days that followed, designer Uche Nnaji of the popular Nigerian clothing brand OUCH caught wind of Olatoyan’s story and posted on Instagram asking his 17,900 followers to help him track down the window washer, adding “We have a JOB waiting for him at OUCH.” The post was showered with comments of praise and eventually updated, with Nnaji writing that he “finally got to speak with Abdulahi.

Though it’s unclear whether Nnaji is interested in casting Olatoyan as a model for his brand or as a salesperson, his story is being compared to that of former Nigerian bread seller Jumoke Orisaguna, who became a model and motivational speaker after photobombing a shoot with rapper Tinie Tempah. Whatever the outcome, stories like this prove that social media, and its ability to connect people, can actually result in something positive and sweet. More of the same, please!

Friday 20 May 2016

Fun Friday - Video - Window Cleaner In Drag

Window cleaner in drag.
Kate Tempest, continues to battle preconceptions. Although she studied music at south London’s famous BRIT School (which she recalls as “pretty mind-blowing”), she comes across as much less glossy than fellow alumni Adele and Lily Allen. “The Beigeness” is both the title of a song from Everybody Down (in its video, a bored window washer discovers it’s a lot more fun to wear drag and start dancing) and of a chapter in The Bricks that Built the Houses – works Tempest conceived together. Tempest calls her work from the past few years a “constellation.”

Window cleaners reportedly see many things, but few have peered through the glass into another dimension. Yet in the world of London psych-rockers Purson anything is possible, as can be gleaned from the video for The Window Cleaner, the second single from their recent album Desire’s Magic Theatre. With eerie harmonies, the song peers at the world through distinctly acid-tinted lenses, which is no accident says Purson front woman Rosalie Cunningham.

“The songs on the Desire’s Magic Theatre album are very personal, like a diary. They tend to be about the psychedelic experience, something that’s been important to me since my teenage years, figuring out my own sense of spirituality, and The Window Cleaner is a prime example,” she explains. Differing from the dark feel of much of the album, the new single carries a distinctive uplifting vibe, which is perhaps explained by the circumstances of its conception.

Thursday 19 May 2016

Cameras & Drones

Cameras & drones, commonly used by window cleaners.
DeHart: Gutter maintenance using camera-assisted vacuum - Grant Baudais has started a new property maintenance service business, Select Property Maintenance Services. Their focus is on gutter cleaning, power washing, window washing and other services around the home or business. 

They use unique equipment in their business, including a vacuum system that allows them to clean gutters from the ground using a commercial vacuum system with minimal use of ladders with a remote wireless camera system which aids in monitoring the cleaning of the gutter to ensure all materials are removed. A surface cleaner power washes decks, patios, sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces cleaning ground in dirt, moss and other stains. Their website is active and changing daily as they add more information, pictures and videos.

Window cleaner, Sam Luff with his drone.
Redhill window cleaner captures stunning aerial photos of Surrey with drone: These pictures were not taken from a helicopter or a fancy Google satellite, but by a Redhill window cleaner with his feet on the ground. Sam Luff has shot these stunning aerial images thanks to a drone – a light flying robot with a built-in camera – which he has used to capture East Surrey from a different perspective.

The 31-year-old, of Rathgar Close, first picked up the hobby two years ago when his girlfriend bought him a toy drone which could fit into the palm of his hand. After mastering the controls, Sam invested in the hobby-grade Phantom, which he now uses to photograph some of Surrey's most impressive landscapes and buildings, from sprawling Royal Earlswood Park to a calm and reflective Watercolour estate. Even Redhill and Reigate at night could be mistaken for inner-city locations.

Sam, who ditched a desk job after 13 years in favour of a working life outdoors, told the Mirror: "Being my own boss means I get to plan my own days. I take my drone out with me. Whenever I get half an hour or there's something interesting, I just throw it up and see what's there." He added: "I like photography anyway and the drone is an extension of that. You have full manual controls on the camera, shutter speed and exposure value – it's not just a phone camera. "I don't think most people care if I accidentally take a photo of them. If I'm hovering near their windows, that's a different thing altogether."

Reigate at night.
The device, which resembles a space probe, is limited to travel 400ft up in the air, 500m away from the controls, and move at a top speed of 30mph. Civilian use of drones has been growing, leading to the Civil Aviation Authority, which polices UK airspace, to draw up regulations.

