Do You Need Sports Psychology?

It’s not unusual, in fact it’s becoming the norm in the MLB and other professional sports, for players to consult and work with “mental performance coaches.” I feel I can speak for the majority of these athletes when I say 99% of them wishes they had known and worked on these mental skills much earlier in their careers.

So why did these supreme athletes ignore the benefits of mental performance enhancement, imagery and focus training, to name a few. I don’t believe they ignored it… they weren’t aware of it and that’s our fault not theirs.

Many coaches are mired in the rut of thinking mental performance training shouldn’t be considered until players are much older and only at very high skill levels of play.

I wonder how many young players were never able to reach their full potential due to mental performance issues? And for those who were able to attain higher levels of play in their sport, how many spent more agonizing times than were necessary battling performance issues which could have been alleviated through mental actions.

Even if the kid obviously doesn’t possess the skills to reach high level competition in the sport, the experience will help him in other aspects of his life.

So why would a parent paying big bucks for private lessons, a player putting in exhaustive hours of practice and a coach pouring over films and stats, ignore, or at least not put forth the effort to learn and understand the use and need of sports psychology?

I believe they just don’t know how to overcome a few mental obstacles of their own when dealing with sports psychology. For instance.

Misconception #1 “I don’t need it.”

When players are playing well, in the zone as it’s known, the idea of needing any help, especially mental help, is the farthest thing from their mind. However, if the player was more mature he’d know every player has their ups and downs, and if they could identify and harness the emotions and thoughts they are feeling while playing well, they could call on them for help when the time comes they’re not playing so well.

Misconception #2 “I’m not a freak or something.”

It’s quite unfortunate mental training has somehow become linked or synonymous with being “Mentally Weak,” such as being unable to endure tough times or control your emotions. We know this is a totally False assumption as many elite athletes, tremendously mentally strong, still use sports psychologists on a regular basis.

The issue should be viewed from a different perspective. Why do MLB players continuously work with a batting coach? Their game is not “weak or broken”. They work with a coach so they can continue to improve, and to maintain their competitive edge.

So be it with athletes who seek the services of sport psychologists, as they want to improve their mental skills.

Misconception #3 “I don’t get nervous- I’m mentally prepared at all times.”

There are athletes that actually don’t get nervous, but that’s no indication they are mentally prepared. They may suffer in other areas such as dwelling on mistakes, lack of focus, playing as well as they practiced, frustration issues, and being “prepared.”

So nerves aren’t an issue, big deal. Most players who say they are mentally prepared, if asked, could not list the steps they take before a game or any specific techniques they use. While an athlete may think he’s prepared, they often have no concrete plan to deal with both positive and negative events.

Misconception #4 “I already talk to my kid about thinking positively, why do I need someone else to do that?

Congratulation for realizing the importance of positive thinking, and it is imperative that parents are involved in helping formulate the techniques their kids are learning, however kids often tend to listen to other people before their parent. Sorry, but that’s the way of the world.

To sooth your feelings one must remember there is no single technique or modality that works well for all athletes, for all issues. Just as the field of medicine has various specialties to address various issues that patients present, sports psychology is similar. A professional has learned an array of interventions that can be customized to adapt to the wide variety of psychological issues athletes face at every level of the game.

Who Will Take the Hit If Uncensored Publications Come Out?

It has been observed throughout the course of history that books, cinemas and many other avenues of creative manifestation faces the wrath of censor boards. Some of them never see the light of the day, while others are censored to such an amount that the content becomes insipid. Also, routine censor of such things are common worldwide and creators have to oblige by the insane, archaic laws of regulators.

Now, it is quite natural that the question regarding censoring of publications will arise and debts will take place over such an issue which is highly subjective. Regulators and censor authorities are often accused of exaggerating the potential harmful effects that publications might kick-start, if allowed to hit the market uncensored. They believe that the creativity of millions of authors, artists and movie-makers should be controlled for the greater good of the society.

Often, it is seen that censored boards are dominated by people who has the least understanding of the psyche of the audience for whatever the publication is meant for. Like in many other social issues that highlights the problem of generation gaps and shifting paradigms, censoring also reflects the helplessness of the creative personalities before those who are probably past their best days in their relevant professions.

The million dollar question that must be answered at this point is that who gets affected if the practice of censorship is scrapped? For which benefit is this still practiced globally? Who are deprived of the benefits that such publications would have created, if they were allowed to be tasted by the society? Most importantly, who are these people and what are their rights to judge the effect of an uncensored publication? Who are they working for? Is it for the society at large or someone else?
Any argumentative attempt to answer these questions will receive a scornful look from many. However, in the best interest of humanity, we must discuss and debate these issues openly, without any fear or favor.

First of all, the argument that censor boards work to save the society from vulgarity, obscenity and many similar adjectives is a complete nonsense. Society is composed of all types of people; Some of them may oppose the publication while others may support it. It has been observed that censor boards act as pawns of the politicians who, in order to save their vote banks and appease fundamentalist groups in the name of maintaining peace and order, does not hesitate to crush the voice of the weak sections for whatever the Publication might have mean many things. If a country is lead by a monarch or an autocrat, then there is little that can be done. But we can at least expect a far more unbiased approach from the leaders of democratic countries.

