Back to the future? Behold, the wooden light bulb!

2012-05-31 10:38:26 | modern lighting
Marrying traditional Japanese craft techniques and energy-efficient lighting technology, designer Ryosuke Fukusada created an LED bulb wrapped in a thin wooden shell that, yep, glows.

The Wooden Light Bulb -- to be clear, it did not show as part of ICFF/NY Design Week -- is actually an LED bulb completely encased in a super-thin wooden shell that Fukusada created using a traditional Japanese craft technique called Rokuro. The fixture’s incandescent-shaped body is chipped so thin -- it does, however, appear to be solid like (Italian designer Mauro) Savoldi's wooden bulbs when turned off -- that when the lamp is switched on, it does indeed glow from within. Magical!

Boasting an aluminum base, the Wooden Light Bulb is totally safe (although probably not that practical for actual lighting purposes) as LEDs, unlike incandescents, produce a very small amount of heat. So not to worry folks, the bulb isn't a nightmarish, dangling fireball in disguise.

Again, the Wooden Light Bulb is still in the prototype stages, although according to Fukusada's website it's being further developed so perhaps someday you'll be able to own one yourself (I can picture Starbucks stores snatching these up by the truckload).

Personal desk lamps are a great way to customize your workspace and give your eyes a rest―when they work. But once those taken-for-granted bulbs go out, workers are left temporarily squinting in the dull haze of overhead fluorescents.

Designer Jake Dyson, son of famed industrial designer James Dyson, has a solution: a superlamp. These $899 CSYS lamps redirect damaging heat away from the LED bulbs so they last 160,000 hours, or about 37 years if used 12 hours per day, he says. (We sadly don’t have time to put this claim to the test.) The arm glides up and down along the neck, as well as back and forth, and can also spin around. It stays in position when released. The light is dimmable, and moving it up and down adjusts the spread of the light.

“CSYS technology was designed to address these problems in existing LEDs―poor heat management, weak light distribution, color erosion, and the lack of a comfortable shade of warm white,” Dyson says in a press release.

These delightful garden accessories are very simple and extremely easy to use. Shaped like a garden stake with a plastic dragonfly figure on top, these lights are powered by a solar panel. In some versions of the product, the solar panel is attached to the rod, while in others its connected by a cord, allowing the panel to be in the sun even though the shrub or pot might be in the shade. The panel gathers sunlight throughout the day, charging the tiny LEDs located inside the dragonfly. Once charged, the LED bulbs glow up to 10 hours. It comes complete with an automatic sensor that turns on the light at night, although you can also use the normal on-off switch.

As noted in this review, the solar dragonfly lights can also be used as tree or bush decorations during the holiday season. Simply wrap or hang them from branches for a whimsical light show that will rival the power-sucking string lights used by your neighbors. Now all you have to do is pair them with this solar-powered rainwater irrigation system or this wind-powered composter, and you’ll have a complete off-grid garden!

Mix on Wheels makes music a moving experience

2012-05-30 10:42:25 | Led flashlight
When Erin Cook, an Orlando-based event manager, planned a pharmaceutical-company corporate meeting in South Florida, she had a surprise in store.

A shiny, blue Honda Element sat in the group's general meeting room. Dance music pulsated from speakers, as blue and white LED lights flashed in time to the music.

The SUV's scissor doors opened, and the company's regional director stepped out. The hatch opened to reveal a self-contained DJ booth, bass thumping. The pharmaceutical reps loved it.

Orlando-based Mix on Wheels created by Charles Miles, provides its fleet of self-described "mobile entertainment vehicles" to clients across Florida for a music-and-light show complete with a live DJ. Nobody in the Orlando area, at least, offers anything quite like it.

Miles, who started spinning records in high school, got the idea for Mix on Wheels while working as a DJ with Disney's Grad Nite program. He said he had seen vehicles haul trailers converted to entertainment spaces and decided to "take it to the next level."

Miles created "Mix on Wheels" in March 2008 with a customized, white Hummer H3. His fleet has since grown to include the Element and a Mini Cooper, and Miles estimated that he has spent about $30,000 on each car's customization. None of the cars require an external power source, meaning they can be used indoors or outdoors. The company has about eight DJs that help operate the vehicles.

Rates for Mix on Wheels start between $950 to $2,250 for a minimum three hours of service.

