Archive

Archive for April, 2010

What is the Side Effect of Pulling Energy from the Air using Wind Power?

April 30th, 2010 3 comments

The Massachusetts Cape Wind Project has been in the news this week, and listening to the debate has got me thinking that there is a part of the picture that seems to have been left out of the discussion.

Wind power sounds like a great deal. It is renewable. It doesn’t rely on exploiting oil, coal or other physical reserves. The on-going costs are mostly hardware maintenance.

At the same time, the engineering part of my head keeps whispering “Hey! Energy doesn’t appear from nowhere!”

Wind holds energy. The atmosphere circulates this energy in weather systems. Wind farms generate electricity by pulling energy out of the air, which removes energy from the atmosphere.

This leaves me with a question that I have not heard discussed. What will large withdrawals from the atmosphere’s energy reserves will do to the atmosphere, our weather and our climate? Maybe the effects are invisible while we still have very few wind farms. What will happen if the numbers of wind farms grow dramatically?

I am not suggesting that wind power is a bad idea. The tradeoffs may be far better than those involved with oil, coal and other non-renewable sources. At the same time, I think we should try to have an understanding of what the side effects are pulling our energy “out of the air” will be, since it doesn’t actually come from nowhere!

What do you think? Do you know anyone who has solid background in this area, or have you seen any research on the topic?

Categories: Misc Tags: , ,

Three Simple Steps to see if Your 3D Virtual World Scene is a Low-Performance Computer Killer

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Have you checked your 3D  virtual world scenes on a really low powered machine like a netbook? If not, you may be in for a surprise. Users with low performance machines like netbooks may find a huge performance penalty when they visit your virtual space. In other words… things may look just fine and performance may be “totally ducky” on your machine, yet with a low performance machine your space may be close to unusable.

Isn’t There a Simple “Follow This Rule” Design Guide?

It would be nice if there were simple “follow this rule” guidance that would make design for low performance machines easy. Unfortunately every simple rule I have seen is either incorrect, incomplete, or creates unnecessary compromises.

In other words, simple rules don’t really work well in creating performance optimized builds for a wide range of hardware. Because of the number of variables, testing is the only reasonable way to be sure your build works well with lower performance machines.  When there is a build-induced performance issue, the cause is often that one aspect of the scene exceeds the complexity and performance levels low performance machine graphics systems.

A Recent Example of a Surprising Answer

I recently diagnosed a problem in a well known virtual world environment where even mid-level computers were showing 25-50% frame rate reductions, and netbooks showed extreme performance problems with no other avatars present. We found that the grass surrounding the stage was constructed in a way that caused particular problems for low performance computers.

Removing the grasss and replacing it with a different ground cover improved the frame rate on mid-level computers by 25-50% and a netbook by over 100%, all by replacing ONE graphical element in the scene! This illustrates that a single element can have a surprising and large impact on user experience.

A Simple Three Step Test Read more…

The Twitter Opportunistic Follower Explosion, and how it has Changed my Follow-back Strategy

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Many new followers appear and then disappear after 24 hours if I do not follow them back. A quick check of their profile shows that they are following only to get me to click their profile link to check out their web site. They silently follow, with no “hi,” no contact, no attempt to connect in any form past a click. Many are blatantly hard-sell pitch marketers, with Twitter streams that are only vaguely disguised broadcast sales messages. Just in case you (and you know who you are) are wondering, sprinkling one “thought of the day” in the middle of a dozen or two dozen “whoa click this link, this is cool” Tweets is not a very convincing disguise!

I’ve started calling these folks Opportunistic Followers. They mock-follow, as if they have some interest, but really are only trying to get you to watch their push advertising. Some call this Twitter-spam. Regardless of the name, it pollutes the stream, and if it gets too pervasive will cause many people to drop the use of social media because it will have reached the same level of noise and nonsense as other environments.

Once in a while I will check the new follower list to see who to follow back, but have started to wait for someone to actually engage in a meaningful way before following back. The personal cost in time to check out, and discard, the high percentage of opportunistic followers (spammers to be blunt) is high enough that it interferes with getting real work done, and it is getting hard to justify spending time reviewing the piles of daily opportunistic followers who churn in and out.

If you are following me and want to connect “past the click” please do so – send me an @reply or contact me on my Contact page. It will be great to have a real conversation and stay in touch!

Categories: Misc Tags:

2010-04-27 We Are The Network: What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

April 25th, 2010 No comments

What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm Eastern time

This Tuesday, Apr 27, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wells/97/56/27

This Week’s Topic

What Would it Take to Create a Non-Violent Human Society?

