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What if cocoons, seedlings and sprouting buds become our new gorgeous abode to relax and rewind? The proposal for a wellness retreat envisioned by DeD studio as ‘Chinese Baskets’ presents an innovative ensemble of bud-like parametric forms in thousand tree estates in Huizhou City, Guangdong Province, China. Their design brief bestowed to compose and develop an expansive master-plan and architectural identity for the wooded area which includes numerous protected ancient trees. The idea hopes to entwine and cherish natural living, away from the urban sprawl and encouraging a sustainable approach to the retreat.

Learn more about parametric and computational design from pioneers at the CD NEXT conference series:

The concept of ‘Chinese Baskets’ for the retreat inspired the project to unravel as a unique collection of architecturally woven pods scattered throughout the forested landscape. They embark on a visual dialogue within its context and on each other. Connected and budding in harmony. The entire setting promotes exploration and takes you on a scenic ride as you wander through the enriching estate.

All dwellings exude a single identity, be it architecturally or naturally witnessed. There lies a true inspiration emerging from the landscape, cuddling the vision of a retreat. Visually struck in small scale, yet so lightly touching the ground and adapting steeply across the contoured site. The dwellings flaunt lush views on the landscape whilst maintaining privacy for inhabitants internally and externally. The designers sliced the silhouette of each dwelling to the scale of the forest, minimizing visual impact from afar. Each unit splits into different volumes and typologies, forming distinct clusters reflecting the spatial functions within. The architectural language ooze inspiration from a collection of old bamboo rice baskets, often used for storage. They weave, knot and intertwine in colloquy with each other and sprout into different shapes and sizes. A bundle of unity in collaborated assembly.

The theme of hand-woven Chinese Baskets translates to a similar fabrication process using the same material, yet uniquely crafted with regional differences. The design crafts bamboo with subtle differences in density and texture reminisces the form and texture of these baskets scattered across the forest landscape. The expression of the dwelling typologies agglomerate as volumes defined by function, they cluster and expose 360 views of the surrounding landscape. They can even open to the top, allowing unobstructed views of the canopy and the thrilling night skies.

Bent bamboo pole framework bundles the structures with natural abundance and ecological benefits of a fast-growing renewable material often associated with scaffolding. In the prime framing, a network of woven fibres forms diverse densities and patterned screens according to the location on the building envelope and orientation. These elements cut deep into flexible strips, described not by a definitive result but by the density. Behind the glazing line, it provides necessary thermal control, often to be sliding screens allowing inhabitants to open up the forest whilst maintaining some privacy and screening from outside. Foundations contrive simple screw piles with precast footings tailored to each typology and the lift of the bamboo structure off the damp earth protecting it from degradation. The designers’ vision is to construct floors using simply exposed bamboo poles radially arranged and layered to form platforms and floor plates.

Each unit, a distinct typology arranged and stacked in splendiferous synchronization.

Boutique Hotel YD01

Arranged around a central vertical lobby, the hotel takes off with all public and rooms orientated to face out onto the water with several south-facing terraces at different levels awakening views out over the entire estate. The rooms look onto the waterbed and each has a screened terrace behind the bamboo latticework facade.

Guesthouse YD08

The guest house comprises three volumes corresponding to the 3 core functions of the dwelling, to be arranged over two floors with upper and lower seating. Allowing people to relax collectively or individually. A raised walkway accesses each unit and orientates towards the waterbed, infusing sunshine and capturing prolific vistas.

Guest Villa YD09

The villa breaks rules and embeds the building more closely into the landscape. Arranged as a two-storey dwelling with a small external pool and separate annexe building. A fully self-contained building with some basic cooking and entertaining facilities for a small group of people to join in the evenings.

Hill Top Mansion YD11–TYPE D

Non-Cartesian in its expression the mansion exudes as a rural manor house with a central arrival hall, and spaces arrayed off with internalized smaller service spaces, weaving thresholds between the arrival hall and the outward-looking primary living spaces.

Hill Top Mansion YD13–TYPE B

The smaller of the hillside mansion blocks organize around a cloistered external courtyard providing principal circulation with a separate annexe building, for sleeping and bathing facilities embedded into the hill. A small private pool indulges you in bathing and relaxing in the summer.