To drive home the point, let us take an example. Billions of dollars have been spent on debating over the merits and demerits of alternative energy sources. Many powerful nations, lead by the industrialists' forums, actively argues against the use of alternative energy. They camouflage their own selfish interests under the canopy of national economic interests and spend millions of dollars for the campaigns of the legislatures who support their causes. Since money can buy many things and influence the rest, it is quite natural that censor board authorities will have to bow down and nod their heads as per the instructions of these legislatures. Now, if any alternative energy magazine in such a country dares to publish anything that might reveal the scientific truths, they are doomed for the worse. Quite naturally, no magazine even dreams of trying such suicidal feats and subverts to the financial muscles of such authority and the story goes on!

Dogs Vs Cats As Pets – What Pet Is Right For You?

A Pet Dog or Cat, Which Is For Me? Learn The Positives and Negatives.

Pet dogs or pet cats, both of these animals are popular pet choices available for us to choose from, but which pet is right for you? Cats and dogs are pretty much polar opposites of each other, from the personalities they carry, to the mannerisms they outwardly display, and if you want to identify what pet is right for you, then we need to learn more information about these amazing animals.

I’ve lived with dogs and cats for a long time, helping to raise them from a young age and eventually into full grown adults, so I understand the pros and cons each one of them holds. For your benefit, I’m going to list those positives and negatives from my personal experience, which will hopefully allow you to answer the question: “Is a dog or cat the right pet for me?”

Behavior – How Loving Are These Two?

Pros for Dogs: Dogs always appear to be happy, no matter what the circumstance. As long as you bought a puppy at a young age and gave them plenty of love as they grew up, then the dog’s attitude should be a fun and loving one, and that’s exactly what owners want. Dogs are loving, loyal, and are simply entertaining to just be around. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible for dogs to feel another emotion besides joy! Well, they also feel guilt when they do something wrong, but besides that, dogs are constantly brimming with positivity and it is absolutely infectious at times. Imagine a tiresome day at work, coming home and plopping down on the couch, and then being greeted by your happy animal companion who wants nothing more than to cheer you up. Aw, how nice of them!

Cons for Dogs: However, dogs sometimes can get too needy for your attention. Maybe after that long day of work, you instead want to go home and rest without any interruption, but a dog may still attempt to smother you for a pat on the back. Dogs also have the tendency to get jealous over other pets who are being given any form of attention, and may exact revenge if you don’t provide the same amount of love towards them. I had a Poodle that would pee in undesirable locations knowing it was bad, but did it anyways because she got angry or jealous. That was one bad dog. Not all dogs have such an obnoxious characteristic, however.

Pros for Cats: Unlike dogs, cats have more than one emotion! They are also far more independent and conservative. Cats will always have a fondness for their owners, but they choose to show it only when they are in the mood. A cat might wake up after a brief rest, and spontaneously think: “Well, I feel like getting some attention now,” and they’ll walk over to you and start rubbing up against your legs while purring. That’s when you know the cat is in a good mood, when they sound like miniature car motors.

Then there are other times when you will try to pet them, and the cat will just be like: “Yeah, whatever, thanks I guess.” Or the cat is in an extremely lazy mood and will refuse to respond to anything you do. Nobody ever knows how a cat will react, their behavior is random. You kinda have to “earn” their respect and attention, but hey, nothings wrong with that. Plus, cats won’t always be a bother when you’re busy.

Cons for Cats: The problem with a cat’s attitude is that it’s inconsistent, or arbitrary. There are occasions when you just want a friendly pet to come lay down on top of your lap or next to you, and cats will certainly do that, just not whenever you want. What I’m trying to articulate here is cats are not as loyal or willing to comply as easily as dogs.

Here’s an example: Once a dog learns his name, he’ll respond without hesitation when you call him. A cat, however, even when he hears you calling, will choose to either listen or completely ignore you. The cat will even raise it’s head towards you, acknowledging that he’s heard your call, and then close his eyes and go right back to sleep. How rude! Cats will listen every now and then; it’s just if they are in the mood.

Conclusion: The personality is a preference thing. People like loyal and loving pets, but they also enjoy pets who show can show some restraint.

Messiness – How Clean Or Messy Are Dogs and Cats?

Pros for Dogs: Uh, well, you know, um… Okay dogs are not really the cleanest animals around. The good thing is you can potty train them, and training them to go to the bathroom outside is both convenient and a whole lot less smelly for your home. That’s really all I have to say for the positive side. Dogs will take care of themselves most often, but you will probably need to give a bath from time to time to help keep them clean.

Cons for Dogs: First off, if you haven’t potty trained your dog yet, you should! Otherwise, the dog will pee or poop wherever they please, and that’s just gross. On top of that immense problem, dogs are known to chew on wires, shoes, or anything else accessible on the ground. Wires that have been chewed through will render whatever appliance it was powering to be fully useless. Depending on what the appliance was, it may need to be replaced, and means spending money. The same goes for the shoes.

