MASTER GARDENERS: Thought-provoking research as gardening season… – Bemidji Pioneer


A former co-worker nearly lost a child due to the “blue baby” syndrome caused by it; the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused by the build-up of excess nutrients from the fertilizer we use on our lawns, golf courses, and farm fields—not a trivial issue. A news item in the “American Gardener” suggests a possible solution.

Nitrogen is necessary for photosynthesis for plant growth. Although abundant in the atmosphere, plants can only utilize it from the soil after microorganisms have converted it to ammonia. Synthetic fertilizers have readily been available to stimulate plant growth, but they are expensive, can pollute groundwater and their manufacturing process creates greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. If plants could utilize the nitrogen in the air, water quality would not be impacted and the problems associated with fertilizer manufacture and soil degradation would be eliminated. Some plants already do that. Legumes such as peas and beans “fix” nitrogen from the air through rhizobia bacteria that live in those little nodules on the roots and thus are self-fertile.

Now researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have put their finger on a set of genes that allow another bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen to its useable form. The American Society for Microbiology announced a study in June that added those nitrogen-fixing genes to an altogether different bacterium. Eureka! This one succeeded, only at a lower rate. Potentially, this could eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers; plants could convert the nitrogen in the air to this usable nutrient for growth. What potential this could be for soil health, water quality, as well as another tool in reducing global warming.

Another “American Gardener” article piqued my interest and raised more questions. Cutting electric costs and providing bright lighting in cities as well as in homes has led to the advent of LED lighting.

I love its brightness and the lower electrical usage and, thereby, lowering bills, but research is indicating that there are drawbacks to it, as well. University of California research scientists have discovered that certain light spectrums affect wildlife more than others. They found that blue and white spectrum LED light causes more problems than those in the yellow-green and amber colors. These lights affect moths and night-flying insects, interrupting pollination at night and causing both daytime and nighttime consequences on many creatures. I notice my own problems with sleeping when I work on the computer at night or read thrillers using a bright little LED until the book is done. I have always blamed the stimulation of the story, but maybe I am closer to moth than I realized. I hope I am more like a Cecropia or a Luna than one of those destructive and ugly grey-brown ones.

More horticulture stories could be in the news but are often missed with our penchant for headline news. Are you aware of the invasive, tiny, long-horned tick that reproduces asexually and has been found in three East Coast states? Another involves the decline of the urban tree canopy, the large increase in impermeable surfaces and the death of trees due to insect damage, fires and drought?

There is so much to learn; one forgets snow!

Please seek information from the University of Minnesota Extension website——or ask a Master Gardener for horticultural help. Our Facebook page may also be of help to you:

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Gardening for the Record: Third trys a charm for gardener – Times Record


“There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder.” These words by English poet Alfred Austin came to mind recently when fellow Master Gardener/photographer Pat Robbins emailed a photo of the first bloom on her nun’s orchid.

Since then her orchid has continued to amaze her. One of the reasons is that this was Pat’s third try with this plant. Three years ago, I divided my plant and gave Pat a few egg-shaped pseudobulbs in a pot. They did not survive the summer. Second time was also unsuccessful. Last summer, I offered her another plant. She reluctantly accepted with the words: “Maybe third time will be a charm.” And charm it was!

Pat’s futile attempts were surprising because she can usually propagate almost anything. In fact, she is the only person I know who has propagated the Silver Moon rose from a cutting. I have been the recipient of some of her prized passalongs, including datura and rice paper plant.

Since that first emailed photo, she has taken many photos. And as fate (or Austin’s words) would have it, my orchid refused to bloom this year although it has beautiful healthy foliage.

An ancient tropical plant, nun’s orchid (phaius tankervilleae) gets its name from the hooded flowers that resembled a veiled nun’s head bowed in prayer. It is also called nun’s hood, veiled orchid and swamp orchid.

My plant was a door prize at an Advanced Master Gardener class many years ago. It requires little care and has performed well, blooming every year — until now — and multiplying so that it can be divided and passed along.

