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Introduction to Yield in Python

Introduction to Yield in Python

When we write a function, which should perform some operation and provide some result back, we generally use the return statement for returning the result.The yield statement is only used when defining a generator function and is only used in the body of the generator function. Yield are used in Python generators. A python generator is defined like a normal function, but whenever it will needto generate a value, it does so with the yield keyword rather than return. If the body of a def function contains yield, the function will becomea generator function. 

A Python generator is a function return a generator iterator (just an object we can iterate over) by calling yield .Yield maybe called with a value, in which case that value is treated as the “generated” value. Yield is a keyword in Python that will used to return from a function without destroying the states of its local variable and when the function is called, the execution starts from the last yield statement. Return sends a value back to its caller, whereas yield can produce a sequence of values. We must use yield when we want to iterate over a sequence but don’t want to store the entire sequence in memory so in that case you can use yield Python generators. The function will continue the execution immediately after the last yield run. It will allow its code to produce a series of values and sending them back like a list.

Example:

Introduction to Yield in Python

In the above example, yield is the keyword and 1, 2, 3 are the values that will store in the generator and to print the value inside the generator we are using for loop. We can use yield when we want to iterate over a sequence, but don’t want to store the entire sequence in memory.

To understand what yield does, you must understand what generators are. And before generators come iterables.Aniterable is any Python object capable of returning its members one at a time, permitting it to be iterated over in a for-loop. Ex- iterables include lists, tuples, and strings – any such sequence can be iterated over in a for-loop. 

In simpler words, whatever that will appear on the right-side of a for-loop: for x in iterable:  is aniterable.Iterablecan be anything that you can loop over with a for loop.An object can becallediterable,if we can get an iterator from iterable. Maximum built-in containers in Python like: list, tuple, string etc. areiterables.Important property(Method) of an iterable is that it has an __iter__() method or iter() method which allows any iterable to return an iterator object. 

Sequences are a very common type of iterable. Ex- for built-in sequence types are lists, strings, and tuples.

Introduction to Yield in Python

Iterable will support element access using integer indices via the __getitem()__ special method (indexing) and define a __length()__ method that returns the length of the sequence. 

Also, we can use the slicing technique on them.

Introduction to Yield in Python

Many things in Python are iterables, but not all of them are sequences. Dictionaries, file objects, sets, and generators all are iterables, but none of them is a sequence.

Introduction to Yield in Python

We can loop over an iterable without using a for loop. Some of us may think that we can use a while loop and generate indices to get this output.

Introduction to Yield in Python

It seems that this approach works very well for lists and other sequence objects as well. What about the non-sequence objects? They don’t support indexing, so this approach will not work for them, we will get an error.

Introduction to Yield in Python

But how the Python’s for loop works on these iterables then? We can see that it works with sets.

Introduction to Yield in Python

When you create a list, you can read its items one by one

Introduction to Yield in Python

Iterator is an object which can be looped through and maintains its state during the iteration which means it remembers where it is during an iteration. An iterator is an object that enables a programmer to traverse a container, particularly lists. Different types of iterators are often provided via a container’s interface. 

It has a __next__() method that returns the next value from the iteration and updates the state to point at the next value. Iterator is simplyan object that can be iterated upon. An object it will return data, one element at a time.Python iterator object must implement two special methods, that is __iter__() and __next__() , collectively called the iterator protocol.Thepurpose of an iterator is allow to process with every element of a container while isolating the user from the internal structure of the container. The container provides the methods for creating iterators. Iterator is an object and it will represent a stream of data. You can create an iterator object by applying the iter() function to an iterable.

Introduction to Yield in Python

Difference between iterable and iterator. Iterable is an object, which can iterate over. It will create an Iterator when passed to iter() method. Iterator is an object, which is used to iterate over an iterable object using __next__() method. For example, a list is iterable but a list is not an iterator.

Introduction to Yield in Python

When we will apply the iter() function to an iterable we will get an iterator. If we will call the iter() function on an iterator it will give us itself back in python.

Introduction to Yield in Python

You can use an iterator to manually loop over the iterable it came from. if repeated passing of iterator to the built-in function next() it will return successive items in the stream. Once, when you consumed an item from an iterator, it has gone. When data aren’t available it will give us a StopIteration and exception is raised.

Introduction to Yield in Python

Iterators also have the __iter__() method and it will return self object.
List is an iterable. When you will use a list comprehension, you create a list, and so an iterable

Introduction to Yield in Python

These iterables are handy because you can read them, but you store all the values in memory and it’s not always what you want when you have a lot of values. 

The iterator objects are required to support the following two methods, which together form the iterator protocol: 

We have seen some examples with iterators. Python has many built-in-classes that are iterators. Ex- an enumerate and reversed objects are iterators. 

Introduction to Yield in Python

Reversed ExampleIntroduction to Yield in PythonThe Python’s zip, map and filer objects are also iterators. 

A Generator is a function use to store the value by using yield keyword. A function which returns a generator iterator. This is a normal function only except that it will contains yield expressions for producing a series of values usable in a for-loop or that can be retrieved one at a time with the next() function in python.If function will contains the yield keyword then that function will become a generator and you can print the value by using for loop.You can convert a function into generator simply you need to use yield keyword in below example you can see that we can use multiple yield statement to return the data

Introduction to Yield in Python

In above example, we defined new_generator() function in this we have assign a variable n and giving the value as 1 then print the statement and then yield the value

If we execute generator function as a normal function then it will give us the object so for that we have to store the function in the variable x then we have use next method for execution

We can use directly generator for making a list and we can store the value inside the mylist then we can print the mylist by using for loop

Introduction to Yield in Python

In the below example, we defined a function i.e. reverse_string and it is a generator because we are using yield keyword and we are iterating each word from the statement

Introduction to Yield in Python

We use a generator function or generator expression when we want to create a custom iterator. They are simpler to use and need less code to achieve the output. 

Generator expressions are similar to the list comprehensions,Just like a list comprehension, the general expressions are concise. In most cases, they use to written in one line of code.

Introduction to Yield in Python

An expression that returns an iterator. It looks like a normal expression followed by a for expression defining a loop variable, range, and an optional if expression ex,

Introduction to Yield in Python

We can also add a conditional expression on the iterable. Introduction to Yield in Python

You can see in the above example, we did square root of the even number, we directly print the value without store the single value and we print the class i.e. generator  

Yield is a simple statement. Its primary job is to control the flow of a generator function similar tothat return statements. Yield that is used to return from a function without destroying the states of its local variable and when the function is called, the execution starts from the last yield statement. Any function that will present a yield keyword is termed as generator 

When you call a generator function or use a generator expression, you return a iterator called a generator. You can try to assign this generator to a variable in order to use it. When you will call to special methods on the generator, such as next(), the code within the function is executed till yield. 

