Dynamo Torch Makes Green Science Fun

Dynamo Torch Makes Science Fun
The Dynamo Torch is a science project that will teach children — and adults — about how green energy works. [Image shared by Amazon]
It’s been proven that everyone optimally learns in different ways, but most of us learn best by doing — which is why we probably remember the science projects we did as kids — and the lessons they taught us — even years later.

The Dynamo Torch is a science project that will teach children — and adults — about how green energy works. This is a project that can be put together by just about anyone to provide hours of fun, education, and family bonding!

Give the Gift of Science with the Dynamo Torch!

As I said, there is no better way to teach a child (or an adult) to have some serious fun than to build a science project. I recall the science projects I completed while in grade school and, later, high school, and I personally enjoyed every minute of building them and my sense of accomplishment from showing them off. Demonstrating to my fellow students the science behind how my projects worked was a special point of pride.

The Dynamo Torch is just such a science project, and it contains the following parts and features:

  • It comes in a plastic housing.
  • It’s got a real toy motor.
  • It includes all the gears needed to complete the project.
  • It’s got an LED light bulb, which is a long-lasting source of light.
  • Batteries are not required.
  • No pollution is produced once the project is completed.
  • The only energy required is human energy — to turn a crank!

The Dynamo Torch Produces No Pollution

According to some of the reviews on the Amazon website, the biggest enjoyment appears to be the satisfaction people are getting from putting this kit together. Some of the younger children required assistance from older siblings or from other adults in order to complete the project and to get the Dynamo Torch to function properly. The Dynamo Torch would make a great stocking stuffer or holiday present for that special child in your life.

On the other hand, I believe this would also make a great present for any adult who enjoys science, building kits, and who are good with their hands.

Another benefit of the Dynamo Torch is that it’s inexpensive, so pick up one or several today!

Andrea Rossi’s Energy Box: Scam or Energy Source to Save the World?

Andrea Rossi's Energy Box: Scam or Energy Source to Save the World? Are you vulnerable to scam artists? Can you tell a scam artist from the genuine article? Well, let’s see what you think about the latest offering from Andrea Rossi. Andrea Rossi, an Italian inventor with a criminal history of running scams, claims that he has discovered an inexpensive way to produce unlimited energy by using cold fusion with what he calls an E-Cat (energy catalyzer). If his claims are true, his newest offering could change the entire world’s energy concerns to naught. In fact, they could be altered in just the time it would take to buy this nifty little device. So what does this man claim he has discovered and how has he convinced a small group of researchers that his invention is valid?

What Mr. Rossi is claiming is that, using a very limited amount of energy, he can produce electricity. For this low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR) to happen, he says that it is possible using only a small amount of ordinary nickel, hydrogen gas, and a “secret ingredient.” He further states that the energy he does use will boil water, turning it into steam, which in turn will be used to power giant turbines that will produce the needed electricity. Additionally, again according to Mr. Rossi, this new process will not produce any radioactive material, thus eliminating the need to dispose of the radioactive material produced as a byproduct of today’s nuclear power plants.

Sound too good to be true? I thought so, especially when the Italian inventor further claimed that his invention would totally eliminate the need for fossil fuels and put the oil companies out of business. You will have to be the judge but, when I first read this statement, I was skeptical since I could not imagine that the production of oil could be totally eliminated — if for no other reason than that oil would still be needed as a lubricant. Yes, I know about synthetic lubricants, which I personally use in my car, but the fact remains that oil is still the king of lubricants.

When the device was demonstrated to a small audience of 40 scientists and journalists in January of last year, Francesco Celani, a physicist in attendance, took measurements of its output to confirm its validity. Later, Celani was able to present his findings to the 16th International Conference on Cold Fusion a few months later. In his presentation, Celani stated that the device had produced almost 15 to 20 times more energy than it had consumed.

