Prehistoric fossils suggest modern dogs evolved from a single population of wolves

The dogs of ancient Europe probably looked a lot like the mutts roaming Europe today, new DNA discoveries from dog fossils suggest. In the ongoing debate over how many times dogs were domesticated from wolves, this new study suggests it happened just once.

Dogs are the very first species that humans tamed, but the details surrounding dogs’ origins are a little fuzzy. Now, ancient DNA extracted from two 7,000-year-old and 4,700-year-old dog fossils discovered in Germany offer scientists a glimpse at dog evolution. Modern dogs probably descended from just one population that lived continuously in Europe for millennia, according to the research led by Krishna Veeramah at Stony Brook University.

Our furry friends likely evolved from a population of wolves domesticated sometime between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. Exactly who domesticated these wolves, when, and how many times, is still a mystery, and scientists don’t agree on the answer. Dogs were probably domesticated by accident, when wolves began trailing ancient hunter-gatherers to snack on their garbage. Docile wolves may have been slipped extra food scraps, the theory goes, so they survived better, and passed on their genes. Eventually, these friendly wolves evolved into dogs. “People want a story that someone picked up a wolf cub and made a dog — but it’s been a much more complex process than that,” Veeramah says.

This is where the 4,700-year-old dog skull was discovered, in a cave next to human remains. 
Photo: Timo Seregely

Last year, researchers led by Oxford’s Greger Larson argued that DNA from a 5,000-year-old Irish dog fossil showed signs that this complex evolution happened not once, but twice: once in Europe, and once in Asia. The dogs domesticated in Asia later replaced some of the early European dog population, they reported.

Today’s study disputes those findings, however, arguing instead that a single group of dogs were probably first domesticated between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago. (They don’t say where.) These ancestral dogs then split into Eastern and Western populations. The dogs that stayed in Europe are likely the distant ancestors of modern European mutts and many of today’s breeds, the study reports today in Nature Communications.

It’s a solid paper, says Adam Boyko, a dog geneticist at Cornell University who wasn’t involved in the research. And most of the field would probably agree with its conclusions: that dogs were probably domesticated just once, and within the 20,000-year window Veeramah proposes. “Certainly dog geneticists can be a contentious group,” Boyko says. “I don’t think anyone’s overly invested in their own theory. It’s just that these are complicated questions, and everyone’s trying the best that they can to get the right answer.”

In fact, Gregor Larson’s team at Oxford — whose study last year supported the two domestications hypothesis — shared their data with Veeramah’s team. Their analysis of a 5,000-year-old Irish dog fossil revealed genetic traces of what might have been an extinct, European dog lineage, which they concluded could have resulted from a separate, earlier domestication event. But when Veeramah’s group reanalyzed the data, they couldn’t replicate the signal. “There wasn’t any evidence that this dog had anything special about it,” he says. Instead, he says they discovered a technical glitch behind the findings supporting two domestications, which they reported in their study today.

Veeramah’s team also extracted DNA from two more dog fossils discovered in Germany over the last 20 years. They re-created a canid family tree by comparing chunks of DNA from these ancient dogs and today’s purebreds, mutts, and wolves. By counting the genetic differences, and estimating how long it would take for those differences to show up, they could roughly date when each of these groups split apart. For wolves and dogs, that was roughly 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. For Eastern and Western dog populations, it was probably between 17,000 and 24,000 years ago.

The two ancient German canines turned out to be genetically related to one another, and to the dogs of today despite living thousands of years apart. There was a key difference though: today’s dogs are much more able to digest starches than these ancient dogs, thanks to a digestive enzyme. More copies of the gene for this enzyme help dogs digest starches better, and modern dogs have a lot of copies. These ancient dogs didn’t have nearly as many, however, so this adaptation to domestic life may have emerged later, possibly when agriculture and grain became more widespread.