When in bloom, this orchid is spectacular. Tall spikes up to four feet tall appear in February. Then four-inch flowers open sequentially on the stalk for four to six weeks. Each flower’s petals are reddish brown on the front and white on the back. The lower lip is rose or lavender to purple with a darker throat. The blooms are also fragrant. It is one of those plants that blooms only once a year — in late winter. Leaves are large, thin and pleated.

Flowers are believed to develop in response to reduced hours of daylight. Gardeners are not only familiar with the idiom “if at first you don’t succeed … try, try again,” but practice it daily, both in the house and the garden.

But one plant that never tests a gardener’s humility is the wood hyacinth or Spanish Bluebell (hyacinthoides hispanica). Another one-time bloomer worth waiting for, it is one of the most durable old-garden bulbs. In early spring, flower spikes are covered with open bell-shaped arcing flowers atop tight tall clumps of dagger-like leaves.

The wood hyacinths have been in my garden longer than I have. The spring after we moved in (over four decades ago), these beauties appeared and have returned every year without exception, multiplying many times. Bulbs have been transplanted in other flower beds and passed along to friends.

While the literature lists them as “shade or partly sunny” plants, mine have always flourished in the hot afternoon sun.

Recently I discovered a half dozen in the alley where apparently overlooked dried bulbs fell out of the yard-waste can and created a new home. These will be potted and given to friends who have little or no time to spend in the garden. Incidentally, the most popular meaning for bluebells is humility.

Houseplants have noticed longer days and are beginning to grow. So, it’s time to start your spring feeding, but use a diluted 50 percent fertilizer mix until the growth is robust.

It’s also time for Sutherlands’ annual spring event, which will be held Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. Several of their plant vendors will be on hand to present seminars on what’s new in the plant world and answer questions. Seminar topics will include organics, roses, beekeeping and more, according to plant expert Vicki Whitfield. The event includes a hotdog lunch prepared by the Noon Lions Club.

Next week, the topic will be: Curiosity in the garden — green flowers.

Lucy Fry of Fort Smith is a level 4 Master Gardener and writes the area Master Gardener newsletter. Her column, Gardening for the Record, runs weekly in the Times Record. Send questions to [email protected]

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Best apps for gardening and yard work for spring 2019 – CNET


Mobile apps can make gardening easier.

Dragon Images/iStockphoto

Not everyone has a green thumb or an eye for landscaping. Some people don’t even get to try because they’re so busy. Others watch HGTV over and over again and still never achieve the yard of their dreams because it’s easy to forget most of what you learned by the time you get outside.

But since you can take your phone with you when you walk out into the yard, there are now some digital tools that can make you a more effective gardener. We’ve gathered together some gardening and landscaping apps that can walk you through how to take care of your plants and keep your yard looking fabulous.

My Lawn: A Guide to Lawn Care

My Lawn (download for iOS or Android) makes lawn maintenance understandable and creates an easy-to-follow care plan so you know which products to use and when.

Recommendations are based on your lawn size, location and climate. You’ll get an alert when it’s time to feed, seed and water your lawn, so you will never have to guess. You can also create a custom lawn care plan.

Monitor the amount of water your yard gets each week from rain, hoses or sprinklers. Keep track of the specific needs of different parts of your yard, like the parts that are mostly shaded versus the parts that are always in the sun.



Share your garden and connect with others through the GrowIt! app (download for iOS or Android). Share photos of your plants and ask the community for help identifying them. The GrowIt! community is a valuable resource if you’ve just moved to a new area. If you’ve got a pest that’s eating your tomatoes, for example, others on the app might be able to help.

See what the people around you are planting to get some inspiration. If you find a plant you like, tap on the information tab to find out how to grow it. The information tab tells you how big the plant can get, how often to water and feed it, and when it will bloom.

GrowIt! teaches you how to properly prepare your soil for anything you plant, grow larger vegetables, and what you should and shouldn’t plant based on your location.