If all of this is true, it would mean that Rossi’s invention could be akin to a bona fide miracle, offering significant amounts of energy that physicists have been trying to find since the beginning of the nuclear age. However, despite its possibilities, remaining skeptics state that they find it impossible to believe that a lone inventor could have developed such a system from a warehouse located in Bologna, Italy. Of course, this skepticism is due in part to Mr. Rossi’s history that branded him as a scam artist when a previous scheme involving incinerating trash for energy failed, resulting in many investors losing money. However, the only crimes that Rossi has ever been charged with were tax fraud and environmental dumping. Both of these were later dropped.

Is this E-Cat energy box the real thing or just another scam? Until we actually see a real cold fusion device that produces huge amounts of energy, I remain a skeptic. However, thrown into the mix is the fact that other physicists are supporting Mr. Rossi’s theory and recognize his invention as being true. The unfortunate thing about all of this is that, if Rossi’s claims are just another scam, people could be bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But what about you? Do you think that what Mr. Rossi claims to have invented is real, or do you think that, as some people claim, his invention is merely another scam?

Comments are welcome.

Source: Wikipedia and Popsci

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Ridhu Dey

Use the Internet or Smartphone to Control Your Home Thermostat

Use the Internet or Smartphone to Control Your Home ThermostatSome of you who read this can’t wait to have an application monitor and control your home environment, while others among you have no intention of giving up the ability to control your home thermostat. However, for those of you who are interested in saving a few dollars, controlling your thermostat remotely could meet your needs while allowing you to keep a few more of those hard-earned dollars in your pocket. Apparently, these applications are offered by many of the major electric suppliers in the US that are willing to exchange profit for control. They believe that, if you are willing to let them control your home thermostat, it will help them avoid the necessity of forcing brownouts and potential blackouts due to supply shortages. This is seen a win-win — especially during the height of seasons where you need to run the furnace or air conditioning unit.

While I have not been faced with this situation in a while, about 12 years ago I lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California. This area was noted for its rolling blackouts and the fact that high energy prices were kicking everyone’s butt. However, like many of you who are reading this, I was just going through life minding my own business when up cropped a contrived electrical crisis in which the people were raked over the coals. I won’t go into the mechanics and shenanigans that created this artificial shortage, but one lesson we all learned is that energy use needs to be conserved and controlled.

Perhaps due to what occurred 12 years ago, we now have electrical suppliers, like New York’s Con Ed, that will give you a free, Internet-controlled thermostat. The thermostat can be controlled from any computer, tablet, or smartphone that has Internet access and a user can control the temperature in their home or small business via their device. However, there is one small catch: In order to get the free thermostat, you must agree to give Con Ed access to your thermostat during peak energy usage so that it can control your home’s temperature, thus giving it the ability to conserve energy that it can then transfer elsewhere.

According to Con Ed, the other advantages of the program are:

  • You will be able to program your thermostat from the Internet or from a smartphone application
  • The unit will manage your energy use to match your lifestyle
  • This access will help all users reduce air pollution
  • This means of control will ensure everyone receives reliable power
  • It will keep you or your small business from having to make upgrades to your current system

For all of us who depend on electricity to cool or heat our homes or small businesses, we can understand a system designed to manage our energy use if it is also matched to our lifestyles. Think about it: For those of us who work during the day, we may not need the temperature to be set as low or as high during our working hours as we would like it to be set when we are at home. I know there have been many times that I’ve left home and forgotten to turn up the temperature a few degrees to save energy and not waste it. I could have saved both money and energy if I had a system that would control the thermostat when I was away from the house.

Another advantage that Con Ed claims is that the fan in your home’s central air conditioning unit can be set to remain on, even when the cooling portion of the unit is off. This will supposedly help to keep your home comfortable, even when the unit is off. Con Ed further states that this feature could be bypassed if need be.

