I don't know how I missed it but PBS has had a series called e2 about sustainable living that I came across last night while flipping channels at 2am. The episode playing was Harvesting The Wind, showing how the state of Minnesota, local communities, farmers and entrepreneurs in southwest Minnesota haven't waited for our energy policy impotent Federal government to move agressively into alternative energies.
The episode showed how entrepeneurs are helping farmers bring wind farming to their land. Part of the solution is to use Federal alternative energy tax credits, which the investors receive along with 99% of the revenues from the eletricity generated. The farmers provide the land, get 1% and are also receive maintenance fees for upkeep of the wind machines. After 10 years, the investors recoup their investment + profits and the ownership flips to the farmers. Multiple farmers have banded together to make larger purchases of wind machines which helps reduce equipment and installation costs.
Business is so good that a propeller manufacturing plant was located in the area. The propellers are the most difficult piece of equipment to ship from Europe, making that an obvious choice for manufacture in the local area. The plant employees 300 people from the community. Rather than the oil business model where big business comes in and owns everything, the state very conciously designed wind energy to be community based. All in all, this seem like a very synergistic approach to bringing wind engergy to market.
I grew up on the plains of Nebraska and spent a good amount time in Ogallala at Lake McConaughey. Lake McConaughey is a man made lake, built to provide consistent water (and lots of it) for farming and irrigation water in mid and eastern Nebraska. There's also a power generation station located at the dam. The wind can howl when it roars across the plains of Nebraska. There were many days during the summer when we'd have to resort to water skiing in small coves that offered some protection from the wind. The windmill is a common site across the plains, providing water to cattle on what would otherwise be some difficult land to raise livestock.
Growing up on the windy plains for Nebraska, I often thought, why don't we have windmills that can generate power from all this wind. That was back during the '70's gas crisis, when a coal fired power plant was being built at Sutherland, NE. Energy was on everyone's mind. I moved from a Chevelle Malibu gas eater to a Datsun (Nissan) economy car so I could afford traveling back home from college.
I guess we just didn't have the technology back then to jump on the wind engergy bandwagon. I wish the US had the foresight to continue investing in wind generation technology, instead of allowing businesses in Europe take the lead. I hope the learnings from Minnesota will help state and local governments bring more wind energy to market while our Federal government gets its act together.
A week or so ago, Alan Shimel announced on his blog that StillSecure released some new modules for the Cobia platform. Cobia is a software platform for networking and security that runs on general purpose Intel computing hardware. VPN, DNS, anti-virus/spyware/spam, and URL filtering were added to Cobia. You can check out/download/find out more about Cobia on the Cobia website.
I had the pleasure of working on and launching Cobia as well as StillSecure's award winning NAC, IPS and vulnerability management products. It's been almost a year since I decided to leave my post as StillSecure CTO, and I'm still very thankful and proud of the work the team past and present does there. There are a lot of great people at the company and I appreciate that they've kept the Cobia vision alive and continue to move the ball down field on all the products.
I've often said that being CTO is the best job in the company and so many people I worked with at StillSecure helped make that a reality for me. A wise man once told me that you know you've done a good job building something signifcant when you create a team who can eventually execute without you…you're job is to work yourself out of a job. I'm glad that's the case with StillSecure.
Thanks everyone and congratulations on the new Cobia functionality.
This week Bill Brenner, senior editor at CSO Online, joins Alan and me to discuss the impact the financial crisis will have on security in enterprises, small businesses and the security industry itself. We're likely to see a lot more federal regulations and this could actually be good for network security (see my Network World blog post about recessions, transparency and network security.) The interview is also a good insight into the world of a media writer/editor, as Bill shares why he move from reporting on the everyday security news to his new position where he gives his own insights and comments into what's happening.
Alan and I also talk about a host of items including the every evolving M&A activity in the security industry, Apple's wonderful blackbox "we know better" iPhone (which wiped out all of Alan's music during a recent upgrade), and "green IT" press releases by Mirage Networks and others.
Enjoy the podcast. If you are interested in sponsoring the podcast, feel free to contact us.
