Friday, February 29, 2008

Dark Green

For some reason, there was a whole heap of green in front of me today. I was doing my normal check of blogs this morning, when one of my co-workers made some remark about Tree Hugger, which prompted a conversation about how most environmentally friendly advice is based on living in a house rather than an apartment.

He, being a darker shade of green than myself pointed out a few things which I found interest: There's a place in the East Village that does a much better job with recycling your waste than the city can do (yes, you have to pay them and bring your recyclables to them, but at least that way you know it's being done right). Also, he reminded me of switching to green power, as generation and delivery are now separate services you can choose you provider and there are some offering only sustainable energy. Lastly he reminded me of the evils of bottled water (which we have everywhere in the office). While I'm inclined to look into carrying my trash halfway through the city, and already have green energy, this last point gave me something to think about.

It was mere moments later that I came across this illustration:


And this prompted me to action. Yes, I admit it's not the biggest move I could have made, but I starting looking for a better way to keep water on hand. It's been shown time and time again that tap water, especially in developed regions, is as good, if not better than, bottled water. So I figured this is as good a source for water as any. This raised the next problem, transport. I've repeatedly read that nalgenes leach unwanted chemicals into water stored in them. This led me to Sigg bottles, which apparently don't carry this risk (correct me if I'm wrong). Anyway, we'll see how it works once my impulse purchase arrives.

After all this, Tom posted a note on his savings with a programmable thermostat. While I have Manhattan Steam to heat my apartment (which lacks any of the luxuries of control a thermostat brings) this on/off notion did make me connect a dot to another post I came across today: Vanessa Farquharson finished a year of small green changes today, one of which was to stop using a fridge. While I still need a fridge, I am going to push that thermostat higher (ie less cooling) and remove some of the things in it like condiments that don't need refrigeration (ie less volume to keep cool) and maybe achieve some savings that way - we'll see where I go with that.

In sum, while I started today complaining about not being able to undertake a lot of these green ventures in an apartment in a city, there is actually quite a bit that can be achieved through small changes if one is aware and acts consciously. To finish my day, my co-worker reminded me to turn out the lights, a simple act which often goes undone in apartment building hallways - maybe I'll try and convince my co-owners that we should put some timers on those as well...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Amie Street

I've recently bought my first few songs on Amie Street, and am liking the service more and more. The pricing structure is conducive to exploring for new music, and today a significant amount of new music was added from fairly well known artists (Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Cat Power, Pavement, etc.). Granted, the selection is still far from what iTunes or Amazon offer (the later of which is an investor), but they seem to be adding more and more.

Beyond being DRM free, one of my favorite features is that the songs you buy are stored on the site. This means that you can stream your music from anywhere, and should something go wrong with your computer, you have a backup source (this has always been one of my fears with iTunes).

The other interesting bit is that you can setup a stream of the music you purchase. You can take a look at mine here.

This combination is slowly making Amie Street something I can't live without. Alright, that's a bit of an extreme statement, but nonetheless - do check it out and let me know what you think.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bikes

I came across this video of someone moving by bike in Brooklyn. It reminded me of this story on Afrigadget. While the bike is great for moving one person around, it quickly reaches its limit when you want to transport anything else. While the Brooklyn move benefited from trailers and a rickshaw, this is still does not seem that optimal.

Trackback

In a continued effort to improve my blogging knowledge, my curiosity finally led me to investigate trackback, which many people have at the bottom of their posts. Turns out this is a simple little way for you to let someone know you've referenced their blog, and it allows conversations to span multiple sites as opposed to being stuck in the comments section.

I quickly, however, realized that Blogger doesn't really support trackback, and I started playing with the idea of moving to wordpress. Thanks to this post on trackbacks I have been able to figure out a way around this problem. Check out the manual trackback pinger as well.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mother Online

My mother has started her first online venture by selling books on Amazon. Take a look here or here, or here for her "storefront" and maybe even consider being her first customer...

I think it's a great idea, and might even grow into something with a bit of elbow grease.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Web TV (con't.)