One additional feature that I find amazing — besides the free thermostat — is that Con Ed will install the unit in your home or small business for free. For me, that made the offer one that would be difficult to turn down. Con Ed has even gone so far as to extend its offer not only to homeowners, but also to apartment dwellers. This should be a real blessing since many rentals and apartments are not built with saving energy in mind and the cost to tenants can be extremely high. So, if you wish to control your home’s environment via the Internet or smartphone application, it is available to everyone regardless of which kind of residence they maintain.

In other words, there is an option out there for apartment dwellers, homeowners, those on a fixed income, or just those who are energy conscious.

Comments welcome.

Source: Scientific American

NFL Football: Solar-powered Sundays Coming Our Way

There should be an image here!MetLife Stadium is a very light show at night, when the top of the stadium changes from green to blue and vice versa. So what dictates the change in colors and why is it so important for the NFL? First, the color change is representative of the two teams that MetLife Stadium serves as a joint venture: green for the New York Jets and blue for the New York Giants.

In addition to the light exhibition at each home game, there is something else that makes MetLife Stadium special. Powering those green and blue lights, which change depending on which team is playing, power for part of the stadium lights comes from solar energy. The company that is currently working its magic for the NFL is called NRG Energy, which is described as a traditional energy company with a twist. In addition to supplying energy by coal-fired furnaces, the company has jumped on the solar energy bandwagon to cut down on greenhouse gases.

Here are a few of the company’s current projects for the NFL:

  • San Francisco 49ers are planning a solar installation for the team’s newest stadium being built in Santa Clara, California.
  • The company has installed solar panels for the Washington Redskins’ stadium.
  • The New England Patriots’ home at Gillette Stadium uses solar panels to provide energy and shade.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles will have a solar-powered display for their fans to enjoy.

What is very odd is that this Texas-based company provides no solar power to its own state’s NFL teams. Neither the Dallas Cowboys nor the Texas Texans use solar for any of their displays or other home stadium features. NRG Energy believes it is the state of Texas’ inexpensive energy costs that keep solar behind the scenes. I am sure that those who live in Texas don’t believe their rates are inexpensive, but compared to the cost of energy on both coasts, energy prices are lower in the Lone Star state.

What makes the installation of these solar panels so important is that it sends a valuable message to the American people. The visible use of alternative energy by a name as big as the NFL shows that it is viable on a large scale, and it can make a difference in our consumption of more traditional fossil fuels. There is also the PR aspect for the NFL. I am sure that it doesn’t hurt the NFL to portray itself as a good, green neighbor and an energy-wise partner to the public. The New England Patriots are using water from a nearby creek to water the grounds and grass, adding to their green appearance in public. In addition, the New England Patriots are considering adding a wind turbine to the landscape. Imagine seeing this on Monday night football in the background while watching Tom Brady throwing touchdowns.

This is the future of the NFL: a future that I totally support. I hope that more of the other NFL teams in the league will take notice and jump on the alternative energy bandwagon.

Comments welcome.

Source: Popular Mechanics

Would Bundling Your TV, Cell Phone And Electric Bill Make Sense To You?

In the town where I live, the bundling of utilities and billing are handled by the city. Our electric, garbage, water, trash and sewer are billed on a single bill. When I lived in California, each of these services were billed individually requiring separate payment for each service. Now some are predicting the possibility that we could see a bundling of services not only for utilities, but also for cell phone, TV, Internet and other services.

We have seen how cable companies ventured into providing Internet services and have expanded their offering to include phone services as well. This bundling of services by a single entity usually are advertised as a savings to consumers. If you purchase a bundling of services the company usually provides some type of discount on your monthly bill.

In a recent article it stated:

Bundling utility services into cellular and cable TV packages has begun in Australia and some other parts of the world, but it could spread. The idea is both simple and radical at the same time. Power and water are commodities delivered through monthly service contracts, just like Internet service.

When I first read this article the first thought that popped into my mind was Google. For years Google was the search king, but in recent years has expanded into other areas. Google Android now is said to be a commanding leader in software for smart phones, surpassing Apple. Google has also ventured into the computer market with their Chrome netbook, is developing a remote-controlled car, and is also become a venture capitalist interested in the development of a smart grid.