When the yield statement is hit, the program suspends function execution and returns the yielded value to the caller. (Return stops function execution completely.) When a function is suspended, the state of that function is saved. This includes any variable bindings local to the generator in python, the instruction pointer, the internal stack, and any exception handling. 

This allows you to resume function execution whenever you will call one of the generator’s methods. Like this, all function evaluation picks back up right after yield. You can see this in action by using multiple yield statements:

Introduction to Yield in Python

Introduction to Yield in Python

In the above example, we defined a function i.e. counter consist of while loop which has one condition (x < 5) and is yielding the value of x and then it will increment by 1. 

If we use yield keyword in the function then that function will become as Generator 

Introduction to Yield in Python

Yield is the special keyword in python, yield will know what it execute in the last time.In the above function, when we executed first time we are getting 0 as output but in the second execution it will increment by 1 and we got 1 as output and again it will iterate the loop till the condition will not satisfy. When we use yield keyword in the function it will store the state of the local variable

Example:

Introduction to Yield in Python

In the above example, you can see that with the help of yield keyword It is easy to find the word inside the string statement and it will count the number of times that word will occur because yield keyword will know the last state 

In this tutorial, you have learned about Iterable, Generator functions, Yield 

The yield keyword in python is used to return a value from a function(just like return ) but this keyword also maintains the state of the local variables of the function and when the function is called again in python, the execution is started from the yield statement executed last time.We should use python yield when we want to iterate over a sequence but don’t want to store the entire sequence in memory

  • iterator.__iter__() Return the iterator object itself. This is required to allow both containers and iterators to be used with the for statements. 
  • iterator.__next__() Return the next item from the container. If there are no items, then it will raise the StopIteration exception. 
  • Using a yield statement in a function definition is sufficient to cause that definition to create a generator function instead of a normal function. 
  • We should use yield when we want to iterate over a sequence but don’t want to store the entire sequence in memory 
  • yield is used in Python generators. A generator function or expression will defined like a normal function, but whenever it needs to generate a value, it does so with the yield keyword rather than return. 
  • An iterable is something you can loop over. 
  • Sequences are a very common type of iterable. 
  • So many things in Python are iterables, but not all of them are in sequences. 
  • An iterator is an object and it will represent a stream of data. It does the iterating over an iterable. You can use an iterator in python to get the next value or to loop over it. Once, your loop over an iterator, there are no more stream values. 
  • Additionally, in Python, the iterators are also iterables which act as their own iterators. 
  • However, the difference is that iterators don’t have some of the features that some iterables have. They don’t have length and can’t be indexed. 
  • Many built-in classes in Python are iterators. 
  • We have learnt, how to use and write generator functions and generator expressions 
  • A generator function is a function which returns an iterator. 
  • A generator expression is an expression that returns an iterator. 
  • Research & References of Introduction to Yield in Python|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
    Source

    Introduction to the loops

    Introduction to the loops

    Python has a powerful conceptcalled loops.Loops makes use of called looping (iteration), which helps cut out our repetitive code. This is very helpful when you want to do something times simply write the initial code then you can repeat multiple times till a particular condition will not met.The purpose of loops is to repeat the same, or similar, code several times. This number of times could be specified to a certain number, or the number of times could be dictated by a certain condition being met.  

    A conditional loop has the potential to become an infinite loop when nothing in the loop’s body can affect the outcome of the loop’s conditional statement. The While loop and the For loop are the two common types of conditional loops. You can also provide a numerical range(sequence) of values to control how many times the code will execute.  

    In Python, there are two primary structures for loops: 

    Introduction to the loops

    Where can we use for loop? 

    A for loop is used for iterating over a sequence (either a list, a tuple, a dictionary, a set, or a strings). 

    for loop are used for sequential traversal. Ex- traversing a list or strings or array etc. 

    Syntax: 

    for i in sequence: 

    Body of for 

    “All values inside the sequence will take i variable”

    Introduction to the loops

    In this above example, we have created list i.e A having strings values, “for” is the syntax of for loop followed by “:”, then there is a variable i that is called placeholder it will take all the values from the sequence i.e. A and then it will print all the values inside the placeholder i.e. i, print(i)

    Introduction to the loops

    In above example, we have created list B in that we took non-sequential order integer value, however loop will execute on each of the item, in the same manner in which we are defined in the list B.Placeholder(i) is the unique variable inside the for loop it will represent all the values inside the sequence i.e. B, i is not a pre-defined variable so in place of i we can use anything means that any variable, anystrings, except numeric value we can use anything. 

    In the below example you will better understand how this placeholder will work, in place of placeholder we can use X variable and completely unrelated strings also we can put

    Introduction to the loops

    Hope you will better understand that whichever placeholder you will put it does not matter. In the above example, list B contains only numeric values, but you can use other type as well like text strings.

    In the example below, a list called B is defined with two text strings that represent two statement. The for loop will run iteratively on each text strings (represented by the placeholder strings in each iteration). List B contains two text strings i.e. “This is str” and “This is boolean” so in the first iteration “This is str” will print then in the next iteration “This is boolean” will print.

    Introduction to the loops

    We can achieve the output in another way by using range method to loop.

    Introduction to the loops

    In the below example, we have created a list i.e. List, that contains other lists i.e Months and Income. Placeholder flist represent all the elements from the List and List contains two lists i.e Months and Income so it will repeat one by one in which you have defined.

    In the first iteration Months will print and in the second iteration Income will print.

    Introduction to the loops

    A loop is used to repetitively execute program until a defined condition will not met  

    Iterations that you will observe something else to decide when to stop an iteration – those are the while loops.While loop is used to execute a block of statements repeatedly until a given condition is satisfied. And when the condition will not satisfied then, after the loop in the program will execute.If the test expression is true, statements inside the body of while loop will execute. Then, the test expression is evaluated again. The process goes on till the test expression is evaluated to false. 

    A while loop can also terminate when a break or return within the statement body is executed. You can use continue to terminate the current iteration without exiting the while loop. continue it will pass control to the next iteration of the while loop. The termination condition will evaluate at the top of the loop. 

    Where can we use while loops? 

    while condition: 

    body_of_while 

    Introduction to the loops

    Introduction to the loops

    Introduction to the loops

    Introduction to the loops

    You can notice that structure of the while loop will remains same except condition and indentation 

    nested loopsare loopswhich run within another loop. 

    Where can we use nested loops? 

    Nested loops are useful when for each pass through the outer loop, you need to repeat some action on the data in the outer loop. Ex- you read a file line by line and for each line you must count how many times the word “the” is found. 

    Syntax: 

    Here,  iterating_varis the variable that takes the value of the item inside the sequence on each iteration. 

    These are constructed like:

    Introduction to the loops

    In the above example, the program first runs the outer loop, execute the first code then it will runs the inner loop i.e. nested loop, nested loop will runs till sequence then program return to the top of the outer loop, run the next iteration and again run the nested loop till sequence and again program return back to top of the outer loop it will execute till the sequence will not complete.

