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Archives for December 7, 2014

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Guide: 5 Pro Tips

Bazooka That Petuniaplants vs zombies

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare brings a whole host of exciting and explosive attacks to Popcap’s long-lived franchise. They come in a wide variety of different flavors, ranging from the Zombie Foot Soldier’s ZPG to the Peashooter’s Chili Bean Bomb, and everything in-between. What they sometimes lack in accuracy however, they more than make up for in strength. A well placed Chili Bean Bomb can decimate a throng of Zombies around a garden. Lining up a Rocket Launcher shot can wipe out that pesky Cactus which has been shooting you for the whole game. The trick is to use them wisely.

Dealing large amounts of damage in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is almost always going to give you a fighting chance, so don’t forget the opportunity is there. Use it. Heck, even the Allstar’s Imp Punt is a worthy opponent to whatever your foes can throw at you. Line them up correctly, and you’ll be swimming in points, zombie blood/chlorophyll, and currency to unlock even more crazy character types. Drop Potato Mines behind you while running as a Cactus to whittle your opponents down to meat chunks and accurately throw the Scientist’s Sticky Exploding Balls to ensure victory.

If you’re on the receiving end of these explosive game-enders though, don’t worry. Every single one is fairly easy to spot and avoid. Potato Mines stick their little antenna out of the ground, Chili Bean Bombs make a distinctive squeal before exploding, Rockets let off plenty of smoke when they’re en-route to your face, and even the punted imps can be spotted a mile away. Keep your eyes peeled to increase your survival by a matter of seconds at least. It only takes a moment to royally screw-up the plans of your enemies in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Article source: http://www.twinfinite.net/2014/12/07/plants-vs-zombies-garden-warfare-guide-5-pro-tips/

3 brilliant ideas for giving urban streetscapes a modern facelift

As part of a broader vision to make cities smart, connected and environmentally sustainable, innovators are working on creative ideas to update the urban streetscape — think trash cans, street lamps, bicycle counters, bus stops and parking garages — for today’s digital lifestyle. Case in point: a new plan from New York City announced this month to transform the city’s outdated pay phone booths into a citywide network of 10,000 futuristic pillars that will give New York City residents and tourists free, superfast and reliable Wi-Fi coverage.

1. New York City’s Wi-Fi pillars

The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation has partnered with a consortium of tech companies known as CityBridge to radically transform the city’s streetscape. By the end of 2015, CityBridge plans to replace the city’s outdated public pay phones with 400 super-thin Wi-Fi “Links” capable of delivering Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds to New Yorkers. And within a few years, that number could reach as high as 10,000 Wi-Fi “Links” located throughout the five boroughs, including many in residential neighborhoods.

According to CityBridge, each “Link” will also offer residents the ability to charge digital devices, look up directions on touch screens, and provide civic feedback on specific issues. New Yorkers will also be able to make free phone calls anywhere within the United States. And best of all, these Wi-Fi “Links” won’t cost city taxpayers a dime — the plan is to serve up ads on the Wi-Fi pillars, transforming citywide Wi-Fi into a free municipal service subsidized by advertising sponsors. Over the first 12 years of operation, says CityBridge, this network will generate over $500 million in advertising-related revenue.

2. Boston’s device-charging park benches

In a first-of-its-kind rollout, Boston is now experimenting with a new form of mobile experience: a dozen solar-powered park benches placed in select parks, playgrounds and sports fields throughout the city. By converting this solar power into electricity, these “Soofas” offer charging capabilities for multiple digital device owners, making them a social experience for mobile users as much as a technological experience. This “smart urban furniture” idea, which originally started as a project by the MIT Media Lab before being spun off as the company Changing Environments, is so creative that it was even featured at this year’s White House Maker Faire in June.

