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This soon-to-be-married Icelandic couple met in a Facebook group for Costco fans, and their friends call their child the ‘Costco Baby’ (COST)

Every couple has a story. For Icelandic couple Thorey Sigurjonsdottir and Omar Magnusson, that story begins with Costco.

The couple met by chance in an Icelandic Facebook group called “Keypt í Costco Ísl.—Myndir og verð” or “Bought in Costco Iceland— Pictures and prices,” a space meant for Icelanders to speak about their purchases and the deals to be found at Costco.

Over 91,000 people — or nearly a fourth of Iceland’s population— are currently in this group.

Read more: From rings to cakes, Costco has what you need for a budget wedding

“I made a funny comment, and he saw it and thought it was funny, so he clicked on my name and sent me a message,” Sigurjonsdottir told Business Insider. “It was something about the baby tomatoes. I don’t eat tomatoes, I never have.”

But Costco tomatoes were a different story, Sigurjonsdottir said. She shared in a post to the group that she had finished three whole boxes of Costco’s baby tomatoes, despite her tendency to stay away from the fruit — and Magnusson was intrigued.

The two began speaking and decided to go on a date a few days later.

“I just wasn’t expecting really anything,” Sigurjonsdottir said. Two years later, the couple is still together, with plans to tie the knot in a private ceremony on Saturday.

“It’s a weird one,” Sigurjonsdottir says of her love story.

She and her fiancé are often at the receiving end of jokes from friends and family. When the couple had their daughter in June 2018, the child was jokingly dubbed “Costco Baby” by their friends. Sigurjonsdottir’s friends even ordered a customized bib to present to the couple at their baby shower.

Friends bought a “Costco Baby” bib for the couple’s baby shower.
Thorey Sigurjonsdottir

“[The bib-maker] said that it had been the weirdest thing she had ever been asked to do,” Sigurjonsdottir said with a laugh, noting that the Costco jokes have somewhat died down at this point.

Sigurjonsdottir and Magnusson aren’t the only couple to have their origins in Costco. An American couple who met in a Hawaii Costco recently celebrated their fateful meeting point with a romantic wedding photoshoot in the warehouse’s aisles. The photoshoot went viral.

But a “Costco couple” might not be the strangest thing in Iceland. That’s because for Icelandic people, Costco is more than a warehouse store — it’s practically religion.

Sigurjonsdottir’s and Magnusson’s baby shower also had Costco Baby decorations on the wall.
Thorey Sigurjonsdottir

When the US-based warehouse chain opened its first Icelandic store in May 2017, people went berserk. The Facebook group that Sigurjonsdottir and Magnusson met in had more than 62,000 members — or one-fifth of the Icelandic population at the time — within a week of the store’s opening, Quartz reported.

Sigurjonsdottir, like many Icelanders, had been anticipating Costco’s arrival in 2017.

“When we heard what they were going to offer, we were really excited,” she said.

She was at the store on its opening day, where search-and-rescue teams had been employed to manage the crowds.

Costco was exciting for Icelanders for many reasons, especially the low prices for food and vegetables.

But Costco — via its Facebook pages — has unexpectedly become somewhat of a matchmaking forum for Icelandic singles.

“I’ve met a lot of women because of Costco,” said Sigurdur Solmundarson, an Icelandic comedian who became nationally known as “The Costco Guy” after he posted a viral video making fun of Iceland’s Costco obsession in the aforementioned Facebook group. After he posted the video, he began receiving messages from admiring fans — many of them women.

“It’s much better than Tinder,” Solmundarson joked, though unlike Sigurjonsdottir and Magnusson, he doesn’t anticipate a wedding any time soon.

“I just want to keep my toilet paper to myself,” he said, adding that he currently has about 200 rolls.

Unsurprisingly, he bought them at Costco.

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A Drop-In Upgrade Module for Cheap Rotary Tools

We’ve all seen them, the rotary tools that look almost, but not quite exactly, like a Dremel. They cost just a fraction of the real thing, and even use the same bits as the official Bosch-owned version. At first glance, they might seem like a perfect solution for the hacker who’s trying to kit out their workshop on a tight budget. There’s only one problem: the similarities between the two are only skin deep.

Recovering components from the original controller

As [Vitaly Puzrin] explains, one of the big problems with these clones are the simplistic electronics which have a tendency to stall out the motor at low RPM. So he’s developed a drop-in replacement speed controller for his particular Dremel clone that solves this problem. While the module design probably won’t work on every clone out there in its current form, he feels confident that with help from the community it could be adapted to other models.

Of course, the first step to replacing the speed controller in your not-a-Dremel is removing the crusty old one. But before you chuck it, you’ll need to recover a few key components. Specifically the potentiometer, filter capacitor, and the motor terminals. You could possibly source the latter components from the parts bin, but the potentiometer is likely going to be designed to match the tool so you’ll want that at least.