To remedy this problem, you can buy cord covers to cover any vulnerable cords laying around. Make sure the covers are hard enough to prevent any chewing. As for the shoes, put them away in a closet somewhere. Also, consider having a few chew toys available for your dog to satisfy their chomping urges; it’ll save you money in the end.

Pros for Cats: Cats, to match their independent behavior, clean themselves many times. It’s part of a cat’s daily routine. They even have tongues that have a sandpaper like texture to help clean and groom their hair. Due to a cat’s frequent cleaning, they rarely need to be bathed, which is great. I mean, have you tried bathing a cat before? It’s a nightmarish experience for sure.

Most cats are already potty trained, all you have to do is have a few litter boxes scattered throughout the house, the rest can be left up to them. How convenient is that? You can even let a cat outside and they’ll take care of business, even burying it after they’ve finished. Cats are very clean animals.

Cons for Cats: Until they throw up a nasty hairball, that is. A major downside for cats is the perpetual vomiting. Some cats do it more often than others, but at some point, the cat is going to get a hairball from their constant cleaning, and you will have to clean it up! It’s kinda gross, but you’ll get used to it eventually.

Additionally, it’s important to spay or neuter a cat as soon as possible. It’ll prevent them from spraying your home with urine. Seriously, the earlier the better. You don’t want a cat to develop a spraying habit, it’s the worst.

And of course, cats have the tendency to claw furniture! There are scratching posts one can buy to discourage this type of behavior. Placing the posts next to the piece of furniture is most effective.

Conclusion: Cats are cleaner than dogs, but have the potential to be messier, especially if they are not spayed at the right time. But self-cleaning and instinctive potty training are two very convenient hygienic qualities to have in a pet.

Fun – Are Dogs or Cats More Fun To Play With?

Pros For Dogs: Because of a dog’s willingness to listen, to put it simply: it allows you to do more fun activities with them, and that can be way more fun for certain people. You can teach a dog new tricks, like sitting, rolling over and playing dead; all of which are entertaining for you and your family to see. Dogs also love to go for walks in the parks for some healthy exercise, or play an exciting game of fetch. Undoubtedly, dogs are very amusing animals and most of the fun comes from the owner interacting with their pet, unlike cats. I’ll explain below.

Cons For Dogs: Fun stems from an energetic and friendly attitude, which is precisely where dogs excel. If you are looking for a fun pet then, dogs will rarely disappoint. No real cons come to mind in this department.

Pros for Cats: Cats, despite their supposed sophisticated demeanor, are captivated by the simplest of things. If you’ve raised a kitten before, the first thing that stands out is their ability to entertain themselves with absolutely anything. It’s a cat’s self-entertainment that is so enthralling and fun to watch.

My cats will attack innocent rugs, rolling themselves up inside and clawing at the furry mat as if it were alive. They’ll also chase their own tails around in circles until they get dizzy, in which case they’ll stop for a few seconds, and do it all over again! Cats will stalk bugs in the house, hiding behind cover and methodically pacing themselves towards the unsuspecting insect, then they crouch down, shake their behinds back and forth until finally ending with a vicious pounce. It’s hilarious to see, and you would be surprised at how effective cats are at eliminating bugs.

If you want to participate in on the fun and interact with a cat, you can. All you need is a single piece of string. Seriously, cats cannot resist the opportunity to play with a piece of string. Even if you were to wake a cat up in the middle of the night, and they see a string wiggling vigorously in front of them, they’ll instantly become wide awake and start playing around with it.

Cons for Cats: While cats will amuse themselves with simple things, you’ll have a hard time getting them to learn any tricks. Or going for walks. Or playing with things that are not strings or string equivalents. Oh well!

Conclusion: Two different styles of fun are at work here. Dogs are more willing to learn and play with their owner, and that’s fun. Cats on the other-hand, are more willing to amuse themselves, which is fun for the owner to watch.

Cost – How Much Will These Pet Dogs and Cats Cost Me?

Dogs: The average cost of a dog varies and is usually dependent on their size. Bigger dogs such as German Shepherds will require more food to eat, while smaller puppies like a Maltipoo need much less. The more food you buy, the costlier it becomes. Other dog expenses might include flea medications, chewing toys, cord covers to protect electrical wiring, and a new shiny pair of shoes if they get chewed up! If your dog is not potty trained for the outdoors, pee pads can cost money as well.

Cats: Cat expenses include dry food, flea medications, litter boxes plus litter (unless you let the cat outside all the time), and possibly hairball medication if they struggle getting a hairball up. Cats most often than not don’t have trouble with hairballs because dry foods have a specific ingredient to help lubricate the hair. Also, don’t forget scratching posts for the cats to scratch, the posts cost substantially less than the furniture!

Conclusion: Both cats and dogs require money to take care of, is anyone surprised? Dogs may cost more if you get a bigger breed.

There you go! Those are the positives and negatives for owning a pet dog or cat. They each come with their own unique set of problems, but if you are able to look past them and pick a pet that has a personality that closely matches your own, I think it’s a decision you won’t regret making.

You could also just get both. Dogs and cats living together… what a crazy thought, but it’s possible. I do it!