So is Google also in the electricity business? Google has developed their own solar panel grid to power the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA., that supplement their electricity usage. So Google is no strange when it comes to electricity and could venture into the electrical market in the near future.

I guess my main question would be is if you did purchase electricity from your cable company, who would repair the transmission lines during a power outage?

What do you think about the merging of cable and utilities?

Comments welcome.

Source – ecomagination

Power Grid Of The Future Saves Energy

Cars and trucks race down the highway, turn off into town, wait at traffic lights and move slowly through side streets. Electricity flows in a similar way — from the power plant via high voltage lines to transformer substations. The flow is controlled as if by traffic lights. Cables then take the electricity into the city centre. Numerous switching points reduce the voltage, so that equipment can tap into the electricity at low voltage. Thanks to this highly complex infrastructure, the electricity customer can use all kinds of electrical devices just by switching them on. “A reliable power supply is the key to all this, and major changes will take place in the coming years to safeguard this reliability. The transport and power networks will grow together more strongly as a result of electromobility, because electric vehicles will not only tank up on electricity but will also make their batteries available to the power grid as storage devices. Renewable energy sources will become available on a wider scale, with individual households also contributing electricity they have generated,” says Professor Lothar Frey, Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology IISB in Erlangen. In major projects such as Desertec, solar thermal power plants in sun-rich regions of North Africa and the Middle East will in the future produce electricity for Europe. The energy will then flow to the consumer via long high-voltage power lines or undersea cables. The existing cables, systems and components need to be adapted to the future energy mix now, so that the electricity will get to the consumer as reliably and with as few losses as possible. The power electronics experts at the IISB are working on technological solutions, and are developing components for the efficient conversion of electrical energy.

For energy transmission over distances of more than 500 kilometers or for undersea cables direct current is being increasingly used. This possesses a constant voltage and only loses up to seven percent of its energy over long distances. By comparison, the loss rate for alternating current can reach 40 percent. Additional converter stations are, however, required to convert the high voltage of the direct current into the alternating current needed by the consumer.

“In cooperation with Siemens Energy we are developing high-power switches. These are necessary for transmitting the direct voltage in the power grid and are crucial for projects like Desertec. The switches have to be more reliable, more scaleable and more versatile than previous solutions in order to meet the requirements of future energy supply networks,” says Dipl.-Ing. Markus Billmann from the IISB. To this end, the research scientists are using low-cost semiconductor cells which with previous switching techniques could not be used for high-voltage direct-current transmission (HVDCT). “At each end of a HVDCT system there is a converter station,” explains the research scientist. “For the converters we use interruptible devices which can be operated at higher switching frequencies, resulting in smaller systems that are easier to control.” A major challenge is to protect the cells from damage. Each converter station will contain about 5,000 modules, connected in series, and if more than a few of them failed at the same time and affected their neighboring modules a chain reaction could be triggered which would destroy the entire station. “We have now solved this problem. With our cooperation partners we are working on tailor-made materials and components so that in future the equipment will need less energy,” says Billmann.

Markus Billmann @ Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

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Microbes May Consume Far More Oil-Spill Waste Than Earlier Thought

There should be an image here!Microbes living at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico may consume far more of the gaseous waste from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill than previously thought, according to research carried out within 100 miles of the spill site.

A paper on that research, conducted before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded six months ago today, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Deep-Sea Research II. It describes the anaerobic oxidation of methane, a key component of the Gulf oil spill, by microbes living in seafloor brine pools.

“Because of the ample oil and gas reserves under the Gulf of Mexico, slow seepage is a natural part of the ecosystem,” says Peter R. Girguis, associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University. “Entire communities have arisen on the seafloor that depend on these seeps. Our analysis shows that within these communities, some microbes consume methane 10 to 100 times faster than we’ve previously realized.”

