reflections on the technium

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

Archive for May 2011

Letter to editor : Port fiber optic project

Resilient communities… What are the ingredients?

Subject: Letter to the editor (Port fiber optic project...)
Date: Sun, 09 Jan 2011 16:58:19 -0800
From: Charles Petras <charles.petras@xxxxxxxx.xxx>
To: news@wcgazette.com

Sir,

Congratulations on the Port of Whitman moving forward with its project
to run fiber optic cable through the length of the county.  This
provides one of the ingredients (communications) necessary to permit
resilient communities to grow.  The others are transportation, food,
energy, and security.

Transportation:  Rail in our case for the movement of materials.  When
(not if) gas hits $25/gallon we'll see how truly blessed we are to have
our rail infrastructure (or at least what remains).

Food:  We could ensure our food security by embracing the technology
developed by Verdant Earth Technologies of Tucson, Arizona, which is
essentially a greenhouse in a shipping container (using LEDs for
lighting).  The claim is that 90 days of growing can be accomplished in
30 days using 24 hour a day illumination.  Local production would result
in more jobs plus quality fresher products.

Energy:  Its unfortunate that our one great source of renewable (24
hours a day / 7 days a week) energy -- hydroelectric -- is contracted to
consumers a thousand miles away.  The efforts to harness the wind, while
admirable, have selected the wrong technology.  The solution being
implemented is political (tax incentive driven) and one that can only
provide intermittent energy, not the 24/7 delivery a technology driven
base would require.  A sustainable solution would be using 'solar updraft towers.'

Security:  In this instance we'll limit this to opportunity.
Opportunity for us and future generations to have prosperous lives.
Here's some videos of what the introduction of a new technology can
accomplish <http://bit.ly/hERAK8>.  Conversely these are our future
competitors (for jobs and raw materials).

Vision:  This is what we need.  One future that I really like would be
to make the region the home to world class 'rapid prototyping' and
'rapid manufacturing.'  Manufacturing could be accomplished using the
concept of a 'mobile parts hospital' (MPH) which is essentially a
computer-controlled machine shop in a shipping container (specifications
are downloaded over the internet and parts made to order).

The new fiber optic highway is an enabling technology.  How it can/will
be used to change our world is a question each of us has to answer.

Regards,

Chuck

Written by Chuck Petras

May 31, 2011 at 20:24

Posted in Letter to editor

Letter to editor : Rail line abandonment

Irreplaceable resources being abandon to make a bicycle path.  What happens when fuel hits $25/gal?

Subject: Officials discuss replacing Colfax-Pullman rail with trail
Date: Wed, 18 May 2011 06:49:53 -0700
From: Charles Petras <charles.petras@xxxxxxxx.xxx>
To: news@wcgazette.com

Editor Sir

Regarding the future abandonment of the Colfax-Pullman rail line
discussed in your May 12th article "Officials discuss replacing
Colfax-Pullman rail with trail."

The loss of this rail link would further erode the competitiveness of
our county.  As the price of fuel continues to increase -- as we all
know it will as the dollar continues its debt induced slide -- its
absolutely vital that efficient transportation infrastructure be called
into play so we can continue to supply competitively priced food to the
world markets.

Once the line is gone, its gone.  It would be cost prohibitive to
reconstitute most of the lines that have already been abandon (and
scraped), but if they are still in place then making them serviceable
would be a small percentage of new price.

Regards,

Chuck

Written by Chuck Petras

May 31, 2011 at 20:09

Posted in Letter to editor

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(7)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

  • Sticky Tape X-rays
  • BioCurious: The Bay Area Biology Collaborative Lab Space
  • Natural History of Danger

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Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 13:03

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(6)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

  • VW’s Transparent Factory in Dresden
  • Dr. NakaMats: Patently Strange: The World’s Most Prolific Inventor
  • The Art of Innovation from the Hacker’s Perspective
  • Did you know

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Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 12:42

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(5)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

  • Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization
  • Google’s driverless car
  • Phil McKinney: Hacking the Future
  • DIY Drones with Chris Anderson

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Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 12:24

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(4)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

Topics on the smart grid…

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So lets see how the orcs and trolls are massing to control this sea change in electrical power generation, transmission, distribution and use.

[We are now seeing the transition from dedicated analog appliances to general purpose digital, where an edge device will transition the analog signals into the digital domain to allow commoditized computation platforms to do the system protection and control.  Commoditization will drive costs down and integration will increase due to simplified scaling.]

{We can divide our [partial] list of players into nontraditional and traditional competition. Probably the one over riding characteristic of the nontraditionalist’s is their use of standards to accomplish commoditization, scaling, and depress prices.}

Nontraditional

Traditional

Other

For fun…

Have we now come to the point that we’ve duplicated Archytas of Tarentum’s ancient automated bird?

Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 12:06

Brown Bag at the Movies – Selected technical topics(3)

For this installment of Brown Bag at the Movies we will be viewing (abstract below):

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Written by Chuck Petras

May 30, 2011 at 11:35