FRISCO, Texas – The 56th season of Southland Conference baseball gets underway this weekend with 41 games slated from Friday to Monday. First pitch is set for Friday at noon CT when No. 40 Sam Houston State faces Manhattan in the first game of the Rycass Classic, hosted by No. 37 Stetson in DeLand, Fla.The reigning regular-season champions, the Bearkats are once again the heavy favorite for the regular-season crown in 2019, earning 22 first-place votes and the top spot in the league preseason poll for the second-consecutive season. The 2019 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament will be held from May 22-25 at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.Sam Houston State Bearkats – Preseason Ranking: 1 – 2018 Record: 39-20 (24-6 SLC)After getting knocked out of the Southland Conference tournament and missing out on a berth to the NCAA tournament for just the second time in the last seven seasons, the Bearkats enter 2019 looking to add to their nine regular-season titles and 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. The team returns 21 letterwinners, including three Preseason All-Southland Conference picks in outfielders Hunter Hearn and Clayton Harp and pitcher Hayden Wesneski. The team’s nonconference slate is highlighted by a trio of Power Five opponents at the Frisco Classic March 1-3, when the Bearkats will square off with Mississippi State, Nebraska and Texas Tech.First Game: vs. Manhattan, Fri., Feb. 15, NoonSoutheastern Louisiana Lions – Preseason Ranking: 2 – 2018 Record: 37-22 (21-9 SLC)Southeastern is coming off a third-straight second-place finish in the regular season. The Lions are tied for the conference lead for preseason all-conference selections with three, including the return of senior second baseman Cody Grosse and senior pitchers Carlisle Koestler and Corey Gaconi, a two-time all-conference selection. Gaconi went 7-1 as a member of the Lions’ 2018 rotation and issued just 1.8 walks per nine innings.First Game: vs. Louisiana Tech, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.Northwestern State Demons – Preseason Ranking: 3 – 2018 Record: 38-24 (18-12 SLC)The defending tournament champions, the Demons won four-straight games at the Southland Conference tournament to claim the program’s first-ever tournament title and earn a No. 4 seed in the Corvallis Regional, hosted by eventual College World Series champion Oregon State. After shutting out San Diego State in the elimination game, the Demons lost a hard-fought battle with LSU to bring their season to a close. Senior pitcher Jerry Maddox, the 2018 Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year, is one of Northwestern State’s three preseason all-conference picks and headlines Northwestern State’s crop of returners.First Game: vs. No. 40 Houston, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.Central Arkansas Bears – Preseason Ranking: 4 – 2018 Record: 32-25 (17-13 SLC)The Bears are coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time since 2013-14 and are coming off their seventh-straight Southland Conference tournament appearance under head coach Allen Gum. Central Arkansas was represented on the preseason all-league squads by senior first baseman Tyler Smith, a third-team all-conference and all-defensive honoree in 2018. The Bears, who were a dominant force at home in 2018 (22-13), open with a three-game slate against Bradley at Bear Stadium.First Game: vs. Bradley, Feb. 15, 3 p.m.McNeese Cowboys – Preseason Ranking: 5 – 2018 Record: 25-33 (15-15 SLC)The Cowboys enter 2019 ranked at No. 5 in the preseason poll after a sixth-place finish a year ago. McNeese landed two on the preseason all-conference second team in seniors Shane Selman and Aidan Anderson. A year after being one of the league’s most explosive hitters and earning Southland Conference Hitter of the Year honors in 2017, Selman clubbed the third-most home runs in the league (10). He will look to improve his positioning in the McNeese record book, where he currently sits 10th in at-bats, fourth in home runs, and sixth in total bases. In 2018, Anderson led the Cowboys in ERA (3.30), opposing batting average (.220), saves (6), appearances (28) and games finished (21).First Game: at UTSA, Feb. 15, 6 p.m.Houston Baptist Huskies – Preseason Ranking: 6 – 2018 Record: 29-30 (18-12 SLC)Jared Moon, the longest-tenured active coach in the league and the active leader in wins (363), has his Huskies ready to follow up a fourth-place finish in 2018. HBU countered an 11-18 non-conference mark with an 18-12 record in league play to earn the No. 4 seed at the conference tournament, where the Huskies knocked out regular-season champion Sam Houston State before falling in the second-to-last game of the tournament to New Orleans. HBU will face a tough stretch as they turn the calendar from February to March with a road contest against Texas A&M, a road series at Dallas Baptist and a home series against Sam Houston State over an eight-game stretch from Feb. 26-March 10.First Game: vs. Northeastern, Feb. 15, 2 p.m.New Orleans Privateers – Preseason Ranking: 7 – 2018 Record: 29-32 (14-16 SLC)The Privateers are fresh off a Cinderella run at the 2018 Southland Conference tournament, which saw them knock off regular-season champion Sam Houston State in the opening game as the eight seed and beat a pesky Houston Baptist team twice in three games to advance to the championship game, where they fell to Northwestern State. New Orleans begins the 2019 campaign with several preseason accolades after catcher Beau Bratton and outfielder Pearce Howard were named to the Preseason All-Southland Conference teams and pitchers John Barr