Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Canoeing & Kayaking Around Lake Marion and Summerton, S.C.

Canoeing is a paddle sport in which you kneel or sit facing forward in an open or closed-decked canoe, and propel yourself with a single-bladed paddle. Canoeing was once the primary mode of long-distance transportation throughout much of North America.

Kayaking involves the use of a kayak for travelling across bodies of water. It is distinguished from canoeing by the sitting position of the paddler and the number of blades on the paddle. In a kayak the paddler faces forward, legs in front, using a double-bladed paddle. Most kayaks also have closed decks.

When you visit the historic Summerton area and nearby Lake Marion, you will find many waterways to explore in your canoe or kayak, e.g. rivers, creeks, islands, swamps. Key bodies of water to explore in this region include:
* Read about the "4th Annual North Shore Kayaking Race" on Lake Marion.

Selected Information Sources

Annual North Shore Kayaking Race on Lake Marion

Growth of Ecotourism Around Lake Marion and Summerton S.C.

Ecotourism involves visiting fragile, and relatively undisturbed natural areas.  It focuses on socially responsible travel, personal growth, and environmental sustainability.

Ecotourism typically involves travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. It is ideally suited to pristine rural locations like historic Summerton, Lake Marion, and the surrounding area.

When you visit Summerton, Santee, and nearby Lake Marion, you will find many parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, nature trails, and historical sites throughout the area. Check out the following:

Selected Information Sources

* Visit the Summerton SC: Nature & Outdoors web site

AgriTourism is a close cousin to EcoTourism. It may involve things like buying produce direct from a farm stand or local farmers market, navigating a corn maze, picking fruit, feeding animals, or actually staying on a ranch or farm. Read more about South Carolina Farmers Markets and the growing South Carolina AgriTourism industry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Summerton 'Open' Phone Book

Duke Computer Concepts and COSITech.Net have partnered in creating the Summerton 'Open' Phone Book. This is a free web site listing contact information for key Local Businesses, Government Organizations, and Non-Profit Organizations in and around the town of Summerton, South Carolina - with an emphasis on those that already have some form of presence on the Internet.

They decided to build this local web site because some of the online national Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, and the FTC web sites often gloss over local Summerton businesses on their sites -  unless you pay them a fee. In fact, often these sites point to businesses outside the local area, actually guiding visitors away from the town of Summerton, S.C. The creation of the Summerton 'Open' Phone Book is an attempt to rectify this situation.

Take a moment to look at the new web site and let us know what you think. Check out the links to the slowly growing number of web sites or social media pages of local businesses and organizations in Summerton. You might like what you see and decide your organization need to also have an online web site.

If you would like to add your local business or organization to the Summerton 'Open' Phone Book, just send an email to either:

It's time for all local businesses and organizations in Summerton to embrace the Internet. Adding your name, address, and link to your web site in the phone book is free. If you need help creating a web site or setting up a Facebook social media page, just go online and ask one of the business owners who have already done this, or contact Rick Dukes of Duke Computer Concepts (DCC).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Looking for a Job Near Summerton, S.C.

December 2014: Summerton is a small town in rural South Carolina that has become known as a wonderful place to vacation, raise a family, run a business - or retire to, when all is said and done. The deep spiritual commitment and sound family values of its people are reflected in the many churches and close-knit residential communities in Summerton and the surrounding area.

Are you looking for a job in Summerton, S.C., or the surrounding area? There are currently quite a few jobs available nearby in Manning, Santee, Sumter, Orangeburg, etc.  Check out the following links: 
While Summerton retains the feel of a small rustic town, it has also benefited from the creation of numerous new residential and business communities that are continuing to grow up around beautiful Lake Marion.  These are bringing new jobs into the area.
Summerton and Lake Marion are well known across the South for offering a wide range of outdoor recreational activities like camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, kayaking, boating, and golfing to its many visitors. Make sure you visit the Summerton SC: Nature & Outdoor Recreation web site.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dumb Tech Predictions

