Thursday, November 16, 2017
Back and January iRobot teased the release of the company’s newest floor washing robot, the Scooba 450. This was the model that would replace the Scooba 390 as iRobot’s full-sized mop-bot and work alongside the Roomba 650. The Scooba 450 is an upgrade to the previous robot — not a full overhaul — with the main features being a revamped 3-cycle cleaning system, more efficient use of the bot’s 750 ml of clean water, and a streamlined design. The Scooba 650 sells for $600, making it a considerable purchase even for the most dedicated of robot owners.
The cleaning process is quite simple: you fill the Scooba’s tank with water plus a squirt of cleaning solution, place your virtual wall if there anywhere the bot shouldn’t go, choose the size of the room being cleaned, and then you set the robot in motion. The Scooba 450 can handle a large room (300 square feet) or small one (15o square feet) in either 40 or 20 minutes. Unlike a Roomba which will understand the size of a space and simply turn itself off or return to a dock when it’s done cleaning, the Scooba is designed to clean for the entire time cycle. Because its dirty water must be removed from the bot after a cycle, the it isn’t designed to return to a dock and it doesn’t work on a schedule. This means the amount of human interaction is much greater with scrubbing compared to vacuuming.
Once the cleaning has started the Scooba 450 definitely is an improvement on the previous models. The IROBOT SCOOBA is surprisingly loud, given that it’s essentially a mop, but you have to remember it’s more a scrubbing bot that vacuums up the cleaning solution than it is a mop. The Scooba navigates the room as well as any Roomba (which is to say quite well) and lays down a thin layer of water as it goes by. Most of this is vacuumed up and the rest evaporates, which can leave the floor slightly tacky but quite clean.
Interestingly, the robot can be seen to slightly wiggle as it navigates around a room. This is done on purpose: knowing that it will be on wet surfaces, the the robot has to deal with an occassional loss of traction. To compensate for this the Scooba has onboard gyroscope, the reading of which it measures against an expected value in to order to ensure the the wheels have proper traction and that the bot is going where it intends to.
A full cleaning cycle will take 40 minutes and clean 300 square feet. That’s an adequate amount of space for most apartment dwellers, but it’s something to consider if your entire first floor is tile or hardwood, as you might be looking at multiple runs to get your house clean. Also, the robot is nearly 15 inches across which means it’s not overly effective in smaller bathrooms. During testing I was reminded of why the tiny Scooba 230 exists: I put the 450 in my bathroom and shut the door so a) I wouldn’t have to hear it and b) it could clean behind the door. The Scooba ended up jamming itself between the toilet and the door and getting stuck. The door opens inwards so I was locked out of the bathroom. Long story short, I was able to wiggle a metal roasting fork (long, thin, and relatively strong) and unseat the Scooba enough to push it out of the way, but it was not a fun experience.
Once the cleaning is done the robot will stop where it is and go to sleep. There is no charging base to return to, but perhaps one day a Scooba will go back to the sink in the bathroom and wait there to be emptied out? At this point you’ll see just how much cleaning the Scooba 450 has done. When emptying the dirty water you’ll be greeted by a dark liquid that filled with a surprising amount of dust, dirt, and grime. Pouring all this stuff out is a gross but quite satisfying experience.
The only bad part here is that some of the hair and assorted debris doesn’t make it into the reservoir and instead gets stuck between the reservoir component in the bot’s spring-loaded door. This final cleaning task is sort of like clearing out the shower drain — it’s kind of gross but in the scheme of things not too bad.
Once the robot is emptied it’s time to recharge. This can be done by plugging the included charger into a tiny, well-hidden, splash-proof port. The other option is to purchase a DryDock, which is a standing drying/charging stand for the Scooba. $80 is a steep fee for a plastic stand that uses the Scooba’s built-in charger, but it keeps the bot dry and it gives it a nice place to live. Just to be entirely clear, you need to pick up the Scooba and place it in the stand so there is no automatic behavior here, it’s just more convenient than finding the plug and it looks much neater than the bot sitting on your freshly cleaned floor.
