The Weather and Big Data Equals Big Business.

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The weather has a significant influence on almost one-third of the world’s buying everyday. “The old paradigm of business and weather was cope and avoid,” says The Weather Channel’s vice president for weather analytics. “With [big data] technology, the paradigm is now anticipate and exploit.”

The Weather Channel (TWC) is an American basic channel and satellite television company, owned by a consortium made up of Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and NBCUniversal located in Atlanta, Georgia.

The channel has broadcast weather forecasts and weather-related news and analysis, along with documentaries and entertainment programming related to weather since 1982.

TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users through its website, weather.com, including home and garden, and event planning forecasts. Third-party web analytics providers Alexa and SimilarWeb rated the site as the 146th and 244th most visited website in the world respectively, as of July 2015. SimilarWeb rated the site as the most visited weather website globally, attracting more than 126 million visitors per month.

That massive web traffic is exactly how The Weather Channel has turned ‘Big Data’ into a completely new business.

TWC is before all a technology platform operator, which developed an extremely high-volume data platform, collecting and analyzing data from 3 billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per days, and serves 65 billion unique access to weather data each day.

TWC collects terabytes of data everyday and uses it not only to predict the weather in millions of locations, but also to predict what consumers in those locations will buy.

In a very savvy move TWC married more than 75 years’ worth of weather data with aggregated consumer purchasing data. For example, air-conditioners sales increases during hot weather, but folks in Atlanta suffer three days longer than people in Chicago before running out to buy one. Such analysis has created a whole new business for TWC – ‘Selling ads based on big data analytics’.

For example, P&G Pantene and Puffs brands buy ads based on TWC’s weather and consumption analytics. A women checking The Weather Channel app in a humid locale receives an ad for Pantene Pro-V Smooth, a product formulated to tame frizzy hair.

Checking the app again on low humidity day or drier area results in seeing an ad for a volumizing product instead. Similarly, a consumer looking at a high pollen forecast receives an ad for Puffs facial tissues, with the message, “A face in need deserves Puffs indeed.”

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Currently, TWC is generating half of the company’s ad revenue to the business using web analytics.

Big data and web analytics helped TWC maintain an extensive online presence at weather.com and through a set of mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers. These services are now administered by The Weather Channel’s former parent company, The Weather Company, which was sold to IBM in 2016. The Weather Channel continues to license its brand assets and weather data from IBM.

TWC’s case is the epitome of how effective use of big data and web analytics can lead to marketing opportunities. It also demonstrates how today’s big companies can advance through ‘Digital Marketing’ which can also help them to diversify and strengthening their business portfolios.

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Why Yoga and Kids Go Together

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What Exactly is Yoga?

Yoga has been around for thousands of years. Yoga is a practice that started in India, and is now very popular in the United States and around the world. It has gained a lot of attention lately — maybe because it is a fun and easy way for both adults and kids to feel healthy and happy.

The word “yoga” means “union” in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India. Quite simply, yoga is the “union” or coming together of mind (thoughts and feelings) and physical body. Many people feel an overall sense of well-being when they practice yoga.

There are many aspects to yoga. In short, yoga is a system of physical exercises or postures (called asanas). These asanas build strength, flexibility and confidence. Yoga is also about breathing (called pranayama), which helps calm and refresh the body and mind. 

Yoga for Kids

Yoga is about exploring and learning in a fun, safe and playful way. Yoga and kids are a perfect match. Here is what children (and adults!) can learn from yoga:

  • Yoga teaches us about our bodies.
    When children practice the physical postures or exercises (called asanas), they learn how to move more freely and with greater ease and awareness. These postures help their bodies become strong and flexible.
  • Yoga teaches us how to breathe better.
    When children breathe deeply and fully (called pranayama) and become more aware, they can bring peacefulness or energy to their bodies.
  • Yoga teaches us how to use our energy more effectively.
    Yoga helps teach kids how to use the life force energy in their bodies to feel more relaxed, focused, or motivated.
  • Yoga teaches us how to quiet the mind.
    Yoga teaches kids how to be still. This helps them to listen with attention and make good decisions.
  • Yoga teaches us about balance.
    Children learn to be more aware about the need for balance in their lives. This could mean equal stretching on the left and right sides of the body or making sure they balance busy time with equal quiet time and relaxation.
  • Yoga teaches us about taking care of ourselves.
    Yoga is a great way to move your body and feel healthy. And teaching children how to take care of themselves is one way to show love. As with all forms of exercise, a good yoga practice can mean a good night’s sleep!

