Saturday, 26 August 2017

VR Audio Updates

Technology is ever evolving. Nothing stays the same as it is because the technology we use today progress and newer techniques and materials are now readily available at our disposal. And these tech gadgets often mark certain eras and we can tell for sure what time period it is just by identifying the gadgets commonly used by people at that time. The 20th century is characterized by mind-blowing technologies you only dreamed about in your youth. Just the very existence of smartphones has significantly changed the landscape. Can you remember what it was like living without your handy and ever reliable personal gadget that does almost everything you can ever think of?

Then came virtual reality technology. It forever changed the way gaming works. Listening to sounds has changed a lot since its introduction. You no longer hear sound uniformly from one ear to another through conventional earphones. With the advent of VR audio, mankind has been gifted with binaural sounds – sounds that are highly similar to the sounds you hear in your surroundings in real life. You’ll notice that sounds have their own orientation and position and have an immersive nature.

While more and more VR content is being made in the full VR format, the audio industry is barely catching up with Ambisonics signals for 360 videos. Second order Ambisonics already requires a minimum of 9 channels, and higher order Ambisonics are not feasible in many cases because the network bandwidth is limited in mobile, not to mention the restrained processing power allocated for audio.

Some might argue personalized audio is the most important challenge going forward. Until capturing the exact anthropometric information requires quite a bit less resources than now, customization for each person’s ear shape and head size will remain as the last step to perfection. Luckily, four out of five people can already feel immersed in the VR scene with general binaural rendering process. What needs to be figured out in the foreseeable future is how to deliver interactive 3D audio without compromising the content quality, from creators to consumers and across multiple platforms. Once best practices are determined and a recommended workflow is set, standardizing those practices should follow to improve interoperability.


Current innovative VR audio gadgets today reflect a truly interactive environment. It helps that the sounds are equally convincing as if they are elicited in real life. Immersing yourself in an alternate reality that is similar to your natural listening experience is totally possible with these sound illusions.

In the meantime, others in the VR, music, film and gaming industries are also attempting to drive 3D audio forward. For example, Microsoft’s new Xbox One X supports 3D audio content – and the headphone manufacturer Plantronics has developed 3D audio gaming headsets. And San Diego-based Comhear Inc., has recently developed a sound projection system that can deliver 3D audio without the use of headphones.

In less than five years, 3D spatial audio is expected to revolutionize our standard for multimedia listening.  Similar to how high-definition television has enhanced the everyday viewing experience, binaural 3D sound is expected to reshape our listening experience and redefine the production of music, movies, radio, and television programming – and yes, VR, AR and mixed reality content as well.

There’s currently no blueprint for piecing together the storytelling that’s best suited for this new type of virtual medium.  As far as content goes, there is consensus about only one thing: in a virtual world, it’s all about “storydoing”, not storytelling.


The rise of virtual reality demanded audio quality that produces the same realistic-sounding sounds to complement them and deliver a truly immersive experience. In its essence, virtual reality sounds imitate the way your head hears these sounds. Many times these sounds are used to ease and soothe your senses and you can use it however you see fit now with the latest virtual reality gadgets sold in the market today. You can now enjoy a very realistic experience especially when gaming because of these VR audio gadgets that reshapes your entire virtual experience.

VR Audio Updates is courtesy of The UP Blog


Monday, 21 August 2017

Avoid Fake Meds At All Cost

We always hear the saying, “health is wealth”. We try to shrug it off while we are still young because we feel powerful and invincible but as we age, we realize our sense of mortality and that we can easily lose our life any time of the day. It is even more challenging to stay fit and healthy right now as our modern and often sedentary lifestyle aren’t exactly good for our health. We eat all the wrong foods and we barely work out. We are basically too lazy even for our own good and we end up sick with all sorts of ailments that we could have avoided if we only led a healthy and active life. And as such, we rely heavily on medicines to cure us and make us healthy again.

Another major problem is that a lot of these diseases have grown resistant to drugs and it is making treatment even more challenging. Then, there is the prevalence of fake medicines. There are just so many people with twisted minds in this world and they will do anything just to make money even at our expense. And because it is difficult at times to determine which one is genuine and which one isn’t, many people end up buying fake meds that make them even sicker instead of curing them.

In January 2012, at least 100 people died after receiving substandard medication while being treated at Lahore’s Punjab Institute of Cardiology. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. In 2008, more than half of antibiotics sampled in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia were found to be substandard. Similarly, poor-quality antimalarial medication is estimated to have cost the lives of 122,350 children under 5 years old in 39 sub-Saharan countries in 2013 alone. Falsified and substandard medicines have become a threat to public health, and risk undermining many of the gains of the last 20 years.