Should you buy a Scooba?
The Scooba 450 does a good job of cleaning and navigates your home as well as a current-gen Roomba, but requires a lot of human interaction. It’s thorough and reliable, but can only clean up to 300 square feet, during which you need to hear it doing its job for 40 minutes. Ultimately, this is a product with some serious tradeoffs, so can it justify a $600 price tag?
Before you give a reflexive “no” you should consider this simple thought: mopping is much more of a hassle than sweeping or vacuuming. Many people simply don’t mop their homes very often (or at all) so paying this much for a mopping bot might seems like a dumb idea, but if you actually get out a mop and a bucket and start to clean the floor you might change your mind.
That’s not to say that the Scooba 450 is worth the price for most people, that’s totally up to individual judgement. Mopping 300 square feet won’t take you 40 minutes, but the time you do spend is downright unpleasant and you probably won’t do it, so if you want fully clean floors then this robot is more than happy — and more than capable — of doing the job for you.
The Scooba 450 does the job it was designed to do, but by lacking scheduling and needing frequent human care-taking, the bot doesn’t seem to offer the same level of value as the Roomba. The 450’s performances upgrades are considerable and the new features are useful, in an incremental sort of way. Ultimately, if you want a floor washing robot the Scooba 450 is the best one available, but it’s not as easy a sell as the Roomba.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Select a campsite
- Be aware of widow makers. Dead trees can fall at any time and ruin a perfect camping trip. Downed limbs and debris around the site can be a good indicator of what’s to come.
- If you’re a walk-in (meaning that you arrive at the campground without a reserved site), be sure to survey the landscape. Nothing ruins a great camping weekend like loud neighbors. Know camping etiquette and expect it from your campground neighbors. Don’t be the one that pisses off their campmates.
- Many campgrounds have picnic tables and firepits. Look for campsites with a bit of tree cover (healthy trees of course – see previous bullet) which could be beneficial in a light rain.
- Know the general wind direction. Nobody wants to be sucking down the neighbor’s campfire smoke all night. Look for sites that are upwind whenever possible.
- Determine where the sun will rise and set. A site with tree cover may block some of the early morning sun. A nice sunset view could be equally rewarding so think it through.
Dial in your sleep system
- Go traditional and choose a good sleeping bag and pad system that fits your body and the conditions. A combo like the Big Agnes down sleeping bag with an integrated pad sleeve is perfect for side sleepers. Learning how to camp using your lightweight backpacking system can save you some hard earned duckets.
- Many camping families prefer to use inflatable mattresses instead of pads. In warmer weather, an inflatable mattress is a perfect compliment to a Teton Sports double sleeping bag or for families that still have little campers that are more comfortable sleeping with mom or dad.
- Like to sleep above the ground? Then consider a cot system and a larger tent. Though they require more room, cots paired with pads and a sleeping bag can make for a wonderful night’s sleep. Cots typically breakdown and stow in a small 3 foot long carrying case.
- Hammock camping can be bliss if you can dial in your sleep system with the right top quilt an insulating pador bottom quilt.
- Consider sleeping bags designed specifically for children. The science is simple and your kids will be more comfortable in a children’s bag than in your old spare bag.
Camping tips for creating the perfect campsite and shelter:
- Do a quick campground audit at the end of each trip to make notes about the campsite you used, list the ones that might be better for next trip, and document the campsites to avoid. This is especially useful for campgrounds that you plan to revisit later in the season.
- An old area rug is a great way to add a bit of comfort to your tent. It helps to manage dirt and feels great on the feet at bedtime.
- Spice up the tent with rope lights. Simply wrap them through the pole structure on the outside of the tent but under the fly. A small power pack will do the trick and the ambient light is perfect for putting the kids down before adult time commences.
