Tag Archives: u.s.

Airbnb has biggest night ever – while guests stay on private islands, in castles, & on boats

Last Saturday Airbnb had a pretty amazing night:

 

Not long ago, we told you about the 10 million guest nights booked on our site. Little did we know that our community was just getting warmed up…After a few massive weeks of travel, plus a bit of excitement in London, we saw our biggest night in history take place last Saturday, August 4.

How big? Well, 60,000 people were staying on Airbnb that night. That’s five times the number of guests from August 4, 2011.

 

More than two-thirds of those travelers were from outside the U.S., coming from 174 countries. That’s pretty incredible.

The company put together a few graphics celebrating this feat:

 

 

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Google Maps update – bicycle legend now shows bike lanes, shared lanes, and bike-friendly roads

If you’re looking for new ways to get around for fun or to work, or might be trying to live a greener lifestyle in 2012, why not try biking? In March 2010 we introduced biking directions and since then Google Maps has been sharing biking directions with cyclists across the U.S and Canada.

Since no bike path is the same, many users have requested an easier way to differentiate the different types of bike routes that are available. Starting today, a new legend feature can help you understand what the different colors on the bike maps symbolize.

  • Dark green is for dedicated trails and paths
  • Light green is for roads with dedicated lanes
  • Dotted green is for roads that are friendly for cyclists

 

Look for the biking legend in the upper right hand corner of the map.

 

You can view this legend by clicking on the widget in upper right corner of Google Maps and selecting the Bicycling layer. You can also access biking directions on your Android device or by going to maps.google.com on your mobile browser.

 

Source: Google Lat-Long Blog - New Biking Directions Legend

U.S. adds more Predator drones to search for drugs in the Caribbean

After quietly testing Predator drones over the Bahamas for more than 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the unmanned surveillance flights into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to fight drug smuggling, according to U.S. officials.

The move would dramatically increase U.S. drone flights in the Western Hemisphere, more than doubling the number of square miles now covered by the department’s fleet of nine surveillance drones, which are used primarily on the northern and southwestern U.S. borders.

But the high-tech aircraft have had limited success spotting drug runners in the open ocean. The drones have largely failed to impress veteran military, Coast Guard and Drug Enforcement Agency officers charged with finding and boarding speedboats, fishing vessels and makeshift submarines ferrying tons of cocaine and marijuana to America’s coasts.

 

Keep readingU.S. plans more drone flights over Caribbean

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The most visited countries in the world

  1. France – 77 million
  2. United States – 61 million
  3. China – 56 million
  4. Spain – 53 million
  5. Italy – 43 million
  6. United Kingdom – 28 million
  7. Turkey – 27 million
  8. Germany – 27 million
  9. Malaysia – 25 million
  10. Mexico – 22 million

 

Interesting to note that both France and Spain receive more visitors than their entire population:

  • France – population 65 million – with 77 million annual visitors
  • Spain – population 46 million – with 53 million visitors.

That’s quite a tourism business for them.

Not to worry as the world seems ready to travel more than ever. Sometime this year we will set a record with 1 billion international tourists, and the graph below shows that at least half of them are heading to Europe!

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What guide books tell foreign visitors to America

The United States is the second greatest tourist draw in the world, with 60-million-plus visitors in 2010 alone (France, number one, attracted almost 80 million). Flipping through a few of the many English-language tourist guides provides a fascinating, if non-scientific and narrow, window into how people from the outside world perceive America, Americans, and the surprises and pitfalls of spending time here.

Of the many pieces of advice proffered, four of the most common are: eat with your fingers (sometimes), arrive on time (always), don’t drink and drive (they take it seriously here!), and be careful about talking politics (unless you’ve got some time to spare).

…some sage advice on a ritual that even I did not realize was so complicated until I read this passage:

When invited to a meal in a private home it is considered polite for a guest to ask if they can bring anything for the meal, such a dessert, a side dish, or for an outdoor barbecue, something useful like ice or plastic cups or plates. The host will usually refuse except among very close friends, but it is nonetheless considered good manners to bring along a small gift for the host. A bottle of wine, box of candies or fresh cut flowers are most common. Gifts of cash, prepared ready-to-serve foods, or very personal items (e.g. toiletries) are not appropriate.

 

That and many more interesting suggestions – The Atlantic

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Progress in the Middle East – if you measure by the number of Facebook users

There are growing signs of progress in the Middle East, if you measure by the total number of Facebook users. That number has skyrocketed since 2010, going from 15 million to near 40 million.

Of those users, a growing number are starting to prefer using the site in their own native language, Arabic.

Of the 39+ million Arabic users on Facebook, 39% prefer to view the site in their native language, while 36% like it in English.

As more users in the region are coming online, with an obvious desire to access sites in Arabic, there is a rising demand for content that appeals to them, and quite a few social media sites are trying to meet that demand.

Twitter recently added support for right-to-left languages, including in Arabic, while Storify is working with a team of volunteers in the Middle East to translate their interface into Arabic.

Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages on sites like Twitter and Wikipedia, and with Yahoo having just licensed the technology behind smart transliteration tool Yamli, it is becoming increasingly easy for Arabic speakers to interact in their mother tongue online.

via The Next Web

 

The numbers are not overwhelming, by any means, considering that there are 152 million users in the U.S. and 232 million in Europe, but it is a positive sign.