The microprocessor controlled upgrade board uses back EMF to detect the motor’s current speed without the need for any additional sensors; important for a retrofit module like this. [Vitaly] says that conceptually this should work on any AC brushed motor, and the source code for the firmware is open if you need to make any tweaks. But hacker beware, the current version of the PCB doesn’t have any AC isolation; you’ll need to take special care if you want to hook it up to your computer’s USB port.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to buy a cheap rotary tool just to crack it open and replace the electronics, you might as well just build your own. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can always abandon the electric motor and spin it up with a tiny turbine.

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Beware Of These Outdated Used Car Buying Tips

Illustration for article titled Beware Of These Outdated Used Car Buying Tips

Image: Justin Sullivan (Getty)

Buying a used car can be a bit more stressful than purchasing a new one. While it is possible to get a quality pre-owned vehicle, it requires a bit of patience and vigilance. However, you will want to be aware that there are some outdated but still prevalent strategies out there that may not give you the results you want.

Recently, we’ve seen a number of used car buying tips circulating from fairly respectable outlets like CNBC and Yahoo Finance, informing buyers on how to get the most for their money on a pre-owned car. While I strongly agree with some of the points, like understanding your budget and getting pre-approved for financing, once they start getting into the details of the shopping some of them miss they mark a bit.

Here are what I consider the top three errors that a lot of used car buyers make.

Don’t Rely On The CarFax

CarFax and other vehicle history report services like Autocheck can provide valuable information such as maintenance history or whether or not the car has been in a wreck. These data points can be good filters as to whether or not you want to pursue a car further.

However, these reports have shown to present inaccuracies or incomplete information. Sometimes accidents don’t get reported and therefore don’t appear on the report, and often it will seem like cars had more owners due to it being sold from one dealer group to another.

For the most part, this is common knowledge, but then you read something like this via CNBC:

You should also ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN), says Ricart. It’s a 17-digit number that’s assigned to every vehicle in the U.S. and allows you to pull a Carfax vehicle history report.

The report will cost about $40, but “is worth paying for,” he says. It provides key information about the car, including service and repair information, vehicle registration and reported accidents.”

While these reports do reveal some solid info you should not have to jump through hoops to get it—nor do I suggest paying for it. If you are researching multiple cars there is no reason to shell out $40 per report when the vast majority of dealers have these reports linked to their ad. And if a dealer doesn’t link a history report on their ad, that can sometimes be a red flag, so buyers should always request a copy from the dealer.

Don’t Trust The Dealer’s Inspection Process

There are a number of dealers that do their best to make sure they are selling a quality used car. Then there are other stores just looking for a quick buck. Both dealers will tell you that they have fully inspected and reconditioned the car prior to selling it, so who is telling the truth?

There is only one way to find out, and it’s not popping your head into the service area as CNBC’s expert says:

“If the dealer or seller claims they have inspected the vehicle, ask them where they do that… It’s good to actually see where the technicians are working on the car.”

I’m sorry to say most people probably won’t know what they’re looking at when they go into a service bay.

The best course of action is to have the car independently inspected by someone other than the dealership. Even if a car is a “certified pre-owned” model that supposedly meets a certain reconditioning standard, these inspections can be crucial. Technicians can miss things and some dealers play a little fast and loose with the certification process.

I was working with California client who wanted a BMW wagon, and I located a CPO example with low miles in Pennsylvania. Despite the fact that the car seemed pretty legit on paper, we used a local shop to inspect the car. The owner of the shop found that the car had a brake issue when slowing down from higher speeds. After some back and forth with the dealer, they agreed to replace the brake components prior to the sale.

Of course some dealers are going to put up some resistance on having their car sent out for an inspection, but usually, this is an indication that the dealer doesn’t want to be bothered with the effort and it doesn’t automatically mean the car is problematic. If that happens, there are a number of remote services than can send people to the dealership to provide an inspection and a report.

Don’t Negotiate In Person

I’m still amazed that in 2019 there are people that still insist that you negotiate a car deal like it’s 1999. Your time is valuable, and doing the marathon of back and forth with a dealer on a car deal only to maybe get to your goal is not a good use of your energy.

When it comes to negotiating a used car deal, Yahoo Finance cites a James Goodow , President & Managing Partner at Fennemore Craig, P.C.

According to Goodnow, you should make the first move. “In general, it’s best for you to anchor the parameters of the negotiation by making the first offer,” Goodnow said. “Dealers will generally not want to bid against their own prices, so don’t be afraid to put in an offer at or below the dealer invoice price.”

He also said buyers should be prepared for some back-and-forth before the car dealer reaches his final offer. “It’s nice to think that a dealer will cut to the chase,” Goodnow said. “But the reality is most won’t. It’s too ingrained in the car-buying culture.”

Goodow is an attorney, not a car salesperson or a car buying expert. How you negotiate a legal dispute is a bit different than coming to a price on a car. First of all, there is no “dealer invoice price” on a used car. The invoice is what a dealer will pay the manufacturer on a new car. Some dealers may have acquired that pre-owned car cheap via auction or maybe even “overpaid” a bit for someone’s trade to sweeten the deal for a new purchase. In either case it doesn’t really matter what the dealer paid for it. What matters most is what comparable vehicles are selling for.