    In the below example you can see how nested for loop will work, we have created two lists, A consist of numeric value and B consist of strings value. First program will runs the outer loop and print 1 then program will runs the nested loop, it will run till the sequence will not complete and print a, b, c then program return back to the top of the outer loop and run the next iteration and print 2 then program will run the nested loop till the sequence will not complete and print a, b, c etc. This will execute till the sequence of the outer loop will not complete.

    Introduction to the loops

    When the while loop is present inside another while loop then it is called nested while loop. 

    Syntax: 

    A nested while loop will present while statement inside another while statement. In a nested while loop, first iteration of the outer loop is first executed, after which the inner loop will execute. Once the condition of the inner loop is satisfied, the program moves to the next iteration of the outer loop.

    Introduction to the loops

    Introduction to the loops

    In this post, we have learnt about  

    for loop will iteratively execute code for each item in a pre-defined list 

    Nested for loop 

    A nested loop is a loop that will occurs within another loop 

    while loop 

    A while loop is used to iteratively execute code until a pre-defined condition is no longer satisfied (i.e. results in a value of False) 

    Nested while loop 

    When the while loop is present inside another while loop then it is called nested while loop.

  • for 
  • while 
  • “for” loop is iteratively execute code for each item in a pre-defined list 
  • Iterations that you know how many times it will occur (even if you can stop it before) means that you know how many times loop will run. 
  • The syntax of a for loop is for (followed by (: ) ) 
  • With the for loop we can execute a number of statements, once for each item in a list, tuple, set. 
  • Let say, you want to repeat some code multiple times but you will not care about variable I, so it will be good practice to replace I with _, this means that we will not care about this value
  • The while loop in Python will iterate over a block of code if the test expression (condition) is true. We generally use this loop when we don’t know the number of times to iterate beforehand. 
  • Ex: – let say, If we want to check the grade of every student in the class, we loop from 1 to that particular range of number. When the number of times is not known, we use a “while” loop. 
  • The while loop is used repeat a section of code an unknown number of times until a specific condition is met. Ex- say we want to know how many times a given number can be divided by 2 before it is less than or equal to 1. 
  • Condition can be a limit that how many times the while loop will run, you can see in the below example the loop will run till 9 we have restrict the iteration. 
  • Once loop will reaches 10 (x=10) then loop will not execute
  • A while loop start with while and then condition.  
  • In the below code if you notice that we have given the indentation, it must have to give the indentation means that statement is inside the loop. 
  • In this example, we add 1 in the x and value of x does not exceed the given condition (x<10). 
  • In the below code we used ‘<’ operator that means the value of x will start from 0 till 9 exclude 10. 
  • We have used one more operator i.e. ‘+=’ that means 1 will add in each of the element of the x
  • When loop will reaches 10 (x=10) then the condition no longer satisfied so the loop will not execute another iteration 
  • In the above example, the code will executed in order that means the first 1 will add in the value of x then print() function will execute. 
  • You can change the position if you want to print the value of x first then also you can add the 1 value in the x
  • You can also use the range operator instead of the comparison operator in this you need to specify the range for the iteration  
  • In this range operator starting value is inclusive but not end value 
  • In the below example, while loop runs till 5 and 5 will not include then we have increment x by 1 means that it will add 1 in each of the x element. 
  • When x reaches to 5 then it will not execute another iteration of code.
  • You can notice that structure of the while loop will remains same except condition and indentation 

  • nested loopsare loopswhich run within another loop. 

  • Nested loops are useful when for each pass through the outer loop, you need to repeat some action on the data in the outer loop. Ex- you read a file line by line and for each line you must count how many times the word “the” is found. 

  • When the while loop is present inside another while loop then it is called nested while loop. 

  • A nested while loop will present while statement inside another while statement. In a nested while loop, first iteration of the outer loop is first executed, after which the inner loop will execute. Once the condition of the inner loop is satisfied, the program moves to the next iteration of the outer loop.

  • Loops: 
    • for loop
  • for loop
  • Nested for loop 

  • while loop 

  • Nested while loop 

  • Research & References of Introduction to the loops|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
    Source

    Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?

    Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?

    A study of boards in the U.S. reveals the barriers blocking Black directors and suggests a way forward. Barriers include recruitment, onboarding, access to board leadership roles, and board dynamics in which Black directors — and women in particular — report that their contributions are ignored or undermined. However, the study also shows that more diverse boards have huge benefits, like offering a diversity of perspectives and encouraging a virtuous cycle of diversity throughout the organization. To gain these benefits and increase board diversity, companies should assess and change their recruitment procedures, build accountability throughout the organization, and boost mentorship and sponsorship opportunities.

    Workplace diversity can bring out the best in teams by promoting creativity, encouraging greater consideration of alternatives, and providing access to a wider range of information and perspectives. The numerous benefits also extend to employee recruitment and retention. Despite the growing body of evidence of these advantages and the proliferation of company-sponsored diversity initiatives, the advancement of Black professionals up the corporate ladder has been painfully slow and may even be reversing.

    The underrepresentation of Black professionals is especially bleak in the highest echelon of corporate America: boards of directors. Although newly-appointed directors are increasingly diverse, 37% of S&P 500 firms did not have any Black board members in 2019 and Black directors comprised just 4.1% of Russell 3000 board members that same year. In light of these persistent racial inequities, Reddit’s co-founder and executive chairman of the board, Alexis Ohanian, recently stepped down, stating: “I’ve resigned as a member of the Reddit board, [and] I have urged them to fill my seat with a Black candidate.” Reddit has since appointed its first Black board member: Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel.

    The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other Black Americans has brought the long history of systemic racism in the United States into sharp focus over the past several months. Pressure is mounting on corporate leaders to consider how their companies can address and rectify ongoing racial injustices. So what are the factors that perpetuate the continuing underrepresentation of Black professionals on boards? And what can be done to change the systems that reinforce these disparities?

    This survey was conducted through a partnership between Boris Groysberg from Harvard Business School; Yo-Jud Cheng from the University of Virginia; WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation, led by Susan Stautberg; Spencer Stuart, led by Julie Hembrock Daum; and independent researcher Deborah Bell. Survey responses were collected between October 2015 and June 2016. Data and figures in this article are based on survey responses from 1,028 directors of companies headquartered in the United States (24 Black/African American, not of Hispanic descent; 29 Asian/Pacific Islander; 24 Hispanic; 914 white, not of Hispanic descent; 37 declined to report their ethnicity).Director-level survey questions are analyzed based on the respondents’ self-reported race/ethnicity (e.g., Black/African American). Board-level survey questions are analyzed based on the number of racial/ethnic minorities (more granular data is not available).

