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iLife V8s robot vacuum review: A cheaper Roomba alternative that vacuums and mops

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619+LlALpUL._SL1000_The V8s has two substantial wheels that can handle uneven floors and lift the vacuum over thresholds.Amazon

  • Since 1996, robotic vacuums have become increasingly sophisticated with several manufacturers trying to cut into the Roomba’s market share.
  • ILIFE currently has two lines of vacuums: the A series for cleaning carpets and the V series designed for vacuuming and mopping hard floors.
  • Having never used a robotic vacuum before, I appreciated how user-friendly and low-maintenance the ILIFE vacuum is.
  • The ILIFE V8s Robotic Mop & Vacuum Cleaner is a mid-range vacuum (currently $239.99 on Amazon) that isn’t supported by an app but has plenty of high-end features, including a programmable schedule system.

I live in a home with two shedding cats, a dog that sheds even more, two free-range boys, and an incredibly busy wife. We clearly must stay on top of cleaning or we end up with dust bunnies drifting across our hardwood floors like tumbleweed in the Wild West. It was clear that we needed a robotic vacuum

Robotic vacuum cleaners, or robovacs, are rechargeable battery-powered appliances that use a combination of suction and brushes to clean your floor. You are probably familiar with the most popular brand, iRobot’s Roomba. Most models, including the Roomba and ILIFE’s robovacs, are circular and look like giant beetles rolling across your floor. You can control them with a remote control, or they operate autonomously using intelligent programming.

In March, ILIFE introduced their newest robotic vacuum cleaner: the V8s. Their representative sent me the unit to test in our home that was deep in the throes of a renovation project. Below, I will share some info about the ILIFE V8s, how it handled the fur and dust of our house, and if it’s worth your money.

What’s special about the ILIFE V8s?

Based in Shenzhen, China, where many of their models are also manufactured, ILIFE launched an intelligent robotic vacuum project in 2010. The company’s only focus is on producing innovative robovacs. They were the first to integrate infrared detection systems, lithium-ion batteries, and BLOC fan motors. Today, they have warehouses and service centers on four continents.

The ILIFE V8s robotic vacuum cleaner was launched in March of 2018. It is part of the company’s V series of robovacs, which are designed for vacuuming and mopping hard floors. The V8s is considered the most advanced model in the V series. It’s unique because it features a relatively large 750-milliliter dustbin, high-suction setting, and i-Dropping mopping. The mopping system is designed to limit the amount of water that is dispersed to avoid damaging cables or flooring. The vacuum is also able to perform edge, spot, and programmed cleaning.

My first experiences with the V8s robotic vacuum

Since I had never used a robotic vacuum before, I was a little intimidated at first. I opened the box, saw an array of confusing attachments, closed the box, and basically ran away. But, after a couple days of neglect, the pet hair started to pile up and my wife gently encouraged me to read the manual. Looking back, I don’t know what I was so afraid of.

I spent about 10 minutes reading the manual and quickly felt comfortable setting up the vacuum and the charging dock. The manual recommends charging the vacuum for at least 12 hours before using it for the first time. Also, the charging dock needs to be against a wall with three feet of clearance on the sides and six feet of clearance directly in front of it. This is meant to make it easier for the vacuum to leave and dock. In practice, I found the little guy — we named him “Jerome 2.0” after my teen son who no longer needed to do the vacuuming — didn’t need that much space.

Once the robot was charged, I realized I needed to preclean. It was nothing major: I just needed to pick some items up off the floor. I figured the vac would get caught up on the Lego detritus that tends to show up when you have a young child. And, shoelaces and random cords could also tie up the brushes. The precleaning forced me to be a tidier person. I would still miss the occasional phone charger wire hanging loose, but if the V8s got to it before me, it would just send out a little beeping cry for help, and I would set it free.

71hPKeRyDEL._SL1000_I found the V8s charges quickly, usually about four hours to go from zero bars to three bars – the highest charge level.Amazon

How the V8s performed

On its maiden voyage, the V8s ran for about an hour and a half on normal suction mode. Subsequently, I noticed the vacuum would run for up to two hours on normal power and about an hour on high suction. After each semi-daily cycle, the dustbin would be full.

I quickly learned that I could not operate the robovac around my four-year-old son. No matter how I tried to tell him that he needed to observe from a distance, he would test out the abilities of the vacuum. He laid out bits of paper and other debris for the device to “eat.” I thought I had turned a corner when I handed him the remote, which gave him complete control over the robot’s motions, but he was soon back to lifting the robovac up or pushing it around.

Because of this human obstacle, I chose to run the vacuum when my preschooler was preoccupied. As my comfort levels increased, I programmed it to run every afternoon at 2:30 p.m. since this was when the little one was either napping or pretending to nap.

The mopping function was another feature seemed challenging but turned out to be super simple. First, you remove the dustbin attachment, fill the water tank with warm water, make sure the mop cloth is attached (the system comes with two clothes), insert the mopping attachment, and press start. In mop mode, drops of water are released as the robot covers a seven-meter-by-seven-meter area directly in front of its starting position.

It’s important to vacuum before you mop. Unfortunately, if you run the battery down, you need to let the device charge before you can mop. I found the V8s charges quickly, usually about four hours to go from zero bars to three bars – the highest charge level. And, the mopping function doesn’t need nearly as much battery power as the vacuum.

Another feature worth noting is the “RoadRover” wheels. The V8s has two substantial wheels that can handle uneven floors and lift the vacuum over thresholds. Our house’s foundation has settled a bit over the years causing some dramatic lips from one room to the next. The V8s was able to handle these to my satisfaction, but I would not say it was seamless.

As with any vacuum, there is a little maintenance involved with operating a V8s. The dustbin should be emptied after each use. This was effortless: You just open the magnetic door and shake the contents into your trash can. ILIFE recommends cleaning the filter, spinning side brushes, and charging dock each week. Over the last two months, I was lax in performing these duties and didn’t notice any degradation in performance.

Some concerns about the robotic vacuum

For the most part, I was happy with the V8s. If a ne’er-do-well were to break into my home and take it, I would likely replace it. However, there were a few things that were mildly annoying. First, the vacuum kept getting caught in the hair of my elderly Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He didn’t care enough to get out of its way, so the brush would just keep winding up his fur until it registered an error. I would then have to free the vacuum and direct it elsewhere.

Programming the vacuum to clean on a schedule could be more user-friendly. If you happen to hit the power button on the vacuum, which is easy to do by accident, the schedule is erased. To set the times, you will need guidance from the user manual since it isn’t intuitive. This whole process could be improved with a smartphone app, which ILIFE offers with other models. Unfortunately, the V8s doesn’t get the app treatment.

Lastly, the V8s is not designed for deep cleaning. It’s more of a maintenance device, which is perfect for taking care of dust and pet hair. But, if you have a wee one who drops and stomps on a blueberry, you’ll probably want to use a wet paper towel instead of summoning the V8s’s mop, which could potentially spread the mess around.

Bottom line

Overall, I’m surprised more people don’t invest in robotic vacuums, especially if you have pets (though you might want to be careful if your pet has incontinence problems.) The ILIFE V8s Robotic Mop & Vacuum Cleaner is a particularly attractive option because it forgoes smart connectivity in favor of a lower price and simple functionality. So, for around $240, you get many of the cleaning features you might expect from pricier Roombas.

Buy the ILIFE V8s Robotic Mop & Vacuum Cleaner on Amazon for $239.99

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Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal

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A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

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Steps to becoming a Data Scientist

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Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

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Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’

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Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

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