Lifestyle

Lifestyle knowledge, covering a diverse range of topics and interests with ideas and insights to help you get the most out of life!

BirdGenie™ is a breakthrough app that helps anyone with an Apple® or Android® smartphone or tablet accurately identify birds in the backyard, local park, or on the nature trail—all with the tap of a button! It’s like Shazam® for birds—just hold up your phone, record the bird singing, and BirdGenie™ helps you identify the species. The app’s highly developed sound identification ability and expert matching system enable bird enthusiasts to achieve an accuracy unheard of in the birding field. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about the birds around them.

BirdGenie™ includes up to two hundred vocalization types for one hundred species: literally all of the birds likely to be encountered in a backyard or local park, or on a hike, in North America at any time of the year. And the app is easy to use. Just point your smartphone or tablet at a bird, and tap the screen when the bird starts singing. The app’s automatic pre-record feature ensures that you won’t miss the beginning of the song and BirdGenie’s™ patented, highly accurate expert system matches the recording to the closest species. The app’s sophisticated noise-reduction feature means that even in noisy environments, where there is conversation or traffic, you can discover what bird you’re listening to.

Beyond specifying a bird species, BirdGenie™ provides sample songs and spectrograms to compare with your own recording and to guarantee a confident match. The app also includes pictures of all plumages, information about habitat and behavior, and links to further reading. It even has 3-D models for some of the species so you can match different views of a bird. You can share your recordings, photos, and matches with friends and other users, and if you’re so inclined, you can anonymously share recordings to a scientific database to help researchers learn about birdsong variations. No internet connection is required for anything but sharing, making the program accessible everywhere. Perfect for anyone who wants to know what birds are singing around them, BirdGenie™ takes bird identification to a whole new awesome level.

With BirdGenie™ You Can

  • Quickly identify most birds just by recording their songs.
  • Look at vivid images of the bird—some in 3-D!
  • Listen to samples of the bird’s various songs and compare them with your recording.
  • Keep a log of all your recordings.
  • Share your recordings, matches, and photos with friends and family.
  • Browse the built-in catalog to learn about local species, their other songs, their habits and diet, and much more.
  • Use the app anywhere, as no internet connection is required!

Important features of BirdGenie™

  • The matching expert system beats anything in the market today.
  • Easy-to-use guided user interface.
  • Effective noise-reduction system helps users make identifications in less-than-ideal environments.
  • Complete species accounts with multiple photos for all plumage types (some with 3-D models).
  • Comprehensive spectrograms (voiceprints of songs).

Technical Specifications

  • Requires iOS 10 or later. Compatible with all iPhones after iPhone 6 including 7, 8, X and iPad, iPad Mini, and iPod Touch.
  • Requires Android 5.0 and above. Compatible with most common Android phones and tablets.

Software written by Tom Stephenson, Stephen Travis Pope and Scott Whittle. BirdGenie™ is a trademark of Princeton University Press.

Shazam® is the registered trademark of Shazam Entertainment Limited and is not affiliated with Princeton University Press in any way.

Great Bear Rainforest is a Spirit Bear Entertainment film presented by Seaspan and directed by Ian McAllister (PacificWild.org), produced by Jeff Turner and executive produced by Kyle Washington and Byron Horner. Distributed by MacGillivray Freeman Films.

A Magical Environment. Unchanged for 10,000 years…

Journey to a land of grizzlies, coastal wolves, sea otters and the all-white spirit bear — the rarest bear on earth — in the film Great Bear RainforestHidden from the outside world, the Great Bear Rainforest is one of the wildest places left on earth. Found on Canada’s remote Pacific coast, it is the last intact temperate rainforest in the world—a place protected by the region’s indigenous people for millennia. Now, for the first time ever, experience this magical world in IMAX and giant screen theatres, and discover the land of the spirit bear.

What is a Spirit Bear?