600,000 jobs lost already this year. 6.1%unemployment rate, which increased during the last six-months more thananytime in the last 25 years. Record numbers of mortgage foreclosures. $700billion emergency federal bailout debt plan to buy up bad mortgage debt. Newgovernment backed insurance and $50 billion in Federal funds as a backstop formoney market funds, because of a record $169 billion drop in money market fundassets during the week. And, an $85 billion bailout of AIG, $29 billion tosupport Bear Sterns, $25 billion to bailout for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,and Lehman, the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history. And that was justfor the week of September 15th. We're adding over $1 trillion to our nationaldebt and we don't even know if we're out of the woods yet.
Everybody hinted at it but no one would use the word "depression" untilSenator Chuck Schumer publicly said on Saturday that a depression was a possibleresult if the federal government didn't take the action of buying up badmortgage debt from banks. I only hope congress will not only put the mortgagedebt legislation in place, but also include some obviously needed regulatoryoversight controls, help for the likely mortgage defaults and personalbankruptcies still to come, and recoup the executive compensation of theofficers and execs at the failed institutions the taxpayers now own. In arelatively few days our financial market system will have gone from anunfettered, corrupt and under enforced market to one that we the taxpayers ownand operate a great deal of.
After concerns for my own investments, my next thoughts turned to my hopes wewould fix our out of control health care insurance system and make serious movesto becoming the global leader in alternative energies. If the federal governmentis willing to plop down $1 trillion of our money to save our economic systemfrom utter collapse, will we have the focus, willpower, and cahoonas to investin alternative energy development and reforming health care? My fear is we'llspend the next 3-4 years tied up with hearings, investigations, commissions, andwork on legislation to re-invent our financial system. Will we have the nationalwill to address health care and energy or will we be consumed by the fallout andresponses to our current economic meltdown?
Certainly, fixing our governmental and financial system failures is toppriority. We've also got to get the economy growing again, and get theunemployed back to work. But no matter who you choose to blame, Republicans orDemocrats, the Congress or the White House, under enforced governmentregulations, lax governmental agency and congressional oversight, sub-prime mortgage lenders, or corrupt Wall Streetcompanies and executives, creative financial instruments virtually no one understands, etc., we still have to get our economy moving again. Fixing ourfinancial crisis may costs us a lot more than just the $1 trillion we're puttingdown right now. We may have sacrificed our chances for healthcare reform andenergy independence in the process. I certainly hope that's not the case. And keep your fingers crossed that we're through the worse of the financial meltdown events and no more taxpayer dollars are needed to come to the rescue. Someday we'll have to get back to figuring out how to help the actual taxpayers in all this mess.
Massachusetts officials say they have found a simple way to save $2million a year and reduce carbon emissions by more than 5,000 tonsannually: turn off computers that aren’t being used.
The state announced today that it has issued a new computer powermanagement policy that calls for tens of thousands of state computersto be shut down or switched to "sleep" mode when not being used.
I recently did a podcast and put up a blog post about Power IT Down Day, an awareness day event sponsored by HP, Intel and Citrix to help the federal government save money by powering down users’ computers at night.
Since then, I’ve powered all my unnecessary equipment down each night to save energy by turning them off at the power strip. That way laptop and other power supplies don’t sit there and still consume power. It’s small step but a good practice to get into, and actually it only took a day or two to get used to the change.
So turn off your unused computer at home and at work tonight.
Google and GE announced todaythey are collaborating to help promote the development of more powertransmission lines for wind farms, smart-grid technology, software for a moreflexible power grid that can accommodate demands of hybrid vehicles, andgeothermal visualization software. I know one of the big issues for wind powergeneration is getting the generated power transmitted from wind farms to citieswhere it’s needed. There’s a good sized wind farm north of Ft. Colins (north ofDenver) but from what I’ve heard, it’s growth limited because the powertransmission runs east and west, and doesn’t have enough capacity to deliver thepower south to the Denver area.
But one of the disturbing factoids I saw in the CNET articlewas from GE’s CEO. "Immelt [GE CEO] noted that the energy business typicallyspends about 1 percent of revenues in research and development, compared to 7percent in health care."
1% investment in research? Yikes, that’s atrocious. Not only does congressneed to renew the tax credit incentives for renewable energy investments, weneed to demand our energy companies heavily invest in renewable energy. Whyisn’t Xcel Energy building transmission lines so we can have more wind farmpower generation? What about government incentives for other investments? Tobecome the renewed kind of USA Tom Friedman talks about in Hot,Flat, and Crowded, our investment and startup capital has got to drasticallymove into renewable energy and technologies.