Making a low-ball offer on a used car is going to set you up for a world of frustration because I have said it time and again that the margins on pre-owned are tighter today than most people realize. If the dealer thinks you are too far apart, they will often dig their heels in and not even counter-offer. However, if you can find a similar car for sale for a lower price that can be a leverage point.

But the negotiation should not have to happen in person. Use a combination of emails and phone calls to get where you want to be on the price and always get an itemized out the door in writing before you arrive because some dealers are a bit notorious for adding in a bunch of garbage fees. This method allows you to engage in multiple negotiations at once and you can easily kill a conversation with a store that is uncooperative.

All this work can be time-consuming and stressful, which is why outfits like CarMax, Carvana, and Vroom have grown in popularity because they claim to take some of the stress out of it. However, by choosing those avenues, customers might be trading convenience for value, and there is no guarantee that the inventory on their lots is substantially better than anywhere else.

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Norwegian is stopping its super-cheap $111 flights between Ireland and the US, blaming the ongoing Boeing 737 Max crisis

  • Norwegian Air is discontinuing low-cost flights between Ireland and North America over the grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes.
  • The company currently offers cheap transatlantic flights between Ireland and the US and Canada, which are available for as low as $111 (€99).
  • But the grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes after two fatal crashes means the routes are “no longer commercially viable” and will be stopped from September 15, the airline said.
  • Norwegian has sought to disrupt the industry with its low-cost, long-haul flights but is now suffering alongside many other airlines from the grounding of the Max.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Norwegian Air is stopping its flights between Ireland and the US and Canada over the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 Max.

Norwegian has offered flights between airports across Ireland and North America since 2017, then offering flights for as little as $69, providing a low-cost option for transatlantic travel as it sought to disrupt the aviation industry.

Booking on Wednesday to fly from New York’s Stewart International Airport direct to Dublin on Saturday, September 14, a one-way ticket would cost $111 (€99).

But the airline, one of Europe’s biggest budget airlines, said on Wednesday that the routes are “no longer commercially viable.”

Read more: P ilots joined a growing number of airlines in demanding payback from Boeing for its 737 Max disasters — here’s the full list

Matthew Wood, senior vice-president of Norwegian’s long-haul commercial division, said that the global grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max planes since March has led the airline to make the “difficult decision” to discontinue the flights from September 15.

Norwegian was one of the few airlines to fly the 737 Max on transatlantic routes, flying between airports in Cork, Dublin, and Shannon in Ireland, and airports in Canada and the US.

“The Max-8 … gives us the ability to open up routes between the Europe and the U.S. on a totally new fare basis.” Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos said when the routes launched, Forbes reported.

Investigators look at the debris from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max plane in March 2019.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world since two deadly crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, which killed a total of 346 people.

Wood said that the “continued uncertainty” about when the plane will return to the skies has meant that Norwegian’s position is “unsustainable.”

Many in the industry expected the plane to return to service during the summer, but the industry has faced more disruption than expected as more issues with the plane emerge and regulators are yet to review and approve Boeing’s fix to the plane. Exactly when it will return to service remains unknown.

Read more: What it’s like to fly Norwegian Air, the airline with the world’s longest low-cost route from London to Singapore

Norwegian, which had 18 Max planes in its fleet before the grounding, is one of many airlines that said it is seeking compensation from Boeing over their grounded planes and the delayed deliveries of new jets.

Wood said that Norwegian had been hiring replacement aircraft to run the service between Ireland and North America, but it would not be sustainable continue doing so.

Grounded Boeing 737 Max aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle in July.
REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Wood said that administrative staff at its Dublin base would not be affected, and said he hoped that job losses will be a “last resort.”

Norwegian will still fly to Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen from Dublin.

Read more: Southwest plans to stop flying from Newark Airport and is yanking the 737 Max from its schedule until 2020

Other airlines have cancelled thousands of flights and cancelled other routes over the 737 Max grounding. Ryanair, one of the world’s largest airlines, said in July that it will cut cut 900 pilot and flight attendant jobs this year due in part to the 737 Max, as well as uncertainty over Brexit and increasing fuel prices.

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

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With Chandrayaan-2 launch, India’s ISRO shoots for the Moon on a shoe-string budget

India took a giant leap in its space program on Monday after its space agency launched a spacecraft that is scheduled to touch down on the Moon in September.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which is India’s equivalent of NASA, confirmed the successful launch of the spacecraft as the nation inches closer to becoming only the fourth country — after the United States, China and Russia — to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 aims to land on a plain surface that covers the ground between two of the Moon’s craters, Simpelius N and Manzinus C.

If successful, India will also become the first country to achieve a soft, controlled landing close to the Moon’s south pole. The launch today — which comes exactly 50 years since American astronauts walked on the Moon — could further cement India’s position in the global space race.

