Toms handed chance to regain title

first_imgNortholt’s Ryan Toms has been given the chance to regain the southern area light-middleweight title.Steve O’Meara, who dethroned Toms with a first-round knockout when the two West Londoners met last year, has relinquished the belt and is fighting experienced Welshman Bradley Pryce next month.It means Toms, 30, will face Yassine El Maachi for the now vacant championship at the Brentwood Centre in Essex on 26 May.The fight will be on the same show as the all-west London heavyweight clash between Audley Harrison and Chelsea-based Iraqi Ali Adams.El Maachi, who was keen to challenge O’Meara, was born in Morocco, lives in Finsbury Park and has a record of 14 wins and four losses.Last year the 32-year-old won the televised Prizefighter tournament, beating former world champion Junior Witter in the final.Toms (9-2-1) was unbeaten as a professional prior to his defeat against O’Meara at York Hall last September.Related story: O’Meara stuns Toms in west London clashFollow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Centre for the protection of penguins

first_imgRescued penguins at the Samrec centreoutside Port Elizabeth line up to be fed.(Image: Emily van Rijswijck) Pengiuns at the Boulders colony inCape Town live in prefabricated igloos.(Image: Janine Erasmus)MEDIA CONTACTS • Libby SharwoodSamrec+27 41 583 1830Emily van RijswijckHis name is Jay and he is a born and bred African. Originally from the biggest colony of African penguins on the continent, St Croix Island in Algoa Bay, Jay now lives the good life at the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre (Samrec) at Cape Recife Nature Reserve in Port Elizabeth.After two attempts to release him back into the wild – without success, perhaps because Jay believes he is not yet ready – volunteers at the centre have adopted him as a permanent fixture and fellow volunteer.“Clearly Jay finds the rehabilitated life more agreeable, so we have decided that he can stay and become our mascot,” says Samrec volunteer Libby Sharwood.Sharwood has been involved with the rescue and rehabilitation of African penguins since 2000 when she started work as a volunteer at Bay World, the Port Elizabeth natural and cultural museum.With Bay World facilities running at capacity and stray birds putting the healthy penguin population there at risk, Sharwood decided to move the rescue facility to her house – a daunting task if one considers the smell and noise factor that comes with the little creatures.Finally, in 2009, with the help of funding from the National Lottery, the Samrec centre finally opened at its new facilities in Cape Recife, a headland at the southwestern tip of Algoa Bay.The centre works on the principles of the four Rs: rescue, rehabilitate, research and release with a strong emphasis on education. Over 2 000 schoolchildren visit every year, as well as the general public.The programme also has a school adoption component. The latest beneficiary is the Lonwabi Primary school, which caters for disabled children at an informal settlement outside Port Elizabeth.“Some of these kids have never seen a shell, let alone a penguin,” says Eddy Molekoa, educational manager.Saving the African penguin Jay is one of about 120 African penguins which make it to the centre yearly, thanks for the most part to the help of caring individuals who pick up stray animals on their daily beach walks.“The public is amazing,” admits Sharwood.Jay first washed up at Pollok Beach in 2010, “a very cold, underweight baby,” recalls Sharwood. With his many quirks, he has since stolen the hearts of volunteers, especially when he tries to catch dragonflies and mosquitoes.Recently, the centre released 23 penguins at Port Elizabeth’s Hobie Beach. Says animal manager Jared Harding: “We are not a zoo. We try to release the penguins back into the wild as soon as they are healthy. Keeping them at the centre is actually stressful to them.”But their rescue efforts remain a drop in the ocean.“For the extinction rate to be halted, we need to save about 1 000 animals a year.” Sharwood likens the severity of the situation to the similar fate facing rhinos.“In 2000, we were told that if nothing is done, in 30 years no more African penguins would exist. The situation is now worse, with extinction looming within five years,” she says.This month has been a particularly busy one for Samrec as the breeding season kicked off early and with fish numbers dwindling and penguin parents having to venture further off, a number of stray chicks have been found on the beaches, some still kitted-out in their fluffy coats.Like other facilities in Cape Town, Mosselbay, Jeffreys and Tenikwa, Samrec is constantly challenged to find enough fish for the centre, as well as meet the monthly vet’s bill, especially during breeding time.Ocean temperaturesHuman interference and global warming are the biggest risk factors for these vulnerable birds. With water temperatures rising, sea currents are moving further offshore, and this is where the schools of sardines and pilchards are found.Having to swim further for food has a severe impact on the amount of food the chick receives when the parent returns from hunting, and on the population in general.St Croix and Bird islands are where the two biggest colonies gather, with a healthy population also thriving at Boulders Beach in Cape Town. The latter colony is a fine example of how man and beast have learnt to live together in peaceful harmony.It is estimated that there are about 6 000 African penguins left.last_img read more

