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A Plastic Pollution Solution: The Ocean Cleanup Story

Posted by cfeehan on August 19, 2015

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Most 21-year-olds’ biggest concerns include deciding when they’re going to schedule a second nap into their day, which Instagram filter makes them look best, or, if they’re one of the good ones, getting an essay handed in on time. But Boyan Slat, Dutch inventor and environmentalist of the same age, has much more important things to worry about.

He was interested in the environment from a young age, and after a brief stint in university, he took a break to pursue an invention designed to rid the ocean of plastic waste, as plastic ocean pollution causes the world many problems. He founded The Ocean Cleanup in 2013 and raised $80,000 in crowdfunding money in only 15 days, which is when he discovered that other people believed in his project as much as he did. 

His idea was to use long, stationary, floating barriers along with the natural movement of the ocean currents, called gyres, to passively collect the plastic. Why go to the debris if it could more easily come to you?

He did extensive research after designing his barrier and found that most plastics can be found within the top 3 meters of ocean water, which meant that his design was practical. The carbon footprint would be low, the barrier would be resilient in up to 95% of weather conditions and adaptable in the other 5% and no nets would be used, so sea life entanglement would be nearly impossible.

Boyan and his team collected half a ton of plastic from the Hawaiian shoreline and found that the discarded plastic could be turned into oil, and was just as suitable as normal waste plastic. He learned that a single, 100 km array deployed for 10 years would remove 42% of the plastic in the North Pacific garbage patch. The cost to remove the plastic would work out to be around $6 per kilo, which is 33 times cheaper than conventional methods. So Boyan started up a second crowdfunding campaign in order to conduct more research, this time to raise $2 million, and his goal was met in 100 days with funding from over 38,000 funders from 160 countries. That’s a lot of support.

Now, some of this money is being put into action; on July 23rd, 2015, a monumental step in his plan was executed. The 171 ft research vessel ‘’Ocean Starr’’ departed from San Francisco, marking the official start of what Boyan and his team call the “Mega Expedition”. It will be the largest research expedition in history, in which up to 50 vessels will collect more plastic measurements in three weeks than have been collected in the past 40 years combined. These vessels will cover a 3,500,000 km2 area between Hawaii and California, creating the first high- resolution map of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. You can even go online and track the expedition live here!

Boyan Slat has been recognized as one of the 20 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs Worldwide and was crowned 2014 Champion of the Earth, the United Nations' highest environmental accolade. In 2015, HM King Harald of Norway awarded Boyan the maritime industry's Young Entrepreneur Award. I once got a participation ribbon in soccer…that’s still pretty good, right? Man, this guy is a superstar.

Make sure to keep up with the Boyan and his team by following The Ocean Cleanup on Twitter or Facebook – this is one story you won’t want to miss. 

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Little Boy: Halfway Between Heartwarming and Heartbreaking

Posted by cfeehan on August 17, 2015

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Little Boy is a tale of faith, family and unlikely friendship in so pure a sense that it could have only been told through a child’s eyes. Rarely does a movie about war strike a perfect balance between emotions but Little Boy surprisingly manages to do so. 

The movie begins by establishing adorable 8-year-old Pepper Busbee’s very close relationship with his father, (Michael Rapaport), as well as his distinguishing characteristic – he is extremely short for his age, which earns him the nickname “Little Boy” in his small town. The movie takes place at the beginning of the World War II, and since Pepper’s brother (David Henrie) is unable to enlist, his dad must go instead. Pepper is crushed when his hero has to leave.

The plot thickens when Pepper goes to a magic show where the magician calls him up on stage and convinces him that he has super powers. From then on, Pepper tries to use his “powers”, along with the completion of a list of good deeds given to him by his priest, to bring his father back from war. Along the way, he befriends a harshly misjudged Japanese man named Mr. Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), who is a victim of severe racial oppression within the town.

I really wasn’t sure what to think of this movie going into it based on the theatricalities of the trailer and the fact that Paul Blart: Mall Cop was scheduled to make an appearance (Kevin James appears in a cameo as a doctor), but thankfully, it was much more toned down than I had imagined. It was charming to watch the friendless Pepper get over his engrained beliefs about Hashimoto and begin to genuinely bond with him. This element of the film offers a really nice whimsical balance to the sadness of his dad being away at war. As he crosses the good deeds off his list, we watch Pepper grow up and become less naïve, and more comfortable in his own skin. He faces many trials, but the whole time, I was really rooting for the kid. I think I wanted to believe in him as much as he wanted to believe in himself, which was wholeheartedly, to say the least.