At 142 feet tall, the rocket was originally scheduled to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 15, but ISRO postponed it less than an hour ahead of the deadline citing a “technical glitch.” ISRO said it resolved the issue last week.

03gslvmkiii m1vehiclemountedonmobilelaunchpedestalmovingtowardsthesecondlaunchpad

The rocket that was launched today (Image: ISRO)

Everything about India’s homegrown lunar mission — dubbed Chandrayaan-2 (Sanskrit for “moon vehicle”) — is a technological marvel. The spacecraft — which is sitting atop the country’s most powerful rocket to date, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle called Mark III — is carrying an orbiter, a lunar lander called Vikram and six-wheeled rover dubbed Pragyan (Sanskrit for “wisdom”).

On September 6 or 7 (a deadline which remains intact despite a week-long delay in the launch), the lander, which is named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of ISRO, is scheduled to detach from the orbiter. Until then, Chandrayaan-2 will embark on a slow journey to the Moon, staying in an elliptical orbit.

The mission’s budget is just $141 million, significantly lower than those of other countries, and less than half of the recently released blockbuster “Avengers: Endgame .” The orbiter is designed to operate for at least one year, but the lander and rover are expected to operate for just a couple of weeks.

“Chandrayaan-2 is unique because it will explore and perform studies on the south pole region of lunar terrain, which has not been explored and sampled by any past mission. This mission will offer new knowledge about the Moon,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

“Efforts such as Chandrayaan-2 will further encourage our bright youngsters towards science, top quality research and innovation. Thanks to Chandrayaan, India’s Lunar Programme will get a substantial boost. Our existing knowledge of the Moon will be significantly enhanced.”

GettyImages 1157194465

Students wave Indian national flags as the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Chandrayaan-2 was launched in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh on July 22, 2019 (Image: ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

The lift-off, which took place at 14:43 IST (local time), was broadcast live on some free-to-air TV channels. The successful launch prompted a flood of congratulatory messages on social media as millions of Indians expressed their excitement.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission is aimed at analyzing minerals on the south pole of the Moon, a region that has not been closely studied yet. So the Chandrayaan-2 lander is equipped with a suite of instruments, including spectrometer and cameras, among others, to map the lunar surface, look for water and measure moonquakes and temperature of the soil.

In a statement released earlier this month, ISRO said the Chandrayaan-2 will “boldly go where no country has ever gone before.”

As the name suggests, Chandrayaan is not India’s first lunar mission. In 2008, the nation deployed orbiter Chandrayaan-1 that played an instrumental role in helping confirm the presence of water ice in the lunar craters. However, it could not make the controlled landing. In 2013, ISRO also launched an orbiter to Mars in its maiden $74 million interplanetary mission — a fraction of the $671 million NASA spent for a Mars mission in the same year. In 2017, ISRO also deployed a record 104 satellites into space in just 18 minutes.

ISRO has come a long way and specialized in low-cost space launches since the early 1960s, when components of rockets were transported by bicycles and assembled by hand in the country.

Last month, ISRO unveiled its intentions to have its own space station in the future and conduct separate missions to study the Sun and Venus. It will begin working on its space station following its first manned mission to space, called Gaganyaan (which means “space vehicle” in Sanskrit), in 2022 — just in time to commemorate 75 years of the country’s independence from Britain. The government has sanctioned Rs 10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) for the Gaganyaan mission.

“While navigation, communication and Earth observation are going to be the bread and butter for us, it is missions such as Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan (Sanskrit for “Mars vehicle”) and Gaganyaan that excite the youth, unite the nation and also pave a technological seed for the future,” said Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at the time.

Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history!

The launch of #Chandrayaan2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science.

Every Indian is immensely proud today! pic.twitter.com/v1ETFneij0

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 22, 2019

“It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the moon,” Sivan said in a press conference today. “It is my duty to salute all the people who have done the work.”

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Warren makes $85B federally-funded broadband promise

As part of her bid for the presidency, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has made some bold proposals to improve access to broadband in underserved areas, and has made it clear that restoring net neutrality is also among her priorities. She proposes $85 billion to cover the enormous costs of making sure “every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford.”

The proposal is part of a greater plan to “invest in rural America” that Sen. Warren detailed in a blog post. As well as promises relating to healthcare, housing and labor, the presidential hopeful dedicated a section to “A Public Option for Broadband.”

This isn’t “broadband as utility,” as some have called for over the years, but rather a massive subsidy program to multiply and diversify internet services in rural areas, hopefully bringing them to the speeds and reliability available in cities.

Before announcing her own plan, she criticized the outcomes of earlier subsidies, like the FCC’s $2 billion Connect America Fund II:

[ISPs] have deliberately restricted competition, kept prices high, and used their armies of lobbyists to convince state legislatures to ban municipalities from building their own public networks. Meanwhile, the federal government has shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars to private ISPs in an effort to expand broadband to remote areas, but those providers have done the bare minimum with these resources — offering internet speeds well below the FCC minimum.

Her alternative is to shovel billions to everyone but ISPs to improve internet infrastructure.