Read: 6 gardening tips you’ll wish you’d known all along



Design your outdoor living area with iScape (download for iOS). Use the design tools to make your project come to life. Snap a photo of an area that needs landscaping and virtually add flowerbeds, trees and shrubs to get an idea of what your yard will look like before you begin.

iScape offers 2D and 3D designs so you can see what your physical outdoor area looks like with virtual plants. Once you have a landscape layout, you can share with your spouse or a landscape pro and get your project started.

The app offers a free lite version, but to gain full access, you will need to subscribe to a monthly pro subscription for $20, or a yearly pro subscription for $200.



If you’ve ever wondered about an unknown plant in your garden, then you need FlowerChecker (download for iOS or Android). This app has a team of experts who can help you identify plants, moss, lichen and fungi.

To find out about your unknown plant, snap a few pictures of it and upload them to the app. Try to capture the different parts of the plant like the flower, leaves and stem. The typical response time for an expert to identify the plant can take a few minutes or a few hours. So far, the team of experts has been able to correctly identify an average of 90 percent of plants.

Identification costs $1 per plant uploaded. If the team can’t confirm what your plant is, you won’t have to pay anything. You’ll also have to purchase the app for a one-time cost of $1.


Garden Answers

Identify plants easily with Garden Answers (download for iOS or Android). Unlike Flower Checker, this app uses advanced image recognition technology to identify plants instead of an expert. Simply snap a picture and submit it to instantly get detailed information about a plant.

To learn if your plants have pests or diseases, use the keyword search feature to ask Garden Answers a question. If you need more advice on gardening, ask the experts for more specific questions and recommendations.

Access any of your previous plant questions and answers within the app.



Learn about healthy planting year-round with SmartPlant (download for iOS or Android). Watch videos, view images and learn more about how to care for your plants in the app library.

Identify your plants and any pests that are preventing their growth. Scan plant barcodes in stores to receive monthly care tip notifications.

The app has a free version that offers occasional access to premium features. If you subscribe to premium, you will have access to expert assistance. Premium costs $4 monthly, $10 quarterly or $35 annually.


Gardening Companion

Make your garden immaculate with the help of Gardening Companion (download for iOS or Android). This app acts as your garden assistant to help you care for your plants. Browse through thousands of articles on horticulture to take the best care of your garden.

Track your garden’s growth by storing photos and notes in the app’s journal. The app records the weather in your location and you can compare how your garden did this year compared with last year.

Set up notifications to remind you to water and fertilize your garden. Gardening Companion can also alert you when the time is right to plant your vegetables.



Learn what you can grow in your area with Gardenate (download for iOS or Android). The app uses your location to show what is best for you to plant each month. Access plant descriptions and growing tips to become a pro.

In the app, record planting dates, harvest dates and notes about your plants. Save the details in the My Garden section. The app will send calendar reminders when it’s time to harvest your produce.

Access detailed information about your plants like when they germinate and at what temperatures, how far apart to space your plants and the amount of time it takes for them to harvest. 


These old toys are learning new tricks in this trailer for Toy Story 4 - Critical Hit

These old toys are learning new tricks in this trailer for Toy Story 4 3

Toys are magical creations that bring joy to the life of little kids. And Darryn. Which I guess also explains our fascination with the ongoing journey of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang and their efforts to bring smiles to the faces of their young owners. Its been nine years since they bid an emotional farewell to Andy in Toy Story 3, but that wasn’t the end of their journey as the gang is back to ensure that a new young girl, Bonnie, gets to experience the joy of having toys.

This time around, its neither Woody or Buzz that are the centre of Bonnie’s attention, but rather a newcomer named Forky, a toy that she made herself and who is the most important friend in her life as Woody and Buzz need to put their own priorities aside to help Forky become a better toy.

I’ll be honest and admit that I was concerned about having another Toy Story movie as it felt like it was just an unnecessary sequel for the sake of making money, especially after Toy Story 3 ended on such a powerful high. It does seem though that Pixar is not just making an aimless sequel, but has got a strong narrative behind this one that actually compliments the other films in how it moves the character along and allows them to transition to a new owner and experience new adventures in the world.