and Reeves Martin appeared on the initial NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award Watch list.First Game: vs. Michigan State, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.Lamar Cardinals – Preseason Ranking: 8 – 2018 Record: 19-36 (13-17 SLC)Despite sweeping rival McNeese to close out the season, the Cardinals narrowly missed out on a Southland Conference tournament berth under second-year coach Will Davis, but Lamar is determined to earn a trip to Sugar Land in 2019 as the eighth team in the predicted order of finish. The Cardinals have a lot of new faces as 15 members of the roster will make their Lamar debut this weekend. Among the 21 returners is junior Cole Coker, a first-team preseason all-conference utility man for the Cards and senior pitcher Ryan Erickson, a member of the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award Watch List. Also making its debut in 2019 will be the state-of-the-art turf installed at Vincent Beck Stadium over the offseason, which will be broken in with a three-game series against LIU Brooklyn.First Game: vs. LIU Brooklyn, Feb. 15, 6 p.m.Nicholls Colonels – Preseason Ranking: 9 – 2018 Record: 28-32 (14-16 SLC)The Colonels avoided missing out on the conference tournament a second-straight year as a sweep of Central Arkansas lunged them into a three-way tie for seventh, in which they edged out Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. After dropping the opener to Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls eliminated the Lions two games later to advance to the team’s first semifinal since 2011 before they dropped a 3-2 contest to eventual champion Northwestern State. Senior shortstop Ethan Valdez, who hit .400 in Sugar Land and earned all-tournament honors, is a First Team Preseason All-Southland selection. Nicholls’ 2019 slate includes a pair of matchups against preseason top-25 clubs: No. 1 LSU and No. 21 Southern Miss.First Game: vs. Southern Illinois, Feb. 15, 1 p.m.Incarnate Word Cardinals – Preseason Ranking: 10 – 2018 Record: 29-26 (13-17 SLC)While a season-ending skid that included series losses to the regular-season and tournament champion squads eliminated them from conference tournament consideration, the Cardinals have plenty of talent to work with in 2019 to get over the hump and get to their first-ever Southland Conference tournament. UIW placed a trio of student-athletes on the preseason all-league teams, including a pair of first-team honorees. Junior Kyle Bergeron paced the team in runs (46), RBI (50), slugging percentage (.466), multi-hit games (22) and multi-RBI games (13). Senior Eddy Gonzalez looks to build on a conference-leading 82 hits in 2018 and enters the 2019 campaign with a 15-game hitting streak. Ryan Flores impressed in his first year of collegiate play, hitting .329 with 19 runs, 53 hits and 23 RBI. First Game: at Hofstra, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders – Preseason Ranking: 11 – 2018 Record: 30-26 (14-16 SLC)A six-game win streak wasn’t enough to get the Islanders to Sugar Land as they lost out on a three-way tiebreaker with Nicholls and New Orleans, but it did snap a four-season streak of losing seasons to give them some momentum going into 2019. In addition to that, last year’s tournament champion Northwestern State began the year as the 11th-ranked team in the preseason poll. A&M-Corpus Christi tied with four other institutions for the most players on the preseason all-conference teams with three, including 2018 Southland Conference batting champ Itchy Burts. The junior outfielder hit .401 on the year and led the team in on-base percentage (.468). Senior Enrique Sanchez Jr. and junior Drake Osborn occupied the preseason all-league second team. Sanchez recorded 58 hits and 29 RBI in his junior campaign and Osborn tallied 36 RBI at the plate while throwing out eight runners from behind the plate. First Game: vs. UT Arlington, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks – Preseason Ranking: 12 – 2018 Record: 17-36 (9-21 SLC)The Lumberjacks return 17 student-athletes from the 2018 campaign, including seven starting position players. SFA landed two on the Preseason All-Southland Conference teams as senior third baseman Jake Georgiades garnered first team laurels and senior shortstop Manny Vasquez was named to the second team. Georgiades, who began the year as the backup third-baseman, settled into the starting role and finished as the team leader in batting average (.333) and on-base percentage (.423). Vasquez posted a slugging percentage of .424 with 14 extra base hits and five home runs in 2018 as the go-to shortstop. SFA’s schedule includes matchups with Lone Star State powers Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor and Dallas Baptist.First Game: vs. Arkansas State, Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m.Abilene Christian Wildcats – Preseason Ranking: 13 – 2018 Record: 21-33 (5-25 SLC)The Wildcats look to turn a new leaf under first-year head coach Rick McCarty, who joins the program after three seasons as the Dallas Baptist pitching coach. His roster features a duo of preseason all-conference selections in seniors Dalon Farkas and Derek Scott. Farkas finished second only to Southland Conference Player of the Year David Fry and 10th in the nation with 22 doubles to go with a .296 batting average and a .502 slugging percentage. Scott, a two-way asset for ACU, knocked 16 doubles and three home runs, swiped 15 bags and struck out 15 batters in 28.1 innings pitched. The Wildcats; schedule is highlighted by a home-and-home with TCU, along with matchups with Texas A&M and Baylor.First Game: vs. Bryant, Feb. 15, 3 p.m.
