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Saturday, July 23, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
Posted: 21 Jul 2016 06:01 AM PDT
The recent standstill seen in the market in terms of property sale and purchase activity followed by protests held by property agents throughout the country lead to a formal meeting between Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue Haroon Akhtar Khan, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) senior officials and representatives of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industries and property dealers association held a couple of days ago. The meeting turned out to be successful, and the government has taken back its decision to valuate property through State Bank of Pakistan’s appointed valuators. Congratulations readers!
With regard to how the offices concerned will now valuate the property and reduce the stark difference between Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rate and real time market value, several theories are circulating the market. Please note that the final decision is yet to be taken and a meeting will be held in this regard between Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and FBR officials. Before details of this meeting are shared with the media through a press conference, nothing can be said with certainty about how the process will actually take place.
On the other hand, the details of the meeting held between Haroon Akhtar and the representatives of real estate associations are being circulated widely through WhatsApp and related mediums. I have also come across a few voice messages and also spoke to the Hayatabad Dealers Association President Mazhar Wakeel Durrani, who was also present. The meeting had a 4-point-agenda to discuss. According to Durrani, Khan and FBR officials graciously agreed to discard the appointment of SBP valuators to determine the fair market value of the property. Instead, they put forward a proposal to increase the current DC rate by 40% this year and continue increasing gradually over a period of 5 or more years until this difference is removed.
According to a news report published in Dawn today, the FBR is considering a specific formula to set a reasonable mechanism to evaluate fair market value of property throughout the country. Per this report, a mutual consensus was developed between the government officials and stakeholders from the real estate and trade industry on the proposed formula. This formula suggests that 50% of the difference between the DC rate and the real time market rate of the property be added to the old DC rate, to get the new DC rate, and this will be considered the fair market of property during the next two to four years. If I understand correctly, the remaining difference will still be removed in the future, if not right away.
Another amendment in the Finance Act 2016 that bothers real estate agents is the proposal of taxing property transactions done in the last five years by filers and 10 years by non-filers and the imposition of an equal amount of penalty. The agents want the government to give one-time amnesty in this regard and leave the old transactions be.
Furthermore, in case of Capital Gain Tax, they have specifically asked Khan and FBR officials to not increase the 2 year condition to 5 years. In terms of increased tax ratio for the filers and non-filers, the agents also want a similar amnesty. To be clear, the stakeholders have no reservations about penalizing the non-filers, they simply don’t want this penalty to call for a similar rise in tax applicable on the filers.
So this is some of the information that might help you get an idea about what actually happened in the meeting and what the possible outcomes could be. What do you think is ultimately going to happen? Let me know through your comments below.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
The need for elevators has existed for longer than you might think. In 236 B.C., the Greek mathematician Archimedes designed a rudimentary elevator using ropes and a rotating spindle called a capstan. The Romans used a hauling device called a winch and counterweights to lift gladiators and animals up to the arena for battle.
Transporting goods, people, and livestock were some of the main reasons there was a need for these early shafts. Another reason included privacy. Louis XV had a few contraptions called the flying chair, for his mistress, and the flying table, for private dining affairs.
The modern elevator had its beginnings in the early 1800s, and by 1853, American industrialist Elisha Graves Otis introduced something spectacular at the New York Crystal Palace exposition: an elevator with a safety feature that broke the cab's fall in case the ropes broke, a common problem at the time. Four years later, the first passenger elevator was ready for use at a department store in New York City.
Scroll below to see some of the most stunning modern elevators around the world.
AquaDom, Berlin, Germany
The AquaDom is a stunning acrylic glass aquarium featuring a built-in transparent elevator. It's located in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin-Mitte. Opened in 2004, the project cost about 12.8 million euros and stands at about 82 feet.
The complex is also home to a hotel, offices, restaurants, and a Sea Life Center. It takes about 3-4 divers each day to feed the fish and clean the tank.
Bailong Elevator, Zhangjiajie, China
The Bailong Elevator, or Hundred Dragons Elevator, is situated in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie. It is 1,070 feet high. Just last year, it was recognized as the world's tallest outdoor lift.
Construction began in October 1999, and three years later, the public was able to try it out. Some people are worried about the environmental effects of the elevator as the area has been dubbed a World Heritage Site.
Hammetschwand Elevator, Ennetbürgen, Switzerland
The highest outdoor lift in Europe is Switzerland's Hammetschwand Elevator, just over Lake Lucerne. If you're afraid of heights, you might want to avoid visiting this site (but we definitely support you facing your fears if you're up for the challenge!). At the top, visitors are 1132 meters above sea level.
A towering feat, the Hammetschwand Elevator was originally built in 1905 by a nearby hotel, and it has remained intact through the world wars.
SkyView Elevator, Stockholm, Sweden
If you're ever in Stockholm, make sure to check out Ericsson Globe, the world's largest spherical building. To get to the top, take the SkyView elevator.
