Tag Archives: smart

Apple, Amazon, & Microsoft build data centers around dirty energy

The current explosion in cloud computing offered by major IT companies is driving significant new demand for dirty energy like coal and nuclear power, according to a new report from Greenpeace International.

The report, “How Clean is Your Cloud?” shows a growing split within the tech industry between companies that are taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy, like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who lag behind by choosing to build their growing fleets of data centres to be powered by coal and nuclear energy.

“When people around the world share their music or photos on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst. “Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are building data centres powered by coal and acting like their customers won’t know or won’t care.”

The report research found that if the cloud were a country its electricity demand would currently rank 5th in the world, and is expected to triple by 2020.

“While many IT companies have made great strides in efficiency, that’s only half the picture – they need to make sure their energy comes from clean sources,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst.

Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritising renewable energy access when siting their data centres, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers.

 

keep readingApple, Amazon, & Microsoft choose dirty energy

Kids in 3rd grade are 8 years old and 20% have cell phones

Kids in the third grade are, on average, eight years old. Nowadays, 20 percent of third-grade boys and 18 percent of third-grade girls already have a cell phone, according to a 2011 study of 20,766 Massachusetts elementary, middle, and high school students.

By the time the kids reach fifth grade, 39% of the kids have cell phones, and phone saturation is nearly complete by middle school, when more than 83% of the students have a device.

“Adults — digital natives or not — can’t imagine what a childhood mediated by mobile, social technology that didn’t exist 10 years ago is actually like.”

via The Atlantic

// Photo – Parcel Brat

Apple has staged a massive comeback, stopping Android…for now

In the past three months, Nielsen says, Apple has grabbed a 43% share of the smartphones sold in the U.S.

Android’s share has increased versus a year ago–it still leads the market with 48%–but Android’s share gains appear to have stalled.

Apple’s gains are the result of a few key factors, all of which demonstrate that Apple learned a searing lesson from its failure in the 1990s PC market:

  • In the U.S., Apple has finally broadened distribution of the iPhone to Verizon and Sprint, instead of just selling through AT&T.
  • Apple introduced a “low-price” version of the iPhone.
  • Broadened its distribution channels to major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy.
  • Dominating the global tablet market.

via Business Insider

 

Thx to Nicholas Carson

Useful dog tricks

Presenting, Useful Dog Tricks!! Whoever said tricks can’t be useful? Jesse loves helping around the house, and I just love his happy attitude and smile on his face =o)

Jesse chooses to do the behaviors in this video, and has so much fun bringing smiles to people’s faces. He gets treats for doing his tricks, and enjoys learning new things. Tricks are just one of the activities we enjoy doing together. When not doing tricks, Jesse can be found playing with his cuz ball, chasing squeaker tennis balls, digging in search for lizards, de-fluffing stuffed toys, swimming, and accompanying me on outings.

~Heather and Jesse~

 

Thx to Christina Rollo

Dynamically priced seats – Baseball is using big data to improve ticket sales

“We work with half of baseball right now,” said Barry Kahn, CEO of Qcue, a company that helps teams sell dynamically priced tickets. That’s up from just four teams at the start of last season (2011). In all, 17 of 30 Major League teams will use dynamic pricing this season, according to Ticket News.

via NPR

What is “dynamic pricing”?

From the website of Qcue, an Austin, TX, based start-up:

“50% of tickets are never sold, while 10% are resold for twice the face value”

Dynamic pricing is smart pricing. It considers all the available data points to price tickets more accurately before they go on sale. Once tickets begin to move, dynamic pricing applies advanced analysis to adjust prices based on sales and other measures of shifting demand.

  • Determines what drives sales using variables such as start time, opponents, etc. to set more accurate prices from the onset and maximize demand across the house.
  • Captures opportunity for markups and encourages sales across every section of the stadium.
  • Recognizes shifting values even before fans do by constantly evaluating weather, players, playoffs, promotions, etc.
  • Improves business efficiency and optimizes revenue opportunities through automation of valuable business intelligence.

Sophisticated algorithms analyze real-time sales data and other external factors to generate forecasts based on various pricing strategies.

 

More from NPR

Baseball teams are finally doing what airlines have been doing for decades: changing ticket prices on the fly, based on demand.

At ballparks around the country this year, ticket prices will fall when rain is in the forecast and rise when a superstar comes to town.

From an economic standpoint, the only question is why they didn’t do it sooner. Why not sell seats on the cheap if they’d sit empty otherwise? Why not charge a premium for sellouts?

 

Personally, I’m happy that MLB owners are picking up on this technology, maximizing revenue, cutting into scalpers, even though it may end up in higher ticket prices for me:

They (Qcue) estimate that a team can generate an additional $900,000 in incremental revenue over the course of a season by making one additional change to each of its section prices.

  • Average price change per seat: $1.55 increase
  • Average percentage change per seat: 3% increase
  • Average price decrease: -$13.63
  • Average price increase: $3.27

via The Business of Sports

Great documentary to watch: A Murder of Crows

Crows live everywhere in the world except Antarctica and are a part of myths and legends in many cultures. Their reputation in the stories varies from comical to frightening, godlike or wise, bringers of light and bringers of death, though a “murder” of crows refers to a flock of crows, and not to anything murderous, at all.

They may be all these things, but what we are learning is that they are especially smart. New research has shown that they are among the most intelligent animals on the planet. They use tools as only elephants and chimpanzees do, and recognize 250 distinct calls.

They thrive wherever people live and have used their great intelligence to adapt again and again to a constantly changing world. Some memorize garbage truck routes, and follow the feast from day to day. Others drop nuts in the road and wait for passing cars to crack them open.

via Introduction to A Murder of Crows

The full documentary, which was featured at the 2011 Environmental Film Festival, can be watched online at, A Murder of Crows.

