Ken Novak's Weblog
Purpose of this blog: to retain annotated bookmarks for my future reference, and to offer others my filter technology and other news. Note that this blog is categorized. Use the category links to find items that match your interests.
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Ken Novak's Weblog

daily link  Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Biofuels via cellphone:  "More people would be likely to refuel with biodiesel if they knew where to find a filling station .. NearBio delivers a database of more than 1,000 biodiesel sellers to mobile phones via WAP (wireless access protocol) or text messaging. The free applet and service from WHDC of Nevada City, CA, provides driving directions, the phone number and the blends available at the five closest locations.

Since most of the diesel engines in the U.S. are inside of trucks, truck drivers who can factor biodiesel stations into their routes are the most likely beneficiaries of this service. The number of biodiesel stations is increasing rapidly and NearBio says it will add new locations within a day. "

  11:01:21 AM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Taking the Measure: IT and Energy:  I've heard these numbers verbally before, but not online; I've asked the author for the reseach citation.  "According to researchers at MIT, less than 1 percent of all commercial and industrial companies use advanced technology to measure and manage energy spend. On the other hand, nearly 100 percent of companies use advanced technology to measure and manage telecommunications spend.  Now consider that, according to the MIT researchers, the U.S. spend in electricity is about $270 billion per year while the U.S. spend in telecommunications is about $125 billion per year.

Does your company know down to the fraction of a minute how your telecommunications bill is derived?  Probably, and you can probably produce pages of reports showing spending by person, department and project. .. Can you also break out by building, department, project and individual worker how your electrical bill is derived? Or your heating bill? Or your air-conditioning bill? I doubt it, but that is where your next round of cost savings resides."
  3:21:11 PM  permalink  

Site Controls:  Another network-based energy management company, this one based in Texas. "Site Controls provides on-demand energy and asset management solutions that increase profitability and improve the environment through energy efficiency.  The company’s flagship platform, Site-Command™, was specifically designed to address the unique needs of Retail, Restaurant, and Convenience Store operators who seek to profitably deliver a consistent and compelling customer experience. By providing persistent real-time access, visibility and control over thousands of assets and sites nationwide, Site Controls helps customers create that compelling customer experience while simultaneously reducing emissions, saving money, and improving business efficiency.

Site-Command remotely monitors, logs, and controls HVAC, lighting, outdoor signage, refrigeration, and other major in-store energy consumers, online and in real-time. And, Site-Command features an intuitive, user-friendly, interface, accessible from any web-browser, or web-enabled PDA, minimizing IT overhead and ongoing support. Site-Command will deliver cash on cash payback within 18 to 24 months of install. ROI is further accelerated by utility rebates, which Site Controls manages on your behalf."
  2:43:53 PM  permalink  

Strong Angel 3 lessons:  This year's Strong Angel exercise has received extensive coverage.  An excellent long summary is provided by Sanjana at his ict4peace blog.  The linked magazine article provides a few tech takeaways:
  • "Perhaps the most popular technology used during Strong Angel was the Fossil Abacus smart personal object technology (SPOT) watch. This is a wristwatch with an embedded FM radio receiver designed to receive text messages. Although the watches are primarily intended for personal use, a portable and configurable FM transmitter with a 50-mile radius allows the devices to operate in areas without infrastructure, power or Internet connectivity. Messages can be sent to selected groups of SPOT wearers, such as police, fire department personnel and National Guard troops. ..
  • [Also popular were] satellite dishes manufactured by GATR Technologies, Huntsville, Alabama. The dishes resemble oversized beach balls and are available in several sizes. The smallest antennas weigh 70 pounds and provide a two-megabit-per-second Internet connection. ..
  • Route 1 Incorporated, Toronto, Canada, provided all of the event’s participants with a device called a Mobikey. Roughly the size of a data stick, it fits into a computer’s universal serial bus port to create a virtual private tunnel from any terminal or computer that users are operating in the field back to their organization’s server or personal desktop. ..
  • One assumption that was quickly dispelled was that wireless Internet connectivity could be easily established. “Everybody showed up with a Wi-Fi [wireless fidelity] router and nobody could get online,” [Microsoft's] Kirkpatrick shares."
  9:58:20 AM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, November 27, 2006

VMware Reporting Huge Growth in 3Q 2006:  "The company's revenue continues to climb. For the first half of 2006, VMware reported its revenue as $288 million. Compare this to the annual revenue recognized in 2005 - $387 million, 2004 - $218 million, and 2003 - $100 million, the growth is staggering.  [approx 6x in 3 years.]  More than 20,000 companies now [use] VMware technology, including 99 of the Fortune 100 companies"
  12:19:36 AM  permalink  

Server Virtualization Becoming Norm:  "Server virtualization no longer has the same cache it did a year or two ago. And the reason is simple: Now that everybody is starting to do it, there is nothing to boast about. According to IDC, more than three-quarters of companies with 500 or more employees use virtual servers, and 45 percent of all new servers purchased this year will be virtualized."