Governments — such as the United States, Nigeria, Myanmar and Liberia — and donors are responding to this threat by working in partnership with others to develop national capacity and ensure falsified and substandard medicines are removed from the supply chain.        

Though no reliable figures exist on the actual scale of the problem, Interpol suggests that falsified medical products, which include medicines and medical devices and equipment, could account for as much as 30 percent of the market in some countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Anti-infectives such as antimalarial medicines and antibiotics are particularly prone to falsification, given the weak regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in countries where these diseases are present. 


Fake medicines are real and it is rampant everywhere, even in progressive nations like America. It contains ingredients that are dangerous for human health such as rat poison, lead paint, floor wax, and boric acid. Can you imagine taking these items on their own if you see them under your kitchen sink? Of course not, right? But you unknowingly take them into your body when disguised as a counterfeit medicine. Unfortunately, it is so hard to distinguish what’s real and not because they almost look the same and packaged similarly.

Throughout Africa and southeast Asia, counterfeit medicine is leaving millions of sick and desperate patients in its wake. Whereas the problem is by no means confined to these two regions, they often bear the brunt of the vast majority of counterfeit medicines being circulated in the world.

These markets are flooded with fake and poor quality drugs, so much that the global counterfeit drug trade is regarded as a billion-dollar industry that thrives, mostly, in Africa.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines counterfeit medicine as “one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to identity or source”. These include both branded and generic products, which can be faked. Medicines in this category have been found to either contain the wrong dose of active ingredients or none at all, or to have a completely different ingredient.

The global health entity estimates that about 100,000 deaths a year in Africa are linked to the counterfeit drug trade. And the International Policy Network (IPN), a British think-tank, estimates that, globally, 700,000 deaths a year are caused by fake malaria and tuberculosis drugs. 


The world has become a real scary place as the years go by. Scrupulous individuals will do anything to make money even at the point of selling counterfeit drugs that they know is harmful to the health of those who end up taking it but still, they do. From branded drugs to generic ones, there are fake versions that you may accidentally buy. So, everyone should always be wary or risk endangering your health, even your life, by taking drugs that contain deadly ingredients and chemicals that ideally shouldn’t be taken by humans.

Although the government is trying to crack down these fake drugs and their manufacturers/vendors, we must still be vigilant and look out for these fake medicines that are all over the market now. Fortunately, the risk is lower in anti-snoring mouthpieces as compared to oral medicines, so sleep apnea sufferers can rest knowing they are safer in using these health tools that can give them a good night’s sleep.

The blog article Avoid Fake Meds At All Cost is available on UP


Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Sports Direct’s Dream Of Becoming “The Selfridges Of Sport”

Many changes are taking place in the world today. Society is changing, so are the needs and wants of the public. People are now obsessed with all things tech-related and you can’t blame them when the market is full of technological innovations. At times, though, not everyone can keep up with all these changes and they end up becoming irrelevant in our global world. In the world of sports, even long-time staples are having a hard time coping with many of these changes because the usual tricks of the trade no longer apply.

A big sports retailer like Sports Direct is not exempted from these challenges and they even introduce novel concepts like incorporating gym facilities in their stores to attract consumers. The company is embracing the many changes in the world of sports today and is undergoing a major transformation to stay competitive and relevant in a globally-competitive market. No longer will they be for the masses but more of a store that offers a wide-array of premium products that also focuses on trendy athletic fashion aside from sporting equipment.

"It's clear we have smashed the ball out of the park with our 'Selfridges' of sport concept," boasted Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley to financial analysts, following the release of the company's latest results.

He was talking about the retailer's efforts to drive its stores upmarket and "elevate its retail proposition".

The idea is to give more space over to branded goods and showcase their "very best products", even opening gyms in some of the flagship stores.

And on Thursday it announced a "strategic partnership" with upmarket Japanese sportswear brand Asics, whose products will be stocked in Asics-managed areas of flagship stores from next year.

Sports Direct described this as "an important step in Sports Direct's journey to being recognised as the Selfridges of sport.'"


Sport is a tight niche. Competition is tough as the public often goes after more popular brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour among others. Today, Sports Direct is giving ample space in their stores for these premium sports brands alongside other equally great labels so that consumers will even consider going inside the store.

Sports Direct had to issue a profit warning last October after a bet designed to protect itself against a slump in sterling went wrong, causing it to lose £15m in the currency markets during an overnight “flash crash” in the value of sterling in the east Asia.