Sequels tends to often be lesser versions of the originals but in the case of the Toy Story franchise you could argue that each one has been an improvement on the last at least in terms of its emotional weight of storytelling. And if this trailer is anything to go by, I think Toy Story 4 looks set to repeat that trend as I found it difficult to not want to chug up at the sentimentality and strong emotional connection already on display in this trailer. I think it’s safe to say you’re going to need to bring tissues to the cinema for this one. A box for yourself and another for the kids.

These old toys are learning new tricks in this trailer for Toy Story 4 4

Toy Story 4 is set for release on June 21t and features much of the same voice cast, including Tom Hanks, Woody Allen, Annie Potts and Joan Cusack, returning to voice the characters we have all grown to love, with Randy Newman also once again providing a highly emotive soundtrack for this movie.

The big newcomer to the picture is director John Cooley who has become a regular in some of Pixar’s recent movies, but is new to the Toy story brand, taking over from John Lasseter, Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich. The pair are still involved in the movie, having created the story for it alongside Pete Doctor and Andrew Stanton, who finished the screenplay with Stephany Folsom.

The first Toy Story was the very first CGI movie and kick-started this new level of excellence that we have since come to experience from the genre. It appears with Toy Story 4, there is going to be no letting up and it’s just going to continue taking it to infinity and beyond.

Last Updated: March 20, 2019

Smart toys for smart kids -


HOUSTON — “Gadget Nation” Author Steve Greenberg drops by Great Day with great, smart toy ideas for your smart kid in this week’s edition of Tech Corner Powered by XFINITY. The first toy is “Professor Maxwells 4D Chef”, which won Best Product at Toy Fair NY 2019. You can learn how to make 18 different recipes while learning about what you’re making. The “Artie 3000” is another toy he talks about, which is a drawing robot that teaches kids to code. “Dr. Biscuits’ Radical Road Trip” is great for road-trips to the store or out-of-state and includes 60 different games. “Squishy Circuits” is a great way to build and make your creations come to life with lights, buzzers, motors, and more! It uses it’s insulating “play dough” to teach the basics of electric circuits. Lastly, “Big-A-Bubbles” creates giant bubbles right before your eyes! It comes with 6 different themed gloves. For more information on Steve Greenberg, follow him on social media at @SteveTV, or visit his website at

Global Early Learning Toys Market Report Analysis by Market Competitors, Region, Product, Application and Forecast upto 2025 - The Beaumont Daily


Early Learning Toys

Global Early Learning Toys Market Report 2025 covers the market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the Key Vendors operating in this Global market. This report presents the Early Learning Toys market size (value, production and consumption), splits the breakdown (data status 2014-2019 and Forecast to 2025), by manufacturers, region, type and application.

Get Sample Report at @:

Scope of Early Learning Toys Market:

The Early Learning Toys market is valued at xx million US$ in 2018 and will reach xx million US$ by the end of 2025, growing at a CAGR of xx% during 2019-2025. The objectives of this study are to define, segment, and project the size of the Early Learning Toys market based on company, product type, end user and key regions.

The Top Major Companies in Early Learning Toys Market are:

  • Mattel,LEGO,Hasbro,Bandai,TAKARA TOMY,Gigotoys,MGA Enternment,Melissa & Doug,Simba – Dickie Group,Giochi Preziosi,PLAYMOBIL,Ravensburger,Vtech,Leapfrog,Spin Master,MindWare,Safari,BanBao,Qunxing,Goldlok Toys,Star – Moon

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Early Learning Toys Market: Type Segment Analysis (Consmption Volume, Average Price, Revenue, Market Share and Trend 2019-2025):

  • Activity Toys,Games and Puzzles,Construction Toys,Dolls and Accessories,Outdoor and Sports Toys,Other Type

Early Learning Toys Market: Application Segment Analysis (Consumption Volume and Market Share 2019-2025; Downstream Customers and Market Analysis)

