Monthly Archives: November 2007

Better Lighting

With the Sun shining less (at least here in the Midwest), we’re using our lights more. Soon it’ll be dark out by 5 or 6 and we’ll be using our lights more. I’m glad I’ve got my CFLs to ease my electric bill though.

I’ve written on CFLs before, I’m sure. For your standard lighting, it doesn’t get any better. These bulbs use a fraction of the electricity that your incandescents do. And they’re modern. Incandescents haven’t really changed since they were invented. We don’t drive the same cars. We don’t ride the same bikes. Why then would be want to use 100 year old light bulbs?

CFL Bulb

Energy Star Certified CFLs are a great way to go. You know you’re getting quality and energy savings every time. Plus Energy Star has helpful calculators. For consumers and businesses, Energy Star offers an easy way to calculate your savings switching your lights to Energy Star Certified CFLs versus using conventional incandescents. The site also lists helpful information on the minute amount of included mercury. Plus read their guide (PDF) on mercury clean-up in the event you break a bulb.

Popular Mechanics, the magazine responsible for all kinds of crazy technology articles, pitted CFLs against incandescents for their May 2007 issue. I’m sure my readers won’t be surprised to hear that CFLs won out. The website has all the results of the test.

I’ve heard many people complain (my own dear mom included) that they don’t like using CFLs because they don’t fit where they want them or they just look plain ugly. But I disagree! GE has a listing of all the funky shaped bulbs they sell as CFL and you won’t be disappointed. Yeah, they have your typical spirals but they have replacements for your B10 (that almost flame shaped bulb) and your flood lights and everything else. They even offer their own energy savings calculator so that you can put in your bulb types and approximate wattage to find out what switching with save you. This is a tad easier than the Energy Star version. Its not perfect but according to it I’ll save $450 over the life of those bulbs.

Buy your CFLs either at your local store (Wal-Mart and Menards are often the cheapest places though Wal-Mart is slightly evil) or online through various retailers. THEbulb.com offers mostly spirals but does work to offset carbon emissions. Eartheasy Shop also has an awesome selection of the different CFLs but also offers LED lighting and other green products.


Green Web Hosting

If your business is already environmentally friendly or working to get there, consider moving your website over to a host that shares the same values. Green web hosts rely on sustainable renewable energy sources to power their servers. Typically they also have a backup generator or are connected to the grid in the event something happens. That way you get the same reliability with a green host as you would any other.

Other hosts can’t always work well off of renewable energy. Often they are in regions incompatible with wind power or solar panels. However, they offset their usage by purchasing carbon credits.

Also be sure to choose a server that runs Linux or FreeBSD. Open Source tends to be more reliable than its closed source counter parts and is often free.

  • AISO.net relies completely on solar power. They run Windows and Linux servers. Plans start at $10/month.
  • ThinkHost uses solar and wind power. Their employees telecommute to further cut any potential emissions. They use a FreeBSD (think Unix) server. Hosting starts at $7.95 per month.
  • RackSpace doesn’t push the green aspect of their business like the others do. I’m not sure they even use green power. However, they do plant a tree for every server sold and that’s worth mentioning.
  • Sustainable Websites uses 100% wind power. They utilize Red Hat Linux and CentOS to power their servers. Plans start at $10/month.

If you’re a green web host seeking a little free advertising, let me know.  This site gets around 30 hits a day so its reasonable advertising.  I know that there must be more than four green hosts on the Internet, I just can’t find them.


Linux Books

Probably the easiest way to still thoroughly learn Linux is just to pick up a good ole book.  The Chengdu University of Technology hosts an FTP server with a couple dozen Linux, Unix, and programming books available.  Homelinux.org also allows you download up to 20 ebooks per day.  They are almost all PDFs for easy viewing.


Mac Makes Linux Pretty

This article has been updated with new how-to instructions.


gPC + gOS Developers Kit

The motherboard found in the gPC is now available in a developers kit. This kit basically just includes the board and a gOS disk to get you started. LinuxDevices has a full run down on what this board has to offer.

While this may have a slow processor, the system still takes 2GB DDRII RAM. Video is integrated but you can one PCI slot available. Someone wanting to crank out a little more speed here does have serious options. Stick 2 GB RAM in it and throw in a decent graphics card, you’ll probably get a fairly responsive system even under Gnome or KDE.

On the other hand, the Via C7-D integrated process found on this system draws a max 20 watts under load. Compare that with my Athlon 64 with pulls some 59 watts or new higher end processors that pull 85 watts or more. Even for low end processors, the Celeron still takes 86 watts in most cases. This makes the Via or even the gPC an interesting possibility for a lot of uses. Imagine setting this as a terminal in libraries or putting these in schools. Even placing one in your home for your regular Internet browsing (because I know you leave it on all the time) and keep a separate machine for gaming turned off but for when you need it. There could be some massive energy savings.

gOS Board

Interesting side note I picked up from LinuxDevices: gOS was started by Everex, the PC manufacturer. Though I suspected there was more to play in all this than an unknown distro suddenly getting attention, it helps when the PC maker develops its own distro (or in this case, modded Ubuntu for its purposes). I’m still disappointed though. When I checked Everex’s site, the gPC remains the only system running any form of Linux. They still have my respect for making a line of energy efficient systems.


Linux: Ripping DVDs

LinuxAppFinder has a piece on how to rip your DVD movies to MPEG4 with k9copy. The author claims that k9copy ripped the movies with less errors and had better features than dvd::rip. Now if I could just find a good way to burn my movies back to DVD. Any suggestions?

K9Copy

LinuxAppFinder is also great if you’re just looking for an alternative to a Windows or Mac program.


Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I will try to overlook how I could dub today “The Beginning of the End for Natives” Day.  Or why this country is conservative.  Alas, let me eat my tofurkey and potatoes.