“The paper brings us back to the idea that there’s a single event,” Boyko says. And it highlights how important ancient DNA will be for piecing together dogs’ contentious origin stories.

 [Source”cnbc”]

Tate Modern celebrates work of black artists from civil rights movement

A woman looks at the sculpture Black Unity 1968, by Elizabeth Catlett, in the Soul of a Nation exhibition.

You hear the exhibition before you see it – the booming voice of Dr Martin Luther King resonating through the Tate Modern galleries.

King’s rousing words in Washington in 1963 inspired the black communities of America to protest, march and sing for their rights Now for the first time, the show at the Tate Modern shows how they also drove an entire generation of artists – long ignored by history – to paint, sculpt, print and take photographs.

Curator Mark Godfrey said the show – Soul of a Nation – had been born from the Tate’s drive to collect more African-American art from the period. Godfrey added that they realised during the research that the artists took a very multifaceted approach to what it meant to be a black artist, who they should make their work for and how the omnipresence of the political struggle of the black community should be represented.

“The question ‘is there a black art’ runs through every room in this show and the answer is different every time, from one group of artists to another,” said Godfrey. “Even if you’re talking about overtly political work, you’ll get one type of work that was made in Chicago and another type of work that was made by Emory Douglas, who designed the Black Panther newspaper.

“They both may have been making images of the Black Panther leaders but Wadsworth Jarrell in Chicago wanted to make those extremely colourful and Douglas would use just two colours and a very different graphic style.”

Soul of a Nation examines what it meant to be black and an artist during the civil rights movement, from 1963 – when the idea of black power was emerging in America – through to 1983. With each room of the exhibition orientated around the different artistic movements and cities where they originated, from LA to Chicago to New York, the core principle tying the show together is that there was, and still is, no single vision of what constituted “black art” or a “black aesthetic”.

The majority of the work has not been displayed in the UK before and it is also the first time a painting dedicated to civil rights leader Malcom X, by Jack Whitten, has ever been exhibited after it was uncovered in the basement of his studio in Queens, New York, when the curators were researching the show.

A fragment of the Wall of Respect, a revolutionary civil rights mural in South Side, Chicago painted in 1967 and mostly destroyed by a fire in 1971, is also on display – its first time being shown in the UK.

Jae Jarrell with her Revolutionary Suit, remade in 2010.
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 Jae Jarrell with her Revolutionary Suit, remade in 2010. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock

Godfrey said that even though many of the works had since entered major American museum collections, there was a notable disparity between how black and white artists were treated.

“At the time, the museums were more likely to collect the abstract art than they were to collect the political and figurative art,” he said. “Or major American museums would buy one work by an artist and that would be it, they wouldn’t follow their career in the same way they would follow the career of a number of white artists. Or they would buy a work but not display it, and it would go into their storage.”

Two of the founding members of the AfriCOBRA collective formed in Chicago in the late 1960s, married couple Wadsworth Jurrell, 87, and Jae Jurrell, 81, said it was extremely moving to walk through the Tate show.

“It’s still so powerful,” said Jae. “Wadsworth and I always believed that the artists were the visionaries that gave beauty and guidance to communities at that time. All I can advise the world is ‘don’t sleep’ because we are still around and we have left a visual imprint. We outsmarted those who ignored us because we may be old but we are here.”

Her husband said that the show also highlighted how many of the battles that had driven the art during the civil rights movement were still being fought in today’s racially divided America.

“We’ve only had cosmetic changes, significant change hasn’t happened even with a black president,” Wadsworth said. “Those ethical racial issues we were talking forty, fifty years ago are still issues today, and they are still at the forefront. Institutional racism has not changed.”

[Source”cnbc”]

Most modern horses came from just two ancient lineages

Horse breeding records are some of the most impressive efforts to chronicle animal lineages in human history, with some stretching back thousands of years. Yet decoding the genetic origins of today’s horses has proved remarkably difficult. Now, a new study finds that nearly all modern horse breeds can be traced to two distinct, ancient Middle Eastern lines that were brought to Europe about 700 years ago. Understanding how these horses were traded, gifted, or stolen could shed light on human history as Eastern and Western civilization commingled and collided.