“Only electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profit organizations, tribes, cities, counties, and other state subdivisions will be eligible for grants from this fund,” she wrote, “and all grants will be used to build the fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition.”

By paying 90% of the costs of rolling out fiber and other costs, the federal government allows smaller businesses and utilities to get in on the fun rather than leaving it all to megacorporations like Comcast and Verizon. (Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Verizon through Verizon Media. Our parent company is almost certain to be dead set against Warren’s plan.)

Not only that, but it directly targets use by municipal broadband organizations, which have formed in some states and cities in response to ISP chokeholds on the region. These organizations have been rendered illegal or toothless across half the country by legislation often supported or even proposed by ISPs and telecoms. Sen. Warren said she would preempt state laws on this matter using federal legislation, something that would no doubt be controversial.

Applicants would have to offer at least one 100/100 megabit connection option, and one discount plan for low-income customers. This would ensure that companies don’t take the money and then lay down the bare minimum connection tolerable today.

The $85 billion fund will be administered by the Department of Economic Development, part of the Department of Commerce, under a newly minted Office of Broadband Access; $5 billion will be set aside for full-cost coverage of broadband expansion on Native American lands, which are often worse off than non-Native rural areas.

To be clear, this internet effort would not mean a government-run broadband option, even in the municipal case (these are often nonprofits or private entities funded by governments). The plan is to help small companies and organizations overcome the prohibitive cost of entry and jump-start them into actual operation. The government would not operate the service or have any control over it other than, as mentioned, at the outset as far as requiring certain capacities and such.

In addition to the plan for a publicly funded broadband push, Sen. Warren made it clear (as Sen. Sanders did last week) that she would be appointing FCC commissioners who support net neutrality, specifically as it was enacted in 2015 under Title II.

The FCC’s inaccurate broadband maps and progress reports will also get a kick in the pants under Warren’s plan, though the specifics are few. And “anti-competitive behaviors” like under-the-table deals between ISPs and landlords will be rooted out, as well.

These are big promises and of course easy to make ahead of election, but they’re also smart ones, directly addressing frustrations in the industry and parts of the process currently dominated by immovable ISPs and their lobbyists. And the fact that these issues are being addressed so prominently at all as part of a presidential bid is good news to those currently on the wrong side of the digital divide.

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Spain’s First Open Source Satellite

[Fossa Systems], a non-profit youth association based out of Madrid, is developing an open-source satellite set to launch in October 2019. The FossaSat-1 is sized at 5x5x5 cm, weighs 250g, and will provide free IoT connectivity by communicating LoRa RTTY signals through low-power RF-based LoRa modules. The satellite is powered by 28% efficient gallium arsenide TrisolX triple junction solar cells.

The satellite’s development and launch cost under EUR 30000, which is pretty remarkable for a cubesat — or a picosatellite, as the project is being dubbed. It has been working in the UHF Amateur Satellite band (435-438 MHz) and recently received an IARU frequency spectrum allocation for LoRa of 125kHz.

The satellite’s specs are almost as remarkable as the acronyms used to describe them. The design includes an onboard computer (OBC) based on an ATmega328P-AU microcontroller, an SX1278 transceiver for telecommunications, and an electric power system (EPS) based on three SPV1040 MPPT chips and the TC1262 LDO. The satellite also uses a TMP100 temperature sensor, an INA226 current and voltage sensor, a MAX6369 watchdog for single-event upset (SEU) protection, a TPS2553 for single-event latch-up (SEL) protection and various MOSFETs for the deployment of solar panels and antennas.

Up until this point the group has been tracking adoption of LoRa through the use of weather balloons. The cubesat project plans to test the new LoRa spread spectrum modulation using less than $5 worth of receivers. Ultimately with the goal of democratizing telecommunications worldwide.

The satellite is being built in a cleanroom at Rey Juan Carlos University and has undergone thermovacuum and vibration testing at the facility. The group has since developed an educational satellite development kit, which offers three main 40×40 mm boards that allow the addition of modifications. As their mission states, the group is looking to develop an open source project, so the code for the satellite is freely available on their GitHub.

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Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab unveils plans to recover its rockets midair with helicopters

Small satellite launcher Rocket Lab is following in the footsteps of rocket behemoth SpaceX with plans to make its rockets reusable. But Rocket Lab won’t be landing its vehicles in the same fashion as SpaceX’s Falcon 9. Instead, the company plans to catch its rockets in mid-air with a helicopter after they’ve fallen back to Earth.

Rocket Lab announced these plans today at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah. The company says the goal is to increase the frequency of launches of its primary rocket, called the Electron. By saving the vehicles when they return to Earth, Rocket Lab hopes to turn them around and re-launch them again as soon as possible. And that shouldn’t be too difficult since some of the vehicle’s machinery runs on electric batteries.

“The grand goal here is if we can capture the vehicle in wonderful condition, in theory, we should be able to put it back on the pad, charge the batteries up, and go again,” Peter Beck, Rocket Lab’s CEO, said during today’s announcement.