The spirit bear is a subspecies of the North American black bear that has white fur due to a rare genetic trait. Spirit bears are only found in the Great Bear Rainforest. No one knows exactly how many spirit bears there are, but estimates range from 50 to 100. They truly are the rarest bears on earth!

Guardians of the Forest

Since the last Ice Age, First Nations people have lived among the bears in the Great Bear Rainforest. Their living history is inseparably connected to the vibrancy of the rainforest, which they have protected for thousands of years. Today, indigenous youth are coming together and taking responsibility for this place they call home. Learn more about their work in Great Bear Rainforest.

For Educators

Invite your students to have a learning experience they won’t forget! Book a field trip to see Great Bear Rainforest and become immersed in the biology, geography, environmental sciences and other key school curriculum. Download the Educator Guide for hands-on activities aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core ELA and Social Studies. Schedule your field trip now by contacting your local IMAX theatre for information about special group programs.

Filming in the Rainforest

Filming in the remote Great Bear Rainforest presented a unique set of challenges for filmmakers Ian McAllister and Jeff Turner. Over the three years it took to make this film, the crew faced everything from extreme weather, unpredictable wildlife, and the daily rigors of being in a rugged environment far removed from modern conveniences. But this also pushed the filmmakers into fresh creative territory where every shot was carefully planned out and new filmmaking techniques were deployed. Learn more in this interview with director Ian McAllister, who has worked and lived in the rainforest for 30 years. Read the Interview with Ian.

Learn more

To learn more about the Great Bear Rainforest and how you can help protect the spirit bears and their ancient forest home, visit PacificWild.org.  Each of us can make a difference in helping preserve this unique environment, one of the last truly wild places on earth.

In this video you can hear from Fellows with the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) first-hand on what conservation photography means to them and why they devote their lives to this effort. They explain the behind-the-scenes work that goes into capturing compelling images.

iLCP supports visual storytellers in a shared mission of furthering environmental and cultural conservation through ethical photography and filmmaking.

iLCP is best known for its Conservation Photography Expeditions that connect local, national or international organizations, our Conservation Partners, with one or more of their Fellows. The objective of these intensive documentary efforts is to produce a body of images that fully captures the threats and opportunities faced by communities whose physical environments, fauna, flora, and/or cultural traditions are in peril from human activity. With their deep and varied skill sets in all areas of science and years of experience working in the field, iLCP Fellow Photographers do far more than simply take pretty pictures. Rather, they capture visual narratives that give compelling evidence of the need to protect these special places. Through their extensive network of media, conservation, and policy contacts, iLCP help amplify our Partners’ existing advocacy campaigns to bring about positive conservation outcomes.

Learn more about iLCP @ conservationphotographers.org

Shopping centres are a hive of activity at this time of year, store shelves adorned with seasonal gifts and fare. While for some Christmas is commercial, for others it inspires a creative spirit to make or uncover a truly unique present for their loved ones.

Strolling modern markets one discovers a surprising amount of pop-up stores, with make-your-own options transforming standard stocking stuffers into personalised ornaments, perfumes, confectionaries and much more. Creative spaces filled with happy crafters beavering away like elves in Santa’s workshop. And a beautiful hand-crafted gift certainly makes an impression but it takes time to produce—a luxury rarely afforded the deadline driven. For busy people seeking a gift of authentic and original craftsmanship, Kantala’s collection of handmade ethical fashion accessories might just be what you’re looking for.

Inspired by a 300-year-old traditional hand-weaving technique, Kantala combines Sri Lankan influences with functionality for a modern lifestyle.

Ethical Elegance aptly describes the brands aspirations, from plant-based materials to supporting local artisans. BE Journal takes you behind the brand with co-founder Nadishan Shanthikumar to learn more…

How did you begin designing consciously-crafted bags?

Both of us believe in creating value through our work that creates a positive impact in our communities and the environment. This belief was influenced by our upbringing and local culture which emphasizes compassion, care and respect towards others. So, our shared vision was to set up an enterprise based on these values with a mission to create a positive social and environmental impact.

