The fastest internet speed award goes to …

Top Internet Speet Rankings 2013

Ever wondered who has the fastest internet in the world? The answer may surprise you.

According to Statista.com, Japan and South Korea are ranked the top two fastest in the world. South Korean internet users surfed at an average speed of 13.3 Mbps, 53 percent faster than Americans whose connection speed averaged at 8.7 Mbps.  By comparison, the United States is ranked 8th in the global speed ranking.

The global average connection speed was measured at 3.3 Mbps, after having passing 3 Mbps for the first time in the first quarter of this year.

Fascinating to see the breakout on this. Wonder if it means the South Koreans are more data hungry or just that they love to chat more?

Step ‘n Soak 4 Feet – easy relief for aching feet

Tired achy feet can get relief from a 20 minute daily foot bath

TV host, author and cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz is a firm believer in soaking your feet. He’s done numerous TV segments on different foot baths – from simple baking soda to citrus, tea and vodka, America’s doctor recommends the benefit of a daily 20 minute “foot-bath”.

For those who love the idea of soaking their feet but not the hassle or mess, the StepnSoak 4 Feet is the perfect solution.

Ready to use out of the box, the Step ‘n Soak foot soaking system eliminates spills and requires no tub.

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Online mentoring program encourages students to stay in school (Part one)

Guidance counselors are tasked with helping guide students through the often confusing, frustrating paths of secondary education and help them determine a plan for what’s next – whether it be community college, traditional university, or an online college program.

Sadly, even with the No Child Left Behind program over the past decade, there’s been a significant drop in the number of public school guidance counselors. Nationally that means one guidance counselor to between 500 to 750 students!

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Help for the hearing impaired for internet phone calls

The United Nations’ World Health Organization estimates there are approximately 278 million people worldwide suffering from moderate to profound hearing loss. Telephone communications and internet-based phone calls are particularly problematic.

Developers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Oldenburg, Germany are working on a digital solution.

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School district in southern California to go solar

Irvine schoolThe Irvine (California) Unified School District (ISUD) has partnered with SunEdison and SPG Solar to install solar energy at each of its twenty-one campuses.

Purported to be the largest solar deployment for a public school system in California, and possibly the United States, the project will reduce Irvine’s school power bill  by 20 percent – a savings of $17 million over twenty years.

SunEdison will own, operate and maintain the solar photovoltaic systems, with IUSD purchasing energy at a discounted  rate. The solar companies  will act as utilities, building and financing the system with no money from the district .

Solar schoolThis agreement could generate more than 6.6 million kilowatt hours of solar energy in just the first year. Over 20 years, the solar installation is expected to offset 127 million pounds of CO2, the equivalent of removing more than 12,000 cars from the road for one year.

An added component to this exciting venture is taking solar into the classroom. Using an internet-based monitoring system, students can track each solar site in real time while participating in lessons on how solar panels work and how weather impacts energy production. The school will also introduce a complement of courses to educate students about the use and benefits of photovoltaics.

This progressive step is one other school districts will want to check into,

An eco-resort like no other

Lapa Rios 1aDuring my recent trip to Costa Rica, I visited three eco-resorts. All were based around the idea of sustainability, but how this played out was gloriously diverse.

You wouldn’t call Lapa Rios – the 2nd eco-resort on my “tour” -a luxury resort. Yet its charm and beauty make it a first class green destination.

Unlike Arenas del Mar, the eco-resort I’d visited prior to coming here, there are lots of “not here’s” for guests to know. These include:

  • no TV
  • no hairdryers or curling irons
  • no internet
Lapa Rios in the midst of the surrounding rainforest

Lapa Rios in the midst of the surrounding rainforest

“Why have (piped music),  says General Manager Juan Pinto, “when you have the toucans, the macaws, and the howling monkeys?”

For those used to being  “plugged in”, it’s a system shock, but one guests surrender to.

Located on the southern tip of Costa Rica, known as the Osa Peninsula, the motto of Lapa Rios, says Pinto, is “Experience, Learn, Connect, Relax”.

““It’s important in the tropical forest to learn, to take something (back) with you,” he said.

Surrounded by rainforest – both primary (old growth forests) and secondary (former pastures that have been reforested) – and bordered by a private nature reserve with amazing wildlife and pristine beaches, conservation and sustainability are evident at this beautiful resort.

The exquisite Blue Morpho butterfly perched on a flowering plant in the rainforst

The exquisite Blue Morpho butterfly perched on a flowering plant in the rainforst

All the furniture is made from wood from sustainable plantations. Baskets and dispensers are made by local craftsmen. Footbridges that connect trails on the property are made from discarded railroad ties. All the electricity is generated via solar.

Lapa Rios  keeps pigs on the property (away from guests, of course). What leftover food they don’t eat goes to the  property’s biodigester to produce biogas for cooking.

The food at Lapa Rios was both beautifully prepared, delicious and organic. Buying locally, though preferable, can be challenging, Pinto says. Locals may have some but not all of what the resort needs. They make up the balance from San Jose – a ten hour drive.

But Lapa Rios encourages local vendors and suppliers.

Quality and commitment are equally important with their suppliers, Pinto explained.

If a vendor isn’t doing organic or sustainable practices and they switch, Lapa Rios will buy from them. Or, “if anyone comes with a quality product,” he said, “if it’s a little higher and (they) show commitment, we’ll change.”

Embracing the community is a sustainability trait I also found at Arenas del Mar. Though there’s a great deal more to come – about eco-resorts, the rainforest and sustainable business practices I observed – this expanded view of sustainability is one the U.S. would do well to consider investing in.

First foam recycling facility opens in Illinois

Foam recyclingWanted to mention an update on a remarkable US company. Dart Container Corp,, on whom I did an earlier post has just opened a new foam recycling drop-off site in Aurora, Ill., their 10th such site in the US. These facilities accept foam food service containers, including foam cups, plates, take-out containers, egg cartons, and shaped or molded foam that’s used to package various electronics.

The foam must have the “6” symbol on it to be accepted.

Once more, Dart leads the way. Keep your eye on this progressive, difference-making  Michigan-based company.