Saturday, June 14, 2008

How Speculators Are Causing the Cost of Living to Skyrocket

After investing in high-tech stocks and real estate loans for years, legions of speculators have now discovered commodities like oil and gas, wheat and rice. Their huge investments are pushing prices up to unprecedented levels -- with serious consequences for ordinary people's quality of life and the global economy.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 13, 2008

Where are the Sunspots? Are we in for a Quiet Solar Cycle?

So what's up with our Sun? Is it going through a depression? It seems as if our closest star is experiencing a surprisingly uneventful couple of years. Solar minimum has supposedly passed and we should be seeing a lot more magnetic activity, and we certainly should be observing lots more sunspots.

read more | digg story

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bruce Lee’s 7 Fundamentals for Getting Your Life in Shape

And you know his Kung Fu is way strong!

read more | digg story

Giant greenhouse complex will be size of 80 football pitches

By Paul Eccleston

Britain's biggest greenhouse complex - the size of 80 football pitches - is under construction in Kent.


The Thanet Earth greenhouse complex site from the air (left) and a map of the planned site. Click to enlarge

When it is complete it will include seven 140-metre long glasshouses covering a 220-acre site.

Using the latest technologies the computer-controlled Thanet Earth complex will have the capacity to grow salad produce such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers which will be picked continuously 52-weeks per year.

Operators Fresca Group Ltd., say it will increase by 15 per cent the UK's crop of salad vegetables most of which currently have to be imported.

It will have its own power generating plants to heat the cavernous greenhouses and the eco-friendly combined heat and power system will as a by-product provide enough electricity to supply half the domestic power needs of 50,000 homes in north-east Kent near to where the £80m complex is being built on the Isle of Thanet.

advertisementThe greenhouses have been designed so crops can be grown suspended from the 8m-high ceilings so they are easier to pick and they will be grown in nutrient enriched water rather than soil.

They will grow more than 1.3m plants at any one time, be watered from seven 50m gallon reservoirs in a recyclable rainfall system and tended by a workforce of 550. Designers believe much of the CO2 produced by the complex will be absorbed naturally by the plants.

The industrial scale of Thanet Earth is fairly common in Europe but has never been attempted before in England. It has been sited in Kent because of the amount of natural light available throughout the year.

Chris Mack, Chairman of Fresca Group, one of Britain's biggest fresh produce suppliers, said: "It's taken a committed team over two years to turn the idea into a reality.


Framework for the Red Star tomato greenhouse at the Thanet Earth greenhouse complex

"We've worked closely with Thanet Council who have been very keen to attract this level of investment to help secure an agricultural future for the area.

"As a Kent-based company, we're very excited about developing in Thanet. The creation of so many jobs will further enhance our position as one of Kent's leading employers."

Steve McVickers who is in charge of Thanet Earth, said even lighting the giant complex at night would not be obtrusive because shades on the sides and roof would keep 95 per cent of the light inside.

"We need to let the plants have a natural sleep so we like to put them to bed in the afternoon naturally and then wake them up early at around midnight."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

E-waste reinvented

Are you doing your part to donate, recylce and safely dispose of old electronics?
By Samantha Riepe

Retired electronics or "e-waste," are cluttering dumps and poisoning the environment.

The solution? Donate, recycle or safely dispose of your next out-of-date electronics.

CELL PHONES

Trash stat: More than 130 million phones enter the U.S. waste stream every year, where they have the potential to leak mercury, cadmium, arsenic and more into water streams. These compounds may also enter the air when municipalities burn the phones. Can you hear me now?

Recycling: • Best Buy and Office Depot stores offer free recycling kiosks near the front door for cell phones, batteries and chargers.

Charity: • Cellular companies have free, charitable drop-off or mail-back programs for recycling old phones. Motorola's program, at www.racetorecycle.com, distributes the proceeds among participating K-12 schools. Nokia and LG also take in used phones, regardless of the manufacturer. Visit www.nokiausa.com/recycle or us.lge.com/recycle to download a postage-paid label to return the device.

• AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have programs where you can drop off your old wireless equipment at their stores to be refurbished for resale and reuse, with proceeds going to charity. Sprint's program donates all proceeds to 4NetSafety children's online safety group; go to www.sprint.com/recycle to see if your model is eligible to be exchanged for an account credit.

• The Wireless Foundation's Call to Protect program collects working cell phones for distribution to victims of domestic violence. Learn more at wirelessfoundation.org.

COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Trash stat: In the past 10 years, more than 500 million personal computers became obsolete. Older computer monitors use cathode ray tubes that contain two to four pounds of lead, and are even classified as hazardous waste in some states.

Recycling: The manufacturer of your PC or laptop may offer a recycling or trade-in program. Dell offers free recycling for all of its products at any time, and also allows new customers to trade-in old non-Dell computers with purchase. Visit www.dell.com/recycle for more information, and check out a similar program by Hewlett-Packard at www.hp.com.

Charity: The National Cristina Foundation works to provide newer, working computers and peripheral equipment to the disabled or economically disadvantaged. Go to www.cristina.org to determine if your PC is an accepted model. If so, Cristina will work to find an appropriate recipient for your computer in your area.

IPODS AND MP3 PLAYERS

Waste stream: In April 2007, Apple announced the 100 millionth sale of its ubiquitous iPod, which first hit the market in 2001. iPods and other digital music players have spawned an entire industry of related accessories, from cases to speakers to car chargers -- an eventual mother lode of trash.

Recycling: Bring iPods, functioning or not, to any Apple store for recycling and receive a 10 percent discount on your next iPod purchase. Also, Staples stores have recycling bins for any type of MP3 player or handheld electronic.

Charity: • The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation works with flipswap.com to turn donated iPods into a cash contribution. Simply assess your iPod's condition to find out the estimated cash value, then send it in to have that amount donated to the Komen Foundation. Visit www.cellphonetradeins.com (cell phones are accepted as well).

• Donating your working MP3 player to local nonprofits is music to needy ears. List your player on eBay with eBay Giving Works, and designate all or a percentage of the profits from its sale to charities. Go to givingworks.ebay.com.

For profit: iPod has spawned more than 10 generations since its inception, and newer models such as iPod Touch or the most recent iPod Nano have good resale value. On eBay, a used 30 gigabyte video-capable iPod can currently fetch about $150.

TVS, DVD PLAYERS, AND STEREOS

Heavy facts: Analog televisions, VCRs, and bulky stereos -- these retirees can contain the same harmful compounds as smaller gadgets, and then some (a 27-inch TV can contain up to eight pounds of lead).

Recycling: Don't leave these items curbside -- dispose of them responsibly at your local trash and recycling centers.

To find an electronics recycler in your area, visit the My Green Electronics Web site (www.mygreenelectronics.org), sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association. In addition to recyclers, the site also features a database of environmentally friendly gadgets organized by category.

Charity: Find a new home for unwanted electronics by joining a local Freecycle e-mail group. Submit your free item to the group, and a daily e-mail to thousands of members tells what stuff is up for grabs. Go to www.freecycle.org and type in the name of your hometown and state to get started.

More about e-waste
By the numbers

A look at e-waste in the United States

- 80 percent: Estimated percentage of U.S. e-waste exported to impoverished countries

- 10 percent: Estimated percentage of

unwanted and obsolete computers that are recycled

- 70 percent: Estimated percentage of heavy metals in U.S. landfills that comes from e-waste

Toxic trash

Besides e-waste, plenty of other toxic household materials require special disposal. Hazardous household trash can include:

- Used motor oil, antifreeze, tires, car batteries

- Paint

- Cleaners

- Fluorescent bulbs

- Asbestos

- Paint thinner

- Fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides

- Prescription and over-the-counter medications for people and animals

- Insecticides

- Flea repellents and shampoos

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hard drive withstands fire and water

By Wolfgang Gruener

Auburn (CA) – Most small businesses and consumers do not have elaborate disaster recovery plans in place, which means that their data may be at risk, especially if backups are stored nearby. Fire and water can wipe out at least portions of the contents stored on hard drives in a matter of seconds. ioSafe announced new hard drives that promise to withstand fire and water and offer a type of product for all those who don’t invest in off-site storage.

ioSafe claims that it is the first company to offer fire- and waterproof hard drives, which may be worth a look not just for businesses, but also families who are looking for ways to keep those digital family pictures safe, even when a house burns down. The company uses 2.5” drives within 3.5” enclosures are specially equipped with heat and water barriers.

