And today is the perfect moment to observe wisdom of crowds in action. As green energy usage has grown from an insignificant less than one percent amount, to a significant slice of the yearly average and more than 50% of power production for the peaks (very sunny summer days or extreamly windy days). But there is a but. The old power grid requires that the power usage equals power generation. This worked ok during the old days, when the power generation was constant, and has become a nightmare when power generation massively fluctuates .
An extreme example: the solar eclipse at noon, on 20 March, if it will be a sunny day, will make power management a nightmare for Germany, more explanations here.
The problem is that we currently do not have a cheap battery technology to allow efficient and with no significant environment damage to stock the peak green energy output until the moment it is needed. And this problem is also a great business opportunity, someone could have huge gains from buying energy cheap and selling it at a high price when the demand is great. Not to mention that if the battery is highly reusable, the gain is multiplied by the number of reloads….
Of course we also need better battery technology for our mobile devices (smartphones and laptops), and mostly for electric cars. But this is a secondary issue, we have the current batteries, that do their job, and electric cars can wait, while we use electic common transport in the city, electric trains for efficient long distance travel and the extraordinary already available bicycle technology. The question is how to store for a few days the huge power output of a solar plant or wind farm. Until now the problem could be ignored, while these technologies were not significantly used, but this is not the case anymore, not in Germany, and not in the United States either.
So here it comes the wisdom of crowds. I did a quick search and found quite a few creative ideas for battery technology of tomorrow. Which technology(es) will win? Time will tell. The wisdom of inventors will team with the wisdom of users and the best will win.
It’s been more than a year since I have my new laptop, and I feel I can give it a onest review now.
The equation was simple: I needed a very light and a very fast 15” laptop. That meant 512 G ssd hdd (no more spinning disks), an IPS Full HD Display, 4th generation Intel processor and arround 2Kg. Of course, with 3 years warranty.
It exists, but for most producers (Dell, Lenovo, Sony, Apple etc.) it is the most expensive (or at least it was a year ago). At Apple I needed to sell a kidney for the 3 year warranty.
Then on some Ubuntu forums I learned about System76 laptops (rebrended Clevo laptops manufactured in China – as the other expensive laptops on the market) I wrote them an email, they do not ship to Romania, and it would be complicated to quickly fix any warranty issue. But from some online forums I found the equivalent in Europe, the Tuxedo laptops:
They have an online configurator (in german, but google translates well), more versatile than Dell in their good years, and the high-end features (512 SSD, IPS Display) do not double or triple the laptop value. Warranty, even 4 years. Time to deliver in Romania: 5 working days. They have a good contract with Deutsche Post so the deliveries are fast most times free.
The only downside, the 15” case has a numpad (which for me is totally useless), but it’s so hard this days to find a simple and efficient keyboard. If I were a writer, I would not have bought it. The numpad moves all the “good” keys to the left, so the hands and touchpad do not stay aligned with the center of the screen, which is quite annoying.
But I gave it a try, made the order, and one week later I received my laptop. Than, I noticed the screen was not IPS, so I send it back and received it changed. It was very hard to adjust to the keyboard, so hard that eventually I asked for a replacement, and I received it free of charge (I was able to change the keyboard myself, it was very easy).
What can I say, after using it for more than an year:
- the IPS display is great. the contrast is fabulous.
- I do not miss at all the Nvidia graphics. (I was not playing any games anyway)
- It is so great not to have a spinning disk. Especially when carrying the laptop arround a lot (in the car, on the bicycle, etc. ) And so quiet. And so fast.
- I missed not having a CD/DVD Reader only once. It’s worth having a lighter laptop, I think. I can always buy an external CD Reader. And they have such a short lifespan.
If I would buy it again, I would choose the 2 year warranty and so that I can get the newer model faster. Replacing the laptop is a lot cheaper than for the old Dells. The new models always have better display, more hard space and more memory. I was just looking at the up-to-date Tuxedo configs, you can by a 1000G SSD, and the 500G SSD has a very decent price these days.