The 33-man squad assembled in Port Moresby to resume pre-season training on Monday this week, after returning from their Christmas and New Year break.Coach Michal Marum will announce the 28-man squad at the National Football Stadium at 4.30pm after training.The Hunters will play their first game of the season against the Central Queensland Capras on Saturday, March 4, at 6pm at Browne Park, Australia.Their first home game will be in the following week at the National Football Stadium, against the Easts Tigers, at 3pm on Sunday, March 12.
Velasco Carballo, president of the Technical Committee of Referees, explained the VAR procolo and when the hands should be sanctioned or not after the latest controversies in LaLiga Santander. Undiano Mallenco, of the technical commission, and Clos Gómez, director of the VAR project in Spain, participated in the explanation with examples of real plays.When hands are beaten and when notIllegalVolunteer: The player controls the ball with the arm voluntarily with intention to cut a pass.Unnatural: This year the regulation incorporates it. It is for when it comes to occupy by hand a space more than expected. It makes the body bigger and assumes a risk.Arm / Hand at shoulder height or above: Whoever assumes the risk of raising his hand over his shoulder should be punished. Although it bounces off its own body it is still an infraction. Although he is on his back and does not see the other’s shot, it is punishable.Hands in attack and that generates a chance to score or score. All will be sanctioned even if they are accidentally. It has to be immediate.Legal:Ball played by a defender and gives in his own hand: If he intends to play the ball and ends up accidentally giving it his hand, he is not penalized. If you try to play it with the head or foot it is considered legal, but if you try to block it with the body it is punishable by trying to make you big.Arm in natural position: if you have your arm in a natural position or try to get smaller, instead of bigger, it is not sanctioned.Hand between the body and the fulcrum. A move that occurs many times. If you try to grow up with one, you are penalized, but if you are looking for stability, it is considered legal as long as you do not seek to grow large to cut the ball. Another thing is that you throw yourself on the ground with open arms and may be considered illegal. “In 99% of the cases of the hands the referees are right and we see no difference in criteria. We only see differences in the natural and unnatural. But from shoulder to hand attached to the body there are many degrees to consider whether it is punishable or not There are many criteria to consider. There are many nuances which makes it considered to be a hand or not. There is no universal rule for naturalness, “says Velasco Carballo.“The rules of the game of the next edition will remove that term of only recovering the ball in attack, but it is helping it is punishable. It is not necessary that the ball be recovered, but that it be helped. The text will be improved to that does not generate doubts “, added the president of the referees on the hands in attack, In addition, in Spain the referees go to the monitor when from the VAR they warn him of a hand when there is a goal. In other competitions no. This is due to a disciplinary event.: “There are some that are purely objective. Whether it plays or not. But in others it would be necessary to analyze whether it is accidental or intentional. Which could lead to a warning.” VAR protocol“All the plays and incidents are checked and the referees cannot consult with the VAR to make a decision. You have to make it and then the VAR corrects them or not. If the VAR has doubts it will never recommend the referee to go to the monitor”, said Clos Gomez.The four cases in which the VAR entersGoals: Offside, prior foul, offside ball or phantom goalDirect Reds: on the overt occasions of goal all the above is reviewed.Penalties: Offside, prior foul, ball out or goal / no goal.Identity error“In the cases of red, the VAR notifies the referee. And after seeing the play, he can make the technical decision he deems appropriate: red, yellow or nothing. After the monitor he makes the best technical and disciplinary decision.”In cases of penalty, it can be decided that it is a penalty, do not beep, prior foul, out of play, corner or goal kick. “The one who makes the first and last decision is the field referee.” “If an arbitrator goes to the monitor, he ends up deciding that there is a corner, it is not because the VAR has advised him for a corner, but for one of the four previous assumptions“says Velasco.“The VAR in Spain works very well. The world of football understands that the call of the VAR is to do justice,” summarizes Clos. “It is a consequence of how well the VAR works in Spain. We are used to the referee calling for the expected decision. In other leagues, every 100 times he goes to the monitor, 24 does not make the expected decision. In Spain there is very few times. “What happened this weekend at Sevilla-Espanyol already happened twice last season.”This is that the VAR in Spain is very reliable. It is very important that when the VAR intervenes give legal certainty“added Velasco.