A few months ago I posted about creating content for video blogs. I've been playing around with my apple tv for the last day, and there is a growing amount of content which does just this. Interestingly, none of the video blogs have advertising on them yet (at least the ones which I've watched). Again, I'm tempted to see how this could play out - on the one hand it reminds me of my high school radio station, which was a flop because of a lack of professionalism, on the other hand this is a chance for low(er) budget production to get some legs.

As I said in my last post - anyone have ideas for content?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New TV Setup

I've been itching to write about this for the past few weeks, but kept wanting to wait for the apple tv update before passing judgment. It came out today, so here's my new tv setup:

I traded my NetFlix membership in for an apple tv and a new airport with faster wireless and the ability for NAS. While I was frustrated when apple didn't push out the "Take Two" update as promised two weeks ago, I've been toying with the setup a bit.

I've ripped the few DVDs I own onto the hard drive attached to the router, and I've moved my iTunes library onto the drive as well. This has freed up quite some space on my laptop, and while I can't claim to notice a improvement in speed, it is nice to know that when this thing bricks (which is only a matter of time) I'll have my important files somewhere else. While this means that I can't access my music on my laptop when I'm away from home, I've come to the conclusion that I usually have an iPod handy, so really I was carrying it around in duplicate.

The files are also copied onto the apple TV, which means I have access to them when the computer is off, which is a plus. Also, having my dvd's "on demand" is nice, and I suspect it will result in some of them getting watched more than they otherwise would have. I used handbrake to rip them, and while this was largely painless a few of them are apparently in a format not supported by the apple tv (although they were all ripped with the same settings), so I'll need to play around with this somewhat.

Today the new software was pushed out, and it completes the setup very nicely. While the movie library is not yet huge, there's a decent selection. The interface is intuitive and everything seems to start right quick. I am currently using wireless, but as the thing sits on top of my router I plan on running a cable just to prevent any possible hic-ups here.

My one complaint so far is that I will loose my netflix queue. Often enough I stumble across movies and think I'll want to watch it later, as far as I can tell this isn't accounted for yet on the apple TV.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Instapaper

I've been pushing out websites I find and like in my Tumblog lately, but Instapaper seems to be changing the way I "surf" the web and therefor I thought I'd ramble on about it for a second. Often enough, especially at work, I find myself bumming around the web and finding something interesting that I either don't have the time or concentration to read at that moment. Normally, I'd then have the option to either bookmark it, trapping the link on that computer, or tagging it with del.icio.us which immediately pushes the link out to a whole bunch of people who I may not want to share it with.

Enter Instapaper; one of the cleanest simplest websites I've seen in a long time. With a button in my browser I tag a page, saving it to my instapaper page. I can then go to that page from any computer and see which links I've marked and which I've read. That's it. Simple. Easy. Quick. I suddenly find myself reading a lot more content which I would otherwise have forgotten about.

Takes All Types

After scoffing at facebook and this trends of apps for it with things such as "super pokes" and "sheep" for the past few months, I took the plunge and installed an app for the first time: Takes All Types. This is not some game or fad, but actually takes your information and attempts to do something good with it.

Apparently, blood is extremely perishable and can not be transported great distances. As such, while many people donate, there are still blood shortages throughout the country. In an attempt to remedy this, Takes All Types registers your blood type and location, and then sends you a message if there is demand for your type of blood in your area to encourage you to donate.

I'm curious to see if this trend of doing something useful with the boring social network can catch on. In the meantime, I suggest you register.

[where: 10017]

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

RSS Feed

To the seven of you subscribed to this feed - apologies for the double and triple posts in the last few days. The short version - a river of news with all my feeds creates a feedback loop, so it's not going to work.

In fixing this I've been able to combine del.icio.us and flickr into the main feed. I've decided to scrap Twitter as I barely use it. Lastly, I needed to break out tumblr into a separate feed, which you can subscribe to here.

You can still find everything at www.mikolayczyk.com