September 6th, 2008

The money

What do YOU know about money? That it is created by the government? That if we all get rid of our debts, economy would be booming, as would have more to spend? That the equivalent of the money supply is kept in gold at Fort Knox? Wrong, wrong and wrong. And I meant not a little bit wrong, I meant 180 degrees totally wrong on all accounts. In this era of allowing or even actively giving crooked corporations and banks more and more power, this should be disturbing. Tell you what? It is very disturbing. Get yourself educated on serious money in 48 minutes. You will feel educated, flabbergasted and stunned, I promise.

I sent this to my financial advisor and well, it is his profession, not mine. He felt the same way. A very inconvenient truth.

June 29th, 2008

The sharing

I try to be a little bit energy-consumption aware. Squeeze out the most mpg as possible, switch off appliances on standby, etc. Still, computer stuff being my profession, lappy runs most of the day and evening. And yes, I do switch it off when I go to bed and slam the lid (=standby) when I expect to be away for a while. But still, the thing is working it’s butt off when I am actually doing things on it, but it’s idling most of the time still. The cpu usage shown is what the task manager was recording while I was actually typing this blog post: about 1% is time the chip is actually working for me.

Before

So, I installed BOINC again (what used to be seti@home for those who remember) and dedicate all that idle time to the world. The only issue left was what project to donate it to. I decided not to go for SETI (the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, even if I wholeheartedly support their cause, but instead join the World Community Grid, together with a small 400.000 others. This is a sort of meta-project, doing the selection and infrastructure for causes that benefit directly to humanity.

World Community Grid supports research that is:

  • Focused on solving problems to benefit humanity;
  • Conducted by public or nonprofit organizations;
  • Contributed to the public domain; and
  • Accelerated by grid computing technology.

Research projects that benefit from grid technology are those that perform computations that require millions of computer processing units (CPUs) and that can be divided into smaller independent computations.

Examples of potential fields of study include:

  • New and existing infectious disease research – development of treatments for HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), etc.
  • Genomics and disease – functions of proteins that are coded by human genes and how they might relate to cures for common diseases
  • Environmental research – meteorology and severe weather warning, pollution, remediation, climate modeling, and others
  • Natural disasters and hunger – earthquake warning, information on improving crop yields and livestock production, and evaluation of the supply of critical natural resources such as water

Go there to join, put that wasted electricity to work. And if you like, you can join the small team I am inĀ  “Lotus Notes and Domino Support”. Here’s how my cpu usage looks now. I’ll probably write more about sharing, and less about political outrage, but who knows what happens.

After

ps: Yes, I do know lappy now even uses a tad more energy as the cpu uses less when idling, but that tiny offset more than compensates in my opinion the gift of 99% of my cpu cycles.

March 17th, 2008

The water bottles

I praise the city of Seattle. They imposed a ban on bottled water. What a simple and yet fantastic idea. I don’t know how plays out legally, but for any place with a good water supply system, it should be a grand example. In my country, the controls for the quality of water are much strickter on tap water than on bottled water.

I often carry a bottle of (tap) water, but I should also stay away from the coolers-with-a-container. Noted. Will do.

Thanks Envirovore.

January 23rd, 2008

The global warming

While still debated, the European commission has launched a bold carbon dioxide reduction plan. From New scientist (snippet):

Plans which would make Europe a world leader in tackling climate change and renewable energy policy were released by the European Commission on Wednesday.

The proposal describes how the European Union can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The package has been called “brave” by the Dutch environment agency and has been welcomed by the UK government, which says the package will give industry the secure framework it needs to build a low-carbon economy. (…)

Now don’t start cheering yet. The largest party in parliament (Christian Democrats) responded “they need to study the plans carefully to determine if this is indeed a good plan” that b.t.w. will cost each European citizen approximately 3 Euro’s (a tad over $4) a week. That is jargon for opening the gates for industry lobbyists and governments, who will both desperately try to lower the standard, one reason being “others don’t either”, read US, China, India.

January 12th, 2008

The everest climber

Short video by National Geographic about Sir Edmund Hillary, first (official) conqueror of Everest.

January 10th, 2008

The plastic bags

China wil ban the use of thin plastic bags starting July 1st, and forcing payment for thicker sheet bags. In China alone 3 billion of these bags are used annually creating a monstrous and basically unnecessary pollution problem. Good measure. I heard Australia wants to follow the initiative.

I always refuse bags when I shop and have done so for ages. Some shops stuff your stuff in one, even if what you are taking is one small item. I wonder what the rationale is for that. These thin bags are usually unprinted so there is no commercial value and one can hardly claim it is a gesture for the client. And why do people mindlessly accept them? My hunch is that it is a combination of “auto-pilot” behavior on both sides of the transaction, as well as a subconscious privacy thing.

December 26th, 2007

The oil case

This TED talk is funnily enough entirely spoken from a US-selfish point of view. The already old presentation (2005) makes a scientific-economical, peer-reviewed case to get entirely rid of oil dependence for transport in a couple of years time, without major governmental influence and actually gaining (American) jobs. Not that the barrel price back then was $26, not the $80+ range we’re seeing today. It is a compelling proposition, and what it did to me is showing at least the real feasibility. Having said that, there is still, 2.5 years later no way for me to buy a truly fuel efficient car (Toyota Prius) here unless I cough up at least $42.000, and that is NOT the sort of car this guy is talking about.

October 25th, 2007

The world solar challenge

My country won the World Solar Challenge this week. Wikipedia:

The World Solar Challenge is a solar powered-car race over 3021 km (1,877 miles) through central Australia from Darwin to Adelaide. The race attracts teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by universities or corporations although some are fielded by high schools.

Added: a link to a cnn report.

July 26th, 2007

The oil on the ice

Told you about miro the other day. In one of my channels, called TERRA: The nature of our world, it started download the struggle between oil and nature in Alaska. You can play part 1 it here directly from their website but I recommend using miro and use this channel (shortcut: hit Ctrl-N and paste this string: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Terravideos )

Terra 333

March 10th, 2007

The energy connections

In what I think is a bold move, most European leaders under leadership of CDU forewoman Angelika Merkel, agreed on a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by the entire EU by 20% in 2020, measured from the marker year 1990. That is quite a challenge and I believe the means to achieve it are somewhat dubious: France bets heavily on nuclear, the Netherlands on CO2 injection in the depleted gas fields. But at least we are getting somewhere and it seems environmental issues can’t NOT be on any political movement’s agenda anymore.

At the same time, after staring at his belly button on Iraq for 5 years, president Bush is now on a 7 days “charm offensive” in South America. The same South America which has heavily distanced itself in the last decade from the US. And of course he is only visiting the countries that have chosen “the right way” (“right” being allowed to be dual-interpreted here), in an attempt to minimize Chavez influence in the region. Interestingly enough, the “wrong” countries are the ones having oil. And the one country that REALLY matters (Brazil) was praised on their use of ethanol, thank you thank you that we can kindly use your technology, but at the same time, US ethanol import taxes will not be lowered, to protect US corn farmers.

note: Of course there was a Belgian a$$hole minister chartering an army helicopter to bring him to the showing of Al Gore’s movie (2000% more emissions than a car) and Barosso, the EU chairman, drove in his SUV to the conference, showing word and action are easily separated in politicians peoples minds.

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