“We remind our referees that if we have to be four minutes it is not so clear and manifest. Sometimes thanks to the fact that it has taken a long time, we have gained access to an image that clarifies all the previous ones. There are times when a long check is because it is not clear and manifest and other times because it allows you to reach an angle that if you had not done so would have led to a serious error. The balance is not easy. In the field of play you have to identify the correct frame, if any defender touches, if there is another player interfering … Sometimes the issue is not the lines, which take 20 seconds, but to value many other things. “On what could be a gray play the so controversial action of Sevilla-Espanyol, Velasco Carballo also spoke: “Consider a blessing from VAR, not a mistake, that these situations occur. The rules of the game want the field referee to be right. That’s what it’s called for. Every week we talk with the referees and say if the VAR or the field is right. The important and beautiful thing is that the referee always makes the final decision and that more than 90% match the field and VAR “.“We should not confuse transparency with the television show. In a trial you need to know the decision and you have to know the evidence. We are transparent and show the images by which we have changed the decision“, he added about the possibility to see all the repetitions that are in the VAR.
Peza offers relief to ecozone firms PBA Finals: Balkman, Devance nearly come to blows at halftime View comments Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Gov’t in no rush to rescue animals in Taal Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ After winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folk Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing during the first free practice session of the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit, in Mogyorod, north-east of Budapest, Hungary, Friday, July 27, 2018. The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)MILTON KEYNES, England — Daniel Ricciardo is leaving Red Bull for Renault at the end of this Formula One season.The Australian driver, who has won seven races since joining Red Bull in 2014, has agreed to a two-year deal with Renault.ADVERTISEMENT ‘High crimes and misdemeanors’: Trump impeachment trial begins Ricciardo says “it was time for me to take on a fresh and new challenge.”Replacing Carlos Sainz, Ricciardo will partner Nico Hulkenberg at the French manufacturer.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’Ricciardo says “there is a lot ahead in order to allow Renault to reach their target of competing at the highest level but I have been impressed by their progression in only two years.”The 29-year-old Ricciardo is already familiar with Renault, whose engines have powered Red Bull’s cars. Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil MOST READ In fight vs corruption, Duterte now points to Ayala, MVP companies as ‘big fish’ Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Ricciardo is fifth in the 20-driver standings after 12 of the season’s 21 races.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs
Industry proponents, international investors, major suppliers, and active community member’s listened to 14 panels from First Nation leaders, academics and local communities, focusing on furthering B.C.’s LNG growth.The topics included, making B.C. a globally competitive jurisdiction, financing LNG, First Nations and community partnership, maintaining strong environmental standards and building a skilled workforce to meet LNG demand.“This conference was largest of its kid in our province – it clearly demonstrates our commitment to building an LNG industry here in B.C.,” Minister of Natural Gas and Development, Rich Coleman said. “ WE look forward to bringing all the interested partners together again next year.- Advertisement -The conference saw new additions this year, including a trade show, providing B.C. businesses and international companies an opportunity to connect with industry proponents. There was also an interactive career experience on display for youth, showcasing the skills and trades training required for finding a long-term career in the natural gas sector.“This is a generational opportunity to build an LNG industry, to create jobs for British Columbians and a prosperous future,” said B.C. Premier, Christy Clark. “We’ve seen incredible progress over the last few years and this conference was another clear sign of how close we are to making it all happen.”There are currently 13 LNG proposals on the table, poising B.C. as a potential major player in the LNG market. The province says the development of this industry has the potential to create more than 100,000 jobs.Advertisement The third event will take place October 14 – 16, 2015.