Girguis is quick to note that methane is just part of what spilled from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well for three months earlier this year, and that the rate at which methane spewed from the damaged well far exceeds the flow that microbes would ordinarily encounter in the Gulf.

Key to the work by Girguis, Harvard research scientist Scott D. Wankel, and their colleagues was the ability to use on-site mass spectrometry to obtain direct, accurate measurements of seafloor methane. It’s been difficult to make such measurements because most tools don’t work accurately 5,000 to 7,000 feet below the surface, where pressures can reach roughly 220 atmospheres.

Using this new technique, the scientists were able to ascertain methane concentrations in brine pools surrounding gas seeps at the bottom of the Gulf — which were extremely high — as well as in the water column above the pools. Combining this data with measurements of microbial activity, they were able to extrapolate just how quickly the microbes were consuming the methane.

“In fact, we observed oxidation of methane by these microbes at the highest rates ever recorded in seawater,” Girguis says.

Methane is a greenhouse gas, up to 60 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Gigatons of the volatile gas are produced in seafloor sediments, above and beyond that generated by gas seeps that pockmark the floor of the Gulf of Mexico and other bodies of water. But, Girguis says, somewhere between the seafloor and the sea’s surface, much of the methane vanishes.

“We found that concentrations of methane in brine pools are tremendously high: five to six orders of magnitude higher than in the water column above,” Girguis says. “Mass spectrometry has given us a window on both the amount of methane diffusing into the water column and how much of this methane is consumed through anaerobic oxidation by microbes within the brine pool. It appears the microbes consume much of the methane, and the rest dissipates over time into the water column.”

A study published in the journal Science in August detailed a bacterial species reportedly able to degrade oil anaerobically in the Gulf. But a subsequent Science paper contended that these microbes mainly digested gases like methane, propane, ethane, and butane, not oil. The Deep-Sea Research II paper adds to scientists’ growing understanding of these species’ ability to degrade the byproducts of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

[Photo above by NASA Goddard Photo and Video / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Steve Bradt @ Harvard University


When Should You Change The Oil In Your Car?

During the past decade, car companies have extended the time and mileage when the oil in your car should be changed. According to some, the engine technology has improved as well as the oil itself, which accounts for the longer period in which we can go, before an oil change is due. Today I read an article about oil changes in which the ‘3,000 mile myth’ is challenged and the reason behind labeling the 3,000 mile guideline as a ‘myth’.

The article stated:

Steve Reinarts, who teaches the latest car technology at Dunwoody College, says there have been a number of improvements in oil and engine technologies that would indicate cars can go longer without an oil change.

Synthetic oil, in particular, will withstand a lot more abuse.

Edmunds.com’s auto editor says most people with cars less than 10 years old can go 7,500 miles between changes.

“California did a great research on it with their fleet vehicles. They sent oil samples out to see integrity of the oil. And a lot of their vehicles had 50 percent of the oil life left in it,” said Reinarts.

It becomes an environmental issue. With all of us changing our oil so often, we’re stuck with disposing the used stuff.

But this one statement caught my attention:

Let your owners’ manual tell the tale, and never go more than six months without an oil change. That could void your warranty.

This is the rule I follow. I use synthetic oil in my car and stick by the 6 month rule, no matter the mileage. I should mention that I average  about 800 miles a month.

How about you? When do you get your oil changed?

Comments welcome.

Source – WCCO CBS

Will the Ford Fiesta Change Your Mind About Small Cars?

Pundit after pundit has stated that Americans don’t like small cars. To that, I say hogwash. Take a look at the roadways around your town and you might come to a different conclusion. There are plenty of small cars on our streets and their numbers will quickly rise as the tightened federal fuel economy rules kick in.

The good news is that small cars can be a blast to drive. The new 2011 Ford Fiesta is a perfect case-in-point. Forget about the tin-can connotations of the sub-compact class. While the Fiesta’s exterior dimensions are tiny, it feels like a much larger and more substantial car when you’re behind the wheel. With an affordable price tag, an excellent cabin (including Microsoft SYNC), and fuel economy that beats many hybrid cars, the Fiesta is a compelling package.