Treehouse YD16/17

Climbing treehouses grants us access to reach a higher level and enrich the plush greenery from a different perspective. The walkways deliberately meander through the canopy rather than across the ground. Instead of rooms spaces, they divide into levels and connected openings and stairs doubling as seating points. The dwelling delivers more to the basic functions of stay, sleep, ablution and relaxation. Also encouraging treehouse dwellers to go out and explore the manor.

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Top 5 Chinese Smartphones For Under $500 – September 2023

Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500 1. Xiaomi Pocophone F1

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past month, then you’ll not be surprised finding the Xiaomi Pocophone F1 on this list. Xiaomi’s latest flagship killer does indeed pack some of the best hardware on the market, while costing a fraction the price of many other options.

The Poco phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 along with either 6GB of RAM (8GB for Armoured Edition) and 64GB, 128GB or 256GB of internal storage (expandable). The handset sports a large 6.18-inch Full HD display with a high res 20MP selfie snapper above it, meanwhile on the back we find a dual camera setup comprised of main 12.2MP and a secondary 5MP shooter.

Finally, the smartphone is powered by a large 4000mAh capacity battery and runs MIUI 9.5 based on Android 8.0 Oreo.

2. Meizu 16th

The handset is then fueled by a beastly Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 that is paired with either 6GB or 128GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of internal memory.

The Meizu 16th packs a 3070mAh battery and runs FlyMe 7.5 based on Android 8.1 Oreo.

3. Xiaomi Mi 8

At just over three months since its official launch, the Xiaomi Mi 8 is finally able to join our list with a price tag of under $500. Xiaomi’s latest 6.21-inch flagship is a beast of a phone powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC along with 6GB of RAM and either 64GB, 128GB or even 256GB for some extra bucks.

Its great cameras are another selling point for the Mi 8. Coming with two 12MP rear cameras and a large F/1.8 aperture, the phone is able to snap some impressive photos. We then also find an high-res 20MP shooter on the front for high quality selfies.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 comes with a good sized 3400mAh battery, an infrared face scanner to unlock the phone and runs MIUI 10 based on Android 8 Oreo.

4. Honor 10

Another great option for under $500 is the latest Honor 10. The handset comes with a really powerful Huawei HiSilicon KIRIN 970 along with 6GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of storage (both expandable and at less than $500).

The Honor 10 then features a 5.84-inch FHD+ IPS display, a Leica Dual camera “3.0” composed of a main 16MP image sensor with F/1.8 aperture and OIS, plus a secondary 24MP shooter. Meanwhile at the front we have another 24MP selfie snapper with F/2.0 aperture.

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Honor’s phone is fueled by a 3400mAh capacity, sports NFC and runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box.

If you prefer bigger phones, you can also check out the Honor Note 10 coming with a massive 6.95-inch display and a larger 4900mAh battery.

5. Asus ZENFONE 5Z

As prices have dropped for the better performing Asus Zenfone 5Z, we’ve preferred this option over the older Zenfone 5. Asus’ phone does indeed come with some pretty powerful hardware including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage that is anyhow expandable.

The smartphone then sports a large 6.2-inch FHD+ display, above it we find an 8MP selfie snapper, meanwhile on the back there’s a dual camera setup comprised of a main 12MP snapper with F/1.8 plus OIS and a secondary 8MP.

The Asus ZenFone 5Z packs a good 3300mAh capacity battery, runs Android 8.0 Oreo and supports Global 4G LTE connectivity.

5. OnePlus 6

Coming at around $500 we have one of the best handsets you can get out of China if you love an almost stock Android experience – the OnePlus 6. OnePlus’ latest handset is equipped with the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 along with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which fuel the large 6.28-inch 2280 x 1080 19:9 AMOLED display.

On the camera front, we find a 16.0MP + 20.0MP rear camera combo with optical image stabilization, and a 16MP selfie shooter.

The smartphone packs a good sized 3300mAh capacity battery and runs OxygenOS based on Android 8.1 Oreo.

Honorable Mention – Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S

The Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S has been slowly dropping in price, finally going under $500 and making it one of the best phones in this price range. Xiaomi’s tri-bezel-less phone is powered by a beastly Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 CPU along with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for an incredibly smooth user experience.

The rear shooters are a main 12MP with F/1.8 aperture and a secondary 12MP sensor with telephoto lens, the smartphone also supports dual pixel technology for super quick autofocus and OIS (optical image stabilization). Meanwhile selfies are handles by a 5MP snapper with F/2.0 aperture and 1.2μm big pixels.