The top center puts you at 425 feet above sea level, and there, you can see a panoramic view of the city.
Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
You've seen this landmark million of times in photos, but you've got to see it in person. St. Louis's stainless steel Gateway Arch stands at 530 feet tall and holds the record as the world's tallest arch.
The structure was originally designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947. It was completed in 1965 and opened for public exploration in 1967. There are three ways to get to the top: emergency stairs, a 372-ft elevator, and trams.
Eiffel Tower Lift, Paris, France
We couldn't forget this iconic tower. There are three lifts altogether at the North, East, and West pillars, but to ascend to the top, you must change lifts at the 2nd floor. You can also take the stairs for a unique perspective.
Louvre Lift, Paris, France
When in Paris, you must visit I.M. Pei's iconic pyramid at the Louvre. A great accessibility option is located inside for your convenience.
The unenclosed elevator blends in cleverly with the spiral staircase. How imaginative!
Elevador Lacerda, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
In just 20 seconds, you can go from the Praca Tome de Souza in Cidade Alta, the Upper City, to the Praca Cairu in Cidade Baixa, the Lower City via Elevador Lacerda.
This elevator is lauded as an Art Deco masterpiece and the most significant landmark in Salvador. Check out the sparkling views of the surrounding sea.
Santa Justa Lift, Lisbon, Portugal
To get from the Baixa district to the ruins of Igreja do Carmo, take Elevador de Santa Justa, or the Santa Justa Lift. You can admire the ironwork and neo-gothic arches while at the same time avoiding the hike up Carmo Hill.
You'll delight in the sweeping views of central Lisbon as well as the stylish wood carriages that take you there.
Mercedes-Benz Museum Elevator, Stuttgart, Germany
If you're planning on visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum, make sure to allot a large chunk of time for it. Many visitors said they've spent the whole day there. To start the tour, you can take the elevator up to the 8th floor and walk down from there.
According to European Traveler, visitors walk for at least 1.5 km, some up to 5 km just inside the museum.
Sky Tower, Auckland, New Zealand
In just 40 seconds, you can reach the observatory at Auckland, New Zealand, where you'll be 610 feet high. Get ready to soak in a 360 view of the city.
Lloyd's Building, London, England
Located on Lime Street, Lloyd's of London is the world's most famous insurance specialist market and it boasts one of the most futuristic buildings in town. From one of the twelve external glass elevator pods, you can soak in panoramic views of the city. It takes about 30 seconds to reach the top.
Luxor's Inclinators, Las Vegas
Looking to head in another direction? Look no further and visit the Luxor in Las Vegas, were you can ride one of its "inclinators." You'll be taken up the pyramid at a sharp 39-degree angle.
Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei 101 used to hold the title as the world's tallest skyscraper in 2004, that is until Dubai surpassed it with the completion of Burj Khalifa five years later. Still, this LEED platinum certified building is still pretty special. Reach the 89th floor in a mere 37 seconds, where you'll be 1,000 feet above ground level. Everything will look so tiny from there, like little stars.
Rockefeller Center, New York
It's a popular spot, especially around the holidays, but it's one that never gets old. Located in midtown Manhattan, Rockefeller Center is a must-see for history buffs and Instagrammers alike.
You can reach the 70th floor, called the Top of the Rock, in just 42 seconds. If you've never visited, you should know that Rockefeller Center comprises of 19 buildings. If you want to get to the observatory deck, head to the 30 Rockefeller Center, also called the Comcast Building or 30 Rock.
Next, 21 of the greatest views on earth.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The Thing, also known as the Great Seal bug, was one of the first covert listening devices (or "bugs") to use passive techniques to transmit an audio signal. It was concealed inside a gift given by the Soviets to the US Ambassador to Moscow on August 4, 1945. Because it was passive, being energized and activated by electromagnetic energy from an outside source, it is considered a predecessor of RFID technology.
The Thing was designed by Soviet Russian inventor Léon Theremin, whose best-known invention is the electronic musical instrument the theremin.
The principle used by The Thing, of a resonant cavity microphone, had been patented by Winfield R. Koch of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1941. In US patent 2,238,117 he describes the principle of a sound-modulated resonant cavity. High-frequency energy is inductively coupled to the cavity. The resonant frequency is varied by the change in capacitance resulting from the displacement of the acoustic diaphragm.
Installation and use
The device was used by the Soviet Union to spy on the United States. It was embedded in a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States. On August 4, 1945, a delegation from the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union presented the bugged carving to U.S. Ambassador W. Averell Harriman, as a "gesture of friendship" to the USSR's World War II ally. It hung in the ambassador's Moscow residential study for seven years, until it was exposed in 1952 during the tenure of Ambassador George F. Kennan.