He went on to say, “We don’t want money, we want justice, and we invite you to join our battle, and to add your voices to our struggle to protect the only home we have ever had.”The Trudeau government is currently reviewing an amended proposal from Pacific Northwest as part of the oft-delayed environmental assessment which has been the subject of criticism by salmon and climate scientists, as well as aboriginal legal scholars who refuse to accept any claim, the process meets the standard of “free, prior and informed consent” as outlined by the aforementioned UN declaration. New York, New York – Northwest BC First Nations leaders followed those of the Trudeau government to New York this week, hammering home their opposition to the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG project at the United Nations. The First Nations leaders called upon member nations of the world body to support their demand that the Liberal government reject the 36 billion dollar project being advanced by a consortium led by Malaysia’s state owned oil company, Petronas.Just two days after the government earned cheers at the 15th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, for a pledge that Canada would abide fully with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Hereditary Chief John Ridsdale had an entirely different message for the same forum.- Advertisement -He said, “Right now in our ancestral lands, everything the Trudeau government has pledged to get right with Canada’s indigenous peoples is in danger of going very, very wrong” and he added, “It is 2016, and Petronas is the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.”Murray Smith, another spokesperson for one for the nine allied tribes represented by the protest group expressed deep concern about the threat posed by the Lulu Island project near Prince Rupert, to wild salmon habitat in their ancestral lands.He said, “We are not against development, but we are against this dangerous irresponsible, foreign-owned and illegal intrusion into our sacred homelands, and we stand against this project for all the peoples of this world.”Advertisement
More than 2,000 children and adults have taken part in a world record attempt for the most people at a training session in Letterkenny today.The county is still on a high after winning the All-Ireland last weekend and today’s event at St.Eunan’s Club in Letterkenny was a huge success.Organisers will have to wait until later this year to see if they have officially broken the world record but they are confident of doing so. Children gathered from early morning for the attempt which saw children and adults take part in one massive hurling, football and camogie training session.There was huge excitement when Donegal GAA stars Rory Kavanagh, Kevin Rafferty and Frank McGlynn, fresh from their Late Late Show appearance, turned up with the Sam Maguire Cup.The players have been part of a team tour which has spent four days on a bus touring almost every town in Donegal ending in captain Michael Murphy’s parish club in Glenswilly on Thursday night.But children still can’t get enough of their heroes. Today they queued for more than three hours to have their picture taken with the cup and their homegrown idols.Organiser Alma Kavanagh, of St Eunans and sister of Donegal star Rory Kavanagh, said they are keeping their fingers crossed they have broken the record.“It was a terrific day and we’re juts hoping now we have done enough to break the record.“It doesn’t matter what happens though because sports, the GAA and the children are the real winners.“Hopefully we can do it again next year when the boys bring home the Sam Maguire cup once again,” she said. * With thanks to Tony Duffy for the pictures!MORE THAN 2,000 TURN UP TO SMASH WORLD RECORD AT GAA TRAINING SESSION was last modified: September 29th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalrecord attemptSt Eunans
Minister Joe McHugh has announced funding of €130,000 for Coiste Forbartha na Carraige, Carrick.Coiste Forbartha na Carraige has been sanctioned Leader funding of €129,106 for the construction of a playground, through Minister Michael Ring.Donegal TD and Education Minister JoeMcHugh, “This is fantastic news for this hard-working local community group, and the development of a playground in Carrick will have a massive benefit for the children and families in Carrick and the surrounding areas. “Beidh an tógra seo ina buntaiste mór dom cheantar, agus cuideoidh an maoiniú seo inniu an clós-súgartha seo a chur i gcrích.”“This is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to Rural Ireland,” said Minister McHugh.Carrick families set to enjoy new €130,000 playground was last modified: July 23rd, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Coiste Forbartha na Carraige
2 June 2014 South African government support programmes for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are receiving better approval ratings from their users, according to a new survey by technology market researchers World Wide Worx. According to the interim results of World Wide Worx’s SME Survey 2014, released last month, more than half (53%) of small businesses polled for the survey expressed satisfaction with the overall quality of the government’s SME support services. “We are seeing the most positive response in a decade to these support programmes,” World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck said in a statement. “Ten years ago, the proportion of SMEs expressing satisfaction with these programmes was a mere 12%. By 2007, it had increased to 34%, but this still meant that only one-third of SMEs were happy with such programmes.” Goldstuck said sentiment was beginning to improve even among businesses