My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: July 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to Cut Glass Bottles to make a Rooftop Garden Wick-Based Hydroponic System

If you’ve read my article on Solar powered Organic Farming in the Geezam blog entitled “Solar Powered Organic Farming – Sustainable Agricultural Development and Jamaica’s Food Security”, you may be thinking that this is a very expensive and labour intensive project to undertake.

But if you’ve built the Solar Desalinator as described in my Geezam blog entitled “How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator” you may by now be starting to get the hang of this DIY (Do it Yourself). Even better, if you’ve upgraded it using the Fresnel Lens as described in my blog article entitled “How to upgrade your Solar Desalinator to a Solar Cooker and make a Solar Foundry for Vacuum Pyrolysis” you will realize that you can do a lot of cool stuff as well as produce a lot of Distilled Water for which you may find difficulty using all at once.

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So why not do a Hydroponics Garden System similar to the ones being done by the Harpers as stated in the article “Herbs: The Healthy Hydroponic Way”, Published Thursday March 22, 2012 by Sacha Walters-Gregory, Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner?

It does indeed have certain advantages that were brought to light by the recent discovery by the Jamaican Police of a Hydroponics Farm in a rented house belonging to the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) in Old Stony Hill Road in St Andrew being used to grow Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) as stated in “High-tech ganja farm found on church-owned property”, published Thursday, June 13, 2013 BY KIMMO MATTHEWS Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

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The video below explains the advantages of a Hydroponic Garden System and its potential to shape Jamaica’s agricultural landscape once it becomes a large-scale practice applied to Greenhouses:

According to the video, there are five (5) main types of Hydroponics Systems:

1.      Ebb and Flow
2.      Nutrient Film
3.      Drip Irrigation
4.      Aerophonics
5.      Wick System

Advantages of Hydroponics Systems in a Greenhouse include:

1.      Soil-less medium means less problems with soil based pathogens
2.      Shorter harvest time for crops
3.      Stable and higher yields crops
4.      Better tasting food as no need for the use of Pesticides and Fertilizers
5.      Higher quality crops as the growth environment is controlled in the Greenhouse.
6.      Allows for the Recycling of Water, thereby mitigating against drought
7.      Eliminates stigma of Farming and has the potential to attract more Millennials (ages 18 to 28) to take up Farming

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In this article, I’ll show you how to make a Wick based Hydroponics System using old Glass Bottles. Glass Bottles are best, as you can control the rates of Evaporation of the Water from the Nutrient Solution.

You’ll need:

1.      100% pure acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol
2.      Bravery like Samson
3.      Cigarette Lighter or Matches
4.      Cotton or Cloth
5.      Distilled Water from your own Solar Desalinator
6.      Glass Bottle
7.      Heat treated Sieved Washed Sand or Fine Gravel purchased at your local Farm Store
8.      Plastic Crates
9.      Seive to sieve out Sand
10.  Solar Desaliator with the Fresnel Lens upgrade as a Solar Pyrolizer
11.  Tub of Ice Cold Water
12.  Water Soluble Nutrient Mix at your local Farm Store (ask and they’ll show ya!)
13.  Yarn

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The instructions are as follows and are as plain as the picture above:

1.      Soak the Yarn in the 100% pure acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol
2.      Wrap it around the Glass Bottle tightly at the point where you want the Glass Bottle to be cut
3.      Light it with the Lighter and spin the bottle around to make sure it burns evenly
4.      Just as the fire goes out, rapidly and suddenly dip the glass bottle into the Tub of Ice Cold Water
5.      The Glass Bottle will Crack perfectly without splinters exactly where the Yarn was wrapped
6.      In the meantime sieve the Sand until you get it as fine as possible. Wash and leave to dry
7.      Use the Solar Desaliator that’s upgraded as a Solar Pyrolizer to cook the Sand. This kills all bacteria in the Sand. Do not directly heat with the Fresnel Lens as this might cause the Sand to fuse.
8.      Leave the now Pyrolized Sand and let it cool
9.      In the meantime Wash out the cracked Glass Bottle and the cracked off top
10.  Mix the Water Soluble Nutrient Mix into some distilled water as per instructions and pour it into the Glass Bottle
11.  Invert the cracked off top end of the Glass Bottle and plug the bottom with Cotton or Cloth
12.  Thread the Lamp Wick through the hole so that it makes contact with the Nutrient solution
13.  Fill with the now Pyrolized Sand
14.  Insert the Plants into the Sand
15.  Place on your Rooftop in the Plastic Crates
16.  Patience like Job as the Plants begin to grow towards the wick that absorbs the Nutrient solution