People first domesticated horses some 6000 years ago in the Eurasian Steppe, near modern-day Ukraine and western Kazakhstan. As we put these animals to work over the next several thousand years, we selectively bred them to have desirable traits like speed, stamina, strength, intelligence, and trainability. People have tracked horse pedigrees for almost as long as we have kept them, but it wasn’t until the 1700s that detailed “studbooks” emerged in Europe to keep tabs on which horses fathered which foals and what characteristics the foals inherited.

The new study’s lead author, Barbara Wallner, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, paired these old, yet meticulously kept data

[Source”timesofindia”]

Best smart switch 2017 UK: Control lights, fans, heaters, kettles, cookers, irons, straighteners and more from your phone

Which smart switch is best? What do smart switches do, and are they worth the money? We test five of the contenders: the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch, TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Elgato Eve Energy, Energenie Mi| Home Adapter Plus and the Efergy Ego. Also read our reviews of the best smart light bulbs

Also see: Best Gadget Deals

Just as smart thermostats are muscling in on old-school programmers, smart switches are having a good go at yesterday’s twiddly timer switches.  Also see: Best robot vacuum cleaners

What is a smart switch?

Basically it’s a switch that you plug into a power socket, and then plug another device’s plug into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi.

With the best smart switches you can set schedules, monitor energy usage and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage. Sounds interesting, but is it really useful?

The not-very-smart traditional power timer switch is pretty handy at switching things like lights, kettles and fish tanks on at set times or intervals. You can buy an analogue timer switch for under a fiver, or get a fancy digital one for a few pounds more.

The ‘smart’ switch is more capable, linking with a smartphone app for device control wherever you are with an internet connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc). Say you stay out longer than you were expecting to (“Go on, just one more pint:”) and really want a light on inside your house to pretend you’re home. With a dumb-ish switch you’re stuffed. With a smart switch you’re only dumb if you let your phone battery run out.

Tap the app, select the smart switch you’re after, and turn on the light. Bingo.

Some experts think you could save on your energy bills by powering down your fridge freezer for a couple of hours a day. Read: Best smart home heating systems.

With a smart switch you could control the TV in your child’s room from the comfort of your armchair, although popping your head around the door and/or reading them a book would be better parenting. Read: How much screen time is safe for kids.

Energy monitoring

One of the more appealing functions of smart switches is energy use and cost monitoring. Not all switches offer this feature, but many do. Devices are often left on standby when not in use for large parts of the day, and standby use accounts for around up to 16 percent of the average electricity bill, reckons energy gadget maker Efergy. With a smart switch you can dramatically cut down on this wasted Standby time. Efergy’s own Ego smart socket, see review below, is especially clever at cutting back on Standby time.

And there’s enough on offer to save you time and effort, too, in the day. Fill your kettle or coffee maker in the morning, and turn it on via the app when you get out of bed so that it has boiled by the time you get to your kitchen. This might sound a very lazy use of technology, but it’s a daily time saver – if you remember to fill the kettle the night before!

The ability to turn devices on and off via Wi-Fi from afar, plus on various timed schedules, is useful. Seeing the energy usage and costs of various devices could help you save money, but this would be even more useful if such switches could monitor multiple devices on a power strip, and these do exist now.

Prices

Smart switches start at around £25, and rise to around £55, so they’re not yet so cheap you can buy one for every appliance. But for those you really want to control from afar, it can be worth the outlay.

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

  • RRP: £24.99 inc VAT

TP-Link’s Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of our top picks. For a start, it’s only £24.99 from Amazon and second, it connects via Wi-Fi directly to your router. So it doesn’t need a hub, nor does it need (as Elgato’s Eve Energy does) an Apple TV or iPad for remote control away from home.