Ford has taken a bold approach to marketing the new Fiesta, from the initial Fiesta Movement – where 100 Euro-spec Fiestas were loaned to “Fiesta Agents” for a six month social media experiment – to the latest 43 Fiestas promotion that wraps rally racing, NASCAR, and some Ken Block craziness into a reason to go out and try something new.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/yV0ZZasAWjw" width="350" height="288" wmode="transparent" /]

Reference: 2011 Ford Fiesta Review

Is There A ‘SmartMeter’ In Your Future? Get Ready For Higher Energy Bills!

The latest meters that are being installed in California called ‘SmartMeters’ are causing some concern by consumers who are the first guinea pigs to test the new devices. It seems that once the new meters were installed, consumers saw their electrical bills skyrocket as a result. Pacific Gas and Electric aka PG&E aka Pacific Greed and Extortion, has determined that the new meters are accurate. It was the older mechanical meters that are to blame for under reporting electrical use.

In a recent article it states that:

State regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission ordered the probe into SmartMeter accuracy after widespread complaints from consumers that the meters were causing unusually high bills. The consumer revolt began in Bakersfield and quickly spread throughout Northern California.

The investigation found that the high bills could be traced to other causes, such as increased energy use during last summer’s heat wave or “load changes” like adding a pool or additional room to a house. While finding no accuracy problems with the SmartMeters, it discovered that a small percentage of the older electromechanical meters ran slowly, which would result in higher recorded energy use once the newer SmartMeters were installed.

At a news conference, PG&E executives said they were pleased the SmartMeters had been shown to be accurate but acknowledged that much work remains to regain public trust. “We heard loud and clear that what was lacking was customer communication and customer service,” said PG&E Senior Vice President Helen Burt.

But can the new meters make you sick? Some claim they can:

Indeed, the vast majority of consumers who spoke Thursday said the SmartMeters are making them sick or expressed fear that SmartMeters will increase their risk of brain cancer. Health issues were not within the scope of the investigation.

Several California cities, including Santa Cruz, Sebastopol, Scotts Valley, Capitola, Watsonville and several in Marin County, have sought bans on SmartMeter installations because of health concerns.

It was this one statement that caught my eye:

Smart meters are being installed by utility companies across the United States and around the world, and PG&E’s rocky experience has been the talk of the growing smart grid industry.

So it seems like SmartMeters are coming to an electrical company near you, sometime in the very near future. If you are already using a SmartMeter, share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – San Jose Mercury News

Tips For Extending Smartphone Battery Life

There should be an image here!Q: I love my iPhone but hate how quickly the battery goes dead! Any tips on getting more time on a charge? — Marcus

A: Smartphones in general tend to be prone to shorter battery life because of all of the capabilities built into the phones.

The battery in the iPhone is unfortunately not user-replaceable either, so carrying around a second battery isn’t an option (but I have another suggestion later).

The good news is that there are a number of adjustments you can make that will dramatically extend the life of your iPhone battery.

Start with the Brightness setting (Settings/Brightness) by turning it down to the lowest acceptable level and make sure the Auto-Brightness is turned on.

Email can be another huge power-suck on the iPhone, especially if you have it checking multiple accounts and you get a lot of mail. By default, both the Push and the Fetch options are turned on, which can be a big power drain.

Push essentially pushes email to your phone as it arrives to your primary email system. Unless you have to get messages that quickly, turn off the Push option for your email account(s) (Settings/Mail, Contacts, Calendars/Fetch New Data) to conserve lots of power.

While you are in the Fetch settings, either set the interval to Hourly or Manually to conserve the most power. Fetch determines how often your phone goes out to your mail system to check for new mail and is also used for the ‘Find My iPhone’ feature in MobileMe, so setting it to Manually isn’t for everyone.

