The June Energy Update

  • Khali

    It's a little off-topic, but I've stacked up a couple editorials for vacation, and this is an easy one. At least for me since I am interested in alternative energy. Especially as the issues with the power supply in the US grow.

    And I keep losing power here at the ranch

    So by the time you read this, we've probably got a generator on order. A propane generator, automatically hooked up to the house to provide a few of our circuits with power when the grid dies. Water, heat, the fridge, and the office are the ones we've chosen. Yes, we're geeks, but we can always stoke up a DVD and pile the kids next to Khali on the floor (shown above).

    Google turned on their solar panels at their headquarters, producing 30% of their energy, 1.6MW. That's pretty cool and I'd like to see how the projects at Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and other places turn out. What's also cool is they're converting some Priuses to plug-in electrics and they'll charge them with solar power and make them available for employees to use during the day. If you're interested, you can track their production.

    What I like is that Google has committed to producing 50MW of renewable energy a year by 2012 as they build new facilities. The availability of biodiesel or ethanol might have been behind part of the decision to build in Iowa.

    Meanwhile Microsoft is building a 5,000 car garage in Redmond. Talk about moving in other directions. And complaints on MSDN about their shuttle service, which is rumored to be the largest in the US. I thought Google had claimed this. More and more it seems Google seems to make interesting, cool choices, and Microsoft acts like IBM, big, slow, and stumbling. I hope Microsoft works on things that are effective, not that just sound good to the press.

    I'm not sure what the best solution is for our future energy needs, though my suspicion is that we need to use a blend of technologies and solutions: fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, and more. I would like to see more and more renewables being used in spot locations to supplement other power.

  • Is Kahli a great dane? I love great danes. I had one for a while, but he had a problem with not respecting women and only obeyed me. I tried to socialize him as much as possible and train him. But in the end we had to take him to a 'big animal sanctuary' in Canada. He's been rehomed since then, but I still miss him.

    Live to Throw
    Throw to Live
    Will Summers

  • Oh yea, I have a pic of him in my side profile.

    <-- right there!!

    Live to Throw
    Throw to Live
    Will Summers

  • MS has recently been unleashing products on us that do not work as well as prior versions, in the area of their core functionality. Glancing around the various forums, compatibility issues and important features that disappear from new versions are being discussed all the time - SQL Developer on Vista, SSMS can't display a script without an edit window, Office 2007's UI revamp leaves experienced users in a daze; Exchange 2007 will be only 64-bit; the list goes on.

    This is what happens when developers work in a vacuum - they design what they think the customer wants, instead of working with the customer to develop & enhance their products, adding features that are really needed, not just adding bloat. I'm an independent consultant, and I learned a long time ago that you need to maintain a constant dialog with the customer to make sure their needs are met. If you fail to do this, they'll use somebody else.

    MS has leveraged their monopoly to the point where there are few choices, except perhaps for us to remain with older products that work as we expect them to. OK, so SS 2000 mainstream support will end next April - but how often do we actually need mainstream support on that platform? It works pretty darn well IMHO. But chances are that Server 2008 won't support it (my opinion, unsupported by any facts). And look at the slew of ads that MS ran showing a dinosaur still running Office 97 - but it if ain't broke, don't fix it.

    (end of rant)

    There are a lot of people who don't realize the damage that we are inflicting upon our planet. Nowhere is that more apparent than in Phoenix - we are in the midst of a long drought, but everywhere you look there are manicured lawns with automatic sprinklers that continue to run even when the occasional rain does come. My lawn looks awful, but I recently cancelled plans to install an irrigation system because that would be totally irresponsible and wasteful.

    I salute Google for showing what they used to call social responsibility.

  • I can speak from personal experience that Microsoft has major parking issues at the moment. They already make huge efforts to encourage commutes other than single occupant vehicles, but the fact is they have significantly more cars than they can comfortably facilitate.

    I think the new parking construction is not so much about planning for some future onslaught of cars as much as trying to make things more sane for the cars they've already got.

  • This new garage will cover six city blocks?!  Auuuugh!  How will this help the MSFT traffic jam referred to in the comments on that article?  It certainly won't help the local traffic anywhere near Redmond.

    I do think Microsoft is starting to act more like Big Blue - remember when the common phrase for them was "We're IBM - We don't have to care"?  That seems to be where Microsoft is.  Too many changes they are making look like "hey, let's sell some software" rather than "hey, this will help productivity".  And isn't productivity really one of the reasons software exists?

    Kudos to GOOGLE for having vision in a slightly different direction that Bill Gates.  We really need some forward thinking to preserve this planet for our children (that's the "royal" our - meaning every child in every country on Earth).  Maybe we should ask GOOGLE to look at mass transportation.   They could probably come up with some solutions that would work!

    Here there be dragons...,

    Steph Brown

  • I'm not sure what's going on with Microsoft, but some interesting comments. I don't think Bill Gates has much to do with the parking or product design anymore. It seems to me he's stepped away from the company. I think the changes in operations are a Ballmer/Mundie effect (or lack thereof).

    I will say Microsoft is trying to put solar panels at some of their other facilities in CA. They wouldn't work in Redmond very well, but Microsoft could do what the New Belgian Brewing company did (Fat Tire). They built a wind farm in Montana or Wyoming, selling that power to the grid, buying their CO power from the grid at a net of 0. So they are essentially 100% wind powered. MS could do something similar in a remote location, solar in CA or wind in TX.

    As to their products, MS really can't win. They're taken heat for being backward compatible and not moving forward, but if they do they get complaints. I'm ok with them not being backward compatible in most cases, but they need to disclose that and not have us discover it. As for Office, I kind of like the new layout, but I am EXTREMELY ANNOYED that shortcuts don't work. Why not let us experienced used use our ALT-whatever to accomplish something and make the nice, new ribbon work for the people that need it.

    And yes, Khali is a Dane. She's our third and we love her. Trying to decide now if we're getting a 4th or adopting a smaller dog the kids like better. The kids love Kali, but they're intimidated by her and don't really "play". She's so big that when she leans or if she bumps them or licks, they're almost knocked down. We had a heeler they loved for awhile, but it chased horses and was too high energy for me. Maybe we'll get both since I love Danes.

  • Recently, I was watching something on perhaps Discovery Channel about Google's data center they were building near Portland (I think). This was the same area that once housed Alcoa's huge Aluminum producing plants. These plants needed the massive amounts of cheap power provided by the dams on the Columbia river. These plants help America in W.W.II and the country thereafter to grow in prosperity.

    The plants are long gone, probably moved to some off shore location, taking the jobs with them. These plants produced useable material from raw ore dug from our own mines. Think of all the uses of aluminum in our daily lives. Look how many siding salesman it provides jobs for.

    Now, all the output of those dams is being used to power Google's new facility. And for what? To house the electrons of data that help make the Internet what it is. This includes the sewer of porn, scams, ads, misinformation and everything else bad which tends to dominates its usefulness.

    I don't think that is a fair exchange. That renewable power could be better used to offset fossil fuel produced power elsewhere. And most certainly should not be used to store all the internet crap just so people can find it faster. Perhaps its time we stop Google from trying to own the internet by its vast dominance in storage capability.

  • FYI, Wal-Mart is also installing solar on a number of stores. Another company that many people are not happy with

  • I don't have the energy to respond to this today, other than to say that if any tech company is going to use solar power it should be Sun.

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