Here are some more of the dumbest tech predictions from past years, decades, and centuries. Inspired and based on an article previously written by Cody Willard entitled "Some of the Dumbest Tech Predictions of All Times".
  • "The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as 'railroads' ... As you may well know, Mr. President, 'railroad' carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by 'engines' which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed."  -  Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York, 1865
  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876.
  • “Do not bother to sell your gas shares. The electric light has no future.” —Professor John Henry Pepper, Victorian-era celebrity scientist, sometime in the 1870s
  • "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -  Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office, 1878
  • “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” - Lord Kelvin, circa 1895, British mathematician and physicist
  • "That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."  -  Scientific American, 1909
  • “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” — Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
  • “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” — Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921
  • “The problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen, and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it.” − The New York Times, 1939
  • “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night,” Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox, 1946.
  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943.
  • “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most,” IBM executives to the eventual founders of Xerox, 1959.
  • “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18 000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers of the future may have only 1 000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1½ tons.” — Popular Mechanics, March 1949
  • "Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition."  -  Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962
  • "There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States." -  T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, 1961 
  • “I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.” — Jack Valenti, MPAA President, testimony to the House of Representatives, 1982
  • "I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." — Michael Dell's comments about Apple back in October 1997
  • “There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.” - Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) in 1977
  • “No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer. 640K ought to be enough for anybody.” - Bill Gates, CEO and founder of Microsoft, back in 1981
  • "The Internet is just a fad."  -  My boss, the CIO at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) back in 1999
  • “The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model and it might not be successful.” Steve Jobs — Rolling Stone, Dec. 3, 2003
  • “Let’s look at the facts. Nobody uses those things…” - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when asked about Google Android and the future of apps
Have you got some other dumb tech predictions you've run accross to add to this list? Share them with us.

Monday, December 15, 2014

What Ever Happened to the Cantey Bay Plantation Development Plans

What ever happened to all the 'big' talk related to The Beach Company and its plans to acquire and develop the Cantey Bay Plantation and the Summerton Commerce Village in Clarendon County, S.C.

I kept hearing about this and saw numerous news items about it, but... Does anybody have the latest 'true' scoop on what has happened? To be more specific -

There were some big headlines a few years ago about Beach Company plans for Cantey Bay Plantation outside Summerton, S.C. - See Beach nearly done with Cantey Bay planning - Post and Courier

However, when I recently searched for more information on the Internet, what I found was the following ad by The Beach Company plans to sell all the property they had bought. See Cantey Bay Plantation

Some other articles I found on the topic include:

Again, does anybody have the latest 'true' scoop or truth on what has happened? This has major implications for everyone living in Summerton and Clarendon County.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Who's Watching the Machines?

Ever heard of Robo Brain, a system that scours the Internet and teaches other robots how to think. It exists!

Back in 1959, Arthur Samuel defined machine learning as a "field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed". Today, machine learning has become a reality. In fact, machines are now teaching machines. It's no longer science fiction.

Machine learning is currently considered a subfield of computer science and has strong ties to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Hopefully you read the recent article we posted in which the world renowned theoretical physicist Professor Stephen Hawking warning that artificial intelligence could end mankind as we know it.

Machine Learning

Machine learning tasks are typically classified into three broad categories - Supervised learning, Unsupervised learning, and Reinforcement learning. In reinforcement learning, a computerized machine interacts with a dynamic environment without a human teacher explicitly telling it what to do, e.g. driving a car or playing a game.

In the early days of AI as an academic discipline, some researchers were interested in having machines learn from data and their focus shifted from AI to building neural networks. In the 1990s, as the field of machine learning started to flourish, the field began narrowing in on solving problems of a more practical nature - especially with the rapid evolution of robotics and their use in a growing number of industries.

Machines Teaching Machines

Twenty years ago humans were teaching machines how to 'think'. Today, machine learning has advanced to the stage where robots are now capable of teaching themselves how to think - without human input. Ever heard of Robo Brain, a system that scours the Internet and teaches other robots how to think. It already exists!

Machines Now Teaching Humans

If you look around today, you can see machines starting to teach humans how to think and act. Is this good or bad? Should we be concerned? Maybe we should be taking Stephen Hawking's warning to heart and not let scientists and corporations run amuck in this arena.

If you are concerned, maybe you should start to check out some of the latest articles about learning machines and robots.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Time to Seriously Consider Innovative 'Open' Education Solutions in S.C.

Maybe its time we started doing some serious 'out of the box' thinking about our state funded higher education system?

Many states and local communities are struggling with tightening budgets and are looking closely at the public education system as an area where cuts can be made. As we've seen in the news, some Governors think they can save money by cutting teacher pay or taking away their collective bargaining rights. Other states looking at increasing class size, cutting school programs, consolidating schools, and other ways to reduce costs. These approaches may help reduce the budget to some degree, but at what cost to the students and our future.

Many other industries are being dramatically overhauled as new 21st century information technologies (IT) and business models are being put in place. Witness what is happening to the newspaper industry, the music industry, the growing online retail industry, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and other sectors in this 21st century global economy.

The education sector is not immune to the massive changes that are currently underway. Online universities are a reality and are starting to challenge traditional 'brick and mortar' universities of the past. In West Virginia, for example, the state funded West Virginia University (WVU) system is no longer the largest university system. The private, online American Public University System (APUS) now has over 200,000 registered students, more than than the state supported WVU system.