Sophisticated models like Sam's, which are synced with a mobile phone app, have GPS technology which stops the drone from entering no-fly zones. He said: "If I take off from Horley and try to fly towards Gatwick, once it gets within 4 or 5km the whole unit restricts itself. It knows it's at Gatwick and restricts how fast and how high and how far it is from the controller. When you get to within 2km, if I was going to be careless and stupid, it would hit a geofence and it won't fly any further."

And with a live video feed to the mobile, drone controllers know exactly where they are. There's even a button to press to bring the drone back to where it took off. Sam said it means there is "no excuse" for reckless drone users.

Sam Luff, inset, takes stunning images of Surrey with his drone.
Last month, a police investigation was launched after a British Airways pilot reported a possible drone strike on a plane landing at Heathrow. Sam said: "It upsets me more than anything. It's idiots like them that may destroy the hobby. I do everything by the book. It's upsetting that anyone would fly a drone at a commercial airline."

He added: "You should know exactly what it's doing. It tells you if you're in a restricted area. There's lot of information and maps and where exactly the no-fly zones are. There's actually quite a lot of intelligence in it."

Also see:
Cumbrian Business is in the Gutter
Drones Cleaning Windows
Umbilical Drones For Window Cleaning & Painting
Drones - Window Cleaning Add-On

The insect-like micro aerial vehicle (MAV) generates a static charge for attaching to surfaces, similar in principle to static cling from a balloon. Video here.
Flying Mini-Robots Can Cling to Your Window - A new type of micro aerial vehicle saves precious power by perching on leaves or walls instead of hovering: Birds and bees make perching look easy, but creating a tiny aerial drone that can land on—and then re-launch from—a wall, tree branch or other surface takes a lot of work. Such micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) have previously used spikes or magnetic landing gear, and expend a lot of precious power to take flight again. But researchers from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several other institutions have created a minuscule wing-flapping robot that literally turns the problem on its head—with a disklike top that can cling to most surfaces using static electricity, much like rubbing a balloon and sticking it onto a wall.

The “electroadhesive” MAV can hang from the bottom of a wood or glass surface, or even a tree leaf, by creating electrostatic attraction between the surface and the electrode in its head. The power needed to maintain the electrostatic connection is “three orders of magnitude” less than that required to keep the MAV in flight for the same amount of time, the researchers wrote in a report published Thursday in Science. “Running out of power becomes a bigger problem the smaller the vehicle is,” says Moritz Alexander Graule, one of the report’s co-authors and a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The ability to hang from a structure rather than rest on top also provides the MAV with a less-obstructed view of the area below and protection from extreme weather conditions during long perching sessions. The headfirst electrostatic approach works by changing the charge distribution of the material to which it is clinging, Graule says. This works best with a smooth texture, so the drone can adhere better to something like a window than to a rough or porous surface. The MAV’s electroadhesive connection is not particularly strong, however, which means the drones need to weigh in at roughly 84 milligrams—less than a bee. In order to relaunch the drone cuts power to the circular copper electrodes in its disk and restarts its wings.

Other aerial mini drones under development use more mechanical approaches to perching. Stanford University’s scansorial UAV uses onboard sensors to detect a wall, for example, and then performs an inflight maneuver to land and cling using microspines on its legs, according to Mirko Kovac, an engineering professor at Imperial College London’s Department of Aeronautics. Kovac’s article in this week’s Science analyzes the latest developments in MAV flight. In terms of energy conservation other ideas under consideration include leveraging wind gusts to alleviate flight strain on batteries or even developing ways for smaller MAVs to perch on larger ones midflight so they can travel greater distances without using additional energy, Kovac says.

The big remaining challenges for the researchers involve integrating a battery and microprocessor that can make their MAV more autonomous. The current mini drone relies on a wire tether to deliver power and data from external sensors to determine its position while flying but the researchers want to build a battery-powered version with enough onboard power and intelligence to fly untethered. They have also considered the possibility of enabling the drone to stick to vertical surfaces as well. The ability to cling to a wall requires not only more adhesive power but also a way for the MAV to orient itself so that its wings do not interfere with the landing.