The secret of the technique is the fact that Glass and other similar ceramics are insulators. The sudden application of heat then cooling causes the molecules to vibrate and thus crack at the point where the heat was applied and removed suddenly. This provides an explanation as to why pouring hot liquid into a cold Glass cup will cause it to shatter.

Here’s a video explaining the above process to make the Glass.

That’s a wrap!

You can use this technique to create an entire Garden or Hydroponic Plants that will grow much faster than regular Plants. Eventually, you can even end up doing your own Herb and Spice Garden, even growing Lemon Grass (Fever Grass) Hydroponically for making Citronella Oil as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to make Environmentally Friendly Citronella (Lemon Grass) Oil for Mosquito Repellant Lotion and Candles”.

No Green Thumb required as you become a Rooftop Gardener and avoid Soylent Green (1973)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

JCCUL get's approval from BOJ to launch their JCUES Mobile Money Platform - JCUES Mobile Money Wolverine marks the Kick-Ass 2 beginning of a Cashless Society

Looks like the BOJ (Bank of Jamaica) like my sob story about JCUES (Jamaica Credit Union e-Payment Services). Why do I say this? Well, the BOJ has now decided on Tuesday July 16th 2013 to approve the JCCUL (Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League) and Mozido Jamaica License for their Mobile Money Platform, making them the first to be so Licensed as stated in the articleJCUES Gets Green Light - First PrivateMobile-Money Licence Granted By Central Bank”, published Friday July 26, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Now JCCUL will become the first Credit Union or Bank to introduce Mobile Money in Jamaica and Mozido Jamaica can get Jamaica as their Guinea Pig to launch into Latin America.

So it’s set. SVL (Supreme Ventures Limited) is interested albeit they haven’t applied to be a Retail Payment Service Providers for any Mobile Money startup as stated in “SVL Boss Sees Growth Prospects In E-Wallets”, Published Friday July 26, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner .

They may soon join GraceKennedy who are definitely interested as noted in GK goes after Mobile Money”, published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

SVL could use it to supercharge smartphone Gaming and Gambling as described in my blog article entitled Supreme Ventures Limited and the JA$232.2 million Super Lotto Winner - Pointer Sister's Automatic”.

And already some new younger entrepreneurs in the guise of co-founders Jason Scott, Kevin Leyow, and Jonathan Cooper have started Blaze Payment to do pretty much the same thing as reported in “Blaze trio aims to revolutionise the way you pay”, published Sunday, July 28, 2013 BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

It’s more like a cross between CreditU and StreetFlex being used to pay for goods than a real Mobile Money Platform with dedicated hardware, Retail Payment Service Providers and Agents. Still it’ll be great for paying for Tickets at parties, another area of business this fledgling startup can target aside from just Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records.

But back to JCCUL’s JCUES!

The License makes JCUES the first Mobile Money Provider under BOJ’s new Electronic Retail Payment Services Guidelines. This is approximately one (1) year and four (4) months after JCCUL originally attempted to launch JCUES as faithfully recorded and explained in my blog article entitledJCCUL JCUES is put on hold by the BOJ - ePayment setback means Mozido has been Bewitchedand it has been quite an adventure for them. Now they have been approved, they can definitely say they are the first to offer Mobile Money Service in Jamaica.

As mentioned in that original article, they’ll be providing a Service that basically allows you to receive Remittances and then spend it using your feature phone or smartphone as well as send small amounts via SMS to someone else. Very similar to the same Mobile Money Services in Africa, Mozido Jamaica's technology is very similar.

