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The good life: the tyranny of terroir A master of wine tells how to choose wine without fear of labels

Master of Wine Sandy Block, who earned that title after an exhaustive four-day exam that ranged from blind taste-testing to critical essays about the wine trade, can tell you what a wine is — from the soil where its grapes were harvested to the environmental influences that accent its taste — but he won’t tell you whether the wine is any good. That verdict is up to you.

“The true test of a wine has to be how delicious it is,” says Block, a senior lecturer at Boston University’s Metropolitan College and the host of a recent wine-tasting that was part of the MET conference Place, Taste, and Sustenance. “And people’s tastes vary. So much of our reaction to wine is emotional.”

Which means our tasting of wine is easily influenced by external factors. “If you tell someone a bottle cost $100,” says Block, “they may end up feeling they have bad taste if they don’t like the wine. But price is no guarantee of good wine.”

And neither is the vineyard of origin, despite the emphasis many people place on ‘terroir’ wines.

The mystique of terroir

“The concept of terroir,” says Block, “is perhaps the most misunderstood in the wine industry. The word itself is hard to translate, and there are many conflicts about what we mean by terroir. It has to do with what you might call the taste of the earth, the unique, distinctive flavor of a particular vineyard.”

“Blending often creates wonderful wines,” he says. “Also, champagnes are often blended, as are many great ports. If terroir is the standard, then blending is inferior. To me, that’s clearly not true.”

Ultimately, Block says, promoting the unique virtues of particular vineyards can become “the propaganda of avarice.”

On the other hand

While Block is not necessarily impressed by terroir wines, he does see a value in distinctive wines that come from grape-growing practices respectful of the vineyard as a particular site. This can be organic wine-making or — a step beyond organic — biodynamic vineyards.

Biodynamic winegrowers take an almost mystical view of the process of growing grapes and making wine. Such a winemaker might keep a particular herd of cattle, fed on a particular diet, to provide a particular manure for fertilizer. Phases of the moon are followed, and certainly nothing artificial is allowed into the growing or harvesting process. “Biodynamic vineyards follow very specific and controlled practices,” says Block, “to bring the vine in harmony with the earth.”

He suggests that skeptical wine lovers test the validity of biodynamic growing with two biodynamic wines: Clos de la Bergerie, Savennieres — Roche-Au-Moines, 2002 (about $35) and Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Gewurztraminer, 2004 (about $20). The first is actually a terroir, indicated by the word ‘clos’ in its name, which means it comes from an ancient walled-in vineyard, but it is the biodynamic practices of the vineyard that make it special.

Don’t be intimidated by vineyard labels

The overall lesson, Block hopes, is that we shouldn’t be taken in by a wine marketing itself on the basis of a particular vineyard, whether Old World or New World. For believers in terroir, he says, “wine is a pure manifestation of the soil. But once you look at wine as a human creation, it opens up the playing field from the closed terroir system. And what most people are looking for is something that tastes good.”

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How To Increase The Battery Life Of Phones?

It is annoying when our smartphone runs out of battery. The more we use the phone features, the more is the battery juice used. So it is necessary to maintain the battery life and make the most from the phone. In this post, I will suggest some ways to extend the battery life in Android Phones or iPhones.

Increase the Battery life of Phones

1] Turn on Battery Saver

Battery Saver mode tries to consume minimum power (when kept on) by turning off some features running in the background and increasing the battery life.

Power Saver mode stops updating the live tiles, closes those apps that are running in the background, and stops automatic syncing of mail and calendar.

To turn on Battery Saver, Go to settings, tap Battery saver, and then turn it on.

Battery Saver mode normally gets activated with the battery life falls below 20%, but it can be manually turned on anytime.

2] Turn off Background Tasks

Along with the apps in the multitasking panel, there are a few that are running in the background which consumes a lot of battery. Turning off any of these apps that you do not require will dramatically increase the battery life.

3] Turn off Bluetooth, WiFi and NFC

Most support Bluetooth sharing of files so keeping the Bluetooth turned on all the time will drain the battery. Also, when the Bluetooth is turned on the phone constantly checks for available accessories that lead to an unnecessary drain of the battery.