Ashley told City analysts that he was now expecting a better UK performance at Sports Directs partly because the company had “smashed the ball out of the park” with its investment in more up-market flagship stores. The latest development is a new strategic partnership with Japanese footwear brand Asics, which will take space in Sports Direct’s flagship stores.

The company is also beginning to take action after being hit by a scandal over its treatment of workers after a Guardian investigation. MPs described conditions at the group’s Shirebrook warehouse as like a “Victorian workhouse”.


The market has been especially tough for sports empire, Sports Direct, as the company lost roughly 60% of its profits as of April. Not only is the fall because of the retailer’s poor performance but as well as the current state of the market these days where most global markets have also crashed or barely surviving and the pound is weaker than ever. However, these dire conditions aren’t stopping Sports Direct from opening new stores to help them realize their goals of becoming a premium shopping destination for sports apparel and equipment. Perhaps reinventing itself is a great way for the company to survive these difficult times and change the perception of the public about the brand selling cheap or bargain stuff for the longest time.

The following blog article Sports Direct’s Dream Of Becoming “The Selfridges Of Sport” was first seen on The UP Blog


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Justin Bieber Cancels Purpose World Tour

Fans often look forward to the day when they can see their idols perform live. They save up money for concert tickets and all the many other preparations die-hard fans are known for. It is their happiness to see these performers sing and dance right before their very eyes even just once in their lives. But we’ve got some really bad news to fans of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber as he recently relayed the news that he is not going to finish his Purpose World Tour but those who already bought tickets will get a full refund.

While Bieber has not specified the reason for the tour’s cancellation, we bet there are lots of disgruntled and disappointed fans who were looking forward to seeing him perform in person in their respective countries. It is not new, though, that tours get canceled as unforeseen events and personal emergencies happen that can prevent these artists from going on tour. For Bieber, it has been an exceptionally long tour and his mental state and behavior weren’t exactly in great shape either during the past few months (er, years).

Canadian pop star Justin Bieber has scrapped the remainder of his Purpose world tour, including two dates in Toronto.

A statement on Bieber's website said the cancellation stems from "unforeseen circumstances."

"Justin loves his fans and hates to disappoint them," the statement reads.

"However, after careful consideration he has decided he will not be performing any further dates." It is unclear why Bieber decided to cancel the rest of the shows.

The singer had been set to play back-to-back nights at Toronto's Rogers Centre on Sept. 5 and 6. Other planned stops had included arenas around the United States, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The statement said tickets will be refunded, but Ticketmaster was still selling them as of Monday afternoon.


If it was just another artist or a random tour, the public would have probably understood and somehow try to shrug it off. Adele also recently canceled a tour as problems with her vocal cords might prevent her from going on tours ever again. However, it is Bieber we are talking about. Issues about depression and various dramas in other tours are common and his critics are growing as he largely becomes unprofessional on various occasions.

Justin Bieber has apologised to his fans after cancelling the remaining dates of his Purpose World Tour because of "unforeseen circumstances".

The move affects 14 dates in Asia and North America which were coming up over the next three months.

Bieber told celebrity news website "I'm sorry for anybody who feels disappointed or betrayed."

The singer has performed more than 150 shows on the tour, promoting his 2015 album Purpose, since March 2016.

The tour grossed $93.2m (£71.5m) in the first half of 2017, with an average of almost 40,000 ticket sales per date.

Bieber added: "I have been on tour for two years. I'm looking forward to just resting, getting some relaxation and we're going to ride some bikes."


Perhaps, Bieber really needs some time away from the spotlight for a much-needed rest and relaxation and a chance for him to reflect on the life he has lived so far. Fans can’t do anything about it as only these stars can decide for themselves and it seems like he desperately needs it now with all the drama going on in his life. It is understandable for artists to get overwhelmed by a lot of things and unless they address it the soonest time possible, their career will likely suffer and they’d lose more adoring fans in the process. Biliebers are still hoping Justin can recover from what he is going through right now because it is such a shame to lose his good looks and talent.

The following blog post Justin Bieber Cancels Purpose World Tour is available on Unabashedly Prep Blog


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Merger Of Sports And Health

We all know that to stay fit and healthy, humans should give importance to health and sports in their lives. In that way, you can be assured your health does not deteriorate as you age because your active body can cope with all the demands and challenges of daily living and your advancing age. And in business, it pays to focus on health and sports as well as the public become increasingly aware of the value of their health above all other things. Now, with the acquisition of Town Sports International Holdings Inc. of Lucille Roberts Health Club Business is a step in the right direction.