Project Development Lifecycle for OBIEE

Considering the RUP there are four life cycle phases of a project- inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. As an OBIEE developer you will be mostly working during the designing, developing, testing, and implementing phase. Sometimes there is involvement in requirements gathering phase but more chances are to work in the refining the requirements.

You can define the OBIEE project Life cycle as below:

The initiation/inception phase: Creating business case, Project planning and feasibility study.

The elaboration/planning phase: Resource Planning, Requirements gathering and analysis

The execution/development phase: Design and development. This is where as an OBIEE developer I worked the most.

The transition/closure phase: Deployment, operations and maintenance.

The normal Software Development Lifecycle is also very similar to this.

These are the default Steps in SDLC:

•System Study

•System Design

•Software Development

•System Implementation

System Design:

•Known as the “How” phase, the system design determines how to implement the system study solutions. This involves:

Output requirements:

Determine the output media, such as, hard or soft output.

Input requirements:

The output is determined first since it dictates the input requirements.

Determine the input source, such as, databases, data entry by keyboard, mouse or screens (monitors), data screening, voice, data communications, etc.

Storage requirements:

Define the databases.

Records and Fields

System controls and backup:

Determine “The what can go wrong scenarios”.

Unauthorized access, determine security measures for software & hardware.

Lost or corrupted databases (bank vaults of information), determine on-site backup.

Disasters, determine off-site database storage, computer processing and communication network back-ups (AT&T, MCI & Sprint).

•Develop system specifications for the programmers.

Software Development:

•Build software programs according to design sepcifications.

Make or by decision.

Write the programs in-house or purchase software packages.

Purchase Considerations:

Customization: Programs you write will meet or exceed design specifications. Software packages on-the-other-hand must be customized to meet your specifications.

Extensive customization should be avoided for two reasons. First, it is costly and time consuming. Second, implementing software package revisions, requires that customization changes be reapplied which in some cases does not retrofit easily.

Re-Engineering: An alternative to customization in that the company changes it’s procedures to comply with the software package specifications.

Note: The SDLC must be completed regardless of the write or buy decision.

System Implementation:

•Test the system.

Alpha testing until the system stabilizes.

Beta testing by the system users.

“What if” testing by the system analyst.

•Populate the databases.

•Develop user procedures.

•Train the users.

•Some approaches for turning-on the system:

Direct: Turn-off the old system and start-up the new system.

Parallel: Run the old & new system side by side until the new system has proven to be reliable. Should be avoided when there is not enough users to keep both systems running.

Phased: Parts of the new system are phased in separately.

Pilot: The system is used by a limited number of users like a department, or a district, or a region, etc.

Alternative Investment Fund Regulations

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)

AIF is an Alternative Investment Fund Regulations privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors. AIF may be in the form of a trust or a company or a limited liability partnership or a body corporate.

Why AIF

AIF Regulations endeavor to extend the perimeter of regulation to unregulated funds with a view to ensuring systemic stability, increasing market efficiency, encouraging the formation of new capital and consumer protection.

Who are not covered

Currently, the AIF Regulations do not apply to mutual funds, collective investment schemes, family trusts, ESOP and other employee welfare trusts, holding companies, special purpose vehicles, funds managed by securitisation or reconstruction companies and any such pool of funds which is directly regulated by any other regulator in India.

Categories of AIFs

An AIF needs to seek registration broadly under one of the 3 categories –

Category I AIF: The following are covered under Category I

1. Funds investing in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

2. Other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable including the Venture Capital Funds

3. AIFs with positive spillover effects on the economy, for which certain incentives or concessions might be considered by SEBI or Government of India or other regulators in India

Category II AIF: The following are covered under Category II

1. AIFs for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

2. Which shall not undertake leverage other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements as permitted in these Regulations

3. Which shall include Private Equity Funds, Debt Funds, Fund of Funds and such other funds that are not classified as category I or III

Category III AIF: The following get covered under Category III

1. The AIFs including hedge funds which trade with a view to making short term returns;

2. Which employ diverse or complex trading strategies

3. Which may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives

Applicability of AIF Regulations to Real Estate Funds

After knowing what an AIF is and its broad categories, we analyse whether AIF Regulations are applicable to the Real Estate Funds

Firstly AIF has to seek registration under AIF Regulations under one of the three categories stated above. Therefore if a Fund does not fall under any of the three categories stated above, then it will not seek the registration with SEBI.

If we look at the Category 1, registration is required by funds which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

If we look at the definition of infrastructure, Explanation to Regulation 2 (m) states that Infrastructure shall be as defined by the Government of India from time to time.

And in the normal parlance, the term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids,

telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.

Therefore infrastructure does not include the real estate or construction activity since this activity deals in investing in land, developing the land by way of construction of flats, townships and other residential and commercial projects.

But if the real estate fund carries on certain projects for a social purpose like purchasing land for charity etc.; then the fund may be covered under social venture funds.

The clause further states that ‘or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified;’

The AIF Regulations have been notified just a few days back and till date, no other AIF funds have been specified in the Category 1 by the Government. Further what the government or regulators consider as socially and economically viable is a very broad concept. However, till the Government specifically comes out with specific inclusions under Category 1; a Real Estate Fund will not be covered under Category 1 and therefore would not require Registration.

