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June 22, 2009

Ten small steps we can all take to help save the planet

I believe that to save our planet, there’s no need to make big changes in our lifestyles. For example, I happen to be able to fall asleep only in the passenger seat of an idling Hummer. So shoot me :) I like to think I more than make up for it with the small steps I take every day to save energy and end pollution:

I wear a solar-powered watch, saving close to 0.0006 millivolts every week.

Whenever possible, I jump into the same revolving door segment as the person ahead of me, resulting in a vast savings in the exchange of inside air for outside.

Combined shampoo-conditioner saves gallons of water every day. But don’t forget: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

House rule: When the bedroom air conditioner is on, you must take off one of your blankets. No exceptions!

When I leave my computer on overnight, I make sure that it’s showing some non-intensive page, such as the Wikipedia entry for Jerry Lewis, as opposed to the Wikipedia page about the Large Hadron Collider, whatever that is!

I cut down on carbon emissions by taking two in-breaths for every out-breath.

Now when I dream I can fly, I no longer leave contrails.

I’m not a “tree hugger.” That’s silly. Much better: I carve key lines of “The Secret” into them.

Save water! Shower with a friend! For twice as long!

I route my “gray water” directly from the kitchen out into the garden. TIP: To show your support of the environment, do what I do: I dye that dingy water a pleasant green.

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May 11, 2009

Smart and secure grids and militaries

The Wired.com piece I wrote about Robin Chase prompted Andrew Bochman to send me an email. Andy is an MIT and DC energy tech guy (and, it turns out, a neighbor) who writes two blogs: The Smart Grid Security Blog and the DoD Energy Blog. Neither of these topics would make it into my extended profile under “Interests,” but I found myself sucked into them (confirming my rule of thumb that everything is interesting if look at in sufficient detail). So many things in the world to care about!

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March 31, 2009

[f2c] Grids and muni nets

Geoff Daily introduces a panel at Freedom to Connect. [Note: Live blogging. Unedited. Uncorrected. Incomplete. Flat out wrong. Thanks for playing.]

James Salter talks about the Smart Grid. The biggest problems on earth: Over-population and global warming. The second is a subset of the first. James at first thought Al Gore was a hypocrite, but now he’s convinced of the truth of what AG says. (James is a proud Republican.) American residential electric usage has tripled in the past 50 years, and the efficiency has gone down. (Efficiency = peak usage over average usage.) 40% of carbon comes from coal-fired power plants and 33% from cars. Obama says we should get greener by building windmills, etc. But the effective thing he’s doing is installing smart meters. Smart meters are networked. There are 140M lectric meters in the use. Only 6.7M are smart meters so far. He estimates it’d cost $2,500 per house — including fiber to the house — to lower the load factor significantly.

Q: Is fiber required for a smart grid?
A: Nope. But the apps will need more bandwidth over time.

Terry Huval of Lafayette, Louisiana tells about broadbanding the city. In 1998, the Lafayette Utilities System put in fiber for its utilities. In 2000, they were authorized to “establish a wholesale and governmental retail network.” Companies were allowed to resell access to private folks. In 2004, the city proposed fiber to home and business as its fourth utility. But then the “Local Government Fair Competition Act” passed, a bill favoring the incumbents. The Governor stepped in and negotiated a compromise. Then the private telcos successfully sued. In 2005, the public voted 62% in favor of the project. “It was looked upon as a huge benefit to local businesses.” It was viewed as being like electricity. Then, in 2006, tow unknown citizens filed suit. 2007, State Supreme Court ruled 7-0 in favor of the project. The whole process cost $3.5M. In 2009, they’ve started providing retail telecommunication services to residential and smaller business customers, at 20% less than the standard competitor. But the vision is to provide much more than basic TV and phone services. They provide the triple play for $85. For $138 you get 250 channels (including HD) and 30MB up and down Internet. Customers can build their own bundle. E.g., unlimited long distance for $31. Five cents a minute to reach much of the world. He stresses that they’ve listened to the community. So, they’ provide 100Mbps for peer-to-peer, free. “We think it opens up doors for all our citizens and businesses.” They enable Net access through your TV if you don’t have a computer. It’s limited, but they can Google… People love the service overall and consider it, proudly, to be “ours.”

Q: [bob frankston] Among the triple play, which funds what?
A: TV is the driver.

Q; [Todd of the Utopia project in Utah] Will you wholesale access to the network so that others can be ISPs.
A: No. At least not until our bonds are paid off.

Q: [brett glass] Where does Lafayette get its backbone connection?
A: AT&T and Quest, about $50-60/Mbps. It’s an over-subscription-based model. You assume you won’t have all of your sources using all of your resources at the same time.

[Terry now plays Cajun fiddle and sings. Awesome.]

Geoff Daily makes a quick announcement of a new alliance: “All Americans deserve equal access to the best broadband. The best broadband is fiber.” [I couldn’t get the URL. Sorry.]

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March 6, 2008

Carbon-based computing

From a presentation I heard this morning. I didn’t catch the attributions:

2.1% of worldwide power is used by data centers

The power consumed by Google’s servers could power Chicago for a year, and equals the carbon sequestering of 250,000 trees.

Apparently, Dole puts a code on its produce that you can enter into a Web page to see a Google Earth image of the farm that produced it

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