I’m sick of the extreme green makeover TV commercials by ExxonMobile purporting them as somehow doing great research into alternativeenergies. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if the oil companies really did investheavily into developing alternative energies and technologies, but I find theirTV commercials trying to just do an image makeover offensive.
I do applaud Google and GE for taking a stand and collaborating in theprivate sector.
If you follow my blog you know I’m working to make our home and my family’slife greener, more environmentally friendly. I’m much more conscious aboutturning off lights, running the air conditioning a little less andkeeping electronic gadgets with thirsty power supplies turned off. But mybiggest struggle has been getting rid of our Suburban SUV. Part of it has beengiving up the roomy vehicle and part of it is balancing buying the right vehicleI really want. Anything that gets 30 MPG or less doesn’t even seem worth it, andI’m just disgusted our automobile industry can’t produce more vehicles that getwell over 30, even 40 MGP. Our country has just been down right lazy aboutfuel economy and me right along with it. But I’m not going to buy an SUV thatgets 22 or 24 MPG when what I want is 30 to 40, or more. I’ll just drive my"subhuman" (my nickname for the Suburban) a lot less. My alternative has been toride scooters.
My garage now has two scooters, a 150cc for my wife and a 250cc for myself.They get around 70 to 75 MPG respectively, and that’s driving around town, nothighway mileage. The biggest compromise in changing my driving habits to ascooter has been safety on the road. I took the motorcycle safety training a fewyears back, and I "strongly suggested" my wife take the course, which she didthis past weekend. Still, I try to be extra cautious when driving the scooterand always wear a helmet.
We traded out the dirt bikes (sold them) we owned and used the cash forscooters. You can get an amazing deal on scooters if you are willing to shoponline, and do some basic set up and maintenance on the scooters. Frankly, it’sreally easy. Just pull the scooter off the crate (wood or metal cage, on awooden pallet), put acid in the battery and seal it up, hook up and charge thebattery (charger included), put on the mirrors and stuff like the riding deck(where your feet rest), check the tire pressure, and go through andcheck/tighten bolts and screws (a little Locktite helps too).
I found our Chinese manufactured SUNL scooters online, for about $1000 and$2000 respectively, shipping included! Dealers want $2500 and $3500 for the exact same bike so youcan save a bunch of bucks on the scoots and on sales tax if you are willing todo a little (very little) work yourself.
Tonight Mary Ellen and I went for a ride over to Anthony’s Pizza for somedinner. We had cheese slices and soda. It reminded me of when we were first married and lived on LongIsland, NY. After dinner, we popped back on the scoots and drove through the neighborhoodon the way back home. It was fun.
While I can’t say we’re officially "green" since the subhuman is still around, but the garage has definitely gotten a bit greener recently. And with gas still around $3.65/gallon, it’s pretty satisfying when I need to visit the pump on one of the scoots. It makes my wallet happy too.
I don’t write about national politics much on this blog, but as soon as Iheard Obama chose Biden for his VP, it was obvious to me why. All the issues themedia raises about Biden’s negatives (he’s old, been in Washington too long, wasan Obama naysayer, etc.) are simply missing the point.
My view on the strategy behind why Biden is Obama’s VP pick: Bidenis basically the democrat version of McCain. Biden’s got the foreign policyexperience, senate experience, he’s outspoken, he has a temper he doesn’t alwayscontrol, has foot-in-mouth disease, has that independent, hard to controlspirit, and is seen as a maverick. Very much like McCain.
Biden neutralizes McCain – Why cross over and vote McCain when you can getthe same thing in Biden. If you’re a Democrat, don’t cross over to McCainbecause you’ve got Biden. If you’re a Republican considering going for Obama,it’s “safer” now because you get most of what you liked about McCain in Biden.(Except the national hero, POW hero factor.) And the knock that Obama’s notready to be President? Well, Obama must be if Biden changed his mind enough tobe Obama’s VP. Biden left that door open in the Democrat debates when he said"[Obama] could be ready".
It’s the neutralize McCain strategy by taking away most of thedifferentiating reasons you’d vote for him. Personally, I believe Hillary wouldhave given Obama the best chance of winning, even though she would have made therun up to the election more like a Bill-ary turkey shoot for theRepublicans.
The media isn’t buying into Obama’s Biden VP pick but I think this is thereal strategy behind it.