Columbus breakfast and brunch chain updates to ‘cleaner, more modern’ look

Sunny Street Café is putting its restaurants in a new light.
The newest addition to the 18-unit Columbus-based chain opened this month at 8461 Sancus Boulevard sporting a new look that will be the future face of the breakfast and brunch brand.
“It’s coming up on 10 years for a few of our restaurants,” Vice President of Brand Strategy Mike Stasko told me Wednesday. “It’s time for a refresh. It’s really more of an evolution than a revolution.”
The company worked with an outside design…

via Columbus Business News – Local Columbus News | Business First of Columbus
Columbus breakfast and brunch chain updates to ‘cleaner, more modern’ look launches with $2M funding to take the grunt work out of user acquisition launches today with a funding round of $2M. Founded by the team behind AppScotch
(acquired by App Annie), they claim to be taking the grunt work out of user acquisition. It allows publishers to manage user acquisition channels from a single place and also help them discover new ones.

The investors include Jonathan Zweig, founder of AdColony (acquired by Opera), and John Zdanowski, former CFO of Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life

They’re already working with customers like IGG, the company behind Lords Mobile, and TextNow, the popular messaging app. Their closest competitors are, Singular, Tune and AppsFlyer.

It’s a busy market. The number of user acquisition channels (Snapchat, AppColony, Vungle, etc.) has grown from 700 in 2015 to 1,500 this year and the average user acquisition team spends 80% of their time on the manual work of managing and discovering channels.

via TechCrunch launches with $2M funding to take the grunt work out of user acquisition

The Confluence Cast: Venture Capital

The Confluence Cast: Venture Capital

Tim Fulton Tim Fulton The Confluence Cast: Venture Capital

We’re talking about capital in the capital city. VentureOhio helps to facilitate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our state, and their annual VentureReport takes a detailed look at Ohio investment activity and the people and companies putting Ohio on the map.

I sat down with VentureOhio’s CEO Fallon Donahue and Brad Mascho, the co-founder of local startup CrossChx to talk about the report, how venture capital works, and the opportunities available for entrepreneurs.

Shownotes for this episode

Support for this episode of the Confluence Cast comes from Chepri, a full-service web and mobile development company, specializing in design and programming services. Defined through skill and innovation, Chepri works with their clients to create user-centric technology-based products that innovate. Chepri provides complete technology solutions with a solid strategy to meet your goals and grow your brand.

Connect with the Confluence Cast:
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The Confluence Cast: Venture Capital Creating Beautiful Email Newsletters Made Easy

The free web app makes newsletter design as simple as writing a letter in Word. Word-Like Newsletters

Email newsletter design is not an easy thing. There are ways to simplify the process, but the effort needed is never low. The main reason for that is the variety of different technological implementations in the various mail clients. In contrast to browsers, here, everyone likes to stick to themselves.

That’s one, but not the only, reason why it’s important to be able to rely on a technologically stable, and compatible solution. So, if your main goal is to get your content to the people, rather than a completely striking newsletter design, you shouldn’t miss out on the free tool by Sendmark.

Te editor is a part of the Sendmark feature set, but it is also available as a web app. Developers that want to implement their own email editor can license The editor’s key features are its intuitivity, and being significantly easier to understand than the Editor from Mailchimp.

How to Build a Newsletter Using

Getting started with is simple. First, select one of the templates. There are seven different ones available. At a glance, this doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s not an issue as they are a raw frame anyways, allowing you to fully customize each of them. Looking at it like this, the templates are nothing more than structural design patterns.

Once you’ve selected a template, the editor opens right away. On the right, you’ll find the chosen template in the WYSIWYG view, with the toolbox being on the left, with a dark background. The toolkit is divided into the sections content, structure, and settings.

In the settings, you choose options regarding the entire email, such as the color scheme, line height, as well as fonts, and their sizes for the different text elements.

Under Structure, you’ll find six basic structures, each representing a different column layout. Use the mouse to drag the desired structure from the toolbox into the editor, right to the place where you want the structure to be provided. You’ll get a stripe across the entire width of the editor window. Within that, there are ashlars highlighted in blue, with an icon that is commonly used to depict downloads.