    To answer those questions, we draw upon a survey we previously conducted of over 1,000 U.S. board directors between 2015-2016. We note that only 24 of our survey respondents identified as Black/African American, reflecting our own shortcomings in engaging a diverse set of survey respondents as well as the state of board diversity in the U.S. today. Our small sample size necessitates that we be careful in interpreting our results. Nevertheless, we explore the experiences of these 24 Black board members as a starting point in uncovering and understanding the institutional and social barriers that impede our progress toward increasing the representation of Black directors on boards (see the sidebar “About the Research” for an overview of our methodology).

    Director recruitment. One factor that reinforces the racial status quo on boards is the way in which new directors are typically recruited. These systems are especially ingrained on boards that do not have any directors who are racial/ethnic minorities. When filling open board seats, these boards consider almost no candidates who are racial/ethnic minorities (0.2 candidates per open vacancy, on average), and fewer total candidates (2.9, on average). In contrast, boards with two or more directors who are racial/ethnic minorities consider an average of 1.0 racial/ethnic minority candidate and 3.9 candidates for each open board seat.

    One policy that companies have adopted to shift hiring practices is the Rooney rule, named after former Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who fought for a National Football League policy to require teams to interview racial/ethnic minority candidates for coaching jobs. For example, following investor pressure, Amazon committed to including women and minorities in all candidate slates for director openings in 2018. The company has since appointed two women of color to its board. However, studies indicate that these rules often do not go far enough. Finalist pools need to have more than one candidate from an underrepresented group to meaningfully influence hiring outcomes.

    Gaining an introduction to the board. The small number of candidates considered for open board seats can make it a major challenge for aspiring directors to obtain their first board seat. Our survey highlighted some of the differences in how directors gain an initial introduction to the board. Over half of Black directors were known to a fellow board member prior to being appointed (as compared to 35% of white directors), and Black directors were somewhat more likely than white directors to have been recruited by an executive search firm, suggesting that these firms can assist boards in expanding the scope of new director searches. On the other hand, white directors were more likely to be a current or former executive of the company, suggesting that the internal pipeline to the board is dominated by white executives. (Interestingly, a similar proportion, approximately one third, of Black and white directors in our survey was already known to the CEO when they were initially introduced to the board.)

    These findings illustrate the heavy reliance on social networks in recruiting new directors, a point underscored by Carnival Corporation CEO and Bank of America director Arnold Donald in an interview with Black Enterprise: “In boards of directors, people tend to go to people that they’re familiar with [and] have grown to know and trust. Often, people don’t have very diverse circles of people that have that level of trust and confidence.” Because corporate America is predominantly led by white men, this type of network-based recruiting can perpetuate long-standing racial inequities.

    Director onboarding. For boards to benefit from the diversity of their members’ expertise and experiences and to open the floor for meaningful conversations and debate, boards need to redesign their processes to involve social onboarding and relationship building, which allow directors to get to know one another. In our research, 44% of directors on boards with no racial/ethnic minorities rated their new director training processes as effective, compared to 66% of directors on boards with two or more racial/ethnic minorities; 65% and 74% of directors, respectively, rated their new member integration processes as effective.

    Board leadership roles. Among survey respondents, we found that on average, Black directors joined their first board earlier than white directors (at 39.2 and 42.4 years old, respectively), their educational attainment was higher (79% and 71% held advanced degrees), and that both Black and white directors were concurrent members of 1.4 public boards and dedicated approximately the same number of hours to board service per year (142.8 and 145.1 hours per board).

    Despite their qualifications and their investment of similar amounts of time to their boards, we found that Black directors in our survey were less likely to hold board leadership roles. Twenty-five percent of Black survey respondents served as a board chairman or lead director, compared to 37% of white survey respondents. Black directors in our sample were also less likely to be board committee chairs than white directors. White directors are therefore more likely to control leadership roles that manage the board pipeline, such as the chair of the nomination/governance committee.

    Board dynamics. Black professionals frequently find that their contributions are ignored and undermined — an issue that can be particularly acute for Black women. We found that this type of racial discrimination can permeate even the highest levels of the organizational hierarchy. Although most directors rated their boards’ dynamics highly with respect to having their voice heard, feeling in sync with other board members, and performing as a team, ratings were notably lower in one particular scenario: when a Black director was the only racial/ethnic minority on the board.

    Promoting diversity cannot stop when a single black director is appointed to the board; continuous and conscious effort is needed to ensure people of color represent a meaningful segment of the board and to sustain an environment in which different perspectives are actively elicited.

    Our research also affirmed that boards with members who represent racial or ethnic minorities function better in several ways:

    Diversity of perspectives. Due to the incredible breadth of issues and stakeholders that boards of directors contend with, diversity in priorities and viewpoints is critical. Our survey illustrated some of the ways in which greater director diversity can introduce a broader range of perspectives into the boardroom. For example, when we asked directors about the top political issues relevant to them as a corporate director, the economy, regulatory environment, cybersecurity, and corporate tax rates were ranked as top issues relevant to all directors. However, among secondary issues, Black directors were more likely than white directors to rank equal rights for women, economic justice, and unemployment as top political issues, while white directors were more likely to cite national budget deficits, environmental sustainability, and energy costs as top issues.

    Reflecting national trends in political party affiliation, Black directors who responded to our survey were more likely to identify as Democrats, while white directors were more likely to identify as Republicans (approximately one quarter of both Black and white directors identified as independents). These differences can shape board discussions and decisions and help boards navigate the complexities of today’s political environment.

    A virtuous cycle. Increasing diversity on boards can pay dividends well into the future: More racially-diverse boards were rated as having a better mix of members and were also more likely to prioritize diversity within the company. We expect that these factors are mutually reinforcing: boards that are open to new ideas are more likely to appoint more racially-diverse directors, and more racially-diverse directors are likely to provide a greater mix of perspectives to the boardroom. In turn, representation at the board-level can promote greater diversity throughout the organization through direct action and in more passive ways. In the words of Marvin Ellison, CEO of Lowe’s Companies and director at FedEx, in an interview with the Executive Leadership Council: “It’s encouraging to see someone who looks like you being successful, and it creates a rising tide. It gives you confidence that you can get there too.”

    Directors and top executives play a critical role in setting the tone from the top. White men in particular can play a catalyzing role because they have greater freedom to deviate from the status quo to push for change without facing the negative repercussions that women and non-white men face when engaging in diversity-valuing behavior.

    Here are steps that boards can take to enact changes in the firms they lead.

     Assessment of director recruitment procedures. Careful self-reflection — followed by concrete change — on director recruitment procedures is urgently needed, especially in all-white boardrooms. Although these types of deep assessments can be uncomfortable, they are necessary.

    To dismantle ingrained processes that contribute to the systemic underrepresentation of minority directors, ask:

    Accountability throughout the organizational hierarchy. Directors can play a role in promoting diversity at all levels. At the top, directors should actively ensure that a diverse slate of candidates is considered for the CEO role.