Based on the new Guidelines set by the BOJ which had officially taken effect on Monday April 1st 2013 as explained in my blog article entitled BOJ to regulate and approve Mobile Money Industry in Jamaica - JCCUL JCUES is the Man of Steel as GraceKennedy joins The Last Stand for a Cashless Society” and “BOJ stalling on Mobile Money Regulations as new entrants appear - Herald for the Cashless Society as Smartphones and Mobile Money are The Perfect Storm and Curse of Chucky” you’ll receive your remittances via the Credit Union and or in your Credit Union Account linked to a JCUES Account.

You can then opt to withdraw the Money via your Credit union Account or JCUES Account at a Retail Payment Service Providers  or spend it via using Mobile Money by having one of the following:

1.      A JCUES NFC (Near Field Communication) Sticker placed on your feature phone
2.      NFC enabled Smartphone with a JCUES App you download and install to enable the Service
3.      Feature phone or smartphone with Bluetooth, no App Required
4.      Camera phone with QR Code Reader similar to as described in my blog article entitled “QR Codes and Shopping in South Korea - My Science Project for A Virtual Supermarket” to receive Money

NOTE: In the following examples though, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll use the example of a smartphone with NFC reader and JCUES App or Feature phone with JCUES NFC Sticker.

At this point it becomes self Explanatory: wherever there is an NFC reader or another smartphone with a JCUES Account and NFC Reader capability, you can spend Money with them. You can also withdraw Cash from a Retail Payment Service Providers by simply using your phone to verify your Account number and the Agent will pay you the Money you requested.

Very similar to withdrawing Money from ScotiaBank or JNBS (Jamaica National Building Society), both of whom have eliminated the need to carry a Bank Book to the Bank to withdraw Cash as explained in my blog article entitled “JNBS Introduces Swipe and Go, eliminating Bank Books - Secret of Wings for a Cashless Society in Jamaica”.

Deposits via a Retail Payment Service Providers work the same way too using your feature phone or Smartphone. But it’s sending Money across the island where the convenience comes in. I’m sure many a time, your confronted with a situation where you are asked to send someone Money and that person is on the other side of Jamaica, has no Bank Account and worse it’s on a Saturday or Sunday. This can be a case where you as a parent in the country decide to send your child Money at University in Kingston or you met a girl on Facebook and you are trying to send her Money so she can visit you.

Several creative options exist:

1.      Use Mobile or Internet Banking on your Blackberry or Smartphone to transfer them Money to someone you know who has a Bank Account
2.      Going to an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) and depositing the Money via placing it in an Envelope
3.      Sending a Money order via your Remittance Service, which means the person has to go to a Remittance Service Provider who may/may not be open

So add Mobile Money Service to that list. Here’s how it would work:

1.      You’d send a SMS (Short Messaging Service) text composed using special USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service) codes that may be similar to those used in Digicel CreditU to a pre-assigned Gateway number for JCUES e.g. 4447777
2.      The sender then receives a confirmation text from the JCUES Gateway Number with a special unique transaction code and confirmation that the Money has been sent
3.      The recipient then receives an SMS with a confirmation text from the JCUES Gateway Number with a special unique transaction code and confirmation that they have received Money from the sender
4.      The recipient then takes the feature phone with the code or write off the code and carry your GOJ ID to a JCUES Retail Payment Service Providers and you’re given the Cash
5.      If you have your feature phone and it has a JCUES NFC sticker or a smartphone with the JCUES NFC App and is NFC capable, you can use it to withdraw the Money by swiping it at the Retail Payment Service Providers NFC Reader and get Cash
6.      If JCUES is enabled on an ATM via Multilink and you have your feature phone and it has a NFC sticker or a smartphone with the NFC App and is NFC capable, you can use it to withdraw the Money by swiping it at the ATM’s NFC Reader and get Cash

The Mobile Money System work thanks to the ubiquity of cell phones and takes advantage of certain features they may have, that being Bluetooth, Camera, NFC Reader or simply SMS. It then compares the information captured to the Database on the Servers hosting JCUES Platform being run by Mozido Jamaica.