Similarly, when the WiFi is turned on it keeps on checking for the available networks and notifies you. So it recommended keeping the WiFi turned off when not in use.

I’m not sure if NFC maintains the battery life when turned off, but from my personal experience it did work out.

4] Keep a dark background theme

The only native customization available on your Phone is the Dark (Black) and Light (White) theme. Using either of the themes does affect the battery life especially if you have a Super AMOLED display. So it is recommended to use the dark background theme for your phone.

5] Keep low brightness

The automatic brightness level may sometimes keep the brightness high unnecessarily resulting in greater use of the battery. So it is recommended to turn off automatically adjust and select the brightness levels manually as per the ambiance.

6] Keep Cellular data connection turned off whenever, not in use

Using a cellular data connection (HSDPA or LTE) uses a lot of battery. The battery level falls too often when the internet is in use. Almost all the Phones have balanced battery life for HSDPA, but LTE data use maximum battery life. So it is recommended to keep the data connection whenever not needed.

7] Manually synchronize e-mails

Phones synchronize the email accounts in the background after some time interval to check for new mails. The synchronization takes up some amount of battery juice every time and this results in a decrease in, battery life.

To prevent this, the email accounts should be manually synchronized to check for new mails or the time interval between the two synchronizations should be increased.

Go here if you are looking for tips to conserve Battery Power and Extend or Prolong Battery Life in Windows PC.

Life In The Boardroom Has Changed Forever

What is it like to serve on a board after the tumultuous few years of the global pandemic? The short answer is that it’s unlike anything people have experienced before. Here, Stephen Conmy interviews Juliet Taylor (pictured above), CEO of executive and non-executive search firm Starfish.

Starfish recently interviewed 60 chairs, board members and CEOs currently addressing complex issues in their boardrooms and organisations to discover what has changed in ‘post pandemic’ boards

To see the complete list of contributors and read the full report, you can download The post pandemic board report.

The key takeaways of the report are:

1: Volatility is here to stay; constant change will remain a reality in chairing organisations.

Chairs who relate governance to their organisation’s purpose and who take a longer-term view in which their teams are developed to flourish in uncertainty are ahead of the game.

2: The formerly rigid dividing line between non-executive and executive is now more porous.

A new spirit of collaboration and co-production between Chairs, non-executive board members and their top executives emerged due to closer working in 2023; many organisations have embraced this as a permanent feature.

3: Inclusive board cultures are critical for survival.

Boards set to thrive have moved beyond notions of representative diversity to become truly inclusive cultures.

4: It’s time to recognise changes in the experience of chairs and ensure that they are valued and supported both now and in the future.

Organisations should be upfront about the new realities of the chair role. Chairs indicate they value personal support and peer validation, especially concerning the big judgement calls they need to make. Prior chairing experience is currently considered more useful than ever before in navigating complexity and nuance; however, we cannot afford to delay the development of our future chairs and must continue to invest in and coach this community.

5: How you influence, take people with you and use your judgement now matters more than what you have achieved in your career alone.

Those suited to chairing organisations in 2023 and beyond may also have a more robust change orientation than those who preceded them, higher energy levels, higher levels of availability and personal engagement, and a sharper curiosity about the future.

What is it like chairing a board after the pandemic?

The most interesting thing about this report is how shaken many boards and chairs have become post-pandemic. The air of uncertainty is palpable.

For example, one chair said:

“We’re in a new age of fragility: the best boards are getting this and recognising it in more supportive challenge to their organisations.”

What they mean by this is that, In stark contrast to the remote, transactional boards of the past, the post-Covid board has to recognise the strength in unity and collaborative endeavour. As one chair said:

“If it wasn’t already, it is now a fundamental consideration to believe in what you are doing. The best boards have challenging and supportive members who aren’t there for themselves”.