It spells more convenience for individuals and club members frequenting these fitness clubs especially among women patrons who now have Lucille Roberts’ facilities at their disposal. It really is crucial that we give time and effort in maintaining our good health when temptations to an unhealthy lifestyle are all around us. These facilities are meant to help us stay fit and healthy (and sometimes train participants for special events) without sacrificing comfort and convenience (and not to mention class too). With this merger, members of either company now have a wider set of options as to where to go when they want to burn some calories alongside a wider set of fitness arsenal to use.

Town Sports International Holdings Inc., ("TSI' or the "Company") (Nasdaq: CLUB), the owner and operator of New York Sports Clubs (NYSC), announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Lucille Roberts Health Clubs businesses. The Closing of the transaction is subject to certain conditions. The parties expect the transaction to be closed within the next month. The acquisition will add 16 clubs to TSI's portfolio in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

The 16 locations will continue to operate under the Lucille Roberts brand.  The newly acquired locations are all in the New York City metropolitan area — including ManhattanBrooklynQueensBronxLong Island and New Jersey — where TSI already has a substantial presence. The acquisition will both enhance and expand the offerings for Lucille Roberts'members. The Company also plans to retain virtually all club employees.


It is not uncommon for big companies to merge because of business opportunities or crisis that requires the resources of more than one corporation. And if the merger proves to be successful, it is definitely the public that will benefit as in the case of club members for both Town Sports International and Lucille Roberts. Imagine diversifying what you have to offer to the people, everyone who has an interest in sports and fitness would surely be delighted.

"For more than 4 decades, Lucille Roberts has been providing women with an affordable first-rate fitness experience in a comfortable environment that they can call their own," Lucille Roberts co-founder Bob Roberts said in the release. "TSI's industry knowledge and strategic expertise make them the ideal company to preserve and foster the Lucille Roberts vision."

Earlier this year in TSI's first quarter financial report, Walsh hinted that TSI was aiming to acquire more clubs. TSI reported a 2.2. percent decrease in first quarter revenue to $99.1 million, which Walsh attributed to club closures and declines in miscellaneous fees. TSI also reported its fifth-straight year of revenue decline in 2016.

As of March 31, TSI operated 149 clubs with 551,000 members. More than 120 of those facilities are New York Sports Clubs and Boston Sports Clubs.


The good thing about the merger of these companies is that no employee will lose his/her job as virtually all club employees will be retained. It means club members will be seeing the same familiar faces they have been seeing during the entire length of their membership, a big plus to help with the continuity of their fitness program so they can realize their fitness goals. Getting fit takes a lot of hard work and with two heads working together, club members of both companies are set to enjoy even bigger and better perks than what they used to receive from each of them.

The Merger Of Sports And Health was originally seen on Blog


Friday, 4 August 2017

Environmental Issues In Latin America

Environmental issues are fast becoming a global issue in all corners of the globe if it isn’t already a reality you are already facing right now. We all experience the negative effects of global warming and climate change and how they have worsened existing weather phenomena that consequently make living doubly more challenging for the majority of us. From storms to earthquakes to drought and famine, these environmental issues surround us and affect the way we all live our lives. It is especially harder among those living in poorer and struggling nations whose government is not always well-funded, and if it is, is left at the disposal of corrupt officials who are only interested in uplifting their own lives (and pockets) at the expense of the people who put them into office.

Latin America used to be a powerful region. And in a way, it still is now. But it has more of a stigma rather than glory. From corruption to drugs to natural calamities, Latin America experiences its fair share of suffering mostly in the hands of Mother Nature. But if you look at it closely, the hastening of these environmental changes is actually our own doing. Changes in our surroundings that took centuries to take place in the past now only take several years at most to happen. It says a lot about the state of the natural world at this point in time.

While the outlook for mining in Latin America remains positive over the coming years, research firm BMI has outlined certain obstacles that will hinder its development, with water use and contamination among the most significant challenges.

BMI warned that companies and governments in Latin America would experience increasing pressure to respond to water scarcity and contamination issues, as freshwater shortages and droughts fuel tension between local communities and miners.

In January, Chile’s State-owned miner, Codelco, announced plans to seek partners to develop a desalination plant in Antofagasta.

In April, Argentina's government announced plans to invest $44-billion in water infrastructure, including a sewage system and treatment plant.

Meanwhile, in March, El Salvador passed a law banning all metal mining in the country to protect water sources.


While the devastation is widespread in the region, at least the government is doing something about it somehow. However, it might take a long time before the people can benefit from these changes as achieving the delicate balance in nature has long been broken and we’ll have a hard time making things right again especially that not everyone cooperates in this battle.

Last year was the deadliest on record for environmental activists, according to new figures released by the UK NGO Global Witness.