Further, the clause also states that – Alternative Investment Funds which are generally perceived to have positive spillover effects on economy and for which the Board or Government of India or other regulators in India might consider providing incentives or concessions will bee included

By adding these lines to the Category 1, SEBI has made the category 1 very vague and open to dispute and litigations since what SEBI intends with positive spillover effects on the economy is not defined or clarified. Different people or organizations may have a different opinion on this which would lead to unnecessary litigations and hardships to business owners. However, till any clarity comes on this, the business owners need to take a cautious approach to the decision of seeking Registration under AIF Regulations.

Category II AIF

Now we examine whether a Real Estate Fund falls under the Category II AIF

If we look at the funds covered by Category II above, they

1. Shall not fall in Category I and III

2. Shall not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to- day operational requirements and as permitted by these regulations;

3. Shall be funded such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

For Real Estate Fund under Category I, we notice that at present it does not fall under Category I and it also does not fall under Category III since these are basically hedge funds. Further, no specific incentives or concessions are given by the Government to the Real Estate Sector. Therefore if we look at the applicability of Real Estate Fund under Category II, these funds may fall under the Category II AIFs if they do not take leverage or borrowing except for short-term requirements.

Impact of AIF on the Real Estate Funds

Under these Regulations, the minimum investment amount has to be Rs 1 crore from each investor. Therefore attracting the funds from the investors would become tough for the real estate funds, who used to raise amounts as less as INR 1 million from the investors. Now they would need to find high-value investors though this is not the only challenge that lies ahead for those raising domestic corpuses. They now also have to invest 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 5 crore, whichever is lower, to ensure that the managing company’s risk is aligned with that of the investor. Moreover, a single investment in a company or a project cannot exceed 25% of the entire corpus.

Further a Real Estate Fund registered in the form of an LLP also would be covered under the AIF Regulations. In an LLP Structure, since the investors are also partners, the risk to the rights of the investors being misused is very minimum. Therefore applying the AIF Regulations to the LLP Structure would reduce the flexibility available to such a Structure.

Conclusion

If we look at the AIF Regulations from a short term perspective, in light of the difficult fund raising environment today, the higher ticket size for investors could potentially throw up some challenges and could in a manner constrict the growth of the asset class, but clearly, in the long run, these regulations appear to have an element of maturity to play a pivotal role in the development and shaping up of the future of alternate asset class in India. It is also clear that alternative investments are more sophisticated and risky as compared to investments in equity and debt and till market matures it is advisable that only HNIs and well informed investors make an investment in this asset class and once the market matures it is made open to all. In the long run, we may see more investments in the Alternative asset class (in terms of quantum and maturity) due to the increased investor confidence in these funds.

Travel: Different Means of Travel!

Nowadays, there are many different means of travelling which include airplane or ships or trains or buses etc. you can choose your medium by keeping in view your interest, your priorities and of course your budget. Lets have some general over view of different means of travelling.

AIR: Air travel is the most recent means of moving from one place to another. Since its first usage, it has become so popular due to its many advantages that it is now the most used mean of travel by people for long routes. It is taken as an expensive choice although there are many air lines that are offering air flights quite cheaply but over all it is an expensive but most quick mean of moving from one place to another.

SEA: Sea is one of the oldest means of travelling. Ships were used for roaming even by Greeks and Egyptians. It remained the main source of travelling for quite a long time but after the invention of aero planes, it has somehow lost its place. Nowadays moving from one place to another by sea is rarely done and even when done it is mostly through large ships which are built for luxurious cruising for the more privileged people. Middle and lower class people can’t really enjoy in those huge and luxurious vessels.

TRAIN: Moving from one city to another by means of train is considered as the most reliable and affordable mean of travelling. Trains now for long have remained a top priority of people for travelling. Travelling by train has all the ingredients that it takes for a perfect travel as it is quick and reliable and cheap mean of travelling.

Walls That Can Be Tuned

In this era of telecommunications when most systems are being made wireless, the need for security has increased tremendously because various signals need to be protected and isolated from each other. Meeting both these requirements simultaneously can present a host of challenges. Currently, mobile communication and Wireless Internet Local Area Network (WLAN) systems are being designed on the basis of a detailed analysis of Radio Frequency (RF) coverage and capacity requirements. Security and privacy issues can be addressed through good design but “eavesdropping” continues to be a real vulnerability.

A revolutionary technology, called Frequency Selective Surface (FSS), is increasingly being proposed and used as an answer to the deployment of secure wireless systems for indoor environments, taking advantage of innovative techniques in building design and the use of attenuating material.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the American physicist D. Rittenhouse discovered that some colours of a light spectrum were suppressed when a street lamp was observed through a silk handkerchief. This was perhaps the first “proof” that non-continuous surfaces can exhibit different transmission properties for different frequencies of incident wave. Hence, the surfaces were called Frequency Selective Surfaces (FSS).

Therefore, an FSS can be considered as a free space filter which could be used to pass certain frequencies and stop others. These filters are designed by fabricating some geometric metallic shapes on a dielectric material. The shapes could be a circle, cross, square, ring or a tripole, as shown.