Finally, the Mi MIX 2S packs a 3400mAh battery, supports wireless charging, 4G connectivity and runs MIUI based on Android 8.0 Oreo.

Top 5 Chinese Smartphones for Under $500

If you want to spend a lot less than $500, check out our under $200 and under $100 buying guides!

Top 5 Best Chinese Phones For Under $500 – February 2023

Best Chinese Phones for Under $500 1. OPPO Reno 5 5G

Let’s start off with the recently launched OPPO Reno 5 5G, a very interesting device that focuses on photography for under $500. The smartphone comes with four rear cameras including a main 64MP Sony IMX686 image sensor, paired with an 8MP ultra wide angle lens, a 2MP macro and 2MP depth sensor. Meanwhile for selfies we have a 32MP selfie snapper.

The Reno 5 5G integrates a powerful Snapdragon 750 CPU with 5G functionalities; 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (expandable). We then find a relatively compact 6.43-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution and 90Hz refresh rate.

Other specs include a 4300mAh capacity battery, 65W fast charging, 3.5mm audio jack and Android 11 out of the box.

2. Xiaomi Mi 10T

As for photography, the Mi 10T by Xiaomi brings a main 64MP sensor, paired with a 13MP ultra wide lens and a 5MP macro camera. For selfies we have  a single 20MP snapper.

Best Chinese Phones for Under $500 3. Realme 7 5G

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Coming from Realme, we have the powerful yet affordable Realme 7 5G. The smartphone packs the quite good MediaTek Dimensity 800U CPU; along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

This hardware fuels a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display sporting Full HD+ resolution, 120Hz refresh rate and 180Hz touch response rate. For photos we find a punch-hole at the front for the 16MP selfie snapper; meanwhile on the back, we have a main 48MP camera, paired with an 8MP ultra wide lens, 2MP B&W sensor and a 2MP macro lens.

Finally, the Realme Q2 boasts a large 5000mAh capacity battery with support for a 30W fast charging, it has an audio jack and NFC functionalities.

Best Chinese Phones for Under $500 4. Honor Play 4 Pro

If you’re a fan of the Huawei or Honor brands, then the Honor Play 4 Pro is a great option to consider. Honor’s last year flagship is with some high-end camera hardware including a primary 40MP Sony IMX600 large size sensor with f/1.8 aperture paired with an 8MP 3X periscope camera; both featuring OIS (optical image stabilization). For selfies, we have a 32MP selfie snapper and a secondary 8MP ultra wide lens.

The Honor Play 4 Pro also brings great performances with the powerful Huawei Kirin 990 chipset; coupled with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (expandable).

Fueling the smartphone we find a 4200mAh capacity battery with support for 40W fast charging and NFC functionalities.

5. Ulefone Armor 10 5G

Finally, if you’re looking for a rugged phone, the Ulefone Armor 10 5G is the smartphone to buy if you value toughness more than anything else while still expecting an above average user experience.

The Armor 10 5G does indeed pack a powerful MediaTek Dimensity 800; along with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage (expandable).

We then find a large 6.67-inch display with Full HD+ resolution and a 16MP selfie snapper at the front. Meanwhile on the back we have a main 64MP sensor, paired with an 8MP ultra wide, a 5MP macro and a 2MP depth sensors.

Other specs include a large 5800mAh capacity battery with support for 15W wireless charging and NFC features.

Check out our sub $200 list if you’re on a tighter budget!

Mobility Takes Corporate Wellness Programs From Perk To Pertinent

Doctors aren’t the only ones who have a stake in keeping people healthy. Employers do as well. People are the core of any company, so when chronic sickness slows employees down, it also slows down business. Fortunately, most companies already sponsor corporate wellness programs designed to reduce the cost of illness, from both health expenses and productivity losses. But traditional wellness programs are narrow in focus, offering discounted gym memberships, smoking cessation aids and other benefits that only appeal to certain individuals.

One-size-fits-all wellness programs don’t work when employees come in all shapes and sizes and live very different lifestyles. A gym membership, for example, might not mean much to a mother of three who doesn’t have time to drive across town for a workout. Nor would it benefit an older employee with chronic pain that makes traditional exercise impossible. And while a smoking cessation program might help some employees reduce their risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer, it won’t help diabetic nonsmokers manage their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of blindness or stroke. That’s why forward-thinking business leaders are migrating away from the mindset that a singular application, device or wellness program could create a healthier workforce. Instead, they’re investing in robust corporate wellness programs that take a holistic and personalized approach to keeping individuals healthy, using the mobile technology employees already know and love.