Am primit de la mosul de Craciun o carte galbena, atat de haioasa, ca am ras citind-o de multe ori cu lacrimi, iar cand s-a terminat, am reluat-o de la capat.
Simona Tache si Mihai Radu au un dialog aprins, in care m-am regasit de multe ori, si mi-au adus aminte ca orice situatie se schimba iremediabil cand intra umorul in ecuatie.
Copiez rupte din context cateva din citatele mele preferate:
Cand mai cresc [fetele] (cine a avut o sora stie), stau toata ziua cu nasul in cutii, in debarale, prin sertare, cautand sau asezand chestii. Cum isi ascund cainii oasele, asa gandesc si ele: “Ia sa pun eu foarfeca asta aici, sub haine, ca poate la un moment dat raman fara foarfeca si vin si o dezgrop!”
Daca vezi doi baietei de 3 ani jucandu-se absorbiti cu o masinuta si bodoganind de zor, n-ai vrea in veci sa auzi tot ce aude masiunta aia:
- Mama, flatioale, am o bolnda beton la clesa, dac-o vezi plangi. Ale niste pempalsi cu pisicute loz care-i fac un cul male si supelsexi. Nu plea ale tate, da’in lest, e buna lau de tot gagica
Cea mai simpla rezolvare a problemei cu gunoiul ar fi ca mai multe sotii de pe acelasi palier sa se asocieze si sa organizeze, pentru sotii lor, concursul “Cel mai mare campion de pe palier si din toate timpurile la dus gunoiul”. Ziua si editia. Cu podium, cu festivitate de premiere, cu medalii, cu tot tacamul.
Simona Tache, Mihai Radu, Femeile vin de pe Venus, bărbații de la băut, Editura Trei, 2013.
Urmaresc de ceva timp calatoria solitara în caiac a unui roman de la de la Giurgiu la Veneţia. A mers pe Dunare, a traversat tot litoralul romanesc, bulgaresc, a trecut de Turcia. Mai are putin si ajunge la Salonic. Se alimenteaza din incurajarile noastre si ajutorul unor oameni extraordinari.
My experience with Kindle Paperwhite (best technical solution I found so far to take books with me on the beach) has been more than positive, but a few tricks made a big difference (from the point of view of a Linux user):
- I installed Calibre, the library management software (apt-get install calibre)
- I opened in Calibre the pdfs that I wanted to be able to read on my Kindle (containing text, not photographs of pages) and converted them to mobi format (I converted to mobi, not epub as by default, as I noticed that only in mobi format the Kindle option to select font size was available. Or changing default behaviour: calibre preferences -> behaviour -> prefered output format -> mobi.
Special tricks for foreign language learning (German in my case)
- optionally – I set the Kindle interface to German (I recommand changing interface only if already mastering the language at an intermediary level)
- I set the preferred dictionary to the default German-German dictionary (comes free with the Kindle). I also bought from Kindle Shop the Collins Concise German-English dictionary, which is integrated with the Kindle. Now I can use the Kindle as a dictionary (I go to search, select the dictionary – if it is not already selected, write the word in German and search it). No need to switch to German keyboard, if I keep a letter longer pressed, a popup allows me to choose a corresponding German special character (the umlouts).
But the best is that if I read a German book, when I select a word and keep it pressed, the translation pops up (from my default dictionary).
For instance: I go to a German Wikipedia article, I go to print/export and download the epub format. Then I convert it from the command line (Ubuntu Calibre graphical interface converts books only as English – or the corresponding interface language, does not have yet the option to set language per book):
ebook-convert PabloPicasso.epub PabloPicasso.mobi –language de
Then I open the converted mobi file (with German language in metadata) in Calibre graphical interface
And the most important part, putting the files on my Kindle:
- I connect the Kindle with a cable to my laptop, with a standard usb cable (the same cable that I use to charge/connect my Android smartphone) and open it
- From the Calibre graphical interface I right click on a book (after I verified that I correctly set the author and title) and select “Send to device” -> “Send specific format to” -> “Main memory” and make sure that I send the mobi format.