The style of the film was reminiscent of holiday classic A Christmas Story at times, with the young boy’s older inner voice providing a voice-over throughout the movie and his imagination conjuring up some wildly fantastical scenes. I’m sure some would say this was cheesy but hey, I liked A Christmas Story, so I liked the use of the style in this film as well.Little_Boy_Header.jpg

I had never seen the little boy who played Pepper, Jakob Salvati, in anything before, and I have to say that he did a really good job. He was honest and innocent, and I couldn’t handle it when he cried. He was too convincing! Don’t worry little Jakob, your dad/best friend in the whole world isn’t REALLY going off to war! I wanted to give him a hug every time he was sad, and I wanted to be there celebrating with him every time he triumphed. The relationship he had with the dad was heartwarming, and the way he idolized him was believable.

His mom was also a great crier, so I guess it runs in the family (just kidding).  Beyond that, though, she was a great actress, and played an emotional but supportive mother perfectly. She was played by Emily Watson, who you may know from Angela’s Ashes or Punch-Drunk Love.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. I thought that it walked a fine line between comedy and drama, with a moderate dose of tear-jerker thrown in. Pepper was adorable, the plot development was moving and sweet, and the supporting actors did a great job. I would recommend this movie if you feel like being inspired, feeling warm and fuzzy inside, and maybe crying a little if you’re a bit on the sensitive side.

You can find Little Boy on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from August 18th to December 17th, 2015.

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


7 Addictive Mobile Games You've Gotta Try

Posted by cirvine on August 14, 2015

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It’s hard to say what exactly makes a game addictive. What keeps us coming back can range from a simple need to get to the next level, to completing a collection of in-game treasures. In either case, the addictive quality of a game can be ruined entirely by complicated gameplay or mucky design. These two “behind-the-scenes” aspects can be just as important as the game itself. I’ve tried out a few different addictive mobile games and come up with a list of my favourites, keeping in mind both the fun and fun-ction. Try them for yourself, but don’t blame me if you can’t stop playing!

TwoDots (iOS & Android)

TwoDots is the sequel to the uber-successful Dots, which was downloaded more than 1 million times within the first week of its release. Two Dots has also seen great success, and was given the People’s Choice Award for Best Game on handheld devices for the 2015 Webby Awards. Like its predecessor, TwoDots takes the simple idea of connecting-the-dots, and amplifies it with a certain number of lives, objectives, and power-ups.  The simplicity, mixed with these spicy little goodies, is what makes it addictive. It carries this concept over to its design as well—it’s simplistic, flat interface is so clean and iPhone-esque that it begs to be played by all ages and genders. It’s one of those games where you’re not sure exactly how it grabbed you, but it did, and now you can’t stop connecting those little colourful dots.


Badland (iOS & Android)

Badland is a multi-award-winning side-scroller, where you are a little black blob just trying to make its way through the dark and forbidding landscape. With a physics-based gameplay reminiscent of Little Big Planet, you tap your way through the screen, bumping into things that may make you grow bigger, shrink smaller, multiply and more. It has become a wildly popular game, played by over 20 million people worldwide. It has received sky-high ratings, and it’s easy to see why. This game couldn’t be easier to start playing. There is one control, and that is to tap the screen to keep your little blob moving. It’s the stuff he bumps into that really makes the game fun, and coupled with its beautiful design, the game hooks you right from the get go.


Terraria (iOS & Android)

Terraria takes us back to the good old days of classic 2D RPGs. Not only does it give gamers that warm and fuzzy nostalgia feeling, but it immerses them in a world where the possibilities for fun are seemingly endless. Whether you’re there to collect items, upgrade weapons and armour, dig for resources, build shelters, or just want to fight baddies, the game is yours to shape and enjoy.  This isn’t a game you’re going to get sick of quickly. Get your pickaxe and start digging!


Drop7 (iOS & Android)

Drop7 is another one of those games that is so simple, but so addictive. A mixture of Tetris and Connect-4, this game is easy to start and hard to finish. Blow up discs to get points, but do it quickly, as the rows start multiplying from the bottom up. Once the screen fills up with discs, you lose.  It’s another example of how the simplest concepts are sometimes the most fun.


