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Can a Blackberry help save the environment?

Posted by admin on Nov 26th, 2008
2008
Nov 26

That may be a bit of an overly optimistic question, but let me explain. I guess in a technical sense that a Blackberry can be considered a “computer”, but it’s hard to think of something that fits in the palm of my hand as such. I first started using a Blackberry at my last job – as the oncall company phone – but haven’t really explored its capabilities until recently. And there are plenty of capabilities it can provide – so much so that I could even forsee using it for as much as 75% of my non-work computing, and possibly even as much as 25% of my work computing. Therein lies the possibility of the Blackberry being green for me.


In my off hours I mostly use a laptop for email, web browsing, and blogging. For work I use a desktop for a lot more than that, of course. I have found that there are a lot of tools available for the Blackberry that can accommodate many of these tasks in at least a basic form. For example, I downloaded and installed the Google mobile tools, which will sync my Gmail and Google Calendar automatically, allows me to check news feeds, gives me easy access to my Google docs, and many other things. I also configured the built in Blackberry email client to check my work email automatically. I installed MidpSSH to use to connect to work and home servers – which is a bit tedious but very effective when I’m not around a computer and an emergency comes up. I’ve also used the IM client which works with Yahoo, MSN, GTalk, and a couple of others. Another great feature is the phone is WiFi enabled, which will help to speed up downloads and page loads when surfing the web when I connect to my access point at home or at a hotspot.


Our cell phones are so customizable these days. What all this means, for me, is that I could power off my computers a lot more and not be disconnected from many of the things I need or want to do. Here’s something to consider – when someone seems to be addicted to their “Crackberry” maybe they are actually helping the environment by cutting back on greenhouse emissions? Hmm.


There are a lot of tools out there for our phones, and not just Blackberrys, that can free us up from being stuck behind a desk. What tools/applications do you use on your phone?


Minor solar oven setback

Posted by admin on Nov 21st, 2008
2008
Nov 21

A little over a week ago we had a few days of high winds, high temperatures, and lots of devastating fires. It seems that the people who live in the north and eastern hills of the valley are always being ravaged by wild fires. Being in the valley it is always a concern that we might be affected by the fires and have something happen to our home as well, but since our house has been standing since 1952 without (fire) incident then I feel relatively assured that we are safe. If we could only find a way to immune ourselves from earthquakes….


Unfortunately my solar oven suffered a bit of a set back due to the winds, but it should be fixable with some spare Plexi-Glass I have from a previous experiment. I should be able to use it as a replacement if I so choose to use the same window frame.


High winds and an unstable bike next to glass = not a good thing

High winds and an unstable bike next to glass = not a good thing


Idle power control – phase 2 complete

Posted by admin on Nov 18th, 2008
2008
Nov 18

So phase 2 of the idle power consumption testing is complete, and with some surprising results. It seems that the X10 appliance module didn’t consume hardly any electricity going by the Kill-a-watt numbers. Unfortunately the time measurements aren’t exactly the same, but they are close enough to get a fairly conclusive result.


phase 1 test results (XBox plugged into an outlet):
Test hours = 172
kW used = 0.30

phase 2 results (XBox plugged into an X10 module):
Test hours = 168
kW used = 0.30


If I had let the test run another 4.5 hours to mimic the phase 1 test then it *might* have added another 0.01 or 0.02 kW maximum. So the overall consumption of the X10 module is actually, and surprisingly, negligible.


Phase 3 will involve the XBox plugged into the X10 module, and the module will be turned off for several hours a day to see how much electricity is actually conserved. It is starting to look like it will be more than I initially expected, at least going by the phase 2 results.

Fun use of an old incandescent

Posted by admin on Nov 13th, 2008
2008
Nov 13

I came across this video today of what someone did with an old incandescent light bulb and was intrigued. I just had to share it. It may not always be much more enviro-friendly, depending on the fuel used, than using the bulb to light your home, but it is a pretty neat trick – and it looks like a fun way to recycle them.



Incandescent Lamp Hack!Click here for another funny movie.


The great water controversy

Posted by admin on Nov 13th, 2008
2008
Nov 13

About a week ago I put up a poll asking what would be the best way to contain your morning beverage at work. The results so far haven’t been too widely spread, but since there isn’t really anything scientific about the poll, I thought I’d go to an expert and ask them. Who do I turn to when I have a question? Why Ed Begley, Jr. He has an “Ask Ed” section on his site. Well, this is the response I got back:


“Ceramic mug – just don’t WASTE the water when you wash it out. Water a house or office plant with it. do something with the water to not waste it and you have a win-win. ed”


Okay, I can respect that, and that’s *kind of* the answer I expected. The problem I have with the response is that there are limited uses for “gray” water in the office. The plants, which there are very few of in our office, are maintained by a professional service. If even a quarter of the people started using their gray water to water the plants we’d probably kill them from over watering. I’m trying to think of other uses for the water in an office, but I’m drawing a blank. I am slowly starting my plant collection at my desk, but that will take some time for them to mature. Once that happens though, then I will definitely use as much of the water as I can. In the mean time, my coffee cup will just have to continue looking like this:


What can you do with the gray water produced by washing out your cup at the office?

What can you do with the gray water produced by washing out your cup at the office?



In the mean time, the poll is still up and running, so feel free to submit your vote!

Green kid cuisine

Posted by admin on Nov 11th, 2008
2008
Nov 11

Looking for some good food alternatives to feed your offspring? Here’s a site that has some quick, easy, and healthy vegetarian alternatives to hamburgers or canned soup.