If you have a special email configuration such as an IMAP account, you may have an additional place to choose Push or Fetch in the Advanced section of the Fetch New Data screen.

Push is also used for third-party applications (such as Facebook & Twitter) for notifications, so minimizing or turning off all notifications will also help conserve power (Settings/Notifications).

While we are on the subject of third-party applications, changing your notification settings in Facebook, Twitter, etc. (from your computer) so that you don’t get a text message every time an update is posted to your accounts.

Location services for things like maps and restaurant finders are awesome, but they also drain power every time you open any ‘location service’ enabled application. You can turn off Location Services for general usage and only turn it on when you actually need it (Settings/General/Location Services).

Turning off the Bluetooth feature on any smartphone has two potential benefits: it saves power and it’s more secure (Bluetooth can allow unauthorized connections to your phone). Unless you are one of those cyborg looking folks that likes to torture whomever is on the other end with lower sound quality, ditch the Bluetooth.

Turning off Wi-Fi until you actually want to use it is another good power saver (Settings/Wi-Fi). You may have noticed that every time your phone gets near any new Wi-Fi hotspots, it lets you know (both a power drain and a general pain!)

Set your Auto-Lock interval (Settings/General/Auto-Lock) to the shortest time that works for you (it’s like the Sleep option on computers). Also, get into the habit of locking your iPhone as soon as you are done using it, instead of allowing it to go blank on its own by pressing the thin metal Sleep/Wake button on the top of the phone.

If you are going into a meeting or movie theater or know that you are in a low or no coverage area, turn on the Airplane mode to save a bundle of power (General/Airplane Mode).

If you’re getting low on power and want to squeeze a few extra phone calls or text messages in, turn off the 3G option (Settings/General/Network) and don’t check email or try to surf the Web.

Apple also recommends that you completely power-cycle your phone at least once a month. That means charging it all the way up and discharging it until it dies, as proper maintenance of lithium-based batteries.

If you travel frequently, I suggest getting a sleek attachable battery charger like the Juice Pack from Mophie. Mine has saved me (and sometimes the passenger sitting next to me!) many times on road trips.

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to CNN.com
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

Many Still Clueless About How To Save Energy

There should be an image here!Many Americans believe they can save energy with small behavior changes that actually achieve very little, and severely underestimate the major effects of switching to efficient, currently available technologies, says a new survey of Americans in 34 states. The study, which quizzed people on what they perceived as the most effective way to save energy, appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The largest group, nearly 20 percent, cited turning off lights as the best approach — an action that affects energy budgets relatively little. Very few cited buying decisions that experts say would cut U.S. energy consumption dramatically, such as more efficient cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) or weatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent). Previous researchers have concluded that households could reduce their energy consumption some 30 percent by making such choices—all without waiting for new technologies, making big economic sacrifices or losing their sense of well-being.

Lead author Shahzeen Attari, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the university’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, said multiple factors probably are driving the misperceptions. “When people think of themselves, they may tend to think of what they can do that is cheap and easy at the moment,” she said. On a broader scale, she said, even after years of research, scientists, government, industry and environmental groups may have “failed to communicate” what they know about the potential of investments in technology; instead, they have funded recycling drives and encouraged actions like turning off lights. In general, the people surveyed tend to believe in what Attari calls curtailment. “That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it,” she said. “But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy,” she said. She cited high-efficiency light bulbs, which can be kept on all the time, and still save more than minimizing the use of low-efficiency ones.

Previous studies have indicated that if Americans switched to better household and vehicle technologies, U.S. energy consumption would decline substantially within a decade. Some of the highest-impact decisions, consistently underrated by people surveyed, include driving higher-mileage vehicles, and switching from central air conditioning to room air conditioners. In addition to turning off lights, overrated behaviors included driving more slowly on the highway or unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use. In one of the more egregious misperceptions, according to the survey, people commonly think that using and recycling glass bottles saves a lot of energy; in fact, making a glass container from virgin material uses 40 percent more energy than making an aluminum one—and 2,000 percent more when recycled material is used.