To recover its rockets, Rocket Lab envisions a complicated system involving ships, helicopters, and parachutes. After launch, the Electron rocket will ascend and break apart in space, with the upper portion of the rocket continuing deeper into orbit and the lower portion falling back to the planet. That bottom portion of the rocket will reenter Earth’s atmosphere — hopefully intact — and then deploy a parachute to slow its fall. In the meantime, a helicopter will take off from a ship and attempt to snag the rocket’s parachute in the sky. The helicopter will then deposit the rocket back at the ship.

The method shares a few similarities to how SpaceX lands its rockets, but the key difference is that the Electron won’t be landing itself on a solid platform with its own engine — what’s known as a propulsive landing. Beck says that’s because the smaller sized Electron couldn’t really accommodate this kind of recovery. “The fundamental reason for that is that takes a small launch vehicle and turns it into a medium-sized launch vehicle,” says Beck. “And we’re not in the business of building medium-sized launch vehicles. We’re in the business of building small launch vehicles.”

Rocket Lab’s entire business model is centered around the small satellite revolution. Originally, satellites cost millions of dollars to make and were built the size of school buses. But over the past decade, manufacturers have developed ways to make satellites smaller and smaller, thanks to standardization and miniaturization of consumer electronics.

Now, satellite operators are able to make vehicles the size of washing machines or cereal boxes. And those are the kinds of vehicles that Rocket Lab is focused on. The company’s 55-foot-tall rocket is only capable of lofting a maximum of 500 pounds (225 kilograms) into low Earth orbit. That’s a very small load compared to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which can put up more than 50,000 pounds into low Earth orbit.

Originally, Beck thought it was impossible for the Electron to be recovered after launch, especially since the rocket generates a lot of heated shock waves when it comes back to Earth. But after having launched the rocket seven times now, the company gathered enough data from each flight that convinced the team something like this could be done. “I’ve said publicly a few times the various things that Rocket Lab would never do,” Beck says. “So unfortunately, I find myself in the position of eating my hat.”


Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket at liftoff.
Photo: Rocket Lab

This method of recovering rockets with helicopters isn’t a completely new idea. The United Launch Alliance proposed a similar process for recovering the engines on its future Vulcan rocket the company has been developing — though there hasn’t been much of an update on those plans.

Over the next few missions, Rocket Lab will add some major updates to the Electron leading up to the first attempted helicopter catch to help make the vehicle recoverable. The first major goal is to get the Electron through the atmosphere in one piece before attempting a helicopter recovery. Beck also says any future Rocket Lab customers should not be concerned about their payloads as changes are made to the rocket. “If you’re flying on us, don’t anybody panic, because all of these upgrades are completely standalone to Electron,” he says. “They don’t interface with any of the current flight systems. They’re all passive.”

While Rocket Lab hopes to eventually reduce prices of its Electron with reusability, the primary goal is to increase the company’s launch cadence. The company’s stated goal is to get to a point where it is launching up to 120 rockets a year — an unprecedented amount for a single company. So far Rocket Lab, which first went to space in 2017, has launched three missions this year. But the company is developing a second launch site in Virginia, apart from its primary site in New Zealand, in order to accommodate more launches annually.

“Launch frequency is the thing that is going to change this industry and quite frankly, going to change the world,” says Beck. “Because if we can get these systems up on orbit quickly and reliably and frequently, we can innovate a lot more and create a lot more opportunities.”

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My divorce cost me $17,695 — these were the most surprising expenses I faced

divorce broken ring


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  • The average divorce costs $15,000 in the US — and mine cost even more than that.
  • My divorce came with several unexpected expenses, like refinancing my car loan and paying for therapy afterward.
  • By the end, I had paid more than $17,000 for my divorce. Here’s a full breakdown of where the money went.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The author is a 27-year-old data analyst living in Clovis, New Mexico. If you would like to share a story relating to the cost of your divorce, email the editor at mabadi@businessinsider.com.

Divorce can be expensive — we all know that. A recent survey found that the average cost of a divorce in the United States is $15,000.

But being young and without kids, I didn’t expect for my divorce to cost as much as it did.

My husband and I got married at the end of 2013 after a whirlwind romance that began in April of that year. I was 21, freshly graduated from college, and had almost nothing to my name beyond student debt and a credit card with a limit of $1,900. We moved from North Carolina to Georgia in March 2014, and once I secured my first full-time job, I felt that financially I was headed down the right path.

Unfortunately, whirlwind romances don’t play out like they do in the movies. Being young and not having strong enough roots in who we were yet led to struggles and disagreements without the ability to effectively communicate. In June 2014, I told him that I wanted a divorce.

Read more: 6 things wealthy people do to protect their money when they get married

I thought the process would be simple: move out, legally separate, file for the divorce. And since we both were of little means, we would file uncontested and not have to pay for attorneys. It would be a no-fault divorce, and then we could go our separate ways.

