Chuckle

August 17, 2006

Comment from the nice man from the TSA at SEATAC security on my Howies T-Shirt…

You’ve gotta lot of want man


Get paid for being green…

August 17, 2006

Jonathan Schwartz, of Sun, is claiming that use of Sun’s energy efficient servers is worth $700 to $1000 per server.

Moving off our competition and onto Sun saves money, power, space, and lessens the impact the IT industry has on the environment. And now it’s not just us saying that, it’s the Pacific Gas and Electric company, the state’s largest power utility.

It’s great to see large companies pushing, and benefitting, the financial advantages of responsible energy use.

For more information see the press release.


Real cost

August 10, 2006

 A while back I noticed a Google report that highlighted that the running costs (electricity) of a typical datacentre server was close to exceeding the initial capital costs of buying the server.

Now eWeek is reporting that the cost of cooling the data centre will soon outstrip the cost of the contents. In the report, a trial of running systems on DC power resulted in up to a 15% energy saving.

However, it’s obvious that the rising cost of energy – not the environmental impact – is the primary motivator. When will the law makers admit (to themselves?) that the economic costs of not addressing suspected causes of climate change will far outstrip the short term impacts of promoting reuse, recycling and renewable energy sources.

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Time to dispose dispose

August 10, 2006

In the USA, by 2002, more than 130 million still-working cell phones (mobile phones) had been “retired”. That’s according to a piece from Knowledge@Wharton on a report from Harvard University Press on Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America by Giles Slade.

Canadian writer Giles Slade was checking out a touring exhibit called “Eternal Egypt” with his 10-year-old son a few years ago when he had an epiphany. The Egyptians, he realized, designed great monuments to endure for countless generations, while here in North America, nearly everything produced is made to break.

How many cell phones have you been through? I think I can remember 7. Ouch.

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obsolescence gadgets


Obvious

August 3, 2006

Apparently, big houses cost more to heat. Well, duh.

They also cost more to keep cool too.


Super Market FairTrade

January 1, 2006

BBC Five Live ran a report this morning [1] looking at UK supermarkets markup on FairTrade products.

Ethical shopping is big business. Sales of Fairtrade products like coffee and chocolate have been soaring. This week’s 5 Live report reveals that some of the big supermarkets are making a quick buck from inflated profit margins on goods bought by shoppers with a conscience.

The difference in price between a own-brand non-FairTrade and an own-brand FairTrade packet of coffee in the big three supermarkets is much more than the extra cost of producing a FairTrade product, from the original grower through the supply chain, would suggest. Even if, as the super market comments suggested, you don’t accept the rough and ready figures the programme used, the CO-OP supermarket appears to be able to supply FairTrade with a significantly lower markup than the big three. How odd.
Dilemma time. Like many others, we’ve always tried to buy FairTrade through major shops because that way consumer power encourages those companies to provide more FairTrade and also to consider the fair trade implications of other product lines they stock. But, if, that opens the door to those companies exploiting the demand for FairTrade to increase profits, then people will take their £’s to someone else.
It would have been interesting if the Five Live Report had also looked at recognised FairTrade coffee brands in comparison to the supermarkets own brands. For example, here are the current on-line prices [2] for Cafédirect (Cafédirect Fairtrade Medium Roast Coffee 227g):

  1. Tesco.com: £2.27
  2. Ocado.com: £2.29
  3. traidcraftshop.co.uk: £3.20 (6 packets for £19.20)

As a comparison, I paid £2.89 for 227g of cafédirect espresso (strong) in our local oxfam just before Christmas. So, perhaps all is not as it appears?

Footnotes
[1] The BBCs Five Live Report site (link). You can listen to the report via the BBC Radio Player until it gets replaced by the next programme.

[2] For our postcode area ;-)

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Christmas Card for Tony

December 16, 2005
tony blair christmas card image

Send a Christmas card to tony blair, via Make Poverty History.

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WriteToThem Rocks

December 15, 2005

So that was a quick experiment.

33 minutes after using writetothem.com to send the same message I sent via email two weeks ago, I got a response from David’s office:

I write to you on behalf of David Gauke MP to thank you for your email and for raising your concerns with him. David will look into mentioning climate change and energy efficiency on his website and will look into EDM 178.

That beats the previous, and only, record for a response from my MP. Thank you David.

Now I wonder how many other people have asked the same question…

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Radio Silence?

December 14, 2005

Some time ago I uttered:

Maybe I’ve got this wrong? I think I’ll ping David and ask…

So far, no response.

I’ve specifically asked David why a request to support EDM 178 resulted in an apparent stock letter with no mention of 178 but an apparently out-of-date reference to EDM 777 (I also suggested he use both sides of the paper when sending out letters, but that’s another story).

Am I unreasonable to expect an answer so quick?

I dunno.

My only frame of reference was when I contacted David’s predecessor via FaxYourMP.com (now writetothem.com) last year about proposed changes to European patent law. On that occasion I sent a message at 14:57 and got a reply, by phone, at 16:20 the same day.

I wonder what could account for the difference?

  • The messenger? Well, I’m the same person I was last October (almost) so maybe it’s the route the messenger took. Last time FaxYourMP.com, this time an email direct to the email address published on David’s website.
  • The message? Climate change vs patent law? Could be, Except in the (supposed) stock reply David referred to climate change as one of the most important political issues of the century. Perhaps patent law is another?
  • The recipient? David isn’t Richard Page (my previous MP who retired at the last election). Perhaps the lightening fast response rate of Richards secretary is a poor yardstick to be judging David.
  • Holiday? Perhaps not, it looks like David’s been in Brussels for a meeting with like-minded folk “to establish an alternative vision of free market economics, nation states and powers being in the hands of the democratically accountable.” and there’s been the Buncefield Oil Depot Fire and the Christmas Card Design Competition to contend with.

I guess I need to do some work to figure out which of these it might be. So, here’s my test:

  1. Re send the same message, this time via writetothem.com and wait…
  2. …then send the message on patent concerns previously sent to Richard Page to David, again via writetothem.com
  3. Report back if I get anything back

Alternatively, perhaps Kerron Cross could ask him next time he bumps into him.

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Business Opportunity

December 14, 2005

The BBC is reporting that Gordon Clark, manufacturer of approx 90% of the world supply of foam blocks used in surf boards, is ceasing production.

“For owning and operating Clark Foam, I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison,” Mr Clark wrote.

State authorities in California and in Orange County, where Clark Foam is based, are concerned by the company’s machinery and its use of toxic chemicals.

So, right about now is probably just a bit too late (from a business perspective) to decide to fill the gap. But this does represent an opportunity for someone, whether a new business model or something technologically innovative to get an enviro-friendly solution for surfers.
There’s a pointer here to watch markets for opportunities as customers become more ethical in their purchase decisions and legislation gets stricter.
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