  • Individual Customers,Wholesale Purchasers

Regions that have been covered for this Early Learning Toys Market

  • North America (United States, Canada and Mexico)
  • Europe (Germany, UK, France, Italy, Russia, Spain and Benelux)
  • Asia Pacific (China, Japan, India, Southeast Asia and Australia)
  • Latin America (Brazil, Argentina and Colombia)
  • Middle East and Africa

Key Features of Early Learning Toys Market Research Report:

  • This report provides detail analysis of the market and have a comprehensive understanding of the Early Learning Toys market and its commercial landscape.
  • Learn about the various market strategies that are being adopted by leading companies.
  • It provides a five-year forecast assessed based on how the Early Learning Toys market is predicted to grow.
  • It provides insightful analysis of changing competition dynamics and keeps you ahead of competitors.
  • To understand the future scope and outlooks for the Early Learning Toys market.

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Total Chapters in Early Learning Toys Market Report are:

Chapter 1 Overview of Early Learning Toys Market

Chapter 2 Global Market Status and Forecast by Regions

Chapter 3 Global Market Status and Forecast by Types

Chapter 4 Global Market Status and Forecast by Downstream Industry

Chapter 5 North America Market Status by Countries, Type, Manufacturers and Downstream Industry

Chapter 6 Europe Market Status by Countries, Type, Manufacturers and Downstream Industry

Chapter 7 Asia Pacific Market Status by Countries, Type, Manufacturers and Downstream Industry

Chapter 8 Latin America Market Status by Countries, Type, Manufacturers and Downstream Industry

Chapter 9 Middle East and Africa Market Status by Countries, Type, Manufacturers and Downstream Industry

Chapter 10 Market Driving Factor Analysis of Low End Servers

Chapter 11 Early Learning Toys Market Competition Status by Major Manufacturers

Chapter 12 Early Learning Toys Major Manufacturers Introduction and Market Data

Chapter 13 Upstream and Downstream Market Analysis of Early Learning Toys Market

Chapter 14 Cost and Gross Margin Analysis of Early Learning Toys Market

Further in the report, the Early Learning Toys market is examined for Sales, Revenue, Price and Gross Margin. These points are analysed for companies, types, and regions. In continuation with this data, the sale price is for various types, applications and region is also included. The Early Learning Toys Market consumption for major regions is given. Additionally, type wise and application wise figures are also provided in this report.

An atmosphere of learning: Pre-K class receives educational toys from donation - Petoskey News-Review


One prekindergarten classroom in Charlevoix sees how community coming together can help provide young children an atmosphere of learning by playing.

Children in Amy Baldwin’s pre-K class at St. Mary School in Charlevoix received a generous donation of educational toys and other materials all designed to help build the cognitive and social skills, language abilities and interest in learning new things about the world.

Dressed as astronauts, firemen, police, doctors and more, the young students asked questions, laughed and played while learning.

Four-year-old Mallory Hosford was pretending to be a veterinarian using the new educational veterinarian kit inside the classroom.

“I get to nurse the animals and help them feel better,” Hosford said, when asked about the new learning tool.

The donations were proceeds from a parent’s candle party, Baldwin said.

“It all started when one of my students’ parents offered to have a PartyLite candle party in order to raise funds for our class,” Baldwin said. “She saw the extra things I buy for classroom supplies and she wanted to help.”

The candle party raised $200, and with some help from a downtown children’s clothing store, they were able to purchase approximately $700 in classroom play items to enhance the child’s discovery and creativity that begins with a child’s imagination, Baldwin said.

“The parent talked with Jodi Bingham, of GaGa for Kids, and the magic began,” Baldwin said. “I looked through a catalog and created a wish list of items for our class. She then partnered with the famous company, Melissa and Doug, to come up with a plan of getting the most out of our money.”

Bingham naturally wanted to see the classroom get the most for its money.

“They were interested in purchasing toys and I thought it was the perfect opportunity for me to get involved and really make it special for the kids,” Bingham said. “I thought Melissa and Doug was a perfect company to pair with what Ms. Baldwin was looking for. Their toys are focused on creative play and education.”

