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.
Alan and I are getting back into the swing of doing podcasts regularly again. I guess since we don't work together every day any longer, this is a way we maintain our industry connection along with our personal friendship. Alan's ying and I'm yang. He's "click" and I'm "clack". (An NPR Car Talk radio show reference.) He's a former New York lawyer, I'm Nebraska small town guy. He's loud and opinionated, I'm quiet and informed (lol). We once had a COO candidate interviewing with our company who first interviewed with Alan and then talked with me. After we both got a better understanding of each other, she said "You and Alan must really hate each other. I'll bet you go at it all the time. You're both so different." She was pretty shocked when I told her we actually were really close friends and have a great time working together. I really enjoy Alan's friendship.
When time came to do our podcast again, Alan called me and said "Lets do one. Got any guests?" I'm working on getting a couple of guests lined up but I didn't have anybody ready yet. So he said, "Lets check on Twitter." Trolling for guests on Twitter — how funny, I thought by hey why not. Literally seconds later, Mike Murray responded saying he'd join us. Mike had just turned on his cell phone and see our Twitter message while his plan was headed to the gate. So the sound is a bit rough (Mike was in an airport) but having him on the show was well worth it.On this episode we talk with Mike about why signature-based security product do and don't still matter, how IT spending less will impact security, and experiences working with security professionals who don't seemingly have as much security training. Of course a good bit of our discussion centers around the US economy, or lack of one depending whether you believe we've hit bottom or there's a ways yet to go.