Atomas (iOS & Android)

Atomas is a puzzle game that utilizes scientific elements to achieve its addictive qualities. Your job is to create valuable elements such as gold, platinum and silver, but all you have to start with is a hydrogen atom. In order to create other elements, you have to combine elements with the same atomic number. So for instance, when you combine two Lithium atoms (3), you get one Beryllium (4). Yes, I realize how boring this is sounding, but believe me, it’s not boring at all. You can only have a certain number of elements in your circle, and once your circle is filled up, you lose, so you have to choose your combos wisely and plan ahead. Finally, science is fun!


Osmos (iOS & Android)

Addictive gaming has never been this chill! Seriously, you’re not going to find another mobile game quite like this. The music and the gameplay combine into a beautiful ambiance of serenity and fun! The idea is this: you are a single-celled organism (“Mote”), looking to survive and grow. You do this by colliding into other smaller motes and absorbing them, but in order to move around, you must expel mass, so getting to those other motes comes at a price. There are also three different “zones” of levels in Osmos—Sentient, Ambient, and Force levels—each with its own sort of puzzle to solve and change of physics. Take a break from the world but beware, you might not want to come back to reality after playing this one!


Monument Valley (iOS & Android)

Okay, so I’ve saved the best for last. This game is so beautiful and so unique that it’s hard to find words to describe it! You are a tiny little princess who has somehow lost her way in an impossible land of M.C. Escher-esque architecture that you must twist and turn for her so she can make her way to the end. The juxtaposition of minimalist design with complex optical illusions is what sets this game apart. The eerie yet elegant storyline keeps you wanting more and more. Set your lighting to dim, curl up on the couch, and get your headphones on—this one is worth the money to experience!

 

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Open Your Eyes to the World of Personal Fitness Gadgets

Posted by cfeehan on August 12, 2015

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With our world becoming more and more dependent on technology, even our fitness routines are turning digital. Whether you’re looking for a typical activity tracker or one with a GPS, heart rate monitor, or built-in personal trainer (yes, they exist), your options are seemingly endless. And the gadgets only get more elaborate from there. Wristbands that track the UV index, digital forks that tell you when to eat slower, water bottles that alert you when you should be drinking more…the health and wellness industry is having a field day in the wake of society’s spike in interest in personal fitness. This blog includes a sample of some of the more practical devices you can use to help stay on top of your fitness routine, or even motivate you to start a new one!

FitBit Charge HR

If you’re looking for an all-purpose fitness tracker, this is a great option. At $179.99, this device measures steps, distance, and calories burned, as well as your sleep quality. It even measures your heart rate, which is a feature that I’ve found definitely raises the price among fitness trackers. Its design is simple, it has a comfortable rubber strap, and its small OLED display even has caller ID. It’s also very compatible with other applications, so recording food intake and specific exercises is very simple. You can set personal goals, and at any point in the day, you can check your FitBit app and take a look at your progress! I’ve personally tried out another model of FitBit tracker and I have to say, they really are pretty motivating. This device is labelled as “splash proof”, but you shouldn’t wear it in the shower or while swimming.

If you’re in the market for less expensive options from FitBit that just provide the basics, there are some available from just $69.99.

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Jawbone Up3

The Jawbone Up3 sounds like it can do pretty much everything the Charge HR can do, but with more of a personal twist. It includes something called Smart Coach, which gives you notifications throughout the day about your goals, your heart health, and general tips. Also, the Jawbone Up3 has more food-focused features: it has its own food database and barcode scanner, instead of having to manually go through a third-party app to log your food intake. This tracker doesn’t have an OLED display, however, which means no built-in watch or caller ID, and it only measures your resting heart rate once a day. It’s also labelled as splash proof so you can’t go swimming in it, but you can wear it in the shower. It goes for slightly more than the Charge HR, at $199.99.

Jawbone also has less expensive options, starting at $59.99.

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 Garmin Forerunner 15 

This fitness tracker is a bit different than the first two, in that its focus is different. While it still has the ability to be a basic activity tracker – tracking distance, heart rate and calories burnt – it has a few other features that are geared mainly toward runners. This watch also tracks the wearer’s pace, and sends them a friendly alert when they’ve completed each mile.  The big draw with this gadget is its GPS functionality. It has the ability to track your run on a map that you can see on Garmin’s online community, Garmin Connect. This is a specialized feature, but if you’re a runner who likes to see your route and your progress, this may be the tracker for you! It’s also waterproof to a depth of 50 meters, so it’s definitely fine to wear in the shower and to go swimming. It comes in at $179.99.