Well known, fully accredited online universities are taking hold all across the country. Witness such well known examples as the University of Phoenix, DeVry University, Capella University, Kaplan University, Walden University, and many more. They offer Associate, Bachelor, and Masters degree programs at prices comparable to state run institutions. Students of all ages can attend classes online even as they hold down jobs in the workforce or are stationed overseas in the military.

There are sound arguments 'pro and con' for maintaining the existing state funded higher education system. Across the state, many of us would take up arms to defend our beloved Clemson Tigers or Carolina Gamecocks. BUT... Bottom line – we may need to have our state government start scaling back its involvement in running state-owned community colleges and universities that operate at a deficit and constantly are asking for more funding from tax payers.

What about taking the first steps to turn over the state-funded education industry to the private sector? Is it past time to do some serious 'out of the box' thinking. The state could partner or contract out to private, for-profit online university systems to offer courses to students across the state, thereby lowering operating costs, reducing state university employee payrolls and retirement programs, and cutting back on expensive projects to build new facilities.

The argument for use of modern information technology and solutions even extends to K-12 state run public schools. Online courses could be offered to students who want to accelerate their education, finish school earlier, and maybe even take online college courses in the junior or senior years to get a jump on their education. Online courses would allow students over 16 years of age, who are hard pressed financially, to work part-time and continue their education and graduate. Online education programs work and are being successfully tested across the country – check out some of these Online Schools.

Aside from privatizing state-funded education systems and moving more towards online education, what about using new information technology (IT) and tool like iPads or Kindle systems to lower the cost of purchasing 'paper' text books. Why not go digital? Even providing these tools for free to students of families that can't afford them will save money. What about having teachers and students using the growing number of free and open source courseware, lesson plans, and many other types of learning and classroom tools. To learn more about them go to the non-profit COSI Open Education web site.

What do you think? Do you have other innovative, 'out of the box' ideas to save costs and improve our state education system? Share them with us.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hike & Bike the Pine Island Unit of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge

Pine Island is one of four management units of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge in Summerton, S.C. The refuge was established in 1941 and consists of approximately 13,000 acres that lie within the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

The Santee National Wildlife Refuge consists of four major units - Bluff Unit, Dingle Pond, Pine Island, Cuddo Unit. The refuge is made up of mixed hardwood and pine forests, freshwater marshes, forested wetlands, waterfowl impoundments, croplands, grassland fields and open water. The refuge protects 39 miles of shoreline along the northern side of Lake Marion that supports a wide range of wildlife.

Santee National Wildlife Refuge is one of 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to preserve a national network of lands and waters for the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, and plant resources of the United States for the benefit of present and future generations. The Refuge System encompasses over 150 million acres administered by the Fish & Wildlife Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Hailed as one of the best birding areas in South Carolina, the Santee National Wildlife Refuge is home to 296 bird species as well as 45 mammals, 54 reptiles, 35 amphibians and more than 100 fish species. The brilliantly colored painted bunting breeds and nests here during the summer months as do many other neo- tropical migratory songbirds.

The Pine Island Unit is very diverse, with wet, grassy fields, lakeside scrub, ponds, marshes, and oak-pine forest. Pine Island provides protection and habitat for American alligators, numerous species of wading birds, nesting bald eagles, several grassland bird species, and is home to thousands of wintering ducks, geese and swans.

In the Pine Island unit of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, you will find plenty of scenic dirt roads and trails suitable for hiking or off-road bicycling. You can observe the wildlife, and also see what is being done to attract and retain wild animals. Fishing and canoeing are permitted here also - but camping and swimming are not.

Habitat Management - Water levels in the refuge are manipulated to create optimum conditions for water birds, wintering waterfowl, and many resident and migratory species. Nest structures are provided for wood ducks and other species in areas lacking available natural cavities. Planting of supplemental crops along with periodic flooding of forested wetlands insures that adequate wildlife foods are available.

Refuge trails and grounds in Pine Island [Savannah Branch] are open daily from sunrise to sunset, from March through October - though it is best to swing by the main visitor center for more up to date schedules and information.

Visitor access on Pine Island is limited to either foot and bicycle traffic only on approximately four miles of trails. A primitive boat launch area is provided for small boats, canoes, and kayaks. A parking area for visitors is also provided.

Santee National Wildlife Refuge: Pine Island Unit on Lake Marion, S.C.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Introduction to 'Open Agriculture' Tools and Resources

Collaboration, Open Solutions, and Innovation (COSI) are the key management strategies individuals and organizations need to embrace and incorporate in their daily lives and business practices in order to compete and succeed in the 21st century. The growing acceptance, adoption and application of these new management strategies is already evident in almost every sector of the economy.

Industries and businesses throughout the world are being revolutionized through the application of these three unique and powerful management strategies. When combined, these COSI strategies create a robust model for accelerating change, achieving significant operational efficiencies, and improving the quality of products and services being provided by public and private sector organizations in the U.S. and other countries.