A load of learning games, costumes, and other educational materials were delivered by Bingham to the classroom on March 5, and the students were ecstatic, Baldwin said.

“Lots of puzzles to help with the cognitive learning skills and a hopscotch rug to learn turn taking and number talking,” Baldwin said. “All the play items are learning and educational. From costumes of community professions to a vet clinic box set, it helps them learn and they just think it’s fun.”

West Newbury Learning Center focuses on play | Local News - The Daily News of Newburyport


WEST NEWBURY — Physicist Albert Einstein called it “the highest form of research.” Playwright George Bernard Shaw said we’ll grow old without it. And educator Maria Montessori dubbed it “the work of the child.”

Even Fred Rogers, the cardigan-clad icon of PBS TV for children felt strongly about the intrinsic value of play. “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning,” Mr. Rogers told generations of parents.

Although numerous studies have underscored the negative impact a lack of daily play and exploration may have on a young child’s development, the emphasis on teacher-directed, academic-style classrooms at increasingly younger grade levels is often the norm in schools these days.

Enter Tracy Hartford and The West Newbury Learning Center, a play-based child-care option for families that she and her husband,Terry, opened in town square in January.

Located at 277 Main St, it’s a convenient spot for parents in need of quality short-term — even last-minute — child care for toddlers and preschoolers; while also offering an array of after school programming for students through 12th grade.

The center is a nurturing space for young children to explore their creativity, begin to assert themselves as individuals, and make new friends.

As a mother of two teenage children, Hartford, who has a master’s degree in child development and 20 years of elementary school teaching experience, said she understands children have a biological imperative to learn about themselves and the world around them through play and exploration. She is passionate about individualized, play-based learning — something she said is missing from a lot of classrooms these days.

“Education is very cookie cutter right now,” she said.

With its wooden toys and furniture, natural lighting and soft-toned walls, WNLC exudes a calm, peaceful — yet enticing — atmosphere where youngsters are encouraged to investigate what interests them most. In one corner stands an easel; in another, a dollhouse; while a dramatic play area calls invitingly from still a third section of the room. There’s books, puzzles and age-appropriate crafts.

Toward the back, a child stands, intently scooping and squishing kinetic sand at the sensory table.

WNLC offers weekday tot sessions for ages 2 to 5 years old from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. 

The children — a maximum of six per session — are provided with a variety of hands-on activities to play by themselves or with others. They have snack time and conclude their session with meeting time on the rug where they hear stories and sing songs — all based on a monthly theme. The idea, says Hartford, is to let the children play and “just be themselves.”

The cost is $50 per session with an optional lunch session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for $15 more. A session on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3:30 p.m. is $45. Parents may sign up for as many as six sessions a month in advance. Or, if last minute care is needed — and there’s room — they can reserve a spot the same day.

WNLC also runs programming for older kids, such as the popular Girl Power Yoga sessions for ages 5 through 12.

Hartford uses yoga to combat the negative messaging about self-image with which young girls are exposed to these days. As a result of the program’s success, she is planning to run a similar workshop for ages 12 to 14. There are also movement classes that younger children may either sign up for in advance or on the same day. After-school tutoring in early literacy is available from Hartford as well.

Terry Hartford has always liked math, so he enjoys building confidence in the subject for the young people he tutors at the center. He also offers sessions in developing executive function skills — or what he calls the skills needed “to get things done” —time management, dealing with distractions, getting organized, prioritizing and creating routines. Too often a student is labeled “lazy” or “unmotivated” when what they actually have is an executive function weakness.

“The good news is that EF skills can be taught — it’s not an affliction,” he said, noting that he not only guides his students but also follows up to make sure things get done. “And when a coach tells them to do something — they do it.”

Seeing anxiety evaporate from the faces of his students once they get the hang of it is its own kind of reward, he said.

With a degree in civil engineering from Tufts University, he spent 25 years buying and selling power plants around the world before deciding to apply his corporate finance skills to his real passion — teaching and coaching.

Before opening the center, he taught algebra to eighth-graders and now coaches Georgetown High School’s alpine race and varsity lacrosse teams.