Next Generation Energy

I recently attended a fascinating seminar on emerging technology in energy. Here are some of my notes and thoughts on the next generation of energy:

Energy Harvesting

My favorite new term. It refers to using existing energy sources (solar, wind, geothermal, thermo) and turning them into electricity to feed the grid. Pretty much covers all the new energy sources. Excludes coal, nuclear, etc.

Smart Grid

Apparently, its just a dream.

Obama is pushing it and so is Energy Secretary, Steven Chu. All reasonable folk expect this is to be the foundation of our energy future. Without a modern grid we have no hope of utilizing the latest innovations. It would be like giving jet fuel to a horse drawn carriage.

Future, hah!, says the wizened gentleman behind me. He begins to explain his reaction after telling me he left the business and is only attending this seminar for nostalgia purposes. Suspect. He relates that the grid is already smart on a macro level. Utilities know how to share power, monitor, and get it to needed locations. What we are talking about is the micro level and involves pushing that technology to every city, home, and building. An expensive feat that will probably never result from government or utility spending.

More to be explained on that in following section.

What is a big deal then? Energy storage on the grid. If we are over-producing solar power in hot deserts and wind power at night, where will at all go. Our current infrastructure does not have an ability to use/transport/store this energy supply. If we can figure out a way to get the energy to high population areas then our grid will be smart.

Smart Metering

This is where the real change is happening. Power outlets with remote controls. Home appliances with timers. Motion sensors. Sleep modes for computers.

All of these involve the new energy monitoring lifestyle. They give us an opportunity to take control of our energy use. A lot of us want more and this where smart metering comes into play. Hook up all those devices to a software package and you get data heaven. Charts, graphs, recommendations. This seems to be where the juice is (pardon the pun).

Google is offering a software package, called Power Meter, and partnering with Energy, Inc. Their product, the TED5000, has been flying off the shelves for over a year now. It appears that this version of the smart grid, one that is decentralized and at the individual level will be driving the market for years to come.

PV – Photo Voltaic

The process of converting solar energy into electricity. We all know about this and see it on many roofs. For many years the market has been stuck growing at a snails pace. New investments were needed to make this energy type economical. Now we are starting to see that and many seem to be surprised that the former ceiling of 20% (solar energy to electrical energy conversion) is being broken. Wikipedia tells us (with sourcing) that:

Photovoltaic production has been doubling every 2 years, increasing by an average of 48 percent each year since 2002, making it the world’s fastest-growing energy technology. At the end of 2008, the cumulative global PV installations reached 15,200 megawatts.

Second Generation PV

As the investments ramp up the technological innovation is booming. Folks with pent up projects are finally getting dollars (or more likely Yuan) to operationalize their theories. A big group of these innovations are centered around ultra-thin, low cost solar arrays. Instead of the bulky flat panels we will get complex micro solar panels with interesting features like: solar tracking (panels follow the sun), economies of scale (driving down cost), and mirrors (increasing efficiency through reflecting). Our presenter mentioned that these second generation panels have the capability to drive down costs to match that of nuclear and coal power.

Third Generation PV

This one feels more like a laboratory study than a real consumer product. Still their are companies releasing this on the market and our presenter even said that it is in calculators now. This grouping of PV focuses on the materials used to create solar panels. Searching for organic, nano, and molecular replacements for the raw materials (silicon, cadmium, lithium) that we use now. Definitely a major need since many of the raw materials used for solar panels are rare and sometimes for rogue states.

20% Problem

Touched on this a bit before. It boils down to a maximum reached by first generation solar panels. For many years their maximum solar to electrical conversion was 20%, with 80% lost/wasted. In comparison to coal and nuclear, which are 60-70%, this makes solar 3x as expensive and require 3x as many panels/turbines/etc.

The 2/3rd generation technologies mentioned above easily breach the 20% ceiling. One already at 35% through stacking panels, utilizing off band (UV) rays, and mirrors. I expect it wont be long until that number is doubled.

NIMBY

Not in my backyard. This is representing a real problem. In the coming years we will ‘plant’ thousands of solar panels and wind turbines. Few are happy to have them muddy up their roof or beautiful view.

Even worse this backlash is fostering more support for nuclear power plants. They don’t have to go in your backyard!

I just wish somebody would think long term on this. Nuclear Waste. Nuclear Countries. Nuclear Weapon. Not sure we need more nuclear in our lives, especially if the alternative is just a solar panel.

ARPA-E

Maybe you have heard of DARPA, an uber-advanced military research group that created the internet, builds robots, and many other amazing innovations. the Department of Energy has created ARPA-E which stands for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. A place to conceptualize and test the advanced energy projects of the future.

Wireless Sensors

Wireless sensors presents a massive new industry of tiny sensors that require little energy. They serve a simple function which is to turn on, send data, and shut down. They only turn on when activated and gather a specific amount of data to transmit. After transmission they shut back down.

This allows them to be placed nearly anywhere and even form a mesh network. Activate one sensor that passes data and/or activation signal to the next one. In a few minutes you can have data from thousands of sensors. My brother wrote a dissertation on this using planes as an example. Place a sensor on all critical plane equipment. When the plane lands activate the sensors and get a status report on the plane.

Wireless Electricity

Wireless charging is coming. At the recent CES it was the rage. Consumer products are on the market. An MIT startup, Witricity, has several patents and deals with government, industry, and consumables. Hooray for the day when we are free from our cable jungles.

Graphene

A new material created in the lab with amazingly sophisticated microscopes that can be manipulated into a ridiculous array of uses. The presenter showed it as rope, tires, and even circuits. He passed around prints, stickers, rope, and cardboard made out of graphene. It appears to be the next gore-tex, or material than can be turned into anything. Cheap and moldable. It will be fun to see how this material is used.