Collaborative development efforts to create innovative, free and open source software (FOSS) tools, applications, and other solutions for use by individuals and corporations involved in agriculture are also well underway. These innovative 'Open Agriculture' solutions are being released under one or more 'open' licensing or copyright arrangements that allow both public and private institutions to acquire and use these tools at little or no cost. This has tremendous potential consequences for individuals and organizations around the world that face funding challenges.

Find out more about 'open source' software, 'open data', 'open access' information, and 'open communities' and other resources for use in Agriculture, AgriTourism, Farming... at http://Agriculture.COSITech.Net

 Collaboration, Open Solutions & Innovation in Agriculture

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Look Back at Recent Clarendon County Business & Community News

The following are some selected news items from around Summerton, Manning, and Clarendon County showing many of the significant accomplishments and ongoing activities aimed at strengthening the local economy and our communities over the last couple of years.

  • SpiritPharmaceuticals, a maker of generic pharmaceuticals, announced on March 6, 2013, that it would locate its new facility in Summerton. The more than $12.2 million investment will hopefully generate almost 300 new jobs at the former Federal Mogul building on Alex Harvin Highway. Spirit Pharmaceuticals is going to establish a new packaging and manufacturing facility, which will produce a range of generic pharmaceuticals for retailers such as Walgreens, Dollar Tree and CVS. The new plant is expected to be operation in early 2014.
  • Georgia-Pacific’s oriented strand board (OSB) plant is up and running in Clarendon County. The plant held its official grand opening ceremony on April 10, 2013, in Alcolu. About 120 employees were hired in the first six months at the OSB facility, many of whom came from the county and surrounding areas. Georgia-Pacific bought the Clarendon mill in May 2010 from Grant Forest Products as part of a $400 million acquisition that included operating plants in Allendale County and Ontario, Canada. The company spent roughly $30 million to complete construction of the plant. Virtually all of the pine trees they use come from within a 70-mile radius of the plant.
  • AdvantaSoutheast, a maker of reusable-packaging, is locating a new operating facility in Clarendon County. The $3.5 million investment is expected to generate 30 new jobs. Advanta SE will locate in the old LBT Stainless Inc. facility, a 53,000-square-foot facility that will allow the company to streamline its manufacturing process and expand its product line. The company designs and produces reusable packing solutions for a number of clients, including General Motors, Ford, BMW, Lear and Yamaha, among others.
  • SwiftGroup of Industries, a maker of replacement refrigerator filters, has established a new filter manufacturing facility in Clarendon County. The company’s initial investment of $3.5 million is expected to generate 60 new jobs. The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company will settle into a remodeled production facility in the Clarendon County Industrial Park. The Clarendon facility will be the first U.S. operation for Swift Group which plans to move other manufacturing operations from China to the South Carolina plant.
  • Phase 1 of the new wing of Clarendon Memorial Hospital has been completed. The $22.5 million project, which included a 47,000 sq. ft. expansion, is already providing better surgical and emergency medical services to residents.
  • In March 2014, the Starflo Corporation, a William Powell Company, announced it had started construction on a $1 million, 25,000 square foot, distribution center located in the Clarendon County Industrial Park. Starflo is a manufacturer of industrial valves.
  • Four diverse school districts in South Carolina composed of 19 schools have come together in a shared vision and commitment to Enterprise Learning as a means to improve the future for our students. This consortium is comprised of Clarendon County School District 2 (lead), Richland County School District 2, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, and Williamsburg County School District. These districts are committed to working together for the next seven years.
  • Kent International, Inc., a bicycle manufacturer, is making a $4.3 million investment in Clarendon county and will create 175 jobs. They will make 500,000 bikes a year that will be sold in WalMart stores.
  • The Tractor Supply Company is one of the largest operators of 'rural lifestyle' retail stores in the U.S. selling animal care products, livestock equipment, fencing, lawn and garden equipment and supplies, workwear and much more. In October, 2014, they announced that they will shortly be opening a 19,000 square foot store in Manning.
  • The Peak Corporation, a Chinese firm specializing in the design, manufacture and global distribution of an extensive line of automotive lifts is establishing its U.S. operations in Clarendon County. It will be investing $6.6 million in the next five years, creating almost 60 new jobs.
There have been many other key events and accomplishments by many others across the county aimed at strengthening and improving our communities. The 'Great Recession' hit everyone hard, but the future is now looking bright ahead.

Stay abreast of the ongoing news about Summerton, Manning, and Clarendon County, S.C. Be sure to visit the free, online Summerton SC Weekly News Roundup and Manning Times news sites.

Let us know about the many other major accomplishments that are taking place across our community, e.g. new businesses, planned development, new construction, major awards, etc. There's so much going on.