These geometric metallic shapes on a dielectric material act like inductive and capacitive reactance to the incident plane waves and hence, behave as free space filters. The manufactured panels then could be mounted on the walls of a building or pasted on a window to get the desired band pass or band stop results.

The design of FSS is basically obtained by putting any of these shapes a half wavelength away from each other in a periodic manner. The wavelength is obtained by the frequency of operation. A very common example of FSS is the front screen of a microwave oven, used in our houses or workplaces. You must have noticed a periodic structure of hexagons or circles on the front glass.

This is, in fact, an FSS which stops the microwave frequency to come out of the oven, since it is harmful to human beings. How and why do geometric shapes make an FSS act as a band pass or band stop filter? Well, it is very simple.

As an example, shown here is a cross geometry and its equivalent circuit. It can easily be seen that when an incident wave impinges on this structure, a small current flows in the material (mostly made up of copper) making it an equivalent series LC circuit (L= Inductor, C= Capacitor). Inductance is in the arms of each cross and capacitance in between the adjacent edges due to currents produced in the structure as incident electromagnetic waves strike, as shown in the figure. At resonance frequency of LC circuit, the signal would either pass or stop according to the design analogy and the form of incident wave impinging on the FSS.

In short, an FSS is not more than a parallel or series LC circuit, to behave as a free space filter. Incorporating some active device(s) in between these elements can make the FSS active, adding more functionality and configurability in design.

An FSS could be used in many engineering applications such as:

– Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags;

– Collision avoidance;

– Radar cross-section augmentation;

– Robotic guided paths;

– Electromagnetic interference protection;

– Photonic band-gap structures;

– Low probability of intercept systems (for instance stealth);

– Waveguide or cavity control coupling;

– and, wireless security, etc.

It is not necessary for a reader without a scientific background to understand the terminologies given above, because my focus is on the last application. This is because the use of wireless communication pertains to the masses. Therefore, the importance of FSS in the security of modern-day wireless technology will be discussed.

Cellular communication

Cellular phones cannot just be disruptive or annoying, but on occasions, they can give rise to security threats because they could be used to set off a device. But the annoying sound of a cellphone ringing in the cinema or theatre could be on the way out with the development of a high-tech frequency selective surface that blocks their signals.

Quiet zones could be created in hospitals, schools and airport lounges with the use of high-tech FSS. Also, the surface, made up of a metallic grid, could help foil terrorists. This type of security is mostly needed in airports and other high-risk areas frequented by personnel belonging to the defence forces and security agencies.

The beauty in the design and development of an FSS is that it would only block a particular kind of signals while other signals could be allowed to pass. In engineering terms, it would behave as a band stop filter to the frequency to be blocked and a band pass filter to the rest.

It must be noted that before the advent of commercial FSS, large aluminum sheets were incorporated in the walls of modern buildings to stop unwanted signals. A major problem with this technique was that besides blocking the desired frequency, it would stop other frequencies as well.

However, with the commercial manufacturing of frequency selective surfaces, it has now become possible to be selective – either to stop or pass a particular kind of waves. Therefore, the aim of creating secure zones in buildings to avoid terrorist activities could be achieved through the development of either of the following:

– A passive FSS, or;

– An active FSS.

A passive FSS is the one in which some funny shapes are designed on a dielectric sheet for a particular frequency to be passed or stopped. Once this surface is fabricated, its properties cannot be altered. The other basic point is that they have to be relatively large enough to be pasted on a large cross-section of the wall or window. The advantage of this kind of FSS is that they are easy to design and manufacture but the disadvantage is that they are not reconfigurable.

On the other hand, active FSS is made up of the same funny shapes with the incorporation of some active electronic devices like gun diode, varactor diode or capacitors. These active devices make the size of the FSS much smaller than a passive one and are reconfigurable. The only disadvantage is that the design and fabrication of such devices is very challenging. In both cases, FSS would help stop any cellphone signal coming into the security area, like airport lounges, while other signals like those of the radio, TV or wireless would definitely come in.

An important area in human security is that overuse of cellphones can cause harm to the ear and brain tissues with electromagnetic waves going too frequently into the head. This has been reported by people from around the world.

This happens because in the recently developed high-tech cellphones, the ground plane used behind the antenna is usually a conductor which is not capable of stopping the electromagnetic radiations going past. Research is being carried out by engineers and scientists to make a ground plane of FSS which behaves as a perfect band stop filter to the incoming frequencies, hence eliminating the cause of backward radiations.

Wireless internet

A certain type of frequency selective surfaces has been designed in order to prevent Wireless Fidelity Local Area Network (WiFi LAN) signals from escaping a building without affecting cellphone signals. The technology has been designed to stop outsiders from gaining access to a secure network by using WiFi networks casually set up by workers in the office or in a building.

It only takes a moment for an employee to connect a paperback-sized WiFi base station to a company network. That person can then wander around the office with his laptop while remaining wirelessly connected to the internet. However, the problem with this topology is that it gives a chance to an outsider to breach that company’s computer security using the WiFi connection.

Unless the WiFi base station is protected by security measures that most amateur users would not bother to set up, it gives anyone up to 100 metres away, the chance to bypass the corporate firewall and wirelessly hack straight into the network.