 

// Photo – Sean MacEntee

Housing recovery hits some areas – top growth in U.S. cities

Metros with the Most Construction Permits in 2011

  1. Houston, TX – 31,271
  2. Dallas, TX – 18,686
  3. Washington, DC – 16,501
  4. New York, NY – 13,973
  5. Austin, TX – 10,239
  6. Los Angeles, CA – 9,895
  7. Phoenix, AZ – 9,081
  8. Seattle, WA – 8,664
  9. Atlanta, GA – 8,634
  10. San Antonio, TX – 7,127

More permits were issued in the Houston metro area than in any other metro, by far. Four of the top ten metros were in Texas. But this list is dominated by large metro areas, and we’d expect bigger areas to have more construction activity. Looking instead at the number of permits issued per 1,000 existing housing units…here are the top metro areas by construction activity:

Most Construction Activity (per 1,000 existing units)

  1. El Paso, TX – 15.36
  2. Austin, TX – 14.49
  3. Raleigh, NC – 13.66
  4. Houston, TX – 13.55
  5. Charleston, SC – 12.80
  6. Dallas, TX – 11.26
  7. Little Rock, AR – 10.53
  8. Baton Rouge, LA – 9.51
  9. Washington, DC – 9.44
  10. Columbia, SC – 8.74

via – The Top U.S. Cities for New Home Construction - which includes cities with least construction activity

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Why is Cinco De Mayo not celebrated in Mexico, only the U.S.?

UCLA professor David Hayes-Bautista stumbled upon the answer to a question that for years had puzzled scholars and amateur historians alike:

Why is Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in California and the United States, when it is scarcely observed in Mexico?

As Hayes-Bautista explains in “El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition,” his new book on the origins of the holiday, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican at all.

Rather, it is an American holiday, rooted in the Civil War and commemorated today because a network of Latino groups in California known as the juntas patrióticas mejicanas (Mexican patriotic assemblies) deliberately created a public memory of it.

“We have had a lot of conjecture, a lot of guessing, but no one actually really knew,” he said. “Now we know why it’s celebrated.”

 

Keep reading – to learn how France invaded Mexico, for slavery and the Confederacy, only to be defeated on May 5, 1862.

Or, listen to Professor Hayes-Bautista explain it himself:

Spanish version of the talk

Unemployment rate at 8.1% – job growth seen in manufacturing, architecture, engineering, and computers

Hiring continued its slow pace in April as employers added a modest 115,000 jobs to their payrolls.

The jobless rate inched down to 8.1% last month, the Labor Department said Friday, but that wasn’t because more people were employed. Rather, the rate fell as more workers dropped out of the labor force (about 342,000 workers).

The April jobs report was highly anticipated because job growth slowed sharply in March after three strong winter months of payroll gains averaging 252,000.

Job growth last month was bolstered by continued strength in manufacturing, which added 16,000 jobs to payrolls, and professional services such as architecture, engineering and computer systems design also increased staffing.

Wages overall were subdued; average earnings for all private-sector employees went up by a mere penny from March, to $23.38 an hour.

via LA Times

Soon cars will be ultra-light-weight and made out of carbon-fibre composites

The race is on to replace steel cars with carbon-fibre cars. All of the major automakers have inked deals to make the switch. The reason being that carbon-fibre is:

Interior view of a production line for carbon fiber heavy tow.

“10 times stronger than regular-grade steel and one-quarter of steel’s weight.”

“Using carbon fiber in lieu of conventional steel can lower the weight of a vehicle component by up to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Cutting a car’s weight by 10 percent can improve fuel economy by as much as 8 percent.”

via Reuters

Weight is a big deal in cars. The heavier the car, the bigger the engine and, typically, the lower the fuel economy. This is especially true for electric cars who face limited mileage on one charge, reduce that weight by 10% and you can go an extra 50 miles.

Currently, carbon-fibre is expensive to make and only really used in racing cars. BMW, the first company to invest heavily in carbon, has already found ways to cut production costs.

“The carbon fiber fabric is placed in a mold, and resin is injected under high pressure and temperature. The process, which once took 20 minutes per part, now requires less than 10 minutes. Robots cut and handle the material and components, which previously were made by hand.

The robots will help BMW achieved big savings. A pound of carbon fiber now costs only a third as much as a pound used in the M3 CSL coupe’s roof when the limited-edition car was introduced in the 2004 model year.”

via c|net

50K carbon fibers can be shaped and cured to produce spars for wind energy blades, golf shafts, compressed natural gas tanks, and pultruded beams.

 

Much of this production will happen in Germany or China, with both Volkswagon and BMW working with Germany’s SGL Carbon and General Motors signing with Teijin Ltd. But, just last month, Dow Chemicals signed a deal with Ford to begin research and production.

It’s exciting to think what this technology can do, not only for cars, but trucks, planes, boats, etc.

Energy researcher Amory Lovins, in this TED talk, thinks that when we fully start using carbon-fibre vehicles fuel economy in cars will shoot up to 200 miles/gallon. He says that halving the weight of the car creates compound effects: lighter car, requires a lighter engine, which makes the car even lighter.

 

Carbon aircraft brake disc.

 

// Photos – SGL Carbon