Is Windows Azure Suitable for Startups?

first_imgRelated Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… alex williams Last week we wrote about the services that Y Combinator startups use. For hosting, Amazon Web Services and Rackspace were the most popular services. Windows Azure was noticeably absent. But why? A topic turned up on Quora, citing our post and wondering why the lack of adoption.The topic has sparked a bit of discussion. The consensus: Azure is better suited for larger enterprise operations.That does make sense to some degree. We’ll just have to see by how much.The people who make up Azure are a smart group. Under Bob Muglia, a real push started to attract more developers. That became apparent at the Professional Developers Conference, which was not a huge event but did have a core group there developing on numerous platforms such as Windows 7, Windows Phone 7 and the Azure marketplaces. Muglia is leaving Microsoft so questions are out there but the structure is in place for his successor.Further, the tablet market will continue to drive a startup community to Azure. And BizSpark is no wilting effort. The official Microsoft blog states some of the results for the program since the effort began in 2008:Since then, about 35,000 startups from all over the world have enrolled in the program, which provides early-stage businesses with fast and easy access to software development tools and platforms as well as a network of 2,500 network partners – including venture capital firms, university incubators, consultants and angel investors – interested in helping startups grow.Microsoft will also focus on synchronizing connected devices this year, which will be a driving feature as devices are optimized for users. That alone will help drive development. Our bet is that synchronization will be a driving factor in the sale of Windows Phone 7 and tablet devices.Commenters on Quora have a different perspective. They state that Azure is just not the right choice for startups, citing better suitability for large enterprises, the costs and productivity differences between it and platforms such as Heroku, which actually runs on Amazon Web Services. What Commenters Say About Why Azure is Better for the Fortune 500Startups are disruptive. Microsoft caters to Fortune 500 companies. Using Azure means startups adopting one vendor as opposed to an open source community with large pools of available software engineers. The costs are higher compared to platforms such as Heroku. It can cost at least $40 per month for each site a user sets up. To set up an app on Heroku is free. It can take longer. One developer commented that for typical Web apps they are ten times more productive with Ruby on Rails than the Microsoft. Rails was built for the Web. Microsoft originally built its stack for the desktop.Azure is a platform, which is a same reason that Google App Engine is not represented either. Amazon and Rackpace are infrastructure providers, which provide the flexibility to build your own stack, which gives far more flexibility than a platform, which at some point will pose limits to the developer. On a final note, there are some praises for Windows Azure. Martin Wawrusch critiqued Azure but ended by saying that it is a great platform and he wholeheartedly recommends it. He even said that the SQL Azure engine is years ahead of the competition, serving as a good fit for backend processing for a startup. He does also say he would however not use it for any front end work in a startup environment.There are still open questions about Azure. It’s not ruled out as a platform. It has potential for considerable success. The question is its comparison to other offerings on Amazon or Rakspace. For now, those offerings are more popular and should continue to be so for at least the year ahead. Tags:#Analysis#cloud#cloud computing#Cloud Providers center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Outbox Rolls Out In San Francisco: Plans To Bring Snail Mail Into The Digital Age

