Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Running without A/C

We're deep into summer here so I worked out a system by which our house can stay cool and use less electricity. We setup two fans on different sides of the house that run at about 120 watts each. At the front end of the house, we point one fan into the house while at the other end, the fan points outside. With both running simultaneously, we manage to continuously cycle out the air so that whatever temperature it is outside, it stays in our house. On cooler days, this is very inexpensive.

So, in total we're using about 240 watts to the around 10,000 watt (!) air condition unit we have. Some serious energy savings.

Coming home

After leaving the house for many hours, things gradually get very hot - much hotter than the air outside. When we run the fans for a few minutes previous to engaging the A/C, we don't have to re-cool all that extra hot air.

Larger houses

I suspect in a bigger house four fans could do the same thing, ideally with the intake fan close to the ground and the exaust fan close to the ceiling, as hot air rises. Two story houses could handle this beautifully by having the intake fans on the ground floor and exaust fans on the second.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Running Folding@Home

Update: development on this program has gone a little out of hand and I can no longer recommend it.  Configuration is difficult at best, the interface is junk, and there's not a simple, lightweight, low interference setting.  Despite my earlier recommendation, I now avoid this tool.


This notice is something I post at the bottom of all my emails:

Folding@Home - program that runs completely in the background to help cure major diseases. Do something useful with your machine: http://folding.stanford.edu

Folding @ Home is a software that makes thousands of separate computers behave like one supercomputer. The idea is that they take millions of simulations that need to be done, cut them into parts, and send them over the internet for other folks' computers to run. There are lots of projects out there like this but Folding @ Home is solving major problems in biology that are behind many types of cancer, mad cow disease, and more. Further, this project is run by Stanford University and all results produced are fully open and not restricted to big, greedy drug companies.

Most people only use their computers for Word Processing and email ... computers even 15 years old can do basic tasks like that without any trouble. So we have these hyper-powered computers that are really only being used some 3% of the time, usually while playing video games or creating mp3s. Why not put all that spare processing power to some use?


1. The program uses up a small amount of memory that can slow down your computer IF you're running a lot of applications all at once - otherwise it stays completely and totally in the background.

2. It can heat up your apartment slightly, but that's really only a problem during these summer months. Also, older computers or machines with a lot of dust running at 100% all the time will get really hot and can (in rare cases) damage the hardware. So its important to either turn down the CPU usage percentage or make sure all fans are working and the interior of your computer is fairly dust-free.

NOTE: If you have an AMD 64-bit in your computer (including the Sempron series), your computer can run these simulations *considerably* faster than other computers (my tests have shown between 2 and 4x faster).



Had way too many bad experiences concerning the very broken picture of sex and intimacy our society currently has so ... I wanted to do something positive. As such, I gave $25 to http://www.rainn.org

They gave me a keychain. :)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Computer altruism

I'm a computer guy so I was thinking about farming out some of my skills to the community at large. This doesn't mean much right now because its very much in the planning stages and I'm not by any means near it. Still, the idea has some merit.
  1. Get together a short presentation on some kind of computer stuff - the old staples are always winners: back up your computer, get virus scan software, safe computer practices, etc.
  2. Connect with local library or community center or where-ever than handles this stuff. Confirm a time and a space to talk about shit.
  3. Create and post a flyer in places where people might read them as well as on craigslist.
  4. Show up and see what kind of involvement you get and answer some basic computer questions. Involvement with community occurs.
Presumably people would also hook me up with their old computer hardware that they don't want anymore so this philanthropy could have some good fallout for me as well.

Faster showers

Figured out a trick to use WAY less electricity and water. After a friend went into the Peace Corps, I started thinking about how much water developed nations use. This made me much more conscious of my water usage.

  1. Get cloth, wet slightly and rub it in a bar of soap or whatever.
  2. Wet hair slightly.
  3. Get nekkid.
  4. Wipe down with moist cloth and apply whatever hair cleaning stuff you want.
  5. Run shower and just rinse off. Do the conditioner thing if need-be.
  6. Hang up the cloth so it doesn't mildew. The soap that’s still in it can be reused later.

I have estimated that my showers use around two gallons of water and approximately 30-100 watts of electricity. It also ends up saving a lot of time. If I can figure out how to take cold showers, I could knock this down considerably but I'm too much of a wuss.

This takes all of like three minutes and is - for all intents and purposes - the same thing you get with a normal shower, except conceivably for a moisturizing effect from warm water.