    Further down in the company hierarchy, the board can hold leaders accountable for diversity in the talent pipeline. Debra Lee, former CEO of BET Networks and director at AT&T, Burberry, and Marriott International, shared the processes in place on the Marriott board in an interview with Black Enterprise: “The company has to report to me [the chair of the committee on excellence] every quarter on what the numbers look like. How many [people of color and women] have left, how many have been recruited, how many of them promoted.” Currently, the responsibility and burden of these initiatives often falls to people of color and women directors; these initiatives need to be championed by all directors.

    To ensure that progress is made, some boards link executive compensation to diversity targets (policies are already in place at Microsoft and Uber), and referral bonuses can be offered to employees that refer underrepresented minorities to the workforce (Intel, for example, offers twice their usual bonus for referrals of minorities, women, and veterans).

     Mentoring and sponsorship. Existing board directors can enact change through formal mentoring and sponsorship, which can provide valuable connections for underrepresented minorities. Peggy Alford, EVP of Global Sales at PayPal and director at Facebook, explained how directors can pay it forward in an interview with Black Enterprise: “After you serve on a board, more companies learn about you and demonstrate an interest in talking to you about available opportunities that you may not have the capacity to consider, which creates an opportunity to recommend other equally qualified candidates.” Mentoring can also chip away at mentors’ own biases. Once again, it’s important for all directors — not just people of color — to engage in these activities.

    Employees are looking to their company’s board to take meaningful actions against racism. Sustained effort and action are critical in building a board and company environment where all directors and employees can effectively contribute and thrive. Without the ongoing awareness and effort, no team or organization can foster a culture in which members of underrepresented groups know they belong.

    J. Yo-Jud Cheng is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Strategy, Ethics and Entrepreneurship area at Darden.

    Boris Groysberg is the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, Faculty Affiliate at the HBS Gender Initiative, and the coauthor, with Michael Slind, of Talk, Inc. (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012). Twitter: @bgroysberg.

    Paul M. Healy is the James R. Williston Professor of Business Administration and the senior associate dean for faculty development at Harvard Business School.

    Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?

    Research & References of Why Do Boards Have So Few Black Directors?|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
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    What Happens When AI is Used to Set Grades?

    What Happens When AI is Used to Set Grades?

    Below are the available bulk discount rates for each individual item when you purchase a certain amount

    Publication Date:
    August 13, 2020

    The International Baccalaureate tried it. Here are the results.

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    What Happens When AI is Used to Set Grades?

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    Coelophysis

    Coelophysis

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    COELOPHYSIS (SEE-loh-FIE-sis)

    Period: Late Triassic

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    Order, Suborder, Family: Saurischia, Theropoda, Podokesauridae

    Location: North America (United States)

    Length: 10 feet (3 meters)

    A mass of tangled bodies rolled with a flood, sliding over trees that had fallen into the muddy waters. The rains stopped and hundreds of carcasses of Coelophysis, the nimble predator of the Late Triassic, settled into the mud. Some skeletons were complete, some were torn apart, but all went to the bottom of the stream. Two hundred million years later, at Ghost Ranch in northern New Mexico, paleontologists unearthed a treasure trove of dinosaur skeletons. They were all from one group devastated by a flood in the Late Triassic. The animals here ranged from hatchlings to adults more than two meters long.

    The body of Coelophysis was only a little larger than a turkey. It had a long slender tail and jaws filled with dozens of knife-edged teeth. Coelophysis was an unusual predator. It lived in large herds, something that does not happen in today’s world. Although grazing animals such as wildebeest or caribou live in herds in our modern world, no predators live in large groups. Trampled areas around Ghost Ranch suggest that herds of Coelophysis migrated.

    The animal’s rear legs were strong and agile. It had feet with three long toes and one short one, and it was quick to leap away from larger predators, such as crocodilelike phytosaurs. The front legs of Coelophysis were small and probably were not used for walking. They were more likely used to gather food. Its head was large, with a pointed snout and large eyes. Coelophysis was a master of ambush. Perhaps a fish-eater, it seems that this 100-pound predator lived along streams, moving through ferns and horsetails, always on guard for its enemies. It also ate insects, lizardlike reptiles, and other small dinosaurs.

    Besides the skeletons from Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, Coelophysis has also been found in the Painted Desert of Arizona. The petrified logs found there, many longer than 100 feet, show us what the forests looked like when these little dinosaurs ran about.

    These are among the oldest, if not the oldest, dinosaurs in North America. Coelophysis is the oldest dinosaur in the world known from complete skeletons. The name Coelophysis means “hollow condition,” referring to the hollow bones of the legs. They were built much like birds’ bones for minimum weight and maximum strength. Coelophysis bauri is the only species known. Coelurus was an early name used for some of the original bones, which were mistakenly given several names.

    In the rib cages of two adults from Ghost Ranch are the skeletons of young Coelophysis. They are too large and well developed to be unborn babies. This may have been cannibalism-one individual of a species eating another-and the prey was swallowed whole.

    Relatives of Coelophysis include Podokesaurus; Halticosaurus and Procompsognathus from Germany; and Syntarsus from Zimbabwe and Arizona.

    Unlike the giant predatory dinosaurs of later times, the Triassic theropod dinosaurs were also prey. Their enemies included the enormous phytosaurs, which weighed a ton or more, and the active and powerful rauisuchid predators such as Postosuchus. These adversaries dominated the Triassic landscape, both on land and in the water.

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    Coelophysis

    Research & References of Coelophysis|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
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    Top 10 Family Guard Dogs

    Top 10 Family Guard Dogs

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    Adopting a dog is a wonderful experience on many levels. In addition to a cuddly companion, you get unconditional love and unwavering devotion. In most cases, you also get your own personal security detail. Canines are naturally protective of their families, happily putting themselves in harm’s way if it means saving the life of a loved one. That is, assuming your pet is able to identify a potential threat and respond appropriately. It’s a skill that some dogs are better at than others.

    How do you know which breeds make the best family guard dogs? That depends a lot on the characteristics of your family and what you’re looking for in terms of pooch-based protection. In some cases, “talkative” dogs are best at keeping away would-be evildoers. While you know that your dog’s bark is much worse than its bite, criminals do not.

    One important consideration in choosing a family guard dog is its tendency to be aggressive. An animal with a short fuse probably isn’t suitable for a family with small children. And even though an aggressive dog may seem like the perfect people protector, such animals will often respond the same way to a trespasser and a trick-or-treater. That could cause serious trouble in the neighborhood.

    The key to rearing a good family guard dog is to train early and often in order to build your dog’s trust in you and himself. Confidence in an animal means the difference between reacting when it is important to do so and lashing out due to insecurity.

    Now that you know some basics about people-protecting pooches, let’s explore some of the more protective breeds in our list of the top 10 family guard dogs.

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    Top 10 Family Guard Dogs

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    How the Google Chrome OS Works

    How the Google Chrome OS Works

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    The Internet has become a central part of the computer experience. Before the Web caught fire in the late 1990s, home computing was largely a singular experience. Computer users created documents on a PC and saved those files to a hard or floppy disk, and maybe worked within a local area network at the office. File sharing usually meant walking a disk to another machine.