Until now, the only way to ensure that people are not illicitly gaining access to company secrets has been to turn offices and buildings into a signal-proof “Faraday cage,” by lining the walls with aluminum foil, and using glass that absorbs radio waves in the windows. This ensures that all electromagnetic emissions are absorbed, but it also means that no one can use a cellphone in the building or office.

Companies around the world have developed tunable frequency selective surfaces which can block WiFi at 2.4, 5 and 6 gigahertz, while letting through GSM and 3G cellphone signals, plus emergency service calls. It means that FSS is now working as a band stop filter for 2.4, 5 and 6 gigahertz WiFi signals while acting as a band pass filter for GSM and 3G signals and other emergency service calls.

FSS can also provide the isolation between different standards of WiFi signals inside a building, that is, between 2.4, 5 and 6 GHz systems. This isolation is very important otherwise interference among these would cause a serious threat to data accessibility and security. For example, if an isolation is required between 2.4 and 5 GHz system in a wireless network environment, an FSS could be designed which could behave like a band stop filter to either the frequencies and then fixed on a wall between the two WiFi networks. This would enable both networks to work separately in different locations, without any interference.

As wireless communications evolve into a critical business application, construction firms, landlords and tenants should take a closer interest in RF propagation. Engineers and designers will also need to familiarize themselves with a new breed of building, fit-out and RF materials, especially FSSs, as well as mastering the implementation of the latest wireless systems and intelligent antennas. Current developments in FSS point to a bright future for the technology, with useful applications waiting to be exploited in a multitude of industries.

Pakistan, meanwhile, is on the verge of wireless age and soon there would be a great shift in data communication from physical connections to wireless connectivity. Wireless communication is considered to be a clean form of networking where no lengthy physical lines and network components are involved. That’s why it could be inferred that more and more companies would turn towards this technology to save money and to be efficient.

Therefore, we need experts in order to provide security to the overall wireless networking. Moreover, with the development of a huge cellular phone infrastructure in the country, we may at some point need to block signals in restricted areas like airports, hospitals and cinema halls.

Anyone interested in microwave and radio frequency (RF) communication should choose FSS as a focal area for research because it carries a lot of potential for the future, even in Pakistan.

The Importance of Your eCommerce Site for Your Business

It is plain to see why a poorly designed website can be a major problem to online businesses, most especially during the holiday season, which covers 20% to 40% of the yearly sales.

In this regard, those who need data validation can refer to the stats that explain the importance of your brand’s presence on the Internet:

  • Before people shop at a physical store, they often check websites of online stores.
  • Customers search online for the prices and availability of goods so they would know whether to shop online or at physical stores.
  • During an economic crisis, consumers exercise caution when shopping online to stretch their budget, resulting to an increase of website traffic.
  • Shoppers that tend to purchase downloadable gifts like eBooks, music and FB credits, among others, will likely buy more.

Optimize Your Online Site Immediately

Now that you are aware of your site’s importance, what should you do before the holiday season approaches? It is never too late to try some of these strategies:

Prepare for unexpected traffic.Plan ahead of time to make sure that your site can manage all the orders. Anticipate peak loads, observe the responsiveness of your site and assess application performance way before Cyber Monday.

Increase the speed of your site. Use a CDN (content delivery network) for a speedy delivery of relevant content with videos and images to your consumers.

During the holidays, most shoppers use their mobile devices to search online before heading for the stores. Therefore, it would be wise to incorporate an in-store experience with info regarding your well-timed and relevant personalized website and mobile apps.

Find ways to let the customers easily find your products on the web. To improve exposure, submit a feed to the top online shopping comparison engine, Google Product Search. Try the Amazon Marketplace or add pay-per-click ads to Amazon Product Ads’ product and category pages. This way, shoppers will be able to view your ads when they find products that are similar to yours.

Though social media is not the main channel for searching, it has targeted the mainstream and has therefore gained importance, specifically to GenY shoppers. Transform visitors into sales channels by including social sharing in product pages. Display good customer service in public by resolving issues with customers on networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

People who are low on budget usually search online before buying, so it is a good idea to follow the example of various sites in making it fun, simple and efficient to shop on the web. Provide product filters, rich product details, comparison tools, well-designed navigation and recommendations. Enhance the images of your best-selling products, emphasize your value propositions and make sure that shipping and return policies are clear.

Fix your leaky conversion funnel immediately by adding simple and cost-efficient website usability and feedback tools.

Whenever possible, ask for the visitor’s email address and try to squeeze a lot of value out of each sign-up.

Try to employ remarketing campaigns so you can target consumers who take time to buy.

You Need a Financial House Cleaning

I was driving the other day, and while waiting at the light, I saw a window placard on the car in front of me which read. “House cleaning services”. It was just another mobile advertisement for one of the local national chains. I began to think, “you know it’s tough keeping up the house these days, with tight schedules revolving around school, soccer, and various other activities. Who has time, to clean the toilet, dust off the shades, vacuum, clean the dishes etc., I sure could use some help around the house, right?