There are iOS and Android apps, but the icing on the cake is that it also works with Amazon Alexa. That means – while at home – you can say, “Alexa turn on the xxx” and control your device hands-free.

Via the app you can create schedules as you can with Energenie’s switch, turning the plug on and off as many times as you like, with different schedules for each day if you like. Using your location, you can also choose sunrise and sunset as triggers.

There’s also a timer mode so you can turn the plug on or off after a preset time, which could be handy for a sleep timer or to turn off the TV once the kids have had enough screen time.

For £10 more, you can buy the HS110 which is the same except that it also monitors the energy the connected device consumes. You see at a glance how many kWh the appliance has used so far today and how long it has been on. Tap on each and you get more detail, such as current power usage, plus totals and daily averages for the past week and month. (It’s the same breakdown for runtime).

With a well-designed and good-looking app, no need for a hub and a decent price, the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug is one of the best you can buy right now.

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

Efergy Ego Smart Switch

  • RRP: £29.99 inc VAT

The Efergy Ego smart switch (which you can buy from Amazon for £29.99) can work like a regular timer, and also has the knack of switching devices on and off at random, which could be useful when you’re trying to give the impression that a home is occupied when it’s actually vacant for a long time.

Its smartphone or tablet app will show you the energy usage of a device or strip of devices, plus their estimated cost over a period of time. Isolate the worst culprits and you’ll soon be making sure they’re properly switched off when not required.

While it lacks WeMo’s handy Notifications feature, the Ego wins out with its ability to learn and turn off appliances automatically that have been on stand-by for too long

When the appliance, most probably your TV, is plugged into the Ego and is on standby you go to the Stand-by/Learn screen in the app. Press the learn button and the Ego stores that value. Then in the Standby feature you set an amount of time, so after ‘x’ minutes of the TV being on standby I want it to turn off at the mains.

There is a also a Group function for those who multiple Ego switches in their home. You can group them together and control them all from the Group/scene page. The best application for this is to have all appliances in one room in a group.

Like the WeMo, the Efergy Ego is reasonably inconspicuous but still a little too bulky to not get in the way of other sockets’ flick switches. It is taller than the WeMo.

No hub is needed, so the price is all you pay, and at £29.99 at the moment (usually £39.99) it’s great value.

.

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

  • RRP: £49.99 inc VAT

You can buy the WeMo Insight Switch for £49.99 from Argos, so it certainly isn’t cheap. It’s part of a larger WeMo home-automation series of products, including Smart LED Bulbs and Light Switch, and WeMo Motion.

There’s a very visible green power-on indicator on top, and, weirdly, a Micro USB port that currently has no function. Setting up the switch is straightforward, if a little long-winded at first. It took us a couple of goes to get it to recognise our Wi-Fi. But at least it doesn’t require a separate hub connected to your router.

Plug the Switch into a power outlet in your home and then plug your chosen device into the Switch. Download the free WeMo App (iOS and Android), and pair it with the Switch and your Wi-Fi network.

Aside from turning things off without getting off your backside WeMo can inform you when, for instance, a laundry cycle is complete, which is actually rather handy. This is set up in the WeMo app’s clever Rules section. Or you could be alerted when your child has exceeded his or her allotted screen/TV time.

Via the app you set rules that trigger the power according to preset times, or to respond automatically to sunrise and sunset, or through motion detection via Belkin’s WeMo Motion detector (an extra £64).

Rules can be set for: Weekends; Weekdays; and, Individual days. And allow for: Turn on only; Turn off only; and, Turn on then off.

It isn’t the cheapest but the ability to create rules could make it the best option for you.

Elgato Eve Energy

Elgato Eve Energy

  • RRP: £44.95

The Eve Energy is a smart switch which also monitors how much power the connected device uses over time. It’s an Apple HomeKit plug which means it works only with iOS devices. However, this also means you can control it with your voice using Siri and that it benefits from the full encryption that HomeKit offers.