While on his travels, Vikum found the moment of inspiration in Egypt when he saw a set of hieroglyphics cleverly incorporated into contemporary goods. He became convinced a product based on a traditional Sri Lankan craft was the business he wanted to create. Upon his return to Sri Lanka, Vikum searched for a traditional Sri Lankan craft that could be applied to a contemporary product which had a global demand. It was while on this search he came across the traditional artisans of Henavala, who were continuing a handwoven craft with a history of over 300 years, dating back to Sri Lanka’s last royal kingdom of Kandy. After Vikum shared his findings with me the two of us set out to learn more about this traditional craft. Soon we came to realise both the craft and the natural fibre material used to weave the mats gave the foundation to the positive social and environmental impact we wanted to create.

After seeking feedback from various people about the different applications of the handwoven material, we realized the material was well suited to make handbags. Hereafter, we set in motion the process of creating the perfect handbag that would champion the handwoven mat. As we brought in the different elements we needed to complete the Kantala handbag, we always stuck to the vision and mission we shared. This helped us to create the consciously-crafted bag each and every Kantala handbag is today.

What are the cultural influences and benefits to local communities?

There are multiple cultural influences at play when it comes to our work. As the core material of every Kantala product is the handwoven natural fibre mat, each product is influenced by the traditional craft which has a history of over 300 years. The weaving techniques used to create various designs have been perfected generation after generation. It is these skills and techniques which make it possible for us to create a variety of woven patterns.
Unfortunately, when we first met the artisans back in December 2012, the craft was in decline due to a lack of economically viable opportunities. We were amazed by the craft and its potential that we made it our mission to secure and revive the craft.

A fair living wage and timely payments have helped create economic benefits for the artisans. This helped to increase the number of artisans engaged with Kantala from 8 in 2013 to 22 by end of 2017. However, one concerning indicator was the average age of the artisans. In 2013 the average age of an artisan was 60, which highlighted the impending demise of the craft due to a new generation not taking up the craft. However, as we continued to promote our artisans to a global audience and reposition the craft as a highly skilled and prestigious sector, younger folks have started to take up the craft. By the end of 2017, the average age of an artisan dropped to 50. Thereby, Kantala has helped to secure a defining element of our traditional crafts and culture while creating a fair and respectable livelihood for rural communities in Sri Lanka.

What elements of nature proved the most versatile in construction and style?

One of the key elements which drew us to the handwoven mats was the natural fibre mat which was used to weave the mats. The fibre, which is extracted from the hana plan (Agave cantala), is a long fine white colour fibre with a mild sheen. The fibre is extremely strong, it’s cousin in Mexico is used to make rope, making it an ideal material for making objects that have to withstand weight. At the same time, its visual qualities give it an aesthetically pleasing texture once dyed and woven.

While this might not be of relevance to its use as a material in our handbags, the hana plant also serves quite a bit of community service as well. Hana plants can be grown as a bio-fence to stop wildlife entering cultivated land. It is a safe and environmentally conscious alternative to electric fences used to ward off wildlife. The plant can grow without watering and fertilizer while the leaves will keep on growing until the plant flowers and dies. All of this make the hana plant a genuinely versatile element of nature in many aspects.

Another element in our bags which play a versatile role is the upcycled coconut shell accessories. The coconut shell, which is discarded or incinerated, is used to make the logo tags and some of the other accessories such as D-rings and shoulder strap sliders used in our bags. Coconut shells are deceivingly tough and once polished using sandpaper and a brush, adds a unique aesthetic element to our products. Engraving the Kantala logo on coconut shell pieces has given a signature touch to our products.

Why is it vital to improve the current methods and materials used?

As an organisation which creates a positive social and environmental impact, our cost base is comparatively greater than most of our competition. In order to scale supply and maintain costs at a manageable level that doesn’t erode our competitiveness and mission, it is important for us to continuously review the processes and materials which are used to create Kantala products.