After raising their own family here for 17 years, the Hartfords said they feel honored to be helping today’s young families. 

For more information on WNLC, visit

ŠKODA turns your car into delivery address for parcels


A couple of weeks ago we wrote about how Hyundai’s Digital Key could be used to unlock the boot of a car via your smartphone. Now
ŠKODA, part of the VW Group, has come up with a system that turns your car into a delivery address.

The car manufacturer’s innovation team, ŠKODA DigiLab, has developed a system whereby the courier will place a parcel delivery directly into the boot of the ŠKODA. The technology required for remote access to the car is currently being tested in the pilot scheme.

Set up by the car manufacturer in 2017 to focus on the next stage of mobility, connectivity and digitalisation solutions for the car industry, the ŠKODA DigiLab has partnered with two of the biggest online retailers in the Czech Republic – and – to trial the new delivery scheme with the view to bringing the technology to UK consumers in the future.

ŠKODA’s recent strides in in-car connectivity have enabled the brand to bring to fruition the new delivery method, which works by giving the online retailer permission to deliver packages to the car via a mobile app. When an order is placed, the car’s location is displayed to the courier via GPS for delivery.

Using the app, the courier is then granted one-time-only, secured access to open the boot within a pre-defined time frame. They then place the parcel in the boot, subsequently re-lock the vehicle using the app and the customer is notified about the successful delivery.

Security is a paramount issue for the scheme, claims ŠKODA. Data is encrypted and the parcel courier is restricted to opening the vehicle within a short time frame that is defined by the customer.

Says Jarmila Plachá, Head of ŠKODA AUTO DigiLab:

“This pilot project provides a concrete look ahead at how everyday life can be made even simpler and more convenient in future by using state-of-the-art technology. I’m looking forward to further developing this project together with our partners.”




Chris Price

‘No Facebook users reported Christchurch massacre during livestreaming’


No-one reported the video of the Christchurch terror attack while it was being streamed live, Facebook claims. It was 29 minutes after the video had started – and 12 minutes after it had ended – before the first user flagged up the footage, the social media giant said.

The company earlier revealed that it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack worldwide in the 24 hours after the shootings, 1.2 million of which were blocked at upload.

New Zealand Mosque Shooting

People mourn at a makeshift memorial site near the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch (Vincent Thian/AP)

Facebook and other social media firms have come under fire over the rapid spread of the footage across the networks and around the world.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Chris Sonderby, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said the video was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast.

“No users reported the video during the live broadcast,” he added.

“Including the views during the live broadcast, the video was viewed about 4,000 times in total before being removed from Facebook.

“The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended.

New Zealand Mosque Shooting

Muslims offer prayers near the main road to the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch (Vincent Thian/AP)

“Before we were alerted to the video, a user on 8chan posted a link to a copy of the video on a file-sharing site.”

Mr Sonderby said Facebook was “working around the clock” to prevent the video from appearing on its site.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has called on social media companies to take responsibility for ensuring that such content cannot be distributed or viewed on their platforms, saying they are “the publisher, not just the postman”.

She told the country’s parliament: “There is no question that ideas and language of division and hate have existed for decades, but their form of distribution, the tools of organisation, they are new.

“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published.

“They are the publisher, not just the postman. There cannot be a case of all profit, no responsibility.”

New Zealand Mosque Shooting

A police official stands guard in front of the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch (Vincent Thian/AP)

In the UK, Home Secretary Sajid Javid told social media companies “enough is enough” in the wake of last Friday’s shootings.

Reacting to a tweet from YouTube claiming that the video-sharing service was working to remove the footage, he said: “You really need to do more @YouTube @Google @facebook @Twitter to stop violent extremism being promoted on your platforms. Take some ownership. Enough is enough.”

Damian Collins, Tory chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, called for a review into how the footage was shared and “why more effective action wasn’t taken to remove them”.

And Downing Street said social media companies needed to act “more quickly” to remove terrorist content.

Chris Price

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