Eventually, say the three co-founders of Changing Environments, the plan is to expand the network of Soofas to build a smart energy infrastructure that collects urban data and informs citizens and city planners about everything from air quality to noise level by connecting to the Internet. In a statement about the launch of Soofas, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh pointed to the potential of smart benches for Boston: “Your cellphone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?”

3. Singapore’s supertrees and Israel’s eTrees

In Singapore, the vision for the city of tomorrow extends beyond just physical objects found on urban streets. Singapore has been experimenting with innovative ways to update the look and feel of the city that fully integrates technology with the surrounding natural environment. In June 2012, for example, the city launched its “supertrees” — a set of 18 man-made, 164-foot-high trees that are capable of absorbing and dispersing heat, collecting rainwater and generating solar power. The “supertrees” themselves contain vertical gardens and at night, they even light up with digital displays. For now, these trees are part of the vast Gardens by the Bay landscaping project, but it’s easy to see how similar types of supertrees might become stand-alone objects beautifying grim urban streets while simultaneously functioning as nodes of urban sensor networks.

The next step, of course, is to connect all those man-made trees to the Internet. As a preview of what might happen in the future, Israeli company Sologic announced in late October the launch of “solar-powered trees,” in which the “leaves” of the tree are actually solar panels that provide energy for Wi-Fi connections, while the “trunk” of the tree contains outlets for electric-powered and USB devices. You can literally surf the Internet while connected to these eTrees. This concept, of course, is still in the experimental stage, but according to Sologic, both France and China are considering potential acquisitions of these solar-powered trees, each of which costs $100,000. The eTree was invented and developed by solar energy expert Michael Lasry and designed in collaboration with artist Yoav Ben Dov.

These three ideas hint at the vast potential of transforming outdated urban infrastructure into smart, connected networks. Giving urban streetscapes a facelift is just the start. New “smart city” innovations promise to improve urban lives in tangible ways via cost savings, new ways to empower citizens and new types of apps and services offered to city dwellers. Across the world, the race is on to become a model “smart city.” And now with the Internet of Things, those cities might become smarter than ever.

Article source: https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20141206/business/141209142/

faena forum by OMA to open in miami beach in december 2015

faena forum by OMA to open in miami beach in december 2015original content


faena forum by OMA to open in miami beach in december 2015
image courtesy of faena/OMA

 

 

 

it has been announced that ‘faena forum‘, a groundbreaking new center for arts and culture designed by rem koolhaas of OMA, is to open in miami beach in december 2015. the 50,000 square foot institution will be dedicated to the development of cross-disciplinary cultural programing, intended to encourage collaborations across artistic, intellectual, and geographic divides.

 

‘faena forum’, which is currently under construction, has been designed as a series of flexible spaces, capable of showcasing new projects, commissions and performances. the structure is divided into two distinct volumes, taking the form of both a cylinder and a cube. the cylinder is an open, soaring void rising 40 feet to a dome that features a central glazed oculus. encircling the perimeter of this volume, a walkway spirals upwards from street level, presenting a range of different perspectives. the adjacent cube features two large interlocking spaces, while the dome can be combined or subdivided to accommodate a range of installations and performative productions.

faena forum arts center oma rem koolhaas miami beach designboom
spiral balcony overlooking the assembly hall of the ‘faena forum’
image courtesy of faena/OMA

 

 

 

launched during art basel miami beach 2014, ‘faena forum’ forms part of a larger cultural development that is the brainchild of argentine hotelier and real estate developer alan faena. the large-scale project also includes ‘faena park’ and ‘marina and bazaar’,  two structures also designed by OMA, while the entirety of the new district will be framed by the lush landscaping of raymond jungles.