Such a drone might be one or two years away in the lab, and as long as a decade away from being ready for more widespread development and use, says Robert Wood, the project’s principal investor and a professor at Harvard’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “I see applications in search and rescue, hazardous environment exploration—basically any situation where you want to have low cost and distributed sensing [that] would be too difficult or too dangerous for a human,” Wood says. He believes more immediate benefits from this research will come from solving the technological challenges of developing devices at this scale from scratch. Wood and his colleagues now use the microfabrication techniques developed to build their MAV to likewise create articulated and sensor-laden microsurgical tools geared toward minimally invasive surgical procedures.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Owner Sells Window Cleaning Company

Mark S. Reinhart, Award founder and sales manager, watches his book of business grow with each addition to the Grand Rapids skyline.
Owner sells window-cleaning company: The owner of a local window-cleaning company has sold his operation to pursue other business ambitions. Award Window Cleaning Services has acquired Blue Sky Window Cleaners. Both companies are based in Grand Rapids and provide residential and commercial window cleaning services in West Michigan. Terms of the deal, which was announced today, were not disclosed.

Nate Wood founded Blue Sky Window Cleaners in 2009. Since that time, he has grown the company to multiple crews.  “It’s been a great ride, and I’ve had a lot of fun building my company,” Wood said. “But now it’s time to move on.”

Wood said Mark Reinhart, president and CEO of Award Window Cleaning Services, has a “great business” with an “excellent reputation.” “I’m certain my customers and employees will be treated very well,” Wood said.

Reinhart, who has 25 years of experience in the window-cleaning industry, said customers of Blue Sky can count on the same “high-quality work” and “positive attitude” they’ve come to expect from Blue Sky.

Wood will continue to guide the company through the transition. Calder Capital of Grand Rapids sourced the buyer and brokered the sale. Max Friar, managing partner of Calder Capital, said he has seen an increased level of interest in business acquisitions during the early spring months of 2016. “Many individual and strategic buyers are actively seeking to acquire small service, distribution and manufacturing companies in West Michigan,” Friar said.

He noted lending conditions and the strength of the local economy make this “a great time to buy.” Friar also said the transaction between Award and Blue Sky typifies a trend in the marketplace: established buyers acquiring small businesses where non­-retirement age owners are seeking a new path in life.

Also see:

Tuesday 17 May 2016

What Is Laminated Glass?

Laminated glass is a safety glass that is created by sandwiching two or more sheets of standard annealed glass together around layers of transparent plastic laminate.
What is laminated glass? Laminated glass is a safety glass that is created by sandwiching two or more sheets of standard annealed glass together around layers of transparent plastic laminate.  If the outer layers of glass are broken, the laminate layer will hold the glass firmly in place, which makes for a much safer product.

For this reason, laminated glass is frequently used in applications where there is a high risk of injury should a breakage occur. So car windscreens and architectural glazing such as roof lights, curtain walls, glass partitions or glass doors can have laminated glass specified as a standard safety measure.

How is laminated glass made? Two types of transparent laminate interlayer are typically used to form laminated glass; either polyvinyl butryl (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA).

The glass and laminate layer are sandwiched together and bonded firmly together using a combination of pressure rollers and heat. This process removes the air from between the layers and fuses the three layers together.

Applications for laminated glass: The benefits of laminated glass are wide-ranging. Not only does it provide protection in the case of accidental breakage, for example in a car crash; depending on the thickness and type of the glass and laminate used, it can also provide sound insulation, protection from solar and UV rays, heat and fire resistance, blast resistance and can even be bullet-proof.

So you will find laminated glass in places such as recording studios, police vehicles, banks, jewellery shops, aquariums, embassies and petrol stations. It can also be used for decorative purposes around the home, by including a tinted interlayer to colour the glass. Coloured glass splashbacks in kitchens or bathrooms will generally be made of laminated glass.

Specialist laminated glass: One of the more recent advancements in laminated glass has been the development of LCD electrochromic or ‘smart’ glass. This clever technology uses an opaque layer of LCD film between laminate sheets. The film can then have an electric current passed through it, which will switch it from opaque to transparent.

Smart glass is widely used in applications such as glass partitions in offices, where it can be used to create privacy when required. It is also useful in buildings where it is impractical or undesirable to have curtains or blinds at a window, reducing sun glare or again providing privacy when required.

Laminated glass is an incredibly valuable and beneficial material that is used widely throughout the construction industry. Tufwell Glass are industry leaders in the production and supply of laminated glass and can offer clients a range of products as well as expert advice.

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