first_imgWhen Will Davis and Evan Baehr met for the first time in Cambridge, Mass., in 2009, they already had a shared history. Though they didn’t know each other then, both Davis and Baehr worked on Capitol Hill as legislative aides before enrolling in Harvard Business School. It was there, at Harvard, that the two men realized that business – and not politics – could be their avenue for instituting meaningful change.“Peter Thiel picked up the idea of a passionate way of tackling public problems was by starting a business,” says Baehr, who originally wanted to help solve the world’s many problems through legislation after graduating from Princeton. “But I became frustrated with how government would try and solve problems.”Davis, on the other hand, arrived at a partnership with Baehr after becoming “a complete acolyte of disruptive theory.” A series of investigations led him to the realization that the U.S. Postal Service was ripe for such disruption. “I needed a Dropbox for my snail mail,” he recalls. An Inbox for Snail MailThat idea – a way to organize, in the cloud, every aspect of your physical mail – is the crux of the two men’s venture, called Outbox, that is opening up to public beta in San Francisco on February 26 after a 6-month test in Austin, Texas, in 2012.Outbox seems remarkably simple – for $4.99 per mailbox per month, the company picks up your mail, scans it, and lets you access every item digitally, through your iPhone, iPad or computer. If you want the physical version of a piece of mail, you designate the item to be delivered, and Outbox drops it on your doorstep. That’s it. Say you move frequently, or you simply are flooded with junk mail but can’t help wasting time sorting through the mess. Outbox wants to change all that.“We turn the model on its head, getting to a new system where the user has full control over their postal mail,” Davis says. Disrupting the entire U.S. Postal Service might be a ways down the line, but the Outbox team is confident that it is the future of mail. Sights Set On The USPSHere’s a hint: The Outbox employee who picks up your mail in a white Toyota Prius is called an unpostman. Related Posts Davis remembers thinking, “We have actually got to attack this market at the core, which is the platform… and the platform is that little metal box.” Postal mail is a $900 billion industry in the U.S. – in 2011 alone, 168 billion pieces of mail were delivered. According to the most pessimistic forecast they could find, Davis and Baehr will still be fishing in a sea of more than 100 billion pieces of mail in 2020.“You come to the realization that it’s not a perfect market that is dealing with completely transparent and moveable participants,” Davis says of the USPS. “You have one participant who is dealing in the bounds of the law and the constructs of a regulated monopoly, and everyone else has to engage with that monopoly power in different ways.” “We decided, ‘Hey, someone should go and build out what a postal network should look like,’” Davis adds. In Austin, Discovering A New Ad PlatformWhat began last summer in Austin was a careful attempt to find out what really bugged people about dealing with heaps of physical mail. The company spent months interviewing some 100 families about their mail. Then they began a 500-person closed beta to collect data and plan for the next phase.The process taught them a great deal. For one, it taught then about junk mail. “The interesting thing though is that when you start talking to people about junk mail, it’s in the eye of the beholder,” says Baehr. “Junk mail is made junky when it’s not targeted and not relevant.” A long-term hope for Outbox is to dramatically shrink the amount of marketing content people receive in postal mail, from approximately five items a day down to one or two.For packages, especially ones like Netflix DVDs or Amazon orders, the Outbox team assumes people wanted them delivered to their doorsteps right away. Tags:#e-commerce#email#Government#startups They also discovered that for people to trust them with something as sensitive as paper mail, they would need a very carefully constructed security system. They began with $1 million in identity theft insurance, and invested in secure encryption of the files Outbox was creating from scanned mail. The company shreds any item not requested for delivery within 60 days.Moving Beyond The Post OfficeBut junk mail and packages were only the beginning for Outbox. “What we are building is not dependent on the physical postal system,” Davis claims.Outbox’ long term vision is to create a unique new marketing platform to replace junk mail in a way that saves them money and provides better insight. “We’ve looked at all the digital catalog apps and they’re failing miserably in terms of engagement,” says Baehr. “The way people discover that content is through serendipitous arrival. They found it because they went to their mailbox.”What they didn’t do, adds Baehr, is go to the app store and see if the catalog was pushed to her device, or go find it and download it. “The first important thing is discoverability, so by grabbing hold of the tradition of checking mail, we can build a communication channel where people actually expect to get marketing content.”Outbox envisions a day when advertisers can target a specific subscriber with an offer via mail, say for a sample of makeup, and the customer can find the ad in their Outbox app and request the sample for delivery. “We’re creating this delivery platform where we are in neighborhoods delivering content,” says Baehr. “You begin in the digital and it translates to the physical.”National AmbitionsWith $2.2 million in funding from investors like Peter Thiel and Mike Maples of Floodgate, the company chose San Francisco for a full-blown launch. “It was the tougher logistical choice to make to come to San Francisco over New York City,” says Davis. “New York, from a postal perspective is easier to service,” with higher population density and a more regimented system of mailboxes.The decision to move to the West Coast boiled down to the desire to get Outbox in the hands of early adopters. “When you think of hyper local distribution networks, think TaskRabbit or Uber, those [services found acceptance] from early adopters in San Francisco, so we decided to come here,” Davis says. After onboarding their first customers in just four weeks, the company is already looking at new markets. “Once we get this nailed, San Francisco really does translate well into New York,” Davis says, “and then Chicago, Boston, DC.” When not sleeping in the Outbox warehouses to ensure everything runs smoothly, Davis and Baehr are busy thinking big. “When you start enabling the receiver to have full control of what can be sent to them,” Davis says, “everything falls with a domino effect – if you can scale it.”Images courtesy of Outbox. nick stattcenter_img How to Get Started in China and Have Success China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culturelast_img read more