Rather than use Wi-Fi, the switch uses Bluetooth. This makes setup easy (and also means you don’t need to have a hub connected to your router) but it does limit the range over which it can be controlled. It will work in most ‘normal’ UK homes, but if you want to control it when away from home, you’ll need an Apple TV (3rd gen or later) or a spare home-based iPad (newer than iPad 2) running iOS 8.1 or later.

You can turn the switch on and off via the Apple Home app in iOS 10 or use the Eve app. If you’re standing next to the switch, there’s a button on top for manual control, too.

Setting up timers is possible using the Scenes tab in the app, but creating a schedule is needlessly complicated compared to other apps, such as TP-Link’s. However, the Eve app is built to work with the whole Eve range – not just a smart switch – and you can make all the gadgets work together using Scenes. It’s powerful, but could be easier to use.

It’s fairly expensive at £44.95 from Apple, but if you already have an iPad or Apple TV for remote access and you like the idea of controlling it via Siri, it could be right for you .

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

Energenie MI|Home Adapter Plus

  • RRP: £34.99 inc VAT

Energenie’s Adapter Plus is the top-of-the-range switch which monitors and controls connected devices. It’s not too expensive at £34.99, but does require a £69.99 hub that connects to your router.

You can buy the Adapter Plus bundle, though, which includes two switches and the hub for £109.99. And there are other products in the range including two-gang wall sockets, smart TRVs, motion sensors and door / window sensors.

Pairing the switch with the hub is as simple as plugging it in and holding down the button for a few seconds. You can then add it as a new device in the Mi|Home app (Android / iOS).

In the app you can tap ON or OFF to manually control the switch (even when away from home) but you can also set up timers. You’re free to create as many as you like, for multiple power cycles each day and different times on different days.

There’s also a geofencing setting so you can turn it off (or on) when you leave the house and then do the opposite when you return. You can even set different distances to trigger the geofencing depending on whether you’re leaving or returning.

For energy monitoring, you can see current and average power use, plus daily and hourly totals. It will also tell you how much the connected device has cost to run each month for the last quarter.

Plus, Energenie has just launched a skill for Alexa, so you can control the plug using your voice – and an Amazon Echo.

 

[Source:- PCA]

Build a Wi-Fi Webcam from an Old Android Phone

If you have an old Android phone you’ve upgraded from lying around, there are tons of projects to put it to good use, but this one is relatively easy and can bring you a little peace of mind: Turn it into a Wi-Fi web or home security camera.

Instructables user depotdevoid took his old Droid Razr Maxx and decided to turn it into an always-on, internet-connected webcam he could monitor at any time. If you want to do the same, you’ll need a few things to make this project work. A copy of IP Webcam (Free, $4 Pro) from Google Play, and a soldering iron (if you don’t want to just use USB power—depotdevoid’s Maxx has a broken USB charging port) to add external power, and a mount for your phone are all it really takes. He uses his to watch his 3D printer when he’s not in his garage workshop, but you can use it to keep an eye on package deliveries, watch your pets during the day, or just see the view from your home window.

Once the app is installed and on your home network, you have to make it internet-accessible so you can view it when you’re away from home. He explains how to do this in the post, but we’re sure most of you are familiar with the concept of port forwarding. If you’re looking for easy ways to assign a dynamic hostname to your home network, we have some great free options for you there, too. Hit the link below for the full tutorial, from start-to-finish.

 

 

 

[Source: Lifehacker]

7 essential tips to get more from your Kindle

With the summer holidays around the corner, a Kindle may well be one of the bits of tech you’re throwing into your suitcase – and if that’s the case we’ve got some useful tips and tricks for you to help you get the most out of your slimline ereader while you’re away.

Of course it’s not difficult to use a Kindle, but like a lot of gadgets these days, it doesn’t come with detailed instructions and so some of the best features can lie undiscovered. From customising the interface to extending battery life, here’s what you need to know.