These blue fields are where you should drag the elements from the content area. This can be text, images, animated GIFs, buttons, dividers, spacers, social media integration, videos, or HTML source code. The content block GIF is equipped with a Giphy integration, so you can search for, and integrate fitting animations right off the bat. The content block HTML provides an HTML editor within the toolbox. Any changes made to the source code are immediately displayed in the WYSIWYG view on the right.

In-page Editing of Text Elements. (Screenshot: Noupe)

Here, there is no defined scheme to follow step by step. At any point, you can add another structure template to any desired spot, and fill it with content. The individual structural elements can also be moved to their new position via drag & drop in the email. It is possible to easily duplicate or delete both individual content, as well as entire structure templates.

The content element spacer serves as a separator between the templates. The desired space is adjustable using the mouse. Each element tells you which actions can be triggered at this element when hovering above it with the mouse. Normally, these are move, duplicate, and delete. After clicking an element, the toolbox selection on the left opens, presenting further editing options that are fitting for the particular selection.

If you are not sure if your design still works after a bunch of changes, you shouldn’t be afraid of clicking “Preview & Testing” in the top left above the WYSIWYG view. Here, you are also able to switch between the desktop and the mobile view.

Images that you add to the layout are loaded into the producer’s AWS cloud, for the WYSIWYG view to work. Once you’re done and satisfied with your newsletter, click “Save & Download.” creates a Zip file, which contains the newsletter as an index.html, as well as all used images packed into a subfolder called Images.

Conclusion: Creating Working Email Newsletters Doesn’t Get Any Easier is a modern, easy to use tool that turns the creation of email newsletters into a trifle. Anyone can use this without any accidents. And, on top of that, it’s free.

via Noupe Creating Beautiful Email Newsletters Made Easy

Download Thousands of Free Ebooks Formatted for Modern E-Readers


Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library in the world. You might even be reading a classic from there right now in your e-reader.

But don’t you hate how it’s formatted?

Gutenberg is a worthwhile effort, but as a true book lover you just might be turned off by the poor formatting of those old books, crippled by archaic typesets that strain your eyes. The absence of attractive book covers might also irk you.

Standard Books promises to change all that. This volunteer effort is bringing the oomph back to these old classics.

The Cinderella Touch for Old Public Domain Books

Here’s how the volunteers at Standard Books plug it:

“Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.”

The Standard Books approach works on four levels:

  1. Correct the transcription errors and the ancient style with a rigorous style guide.
  2. Add well-researched book information with detailed book blurbs and links to encyclopedia sources.
  3. Match books to latest e-reader features like hyphenation support, pop-up footnotes, table of contents, and high-quality scalable vector graphics.
  4. Use Public Domain fine art to create attractive and unique covers for all books.

As you flip through the pages of a Little Women or Don Quixote, the difference is striking. You will notice it in the formatting of the dialog or the refurbishing of American spellings.

Standard Books also makes browsing through the catalog easier. It’s a clean interface with a search bar on top and a sort filter below. Click on the attractive book covers and jump to the book page. The free download options cover all popular formats you would need today: EPUB, EPUB3, AZW3, and KEPUB for Kobo devices.

And don’t miss this little help on the book page:

Standard Books

Yes, the reading time information tells me that I can find out what Bertie and Wooster are up to over the course of a weekend.

Fall in Love With the Classics Again

Standard Books is a noble (and novel) volunteer effort that gives you the best classics from literature

35 Classic Novels You Can Read for Free on Your Kindle

35 Classic Novels You Can Read for Free on Your Kindle

There’s a treasure trove of free, out-of-copyright books available on to download to your Kindle right now. Here are our recommendations for classic novels you should be reading…
Read More

without asking for a dime. You too can get involved. It might make you a good reader, but it will surely make you a better editor.

Tell us about your impressions. Which is the last classic you finished? Which one would you recommend without a pause?

Download Thousands of Free Ebooks Formatted for Modern E-Readers

The “last mile” in education and training

After graduating from college in 1994, I spent a few years at McKinsey & Co. – a young kid in an ill-fitting suit naively but energetically attempting to convince experienced and jaded managers to do their jobs differently.