We had been married for only eight months and had no children. Ownership of the dog we adopted together was an open question, but I assumed we would also handle that when the time came. However, to file uncontested in Georgia, we could have no shared finances.

What followed my decision to divorce was a year of financial turmoil and painful, damaging decisions I had to make about debt to get out of the marriage and begin a life of my own.

Below are the expenses I hadn’t considered when I chose to divorce — and how much they set me back.

Moving out, securing a new apartment, and buying basic necessities cost more than $3,000.


John Benson/flickr

The first financial decision I had to make was moving out of our shared apartment and getting my own place, since we needed to be separated for six months before filing.

I found an apartment north of Atlanta and within commutable distance of my job that was safe and met what I thought my budget was. Looking back, I should have spoken with a financial counselor and established a better budget before taking this step, but as I had never had to make my own financial decisions until now, I thought I knew what I was doing.

Rent was $990 a month, and the apartment required a down payment equal to a month of rent to move in. Since I had no savings, I had to pay in multiple installments to equal the down payment, which I split over two paychecks.

I didn’t have many possessions. My family offered to help me move what little I did have, so I didn’t need to pay for a U-Haul or a moving truck.

I then needed to buy the basic necessities: cooking utensils, pots and pans, a bed, toilet paper, towels, and so on. My mattress was $600, and I found an Ikea bed frame on Craigslist for $100. I would estimate that the remaining necessities cost me about $500, since I wasn’t buying anything fancy and tried to get things on sale where possible.

I purchased furniture at Rooms To Go. The total that I spent on a coffee table, side tables, a large shelf, and a couch was $1,250.

Those expenses alone totaled $3,440.

Separating our phone plan cost $350.


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We had combined our phone plans to reduce the cost we each were paying monthly.

While AT&T had great coverage, I chose to switch to Verizon. To carry over my same phone number, I had to pay off what I still owed on my phone plan (the monthly payments for the iPhone I so desperately thought I needed at the time).

I still owed about $350 on the phone, and I had to make that payment plus get my husband to sign off on my taking the same number with me and leaving AT&T, since he was the authorized account user and I was not.

I could have just gotten a new phone number, but that would have left my husband with the cost of the iPhone plus the additional line that he wouldn’t be using, so I chose to pay it off early and not leave him with that bill.

I had to take out a loan for $6,000 to pay off my husband’s title loan that I cosigned.


Shutterstock/Wayhome Studio

An additional thing I had not anticipated before deciding to file for divorce was the title loan he had taken out on his truck to make ends meet before he was able to find a full-time job.

I had cosigned on the loan with him to help with his interest rate, and now the lending agency considered it a debt on my part and his, even though it wasn’t my truck. The loan was for $6,000.

I was unable to get him to commit to meeting me halfway on the cost, and since the loan was for a few more years, I didn’t want to wait that long before being able to file for divorce. I took out a personal loan to cover the remaining debt on the title loan so that I could speed up the process and get divorced as quickly as possible.

He ended up with his title loan paid off while I shouldered the debt, but I was desperate to get out of the marriage.

It cost $225 in my state to pay for the actual divorce.


AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The cost of actually filing for divorce in Georgia, including court fees, was about $225. This was for an uncontested divorce where neither of us had hired attorneys.

We met at the courthouse, sat down with the legal personnel, and went over the split finances and reason for filing. I paid for the filing costs and court fees because my husband did not want the divorce and refused to help ease the transition and quicken the filing process.

And I spent another $1,200 on therapy after the divorce.


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It took a year from telling my husband I wanted a divorce to the time the divorce was finalized.

That was 12 months of continuously realizing how financially intertwined our lives had become and slowly paying things off as I became able to.

I was not able to save any money during this period, and as my husband did not want to divorce, he refused to level with me on any and every obstacle I encountered. The guilt I felt for leaving him, the embarrassment at explaining to others what was going on, the financial strain from having to separate everything myself, and the stress that I endured resulted in panic attacks, anxiety, and waking up in a cold sweat, beginning in November 2014 and continuing for two years.

I went to therapy to address these issues and was told I had post-traumatic stress disorder from the way I had been treated during my marriage.

For the period where I sought counseling and therapy, I paid $120 a session. We met weekly and then biweekly until I finally reached a place where I felt comfortable and my anxiety was manageable. My insurance did not cover the full cost of counseling, and I was left with a bill of $1,200.

The grand total for my divorce? $17,625.


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Ultimately, some of my financial decisions were uneducated and poorly made, and some of them I was forced to make to get divorced and into a healthier and safer environment more quickly.

Looking back, I would suggest that someone looking at filing for divorce speak with a financial counselor and make sure that their budget, disposable income, and potential roadblocks are all clearly discussed and considered before trying to move forward. It helps to lay everything out on the table and have that big-picture view of what debts are shared and what will need to be taken care of in a timely manner.

We were lucky in that we didn’t have kids or a shared bank account, so we didn’t have to consider how to split assets.