The beauty of yoga is that children can practice alone, with a friend or with a group. Many schools are now teaching yoga to young children, and there are many choices of after-school or weekend classes for kids and their families. Everyone can enjoy yoga – from tots to great-grandparents.

Professional organizations that focus on children also support the idea behind yoga. For example, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The National Association of the Education for Young Children (NAEYC) recommend that children should participate in activities that support the development of the whole child. This is exactly what yoga is about.

Pre-K Readiness by the Numbers

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Just as there is an achievement gap in school performance, there is a school readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. As early as 18 months, low-income children begin to fall behind in vocabulary development and other skills critical for school success. Parents play an enormous role in closing this gap, as do daycare providers, pediatricians, preschools programs, and the broader community.

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important. A child’s health, and the timely recognition of developmental delays, is another critical aspect of school readiness. Doctors, care providers, and preschool teachers play a key role.

61 PERCENT

61 percent of low-income children have no children’s books at home.

30 MILLION

Poor children hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers.

AGE 2

By age 2, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy.

AGE 3

A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict third grade reading achievement.

22 LETTERS

By age 5, a typical middle-class child recognizes 22 letters of the alphabet, compared to 9 for a child from a low-income family.

Study Links 3rd Grade Reading, Poverty and High School Graduation

graduation-caps-thrown-in-air-e1489703137922-1A national study released last week shows that students who do not read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave high school without a diploma than proficient readers.                                                    

Poverty compounds the problem: Students who have lived in poverty are three times more likely to drop out or fail to graduate on time than their more affluent peers.

The study, “Double Jeopardy: How Third-Grade Reading Skills and Poverty Influence High School Graduation,” found:

  1. One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time, a rate four times greater than that for proficient readers.
  2. The rates are highest for the low, below-basic readers: 23 percent of these children drop out or fail to finish high school on time, compared to 9 percent of children with basic reading skills and 4 percent of proficient readers.
  3. The below-basic readers account for a third of the sample but three-fifths of the students who do not graduate.
  4. Overall, 22 percent of children who have lived in poverty do not graduate from high school, compared to 6 percent of those who have never been poor. This rises to 32 percent for students spending more than half of the survey time in poverty.
  5. For children who were poor for at least a year and were not reading proficiently in third grade, the proportion of those who don’t finish school rose to 26 percent.  The rate was highest for poor black and Hispanic students, at 31 and 33 percent respectively. Even so the majority of students who fail to graduate are white.
  6. Even among poor children who were proficient readers in third grade, 11 percent still didn’t finish high school. That compares to 9 percent of subpar third graders who were never poor.
  7. Among children who never lived in poverty, all but 2 percent of the best third-grade readers graduated from high school on time.

The longitudinal study was conducted by Donald J. Hernandez, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, and a senior advisor to the Foundation for Child Development. It was commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The study confirms the link between third grade scores and high school graduation and, for the first time, breaks down the likelihood of graduation by different reading skill levels and poverty experiences.

“These findings suggest we need to work in three arenas: improving the schools where these children are learning to read, helping the families weighed down by poverty and encouraging better federal, state and local policy to improve the lot of both schools and families,” said Hernandez.

The report recommends aligning quality early education programs with the curriculum and standards in the primary grades; paying better attention to health and developmental needs of young children; and providing work training and other programs that will help lift families out of poverty.

8 Good Reasons to Walk

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Staying in shape can be difficult, but it’s something that everyone should do to ensure their health. However, you don’t need to join a gym or run five kilometers every day. Regular walks can be enough to improve your health and keep you fit. The health benefits of walking regularly are numerous.