Another chair, when asked about the corporate landscape, said:

“This is the decade when organisations will be forced to get it right. After that, the workforce will be fundamentally different, and people in their 20s will be in managerial positions. We’ve got eight years left to sort it out.”

The boards that thrive have a few things in common

What the report highlights most is that boards have changed – life in the boardroom has changed forever. The mindsets of chairs and directors have also evolved.

The task of governing organisations, and the collective skills required to do it properly, are constantly evolving.

Governance must be seen as inextricably linked to an organisation’s purpose to remain effective.

Organisations are responding to the changing context by increasing their risk appetite and balancing an interest in financial stability with the need to change their business models ‘outside in’.

Whether a public service or a retail product, they have no option but to meet changing consumer or stakeholder expectations.

By and large, boards thriving in the post-pandemic era seem noticeably free-thinking, open to new ideas and characterised by a higher degree of flexibility on every level.

They are necessarily more outward-facing, constantly balancing the internal governance focus with the implications of a rapidly changing external context.

Listen to the interview with Juliet Taylor, CEO of executive and non-executive search firm Starfish, below.

Bullying And Students With Disabilities: The Ugly, The Bad, And The Good

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and it is important to discuss how educators can create classrooms of tolerance and empathy, fully inclusive of the students with disabilities. In the spirit of the good, the bad, and the ugly, let’s discuss the laws around bullying, the potential civil rights violations, and the legal risks involved with bullying students with documented disabilities. Then we’ll move onto preventative measures and how we can create an inclusive and self-governing classroom in which students set the tone for kindness and inclusion. 

The Bad and the Ugly 

Unlike some forms of bullying, bullying students with a documented disability can result in enormous legal consequences and financial liability for the school district involved. It is important to remember that bullying and harassing a student in a “protected class”, such as race, national original, religion, sex, and disability, is not only detrimental but a violation of the student’s civil rights. There are several laws in place to protect students with disabilities and as the protector of these students, please do your homework and comply.  

I have worked and consulted on several egregious cases in local school districts.  In most of the cases, a well-intentioned teacher became overwhelmed and let it affect his/her judgment.  If you feel this overwhelm coming on, call an administrator or make a deal with a colleague, don’t let stress turn into unintentional bullying. 

The Good (and the How to Incorporate It)

My hope is that the following tips will allow you to create a climate of tolerance and inclusion and to minimize stress so that the onus of preventing bullying doesn’t fall on you and you alone. 

1. Stop the Harrumph

Students are wonderfully perceptive. Students with disabilities grow up with the idea that they are always a “problem” or a total inconvenience. In fact, I often work with university students unwilling to ask for accommodation because of one bad experience or one teacher expressing their unwillingness or reluctance to accommodate. Allow the IEP to serve as a guide on how to specifically accommodate one student and generally accommodate all students. 

2. Teach Self-Advocacy

Why would you want this challenge? Because if students are comfortable confronting you, they will be comfortable confronting a potential bully.

3. Create a Culture of Respect and Tolerance

Many articles on Edutopia speak of how teachers can create this culture in the classroom, however a favorite practice to prevent bullying is to allow students to set the normatives and the Constitution of the classroom and set up mechanisms for enforcement. 

4. Share Your Experiences

Talk about you own experiences with difference, its direct relationship with bullying, and who made the difference in your life. As a teacher and occasional speaker, I talk of my own difference, that I am a woman with a disability, the invisible disability of lupus. I speak about how I have had experienced stigmatization in my academic journey and the importance of having a voice and allies. 

Think about the times you have experienced bullying because of something you cannot change and be the first one to be vulnerable in the classroom. In order to create a classroom where difference is discussed, explored and valued, use your own vulnerability to allow others to share.

5. Empower Bystanders

Peers stop at least 50 percent of bullying. Let that sink in! Wow. We rarely discuss the importance of empowering non-disabled heteronormative peers, yet without this embedded into pedagogy, students stop a lot of bullying. What if we could make this 80 percent?

Talk about the importance of being a Good Samaritan, why it is important to use your voice for the voiceless, and great subject matter centric examples of people who would be more comfortable remaining silent but instead courageously spoke out against oppression. 

