Archives July 2016

Pet-Friendly Work Environments Benefit Dogs and Humans Alike

A new study from Banfield Pet Hospital in Portland, Oregon, confirms what many of us have already largely suspected: a workplace that allows dogs makes for a better working environment.

In a survey of more than 1,000 employees and 200 human resource decision makers, Banfield found that the benefits of a dog-friendly office extended to humans, canines, and companies alike.

“Overwhelmingly, responses indicate that pet-friendly workplaces are viewed as highly positive, boosting morale, contributing to talent retention and providing employers with a competitive edge in the recruitment process,” the study’s conclusion reads. “Survey respondents even report that they believe more people would adopt pets if their companies offered pet-friendly office policies.”

Additionally, the findings suggest that bringing pets into work can result in “reduced stress, greater work-life balance, and decreased guilt over leaving pets at home.” That’s good news for dogs, too: some 4% of the country’s 55 million dogs are said to suffer from separation anxiety, which may be relieved by companionship at the office.

The study was released just in time for Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 24, an annual event initiated by Pet Sitters International back in 1999. “The event encourages employers to experience the joys of pets in the workplace for one day to support their local pet community,” the organization’s website says. “PSI feels that through the events, non-pet owners are able to witness the special bond their coworkers have with their pets firsthand and be encouraged to adopt a new best friend of their own.”

Additionally, a one-day pet experiment might also stimulate more companies to adopt dog-friendly policies throughout the year. Banfield’s study noted that, significantly, the majority of companies that benefited from animals in the office did not have a formal pet policy in place.

Whether it’s for a day, a week, or all year round, pets in the office are becoming increasingly common, and Banfield aims to continue the trend. “We hope this research will broaden the conversation around pet-friendly workplaces and add further momentum to this movement.”

Study: Millennials Still Love Going to the Movies

While the number of people attending movie theaters may be down from last year — possibly due to the widespread prevalence of Netflix and other at-home streaming services — don’t go blaming the Millennials right off the bat.

A new study from New Zealand-based data analytics firm Movio reveals that the “Millennial” or “Y” Generation, typically defined as those born between the early 1980s and late 1990s, accounts for a full 29% of all movie ticket sales, averaging 6.2 film screenings per year.

The full white paper report, titled “Understanding Millennial Moviegoers: A Data-Driven Playbook,” provides further evidence that Millennials under age 25 frequent movie theaters 8.5% more often than people over age 30.

“This difference perhaps speaks to the crux of the many studies that attempt to make generalizations about such a large and diverse population of people. “We bundle them in one bucket, but the data suggests that as they get older they behave differently,” wrote Movio chief executive and co-founder Will Palmer. “They are in a transitional phase of their life, and don’t exhibit consistent behaviour as a group.”

Millennials have been characterized by the media as alternately lazy, narcissistic, or aimless, though they’re also the best-educated generation in history, with one-third holding at least a Bachelor’s degree.

But as the group ages into older adulthood and often parenthood, it’s Millennial’s spending habits that many companies and financial research analysts are most interested in. For the movie industry, Movio’s findings may be welcome news.

“Our data science analysis demonstrates that Millennials are far more engaged in cinema than the industry’s anecdotally driven belief to the contrary,” Palmer said. Despite the difference in attendance between the under-25s and over-30s, the younger age group actually spent an average 7% less on the overall movie-going experience — meaning concessions, 3D screenings, or family ticket purchases.

“One of the major findings on Millennial moviegoers was that the motivation for in-theater viewing is largely to satisfy their need for instant gratification for content,” Palmer added — so it’s probably safe to say that the summer blockbuster tradition won’t be going away anytime soon.

San Francisco Man Faces Eviction After Landlord Hikes Up Rent to $8,000 a Month

While some properties, landlords, and tenants are a breeze, renters can expect to deal with an average three to five minor issues per year in their homes. For one San Francisco man, however, renting has proven to come with one major hiccup.

Neil Hutchinson is currently fighting eviction after his landlord bumped up his rent by more than 400% without warning. His North Beach apartment, where he has resided for the past six years, has gone from $1,800 a month to $8,000.

This three-bedroom apartment was featured in several scenes of Clint Eastwood’s 1988 movie “The Dead Pool,” making it a highly sought-after residence.

The 47-year-old Hutchinson was served an eviction notice after he was unable to pay the increased rent. He originally moved into the apartment in 2010 and signed a lease with his roommates, but the landlord is now claiming that the lease is no longer valid since the master tenant moved out last July.