One question that kept coming up for a number of clients was who was likely to win the war to bring broadband access to homes: telephone companies or cable companies. While we know the answer now (cable), I recall spending a lot of time studying the technical specifications of cable and telephony “last mile” connectivity.

The concept of the last mile – the final leg of the connection to each home – originated in telecom but is now a primary focus for supply chain management and e-commerce in particular.

The general principle applicable to all contexts is that the last mile is the most difficult and expensive to build, but equally the most valuable: dominating the last mile can provide a nearly unassailable competitive position. In telecom and other utilities, the cost of building the last mile is what results in natural monopolies, thereby requiring regulation.

We are now seeing the emergence of the last mile phenomenon in an unlikely setting: education. There are three reasons for this.

1) The Hiring Process Has Changed Drastically

Today, over 85% of all job openings (and nearly all positions in growing sectors of the economy) are posted online. As a result, the typical job posting receives approximately 200 applications – too many resumes and CVs for any hiring manager to seriously look at. So all large employers and most mid-size firms have resorted to utilizing Applicant Tracking Systems to manage their hiring processes. These systems like Oracle’s Taleo, the market leader, filter applicants based on a keyword match.

What are Applicant Tracking Systems matching to? Increasingly it’s technical skills. Over the past decade, technical skills have come to outnumber cognitive and non-cognitive skills combined in job descriptions across nearly all industries. While this is undoubtedly a product of the fact that, for any given job, it’s easier to come up with 10 different technical skill requirements than 10 different ways of saying “problem solving” or “critical thinking,” that is of no matter to the inexorable keyword matching logic of Applicant Tracking Systems, which filter out candidates without a sufficient level of keyword match. This means that most candidates with few technical skills are invisible to human hiring managers.

The prevalence of technical skills in job descriptions is particularly acute for entry-level positions, many of which now involve utilizing SaaS platforms to manage functions like supply chain, sales, marketing, customer service, finance, IT and HR. So candidates who don’t have keywords like Salesforce (sales), Pardot (marketing), Marketo (digital marketing), Google Adwords (digital marketing), ZenDesk Plus (customer service), NetSuite (finance), Financial Force (finance), and Workday (HR) on their resumes are unlikely to be considered.

2) Students Really, Really Care About Getting a Good First Job

The single biggest change in higher education over the past decade is the percentage of students who say they’re enrolling for job, career or income reasons. Today, over 90% of students provide this as the sole or primary reason for going to college.

Some of this undoubtedly stems from the poor employment outcomes experienced by college graduates during the Great Recession. Most students have older siblings or friends who were underemployed – often significantly – for many years. Another cause is that today’s students have much less experience with paid work, which creates additional anxiety about getting a good first job. And finally, concerns about getting a good first job are real: there are simply fewer jobs that require college degrees without specifying experience requirements, perhaps because employers have given up hoping that new college graduates have the requisite technical skills, and so have begun imposing experience requirements. As a result, whereas a decade ago entry-level sales positions had few if any technical skill requirements, the same positions today are likely to specify two years’ experience with Salesforce.

3) Colleges and Universities Have Not Adjusted

 Even though today’s students no longer buy it, the vast majority of colleges and universities continue to abide by the old adage: “we prepare you for your fifth job, not necessarily your first.” So despite increasing recognition that students are increasingly unlikely to get a good fifth job if they don’t get a good first job, there’s been little in the way of adjusting curriculum to reflect employer needs and job market realities. Lower-level course curriculum hasn’t changed; most departments offer the same lower-level courses they offered 20 or 30 years ago. Meanwhile, upper-level courses continue to be dictated by faculty research priorities, which operate independently of labor market demands.

Last Mile Training Providers

This growing gap – often referred to as the skills gap – has given rise to the emergence of last mile training providers. These providers are focused on exactly the technical skills employers need (as demonstrated in job descriptions), but which colleges and universities don’t teach. Coding is the most obvious example; while all schools teach Java, few computer science programs actually expose students to how coding projects work in practice (e.g., using struts: existing code that developers call upon for common functions). But last mile training providers are emerging in almost every sector. In addition to coding, my firm has already made investments in last mile training providers in sales, medical devices and insurance.