  12:16:26 AM  permalink  

daily link  Sunday, November 26, 2006

CBC News: The Denial Machine:  Nov 2006 Canadian TV documentary:  "The Denial Machine investigates the roots of the campaign to negate the science and the threat of global warming. It tracks the activities of a group of scientists, some of whom previously consulted for for Big Tobacco, and who are now receiving donations from major coal and oil companies.  The documentary shows how fossil fuel corporations have kept the global warming debate alive long after most scientists believed that global warming was real and had potentially catastrophic consequences. It shows that companies such as Exxon Mobil are working with top public relations firms and using many of the same tactics and personnel as those employed by Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds to dispute the cigarette-cancer link in the 1990s. "
  11:22:06 PM  permalink  

Record-Breaking Governance Prize Launched:  Great idea: reward leaders to leave office peacefully.  "Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced today a $5 million annual prize for African leaders who were elected fairly, improved their country's standard of living, and handed over power peacefully to the next elected government.

Recipients of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership will get $500,000 a year in their first 10 years out of office, and $200,000 a year for the rest of their lives. The prize will be the world's most generous award, according to the foundation. .. [Ibrahim] hopes to make the first award by the end of 2007.

The prize's selection committee will choose winners with the help of a governance index that is being developed by Dr. Robert Rotberg at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. The foundation will spend about $500,000 a year to develop and update the index. ..

Rotberg told AllAfrica that most existing measures rely on interviews and other forms of documentation for comparison, but that he will use only quantifiable, objective measures. For example, in measuring changes to the national infrastructure, the index may count the miles of paved road in a country. To measure political freedom, team members may identify the number of journalists or opposition leaders held in prison. ..

Ibrahim said his financial models assume that leaders will live 25 years after leaving office, making the estimated net prize worth $8 million. With new winners being added each year, the cost to the foundation will quickly rise into the tens of millions, but Ibrahim said .. "We are fully funded. We are not seeking money from anybody."

Much of Ibrahim's personal fortune comes from last year's sale of his African telecommunications company, Celtel, to Kuwait's MTC for $3.4 billion."
  11:18:45 PM  permalink  

WorldChanging book and book tour:  I've been a fan of the blog for years, and now it's a book, complete with big city book tour.  Bravo!
  11:11:42 PM  permalink  

daily link  Tuesday, November 21, 2006

d y n e : b o l i c -- a free multimedia studio in a GNU/Linux live CD: "You don't need to install anything, you don't even need an harddisk .. Download the ISO-image, burn your own CD, reboot your machine and you'll get back true love ;^)

dyne:bolic is shaped on the needs of media activists, artists and creatives as a practical tool for multimedia production: you can manipulate and broadcast both sound and video with tools to record, edit, encode and stream, having automatically recognized most device and peripherals: audio, video, TV, network cards, firewire, usb and more; all using only free software ..

It is optimized to run on slower computers, turning them into a full media stations: the minimum you need is a pentium1 or k5 PC 64Mb RAM and IDE CD-ROM, or a modded XBOX game console - and if you have more than one, you can easily do clusters.

dyne:bolic is RASTA software released free under the GNU General Public License. This software is about Digital Resistance ina babylon world which tries to control the way we communicate, we share our interests and knowledge." Integrating many multimedia tools, running with minimal system installation, doing automatic clustering for quick render farms: sounds real interesting.
  11:51:39 PM  permalink  

Hackers Use Virtual Machine Detection To Foil Researchers:  Funny benefit for users of virtual machines -- if you run a vm, increasing amounts of malware will refuse to run. "Hackers are adding virtual machine detection to their worms and Trojans to stymie analysis by anti-virus labs, a security research said Sunday. The tactic is designed to thwart researchers who use virtualization software, notably that made by VMware, to quickly and safely test the impact of malicious code. .. "Three out of 12 malware specimens recently captured in our honeypot refused to run in VMware," said Lenny Zeltser, an analyst at SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC) in an online note Sunday.

Malware writers use a variety of techniques to detect virtualization, including sniffing out the presence of VMware-specific processes and hardware characteristics, said Zeltser. "More reliable techniques rely on assembly-level code that behaves differently on a virtual machine than on a physical host," he added. "
  4:55:43 PM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, November 20, 2006