Scott Ferguson, an event stage manager at Disney Entertainment Group, said he often has used Mix on Wheels for events at Disney-owned properties.

Ferguson said he appreciates the company's versatility. Mix on Wheels vehicles can showcase company brands on displayed TV screens.

Ferguson recounted a Pixar-themed party at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club resort, where he used the Hummer as a centerpiece. Characters from "Up," "Toy Story," "The Incredibles" and "Monsters Inc." lined the room, and the party boasted a replica of the house from "Up."

"But when you've got that [Hummer] going, the chromes gleaming and the music pumping … People started taking pictures with the Hummer before the characters," Ferguson said, chuckling.

Miles added, "That's the ultimate high ― people having fun and enjoying what you do. I get paid to party."

Cook said she appreciates that Mix on Wheels is self-contained.

"So when I have them come out for an event, I'm not having to worry about power and lighting and all this extra stuff that you usually have to worry about when you hire a DJ or other entertainment," Cook said.

Kentucky State Parks Begins Energy Retrofit of Nine Western Kentucky Parks

2012-05-29 10:38:42 | Magicshine Diving to
Kentucky’s state parks system is two months into a major energy savings project at nine of its parks. The project is part of Governor Steve Beshear’s Initiative for Smart Government, which is designed to reduce government waste.

Kentucky State Parks began its energy savings initiative by focusing on energy consumption in nine of the resort parks in Western Kentucky. Commissioner Elaine Walker says the improvements run the gamut, from replacing inefficient light bulbs to installing low-flow toilets and showers to using solar panel to heat swimming pools.

“So it’s a broad scope of a project, but we’re very excited about it because not only will it reduce our energy footprint, but ultimately it will save the parks and the taxpayers money,” she said.

Walker says by the time the nine initial parks are finished, reduced carbon dioxide emissions will be the equivalent of removing 1,400 cars from the road a year.

“And so that’s a pretty substantial part of Parks footprint that we’re going to address,” she said. “So not only are we going to be breathing cleaner air, we’re going to be using less energy and saving money in the long run.”

The energy upgrades to these first nine parks will cost about $10.4 million. The contractor has estimated energy savings of at least $1 million dollars a year, but Walker says she thinks the actual savings will be even greater.

Soon enough, the people, too, were enjoying the bitter drink the tree produced, with many ascribing to it divine properties. It was used during sacred ceremonies, while the plant's beans soon became a popular form of currency.

After several thousand years, European explorers discovered the drink, but found it too bitter for their liking. However, in the early 16th century, Hernando Cortez, who had previously described the concoction as a "bitter drink for pigs," discovered that its harsh taste could be tamed with a little - or a lot of - sugar.

Europeans soon took to this sweetened form of the drink, and they discovered that the plant's beans, properly sweetened, could also be used to make irresistible food. And then in 1753, legendary Swedish taxonomist Carl Linnaeus gave it its scientific name, the name by which we still know it today: Theo-broma, meaning, literally, the "food of the gods." More specifically, the tree was called theobroma cacao. And the letters of that second word offer a broad hint what the fuss is all about: Cocoa, or chocolate, a food and drink that many of us consider divine, even if we no longer believe that it was literally delivered to us by the gods.

And now medical science is finding that chocolate's effects are worthy of conferring on it divine status. It's been known for some time, for example, that cocoa and dark chocolate are extremely high in antioxidants, far higher than most fruits and vegetables.

These antioxidants, along with anti-inflammatory properties, suggest that dark chocolate is important for heart health, and scientific studies have found that it can apparently reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow.

BMW 7 Series gets new engines and options for 2013

2012-05-28 10:21:43 | LED diving flashligh
As BMW’s flagship, the 7 Series sedan needs to be at the forefront of technology in order to stay competitive. That is why BMW is giving its biggest sedan an update for the 2013 model year. The new 7 Series may look the same as the old one, but under the skin there are some significant changes.

On the outside, BMW says the 7 Series has a new grille and front fascia, but the changes are hard to notice. LED adaptive headlights are now an option; HID lights are standard.

The real changes are under the hood, where BMW tried to improve each of the 7 Series’ engines. The V8-powered 750i and 750Li (long wheelbase) get a revised twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter engine. The new power plant makes 445 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque, an improvement over the 2012’s 400 hp and 450 lb-ft. BMW claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a 25 percent fuel economy improvement on the EU test cycle (EPA ratings are not available yet).

