Woman’s Last Wish to Meet Alpaca Comes True
May10

Woman’s Last Wish to Meet Alpaca Comes True

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor, Gloucestershire resident Helen Hancox was told she had only days to live. Despite this humbling news, Hancox was determined to cross one final item off her bucket list: to pet an alpaca. In the days following her diagnosis, Hancox had spent much of her time in bed watching television under the care of her husband Colin. When she saw an alpaca featured in a television program, however, Hancox couldn’t resist the urge to touch one. This spurred her daughter Jackie to action. As a last gift to her mother, Jackie reached out on social media to see if a local farmer would be willing to bring an alpaca to her mother. Hancox was bedridden after suffering from a fall which fractured her hip, the event which later revealed the brain tumor. Ginnie Meakin was more than happy to oblige. The Gloucester-based alpaca farmer delighted in bringing in 12-year-old alpaca, Cosmo, to Hancox’s bedside. A naturally sociable animal, the alpaca was used to crowds and small spaces from touring local schools and hospitals. Though Meakin doesn’t normally perform house calls, she was happy to perform this one-time event for Hancox. According to Hancox, this was the first time she had seen an alpaca in real life. Alpacas are a part of a group of four species known as camelids, and are distant cousins of the llama and camel. Hancox noted that seeing an alpaca in person was “10 times better” than seeing one on her television. She was joined by her husband Colin, her two daughters Jackie and Cat, and her grandson Dan for the event. Cosmo was calm, easygoing, and remain relaxed through the visit. To remember her time with Cosmo, Meakin even gave Hancox a small miniature of Cosmo to keep. When Cosmo and Meakin had to leave, Hancox spoke to the calm alpaca directly, thanking him for his time. “I’m very happy to have met you,” she said. She also claimed that the alpaca’s presence was able to “make things wonderful for people, even for...

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Expert Tips To Improve Your Site’s User Experience
May08

Expert Tips To Improve Your Site’s User Experience

Your company’s website or app leaves a lasting impression on your customers. Whether that impression attracts and retains customers depends on many different factors, but ultimately comes down to user experience (UX). UX design focuses on the overall experience your customers have when using your product such as your app, website, or merchandise. Your product needs to be designed with user experience in mind to see any kind of consumer action. So how can you improve your user experience? How can I enhance my UX design? The goal of UX design is to offer a unique solution to your customers that corresponds to the need your customer has the moment they access your product. Your product needs to provide the solution to your customer’s needs. Your customer has a problem, your product has the solution. Here are a few tips you can use to improve your user experience to make sure your customers’ needs are always met. Make sure the user can find you “The smart companies know that SEO is here to stay and not just in Google,” says Mical Johnson of Cyberize Group. “SEO has never been more important for business as it is today.” Search engine optimization isn’t just for better search engine rankings but also to make sure your customers find you and the solutions they need. Cameo Moy from Bizzistance points out that investing in AdWords over SEO isn’t a good idea for this reason. “[By investing in AdWords], you sacrifice the long-term benefits of building a lasting, content rich website for the short-term benefits of the quick-click visit statistics,” Moy says. Invest in providing quality content “If you truly want to rank on Google, you must be able to give the searcher what they want,” says Jacob Amundsen of Venture Creative Studios. “This means creating quality content that is better and different than what is currently ranking on the first page of Google for your target keyword.” JR Griggs of RedWall Marketing says the biggest trend in digital marketing right now is diversifying SEO. “We are seeing much better results with longer pages and posts that have more info,” Griggs says. “Helpful blog posts that are relevant to the popular search terms.” Griggs also points out that grouping posts, or creating multiple posts on a topic, can enhance the terms your business is found for. It also keeps visitors on your website for a longer period of time because the user can navigate through each article. Why is providing longer, more creative content such a major trend right now? Google’s most recent updates have been moving further away from keyword-stuffed articles and more...