Aside from improving your mental and cardiovascular health, as well as aiding in weight loss, walking regularly can just be a great way to get some fresh air into your lungs and get some much-needed vitamin D from direct sunlight. Even just getting out of your home and moving around can be enough to improve your mood and well-being.

These are eight benefits of walking that you may experience if you walk even just 30 minutes each day, you’ll start to experience improvements in your physical and mental health. Walking is recommended by the Mayo Clinic as a low impact exercise, and it is bound to benefit you in the following ways:

1. Improves mental health: One of the main benefits of walking is that it can improve your mood. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

2. Effectively aids in weight loss: Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that walking regularly can reduce the effects of 32 obesity-promoting genes in the human body.

3. Decreases the risk of certain cancers: Two studies from the American Society for Clinical Oncology showed that walking three hours a week can reduce the risk of dying from breast or bowel cancer by half.

4. Helps to boost your immune system: Walking at least 30 minutes a day was shown to increase the level of cells in the body’s immune system in a study done at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

5. Can be effective in preventing diabetes: The American Diabetes Association states that “aerobic exercise helps your body use insulin better,” and this can include a daily brisk walk after meals.

6. Reduces cravings for sweets and the need for “stress eating”: Studies from the University of Exeter found that walking for just 15 minutes can help to curb cravings for sugary foods. It was also found to reduce cravings during stressful situations.

7. Highly benefits cardiovascular health: One of the benefits of walking is promoting heart health. A study from the Harvard Medical School found that walking roughly 20 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%.

8. Helps with mobility into advanced age: A study by the American Medical Association concluded that one of the greatest benefits of walking is that it promoted better physical health in people aged 70 to 89. Those who got regular exercise in their younger years dramatically decreased their chances of having any physical disability.

Latest research reveals the more you hug your kids – the smarter they get

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Are you the kind of parent that’s always hugging your kids? If the answer is yes then don’t stop doing what you’re doing.

According to new reserach, physical affection during a baby’s development period is even more important than we thought. 

The more you hug a baby, the more their brains grow, according to a recent survey from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

125 babies, both premature and full-term, were included in the study, which looked at how well they reponded to being physically touched.

The results indicated that premature babies responded to affection less than babies who were not born premature. What was also revealed however, was that babies that were subjected to more affection by parents or hospital staff showed stronger brain response.

According to researcher Dr. Nathalie Maitre, this last revelation tells us that something as simple as body contact or rocking your baby in your arms will make a big difference in how their brains develop.

“Making sure that preterm babies receive positive, supportive touch such as skin-to-skin care by parents is essential to help their brains respond to gentle touch in ways similar to those of babies who experienced an entire pregnancy inside their mother’s womb,” Maitre tells Science Daily.

Basically, affection is vital for the development of the brain. So, cuddle and hug your babies as much as you can – and don’t forget to share this research to show everyone out there how important it is to be loving to our children!

Creative Block? Use the Dr. Seuss technique.

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While a creative block usually comes because we simply can’t come up with any new ideas, it can also come from having too many.

The blank page is scary, not only because of what’s not there, but because of all the potential it holds.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the work, follow the Dr. Seuss technique.

Before writing Green Eggs and Ham, his beloved children’s book that has sold 200 million copies around the world, Theo Geisel (Dr. Seuss’s real name), had accepted a bet from his publisher, Bennett Cerf. There was only $50 on the line, but Cerf said Geisel couldn’t write an entertaining children’s book using only 50 different words.

We all know what happened. But why?

There’s a few reasons the constraint actually made Seuss more creative:

It forced him to use novel solutions. 

If you’re a photographer and don’t have a lighting setup, you think up new ways to get the shot you want.

He wasn’t distracted by options. 

When your options are limited, you don’t fall victim to choice paralysis and can focus on getting things done.

It made him think practically. 

When your canvas or toolkit changes, you have to rethink what you can actually do. This changes the conversation from “What should I do?” to “What can I do with what I have?”