As someone who has worked in this intersection for a long time, it will be a welcome shift when bullies are shut down by an empowered majority as opposed to a given tacit approval by scared and uniformed peers. 

Review: The Asus Et2702 Is A Good All

We dig the Haswell-class CPU and the powerful video card, but the absence of an SSD cache for the mechanical hard drive hurts the ET2702’s performance on productivity apps.

Full HD displays are so last season. Asus’s new ET2702 is the company’s first 27-inch all-in-one to sport a quad HD display—that is, a display with a resolution of 2560 by 1440 pixels, instead of the usual 1920 by 1080 pixels. That higher pixel density makes a big difference when you’re sitting merely 20 to 40 inches away from a 27-inch screen.

But there’s more to the Asus ET2702 than just its screen. Our review model, which costs around $1899 as configured (as of August 14, 2013), sports a quad-core Intel Core i7-4770 processor (a member of the new Haswell family), 8GB of DDR3/1600 memory, a discrete graphics card (AMD’s Radeon HD 8890A), a Blu-ray player, and a 2TB, 7200-rpm hard drive. In pricing, the ET2702 is on a par with comparable systems: It’s more expensive than the $1440 Vizio CA27T-B1, which has a slower processor and a lower-resolution display, but it’s about $200 cheaper than the Dell XPS 27 Touch, which has a lower-voltage version of the Core i7 processor (the Core i7-4770S).

Although the ET2702 boasts some impressive specs, it disappointed somewhat in benchmark performance. For instance, it earned a score of 174 in our Desktop WorldBench 8.1 benchmark tests. That’s good—it means the ET2702 is 75 percent faster than our baseline model, the Acer Aspire U—but it’s not fantastic, especially compared with the scores of other 27-inch all-in-ones we’ve reviewed recently. The Vizio CA27T-B1, which has an older third-generation Intel Core i7 processor, scored 179 on WorldBench 8.1. The Dell XPS 27 Touch, meanwhile, blew both the ET2702 and the CA27T-B1 out of the water with its mark of 262.

The absence of an SSD cache for the ET2702’s mechanical hard drive had a significant negative impact on this all-in-one’s Desktop WorldBench 8.1 score. Elements of our WorldBench suite that are based on performance in productivity applications, such as PCMark 7, suffered the most from the absence of an SSD cache.

Those results don’t mean that the ET2702 is a lousy computer. It actually delivers superior graphics compared to what Dell and Vizio are providing with their AIOs, and thus it is the best choice of the three if you’re looking to play games. Whereas Dell uses Nvidia’s GeForce GT 750M card, and Vizio relies on integrated graphics, Asus splurges on an AMD Radeon HD 8890A. In our Dirt Showdown test (resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels, with low visual-quality settings), the ET2702 managed an impressive frame rate of 131.7 frames per second. By comparison, Dell’s XPS 27 Touch delivered 125.7 fps and the Vizio CA27T-B1 chugged along at a rate of just 54.4 fps on the same test.

Gaming performance is a bright spot for the Asus ET2702, thanks to its Asus Radeon HD 8890A discrete video card.

The Achilles’ heel of the ET2702 is its storage subsystem: Dell and Vizio both include a 32GB solid-state drive as a cache for their machines’ hard drives, whereas Asus does not. That cache makes a tremendous difference in many applications that involve frequent data fetches from storage. As a result, it affects many of the benchmarks that comprise our WorldBench 8.1 suite. Asus does provide up to a 128GB SSD on some other versions of the ET2702, but not on the model the company sent us (specifically, its model ET2702IGTH-B023K).

ROBERT CARDINThe stand on the Asus ET2702 allows only a very limited tilt range.

Even though the ET2702 doesn’t have the best touchscreen display I’ve seen (that honor belongs to Dell’s XPS 27 Touch), it does deliver crisp, clear text and images, as well as bright and accurate colors. Touch is especially nice on the ET2702: Multitouch gestures are smooth and accurate, not at all choppy as I’ve seen on some touchscreens. I also appreciate the bezel-free, edge-to-edge glass design, which makes it much easier to perform Windows 8 gestures such as swiping from the side or the top of the screen to access menus. I also enjoyed watching HD streaming video on the ET2702’s screen, although I did notice visual artifacts and blurred details.