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UNC Student Honored as a Hero Following Gunman Tragedy
May06

UNC Student Honored as a Hero Following Gunman Tragedy

UNC student, Riley Howell, was honored as a hero in a recent memorial service after he was killed in an attempt to stop an armed gunman at the University of North Carolina. The 21-year-old student managed to save hundreds of lives at the cost of his own when he charged the gunman who opened fire in a lecture hall on the university campus. It was thanks to Howell’s actions that only one other student perished and four others were injured. Once tackled, officers were able to apprehend the assailant. The four injured students are expected to make a full recovery. Howell’s memorial service took place on May 5 in Lake Junaluska where hundreds of friends, family members, and military personnel honored the memory of the fallen hero. Howell was given full military honors as a member of the ROTC after his body was returned to his hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to reports, he was an affectionate, goofy student who was a junior at UNC majoring in environmental studies. The other fallen student, Ellis Parlier, was interested in information technology at UNC. “[Howell] loved Star Wars, birds, cars, snowboarding, going to the lake, Kentucky Hot Browns, cooking from scratch with cast iron while listening to the Feel Good Classic Soul playlist, and his Lauren,” said a spokesperson for the Howell family in a recent statement. “He was everyone’s protector, always standing up for what he believed in and lending a strong back to those in need.” The gunman, a previous student at UNC, is being held at the Mecklenburg County Jail with no possibility for bail. The assailant is allegedly being charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, four counts of attempted murder, and a number of other charges. Such actions performed by the individual prove that you don’t need one of the thousands of military helicopters currently utilized by the United States armed forces; it all boils down to protecting those who need it at any cost. “I choose to believe that Riley knew that some things were bigger than he was, and he was right where he was supposed to be. Maybe it was to show all of us in the world that selflessness is not gone. We just don’t see it enough,” said family friend Kevin...

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Nature Can Reduce Stress In Just 20 Minutes, Study Shows
May03

Nature Can Reduce Stress In Just 20 Minutes, Study Shows

Research has long shown that being out in nature can help to reduce stress levels and reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. But according to a new study, you don’t need to go on a week-long vacation in the mountains to reduce stress or explore all of Alaska’s 3.2 million acres of land and water. You just need 20 minutes. A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that people who go outside for just 20 minutes a day at any age can greatly decrease their stress levels. Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, aimed to determine the relationship between stress reduction and the duration of a nature experience. They focused on two physiological biomarkers of stress: salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase. During an 8-week study period, 36 participants who lived in cities were asked to have a nature experience, which was defined as time spent outdoors that brings a sense of contact with nature. Participants were asked to do this three times a week for a duration of 10 minutes or more. The participants provided saliva samples both before and after their nature experience four times over the course of the study. Researchers found that a nature experience produced a 21.3% per hour drop in salivary cortisol after adjusting for the cortisol’s normal 11.7% diurnal drop. Participants experienced the most stress reduction when they spent 20 to 30 minutes outside. Benefits from the nature experience continued to increase after 30 minutes, but at a reduced rate. There was a 28.1% per hour drop in salivary alpha-amylase after adjusting for its diurnal rise of 2.5% per hour. However, this drop was only experienced by participants who were the least active, which included sitting or sitting with some walking. Participants’ activity type had no influence on their cortisol response. Researchers say the methods for this study break new ground because they address some of the complexities of measuring an effective dose of nature in the context of normal, everyday life. The millennials who drank 42% of all wine in the U.S. during 2015 may say differently, but facts are facts. Being out in nature has proven to be beneficial for those with high-stress levels, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and social anxiety. Even art in the office can reduce stress, according to 78% of employees surveyed. However, nature and art can’t replace professional help. It’s recommended to see a mental health professional if your symptoms are serious. For those who are feeling a little down, it’s worth considering adding a daily walk on a local hiking trail to your everyday activities or to go on a bike...