    These days, computing is a Web-centric experience, and you perform many of your Internet tasks through software called a Web browser. That browser, which may be a program such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, helps you retrieve information from the Internet multiple times per day, integrate it with other online documents and share data galore with people all over the planet. Google is trying to reshape the computer experience by using its understanding of the Web to create the new Chrome operating system (OS).

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    Traditional operating systems, such as Windows, require a lot of hard drive space and demand some work on your part. You have to install the programs you want individually, manage OS and security updates and manage device drivers, too.

    Google’s Chrome OS aims to overhaul that paradigm. With Chrome, the browser actually is the OS — in this case, the Chrome OS builds on the Google browser of the same name. In total, the Chrome OS is built on an open-source version of Linux and integrated with the Chrome browser, a simple media player…and that’s it.

    Google embraced the concept of an ultra-simple, Web-centric OS in large part due to the huge recent success of netbooks. Netbooks are small laptop computers that are designed to let users access the Web, and not much more; they’re inexpensive and feature-limited hardware, and they aren’t built for high-powered applications like Photoshop, for example.

    Unlike Windows, Chrome won’t be available as a download. It’ll be pre-installed by netbook manufacturers who adhere to Google’s hardware specifications. Chrome is designed to run best on solid-state storage systems as opposed to traditional spinning hard drives, in part because solid-state drives are less prone to failure, but also because they’re less spacious — remember, Google wants you to store your data online. And because the OS uses Web-based applications, you don’t need local storage for software, either.

    It’s no accident that Google stresses the online aspects of Chrome. The entire Chrome project revolves around the cloud computing model. That fancy term simply means that all of your data and applications are stored online, in the “cloud,” so that you can access them from any computer, anywhere.

    The company says this model will help it develop a better overall OS experience and focus on building an OS with improved speed, security and simplicity. By hacking out all of the non-Web related functions of a traditional OS, Google indicates these goals should be easier to achieve. And the company isn’t doing the design work alone. Because this is an open-source project (under the name Chromium OS), Google gets feedback from savvy software developers all over the world.

    It’s important to remember that Google doesn’t intend for Chrome OS to be your primary computer’s operating system. Instead, the company sees a Chrome OS netbook as a secondary computer that you use once you’re done with the heavy-duty applications you use on a more powerful office computer.

    Like most Google products, Chrome OS is free. That fact, along with the power of Google’s marketing and distribution, should grab your attention. Keep reading to see how Chrome might alter the landscape of computing as you know it.

     

    Chrome is a seriously stripped-down, fast OS. Because Chrome supports only Web capabilities, it can do away with much of the bulk and unnecessary system checks that slow a traditional OS. For example, during start up the OS firmware doesn’t have to search for floppy disk drives or other hardware that few current computers continue to use — a task that other operating systems still perform.

    Thus, Chrome is a much smaller OS that consumes almost no disk space, especially when compared to Windows. Windows 7, for example, requires about 60 times more disk space than Chrome (source: Mearian).

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    One nice result of these differences is speed. A fairly fast Windows machine might finish booting in around 45 seconds. In contrast, Google wants Chrome netbooks to be up and running in 7 seconds or less (source: Tweney).

    Google works closely with computer makers to ensure that Chrome systems are equipped with hardware that lets the OS run optimally. Chrome runs on x86-based computers, as well as those with ARM processors.

    Unsurprisingly, the Chrome OS user interface looks much like the Chrome browser. Beyond this browser-like OS, these netbooks will have no pre-installed software. There’s an integrated media player that lets you watch movies, play music and view photos when you’re offline. Adobe Flash is already integrated into the Chrome browser, so you can view all Flash Web sites, too.

    Because there’s almost no on-board storage, you won’t even have to worry about installing or uninstalling other programs. When you want to write a report, for example, you just access a Web-based word processing application. Of course, data bandwidth challenges prohibit certain types of work. Video editing, for instance, won’t be happening on a Chrome system anytime soon.

    For more basic computing tasks, though, you should be able to find applications that suit your needs, using Google’s Chrome Web Store. Similar to Apple’s App Store and the Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will offer applications for a huge variety of tasks.

    There are other major differences between Chrome and established operating systems. In a traditional OS, it’s vital that you install device drivers that let your computer work with other hardware. If you use Chrome, Google reasons that the primary third-party device you need is a printer — but the company doesn’t want you to have to install drivers. Instead, you’ll use Google’s Cloud Print service, which lets you print from any computer to any printer that’s connected to the Internet.

    Unlike other operating systems, Chrome doesn’t bombard you with an endless series of OS update alerts. When you connect your netbook to the Internet, Google updates Chrome for you automatically. The whole idea is to make your computing experience easier and more secure, with less fuss and frustration.

    In spite of its Google branding, Chrome is anything but a sure bet in the OS arena. At its core, Chrome is a variation of Linux, which has been around in various incarnations since the early 1990s. In other words, why would Chrome succeed where other versions of Linux have failed?

    There are plenty of challenges for Google to address. One issue that may drive away users is that without an Internet connection, a Chrome computer’s capabilities are severely restricted. Sans Web, there’s simply not much this kind of machine can do, because it can’t access any data or even programs other than the included media player.

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    Many users may also be turned off by the idea of storing all data online. Most people are used to saving at least a few critical documents locally, and being separated from that data may be too much to bear.

    Privacy issues are another concern. It’s one thing to store a list of passwords or important financial information on your own hard drive. It’s quite another to story that information on a Google-owned server, no matter how many assurances the company touts in its privacy policies.

    Other users might be confused by the fact that Google already offers an open-source OS called Android, which is becoming increasingly popular for smartphones. Publicly, Google insists that there are differences between Android and Chrome. It says Chrome is simply for people who spend the bulk of their time using their computers for Web purposes, and that although Android does the same things, it also has a lot of non-Web related capabilities. However, the two operating systems do overlap and may converge in the future.

    Google may also encounter resistance from users who don’t like low-quality netbooks. But those people may not have to wait long for Chrome to appear on better PCs. There’s a good chance that if Chrome is successful on netbooks, Google will begin offering an updated version of the OS for more powerful laptop and desktop computers. However, the first releases are geared toward netbook offerings from the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo and Asus.

    There’s also the issue of control. People are concerned that Chrome puts them totally at Google’s mercy, with less control over their own data. To counter these issues, Google relies heavily on the goodwill it has generated over the years. And because many businesses already rely on a suite of Google products, such as Google Voice, Google Docs and Gmail, Google is betting that people will be likely to adopt the Chrome OS, if only due to inertia.

    It’s too early in the Chrome game to see exactly where it will end. Perhaps Google will make substantial inroads into the OS market, further angering rival Microsoft. Or perhaps users will see Chrome as too restrictive and too skimpy — even for a secondary computer.