E3 BioFuels: "E3 BioFuels Genesis plant "will begin production in December 2006 at Mead, Nebraska, as the first-ever closed-loop system for distilling commercial quantities of ethanol using methane gas recaptured from cow manure, instead of fossil fuels. This virtually eliminates the need for fossil fuels in the production of ethanol.  [The plant] combines a 25-million-gallon ethanol refinery, beef cattle feedlot, and anaerobic digesters to maximize energy efficiencies unavailable to each component on a stand-alone basis. This system eliminates the potential for manure to pollute watersheds, and it enables the wet distillers grain from ethanol production to be fed on-site to cattle without energy-intensive drying and transportation costs. [CEO] Langley said. "This plant will make ethanol more than twice as energy-efficient as any other method of producing ethanol or gasoline.""  Seems a promising combination of biogas with liquid biofuel production.  A major failing of today's ethanol production is the reliance on natural gas for process heat, so that ethanol produces only 20% less greenhouse gas than gasoline.  By feeding the distillers grain byproducts of ethanol production to cows, and converting the cow dung to gas for process heat, the GHG savings are much higher.  The company plans to build ethanol plants at existing feedlots.  It helps that these commercial feedlots are under pressure to clean up their cow dung processing; that corn is already transported in volume to the feedlot; and that the distillers grain byproducts of ethanol production can be used onsite without transportation.  (See also Verasun's plans to use distillers grain to produce biodiesel, may also improve the GHG balance for ethanol.)
  11:27:46 PM  permalink  

daily link  Monday, November 06, 2006

Microsoft debuts virtual appliances:  Following VMware's lead in promoting software appliances, Microsoft is promoting the idea among its third-party developers for its Virtual Server VHD (virtual hard disk) format.  "More than twenty Microsoft partners have already committed to distributing software via VHD Test Drive Program by the end of the year, including Altiris, BEA Systems, Check Point, Citrix, CA, CommVault, Dell, FullArmor, HP, Network Appliance, Platespin, Portlock, Quest Software, SourceCode Technology Holdings, Symantec and UGS."  I wonder how Microsoft will finesse the licensing of their operating system in this format.
  10:29:34 PM  permalink  

For PG&E customers, it pays to virtualize:  A major California utility creates an incentive for saving energy through server consolodation with virtualization.  "They said the company had recently approved a three-year, $950 million plan whereby PG&E will reimburse 50% of the costs of a server consolidation project, including software, hardware and consulting, up to a maximum of $4 million per customer.

"We will calculate the energy consumed by existing servers and subtract the difference in the energy consumed by the new servers," said Randall Cole, senior project manager for PG&E's Customer Energy Efficiency program. "Then we'll pay 8 cents for every kWh saved over the first year of the server virtualization implementation."  Electricity rates for PG&E's non-residential customers currently stand at 12 cents to 15 cents per kWh.  ..

What's in this incentive plan for PG&E? The motives are fairly obvious: "We don't want to build any more power plants," said Bramfitt. At the same time, "regulators have told us loud and clear that we need to meet certain energy efficiency goals," he said. "We want customers to save energy, and we will pay them to do so." ..

"Virtualization isn't mainstream yet, and once it ramps up, I'm not going to incent it anymore," Bramfitt said. "But, in the meantime, I'm going to do whatever I can to light a fire under peoples' butts.""  Nice to see a coincidence between my interests in energy efficiency and my main work in computers.  And I wish I knew more about how the electric utilities are regulated in California, so they make money with this program, compared to other states where they do not.
  10:25:11 PM  permalink  

daily link  Saturday, November 04, 2006 has a national marketing partner:  Good to see that they are reaching larger audiences through partnerships.  In this case, Working Assets is not only advertising to their membership, but offering a matching grant of approximately 25%.
  11:11:15 PM  permalink  

The Young and the Generous: A Study of $100 Million in On-line Giving:
  "On September 3, 2006, Network for Good processed its 100 millionth dollar in [online] charitable donations. .. The median age of donors at Network for Good is 38, .. significantly younger than off-line donors, who tend to be 60+ according to most studies. ..  Whether due to income levels, the impulsive nature of on-line giving, or the credit card effect, on-line donors give significantly more than off-line donors.

About 40 percent of giving through Network for Good was in December, when, just as off-line donors, on-line donors do most of their giving because of the holidays and the end of the tax year.  About 30 percent of giving was in response to disasters. ..

At times of disaster, donors tend to give to large, familiar organizations such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. But when humanitarian crises are removed from the equation, it is clear that smaller organizations play a big role in on-line giving. This is not the case off-line. In the nonprofit sector, a small number of large organizations (in terms of annual revenue) account for 1 percent of the organizations but the lion's share of charitable giving. But at a giving portal such as Network for Good, where donors can choose from more than one million charitable organizations, smaller organizations benefit. Similar to the long tail phenomenon at Amazon, where bestsellers may sell many copies but not as many as the sum total of niche titles, Network for Good found that most giving goes to smaller, "niche organizations" rather than big-name organizations."
  11:08:13 PM  permalink  

daily link  Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Carbon Emissions Offset Directory:  Useful comparison chart of carbon offset vendors.  Cost ranges from $5/ton from US sellers to $30/ton top price in Europe.  Sources of carbon offsets (Chicago Climate Exchange, green-e, European projects, reforestry, etc.) are listed.
  2:52:22 PM  permalink  

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