Archive for February, 2009

* PhoneGap Eclipse Plugin

Posted on February 18th, 2009 by Dave Johnson. Filed under Uncategorized, phonegap.

I have been putting this off for a while but finally got around to getting some Eclipse Plugin action going for PhoneGap.

More news on this very soon!

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* Twitter is Currently Down

Posted on February 18th, 2009 by Dave Johnson. Filed under Uncategorized.

Good thing I have a blog to post to instead… ummm so how about those Mets?

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* Sexing Up Home Appliances

Posted on February 9th, 2009 by Dave Johnson. Filed under Energy, Uncategorized.

A few days ago I questioned the cost effectiveness of vehicle electrification as a means to get petrol cars off the road in favour of their electric counterparts that use electricity generated from, in most cases, a fossil fuelled power plant. My thoughts on that still stand in terms of cost effectiveness since an electric hot water heater and furnace might set you back a thousand dollars and reduce emissions by the same order of magnitude as buying a electric car at > $20,000 a piece (not to mention the infrastructure requirements for “fuelling”).

@monkchips thought the post was skeptical but I like to think that it was pretty grounded in reality and if anything painted a more plausible, cheaper, environmentally friendlier and more society friendly than more [electric] cars.

Tom Raftery also commented on the synergies of electric vehicles and vehicle to grid technologies with the stabilization of the grid as well as demand management, which certainly cannot be argued with and I agree that electric vehicles can help with that. Both Tom and James are emminently knowledgeable in this area.

However, I am thinking why not just include a battery bank for your household electricity needs that could be used as local storage for distributed micro-renewable energy generation and, like the electric vehicle battery, help stabilize the grid by taking energy when there is a surplus and giving back when there is a deficit. That way you still avoid some of the high cost of an electric vehicle as well as the infrastructure required for charging and / or battery replacement stations. Electric home appliances can also take part in smart grid demand management through responding to dynamic pricing from utilities helping to stabilize the network and decrease consumption. They are also always plugged in so you don’t need any additional hardware nor do you ever have to remember to plug the car in when you get home. You also just need regular old lead acid batteries rather than super lightweight, high tech batteries made of carbon nanotubes.

I think in general it is a problem of perception. Electric vehicles are undeniably status symbols, as cars have traditionally been and still are in western society. You can’t show off how green you are to your suburban neighbours by buying electric appliances - unless you invite them in to take a look; and we all know that cars make lots of money for companies like Toyota. Therefore, a large part of the discussion is focusing on things that may be good but are not nearly the most effective. Of course now I am leaning dangerously close to a tirade about not just electrification but instead cutting our consumption by using more efficient means of transportation like buses / coaches and cycling. Years ago GM (and others) did of course buy up and dismantle many a railway to promote cars and we are still feeding into their ideas of city design and transportation networks!

I can appreciate the value in electric vehicles and of course in the smart grid and hope to see them rolling on the street soon but I am also hopeful that the influencers in our society start sexing up the image of lower impact transport solutions and other cost effective solutions - especially in this economic climate. However, efficiency or cost effectiveness does not always live up to the hype either as noted by the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate.

So who wants to start making not owning a car cool?

Photo credit:

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* Nitobi Hack Day

Posted on February 6th, 2009 by Dave Johnson. Filed under Business, Nitobi, hackday.

Yes it’s that time of year again, time for another epic Nitobi hack day!

Sure maybe we won’t have Beck playing but we will have some crazy Internets hacking going on along with of course beer, xbox and foosball. There will be some sort of prize for the voted best hack of the day - in the past this has been some sort of IPod for the most part but also included software donated by Adobe amongst others.

Either way there is not much of a better way than a Nitobi hack day to spend a variably cloudy, winter Saturday in Vancity!

I am probably going to be taking my triple-A approach of Android, Arduino and AIR with a dash of web APIs and a smattering of PhoneGap.

Come by the Nitobi office (Suite 300) anytime after 10am tomorrow morning (Feb 7) and hack till 6 when we will do the voting and drinking!

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