Why Employee Wellness Is a Business Priority

No one is immune to the occasional cold, flu or stomach virus. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the most common and costly health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis, are also the most preventable. Yet, half of all adults have one or more of these chronic conditions. This isn’t just a problem for workers; it’s also a wake-up call for their employers. In a 2014 report, The Milken Institute estimates that if current trends continue, the cost of chronic disease will reach just shy of 20 percent of GDP by 2023. The good news is that this figure could be reduced by making reasonable improvements to prevent and manage chronic disease.

Business leaders understand the simple math behind employee wellness: sick workers cost more and accomplish less than their healthier counterparts. But how can employers make wellness programs relevant and useful to their diverse workforce? Just as importantly, how can they measure the effectiveness of these programs, not just in employee participation, but in lasting behavioral changes across the organization? By investing in mobile health solutions that fit seamlessly into employees’ devices, employers can track useful health data, notify their employees about preventative measures and inform medical professionals in the event of illness.

Mobile Technology is Redefining Wellness Programs from Samsung Business USA

Mobility in Corporate Wellness Programs

Wellness programs have a difficult goal: to change participants’ behavior. Helping people make sustainable lifestyle changes requires more than one program, app or device. It’s a complex and ongoing process that includes personalized education and awareness, goal setting, data collection, meaningful incentives and regular feedback. To achieve better outcomes and lower system costs, employers need to collect accurate and consistent biometric data. This information helps individuals with goal setting and helps healthcare providers easily identify risk factors for chronic disease.

Mobile health solutions (mHealth) enable organizations to build best-in-class wellness programs that collect and deliver information directly to workers’ own devices. This means that programs can be customized based on each person’s needs, preferences, health conditions or demographics. Individuals can utilize the programs when and where it’s convenient for them, and they can utilize wearable sensors to view their progress on mobile apps. Additionally, each person or group can set goals and track progress, and individuals can receive feedback via their chosen platform. The only downside to many existing mHealth apps and wearables is that interconnectivity can be difficult. All the data from different units must come together into a holistic record of each individual’s health. mHealth platforms solve this problem by supporting and integrating data from a wide variety of devices. A unified platform approach also allows for variations over time. A company can add apps and solutions onto the existing platform without having to purchase a new solution suite.

Mobile device manufacturers have been on the forefront of this platform approach and are building new sensor capabilities into their smartphones and wearables. For example, Samsung Galaxy smartphones pair with wearable devices such as smart watches that monitor your heart rate, steps and sleep quality. Samsung also offers S Health, a platform that enables users to collect and share fitness and biometric data.

Want to learn more about building a robust corporate wellness program with mobile devices? Read the white paper.

Microsoft Investigating Chinese Factory’s Work Conditions

Caught off guard by accusations that its mice and other hardware products are being produced under prison-like conditions, Microsoft said it has officials on their way to China to see for themselves if the allegations are true.

The allegations regarding a Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) overseas manufacturing contractor surfaced in a report issued this week by the not-for-profit National Labor Committee, a global labor watchdog.

The NLC is perhaps best known for helping to blow the whistle in 1996on sweatshop labor used to make Kathie Lee Gifford’s line of clothing.

This latest NLC report said KYE, a Microsoft contract manufacturer in Dongguan, China, works teenaged employees as many as 15 hours a day and six to seven days a week, putting them up in squalid dorms and paying as little as $0.52 an hour after deductions for factory food that must be consumed basically on the run.

Microsoft’s Vendor Code of Conduct clearly states that contractors must pay “living wages under humane conditions.”

The report has apparently gotten Microsoft’s attention.

“As a result of this report, we have a team of independent auditors en route to the facility to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. If we find that the factory is not adhering to our standards, we will take appropriate action,” Brian Tobey, corporate vice president for manufacturing and operations in Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, said in a blog postThursday.

The NLC’s report characterizes KYE’s working conditions as “monotonous, numbing and exhausting.”

“Twenty or 30 workers on a line must complete 2,000 Microsoft mice in 12 hours. The workers’ hands and fingers are constantly moving, many suffering abrasions and cuts, since the connectors must be inserted very closely together. Once workers meet the production goal, management raises it,” the NLC report said.