    In time, we’ll see just how Google’s Chrome gamble plays out. The company that revolutionized the way we use the Internet just might transform our concept of computing as a whole, too.

    For more on operating systems, Google and other related topics, take a look at the links on the next page.

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    How the Google Chrome OS Works

    Research & References of How the Google Chrome OS Works|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
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    How hard is it to set up a network between two computers in my home?

    How hard is it to set up a network between two computers in my home?

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    If you have multiple computers in your home, networking them is a great idea! There are several big advantages to setting up an in-home network:

    Networking PCs has gotten easier and a lot less expensive, but it is still a little bit of a challenge. How Home Networking Works discusses the whole thing in detail, but see the next page to see some quick answers.

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    ­

    One way to do it is to buy and install network cards in both machines if you computers don’t already have built-in cards. You can go to an electronics store and get an inexpensive network card for $20 to $30 these days. You have to open the computer to plug the card in, and then install the driver software. You also have to purchase two network cables ($10 to $20 each) and a small hub ($30 to $40) to physically connect the two machines together. Once you get it all together, the two machines should be able to talk to each other.

    This approach has two advantages:

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    It has two disadvantages:

    ­ You can solve that second disadvantage by purchasing radio modems instead. They cost more but are very easy to connect to one another.

    Another path you can follow is something like the Intel AnyPoint Network. Instead of using special network cables, you use your home’s telephone wiring to connect computers together (this causes no interference when using the phone for normal calls — your phone and the network share the same wire). In addition, you can buy a version of the Intel system that uses a USB port, so installation is extremely easy. You can also purchase cards, which are faster.

    The big advantage of the Intel system is the use of phone wiring. Simply plug all the computers in your house into phone jacks and they can talk to each other. You also don’t need to buy a hub. The disadvantages include:

    ­ However, installation takes just a few minutes.

    Besides phone-line networking, you can also use power-line networking and wireless networking to connect your computers. Read How Home Networking Works to learn about the different approaches.

    Once you install the physical network, the Windows operating system makes connecting your computers simple. You can use the Network Neighborhood feature to share files and printers. The Intel system comes with software to share an Internet connection, or you can use the version built into Windows 98 and later.

    Check out the links on the next page for more home networking information.

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    How hard is it to set up a network between two computers in my home?

    Research & References of How hard is it to set up a network between two computers in my home?|A&C Accounting And Tax Services
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    How MocoSpace Works

    How MocoSpace Works

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    Social networking websites have been growing in popularity for 10 years or so, allowing people to form online communities and social networks. So far, most social network sites have been tethered to computers. In other words, you had to use a computer with an Internet connection to access the site. At least, that’s been the case up until recently. While some social networking sites have customized pages that can be used on cell phone screens, MocoSpace is a social networking site designed specifically to reach out to customers on the go.

    While MocoSpace works much the same as any other popular social networking site, it’s specifically designed to be used on mobile devices like cell phones. You don’t need an expensive smartphone to access MocoSpace either — it works with virtually any cell phone that can access the Internet.

    Sites like MocoSpace could potentially change the way people interact and make things like status updates and friend requests ubiquitous. Everyone steps away from the computer at some point, no matter how much time he or she likes to spend playing games and updating social networking pages. But when they leave, people typically keep their cell phones with them at all times.

    In this article, we’ll learn who founded MocoSpace and what makes this social networking site different from all the others.

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    MocoSpace was founded in 2005 by Jamie Hall and Justin Siegel. The company is based in Boston, Mass. [source: Roush]. In 2007 and 2008 the company received $7 million in funding [source: Schonfeld]. It reported more than 6 million registered users in March 2009, and as of the following May it was one of the most popular Web destinations for mobile phone users, topping even MySpace [source: Jackson].

    Using MocoSpace is a lot like using other popular social networking websites. When you join the site, you’ll get your own profile page which you can modify with backgrounds and other graphics. In addition, you can use your profile page to show photos of yourself and to share personal information. Your profile can include your name, age, relationship status, body type, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and whether or not you smoke, drink or have children. If you’re looking for a certain type of relationship or person, you can include that information as well.

    You can then create a list of friends and interact with them on the site. By adjusting your privacy settings, you can even make sure only certain people can view your personal information. In addition to photos, you can add videos or even start your own blog directly on your MocoSpace page.

    MocoSpace has a few extra features beyond those included on other social network websites. There are chat rooms where you can talk with other MocoSpace members in real-time using a Java script. You can even create private rooms. There are also forums and classified ads. It’s also possible to browse galleries of images posted by other users.

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    MocoSpace is built on the premise that the majority of mobile device users don’t have expensive, cutting-edge technology in their pockets — but they do have basic cell phones with varying levels of Web access. MocoSpace has built its audience mostly by word of mouth, and seems to have engineered success by not limiting its appeal to high-end users.

    This approach has also led MocoSpace to take a cross-platform approach. One of the benefits of MocoSpace is that it works on virtually any mobile device. It isn’t tied to any specific platform, device or company. In fact, while MocoSpace has partnership deals with some companies, it isn’t an “on-deck” mobile service. That means it isn’t restricted to certain companies’ mobile devices. Users interact directly with MocoSpace through a regular mobile Web browser.

    There are some drawbacks to this, however. MocoSpace’s engineers have to do a lot of optimization and tweaking to get the site’s various video and photo sharing systems to function with such a wide variety of devices. And some cell phone service providers block some of MocoSpace’s functionality as a result of their being off-deck.

    MocoSpace is free to its users. The company makes money by selling advertising. While customers who can access MocoSpace with a mobile device see essentially the same content that appears on the regular website, much of the advertising is customized for mobile delivery. MocoSpace touts their access to detailed customer demographic information as a key asset in their quest to earn more advertising dollars.

    Also available to MocoSpace users is a built-in music store. MocoSpace has partnerships with several music labels and offers songs by pop and urban artists.

    Compared to many other social networking websites, MocoSpace has a very young user group: 80 percent of users are under age 30, 50 percent are under age 24, and 25 percent are teens [source: Roush]. This has led to some controversy, because the user-posted videos and photos are sometimes sexually provocative. MocoSpace claims that all user-posted content is reviewed by MocoSpace staff before it’s approved, but some parents may not like the tone of the discussions on the site or the nature of the images and videos.

    Browsing MocoSpace might lead one to wonder: is this site intended for a specific ethnic audience? The company’s founders confirm that, in fact, a larger than expected percentage of the site’s users identify themselves as “Latinos and African-Americans” [source: Roush]. You can even switch from an English speaking version of MocoSpace to the Spanish version.

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    How Artificial Photosynthesis Works

    How Artificial Photosynthesis Works

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    If the smartest energy source is one that’s abundant, cheap and clean, then plants are a lot smarter than humans. Over billions of years, they developed perhaps the most efficient power supply in the world: photosynthesis, or the conversion of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into usable fuel, emitting useful oxygen in the process.