Last mile training provider models fall into three categories, each of which represents an advance over the traditional higher education value proposition. Viewing higher education through a 2×2 matrix, where the X-axis shows cost to the student (paid or free) and the Y-axis shows outcomes (no guarantee or some guaranteed outcome), traditional colleges and universities have always been and continue to sit in the bottom-left quadrant: pay your money upfront for no guaranteed outcome.

But given employer demand for the technical skills they are imparting to students, last mile training providers are able to improve upon this value proposition. We are seeing bootcamp models where students pay tuition upfront and receive an explicit or implicit guarantee of employment; most student-pay bootcamps show placement rates of close to 90% into relevant, well-paid jobs.

We are also seeing income share agreement models where students don’t pay anything upfront, but where the last mile training provider is so confident of a positive employment outcome that it is happy to take payment as a percentage of graduates’ income for several years – typically only once students have begun making $50k or more. Finally, we are seeing staffing and placement models, where the last mile training provider can truly guarantee an employment outcome because it hires graduates and staffs them out to clients. This revenue model allows providers to offer the last mile training for free – further enhancing the value proposition for students.

As all three types of last mile training providers further their engagement with employers, it will become increasingly difficult for traditional colleges and universities to keep up; their last mile connectivity through antiquated career services offices will not be competitive with last mile training providers whose business depends on having their fingers on the pulse of the technical skills employers need right now.

As last mile training providers proliferate across every industry and enrollment flows and tuition dollars begin to shift, don’t be surprised if colleges and universities resort the same tool that losers of last mile competitions have always used to attempt to rein in the resulting natural monopolies: regulation.

Featured Image: a-image/iStock/Getty Images

via TechCrunch
The “last mile” in education and training

All the Best Ways to Back Up Your Data

Image: Backblaze

You’ve got more choices than ever when it comes to backing up your data—you are backing up your data, right?—so how do you choose the best one for your needs? First, it’s a good idea to pick up some kind of external hard drive. You can go the Network Attached Storage (NAS) route if you want to access the storage from your Wi-Fi (or build your own Netflix). You can also just get a regular external hard drive from someone like Seagate or Western Digital.

Once you have you’ve selected the kind of storage device you’ll be backing your files up to its time to focus on a more complex decision—choosing an back up service. From built-in Windows and macOS options, to third-party syncing and upload services, we take a look at how all these options fit into your daily workflow.

Windows built-in options: File History and OneDrive

Windows’ integrated backing up options haven’t exactly been what you would call consistent in recent years. The company is always trying something new, which can make it difficult to trust in it’s back up solutions. Currently there’s a rumor that the Fall Creators Update will kill off the File History back up tool, but as it’s still around at the moment let’s start with it.


File History is a local backup option, accessible through Settings, that needs an external drive to work. Once you’ve got a disk attached, you can choose the folders that get backed up, and set how often files are copied, and decide how long they’re kept for. It doesn’t back up absolutely everything on your system, but it’s a perfectly fine option for copying your most important files somewhere else.

Image: Screenshot

There are a few annoyances (besides the fact that it might not exist come the fall). The tool needs a bit of configuration and only works while your external drive is attached (not ideal if you’re always moving). Modern-day cloud syncing services feel far more intuitive and discreet, which is probably the reason File History is (apparently) getting phased out.

Microsoft’s online cloud syncing service is of course OneDrive, and it’s now baked right into Windows for your convenience. Anything saved to the OneDrive folders gets synced to the cloud and any other computers you’ve got the OneDrive desktop client installed on. You get 5GB of backup room for free, but will need to pay if you want more.


Although cloud syncing services like OneDrive and Dropbox haven’t traditionally been considered full backup solutions, in 2017 they feel like a much more intuitive option than plugging in an external hard drive. Save your files, photos and music to the OneDrive folder, it’s uploaded instantly, and you can salvage your data if your laptop falls in the local lake.