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Cloud Constellation Will Partner With LeoStella To Build Data Storage Satellites
May02

Cloud Constellation Will Partner With LeoStella To Build Data Storage Satellites

When you look up into the night sky, you expect to see the moon, some twinkling stars, and the occasional passing light of an aircraft. Soon, there will be a few more objects in that dark expanse. Cloud Constellation Corp. has recently chosen LeoStella to build the satellites for its cloud-based data storage service. This service is meant to give customers the securest place possible to house their sensitive data: outer space. The ten satellites will form a constellation of sorts, known as SpaceBelt, and will only be accessible through Cloud Constellation’s telecommunications links. The SpaceBelt will be put in equatorial low Earth orbit (LEO) at an altitude of approximately 400 miles. Third party satellites located in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) will provide connections to Cloud Constellation’s proprietary data terminals on Earth. And the sheet metal industry, which currently accounts for roughly $30 billion in U.S. revenue, will help build these structures. A startup focused on secure data storage, Cloud Constellation chose LeoStella to build the satellites because of the U.S.-European joint venture’s ability to lower the total cost of the project. LeoStella’s prices are lower than the previous frontrunner for satellite production, Northrop Grumman. According to Cloud Constellation CEO Cliff Beek, LeoStella’s lower price will reduce the overall cost of deploying SpaceBelt from $480 million to $350 million. “It’s a significant improvement from where we were, and makes it so that our capital raise is lower than what we previously needed it to be,” said Beek. Cloud Constellations will still need additional funding for SpaceBelt, but the $130 million reduction from LeoStella’s plan will make that fundraising easier. As it is, Cloud Constellations is sitting on a sturdy fund already. In December 2018, the innovative data storage startup received a $100 million investment from HCH Group of Hong Kong. With the ability to build the satellites more quickly and in a smaller size than Northrop Grunman, LeoStella was also chosen for its efficiency. The Seattle-based company has promised to deliver all 10 satellites in 24 months. According to Beek, these satellites will each weigh somewhere between 507 and 530 pounds. They will be built at LeoStella’s recently opened factory just south of Seattle. While about 96% of organizations have used cloud technology in at least one of its many forms, space-based cloud services can offer an entirely new level of data security. Beek has reported that various digital currency groups have already shown interest in using data storage located in space to better protect against cyberattacks. He also said that space-based clouds would be most useful for financial institutions. These organizations would be able to send transactional information...

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Baby Dolphin With Belly Full Of Plastic Trash Found Stranded In Florida
May01

Baby Dolphin With Belly Full Of Plastic Trash Found Stranded In Florida

As recent headlines have been full of articles and think pieces on plastic bags and straws, the harmful effect plastic has on the ocean is starting to feel more like a buzzworthy topic to gain clicks and likes than an actual issue. However, the recent death of a young female dolphin is starting to bring true compassion to the subject once again. On Apr. 23, a rough-toothed dolphin was found stranded on Florida’s Fort Myers Beach. When the dolphin was found, she was emaciated and in poor health at just 111 pounds and five feet and seven inches in length. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a healthy adult rough-tooth dolphin weighs 350 pounds and is about eight and a half feet in length. Biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cared for the months-old dolphin overnight, but she was in dire condition. Although the dolphin was in a facility made to care for its health, much like the 6,210 hospitals in the United States meant to care for humans, even the experts at the FWC couldn’t help her. According to FWC spokeswoman Michelle Kerr, the biologists made the decision to humanely euthanize the young dolphin. Afterward, biologists conducted a necropsy and discovered concerning contents in the dolphin’s stomach. Her belly didn’t contain a dolphin’s typical diet of fish or squid, but two plastic bags and a piece of a balloon. Scientists at the FWC said that the plastic they found in the dolphin’s stomach likely wasn’t the sole cause of her death, as a number of other factors could also be responsible. “Although a significant finding, there are many additional factors to consider, such as underlying illness, disease and maternal separation, before a final cause of stranding and death for the dolphin can be determined,” the FWC wrote in a Facebook statement. The Facebook post from the FWC also mentions that whether or not the plastic waste ultimately caused the death of the young dolphin, the incident points to the world’s ongoing plastic problem. The global production of just polyethylene, the most common plastic, totals around 80 million tons annually. Much of this plastic ends up in bodies of water around the world. Not only do these plastics pose a threat to unsuspecting wildlife, but they release potentially toxic chemicals into the aquatic environment as they degrade in the water. Consider the fact that the Turks and Caicos islands are only an 80 minute flight from Miami. All of that ocean could be home to dolphins just like this one who mistakenly ingest plastic. Several states have already taken legislative action to curb...

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