Last but not least the Kindle has an option to switch reading to landscape view (for even bigger fonts, for those of us that want to protect eyes from fatigue in any way possible).
So I can have a ton of books with me wherever I go, including an incredibly powerful contextual dictionary. No buttons, only touchscreen, the battery seems to hold forever and the pages are as perfect in the dark as in the bright sun, I can set the fonts as big as I want and I can read texts from other sources than the Kindle bookshop. I am very happy with my Kindle Paperwhite.
6 dimineata, sambata, suna ceasul. Am sarit din pene (cum zic nemtii), mi-am luat echipamentul cat pentru 3 ture si val vartej am plecat de-acasa. Am gasit masina cu barca pe ea, o minunatie facuta dupa planuri canadiene, din lemn tratat cu fibra de sticla si lacuit, ne-am regrupat si am pornit in directia Oltenita. Era inceputul.
Supectam, dupa experienta de anul trecut, ca tot somnul imi va dispare imediat ce ajung pe apa. Pana sa ne strangem toti am distribuit optim bagajele in caiac, apoi le-am scos, le-am redistribuit, le-am scos iarasi, am luat aparatul, am facut poze, am pus aparatul la loc, iar l-am scos, am rearanjat. Parca incapeau toate, ca la lansarea pe apa Argensului sa capitulez si sa dau un bagaj in alta barca.
Fara vant din fata, fara pericol de ploaie, fara tantari, cateva raze de soare caldute. Si multe barci de toate felurile: caiace de tura, sau mai rapide, elegante sau practice, cateva canoe, un caiac home made dupa planuri, un caiac gonflabil, si unul foldabil. Eu ca si data trecuta in cel galben si sprintar. Am purces cu mic cu mare la drum intr-un ritm perfect dupa o iarna prea lunga.
Am padelat cu pofta, cu scurte pauze si regrupari, poante si povestiri. Nici nu stiu cum a trecut timpul, am cotit, si deodata ne-am trezit in padure…
Crengute, viraje bruste, deodata viraje foarte bruste, stanga, dreapta, trante cu crengile, frana, marsarrier, avant, stanga, ambuteiaj. Depasire, cedeaza trecerea. Semnal. Buf cu padela in copac. Distractie Rabdare. Frana, stanga, mult stanga, dreapta, si mai mult stanga. Poteca alternativa. Copaci mai multi. O poienita inundata! Pasari. O cascada artificiala si curent puternic. O bariera de copaci. Stanga, dreapta, stanga. Mi s-a facut foame Si nu am acces la aparat…
Cu grija suntem dirijati de organizatori pe culoarul navigabil si acostam pe o insula verde rupta dintr-o carte cu povesti. Abia ne scoatem straturile si ne intindem la soare. Suntem serviti cu cea mai buna placinta ever, pregatita cu o zi inainte special pentru noi. Deja focul e gata si se pregateste ceva extrem de bun de mancare.
Timp pt povesti si test drive. Incerc si eu pt prima data o canoe. Not bad at all. E drept, este o canoe speciala, foarte usoara, cu eleganta nobla a lemnului si manevrata cu multa tehnica. Eu doar testez senzatia de padelat, si ma apuc de poze.
Urmeaza delicatesele: ciuperci umplute, cartofiori in coaja, peste la gratar, si cate ceva serios si pentru cei mai carnivori dintre noi … apoi timp de o siesta, si de inca un test drive.
Pornim in formatie la drum, iesim pe Dunarea cea larga. Soare, vant din spate. Plutind pe o coaja la suprafata suvoiului de apa, respir senzatia de libertate.
O tura perfecta, un inceput de primavara minunat, organizatorii s-au intrecut pe ei insisi, jos palaria!
Am descoperit o carte despre finante personale scrisa de o senatoare americana, cu o idee minunat de simpla si eleganta. Principiul foarte sanatos: o formula care sa iti permita nu iti mai bati capul cu banii si sa iti vezi de viata.