Fire protection is provided by the firm’s “DataCast endothermic insulation technology”, which the manufacturer claims forms a chemical bond with water molecules that, at temperature above 160 degrees Fahrenheit, releases water vapor to limit the internal temperature of the unit. Combined with the insulation, ioSafe claims that the drive can sustain outside temperatures of up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 15 minutes and short term peak temperatures of up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the case of a fire, the plastic tabs on the inside of the 3.5” casing will melt at a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit, closing the drive and blocking airflow. The manufacturer said that the inside of the 2.5” drive should not get hotter than 210 degrees Fahrenheit during a fire, as 98% of radiant heat can be deflected. Typical house fires reach a heat of about 1100 degrees Fahrenheit with 3 to 5 minutes.
There was no detailed information on the water protection technology, other than the claim that the drive will be protected from fresh or salt water damage, both in full submersion and spray/splash scenarios. Full submersion protection is guaranteed for up to 24 hours in up to 5 ft of water.

Just in case the drive is damaged, ioSafe offers an optional data recovery plan that is activated through the registration of a product. The service, which is offered free of charge, provides access to data recovery experts and includes up to $2500 payment by ioSafe to a third-party data extraction service plus replacement product, if required.

Not surprisingly, ioSafe’s hard drives come at a premium over regular hard drives. The price list ranges from $330 for a 5400 rpm 80 GB drive to $460 for a 7200 rpm 200 GB drive. The highest capacity is offered by a 320 GB 5400 rpm model for $450.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Asthma Inhalers To Go Green

Asthma Inhalers Going Green
By the end of the year, 22 million Americans who suffer from asthma will have to switch to a new, environmentally-friendly type of inhaler. Dr. Emily Senay reports. |


(CBS/ AP) Old-fashioned asthma inhalers that contain environment-harming chemicals will no longer be sold at year's end - and the U.S. government is urging patients not to wait until the last minute to switch to newer alternatives.

Patients use inhalers to dispense airway-relaxing albuterol during asthma attacks.

Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, once were widely used to propel the drug into the lungs. But CFC-containing consumer products are being phased out because CFCs damage the Earth's protective ozone layer. As of Dec. 31, asthma inhalers with CFCs can no longer be made or sold in the U.S. Inhalers instead will be powered by ozone-friendly HFAs, or hydrofluoroalkanes.

The ozone layer shields the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Patients have been warned of the change for several years, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory last week saying anyone still using CFC inhalers should ask their doctor about switching now.

The FDA warns that patients will face a learning curve: HFA inhalers may taste and feel different. The spray may feel softer. Each must be primed and cleaned in a specific way to prevent clogs. And they tend to cost more.

Users will have to wash the plastic mouthpiece more frequently and dry it overnight, CBS' The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay said.

CFC-free albuterol inhaler options include GlaxoSmithKline's Ventolin HFA, Schering Plough's Proventil HFA and Teva Specialty Pharmaceuticals' ProAir HFA. Sepracor's Xopenex HFA is also CFC-free, but it contains levalbuterol, a similar medication.

The FDA said Armstrong Pharmaceuticals is the sole remaining maker of CFC inhalers and is expected to stop production even before the deadline. A spokesman for Armstrong's parent company would not say when production would stop, but sales of remaining inventory will continue until Dec. 31.

Replacement Hybrid Battery Costs Plummet

When someone on the EcoModder forums asks about buying a used hybrid, there is usually a flurry of excitement coupled with cautions about the age of the car and the price of a new battery pack. Ecomodders, usually being budget-minded folks, are very wary of the seemingly astronomical price of battery replacement.

In the early part of this decade, some of the biggest worries about hybrids were how could the batteries possibly last, when would they finally give out, and how much would it cost to have them replaced. These days, concerns about batteries have largely faded out of the minds of new car buyers. Honda and Toyota have both had hybrids on the market for about a decade now, and there are no ominous junkyards filled with dead hybrids.

To underline the reliability of modern battery-electric hybrids, Honda says that out of over 100,000 hybrids on the road currently, only 200 have needed out-of-warranty battery replacement. Toyota, on the other hand, has only needed to replace 0.003 percent of its hybrid batteries out of warranty on the second generation Prius. Granted, these cars still aren’t all that old, and the batteries will likely fail eventually, but it seems that they are living up to manufacturers’ promises that they will last the life of a car.

Necessity aside, Honda and Toyota have both announced drastic cuts to the cost of replacement batteries for their hybrids. It will now cost just under $2,000 to have new batteries installed in you Honda Insight, and just under $2,500 for your Accord hybrid. These are about $1,000 reductions in the cost. Toyota, on the other hand, has dropped prices from ~$5,500 to $3,000, but that doesn’t include the installation, so the real cost is likely a bit more.

So, buyers of used hybrids, never fear! It’s unlikely that your batteries will fail prematurely, and even if they do, replacements are getting cheaper.

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

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