 

faena forum has been designed to radiate art and ideas into the community and throughout the city,’ noted mr. faena. ‘it is a new kind of cultural enterprise, one that encourages thinkers and practitioners from across a range of disciplines – the arts, sciences, technology and urbanism – to collaborate and creatively collide in ways that push their practices and produce new works, new experiences, and new ideas.’

faena forum arts center oma rem koolhaas miami beach designboom
frontal view of the building viewed from collins avenue
image courtesy of faena/OMA

 

 

 

OMA‘s partner-in-charge, shohei shigematsu commented: culture is at the core of faena’s vision, and has been the driving force for our collaboration in miami beach. by curating their neighborhood with programmatic diversity, alan’s sphere of influence will likely extend beyond this development to the rest of miami beach.’

 

the development of the project’s mission and program is being spearheaded by its executive director, ximena caminos, who is also the executive director of faena art buenos aires. ms. caminos has also announced the formation of the faena circle, an advisory committee that will collaborate with her on shaping the new center’s vision and programming. the faena circle includes:

 

carlos basualdo, senior curator of contemporary art, philadelphia museum of art, who will serve as the group’s chair
caroline bourgeois, curator of the pinault collection
philippe parreno, artist
alex poots, manchester international festival park avenue armory (to 2015), culture shed (from 2015)

faena forum arts center oma rem koolhaas miami beach designboom
the rear of the structure viewed from indian creek
image courtesy of faena/OMA

 

 

 

art institutions in the 21st century need to serve as catalysts that spark new forms of cultural production that transcend artistic mediums and disciplines,’ explained ms. caminos. ‘faena forum has therefore been conceived as a polyphonic space that will connect the experimental and the popular and allow for a range of voices and visions to take form and, in turn, inform new dialogues within miami, among the americas, and globally.’

 

see designboom‘s previous coverage of the development here.

faena forum arts center oma rem koolhaas miami beach designboom
aerial view of the faena district in miami beach
image courtesy of faena/OMA

 

 

faena collaboratory – rem koolhaas / OMA
video courtesy of faena

Article source: http://www.designboom.com/architecture/faena-forum-arts-center-oma-rem-koolhaas-miami-beach-12-05-2014/

Gardening: Gifts for gardeners, this generation and next – Richmond Times

Gardening

Gardening

Plow Hearth

Plow Hearth’s yard ornaments and colorful spinners double as conversation pieces and art.

Gardening

Gardening

Wild Birds Unlimited

Seed Characters from Wild Birds

Gardening

Gardening

Who could resist this family of stone owls, available at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden?

Gardening

Gardening

Start a new sight-and-sound tradition: plush birds from the Audubon collection in the Garden Shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Gardening

Gardening

Japanese-crafted gardening tools endure season after season.

Gardening

Gardening

Spice up the landscape with trendy garden stakes.

Gardening

Gardening

Water, a welcome addition to any landscape, takes many forms in the multi-style, multi-size fountains available at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Gardening

Gardening

Prepare for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships with books and remembrances from the garden shop at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Gardening

Gardening

Raw honey, produced by bees at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, is sweet to give and receive.

Gardening

Gardening

Hobby Lobby’s plant kits make fascinating indoor gardening projects.



Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2014 10:30 pm

Gardening: Gifts for gardeners, this generation and next

By LYNN JACKSON KIRK
Special correspondent

Richmond Times-Dispatch

No more gardening gloves. Not another pack of floral cocktail napkins. And please, no gaudy dragonfly tie.

This year, why not wow your favorite gardeners and naturalists with holiday remembrances as special as they are? If youngsters are on your list, how about presents that nurture respect for the great outdoors?

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Gardening QA with Richard Nunnally

Q: What kinds of plants would you suggest for gifts?

Lynn Jackson Kirk is public relations writer for Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

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Article source: http://www.timesdispatch.com/entertainment-life/home-garden/gardening-gifts-for-gardeners-this-generation-and-next/article_db731411-dcf0-50f1-a3f7-90daf4997dba.html

Neighbors in The Woodlands compete to conserve water

Sara Bissig uses a special barrel to collect rainwater for outdoor use at her home in the Grogans Mill village of The Woodlands. Photo: Billy Smith II, Staff / © 2014 Houston Chronicle

Robert Leilich isn’t going to water his lawn or his garden over the winter, and now a blue-and-white sign in front of the bushes and pine trees of his home in The Woodlands is broadcasting his pledge, maybe nudging his neighbors in a similar direction.