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Moov Now

The Moov Now activity tracker stood out from the rest in a really cool way. While it did the basic activity and sleep tracking that the others did, its main feature was very unique. It takes personal training to a whole new level with the ability to verbally coach you through exercises like running, cycling, boxing and high-intensity interval training while giving you precise data and feedback. It even tracks your movements in 3D, so it can give you advice about your form. Very cool. In the Moov app, there are more than 200 levels of exercises, so you can personalize your workout based on whether you’re a beginner or an advanced athlete. The only thing it doesn’t have is a heart monitor, which is a bit of a let-down, but it at least supports third-party monitors. It’s also waterproof, so you can wear it in the shower and for swimming. The Moov Now is set to be released in Fall 2015, and the preorder pricing on the website is only $59.99 US, which will eventually go up to $100.

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Skulpt Aim

This is the first gadget on the list that isn’t a daily activity tracker at all – in fact, I’ve never heard of anything quite like it. After moistening your skin, you press the Skulpt Aim against a particular muscle group, such as your abs, biceps, calves, or glutes, and the smartphone-sized device determines that muscle’s quality in terms of strength and definition and what percentage of fat the area is. It can accurately measure 12 different muscles and can give you a picture of your overall body-fat percentage. And with the accompanying Skulpt app, you can track your progress and tell, over time, how your muscles are improving or see how dietary changes affect your body-fat percentage. Huh. It was founded in in 2009 by a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and an electrical engineering graduate from MIT, so it sounds trustworthy enough! It comes in at around $200.

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Withings Smart Body Analyzer

The Withings Smart Body Analyzer may look like a regular bathroom scale, but it is much more than that. While it still gives you high-accuracy weight measurements, it also gives readings of your body fat measurements as well as your Body Mass Index. It’s hooked up to the free Health Mate app, which breaks down your goals into weekly targets and gives you tips and reminders. Whenever you use it, your data is automatically graphed in your app. The Smart Body Analyzer also takes your pulse every time you weigh yourself, and checks your bedroom indoor air quality through temperature and carbon dioxide measuring. The scale also provides a daily localized weather report, and can remember the stats of up to 8 people. The scale automatically recognizes who's who. This super-scale is priced at $199.

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There you go – about a billion options if you’re already a fitness buff or if you’re looking to get into shape in the near future. I hope this list helped you find a gadget that will motivate you to kickstart your routine into high gear and get moving!

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.


Staying Safe on the “Internet of Things”

Posted by cfeehan on August 7, 2015

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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a term you will probably be hearing more and more about as our cloud-based technologies develop. IoT includes smart devices with the ability to transfer data over a network without the help of humans or computers. The “thing” in question could be a person with a heart monitor implant, a smart car that connects to the internet, or a baby monitor that alerts your phone via Wi-Fi when your baby wakes up. Research from IDC predicts that the IoT will grow to encompass 212 billion devices by 2020 (source; The Bottom Line, 2015), and although this marks a huge technological advancement, it also means we have to become much smarter about how we protect ourselves and manage our devices.

Richard Morochove, president of Morochove & Associates Inc., believes that the rise of the IoT presents many security loopholes for the common “smart” device user. For example, one weakness in smartphone-controlled garage door openers is that they could let others know when your garage doors open and close. He suspects that this could be enough to let criminals know when you are and are not home, and present them with the perfect opportunity to break in. Unless we get security-savvy quickly, this could be a real possibility.

So, how do we avoid issues like this?

For Smartphones and Computers:

1. Install an anti-virus application

  • Execulink offers an AVG anti-virus application for computers. To view the pricing options, click here.
  • AVG also has an app to protect your Android smartphone. Search “AVG Anti-Virus” in Google Play to install it!

General Tips:

1. Create multiple Wi-Fi networks on the same router and give them different names and passwords. Use this capability to segregate your devices

  • Attach your IoT devices to one network, and your computers and smartphones to another network
  • This way, if a hacker cracks the password to your IoT Wi-Fi network, they won’t have access to your personal computers or phones

2. Use a long Wi-Fi password that is not easily guessable. You should choose a password with both lowercase and uppercase letters as well as at least one number

3. Always change any device’s default username and password, as these credentials are what a hacker will try first

4. Keep your firmware updated on your devices, as firmware updates often fix security issues

The internet is a delightful place full of endless resources, as long as we take the steps to keep ourselves educated and safe. Make security your top priority!

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Karen Chalmers, Marketing & Public Relations Manager


With 2 decades in the film, design, and marketing industries, I love all things creative – especially a beautiful, well-crafted font. I’m a classic triple threat, complete with talents in acting, singing, and sewing.