When you are working with traditional crafts, scalability becomes a key concern because all processed are done using hand tools. If the business fails to scale while maintaining cost competitiveness, the brand will ultimately fail. Therefore, certain low value add processes have to be mechanised using modern technology while labour is redirected to the core high value add activities. This will create higher efficiency, meaning the brand can scale while maintaining cost competitiveness. Also, by redirecting labour to higher value add activities, the artisans can earn more while increasing their output.

Three materials used in Kantala products are sourced from overseas, due to the lack of a viable alternative in Sri Lanka. This incurs added costs and increased lead times, which reduce the efficiency of our operations. Therefore, it is vital for us to engage local sources to improve substitutes to these imported materials, which will reduce the material cost and lead times. This also means we can redirect fund which would have been sent overseas back into our local communities as well.

What are the practical challenges of designing innovative storage solutions for modern lifestyles?

A world of fast changing consumer preferences translates into shorter product lifecycles which becomes hugely challenging when you are producing handcrafted goods. Unlike synthetic materials which can be easily moulded into any form or shape, natural materials are restrictive in their adaptability. However, by designing the interior of the products in such a manner that it gives the user functional flexibility, we manage to overcome most of these issues. We create certain products that are targeted to a very specific lifestyle while other products have the functionality to apply across multiple lifestyles.

Our plan is to carve out a niche position in the market that addresses a selected number of lifestyles which complement the personality of Kantala as a slow fashion brand. Therefore, we concentrate on achieving technical and design proficiency in addressing the storage requirements of these selected lifestyles.

How do you envision the definition and application of bags evolving in the future?

The core functionality of the handbag has remained the same over the decades. However, the purpose it fulfils changes according to the consumer who carries it. For one consumer their handbag is merely a practical necessity while to another it is an aesthetic element. To another customer, it could have emotional connotations. We believe the definition and application of the handbag will remain within this paradigm changing only from the point of view of the customer.

Bag makers who clearly identify their customer group and delivers a product that meets the customer’s practical, aesthetic and emotional expectations will see their products do well.

What is the ideal all-rounder for a travelling professional?

This is actually a question we are addressing at the moment. One of our first and favourite customers recently got in touch asking to develop a bag for her which she can use on her work trips of about one to two nights. We worked closely with her first to identify her needs while traveling on work and how we can provide her a solution.

The modern professional has many electronic devices which need to travel safely. They also like to carry a book to read, a magazine, notepad and pen etc. And then you have all the garments they need. The last thing a traveling professional needs after a long day of meetings is to have to carry multiple bags and spend time checking in and retrieving luggage.

Therefore, we created a simple solution with a comfortable handle for easy carrying, extra padding for safety, and a wide base which allows us to add multiple compartments which can accommodate up to 4 electronic devices and cables while having room for writing material and garments. From the outside it looks like the everyday elegant bag you take to work. But on the inside, it can accommodate quite a lot of things that will keep you organised and on the go for at least 2 nights. This is what we believe will make an ideal all-rounder for a traveling professional.

Explore the full range of vibrant and vegan accessories at Kantalabrands.com

Principles of Success learned through the Pursuit of Adventure, an animation by Ray Dalio. A short film with wide application to life and work.

“Whatever success I’ve had in life hasn’t been because of anything unique about me—it’s because of principles that I believe anyone can adopt. I created this animated series to share them with you”. —Ray Dalio

In 1975, Ray Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates, out of his two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Over forty years later, Bridgewater has grown into the largest hedge fund in the world and the fifth most important private company in the United States according to Fortune magazine, and Dalio himself has been named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Along the way Dalio discovered unique principles that have led to his and Bridgewater’s unique success. It is these principles, and not anything special about Dalio, that he believes are the reason behind whatever success he has had. He is now at a stage in his life that he wants to pass them along to others to do whatever they think is appropriate to do with them.

Learn more about Ray’s Principles @ principles.com