Sunday, July 26, 2009

focusing the cyrstal mouse, don't blink

As you know Linuxville is a virtual place in the hearts of all Linux users. If it were a real place we would be stretching to use what ever technology we have at our disposal. I like to focus on the home front because that is where the practical effect of progress is to be felt. Yeah, we all know some businesses have the money to do this stuff (if they want to invest), but us home folk never seem to get it until years later.

I live in a small city. It is an older post industrial city (nobody here will admit that post part!). There is too much talk about revival of industry of the same nature, scale, scope and reuse of infrastructure. I can hear Springsteen singing "Glory Days". The problem is that most of the older era folks are near to retirement and the younger only want that kind of work if they can't find anything else.

Then the governor wants to put green technology here. So we got a couple of wind turbines to tack onto the grid. Oh, we are making progress in the green direction. The smidgen of power produced is not noticed and most of us don't care where our energy comes from, nor can we say, we just flip the switch. The only green things we can do is buy mercury laced light bulbs, double pane windows and wall/ceiling insulation. If I could afford to buy solar panels and a wind turbine for my home there would need to be new ordinances on the books and insurance options. We don't have flag poles, we won't have home wind turbines on poles either (at least in the city).

How will the green effect sweep down into our lives on a level where we can touch it, see it, feel it? If this does not happen, we will always resist anything dubbed green.

Let the city have it's whirly pin-wheels in the sky, it is a good symbol of green, but plugging them into the existing grid is tacky in small numbers. I would have used that nearly free energy to power a wind turbine factory to make more turbines for us.

On the home front I would install a low power subsystem, first in a group of houses, then a block. On or near these homes put solar arrays and those vertical wind turbines and some batteries, not to power the whole house but the subsystems. On this subsystem the first item would be lighting. GE, an American company, is developing OLED lighting, that's Organic Light Emitting Diodes. It is thin as a sheet of paper and is low power, yet will light a room at way lower energy requirements. Our communications, computers and entertainment stuff would also be on this subsystem, so the AC adapter would become an antique over time. A big part of our living just became low powered, green, off-grid........ things we use daily.

Then we slowly begin to add other green ways and means to our homes. The point is to lower SOME of the demand side. We don't need to insist solar cells and wind turbines meet ALL our needs before we jump into it. This all or nothing view is killing our efforts and support. We could call the few homes a "Green Village", having local contractors and local trade schools working side by side to practice installing and applying green technology. It would spread as green technology and products here find usefulness and value in the lives of actual people. It buys us time as we develop greener products to replace the energy guzzlers we have in the home.

Will that be gas or electric please? There should be city cars like the Smartcar, I would want something a tad bit bigger, then for long trips I could lease or rent a fuel efficient distance car. Maybe personal car ownership is not the best way. A car dealer could be a one stop shop. You could rent or lease, get insurance, mechanic service, any car related service, etc, etc, etc.

Small homes should be discounted for military folks and for college grads to stay and build communities. Larger homes should remain an incentive for those who can afford them. We should change our attitude about smaller homes, make them energy efficient and desirable and resist unreasonable pricing, and............ it getting fuzzy, you blinked.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

the all seeing crystal mouse sees all, of course!

Sci-fi art is wonderful at sparking the imagination, the only problem, you won't soon see a product in a store near you.

How green is your world these days? I am willing to bet green is not even a practical consideration. Today green is not cheap. In fact, anything new that will save you money in the long run is priced so that the up front cost will make up for the money the product company spent to make the product. You must realize that ideas are wireless, products are not. For an idea to materialize into a product takes so much human effort. Then you have to account for inertia, all the forces resisting the product, including you. Saving you money at who's expense, the energy company who is pimping you will resist. And if you can't figure you need this thing, you resist. Companies will fight for and against you having this product, you pay for this in the price.

What got you all stirred up, man! I just saw a few companies who developed organic light emitting diodes or OLEDs into lighting panels that light your TV and computer screens. Now they are talking about lighting your rooms in your homes and offices. This thing is not a tube like florescent, or like that ice-cream sundae swirly thing we call a green light bulb. It is flat and flexible like a sheet of paper. My crystal mouse started glowing and the visions of my head produced a pan-o-rama of possibilities. When reality came back to me, I saw what was being offered. The same old thing we are used to in another package.

These companies need to fire half of their present designers and hire some who do sci-fi art on the side. Maybe they can apply their visionary talents to seriously get out of the box. No, we don't want products that are miniature Los Vegas stage set parts, but practical approaches that elevate homes into the next century. I was thinking of lighting panels of various sizes and shapes to be mounted on walls and ceilings or perched on shelves or hung from wires. And not necessarily square or round.

But the great thing about OLEDs is the low power requirement. How we wrestle with trying to power the whole home with solar and wind. We can't swallow the expense to cover every roof with solar cells and put a lightning attractor/bird whacker wind turbine in every yard. Instead, we should design a low power sub-system to be installed in every home. This low power sub-system would feed all the low power equipment. OLEDs would handle the lighting, laptops the computing, then the other low power communication and entertainment systems. Ac adapters would become antiques. A smaller array of solar cells, some batteries, maybe a vertical wind turbine (small envelope), and /or other power generating/storage technology would take part of our energy burden off the grid. This buys us time to work on the energy hogs, heating and cooling, cooking and food storage, laundry.

We have the technology, we don't have the practical application because we are trying to swallow the whole problem at once.