that did not use government services: some 44% of all respondents said they were confident about the use of government support services to grow their business, despite only 39% of respondents having actually used these services.Thumbs-up for Sars, Seda When respondents were asked which support services were thought to be the most effective, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) was given the thumbs-up by 58% of SMEs who used their services. “In addition to Sars, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) also offered a strong showing in the awareness of SMEs, with exactly a quarter of the SMEs rating it positive,” Goldstuck said. According to Seda’s chief strategy and information officer, Lusapho Njenge, the survey results indicate that the agency’s role in helping SMEs grow their businesses is becoming more widely known. “Obviously, our aim is to grow the awareness of our role within the SME sector, and in so doing, also improve on the numbers of such organisations that view us in a positive light,” Njenge said. “To do this, we need to learn from the areas of dissatisfaction highlighted by SMEs in the survey, in order to continue to improve the services we offer to this sector.”Areas of dissatisfaction According to Goldstuck, SMEs expressed strong dissatisfaction with four particular areas of government support programmes. “Turnaround time was the single biggest bugbear, with 46% complaining about it. Three other issues that cropped up were all cited by fewer than one in five SMEs, but nonetheless should be of interest to the programme providers. Accessibility was an issue for 19%, communications for 15%, and feedback for 10%. “In combination, all of these suggest that support programmes clearly need to be more responsive to their users.” Goldstuck added that the survey highlighted “some interesting sentiments” regarding red tape and legal compliance. “The most positive response was to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, with 77% of companies approving. This suggests an acknowledgement of the importance of looking after employees. Just behind this was Seta (Sector Education and Training Authorities) and the Skills Development Levy, which has long been the most positively received government incentive, with a 75% approval rating. “Bottom of the list, however, is the registration of entities, with only 54% of SMEs voicing their approval of this area of legislation,” Goldstuck noted. “This emphasises the frustration SMEs often have with the most fundamental aspect of starting a business, namely the registration thereof. This, then, is clearly an area where government needs to pay a lot more attention, if it is serious about oiling the wheels of the economy.” SAinfo reporter
Shopping for a home-energy management tool could get increasingly challenging as the months roll by.A beta version of Microsoft Hohm, a free online service designed to work with or without smart-home monitoring gadgets, is now available for consumer use. And Google’s PowerMeter, on online tool that does require some smart-home gear, is available to a very small group of users but is expected to roll out further later this year.Other, similar products – all designed to help consumers analyze energy usage in their home so they can find ways to reduce it – are in the offing, including services from big telcos such as Verizon Communications, network specialist Cisco Systems, and a company called Greenbox Technology, which has been arranging utility and smart-meter partnerships for a consumer-oriented version of its online monitoring tool.The launch date and pricing for the Greenbox Energy Management Ecosystem haven’t been determined, a spokeswoman for the company, Christina Dyrness Williams, told GBA, but this week the firm, based in San Bruno, California, announced that the software system is being tested in, among other locations, the net-zero-energy home of Marc Porat, known in the building community as the board chairman of Serious Energy, CalStar Products, and prefab specialist ZETA Communities.Fine tuning net zeroPorat’s home, located in Palo Alto, just down the road from San Bruno, actually is of a drafty but historically important 1936 vintage. But the building recently emerged from a two-year retrofit with net-zero-energy efficiency, a new name – the Palo Alto Net Zero Energy House – and a Greenbox system that will be used to track, in minute detail and in real time, every performance deficiency and improvement.“Even though the home is an R&D platform for net-zero energy,” Porat says in a press release on the project, “our goal is to use materials and methods that any homeowner can use. The Palo Alto Net Zero Energy House is a look at what will be the ‘new normal’ for homes in the near future.”California is indeed moving faster than most states toward a requirement for net-zero-energy performance for new-home construction, although existing homes (many as inefficient as Porat’s house was before the retrofit) are where tools such as Hohm, PowerMeter, and Greenbox might be most helpful.Greenbox is designed to show consumers how much energy they are consuming in their home, how much it costs, what their carbon footprint is, and how it compares to other users in their community.As noted in an earlier GBA post, though, some analysts who follow the market for such services are concerned people will fail to act on the diagnostics. But Greenbox says that if the information is specific enough, consumers are likely to respond positively.“When consumers can link their actions to usage, such as turning up the air conditioner or running a second refrigerator,” the company says, “they will make meaningful changes to reduce their energy consumption.