The rest of the ET2702 needs some work. This AIO looks appealing from far away, thanks to its sleek profile and brushed-metal accents, but Asus needs to make several tweaks for better usability. Four labels in the lower-right corner of the screen, for instance, identify touch-sensitive nubs below the screen for mode, volume up/down, menu, and brightness up/down. The nubs are confusing to use—I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to swipe, tap, or press them. They’re also inconsistently sensitive, and generally they never did what I expected them to do. Tapping the volume nub, for example, changed the brightness.

The Asus ET2702 isn’t a bad all-in-one PC, especially if you’re a sucker for pretty screens, but it’s not the best. The Dell XPS 27 Touch is faster and more attractive, and it suffers from fewer usability issues. And Dell’s machine costs only $200 more.

Google Pixel 5A Revisited: The Good And The Bad A Year Later

The good

We awarded the Google Pixel 5a 4.5/5 stars and it holds Recommended status in our official review. At the time, we noted that the phone was a great and unassuming phone that just worked without costing a fortune. On the flip side, we also felt its processor and cameras were starting to age even at release. A year later, most of these points remain unchanged.

Battery life

When we first reviewed the Pixel 5a we immediately fell in love with the massive battery. Our reviewer found he could easily get up to two days of use without needing to charge the phone up. A year later, my experiences are pretty similar.

What makes the Pixel 5a’s battery life so fantastic is twofold. First, the 4,680mAh battery is bigger than most reasonably-sized flagships out there, including the Pixel 6 with its 4,614mAh battery. The second reason is that the mid-tier processor and 1080p display aren’t exactly battery-guzzlers. The combination means you really have a phone that never runs out of juice unless you’re trying to.

If I really try to push the phone with more intensive apps like mobile games and streaming, sure, the battery might drop down faster. Even so, I found the days I pushed it to its max still saw nearly a day and a half’s use on just one charge. When I took it easier, pushing to two days (or even slightly over that) wasn’t too hard to reach either.

Most of the time I found myself not charging at night anymore at all, as the battery lifespan was so good it felt unnecessary. Instead, I’d just plug it in for an hour or so each day while working.

Prefer phones with big batteries? Check out our guide to the phones with the best battery life

Google’s software might not be flashy, but the additions it does add are often truly useful.

The Pixel 5a promised at least three years of OS and security updates, though it’s now a third of the way through that guarantee. It’s not as good as the three-year OS and five-year security pledge you’d find with the Pixel 6, though. The big question is how well has Google kept its promise? Pretty well actually. It’s constantly attempted to squash bugs over the last year. Early on, many users reported issues like overheating and app crashing, and mostly, that doesn’t seem to be an issue for me at all here in 2023.

The OS side of things has also been handled well. The Pixel 5a shipped with Android 11, but mine is fully updated to Android 12. Android 13 beta is also fully supported by the Pixel 5a, which should mean the latest version of Android will hit the handset relatively shortly after its official release.

There’s little to complain about when it comes to the Pixel 5a’s software or its update schedule, though it’s important to note that Samsung actually beats Google here. Earlier this year Samsung started offering up to four years of OS updates and five years of security patches for select phones, including several devices that compete with the Pixel 5a on price. If long-term support matters to you, Google is still pretty solid but Samsung has really upped the competition.


Okay, the Pixel 5a camera is using a pretty old sensor. Aside from some minor tweaks, the camera used here is the same one as the Pixel 3 series. I can also honestly say pictures from the Pixel 6 series’ upgraded camera suite look better to my eyes, but we have to remember something here: this is a budget phone. It’s hard to find a much better camera at this price.