Monday, July 20, 2009

You are here, it's not a virtual world

Well it is a recession and money targeted for research has been being diverted for years. What will this generation do in the name of progress? How do you use what we already have to go forward? Man, it's quite a trick to keep old values and move on to new frontiers. Our vision of the future has moved from clean and sanitary with enlightened human perfection to grunge and urban decay with anarchy and corruption. We have sort of given up on ourselves and are giving in to baser elements. Technology has not really been pushed down into our society except for cell phones and computers. Our other possessions are anchored in the past. Home furnishing are the major block to the perception of progress, we like period furnishings and antiques. We detest history yet love to look back to a romantic past, less complicated and more peaceful. Even I have dreamed of an electric African, being as advanced as can be yet still primitive or at least tribal in many ways.

In our looking back we try to make new art on old forms which doesn't work too well. We are so stuck on square shapes. Square defines what is a picture, windows, plumb walls, ceilings, floors, rooms, buildings, city blocks. Yet, when you look at the earth from space it does not resemble a "Borg" ship, is not a cube. It is so easy to manufacture a flat surface with 90 degree edges and border them with a frame. No matter what we put in the frame, it allows us to look back on an ancient technology. And you wonder why we don't progress. We think ditching the square will release us from our values also. Relax, your values are in you, not in the things you construct around you. The things reflect you, but are not you. You can make adjustments, the things don't change, become antiques, don't move on with us.

The latest love of my art life is to look at both African art and sci-fi art. The organic and the technical go together so well. I like the idea of using the present as a bridge between the past and the future. It sort of destroys the disconnect. I am not talking about turning tribal markings into facial or body tattoos or turning family reunions into tribal gatherings. Nothing we do can fix us or change us from what we are, humans living in today. We should stop trying so hard. Art and the things we gather around us though, create an environment around us in which we live. Art can have an effect on us, how we grow up, develop, are inspired. And I would like to avoid a grunge future and also the clean, sterile future. Neither are very practical or healthy or account for our ability to be decent. I am working to release both the death-grip of the past and the fear of the future.

So here we are, don't speculate, just move forward, when we get there, we are what we've become. We remember, we dream, but we live in today.

Friday, July 03, 2009

the path is wide for some, narrow for others

If you hang around me for any length of time I will rub off some gleanings that have helped me to PC paradise. Of course I don't do old PCs, but if you do, more power to ya!

I'm always talking about backup and the USB drive is key. If your PC can boot from a USB device then here is the thing. You are a wide open XP or Vista user and you want to use Linux on the side. You can get an 8 or 16 gig jump drive and put Linux on it or on one of those USB book style portable drives (250-500 gig). Who'd know but you when and if you booted up Linux on it's own external hard drive. I still have problems with the OS and the personal data on the same drive. The OS is not suppose to crash or get overly corrupted but it does, especially in the case of MS, far too many malware and virus attacks. I wish all PCs came with 20-40 gig drives just for the OS, it can even be solid-state. Then a separate big hard drive for your personal data.

In the Linux realm there is always a better, newer Linux. Either a revision, upgrade or a different Linux distribution you want to try. This is why booting from CDs and jump drives are so cool. If your data is on the same partition of the same drive as your OS, copy it elsewhere or say goodby. This is if something goes wrong or you want to change OS's and have to delete and/or reformat. Data on separate partition or hard drive is safer for you. Of course if your data is on the USB drive, you can plug into any computer to access it, cool huh!

Another cool thing is the pen pad. It is too bad that Wacom is the only pad that has Linux drivers (third party) for it. Some other pen pads are cheaper. The thing about the pen pad is getting use to holding the pen when schooled in mouse mashing. It takes a while to become accustomed to the pen. The pen also has quirks and must be tweaked for your comfort. And if you decide to use only the pen, you might have to adjust it for the kind of use. The pen as a mouse is one thing, as a drawing tool is another. As a mouse, pen pressure gets in the way or you might not want pen pressure to be so sensitive even in drawing mode. The only thing missing with pen pads is the training manual. This guy Dusty Ghost is the man. This tutorial will give you pen pad exercises.

I bet your laptop bag will get heavy, haha! Let's see, laptop, extra battery, AC adapter, E-net cable, USB mouse, USB pen tablet, USB drive, some jump drives, CD's, DVD's, mouse pad, digital cam, cell phone, decoder ring, utility belt and face mask. Yep, you're ready!!

Let's see, ya got the ideas, the tools, you're spending time to dabble and doodle, you've even made some test prints to see what it'll look like. The number one obstacle for any artist, IS IT WORTH THE HASSLE TO TRY TO MAKE A LIVING AT THIS??????

I could fill a phone book with the phrase "it would be a good hobby" or "cool if you are retired", as many times I've heard it. Being an artist must have a long "earning curve". Of course you can be a professional commercial artist using your tools and talents in the context of employment, but I am not talking about that. To use your resources and talents to perfect your art or produce your masterpiece often requires a level of pain and suffering most don't understand. Why? Because they think you should be normal, doing what the rest of us are doing, etc. The saying "an artist must suffer" is kind of a metaphor for the internal and sustained effort required to materialise your art. Instead of concentrating your efforts on an employers project, you are wearing all the hats to do your own. I know I am not much on the business end and more apt to do the art part. We must face Vader (the business end), then our training will be complete, then will we be a Jedi.

One thing for sure, if you put your art skills and talents on the back burner, be sure to fiddle, dabble and doodle. It is like slow cooking, a lot of great things can happen over time. I have revisited old ideas with new technology a couple of times. Things that were laborious in the past are kids stuff today because of computers. I also learned a lot of things in other areas that I can apply to my craft. Don't just say "someday I will devote time for this. Yoda said, "just do, there is no try!"