It updates this information in a Bank Account created temporarily for the Recipient in the JCUES Database by the JCUES Platform during the transaction. The sender’s Bank Account or Remittance JCUES Account, which are registered to either the BOJ or a local Commercial Bank is accessed and funds debited and the information is updated in the JCUES Database. This takes mere seconds and the robust JCUES Servers are designed to handles thousands of Transactions every minute error free, another Technical Specification Requirement by the BOJ.

The unique code generated to be used by the Sender and recipient to make each Transaction traceable back to the Bank or Credit Union when sending or receiving Money, a key requirement of the BOJ. Thus all transactions originate and terminate in a Bank Account of some sort, making the person, usually an unBanked Remittance recipient, become a part of the Banked.

The convenience of the JCUES Mobile Money System means that you can now send Money to anyone with a feature phone that can receive SMS, MMS or even email as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to send and receive email via SMS from your LIME or Digicel Feature phone”.

The only qualm is the issue of SIM Card hacking as exposed by Dr. Karsten Nohl as explained in my blog article entitled “Dr. Karsten Nohl reveals GSM Phones' SIM Cards can be hacked via a Text Message - Elysium of Jamaica’s nascent Mobile Money Banking and Cashless Society”, which, really, is more of a Telecoms issues than a Banking one.

At this point I’m awaiting the first tranche of ads in traditional Media as well as Social Media  explaining how JCUEs Services works as well as similar from the other debutantes, who are yet to be Licenses. In the end, JCUES Mobile Money Wolverine (2013) marks the Kick-Ass 2 (2013) beginning of a Cashless Society.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Road Traffic Act will include Licensing Driving Schools and Cellphone Bans - Beware Motorists in Turbo mode of the coming Automated Traffic Ticketing System

Earlier in January 2013 Dr. Omar Davies, Minister of Transport and works had pushed for a more modern Road Traffic Act as stated by the horse’s mouth entitled “Davies pushes for new Road Traffic Act by this year”, published Tuesday January 8th 2013, The Jamaica information Service. He promised the following changes to the Road Traffic Act:

1.      Use of mobile phones while driving
2.      Use of in-car devices such as DVD players and Television
3.      Driving schools and instructors will be required to be certified by the Island Traffic Authority
4.      Driving schools and instructors will be required to adhere to an approved curriculum
5.      Driving schools and instructors will be required to address issues such as defensive driving
6.      Motorists who breach the Road Traffic Act may as punishment, be required to attend refresher classes in order to get back their licenses

Zero tolerance for Road Traffic Offenders is what this basically boils down to as described in “Zero tolerance for traffic offenders in 2013- Davies”, published Tuesday, January 08, 2013 6:25 PM, The Jamaica Observer, with assistance from the following Government Agencies:

1.      JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force)
2.      ISCF (Island Special Constabulary Force)
3.      ITA (Island Traffic Authority)
4.      Transport Authority

Well it’s July 2013 and Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy has now confirmed that they are on schedule to have this revised Road Traffic Act in place before the end of 2013 with all the above in place as stated in the article “Road Traffic Act breaches to attract harsh punishment”, published Saturday, July 13, 2013, The Jamaica Observer. The obvious reduction in Road Fatalities is the aim, as the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing has it in mind to meet the NRSC (National Road Safety Council) target of below 300 road fatalities in 2013. 

This would in the process save some JA$2 billion in health care for victims of Crashes in Government run hospitals and another JA$8 billion in Insurance claims, not to mention countless billions in lost productivity due to persons injured and unable to work.

Hopefully the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing also has plans to team up with the Ministry of National Security and aid in the build out of the islandwide HD CCTV (High Definition Closed Circuit Television) Network in a bid to introduced an Automated Traffic Ticketing System as described in my blog article entitled “GOJ to upgrade NWA's CCTV Traffic Monitoring Network to give Police more eyes in Private Places - The Da Vinci Code for Automated Traffic Ticketing System and 1984”.