Image: Screenshot

OneDrive even offers features usually associated with local backups, like version history. It’s not going to back up absolutely everything on your system—the settings for you applications will be toast, but as long as you keep an eye on where your files are, and are prepared to pay Microsoft for some cloud server space, you can get by with OneDrive on its own.

macOS built-in options: Time Machine and iCloud

Time Machine is Apple’s venerable local backup solution, requiring an external or networked drive connected to your Mac. Backups run automatically, as long as the drive is available (though you can switch to manual backups if you prefer), and after the initial file transfer is complete, backups are pretty speedy too.



The benefits of Time Machine are well-established: It’s automatic, it’s comprehensive (enabling a full system recovery if required), and it’s easy to use. You don’t get much in the way of configuration options, but most users barely bother to set up backups anyway, let alone dive into extra settings for them.

Image: Screenshot

Relying on external drives is something of a pain if you move around a lot, and those backups won’t be any use if both your laptop and your hard drives get lost in a fire or flood, but overall Time Machine does what every backup solution should be doing—getting the job done and staying out of the way while it’s doing it.

What Time Machine really needs is a cloud component, which is why Apple pushes iCloud too. iCloud used to operate mostly behind the scenes, on both macOS and iOS, but with the introduction of backups for the Desktop and Documents folders in macOS Sierra, it’s become more of a front-facing backup solution like OneDrive or DropBox.


As well as caching away files in the background for particular apps, it’s also copying your key folders to the web and any other Mac devices you happen to have up and running. As it syncs to the web rather than an external drive, it works everywhere you’ve got Wi-Fi too.

Image: Screenshot

On top of iCloud basic you’ve also got iCloud Photo Library to take care of your photos, and iCloud Music Library, though that latter one is more of a syncing service rather than a genuine backup option. As with everything else iCloud, you need to pay for additional storage once you’ve got beyond your free 5GB.

Both these built-in macOS options are slick, stable, and simple, and it’s difficult to make an argument for using anything else as long as you’re only ever going to be using Apple hardware. Time Machine and iCloud really need to be used together for the best protection, though if you know where your important files are kept then you might feel you can get along with just iCloud on its own now, especially with the photo and music components added on top and its rapidly improving feature-set.

Third-party options: file syncing and storage

You’ve got plenty of other options to consider too—buy an external hard drive and it will most likely come with a perfectly adequate backup program on it as well. Synology, Netgear, and Drobo all have backup programs built into the NAS. Ultimately, the more backups you have the better, though you need to make sure you’re getting everything covered.



Dropbox has been excelling at file syncing since way back in 2007 and will take good care of your files in the cloud. Not only does it have a better-looking interface then either OneDrive or iCloud (especially on the web), it’s equally happy running on Windows, macOS, Android or iOS. It even works on some NAS devices, including anything by Synology.

Image: Screenshot

Google Drive isn’t quite as polished as Dropbox but it has the same platform flexibility and with a powerful online office suite, as well as a ton of handy integrations with Google’s other services. For both Dropbox and Google Drive, you need to fork over $9.99 a month for 1TB of storage, though Google Drive offers tiers above and below that. On Dropbox you’re stuck with either 1TB or a business account.

Dropbox and Google Drive really epitomize what backing up should be in 2017: As soon as files get dropped into the designated folders, they’re sent to the cloud and your other devices, with changes updated seamlessly. External hard drives, USB sticks, backup schedules and folder selections feel almost antiquated by comparison.


The main worry would be if those cloud services failed, but that’s a rare occurrence these days, and you still have your local files on one or more computers at the same time. While Dropbox and Google Drive do essentially the same job as OneDrive and iCloud, they do it with more polish and over a greater number of platforms.

Image: Screenshot

Another alternative is to install one of the apps that suck up just about every file on your system to the cloud: The likes of Backblaze, Carbonite and CrashPlan. For a few dollars a month you get unlimited storage in the cloud for your files, without some of the web access extras or versatility of the file syncing services we’ve already mentioned. Some even cover external hard drives you’ve got hooked up to your main computer.

If you mostly stick to one computer then these comprehensive cloud services are worth a look to go alongside the options built into your OS of choice. Everything works in the background, and while the initial upload can take hours, or even days, it’s usually plain sailing from there. It’s the ultimate set-it-and-forget it solution.