“They’ve accepted money from me. I filled out an application. They are saying the lease is not applicable to me. As far as I’m concerned the rent control should apply to me,” said Hutchinson. It is on the basis of this argument that Hutchinson is appealing the rent increase through the San Francisco Rent Board.

Hutchinson filed his appeal in June; however, the case may not be decided upon until early August. Unfortunately, the tenant faces a July 21 eviction.

“I could be evicted before that decision comes through, so I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m struggling here,” lamented Hutchinson.

He added that while he cannot afford to stay in his current residence, he also can’t afford to leave the city of San Francisco where he holds a full-time position as a video engineer. “My life is in San Francisco,” he said. “I don’t have a car. The commute would be brutal to my career.”

Hutchinson is not the only San Francisco resident to suffer from increased rent prices. The city’s housing costs have skyrocketed as a direct result of the tech industry boom. According to Trulia, the median rental cost in North Beach is $6,850 a month.

Perioblast Dental Laser Could Change Gum Disease Treatment

Treating gum disease with antibiotics could soon be unnecessary thanks to a new dental laser device.

According to Cosmetic Dentistry Guide, a new dental laser, periodontal biological laser-assisted therapy, also known by its cooler name, Perioblast, is a treatment that can improve even the most aggressive cases of gum disease.

Usually caused by poor hygiene, periodontal disease affects 74% of the American population. Tooth loss is often a result of the disease, and regular treatments can get expensive. The Perioblast, created in England, could end up being an antibiotic-free way to eradicating gum disease.

Dentist and researcher Dr. Francesco Martelli presented the evidence backing the Perioblast treatment. The researchers, along with 60 dentists, looked at 2,683 British and Italian patients who suffered with periodontal disease. The Perioblast treatment was effective in all 2,683 cases.

“We have developed a treatment that can target the pathogens and eradicate them permanently,” said Martelli.

The Daily Mail reports that although private clinics are offering the treatment, they are not guaranteeing a cure and say they can only reduce bacteria levels down to more “manageable levels.”

“Laser treatment helps slow progression of gum disease,” said Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, “but it is not a magic bullet. There will be patients who continue to have problems, and even after this treatment they will need ongoing monitoring.”

The process requires a dentist to analyze bacteria levels inside the mouth and then traditional therapies including root planing, scale and polish are performed. Then, the dentist irradiates the gums using a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser. During the laser process, a special solution is spread across the gums that protects them and absorbs the light.

The Perioblast treatment is said to be “slightly uncomfortable,” but it does not cause serious pain to patients. Dr. Martelli is hopeful the treatment will be available for mainstream healthcare procedures.

Your Smart Car Is The Latest Threat To Your Privacy

Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, San Diego, wanted to find out if smart cars can recognize individual drivers based solely on their driving habits. Based on an initial test, the researchers announced that existing smart car technology can identify drivers with 100% accuracy.

The research team published their findings on automobile driver fingerprinting in the most recent issue of Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technology.

The four scientists recruited 15 drivers for the experiment. First, each person drove a car around a parking lot. Then, each driver navigated a 50-mile loop of Seattle, WA. The team then collected the data from the car’s CAN bus, the in-vehicle computer that manages the digital functions of modern vehicles.

Whether they realize it or not, most drivers have a hidden USB port underneath their steering wheel, which can be accessed by mechanics for repairs and software debugging. They collected data from 15 different sensors in the car, then used a machine learning program to analyze the data.

The researchers’ algorithm was able to identify drivers based on their unique style of driving with 100% accuracy. Not only that, but the algorithm could still identify drivers with nothing but the brake sensor data.

Although the sample size in the experiment was small, the results suggest that different drivers have such unique braking styles that this information can easily be used as a driver fingerprint. After the brake sensor, data from the maximum engine torque sensor was the most useful.

According to the paper, “This signal is the calculated maximum torque that the engine can provide under the current circumstances (altitude, temperature, etc.), based on wide-open throttle conditions.”

Torque sensors are commonly used in all manner of machines, from automobiles to robots. They can withstand extreme conditions, including temperatures ranging from -452 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. After the torque sensor, steering wheel data was the most useful.

The research suggests that as the auto industry moves towards smart cars, a balancing act is required between safety and privacy. Already, Toyota has said it will deliver smart cars with artificial intelligence by 2020.