I suppose I should divulge it was written by my wife back when she went vegetarian for a while. She still keeps her pledge to keep “pork off your fork”, but she just couldn’t give up chicken.

What is a fuel cell?

Posted by admin on Nov 11th, 2008
2008
Nov 11

We hear about them all the time in all types of mediums. “Fuel cells are the future!”, “fuel cells will save the environment”, “fuel cells are…” well – where are they? Better yet, what *exactly* are they? If we pay any attention to the media at any level then we all have, at least, a very basic understanding of them. They are some type of container that holds a water like solution that reacts with hydrogen molecules to produce (dc) electricity. We also know that the only supposed byproduct of the process is water.


In my quest to learn more about fuel cells I came across some interesting web sites, two of which stood out above the rest in value in my opinion. One explains what a fuel cell is in basic terms, and the other is a product which enables people to build their own fuel cell vehicle (toy sized, of course) to learn about the whole process. Pretty cool stuff. I’m saving my money for the car kit!

Idle power control – phase 1 complete

Posted by admin on Nov 11th, 2008
2008
Nov 11

After a week (172.5 hours to be exact, or 7 days 4 hours and 30 minutes) I finally have my results of my phantom power test. The total phantom power used in that time was 0.30 kW total – or 300 watts, almost 1/3rd of a kilowatt. Here’s more math for you:


Hours in a year = 8736.00
Test hours = 172
kW used = 0.30
8736 / 172 = 50.79 time measurement units
50.79 x 0.30 = 15.24 kW of phantom power used in one year by the XBox


As of 1am PST on Nov. 11th, I’ve got the X10 appliance module plugged into the Kill-a-watt, the XBox plugged into the appliance module, and the module is “on”. I’ll need to figure out a good way to power on and off the module. I have two basic options. I can manually use the X10 remote used with the modules and turn off the unit before I go to work (@8:30am), and then turn it on after I get home (@around 8:30pm). The other option is to put my laptop out in the garage (where the test is being conducted), and set up a cron job to automatically turn the module on/off. I’m leaning towards the laptop option, but I’m not certain yet.


The main purpose of this part of the test is to see if using the module to totally cut power to the XBox actually saves any electricity or if the module itself will use as much, or more, power. I’m guessing it will actually use more since the module will always be in a powered state – and the amount of electricity saved by cutting the power to the XBox will be overridden and amplified by the constant draw of the module. We’ll find out in a week.


UPDATE: I’ve changed my mind about using the module to regulate the power flow to the XBox. Instead, I’m going to leave everything just the way it is but leave the module in the “on” mode for the entire week. That way we can see how much additional power the module utilizes in addition to the XBox.

Fabulously Eco

Posted by admin on Nov 6th, 2008
2008
Nov 6

My wife recently went through a major wardrobe overhaul. There were bags and bags of clothes, shoes, and accessories she was going to get rid of and donate. It’s really quite amazing the amount of clothing she had in her closet, considering it’s only slightly larger than a coat closet. The main reason for the transformation was because she met two “Fabulous” women who’s specialty is (if I understand correctly):

  • to de-clutter the closet
  • use the rest of the existing wardrobe to mix and match versatile items to create multiple new ensembles
  • and help educate on what items to purchase going forward to get the most out of your money while putting the least amount in your closet



Pretty cool. There’s an eco-friendly byproduct in there somewhere, but that’s not the purpose of this post.


The ladies website, and business, is called Fabulous On A Budget. Their website is full of energy, whimsy, and some great information. One thing I found particularly interesting was their post on “Keeping your Electricity Bills Fabulous For Fall!”. They even take their energy conservation beyond what we do in our house, and go as far as to unplug their washer and dryer when they aren’t being used!


If you find yourself with some free time then take a look at the site. I think you’ll agree that it might just make your day a little brighter.

Project funding

Posted by admin on Nov 5th, 2008
2008
Nov 5

I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to fund my long list of projects that I have planned. Advertising on the site hasn’t really panned out too well, which I understand. I’m not usually inclined to click on, browse, and buy things from banners myself. Also, my “Help me go solar” PayPal link hasn’t exactly seen very much action either, so it’s time to go in a different direction. Not only do I want to do as much as I can to promote environmental sustainability, but my project funding also needs to remain sustainable as well….


My latest idea came to me while I was out at lunch with my wife, who came to see me at work today. After lunch, as a treat, we went to the local coffee shop to indulge in a little caffeine consumption. As we were standing in line, I heard two high school girls order two “medium iced latte in a large cup”. What?? What are they going to do – add a little vodka? After ordering our beverages, and as we were waiting for our drinks to be made, I had this urge to approach the girls and ask them, “Are you going to recycle those cups when you’re done?”, but I refrained. It looked like I’d just get a double earful of attitude and not really get anything accomplished.


This suddenly gave me a spark of an idea. A shirt that simply says, “Are you going to RECYCLE that?”. Simple, to the point, but not intrusive. Well folks, now that dream is a reality. Not only can you get a 100% organic cotton t-shirt (made in the USA) with that phrase on it, but you can also get a tote bag and a mug! Head on down to the ECOEXIST online store and get yours today!


Ecoexist "Recycle that" shirt Ecoexist "Recycle that" tote
Ecoexist "Recycle that" mug Ecoexist "Recycle that" longsleeve womens tee


Oh yeah – and don’t forget to vote in the POLL on the left there!!

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