Turnover is high, with few workers lasting two years. But many work the hours for six months or more, suffering indignities such as no bathroom breaks during a shift, and public scoldings for dropping parts on the floor, in order to save for marriage or to help support their families, according to the report.

The NLC is alleging that KYE hires mostly women and that sexual harassment is common, while workers, although often in the range of 16 to 18 years old, can be as young as 14 or 15, both practices that are banned in Microsoft’s contracts.

For its part, Microsoft claims that it hires independent auditors to annually inspect factories where its products are made to keep them up to international labor guidelines.

“In addition, Microsoft personnel conduct quarterly on-site assessments, and … no incidence of child labor has been detected. Worker overtime has been significantly reduced, and worker compensation is in line with the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition standards for the Dongguan area,” Tobey said.

“We will have monitors on site pending the results of the inspection. We will take all appropriate steps to ensure the fair treatment of the KYE workers,” he added.

Microsoft has run into noncompliance issues in China more than once recently, including one incident when a third-party Chinese contractor allegedly stole copyrighted program code to incorporate into a Microsoft product.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

Magix Samplitude Music Studio 2014 Review

Our Verdict

There’s no doubt MAGIX Samplitude Music Studio 2104 is a flexible and very well-featured music production suite. The new features are not window dressing and improve the overall functionality of the software. The suite is not that easy to get into, though, and feels in some parts as if the interface suffers from the repeated addition of extra features, without proper integration.

MAGIX is probably best known in the UK for its consumer-based Music Maker software, a loop and sample-based editor, but at the semi-pro level, it has Samplitude Music Studio 2014.

This is a music production suite, handling recording, manipulation of samples and creation of finished media.

This isn’t an ideal application to come to cold, without having used similar software. It has a complex set of controls, not always in the most obvious places. For example, although you have full transport control – start, stop, pause, wind – of the current project from the main editing screen, overall volume adjustment is only available from the suite’s mixer, which has to be called up separately.

The editor supports samples, direct recording and MIDI tracks and these can be freely mixed in the arranger view, which is similar to the timeline view in a video editor. You can directly edit clips using the handles overlaid on them, adjusting fade in and out and clip volume without moving to the track editor.

As an alternative, you can run through the 128-track mixer, which simulates its physical equivalent, right down to the bit of masking tape detailing the instruments on each channel.

We thought 64 tracks in the previous version of Samplitude Music Studio was excessive, so it’s very hard to see how you could effectively use over 100. They can’t all be seen on screen at once and have to be viewed in banks.

The new features in the 2014 package are wide ranging, from a new synthesizer, to a vocal tuner, to automatic mastering of the finished recording. There are also four new banks of sampled instruments: power guitar, vintage organ, pop brass and electric piano.

The suite now also supports touchscreens, so if you’re running Windows 8, you can tap and slide. With the size of some of the on-screen controls, though, you will need a stylus. See all audio hardware reviews.

The vocal tuner, which can also be used for solo acoustic instruments like violins or cellos, adjusts notes or passages to improve pitch accuracy. The audio track is analysed and you’re presented with a grid of blocks representing the notes. Dragging these up and down, singly or together, adjusts the pitch, while maintaining the overall sound envelope. The naturalness slider varies the sound from ‘as performed’ to a sort of pseudo-Cher.

The DN-e1 synthesiser has 256 presets, a phenomenal number, ranging from Crusty, to Plastic, to Trippy – yes, some of the voice names are none too descriptive. They are, however, a treasure trove of sounds to work into a wide variety of music types.

Final mastering of a track or a complete album can be a complicated process, with a lot of parameters to balance against each other. MAGIX now offers a preset approach to this too, applying a series of equalisation, stereo enhancement, compression and other techniques to the overall sound of your recordings.

You can choose one of the supplied presets or set the parameters individually. Once set, a new preset can be created and applied to other recordings.

MAGIX also makes video editing software and, as you might expect, tracks laid down within Samplitude Music Studio 2014 are fully compatible with the soundtrack format of applications like Movie Edit Pro.

Specs Magix Samplitude Music Studio 2014: Specs

Windows XP (32-bit) Vista/7/8, 32/64 bit

1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended)

1.5 GHz processor

4.3 GB drive space

1024 x 768 display

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