    In the case of plants (as well as algae and some bacteria), “usable fuel” is carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Humans, on the other hand, are looking for liquid fuel to power cars and electricity to run refrigerators. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look to photosynthesis to solve our dirty-, expensive-, dwindling-energy woes. For years, scientists have been trying to come up with a way to use the same energy system that plants do but with an altered end output.

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    Using nothing but sunlight as the energy input, plants perform massive energy conversions, turning 1,102 billion tons (1,000 billion metric tons) of CO2 into organic matter, i.e., energy for animals in the form of food, every year [source: Hunter]. And that’s only using 3 percent of the sunlight that reaches Earth [source: Boyd].

    The energy available in sunlight is an untapped resource we’ve only begun to really get a handle on. Current photovoltaic-cell technology, typically a semiconductor-based system, is expensive, not terribly efficient, and only does instant conversions from sunlight to electricity — the energy output isn’t stored for a rainy day (although that could be changing: See “Is there a way to get solar energy at night?”). But an artificial photosynthesis system or a photoelectrochemical cell that mimics what happens in plants could potentially create an endless, relatively inexpensive supply of all the clean “gas” and electricity we need to power our lives — and in a storable form, too.

    In this article, we’ll look at artificial photosynthesis and see how far it’s come. We’ll find out what the system has to be able to do, check out some current methods of achieving artificial photosynthesis and see why it’s not as easy to design as some other energy-conversion systems.

    So, what does an artificial photosynthesis system have to be able to do?

    To recreate the photosynthesis that plants have perfected, an energy conversion system has to be able to do two crucial things (probably inside of some type of nanotube that acts as the structural “leaf”): harvest sunlight and split water molecules.

    Plants accomplish these tasks using chlorophyll, which captures sunlight, and a collection of proteins and enzymes that use that sunlight to break down H2O molecules into hydrogen, electrons and oxygen (protons). The electrons and hydrogen are then used to turn CO2 into carbohydrates, and the oxygen is expelled.

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    For an artificial system to work for human needs, the output has to change. Instead of releasing only oxygen at the end of the reaction, it would have to release liquid hydrogen (or perhaps methanol) as well. That hydrogen could be used directly as liquid fuel or channeled into a fuel cell. Getting the process to produce hydrogen is not a problem, since it’s already there in the water molecules. And capturing sunlight is not a problem — current solar-power systems do that.

    The hard part is splitting the water molecules to get the electrons necessary to facilitate the chemical process that produces the hydrogen. Splitting water requires an energy input of about 2.5 volts [source: Hunter]. This means the process requires a catalyst — something to get the whole thing moving. The catalyst reacts with the sun’s photons to initiate a chemical reaction.

    There have been important advances in this area in the last five or 10 years. A few of the more successful catalysts include:

    Once perfected, these systems could change the way we power our world.

    Fossil fuels are in short supply, and they’re contributing to pollution and global warming. Coal, while abundant, is highly polluting both to human bodies and the environment. Wind turbines are hurting picturesque landscapes, corn requires huge tracts of farmland and current solar-cell technology is expensive and inefficient. Artificial photosynthesis could offer a new, possibly ideal way out of our energy predicament.

    For one thing, it has benefits over photovoltaic cells, found in today’s solar panels. The direct conversion of sunlight to electricity in photovoltaic cells makes solar power a weather- and time-dependent energy, which decreases its utility and increases its price. Artificial photosynthesis, on the other hand, could produce a storable fuel.

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    And unlike most methods of generating alternative energy, artificial photosynthesis has the potential to produce more than one type of fuel. The photosynthetic process could be tweaked so the reactions between light, CO2 and H2O ultimately produce liquid hydrogen. Liquid hydrogen can be used like gasoline in hydrogen-powered engines. It could also be funneled into a fuel-cell setup, which would effectively reverse the photosynthesis process, creating electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen into water. Hydrogen fuel cells can generate electricity like the stuff we get from the grid, so we’d use it to run our air conditioning and water heaters.

    One current problem with large-scale hydrogen energy is the question of how to efficiently — and cleanly — generate liquid hydrogen. Artificial photosynthesis might be a solution.

    Methanol is another possible output. Instead of emitting pure hydrogen in the photosynthesis process, the photoelectrochemical cell could generate methanol fuel (CH3OH). Methanol, or methyl alcohol, is typically derived from the methane in natural gas, and it’s often added to commercial gasoline to make it burn more cleanly. Some cars can even run on methanol alone.

    The ability to produce a clean fuel without generating any harmful by-products, like greenhouse gasses, makes artificial photosynthesis an ideal energy source for the environment. It wouldn’t require mining, growing or drilling. And since neither water nor carbon dioxide is currently in short supply, it could also be a limitless source, potentially less expensive than other energy forms in the long run. In fact, this type of photoelectrochemical reaction could even remove large amounts of harmful CO2 from the air in the process of producing fuel. It’s a win-win situation.

    But we’re not there just yet. There are several obstacles in the way of using artificial photosynthesis on a mass scale.

    While artificial photosynthesis works in the lab, it’s not ready for mass consumption. Replicating what happens naturally in green plants is not a simple task.

    Efficiency is crucial in energy production. Plants took billions of years to develop the photosynthesis process that works efficiently for them; replicating that in a synthetic system takes a lot of trial and error.

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    The manganese that acts as a catalyst in plants doesn’t work as well in a man-made setup, mostly because manganese is somewhat unstable. It doesn’t last particularly long, and it won’t dissolve in water, making a manganese-based system somewhat inefficient and impractical. The other big obstacle is that the molecular geometry in plants is extraordinarily complex and exact — most man-made setups can’t replicate that level of intricacy.

    Stability is an issue in many potential photosynthesis systems. Organic catalysts often degrade, or they trigger additional reactions that can damage the workings of the cell. Inorganic metal-oxide catalysts are a good possibility, but they have to work fast enough to make efficient use of the photons pouring into the system. That type of catalytic speed is hard to come by. And some metal oxides that have the speed are lacking in another area — abundance.

    In the current state-of-the-art dye-sensitized cells, the problem is not the catalyst; instead, it’s the electrolyte solution that absorbs the protons from the split water molecules. It’s an essential part of the cell, but it’s made of volatile solvents that can erode other components in the system.

    Advances in the last few years are starting to address these issues. Cobalt oxide is a stable, fast and abundant metal oxide. Researchers in dye-sensitized cells have come up with a non-solvent-based solution to replace the corrosive stuff.

    Research in artificial photosynthesis is picking up steam, but it won’t be leaving the lab any time soon. It’ll be at least 10 years before this type of system is a reality [source: Boyd]. And that’s a pretty hopeful estimate. Some people aren’t sure it’ll ever happen. Still, who can resist hoping for artificial plants that behave like the real thing?

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