The final verdict

Backing up is not the chore it once was. We’ve tested all of these options in recent times and found them all to be very good in what they do, easy to setup and maintain, and happy to whir away in the background with a minimal number of interruptions and annoyances. Which ones suit you best depends on the OSes you’re running and just how much of a data trail you leave behind you, rather than any major differences between the quality of the services and their associated apps.



The rule of backups has always been three copies of each file in two separate locations, but we’re getting to the stage where the cloud sync services are able to stand on their own without any help from local backup tools. That’s down to a few factors: Improving internet speeds, better reliability in terms of cloud infrastructure, and the smoother installation processes Windows and macOS have introduced in the last few years.

Getting your computer up and running from scratch is no longer the arduous challenge it once was—signing into cloud accounts is now an integrated part of the process as well—so you can simply install Dropbox (for example) on top and watch all your files trickle back down. If you’ve got more than one computer with Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or OneDrive installed then you’ve got a separate offline backup as well, just in case.

Nowadays, the full system image approach seems like overkill, but by all means set it up if you like—I tend to spend a lot of time hopping between computers with just a few important files to my name, so something like Dropbox or Google Drive works fine for me. Just make sure you’re doing something to keep your data backed up, as one day you’re going to be grateful you did.

via Gizmodo
All the Best Ways to Back Up Your Data

IFTTT’s powerful new initiative connects up with government data streams

Today, all around cool internet thing IFTTT is hooking all kinds of useful public data into its powerful platform. With the launch of its new Data Access Project, IFTTT will add support for a broad selection of government agencies, organizations and research and cultural groups. That includes public data from federal and state government feeds on down to municipal transit information.

The new data streams have the potential to be all kinds of useful. In practice, that means every time there’s a relevant new SEC filing, your Hue lights can flash green (or red, depending). Or you can get a text every time the State Department posts a travel warning. Or a Slack notification each time the Department of Defense posts an update. Or lots of things — infinitely configurable things, really.

Put simply, IFTTT lets you connect things to other things. It does this through easy to set up custom formulas, like “every time @techcrunch tweets, call my phone.” These logic statements, all take the form of “if x happens, do y,” hence the name If This Then That (IFTTT). IFTTT used to call these formulas Recipes but now they’re calling them Applets, which is more confusing in our book but the functionality remains the same.

IFTTT’s more than 40 new sources include:

  • Department of Labor
  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • Library of Congress
  • National Science Foundation
  • Energy Information Association
  • Pew Research Center
  • Department of Defense
  • Centers for Disease Control
  • Amtrak
  • Caltrain
  • Texas Legislature
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • American Civil Liberties Union

For IFTTT, the public data initiative stands to breathe some new life into a platform that in recent years is perhaps best known for letting you automate quirky things in your smart home. As a (really) long time IFTTT user, I have to say that it’s an exciting and potentially very useful new direction. I fully expect to lose hours configuring my own public data streams in the coming days.

According to IFTTT CEO Linden Tibbets, the beauty of the service’s new direction is that it can help users organize yet another kind of information that might otherwise be overwhelming and put it to good use.

“It’s not that the information isn’t out there — companies, governments, and institutions are releasing information all the time. But for the average person, it’s overwhelming,” said Tibbets.

“We’ve built out services whose data impacts people in very real ways: governments, agencies, non-profits, transits, and other institutions. Now people can easily find, and use, that information in brand new ways. We’re excited to see the response, and plan to expand the Data Access Project with more services in the near future.”

Apparently, this could be the tip of the iceberg for IFTTT’s foray into helping people harness the power of public information that’s already floating around.

“People are hungry for public data, especially when it comes to staying on top of the news and government,” said Anne Mercogliano, IFTTT Vice President of Business Operations and Marketing. “Our IFTTT team kept seeing more and more amazing data resources out there and realized it was something we wanted to invest in and help build and bring onto the platform. We hope the Data Access Project is helpful for the average person, researcher, official and more.”

Mercogliano notes that ProPublica’s IFTTT channel saw a significant boost in interest after November 8, 2016. And in March of this year, IFTTT launched a collection of “Applets for activism” that sought to tap into that same phenomenon.