1. Customise the Kindle interface

Customise

You don’t have to accept the interface that your Amazon Kindle serves up for you by default. Tap near the top of the screen, then tap the Aa icon, and you can change the font type and the font size quite easily. Switch to the Page tab and you can change the spacing, margins and orientation of the text, settings which apply to all the ebooks you load up.

The final tab, Reading progress, is where you can choose what’s shown in the reading progress field (bottom left): book location, book page, time left in chapter, time left in book or nothing (if you’d rather just read without knowing exactly where you are). A handful of extra options are available through the main Settings page on your device.

2. Install the mobile apps

 

If you’ve bought yourself a shiny new Kindle then you may not have paid much attention to the various apps available for Android, iOS, the web and a few other platforms. However, it’s still well worth getting them installed – they’re free to download and use and you can sign in with the same Amazon credentials you use on your actual Kindle ereader.

Even if you own a Kindle, the apps let you catch up with five minutes of reading at the bus stop or during lunch when you might only have your phone handy – your reading position syncs across all of your devices and of course you can access everything you’ve purchased on your ereader (you can buy new ebooks through the mobile apps as well if you need to).

3. Go back to the old home screen

 

Amazon recently rolled out an update for its newer Kindle devices that changed the appearance of the home screen, which you may or may not like the look of – your library is up in the top left, there are links to your reading lists and Goodreads on the right, and underneath there’s a new carousel of recommended books to buy from Amazon.

If you’d rather go back to the old look – which focused much more on the ebooks actually on your device – it’s not difficult to do. From the main menu, tap Settings and then open up the Device Options page. Tap on the Personalise Your Kindle heading and then Advanced Options to find the toggle switch that lets you revert to the old home screen.

4. Organise your reading with Collections

 

The Kindle isn’t the most sophisticated of devices, if you hadn’t noticed, but the oft-overlooked Collections feature is one of the more advanced tools at your disposal that makes it easier to manage your ebooks as well as personal documents you’ve sent to your device (at the moment you can’t add newspapers, magazines and blogs to collections).

Collections are only available on newer Kindles and let you manage larger libraries into categories: anything from “mystery novels” to “books to read next”, so you can really customise the system to suit yourself. From the home screen, open the main menu and tap Create New Collection to get started. Collections then appear on your library page.

5. Highlight your favourite passages

 

Highlighting sections of your ebooks is perhaps the easiest way of putting a virtual bookmark in your current novel: press and hold and then drag your finger to highlight a section of text, then tap the Highlight button from the menu that pops up. You can then tap Go to from the Kindle ebook menu and open the Notes tab to find your highlights.

Your highlights are backed up to your Kindle account automatically if a web connection is available, so you can look at them in any browser by signing in with your Amazon credentials. To see passages of text popular with other Kindle ebook highlighters, open up the Reading Options menu in Settings and turn the Popular Highlights switch to On.

6. Save battery on your Kindle

 

Your Kindle should last for several weeks between charges, but thee might be occasions when you want to eke out as much battery life as possible – say if you’ve just embarked on an around-the-world trip and left your charger at home. As on your smartphone, you can turn off Wi-Fi or turn on the integrated aeroplane mode to try and ration your battery.

Adjusting the brightness is another tried and trusted way of making sure the remaining juice in your Kindle goes further – you’ll see the sunshine icon on the toolbar at the top, which you can tap to dim the screen a little. You can also turn the display off completely, rather than activating the screensaver, by pressing and holding the power button.

7. Catch up with your online reading

 

There’s just never enough time in the day to catch up with everything that needs reading on the web, but your Kindle can help. If you’ve signed up for Instapaperas your read-it-later service of choice, go to the Settings page on the web, and under the Kindle heading you’ll find options that let you send a regular digest of articles to your ereader.