Whether it be daily, weekly, or at the very least monthly! Because between you and me, bottom line, it’s not getting done very well now! So it’s very practical, yes, even logical, to spend a few bucks to enlist the help of a professional to help tidy up a few things around the house on a regular basis. Just think, with that small monthly, reasonable expenditure taken care of, I can now add more or less to my daily “to do list” of activities. My quality of life could dramatically improve, less stress, guilt, back pain, etc… This makes perfect sense doesn’t it? But do I really want someone seeing my underwear on the floor! I can get over that, for some peace of mind! But can I afford it? I can probably make some adjustments here and there but where?

Right then, I came to the realization that not only did my house need some upkeep, but my financial house needed some foundation work as well! There were a few cracks that needed to be fixed. And we all know that a solid financial foundation must be in place in order to build a strong financial house on it. Now I find myself back to square one, who has time for finances! I would rather do housework for crying out loud! At least I can see the results of my hard work! Money just seems to disappear like my socks in the dryer! I need a vacation just thinking about all this!

You had to mention vacation didn’t you. Isn’t it funny how we spend hours, even in some cases days, weeks, months planning our much needed vacation. Yet, that one or two week time frame is just a millisecond in the grand spectrum of our entire lives. We all need to put more planning effort in our financial house, so we can take that permanent vacation (retirement)

It doesn’t matter how much dirty laundry we piled up, or how much we make now, or how much or little we have set aside for our future, the time to start planning is not tomorrow, but now. So how do you get started, how can this be accomplished?.

One way to start this financial house cleaning search is to obtain a “financial needs analysis,” this is the first step in the process of putting together a personal financial house cleaning strategy. Like a good house cleaning, we all could use a little help cleaning our financial house as well and it does not cost anything to have your house inspected and recommendations made.

Right then a horn blast woke me out of the temporary nirvana of house cleaning bliss, the light had changed and it was back to reality, back to the hustle and bustle, but I did manage to catch up to the car with the house cleaning placard, and jotted down their number. It’s also time to find the number of a good financial house cleaner as well.

Sales Techniques – 5 Winning Styles

Why is it that some sales professionals are much more successful at selling than others? Often this success can not be attributed to better education or training but something less obvious. Putting a ‘label’ on a behavior or approach can help identify development gaps and focus future training to increase the performance of each sales professional. Recent research has identified five different selling styles. To make the grade, sales professionals need to use at least three of these styles. To be highly successful, sales professionals should use all five styles.

Five Sales Styles A recent study of sales professional in the medical arena has disclosed five primary selling styles:

The Relationship Selling Style :

This style is all about cultivating a close, personal rapport with the prospects and customers. Relationship sellers are known for their friendship and outgoing personalities.

The Technical Problem-Solving Style :

Sales professionals who are experts on their products and are able to educate their audience on the details of their offerings are practitioners of the Technical Problem-Solving style. These individuals tend to be quite analytical, and they excel at establishing technical credibility in front of their prospects.

The Account Servicing Style :

Sales professionals who use this selling style focus on keeping existing customers happy while asking for more business. This service-minded style is built upon a foundation of responsiveness, proactive follow-up, and a strong commitment to doing what is right for doctors and their patients.

The Assertive Style :

Assertive style sales professionals sell through strength of personality. Strong assertive style reps typically bring that difficult-to-train, “fire in the belly” approach to the work. They are extremely competitive, self-assured, intense, and assertive.

The Business Partnering Style :

Sales professionals who establish a business consulting relationship with their customers employ this style. Business Partners understand strategic issues and market conditions that influence business practices. They excel in helping their customers “grow” their businesses. Successful business partners display excellent big-picture thinking skills, market knowledge, persuasive communication capabilities, and creativity.

Which Styles Work Best?

Using three of these five selling styles will result in average sales results. The Relationship Selling, Technical Problem-solving, and Account Servicing styles are necessary components for most sales positions. If a sales professional does not have solid proficiency in each of these three styles, he / she may struggle to gain the respect of the customer. The outstanding sales professionals, the individuals who consistently “knock the cover off the ball”, bring something in addition to these three styles to their selling. They display a strong combination of the “fire in the belly” Assertive Style and the “learned” Business Partnering style.

At their very core, all outstanding performers display a strong desire to succeed. They are extremely competitive, goal-focused, and accountable. They utilize an abundance of tenacity, energy, and intensity to drive bottom-line success. Beyond this “warrior” mentality, these sales professionals also display a greater ability than others to consult with their customers. They are attuned to the business strategies and growth plans of their customers. They recognize and can persuasively communicate how their company and products can add value to the customer’s business. They are active students of their industry and marketplace, and they are viewed as true business partners by their customers.

Developing a Repertoire of Styles To raise sales performance, sales professionals should think through:

  1. Which style (s) am I most dependent on?
  2. Do I ever over-rely on one style to the detriment of the others?
  3. Based on my market and my success rate, on which styles do I need training and development?
  4. Which styles do the top-performing sales professionals in my organization utilize, and which styles can I emulate?

By understanding an individual’s unique selling style and analyzing the gaps that exist between themselves and the best performers in their company, the sales professional can seek the training and advice they need to help build their repertoire of influencing styles.