- Water bottles filled with either cold or hot water are a great way to boost comfort in your sleeping bag. Fill your favorite Nalgene bottle with hot water right before you turn in. Place it in the bag with you near your feet or snuggled in where you need it. You can even drop it in your bag 15 minutes before you climb in. Never slide into a cold bag again!
- If you’re using a smaller backpacking tent for a solo outing, consider taking a cot anyway. Many 2 person tents will fit nicely on top of the cot. No one ever said the cot had to go inside!
Use these 5 essential tools
- A folding military inspired shovel is great for moving coals, adjusting logs in the pit, and covering the smoldering fire with dirt when you leave
- A poker – a handy branch makes a good poker and who can resist making necessary “adjustments” to the fire all evening long
- Rocks make a great decorative surround for the standard issue rolled steel firepit ring. It can also be built as a buffer to keep inquisitive little ones away from the fire. The bonus – kids love to help gather the rocks!
- For those that enjoy dutch oven cooking, a steel grate with 4-5 inch legs is a perfect tool. Place it inside the firepit ring directly over the coals. It can support a dutch oven or coffee pot and can even be used to sear steaks if that’s your thing!
- Fire resistant gloves (I use a pair of Ove Gloves – an infomercial special!) come in handy when moving grates or cast iron
- SunJack CampLight is a super portable and useful gadget that is available on the market now for everyone at a relatively reasonable price. This gadget is clearly different from others with its design and features. It is definitely designed to be very small and ultra-portable.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
"I've dealt with hundreds of cases of (child) abuse and neglect, but this was just completely a shock," said Jini Roby, a lawyer and associate professor in Brigham Young University's Social Work department.
The shock and anger felt Sunday continued to resonate throughout Utah and Washington a day later as the same question kept being asked in homes and offices: Why did Josh Powell, a person suspected in the disappearance of his wife, facing a pyschosexual evaluation, have rights to be with his children at home?
The answer: Josh Powell did not fit easily into any legal box that would have kept him away from his children.
In the Powell case, "I'm not sure anything would have made a difference," psychologist and clinical director Carol Gageshe said. "There just isn't a law that can second-guess every human behavior."
Roby said the legal pendulum is continually in motion when it comes to the balance between parents' rights and the court's ability to intervene. "It's just a very, very delicate balance," she said.
In the Powell case, Josh Powell was a "person of interest" in the criminal investigation into the disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox Powell, who vanished more than two years ago. He was neither charged in the case nor publicly named a suspect.
Josh Powell lost custody of his two boys, Charlie and Braden, ages 7 and 5, because of child pornography found in his father's house, where Josh Powell and the boys were living. Father Steven Powell remains in jail facing charges, but Josh Powell was not implicated in that case.
"The judge was already on the verge of imposing on the rights of the parent" when Josh Powell lost custody of his children, who were temporarily placed in the custody of their mother's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, Roby said. Such a decision is "a function of the court. It's not something we can establish through a scientific test or some kind of factual quantification."
There has been no legal argument that Josh Powell had neglected or abused the children, so his parental rights were firmly intact, Roby said.
There is usually a significant track record of neglect or abuse when the courts weigh in to strip a parent of the custody of their children.
"We have about half a million children in foster care on any given day. Of all of those cases, most of them have had some time period of concern, some indications of harm," Roby said. "For this to happen absolutely out of the blue like this is very, very unusual."
Salt Lake City-based Renaissance Child Visitation Services has facilitated court-ordered visits with non-custodial parents. Psychologist and clinical director Carol Gage said parents are usually on their best behavior during supervised visits because they know the supervisor's notes will get back to a judge overseeing custody issues.
"It's kind of like the way you drive when a policeman is behind you. You're extra cautious," Gage said, adding that the only harm that has come to any of her supervisors over the past 15 years was a broken tail bone when a supervisor fell while accompanying a child to a roller skating rink. "It had nothing to do with a threat or the parent."
Gage said court protective orders are in place in 80 percent to 90 percent of the visitation cases that come to her.