Article source: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/neighborhood/woodlands/news/article/Neighbors-in-The-Woodlands-compete-to-conserve-5938671.php

Harvesting rainwater

Heavy rain floods the midtown street where Ronni and Roland Kotwica live, causing water to lap close to the front door.

“We get inundated with water,” Ronni Kotwica explains. Two years ago they laid sandbags in front of their house and “we actually had water into the sandbags.”

She hopes Catlow Shipek can help solve the flooding problem, caused by water running down the street, while giving ideas on what to do with their bare front yard.

Shipek is co-founder and senior program manager at Watershed Management Group. He leads a team of landscape consultants and designers who help people harvest rainwater.

Watershed Management Group (WMG) is a nonprofit organization that organizes and educates people who then create water-harvesting systems at their homes and in their neighborhoods.

Watershed Management’s nearly 2-year-old consultation service grew out of those cooperative efforts.

“The cooperative programs really focused on getting a project done,” says Shipek. “We were finding that (people) didn’t know where to start. They wanted to take a step back and have a master plan or list of opportunities and then move forward.”

The on-site consultations give homeowners ideas on earthworks and systems for rainwater harvesting and storage that will address their specific situation.

Consultations also include suggestions for gray-water irrigation, appropriate plant selection and food production systems.

“We really focus on the water resources and how to have a productive landscape that is in balance with onsite resources,” says Shipek.

In the case of the Kotwicas, the primary concern was reducing flooding of their front yard while using the rainwater to irrigate plants.

Currently, the yard has a citrus tree and a ruellia growing in the same spot.

The ground is flat and covered in gravel and rock. The yard is surrounded by a block fence, which the Kotwicas recently installed to divert rainwater runoff from the street.

Ronni Kotwica already is familiar with water harvesting because of Watershed Management Group projects for the Palo Verde Neighborhood Association, of which she is president. Because of that, Shipek did not go through his typical explanation of passive earthworks that collect water directly to the ground and active systems of using gutters to guide water from the roof into tanks.

Instead, he focused on how to handle the two types of water flow through the yard.

“Small storms are your irrigation events,” he says. “Big storms you want to get through your landscape.”

Creating basins beyond the fence in the public right-of-way will capture water before it gets into the yard, he told Kotwica. Small trees such as kidneywood or acacia in those basins will get irrigated and won’t grow so tall that they reach the overhead utility wires.

He suggested basins in the front yard, too. That would minimize flooding and the collected water would irrigate the mature mesquite and palo brea, also known as Sonoran palo verde, that the Kotwicas want to plant.

Dirt from those basins can be used to raise the grade of the ground along the house, guiding water away from the foundation and into the basins.

He recommended a tank to collect water from the front part of the roof. A hose from the tank would lead to the citrus tree, giving it a dedicated irrigation line.

Shipek made several other recommendations for earthworks, storage tanks and plantings on the side and back yards, which also are mostly bare dirt.

After the consultation, Kotwica says she felt Shipek helped her make some decisions about the right way to proceed. “He gave us some ideas about what specific trees would be good there,” she says.

The couple will hold off on working on the side and back yards for now, she says, but will “absolutely” follow some of his suggestions.

For now, the focus is up front. “First I have to pull up the rock, gravel and sand because under that is black plastic,” she says.

“A soon as we start getting rains in the winter, I’ll be out there digging. By spring maybe we can start to plant some trees.”

Article source: http://tucson.com/entertainment/outdoors/harvesting-rainwater/article_a9a39a45-bd81-512b-b1b1-ecbfce8056ce.html

Rose disease threatens DFW landscapes


Southlake has a $500,000 thorn in its side.