“Customizing your experience is at the heart of IFTTT and we want to ensure you’re getting all of the data you need but in a way that works for your lifestyle,” Mercogliano said. “The Data Access Project is an ongoing initiative for us and we’re looking for any government, local agency or nonprofit to be a part of our project.”

Interested groups can contact IFTTT at to get started.

via TechCrunch
IFTTT’s powerful new initiative connects up with government data streams

“Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy”

Every single day, 600 tons of particle board go into a factory, and out the other end comes a product so ubiquitous that there is one for every 100 people on Earth. It was designed in 1978. Can you guess what it is?

It’s Ikea’s Billy bookcase, which should go down in the history books as one of the farthest-reaching designs in the world, and a model of hyper-efficient production. Compared to the 1980s, Ikea is currently producing 37 times as many Billys as back then—yet the requisite workforce has only doubled!

I learned these facts and plenty more from a fantastic podcast that will be of interest to industrial designers, and which is also being turned into a book. The podcast is called "50 Things That Made the Modern Economy" and the book is called "Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy." The former is hosted on the BBC World Service; the latter is coming out in August. Both are by Tim Harford, the journalist better known as The Financial Times’ Undercover Economist. Writes Harford of the book,

I’ve tried to paint a picture of economic change by telling the stories of the ideas, people, and tools that had far-reaching and unexpected consequences for all of us. Drawing from the hugely popular BBC radio program and podcast "50 Things That Made The Modern Economy ," I discuss the inventions that have transformed the ways we work, play and live. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette’s disposable razor to Ikea’s Billy bookcase, I recount each invention’s own memorable story and introduce you to the characters who developed them, profited from them, and were ruined by them.

The podcast is free and the sub-10-minute episodes are very listenable, well-researched and attributed. The book will be $15 to $20 for e-book or print versions, respectively. I highly recommend that you check both of them out.

Via Kottke

via Core77
“Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy”

Automakers Are Changing To Integrated Exhaust Manifolds Because The Benefits Are Staggering

Photo: Engineering Explained/YouTube (screengrab)

An integrated Exhaust Manifold, or “headifold,” is an exhaust manifold cast into an engine’s cylinder head and cooled by antifreeze. This type of design, where the exhaust manifold is no longer a separate part, is becoming a lot more common in the auto industry (see 2017 Honda Civic Type R). Here’s why.

Let Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained walk you through the benefits of a water cooled exhaust manifold:

One of Fenske’s main points is that coolant collecting heat from the exhaust gets the engine up to temperature faster, which yields faster cabin warmup times and better initial engine oil flow (and thus better fuel economy, emissions and engine longevity).

Another benefit, he says, occurs at high engine loads where exhaust gases are so high, they risk compromising the life of the catalytic converter. Cooling these gases with coolant, Fenske mentions, prevents the engine control unit from having to dump more gas into the combustion chambers to lower exhaust temperatures. This means a staggering 20 percent better highway fuel economy on the 2017 VW Golf Alltrack he was driving. Not to mention, the lower CO2 emissions that go along with that.



Three benefits he doesn’t mention are weight, packaging space, and catalytic converter warmup. Weight is a big one, as typically, cars use a separate cast iron exhaust manifold bolted to a head with a gasket in between. This integrated setup gets rid of that manifold, all the bolts, and the gasket, the latter of which can also act as a potential failure mode.

Related to this weight savings is packaging space, as these tightly-integrated manifolds are typically smaller than a separate manifold bolted to a cylinder head. This benefit in packaging space can, according to a Ford patent on the technology, yield faster catalytic converter warmup times (and thus lower emissions after startup) and better turbo response, due to the shorter exhaust paths to the catalyst and turbocharger turbine, respectively.

Of course, as Fenske mentions, this integrated exhaust manifold adds more heat load to the cooling system, and makes tuning more difficult. But despite these drawbacks, the benefits in emissions, fuel economy, cabin warmup, weight, complexity and turbo response are hard to ignore, which is why “headifolds” have become so prevalent over the past decade or so.

via Gizmodo
Automakers Are Changing To Integrated Exhaust Manifolds Because The Benefits Are Staggering