The organisation’s latest report documents a “crisis” spreading globally as the number of countries in which killings were recorded countries shot up from 16 to 24. 60% of deaths occurred in Latin America, which means that the region remains the most dangerous one in the world in which to oppose environmental degradation.

Yet again, Brazil, which has witnessed particularly bloody land conflicts in recent months, ranks first with 49 murders. Nicaragua has the highest rate of killings per capita: 11. And in Colombia, figures hit an all-time high: 37.

“This report tells a very grim story. The battle to protect the planet is rapidly intensifying and the cost can be counted in human lives”, says Ben Leather, a campaigner at Global Witness.  


With big corporations involved in activities that aren’t exactly environment-friendly, the fight in preserving the environment isn’t just a walk in the park. Many times have there been bloodshed and people lost their lives because of their opinions and what they stand for. Violence is common in many countries in the region. Ensuring that Mother Nature remains unscathed from further human abuse is a difficult feat to achieve as the big companies won’t easily give up without a fight especially if it is their profits in the line. But we can’t just continue ignoring these things as the threat of global warming and climate change is now our reality and no longer just looming on the horizon.

The following blog article Environmental Issues In Latin America Find more on: The UP Blog


Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Amazon Is Overtaking Home Improvement

We all put a high value on our home because we see it as our haven, not only from all the elements but as our refuge where we feel loved and safe together with the people we love. We spend a great deal of our time within the four corners of our home especially when the elements are raging and when night time falls, it is why most homeowners don’t stop improving their homes once they are built. Maintenance services will be necessary as well.

From the moment the house is up, there are various ways it can still be improved. Various home accessories and fixtures are added and even the lawn can be beautified to make it more appealing to the eyes of the public. Aside from that, home improvement also increases your home’s value for when the time comes you decide to sell it. Homeowners all over the country often tap on contractors to do the job for them but they can also do certain additions or minor home renovations on their own if they have prior knowledge or perhaps are skilled enough to do the job.

On Thursday, shares of Home Depot Inc (HD) and Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW) were hit on news of Sears Corporation (SHLD) moving its Kenmore brand, Inc. (AMZN) . On Friday, that weakness continued for Home Depot, with shares falling about 0.3%. The stock is down about 4.5% over the past two days.

Home Depot is becoming reminiscent of Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) when Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market (WFM) for $13.2 billion. At least, that's according to TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer, who also manages the Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust portfolio.

Speaking on CNBC's "Stop Trading" segment Friday, Cramer said analysts were quick to defend Costco despite the Amazon news with Whole Foods. Analysts are now doing the same thing by defending Home Depot.

The real concern may go beyond Amazon and Sears. Cramer cited comments from Sherwin-Williams (SHW) management that said there seems to be some softness in do-it-yourself work.


For many years, homeowners and contractors alike have relied on big home improvement stores like Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s even Sears for their home improvement needs but we all know how things have changed over the past years. Technology has overtaken the marker and certain mega-companies are eliminating the competition by buying them off. This is certainly the case with Amazon’s rumored takeover of certain home improvement stores. Over the years, Amazon has grown to considerable heights from its humble beginnings as an online bookstore. It’s the reason why smaller retailers are quite shaken by this news.

But as Amazon extends into industries from social networks to grocery delivery, the deal with Sears is raising questions about the extent to which home-improvement stores can withstand competition from the ecommerce giant.

Home Depot, the largest home-improvement store in the US, is down by more than 4% at 11:09 a.m. ET, while Lowe's is down 5%. Whirlpool and Best Buy also fell.

Home-improvement stores have largely weathered the downturn that has hit department stores which traditionally staked sales on store visits. They've also benefitted from strong demand for housing and rising prices, which can be lifted even more when renovations are done before listing.

That's not to say that Home Depot is suddenly vulnerable; Oppenheimer described the share-price reaction as "overblown," according to Bloomberg. Home Depot's online sales rose 23% year-on-year in the first quarter. By fulfilling online orders from local stores, Home Depot is able to quicken its delivery times for web orders.

Home Depot and similar stores hold another key advantage over Amazon: some shoppers still prefer to physically inspect renovation supplies like paint, bathroom fixtures, and flooring instead of buying online.


It is true that the threat is there and one should not underestimate the clout of this major e-commerce giant but it is not the end yet for other major home improvement stores like Home Depot. While there are certain products that people feel confidently ordering online, most homeowners prefer to see and personally purchase home fixtures and accessories rather than buying them online unlike gadgets and home appliances. It is not totally a hopeless case despite the drop in shares. There is still a market and they will remain for a while although it should be a warning to major home improvement retailers with physical stores that competition is tighter than ever and they should find ways to ensure their survival even if the Amazon take-over really pushes through.

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