If you’re a Pocket user meanwhile, then the process is slightly more involved, because there’s no official Kindle support. There’s Pocket to Kindle (P2K), for example, which has both free and paid-for plans, or En2Kindle, which will set you back $6 (£4) a year for server upkeep. You can then catch up on your reading at your leisure using your Kindle.

 

 

[Source: T3]

Eureka Forbes eyes 33% revenue from vacuum cleaners by 2014

Home appliances maker Eureka Forbes on Monday said it is targeting one-third of its revenues from the vacuum cleaner business by the turn of 2014.

“The vacuum cleaner business currently contributes to 25 percent of our revenues. We would like that to grow to 33 percent by 2014, because that is definitely a thrust area for our business,” Eureka Forbes Chief Executive Officer for Direct Sales and Senior Marketing Vice-president Marzin R Shroff told reporters.

Last year, the company, which also markets water purifiers under the Aquaguard and Aquasure brands, air purifiers, home security systems among others, had posted a gross turnover of Rs 1,250 crore.

Eureka Forbes, earlier a joint venture between the Forbes Group and Electrolux of Sweden, started the concept of door-to-door selling in 1982.

Shroff said the firm will continue to Indianise vacuum cleaners to suit the needs of customers and create accessories that are useful for the domestic market.

“We have evolved heavily around the technology curve around this,” he said.

The company currently sells 16 brands in the vacuum cleaner segment, including a robotic one, Euroclean Robocleanz, which cleans the dust on its own.

A part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, the company will launch two new products in the category that includes a silent vacuum cleaner.

“Next month, we will be launching a global vacuum cleaner that we have been working with our global counterpart. We have been working on this initiative for over four years now. It will be the most silent vacuum cleaner in the world.

“It is called the EuroClean IQ and it senses the level of dust and automatically powers up or powers down,” Shroff said adding it will be priced at Rs 19,999. Shroff further said they would also be launching a 5-in-1 vacuum cleaner by September-end at Rs 25,000.

“It is a dry vacuum cleaner, a wet vacuum cleaner, steam cleaner and extractor, shampooer and a blower,” he added.

According to industry estimates, the domestic vacuum cleaner market is around Rs 250 crore and Eureka Forbes claims to enjoy a market share of almost 90 per cent of this. Last month the company had said it would enter the packaged drinking water market by next year.

The company had said it would sell the product under the brand name of AquaSure, in 20 litres and one litre bottles, but has not divulged the prices.

Eureka Forbes, which started the direct selling concept in the country, claims to have 52 percent market share in the Rs 1,500 crore water purifier segment, with Aquaguard and AquaSure brands.

The bottled water segment is estimated to be worth Rs 3,000 crore and  is clipping at  25 percent annually. Eureka Forbes has already set up franchised operations for packaged drinking water in Andhra, and plans to enter Andhra, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in a phased manner in the next four to six months.

 

[Source: Zee news]

How to keep your plants free from pests and diseases

pests-and-diseases-planting

Planning your garden so that you’re planting in the right places is important for growing healthy plants, but even so, pests and diseases can scupper your good work.​ Catching problems early is key to keeping your garden bug-and disease-free. While you’re watering the plants, keep an eye out for brown, curled or discoloured leaves, holes in leaves, or stems that have died.

If you spot a problem, the cause is likely to be one of these:

Environmental conditions The wrong surroundings means plants are stressed.

Pests Slugs, snails and aphids are the most common.

Diseases The most unusual problems and the most difficult to deal with.

IN THE WRONG PLACE

If a plant is too dry it will be the older leaves, not the young fresh ones, that will turn brown and die. If a plant is too wet it may start to rot at the stem and there may be brown or white mould on the stem or leaves. These problems are relatively obvious and easy to deal with.

MORE FROM HOUSEBEAUTIFUL

Other issues may be that the spot is too windy, or there aren’t enough nutrients in the soil. Maybe the dog is sitting on the plants or children are using the leaves for their games. A little detective work should help you discover the problem.