The Thing consisted of a tiny capacitive membrane connected to a small quarter-wavelength antenna; it had no power supply or active electronic components. The device, a passive cavity resonator, became active only when a radio signal of the correct frequency was sent to the device from an external transmitter. This is currently referred in NSA parlance as 'illuminating' a passive device. Sound waves caused the membrane to vibrate, which varied the capacitance "seen" by the antenna, which in turn modulated the radio waves that struck and were re-transmitted by the Thing. A receiver demodulated the signal so that sound picked up by the microphone could be heard, just as an ordinary radio receiver demodulates radio signals and outputs sound.
Theremin's design made the listening device very difficult to detect, because it was very small, had no power supply or active electronic components, and did not radiate any signal unless it was actively being irradiated remotely. These same design features, along with the overall simplicity of the device, made it very reliable and gave it a potentially unlimited operational life.
The device consisted of a 9-inch (23 cm) long monopole antenna (quarter-wave for 330 Megahertz(MHz) frequencies, but able to also act as half-wave or full-wave, the accounts differ)—a straight rod, led through an insulating bushing into a cavity, where it was terminated with a round disc that formed one plate of a capacitor. The cavity was a high-Q round silver-plated copper "can", with the internal diameter of 0.775 in (19.7 mm) and about 11/16 in (17.5 mm) long, with inductance of about 10 nanohenry. Its front side was closed with a very thin (3 mil, or 75 micrometers) and fragile conductive membrane. In the middle of the cavity was a mushroom-shaped flat-faced tuning post, with its top adjustable to make it possible to set the membrane-post distance; the membrane and the post formed a variable capacitor acting as a condenser microphone and providing amplitude modulation (AM), with parasitic frequency modulation (FM) for the re-radiated signal. The post had machined grooves and radial lines into its face, probably to provide channels for air flow to reduce pneumatic damping of the membrane. The antenna was capacitively coupled to the post via its disc-shaped end. The total weight of the unit, including the antenna, was 1.1 ounce (31 grams).
The length of the antenna and the dimensions of the cavity were engineered in order to make the re-broadcast signal a higher harmonic of the illuminating frequency. (Note that the transmitting frequency is higher than the illuminating one.)
The original device was located with the can under the beak of the eagle on the Great Seal presented to W. Averell Harriman (see below); accounts differ on whether holes were drilled into the beak to allow sound waves to reach the membrane. Other sources say the wood behind the beak was undrilled but thin enough to pass the sound, or that the hollowed space acted like a soundboard to concentrate the sound from the room onto the microphone.
The illuminating frequency used by the Soviets is said to be 330 MHz.
The existence of the bug was discovered accidentally by a British radio operator at the British embassy who overheard American conversations on an open radio channel as the Soviets were beaming radio waves at the ambassador's office. An American State Department employee was then able to reproduce the results using an untuned wideband receiver with a simple diode detector/demodulator, similar to some field strength meters.
Two additional State Department employees, John W. Ford and Joseph Bezjian, were sent to Moscow in March 1951 to investigate this and other suspected bugs in the British and Canadian embassy buildings. They conducted a technical surveillance counter-measures "sweep" of the Ambassador's office, using a signal generator and a receiver in a setup that generates audio feedback ("howl") if the sound from the room is transmitted on a given frequency. During this sweep, Bezjian found the device in the Great Seal carving.:2
The Central Intelligence Agency set about to analyze the device, and hired people from the British Marconi Company to help with the analysis. Marconi technicianPeter Wright, a British scientist and later MI5 counterintelligence officer, ran the investigation. He was able to get The Thing working reliably with an illuminating frequency of 800 MHz. (The generator which had discovered the device was tuned to 1800 MHz.)
The membrane of the Thing was extremely thin, and was damaged during handling by the Americans; Wright had to replace it.
The simplicity of the device caused some initial confusion during its analysis; the antenna and resonator had several resonant frequencies in addition to its main one, and the modulation was partially both amplitude modulated and frequency modulated. The team also lost some time on an assumption that the distance between the membrane and the tuning post needed to be increased to increase resonance.
Wright's examination led to development of a similar British system codenamed SATYR, used throughout the 1950s by the British, Americans, Canadians and Australians.
There were later models of the device, some with more complex internal structure (the center post under the membrane attached to a helix, probably to increase Q), and some American models with dipole antennas. Maximizing the Q-factor was one of the engineering priorities, as this allowed higher selectivity to the illuminating signal frequency, and therefore higher operating distance and also higher acoustic sensitivity.
In 1960, The Thing was mentioned on the fourth day of meetings in the United Nations Security Council, convened by the Soviet Union over the 1960 U-2 incidentwhere a U.S. spy plane had entered their territory and been shot down. The U.S. ambassador showed off the bugging device in the Great Seal to illustrate that spying incidents between the two nations were mutual and to allege that Nikita Khrushchev had magnified this particular incident out of all proportion as a pretext to abort the 1960 Paris Summit.
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