If you’re a true photography nut, you’ll find that the camera isn’t as good as you’ll find with a flagship. But let’s be honest, most of us just want quick snaps of our food, kids, family, and friends so we can share them on social media. The Pixel 5a excels at those basics, with accurate colors and above-average exposure levels. It also has a fairly wide dynamic range.

The Pixel 5a has a 16MP ultrawide lens with a 107-degree field of view. Pixel 5a photos will come out great almost every time in the daylight, but even night shots manage to hold up pretty well thanks to Google’s Night Sight mode. Really, the only situation where the Pixel 5a’s camera doesn’t perform like a more modern flagship is when zooming in. The 12MP sensor and lack of a telephoto are recipes for disaster at anything beyond 2x, and even then the images just come out kind of blurry. Google’s Super Res Zoom technology is good but it can’t work miracles.

Check out: The best camera phones

For those that love taking selfies, you’ll find the 8MP front-facing sensor does the job just fine. I didn’t really have much to report, though our original reviewer noted that Google’s software can struggle with blurring out hair or the edges of glasses, but that’s usually the case for portrait shots. I didn’t notice it, but to be honest I also didn’t take tons of selfies during my time with the phone.

Yes, the Pixel 6a has a better camera on paper due to it borrowing the Pixel 6’s ultrawide shooter (we’ve yet to fully test it), but the main camera is unchanged as far as hardware goes. It’s no surprise then that the 5a still holds up just fine in 2023 and is still one of the best in the mid-range market. It’s also one of the more stable and consistent camera experiences. Its camera app opens much faster than most other budget phones and 90% of the time, the photos you take are going to look great, even if the lighting isn’t perfect. That’s certainly more than many other budget devices can say.

The not so good

The Google Pixel 5a is intended as a phone for basic users and so obviously not everything about it is going to be perfect. Compared to other mid-rangers, it’s a bit expensive for starters. Aside from price, there are a few other downsides worthy of discussion.

Its fast charging isn’t particularly fast

Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

Earlier, we applauded the Pixel 5a for excellent battery life, but big batteries come at a cost. The 4,680mAh battery takes over two hours to charge from zero to 100% with the supplied 18W charger. This is much slower than not only today’s flagships, but several budget options like the Galaxy A53 5G edge it out at least a little too.

Should you care about this at all? In my experience, no, as the excellent battery life makes it less of a concern. But it’s important to remember that if you use this phone all the way to near depletion, charging it won’t be a fast affair. Then again, if you plug in every night, you’ll never even notice this as a major issue.


When the Pixel 5a launched last year, I’d say it was a pretty excellent value since it was priced about $150 less than the Pixel 5. But then the Pixel 6 came out and you could easily buy the Pixel 5 second-hand for much less than the 5a. We also saw more mid-range competitors offering aggressive price tags over the last year.

Currently in mid-2023, the Pixel 5a’s most obvious competitor is actually the Pixel 6a ($449). The newly upgraded phone is priced the exact same but has quite a few improvements. Then we have the Galaxy A53 5G ($449) which is priced the same and in some ways is actually a better phone than the 5a. The A53 5G has a 120Hz display, a longer software support guarantee, and a slightly larger battery (though actual performance is about the same). You also get 25W charging over 18W. If you care about these things, the A53 5G is really tempting. If cameras matter more to you, the Pixel 5a is still the better option.

Google Pixel 5a review revisited: The verdict

When I first started using the Pixel 5a I could really tell the difference from my more expensive Pixel 6, but then I started to slowly forget I was even using a different phone. In most situations, the speeds were similar for day-to-day use, and the size and weight aren’t too different either. That’s a pretty big compliment for a phone that costs $150 less new and can be found even cheaper online at places like eBay and Swappa.

Next: Google Pixel 5a problems and how to fix them

Google Pixel 5a

Google Pixel 5a

Killer battery life • Versatile cameras • Three years of updates

MSRP: $389.99

A budget phone with great cameras

The Pixel 5a takes the winning formula of the Pixel 4a 5G, adds a metal build and water resistance, and drops the price a bit. It’s an affordable phone from Google with an impressive camera system and a great software experience.

See price at Amazon



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