This is necessary as if the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing and the Ministry of National Security are to address breaches of the new Road Traffic Act as well as reduce Crime, they’ll have to work together to implement the above HD CCTV Network.

Already the Jamaica Police since the last two (2) years have been using Blackberrys in conjunction with a Blackberry Law Enforcement Database to check motor vehicle documentation and license plates as stated in “Traffic cops turn to smartphones”, published Friday, June 21, 2013 by Balford Henry, The Jamaica Observer.

In fact these Blackberries may in fact be the very same “handheld units” that were being referred to in my blog article entitled “Handheld Traffic Ticketing Units for Jamaican Police a success but no Automated Traffic Ticketing System - GOJ fears the All Seeing Eyes of CCTV”. Apparently a lack of funds or possibly a very good contractual arrangement with Blackberry back in the Fourth Quarter of 2011 mean that the Ministry of National Security had rolled out 550 Blackberrys in conjunction with the so-called Blackberry Law Enforcement Database, with the ticketing success being as achieved.

Whether or not the Jamaican Police can obtain other information using their Blackberry via scanning Open Bluetooth connections emanating from smartphones that may be on their people’s possession is unknown. In fact, the Blackberry Law Enforcement Database may actually be nothing more than the Jamaican Police taking pictures of the vehicle license plates and documents and sending them to the CCN (Constabulary Communication Network) or ITA (Island Traffic Authority) for verification.

What maybe be more possible is that the Jamaica Police may actually have LPR (License Plate Reader) Technology as described in the article “Smile! You’re being photographed by a license plate reader”, published October 10, 2012 By Andrew Couts, DigitalTrends. If not, this too can therefore be incorporated into the HD CCTV Camera Network, thereby aiding the Jamaican Police in capturing both motorists breaking the Road Traffic Act as well as identifying known criminals based on their license plates.

Admittedly the potential for abuse exists as argued in the article “Your car is being watched: Are license-plate readers valuable tools or tattle tales?” published July 19, 2013 by Marcus Amick, DigitalTrends . But with the Jamaican Police being so far behind in terms of technology, an update Road Traffic Act would do well to equip the Jamaican Police with these modern-day crime fighting tools.

This is so that the Jamaican Police can even think to even begin to combat those Motorists who seem to thing themselves above the Law and roam the Streets of Jamaica in Turbo (2013) mode.

Friday, July 26, 2013

How IndieGogo funded VacuVita makes Vacuum Sealing Food for Sous Vide Easy

By now we must be aware of the power of Crowdsourcing to fund virtually any creative venture that most people have always desired to do but just never had the money. If your idea captures the imagination of many like-minded souls out there, they’ll give your money to fund your idea as explained in my blog article entitled “Minister of Health calls for Public Support for ban on Smoking in Public Spaces - How to kill mosquitoes using a Carbon Dioxide Generator Mosquito Trap”.

This time another IndieGogo Project has caught my eye: The VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer as stated in the article “STOP WASTING FOOD AND SAVE THEM IN THIS VACUUM PICNIC BASKET FROM THE FUTURE”, published July 18, 2013 By Natt Garun, Digital Trends which promises to make Vacuum Sealing foods as easy as putting them in an airtight Vacuum sealing container. 

The IndieGogo funded VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer, has passed its initial target of US$75,000 and has reached up to US$281,487 with just five (5) days to go before the funding run close. Check out this interesting and informative video on the VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer

Vacuum Sealing of Food – Quick Primer on a rapidly Expanding Trend

Vacuum Sealing is now the latest trend in Food Storage. Like the SodaStream Soda Maker as describe in my blog article entitled SodaStream At-Home SodaStream Fountain Jet triumphs against Coca-Cola and Pepsi - Fizzy Shakeup coming in the Soda Market as it's obvious that John Dies in the End is set to revolutionize the Packaged Goods and Food Industry. This as it’s giving regular homeowners the power to make ordinary non-processed foods last longer without the need for Chemical Preservatives.