The city estimates it will cost that much to remove and replace about 5,400 rose bushes along medians and public parks because of an outbreak of rose rosette disease, which mutilates and then kills the flowers within a few years.

Rose rosette is spread by microscopic mites carried by the wind. When Southlake resident and gardener Diana Pospisil identified the disease in her roses she noticed that the city’s flowers were infected as well. Once infected, the plant’s leaves and twigs become a bright, red color and may be distorted. Infected plants can also grow so many thorns that sometimes the stem is not visible.

Experts say the only way to get rid of the disease is to dig up each infected plant, down to its roots.

Steve Chaney, home horticulturist for the Texas AM Agrilife Extension in Tarrant County, said the disease became more prevalent in North Texas in early 2012. He said that Tarrant County is seeing more cases of the disease than in Dallas and Denton counties, especially in Northeast Tarrant cities like Southlake, Grapevine and Colleyville.

The disease was first reported in East Texas in 1990, according to AM Agrilife.

“We have a lot of research to go along with it,” said Chaney. “Hopefully at some point we’ll come along with something to treat it.”

Pospisil, a member of the Perennial Garden Society Southlake chapter, said she has tried so-called “cures” online, but eventually removed 13 of her rose bushes. She said she has about 40 left.

“It’s such a great plant, but once they’re infected, boy you have to take them out,” Pospisil said.

Candice Edmondson, Southlake‘s community services deputy director, said the city will replace its roses with drought-tolerant plants, shrubs and dwarf crape myrtles.

The city began removing infected roses earlier this year on the Southlake Boulevard median and at several parks and plans to finish the removal and replacement by the end of 2016. Bicentennial Park still houses several of the infected roses.

The removal and replacement process is what will cost $500,000, said Community Services Director Chris Tribble.

This year the city budgeted $50,000 to begin replacing some of the infected roses.

“We’re at a mode where we are trimming and treating and hoping that the roses will survive as long as they can,” Tribble said. “When we get to the point where they die, that’s where the $500,000 comes in.”

Botanical roses infected

Chaney said with the incoming winter season should slow the disease’s spread. He added that he does expect its presence to increase if infected roses are not removed.

Chaney suggests that gardeners avoid using only roses for landscaping.

“Where we see the biggest damage is a large conglomeration of roses planted,” he said. “Roses are an integral part of the landscape, but just be aware that it’s out there and if you’re going to plant them, plant them more singularly.”

Planting roses more singularly is not an option for Steve Huddleston, senior horticulturist at the Fort Worth Botanical Garden, which is home to the nationally recognized Oval Rose Garden. Workers have been replacing infected roses in that garden since 2012.

“We’re treating our roses like annuals,” Huddleston said. “As soon as they get the disease we dig them up, discard them and replace.”

Huddleston said the garden has about 1,500 rose bushes, but staff has not kept count of how many of them needed to be replaced. He said 2013 was a bad year for the roses and they had to replace about 60 percent of the bushes.

Still popular with gardeners

Steve McCoy, a horticulturist at Fort Worth-based Archie’s Gardenland, estimates he’s spoken with 20 to 30 customers this year whose gardens have rose rosette disease compared to five customers in 2013. While there are more customers experiencing it, he added that’s still a small figure compared to the amount of people with roses.

“People are still buying them like crazy,” McCoy said. “We have some variety of roses that will sell out in a few weeks; it has not slowed down.”

Ed Tavender, nursery manager at Fossil Creek Tree Farm and Nursery in north Fort Worth, said he has spoken to one customer this year who had identifiable rose rosette. He said he stresses to customers the importance of preventative care.

Edmondson said she is hopeful that roses will return in a robust way to Southlake’s public spaces.

“Our hope is that a treatment will be developed that can protect roses from this disease,” Edmondson said.

Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770 Twitter: @dustindangli


Article source: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/12/06/6345682/rose-disease-threatens-dfw-landscapes.html