The 2013 ActiveHybrid 7 gets a completely new gasoline engine. The 4.4-liter V8 will be replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six. Total system output is 349 hp. That is a significant drop from the 2012 model, which had 455 combined horsepower, allowing it to go from zero to 60 faster than a non-hybrid 7 Series (4.5 seconds, to be precise). BMW says the 2013 ActiveHybrid 7 will hit 60 in 5.5 seconds.

Hybrids are about fuel economy, though. According to BMW, that will improve the 2012 model’s 17/24 mpg city/highway by 14 percent, which might be enough for some buyers to excuse a lost second in the 0-60 sprint.

At the bottom of the lineup, the 740i and 740Li get the same inline-six used in last year’s model and this year’s hybrid. They do gain stop-start capability, as do the V8 models. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 760Li’s V12 carries over unchanged, retaining its 535 hp and 550 lb-ft.

BMW will try to give all 7 Series customers a more comfortable ride by making rear air suspension standard on all models. All 7 Series models will also be available with Dynamic Damper Control, which can independently adjust the shock absorbers.

Rounding out the changes are simulated floating rear monitors for the iDrive control system, a 3D navigation display, and a new Bang & Olufsen sound system.

BMW did not say whether prices for the 2013 7 Series would change, but 2012 models start at $71,895 for a short wheelbase 740i, and climb to over $140,000 for a loaded 760Li. The 2013 7 Series goes on sale this summer, except the ActiveHybrid 7, which arrives in the fall.

Authentic French cuisine in Saigon

2012-05-25 10:31:44 | crystal light
French cuisine seems very popular in Ho Chi Minh City judging from the many restaurants that are constantly springing up.

But to enjoy authentic French food in a luxurious setting, gourmets should look no further than L'Olivier Restaurant at the Sofitel Plaza Saigon Hotel, District 1, which deservedly enjoys the reputation of being among the best in town.

L'Olivier has rustic limestone walls, a modern lighting system, and, redolent of southern France and the Mediterranean many trees, some as tall as three meters.

The restaurant is divided into four parts: the main dining area, a terrace for those who enjoy eating outdoors, a spacious and well-lit garden, and two private dining areas for business meetings and family get-togethers.

The restaurant has brought together many outstanding chefs from Europe, especially France, including executive chef Tjaco van Eijken, who has been working in the food industry for more than 18 years.

He began as a junior sous chef at the 2-Michelin-star “La Rive” Restaurant in the Netherlands. Then, he joined Sofitel Demeure Hotel Castille in Paris where he became chef de cuisine at its Michelin-star fine dining restaurant Il Cortile.

After that he was executive chef for the Hotel InterContinental in Hongkong and the Sofitel Brussels Le Louise. After discovering an interest in Asian cuisine, he found Vietnam to be the place to undertake his new culinary adventure.

At L'Olivier he has designed a new à la carte menu with a Mediterranean touch featuring a selection of dishes to accommodate both the fast-paced business crowd and relaxed leisure guests.

The menu consists of authentic Mediterranean cuisines such as French, Italian, Spanish, and Moroccan.

It features starters like ravioli of crab and arugula, crispy vegetables, mixed herbs; custard of Parisian mushrooms served with watercress jus; and fried frog legs with snail butter. Then there is the irresistible roasted green asparagus with aged Parmesan cheese and balsamic reduction, supposed to be a delicacy in the new menu.

For the main course, the chef offers many different dishes to please all palates - such as tajine of poultry, green olives and lemon confit with couscous garnish from Morocco and roasted fillet of veal with creamy bacon, porcini, and potato gnocchi from Italy. The slow-cooked beef cheek, Provencal jus, and waffle potatoes comes highly recommended.

Last but not least is the array of mouth-watering desserts like cheeses, fruits, and chocolates. Customers are recommended to try some signature dishes such as exotic fruit with shiso jelly, yoghurt waffle potatoes sorbet, and crispy mango; and caramelized raspberries and strawberries, white chocolate dome, and orange sorbet.

It has had more than 12 Michelin Star chefs so far, including Jean-Baptiste Natali from Hostellerie de la Montagne Restaurant in Colombey les deux Eglises (Champagne), Ulrich Heimann from Le Ciel in Berchtesgaden (Germany), and, most recently, Gilles Reinhardt from Maison Paul Bocuse in Collonges (Lyon).