All Yacht and No Play

first_imgA marina, a wharf to park boats and yachts in an orderly fashion, is a symbol of economic prosperity. The world’s top seaside cities have one, as a place to display the wealth of their rich and to make water sports easily accessible. Mumbai-projected to be a global financial hub-will not get its marina anytime soon, thanks to forces working at cross purposes.The Port Trust of India, a central government body, owns the land and water around the Mumbai port, while the 164-year-old Royal Bombay Yacht Club (RBYC) currently holds the key to allow individuals to park their million dollar toys across the Taj Mahal Hotel in Colaba. The Maharashtra Government needs to issue permits to build one at sea and the navy, which has its western naval command in Mumbai, will have put its stamp of approval. “No one is now talking of building a marina as it looks impossible to get the project going,” says Simon Arrol, chief operating officer, Marina India. Honchos such as Adi Godrej, Gautam Singhania and Anand Mahindra are among the 143 owners of private yachts registered in Mumbai as of December 2010.The biggest stumbling block is the Port Trust. The Trust is the biggest land owner in the city. In cities such as London, Singapore and Sydney, the old harbours have tried to monetise their real estate to generate other income streams on the back of increased restrictions for cargo movement. In Mumbai, however, the Port Trust is adding a new container terminal despite the fact that another government-owned port, Jawarharlal Nehru Port Trust, is more suited to take on increased volumes.advertisementVijay Mallyas The Indian EmpressApart from a wharf, a marina usually has accompanying real estate to house restaurants and shops. It is this business that makes it economically viable for a developer to build a marina, which can cost upto Rs 150 crore. In 2008, the Trust had called for expressions of interest to build a marina but it gave a piece of the harbour where the depth was just a metre, too shallow for keeled boats to anchor.The Mumbai Docklands Regeneration Forum, a group of citizens which is working to make the vast docklands more productive, wanted the Trust to convert the old Prince’s and Victoria Docks into a marina. But the trust wanted the two docks buried to build a parking lot. The Trust was close to finalising another proposal to build a marina and cruise terminal close to Radio Club, 150 metres from the Taj hotel. But the navy objected, saying it would come in the flight path of its helicopters from ins Shikra, the navy’s first helicopter base.On the other hand, it is the RBYC which has the permission to allow its members to park their boats in the water. Sensing an opportunity to find more funds to maintain its ageing, iconic building, it has been enrolling rich yacht buyers as members. A senior member of the navy-controlled Yachting Association of India (YAI) says that this vested interest may also be the reason why RBYC is against a privately owned marina in the harbour, which has so far been under its control. Already, yachting associations across the country want the YAI to be nodal body to regulate the sport. Right now, it is done by the Port Trust which applies the same set of rules of other sea going vessels to register a yacht. So, a dredger and a yacht of a certain length will have the same manning and safety requirements. Further, the land for the club premises has been leased from the Trust, which has threatened in the past not to renew it. “They are constantly afraid that even one wrong move could cost them their lease,” says a member requesting anonymity.Ironically, for members of the RBYC club, a marina will also mean a boom in the business. Shakeel Kudroli, the first Indian to win a medal at an international sailing event and a member of the club, says, “A marina would mean more parking place for boats and better prospects for sales.”According to a senior Port Trust official, there are now talks to allow a marina in the western waterfront, opposite the Oberoi Hotel. But the western side is the open ocean. Companies planning to put a marina here will have to construct a breakwater in the sea to stop waves from constantly shaking the boats, which is an expensive affair. For now, big names such as Singhania and Godrej have stayed away from making direct demands for a marina. A senior member of the Docklands Forum had once approached Union Minister Murli Deora to enlist his support. But Deora reportedly declined, saying that associating with an expensive past-time of industrialists will not go down well with his constituency.advertisementlast_img read more