Friday, November 23, 2012

huge income variance in US causes problems

"the top 1 percent of Americans now have greater collective net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent."

This is going back to the middle ages when there was just serfs and lords.  Is that what we want?  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

replacing old phone booths with touch screens

"The plan is to erect a total of 250 kiosks in old phone booths throughout the five boroughs -- from the Upper East Side to Sunny Side to Brooklyn Heights. The installations should be complete in the beginning of 2013, according to GigaOM. The end-goal is for the city to eventually replace all of its 12,800 outdoor pay phones."

Information available at the touch of a screen will be paid for by advertising.  Cool!

Monday, November 19, 2012

web site to advertise open source jobs

This is the first website exclusively for Free & Open Source jobs: We only list jobs that directly improve and involve FOSS or Open Hardware projects. The platform is open source itself.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

simple solar house works well in South Africa

"Andreas Keller, a master's student in South Africa, wanted to find an environmentally friendly way to improve people's living conditions in the country's shanty towns.

The idea he came up with is the eco-friendly i-Shack - insulated with cardboard, complete with a rainwater harvesting system and solar-powered electricity.

Thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, there are plans to build 100 more i-Shacks."

   This is grreat. Very simple, passive design that vastly improves the living conditions of shanty town dwellers. Sometimes simple things can make a huge difference.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

ideas will rule over authority; Larry Summers and V agree!

   If you've got an hour this is supposed to be a useful thought experiment on where we're going.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

mobile solar power for Sandy victims

"Greenpeace has had Rolling Sunlight set up since last Wednesday night, many days before the Red Cross or FEMA were on the scene. They've been able to get five solid days/nights of power, with one shorter night due to a particularly cloudy day. For such occasions they do have traditional generators they can use.
It's great to see some outside-the-box thinking applied to emergency relief. This is the only solar truck Greenpeace has in the United States, though, and it's only able to power one aid station. So, if you've been cooking up some sort of slick alternative energy generator, you have thousands of people eagerly hoping to be your first beta testers."

    This is interesting in many ways. How many such mobile solar systems would be needed to bring the bare minimum of electricity back to a storm ravaged location?  hospitals, people relying on medical equipment to stay alive, running refigerators to keep important supplies and foods from spoiling. This could be a money and life saver in the long run.  Did the Red Cross or FEMA bring this?  Nope.  Greenpeace.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

power your cell phone by burning twigs

"Using only twigs for fuel, you’ll be able to cook soup in a pot on top and plug in your USB device on the side. The charge time is comparable to charging via a USB port on a laptop computer, the company cites.  The stove comes with its own stuff sack, packs down to about 8 × 5inches, and weighs 2 lbs."

Only $129!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Collaborative construction methods and tools

"The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts."

Fifty tools aren’t a hedge against the apocalypse, although if most of civilization is wiped out, survivors with Factor e Farm plans may at least have something to work with. What Jakubowski is trying to prove is that people can live without the help of corporations. A few years ago, his attempts at utopia kept being undermined by the costs of repairing his farm equipment. So he decided to cut out the middleman and forge his own gear. “If you’re going to try to build any kind of sustainable, model community, you find out quickly that the tools you need break down and are expensive,” he says. “Without fixing this situation, you’re always left conducting business as usual.”
After Factor e Farm completes its “Global Village Construction Set,” Jakubowski expects communities around the globe to use these tools, spurring an explosion of innovation as people take his tractors and drills and build even better ones. Eventually, this virtuous circle will yield equipment rivaling that made by market-leading corporations—a tractor that is 90 percent as good as a John Deere (DE) at a fraction of the price. Showing up established corporations is critical to Jakubowski, because, he says, they spend too much time obsessing over patents, spending millions on commercials, and generally getting in the way of progress. “We are calling our work the Open Source Economy,” he says. “We can collaborate on the machines and publish everything openly. We can reduce all of this competitive waste. You have to start somewhere.”

* * * * *

   Looks good. Again, this is where someone decides that crowd sourcing is better than corporate reliance.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bangladesh spread Internet connection one bike at a time

"JHARABARSHA, Bangladesh (AP) — Amina Begum had never seen a computer until a few years ago, but now she's on Skype regularly with her husband. A woman on a bicycle brings the Internet to her.
Dozens of "Info Ladies" bike into remote Bangladeshi villages with laptops and Internet connections, helping tens of thousands of people — especially women — get everything from government services to chats with distant loved ones. It's a vital service in a country where only 5 million of 152 million people have Internet access.
The Info Ladies project, created in 2008 by local development group D.Net and other community organizations, is modeled after a program that helped make cellphones widespread in Bangladesh. It intends to enlist thousands more workers in the next few years with startup funds from the South Asian country's central bank and expatriates working around the world.
D.Net recruits the women and trains them for three months to use a computer, the Internet, a printer and a camera. It arranges bank loans for the women to buy bicycles and equipment."

I read about the cell phone ladies previously. Hardly anyone in Bangladesh had a cell phone, so women were trained how to use and maintain one, then they set up shop in a viillage and charged a small fee for people to come use the phone.  It was very successful, though now there are millions of cell phones in Bangladesh so their service is less needed. This new Internet service will no doubt go the same way, providing Internet access to remote areas until they can get hooked in themselves.