Sherry Hill, a spokeswoman for Washington's Child Visitation Services Seattle at the Department of Social and Health Services, said state authorities work closely with courts to determine whether supervised visits should be allowed and whether they should be held at a parent's home or at a neutral site.
"If there had been any indication of suicidal thoughts, or anything that we would have thought there was an intent to harm the children, we would have taken immediate action," she said. "If we had thought that, we would have done what we could. I don't think there's anything else we could have done."
Elisabeth Sollis, spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Human Services, said, "We all end up with some sort of emotional attachment," in cases. She said judges, the attorney general's office, guardian ad litem, law enforcement, mental health officials and education officials are drawn into cases that involve children and issues that arise within their family circles.
"You've got a lot of people" weighing into an arena where decisions are made regarding children's interests and safety, she said.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Both successful businesspersons and inexperienced MBA students need to know how to create a well-organized business plan. This document is supposed to demonstrate the current condition of the definite firm and its future possibilities. The main idea of an academic business plan is to make your enterprise logically and professionally. It should contain the methods and strategies that will be utilized for the development of your company. In addition, this document requires broad knowledge about the financial condition of the market whereas your firm exists within the other companies that can offer the same goods and services. Your task is to brainstorm the best way to compete with them and win. So, how a good business plan should be made?
Tip #1 – Prepare for Writing
- Study the Market. Before you start writing your business plan, you ought to think about the type of your enterprise. What are you going to produce? Will it be demanded by your potential customers? Therefore, you should study the market attentively. What do modern consumers need? Can you provide them with this product? The best way to study the market is to use the Internet. Most often, both satisfied and frustrated customers share their points of view about various companies and their products in the social networking websites. You can read their feedback and get to know about the goods and services that require improvement. Moreover, you will learn about the products that do not exist at all but they are required passionately. As you see, the Internet provides you with the unlimited opportunities. Bear in mind that corporations pay billions to study the market. You can conduct this primary research yourself.
- Describe Your Business. Your following action is to describe the concept of your own firm. If you already know the approximate situation on the market, you can imagine the idea of your business. Make a scheme of the major goods and services that will be offered by your company. Think about its finance, staff, investors, marketing, etc. Of course, you should take into account the fact whether your firm is already active or not. If you need to reorganize your business, your business plan will be a bit different. For instance, you will need to imagine new products that will improve the condition of your firm or focus on the new strategies that will contribute into its development...
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The performance of your business is very important and plays a big role in developing a successful future. That’s why you have to do whatever you can to think about your business performance. What can you do to improve this? What is business performance, and why is it so vital to the future of the company. You’ll find some ideas and suggestions on here that will help you with that.
Use Software Programs
When you are developing your brand, you need to think hard about efficiency. This is something that a lot of people don’t pay too much attention to, and their companies can often struggle as a result. You’ve got to make sure you focus on what makes a company tick, and what helps businesses run better. Software programs should be an integral part of the day to day running of your company. They can make things so much easier and help the company perform at a higher level. You have to check out Wonderment Apps and see the sorts of things they have on offer. Improving your web development and business intelligence is crucial for boosting your importance as a company.
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Being an entrepreneur or a business owner requires knowing everything about your company, inside and out. So when the topic of taxes crops up, can you honestly say that you know everything about how to save on them? The whole tax return process can be a very daunting one to say the least, but small businesses need to keep a close eye on what they can deduct and what benefits are available to them so they can reduce what they are liable for. We are all looking for ways to save money, and when you are starting a small business, saving money is the name of the game! So use some of these methods to help make your business as cost-effective and tax-deductible as you can.
Use the Cost of the Startup as A Deduction
The IRS provides tax breaks for small businesses. You can deduct up to $5000 of your startup costs during the first year of trading. As a result, you can reduce your taxable income, which includes income tax and self-employment tax, which covers Medicare tax and Social Security. Other costs that you can deduct include the purchasing of supplies and equipment, and other operational fees. The remainder of the startup costs should then be depreciated over the course of 15 years.