While I am now happy and healthy and on a secure financial path, starting out my 20s with such huge costs and taking on a large amount of debt on top of what I already owed in student loans set me up for a rough transition to young adulthood and set me back in terms of financial health and progress.

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My first year of being a mother cost me nearly $7,000 — here’s a detailed breakdown of every expense

Babies are expensive — especially the first time around.

There are all the basic necessities, like diapers and clothing and burp cloths (trust me, you need these).

There’s the added stuff that people tell you you’ll need but might not, like wipe warmers (skip these). And then there’s the cute stuff that you simply want to buy because your hormones are all over the place, and the only thing that could possibly ground you is to buy your baby another cute octopus-print outfit with matching hat.

Honestly, I’m glad I had no idea how costly this venture into parenthood would be beforehand. I never thought I would become a mother, so it wasn’t something that crossed my mind.

But I recently tallied every last expense from my first year of motherhood, and found that I spent nearly $7,000 over 12 months.

Now that I’ve been a mother for over five years, I can look back in awe at how we managed to survive that first year. But if you’re the sort who likes to be prepared, and you’re just starting out on your motherhood journey, here’s a detailed breakdown that can give you an idea of how much you might spend.

I spent almost $4,000 on daily necessities like diapers and clothing

Daily necessities are the things I considered absolutely, 100% necessary in our baby’s first year of life.

We opted to use disposable diapers because our son was in the NICU for the first two months of his life and we’d had enough stress in our lives.

In the same vein, we also chose to use a ready-to-feed formula (pre-mixed) versus a powdered formula to supplement my breastfeeding. Because of this, our formula costs were much higher than others might encounter.

We received a lot of clothing at our baby shower, but we still had to supplement with new clothing once he reached about four to five months of age. Remember it’s not just onesies, but also socks, pants, shorts, and those tiny mittens that prevent babies from clawing at themselves. We also sprung for some shoes when he got a bit older as he started walking just short of a year.

You won’t see baby food listed here because we were low-income at the time and our son’s solid foods (starting at six months) were provided by the WIC and SNAP programs. Generally speaking, you might spend about $50 to 60 a month from months six through 12 otherwise, for a total of $600 to 700.

Here’s a breakdown of what we spent on daily necessities:

Diapers — $750

Baby wipes — $240

Diaper cream — $120

Ready-to-feed formula — $1800

Clothing — $500

Medicine — $50

Baby vitamins (introduced later) — $40

Hand sanitizer — $40

Baby shampoo and body wash — $250

Diaper pail bags — $80

Baby laundry detergent — $120

Then we spent more than $2,000 on one-time expenditures like a crib and a car seat

Our baby stroller was a baby shower gift from my cousin, but would otherwise have cost us roughly $300.

We co-slept with our son his first year, initially with him in his bassinet, and later with him between our bed and his crib. In retrospect, I don’t even know if the crib wound up being very necessary, but it was nice for naps.

We also purchased one set of bottles and were gifted another. Keep in mind, some babies end up taking to certain types of bottles and it might be a trial and error situation.

We did not use any kind of baby monitor as we had four adults living in the household and our son was practically always accompanied by someone, but many parents opt to purchase these.

Here’s a breakdown of all our one-time expenditures:

Changing table — $80

Changing pad — $15

Travel changing pad — $10

Infant car seat — $170

Harness-to-booster car seat — $200

Diaper bag — $35

Baby grooming kit — $15

Baby first-aid kit — $12

Moby wrap — $45

Baby blankets (6-pack) — $35

Crib sheets (4 total) — $40

Waterproof crib mattress pad — $35

Waterproof mattress sheet (for bed-sharing) — $35

Jumperoo — $80

Baby swing — $100

Pack ‘n Play — $80

Bassinet — $100

Crib — $130

Crib mattress — $70

Baby food utensils — $20

High chair — $110

Bibs — $60

Burp cloths — $30

Baby bottle set — $75

Bottle warmer — $15

Bottle sterilizer — $50

Bottle brushes — $15

Nursing bras — $40

Electric breast pump — $100

Boppy nursing pillow — $30

Baby bath towels — $40

Baby bath tub — $30

Baby washcloths — $30

Diaper pail — $40

Humidifier — $40

Crib mobile — $50

Child-proofing supplies — $30

Pacifiers — $20

Baby walker — $40

And we spend about $850 on additional expenses like toys and books

Toys — $400

Books — $200

Baby-friendly outings — $200

First aid for recovering mom — $50

That brings the total estimate for my first year of motherhood to $6,992

Babies are expensive, but as any mom might tell you, the sweet snuggles make it more than worth it.

If you’re worried about the costs of motherhood, don’t feel completely overwhelmed by my estimate. For one, you might get more help than you expect from friends and family members. There are also plenty of helpful resources out there to help families who might be struggling (I mentioned some I used myself).

Furthermore, remember that you aren’t spending this full amount right off the bat. Buy only what you truly need to get started (and things you know you’ll always use, like diapers in a larger size since babies grow fast).

Most of all, enjoy that first year because like everyone will tell you, it really does go by quick.

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