PESTS AND BUGS

pests-and-diseases-whitefly

WHITE FLY

Usually these are big enough to be seen. Aphids – green, black or white fly – are large enough to spot, usually on juicy new leaves or stems, while slugs, snails and caterpillars will eat great chunks out of leaves and may even remove the leaf altogether. Then there are vine weevils, which take semi-circular notches out of leaves, and are difficult to catch. It’s important to deal with them though as left unchecked they’ll kill the plants. For the best ways to tackle them, see the box below.

DISEASES

pests-and-diseases-black-spot

Disease is tricky to spot and deal with so it’s worth eliminating the two previously mentioned causes first. If you think your plant is diseased, it probably has a virus, fungus or bacteria. The most common are things like botrytis and leaf spot.

As a very rough guide, fungus is a mould-like growth that will make the plant look and feel squishy. Bacterial infections show up as brown or black marks or spots, which are the cells dying around the infection. Viruses come from inside the plant so the plant veins will discolour.Remember: mould is fungus, mottling is bacteria, marbling is a virus.

If a leaf looks unlike the others on the plant, especially if it has mottling, mould, or marbling, remove it from the garden (don’t even put it in the compost) and watch out for other leaves going the same way. There are some effective fungicides but for bacteria and viral infections the best treatment is removal.

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[Source:- HB]

Top tips for getting the best from your home fragrance

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Fill your rooms with glorious home fragrance and make it last longer with top tips from Victoria Davies, scents buyer at John Lewis.

  1. Don’t save scented candles for special occasions because over time the fragrance becomes weaker. When storing them, find somewhere that’s an even temperature – not too hot or cold.
  2. To maximise your candle’s burn time, allow it to become molten across the entire surface before extinguishing the flame. This prevents ‘tunnelling’, which is  a hollow in the surface of the candle that causes uneven burning.
  3. Instead of blowing out the flame, extinguish it with a candle snuffer to prevent the wick from smouldering and leaving a smoky scent. Alternatively, dip the wick into the wax to put the flame out and create a seal for next time. ​Then trim it to just below 1cm and to prevent sooting don’t allow any excess wick to fall back into the molten wax.​
  4. A higher percentage of fragrance in a candle doesn’t necessarily mean the scent will be more powerful. Light fragrances such as gardenia will need more essential oil to give a noticeable aroma. Conversely, heavier scents, such as rose, don’t need as high a concentration.
  5. Adjust the number of reeds in your diffuser. For a heavily-scented diffuser or in a small room, use just four or five sticks. For lighter aromas and bigger rooms add more reeds until you get the right strength.
  6. Warmer rooms will diffuse faster. So if you want an instant hit of scent, place your diffuser on  a covered radiator. Refresh the aroma by turning over the reeds.
  7. When you buy a refresher oil make sure you change the reeds, as the old ones will be clogged with the old oil.
  8. Look for candles and diffusers that use organic ingredients and pure essential oils to create beautiful scents with aromatherapeutic benefits. ​
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WHAT WAX?

There are pros and cons for all types of wax so one isn’t necessarily better than another.

  • Paraffin wax The most common and oldest manmade type of candle wax, it offers an excellent scent throw. With a high melting point it has good stability as it burns but if burnt frequently you may notice black soot marks on the inside of a glass candleholder.
  • Soy wax Soy is a vegetable and a renewable source, which burns cleanly with no toxins and little to no soot. Soy candles burn longer and cooler than their paraffin counterparts, and have an excellent scent throw. Wax spills can be cleaned up by simply using warm water and soap.
  • Vegetable wax Similar in consistency and appearance to soy wax, this is made from extracted and purified wax from different plants. You’ll often see it mixed with other wax types for improved stability.
  • Beeswax This is completely natural with its own unique scent and has a longer burn time than other types.
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[Source:- Housebeautiful]