Anger. Conflict. Bombings. War. Threats of violence.

Are these things endemic to the human condition? Is violence built in to humans, in an unavoidable way? There have been long debates in academic and non-academic circles about this topic, with strong positions on both sides.

Rather than debate whether violence is preventable, what if we thought about the issue from a different perspective? If we were to assume that it is possible to create a non-violent human society, what steps might be necessary to make a transition from where we are to the removal of violence as a constant in our world? What would this transformed world look like if we could “snap our fingers and have it be done”?

Are there downsides to the creation of a non-violent society? Are there parts of our culture, belief system, economy and psychological well-being that are reliant on the presence of violence in society (perhaps that is why the goal of non-violence is so hard to achieve)?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / 3pm U.S. Eastern time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…

2010-04-13 We Are The Network: The Changing Employer-Employee Relationship – What is a Career Today?

April 8th, 2010 2 comments

The Changing Employer-Employee Relationship: What is a Career Today?

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / SL time

This Tuesday, Apr 13, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wells/97/56/27

This Week’s Topic

The Changing Employer-Employee Relationship: What is a Career Today?

The concept of career has changed dramatically in our lifetime. For our parents, a career was often a single track kept throughout your working life. It was common to have a job working for one employer for years and sometimes decades. A 2008 data release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the average worker aged 18-42 held 10.8 jobs. On average, workers now change jobs every 2.2 years (from data that precedes the recent severe recession, which has likely further altered these numbers.)

Where companies used to take care of their employees based on an unwritten contract of long-term responsibility, the contract, if it exists, has dramatically changed.

What are the expectations of employers towards their employees now? How do current hiring practices, on-going management practices and release practices illustrate new employer beliefs? What are the expectations of employees towards employers? What are best practices for finding and keeping jobs in a world in which increasingly the employee’s first interview is with a machine?

How have these changes altered the nature of work and of the career concept?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon Pacific/SL time for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

If you do not have a Second Life account and would like a quick start to attend the session, please contact me for more information.

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…

Why Ducking ROI Questions Hurts Your Career, and What You Should Do Instead

April 5th, 2010 1 comment

The Hidden Return on Investment Discussion

There is an untold perspective, amid the blizzard of posts and comments about measurement of, inability to measure, or the non-sensical nature of measuring ROI (return on investment) for projects. When you are asked “what is the ROI of this?” you are often being asking a set of questions—only one of which has anything to do with money, investment or returns.

An effective response to an ROI question requires an understanding of the organizational view of ROI. Absent an awareness of the organizational view, answers may be seen as disingenuous and evasive. Neither attempting to divert a reasonable question, nor attempting to demonstrate that there is no basis for the question are productive strategies, regardless of the language used to disguise the maneuver.

There is a better, more productive path to answering questions about Read more…

2010-04-06 We Are The Network: Trends and Ethics in Image Enhancement and Alteration

April 4th, 2010 4 comments

Trends and Ethics in Image Enhancement and Alteration

Please join our global discussion group
every Tuesday at 12PM noon U.S. Pacific / SL time

This Tuesday, Apr 6, at the Epoch Institute in Second Life

Click here to teleport to the Epoch Institute in Second Life
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wells/97/56/27

This Week’s Topic

Trends and Ethics in Image Enhancement and Alteration

Advances in image manipulation and enhancement software have made it ever easier to enhance, or modify, images in ways that look natural and would not be noticed readily as altered. This trend is not new, however the technologies for manipulating images are getting radically easier. “Normal people” can now seamlessly alter images in ways that used to require significant expertise in advanced tools. One example of the new tools generation is the “Content Aware Fill” feature that is bound to ship shortly with Photoshop CS5 (linked below in the reading links section). This tool has now made it possible for almost anyone to make major structural alterations to images no more effort than selection a region of the image and clicking a few checkboxes.

How will ever-advancing image manipulation capabilities, and the drive to provide these as consumer-easy features, change our views of the world? Legal challenges and discussions of ethics continue to multiply as these capabilities appear. Will image modification become “the status quo” for every use, or will news, reporting and education resist these temptations? Major publications  have answered ethics challenges with the comment that they just exercised industry standards of image manipluation. Does this mean that extensive image manipulation is now the norm across industries? Are attempts to contain image manipulation based on ethics arguments too little, too late? Where is image enhancement and alteration headed, and how will ethics of image integrity and enhancement change to keep up with these changes?

Join us Tuesday at 12PM noon SL for an interactive discussion, and thanks for being part of “We Are The Network”!

Best regards,

Joel

Reading links below – have fun and Read more…