This as by removing air from the bag, it makes perishable foods last longer as there is no oxygen or moisture in container with the food that would encourage bacterial, enzyme or oxidative reactions that cause food to spoil. In addition it makes absorption of fluids by certain foods e.g. raisins soaked in rum or chicken soaked in sauces, occur faster as stated in “Vacuum Packaging”, viewed 27 of July 2013 by Lindsworth Deer, Fantes.

The vacuum Sealing is akin to that found in Outer Space and the food in these Vacuum Sealed containers behave in a likewise manner in the absence of Air and Air Pressure. This list of advantages of Vacuum Sealing ability to remove Air, Moisture, and Oxygen and thus air Pressure is best explained in this list:

1.      Clothing e.g. wool sweaters can be shrunken to occupy minimal storage space and thus keep bugs away
2.      Dry, solid foods, such as brown sugar, won't become hard
3.      Food can be purchased in lower-priced bulk quantities and re-packaged at home into smaller portions.
4.      Foods maintain their freshness and flavor 3-5 times longer than with conventional storage methods
5.      Foods maintain their texture and appearance
6.      Foods that are high in fats and oils won't become rancid
7.      Freezer burn is eliminated, because foods no longer become dehydrated from contact with cold, dry air.
8.      Insect infestation is eliminated
9.      Meat and fish will marinade in minutes when vacuum packaged in canisters
10.  Moist foods won't dry out, because there's no air to absorb the moisture from the food.
11.  Non-food items are protected from corrosion and moisture-damage e.g. antique silverware
12.  Reduced Food Bills because food lasts longer so less spoiled food will need to be thrown away

The premise is fairly simple; the food or other items are placed in a container, usually a Polythene Bag and the air is removed to make it airtight using one of three (3) types of vacuum technologies:

1.      Manually Operated Vacuums
2.      Fan-based Bag Sealers
3.      Electric Vacuum Pump

Manually Operated Vacuums uses a hand-cranked pump, like a bicycle pump and albeit they work, they don’t guarantee a perfect vacuum. Fan-based Bag Sealers are noisy don’t even work; they remove some air but some is left in the bag and are no more effective than placing food in Tupperware.

The VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer belongs to the third more expensive class as can seen from examples of Vacuum Sealers on Best Buy and Amazon and provide far better Vacuum Sealing, but are usually priced out of the reach of ordinary folk.  The VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer is priced at an affordable US$199 with varying prices for the various sizes.

So you have limited time to get in on the action and have your very own VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer for only US$99, with the regular priced being set at US$199 as shown below:

The VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer is an electrically powered device that comes with a larger main unit called a VacuVita and smaller units called Covero that connect to the bigger unit via a tube , thereby providing vacuum to these other containers. An electrically powered unit, it comes in five (5) nice colours I’ve never heard of: 

1.      Caviar Black
2.      Pearl white
3.      Oval Room Blue
4.      Royal Dutch Orange
5.      Taggiasco Olive Green
VacuVita taps into Vacuum Sealing and empowers Organic Food Movement

The last IndieGogo Project I thought was worthwhile enough to write about was the Ontario Canada-based Mind Controller startup Interaxion and their latest Bluetooth-connected Mind Controller, the Muse as described in my blog article entitled “IndieGogo funded Interaxion debut US$199 Muse Mind Controller at Le Web in France - Future Silver Lining Playbook for Gaming that'll Exercise the Windmills of Your Mind”.

It was one of IBM (International Business Machines) top Five Future Trends for the next five (5) years as prognosticated in my Geezam Blog article entitledIBM’s advent of Mind Reading as Samsung patents Astral Projection Tech as the next Big Thingand I’m expecting big things from this company and the trend they’ve helped to start towards Mind-Controller Peripherals. The potential is huge as it relates to helping the disabled and persons in situations where they may be unable to interact via even using gestures with computers.

So here’s to yet another IndieGogo project that’s riding on the popularity of a trend that’ll save you on frequent trips to the Supermarket. It also makes going Organic easy, as you can make ordinary food and clothing items last as long as items preserved by chemical means. VacuVita Vacuum Food Sealer means that We Can’t Stop, Miley Cyrus Style Eating Organic Food.