Many side factors may complicate people’s perceptions. For instance, those who identified themselves in the survey as pro-environment tended to have more accurate perceptions. But people who engaged in more energy-conserving behaviors were actually less accurate — possibly a reflection of unrealistic optimism about the actions they personally were choosing to take. On the communications end, one previous study from Duke University has shown that conventional vehicle miles-per-gallon ratings do not really convey how switching from one vehicle to another affects gas consumption (contrary to popular perception, if you do the math, modest mileage improvements to very low-mileage vehicles will save far more gas than inventing vehicles that get astronomically high mileage). Also, said Attari, people typically are willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem, but after that, they start to believe they have done all they can, and attention begins to fade. Behavior researchers call this the “single-action bias.” “Of course we should be doing everything we can. But if we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on the big energy-saving behaviors,” said Attari. “People are still not aware of what the big savers are.”

[Photo above by Argonne National Laboratory / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Kevin Krajick @ The Earth Institute at Columbia University

[awsbullet:energy conservation]

Do You Like The Whoosh Of Wind Turbines? You May Get $5,000!

In the small town of Ione, Oregon the residents are being offered what could be called ‘hush money’ if they agree not to complain about the noise the wind turbines make. Clean energy has a price, and the energy company Caithness Energy wants to keep its neighbors happy. It is offering $5,000 to the neighbors who agree to not complain about the whooshing sound the wind turbines makes as the blades cut through the air.

Oregon is becoming one of the nation’s top spots for generating electricity using wind turbines. The New York energy company came up with a novel idea to keep the peace in the area and some residents are very pleased.

“Shall we call it hush money?” said one longtime farmer, George Griffith, 84. “It was about as easy as easy money can get.”

Mr. Griffith happily accepted the check, but not everyone is taking the money. Even out here — where the recession has steepened the steady decline of the rural economy, where people have long supported the massive dams that harness the Columbia River for hydroelectric power, where Oregon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to cultivate alternative energy — pockets of resistance are rising with the windmills on the river banks.

Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West’s most alluring views.

Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.

Oregon is one of a growing number of places that have drafted specific regulations restricting noise from wind turbines. The Oregon law allows for noise to exceed what is considered an area’s ambient noise level by only a certain amount. But what those ambient levels are is sometimes disputed, as is how and where they should be measured.

So it seems that not everyone in the nation wants clean energy at any price in their neighborhoods. I would imagine that the whooshing noise would get to anyone after an extended period of time.

What do you think? Would you take the five grand?

Comments welcome.

Source – N.Y. Times

Why Boycotting BP May Backfire

If you think by not buying your gas from a BP station you will hurt the company, you may wish to reconsider your actions. It seems that BP stations, which are privately owned, may be using gasoline from a different company. In fact, it may not even be known by the station owner — his employees, or anyone else, if in fact that tanker full of gas is the real BP stuff or not. It seems that after a truck tanker is filled with gasoline, the secret BP additives may be added. In a recent NY Times article it also stated that:

Meanwhile, if you pass by a BP station and burn some fossil fuels driving down the road to fill up elsewhere, you may end up at a retailer that gets all of its gasoline from BP. The retailer won’t tell you that though.And the people who work at the gas station probably don’t know either.

But it was the last part of the article and also one of the comments that hit my funny bone:

Boycotting is easy. That’s why so many people like to do it. Lowering demand for fuel, thereby delivering a true blow to big oil for those who are so inclined, is much harder. It requires sacrifice. Colder homes and offices. Driving more slowly. Buying a smaller car. Avoiding or delaying a move to the suburbs that necessitates more hours behind the wheel.

At least that’s how I see it. How about you?

Here was the comment:

I think if it were up to you, we’d all be living in huts and rubbing sticks together for fire.

Now you have to admit, that’s funny!

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times