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  Organic Backup System  
 
 
Posted 2006-01-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The BBC reports that the Norwegians plan to create a sealed Arctic repository containing seeds for all known crops on Earth. The vault will reportedly be dug out of a sandstone mountain about 600 miles from the North Pole, and is designed to "withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy the planet's sources of food." Apparently there are around 1,400 such seed banks worldwide. This way, when man genetically-modifies its food-supply into an unrecognizable mess, we can just burn everything to the groud and dip into the bank for backup.
 
     
 
   
 
  5 comments  
  Microsoft Packaging Going Less Toxic  
 
 
Posted 2005-12-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
CNET reports that Microsoft plans to phase PVC (vinyl) out of its packaging by the end of the year, turning to PET (plastic) as an alternative. While plastic is less toxic than vinyl, and can be recycled where local facilities exist, it's still a non-renewable, non-biodegradable product. Still, Microsoft is headed in a better direction. The company's VP of corporate affairs told CNET that 361k pounds of PVC packaging have been eliminated since July, 2005. Microsoft is reportedly leaning on its partners, "requesting they forego the use of PVC packaging when re-bundling its products," as well as "examining other eco-friendly alternatives to packaging besides its use of PET." Once the company is done greening up its existing packaging, it will hopefully look at reducing the volume of its packaging altogether, or at least creating its packaging out of delicious candy.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games Dolphins Play  
 
 
Posted 2005-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Recently-published research shows that captive dolphins enjoy playing a variety of complex and challenging games, according to World Science. Adult dolphins studied off the coast of Honduras play posss reportedly played catch with a plastic bag, taking care to play easier with young dolphins. One dolphin calf blew bubbles while swimming upside-down at the bottom of a pool, then chased and bit the bubbles as they rose to the surface. Young dolphins deliberately challenge themselves--the bubble-blowing calf made its game harder by blowing bubbles increasingly closer to the surface, as well as changing its swimming style to increase the difficulty. Researchers of the captive dolphins observed over 300 distinct forms of play, reportedly noting that while dolphins of all ages played games, most of the new ones came from young dolphins. Not so different from human culture, really, and reinforcement of the concept of "fun" and learning being intertwined (an idea fairly recently explored by game designer Raph Koster in his book A Theory of Fun).
 
     
 
   
 
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  Record Arctic Ice Loss Irreversible?  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Independent reports that "Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years."

"Current computer models suggest that the Arctic will be entirely ice-free during summer by the year 2070 but some scientists now believe that even this dire prediction may be over-optimistic..." Professor Peter Wadhams (Cambridge University) reportedly said. "If anything we may be underestimating the dangers...There could be dramatic changes to the climate of the northern region due to the creation of a vast expanse of open water where there was once effectively land..."

I'll be buying my next house well above sea-level. Perhaps when I retire, I can fish from my front porch.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Sun-Powered Handhelds  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A (partial) answer to my prayer: Cheap solar power for recharging a range of mobile game consoles. The Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, or Nintendo GBA-SP can be powered up in 4 hours with the small solar charger, which can probably be easily modified to work with other devices. Still waiting for a universal recharge kit, but until then this $35USD package will have to do.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  E-Paper to Reduce Consumption?  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
According to CNET, Japan's Fuji Xerox corporation has developed a new form of electronic paper that "does not need electricity to maintain its display configuration." While this might reduce the consumption of resources as it relates to the manufacture, distribution and usage of paper, it demands that electricity, petroleum products, metal, and liquid-crystal be consumed to manufacture and ship its electronic paper devices. I'm not sure that there's an overall ecological savings here. To its credit, Fuji Xerox at least has a passing interest in sustainability.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Cranking It Up  
 
 
Posted 2005-08-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Although summer wanes, Toronto's hot weather and its accompanying electrical-grid strain isn't over yet. Since we've been hit with rolling blackouts this year (as well as the famed outage of 2003), being prepared for darkness just makes sense. Thanks to my wife, I snagged a couple of practical wedding gifts: a hand-cranked radio with built-in LED flashlight, and a plug-in blackout radio with similar features. This way, when the power goes out, the radio automatically illuminates. For extended outages and camping trips we can hand-crank all the radio and light we want.

I'm looking forward to a universal windup charger for electronic devices. Currently, there are options for cell-phones, Game Boy SPs, and laptops.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘The End of Suburbia’ Offers Few Solutions  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-25 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Oil-dependency will be the undoing of suburban sprawl and its unrealistic standard of living. So says documentary "The End of Suburbia," which I found on DVD at my local video store. An essay on the decline of the American Dream, the documentary exposes the origins of suburban life, and paints a dire picture for the future of our petrochemically-dependent world. While I appreciated the film's message, I would have preferred an in-depth (rather than cursory) look at solutions to the problem. In summary, it's suggested that on a household level, we need to become more self-sufficient, since the costs of remaining part of our existing system will eventually become too great. If you believe the "experts" in the film, we've got a much lower-tech future--and a lower standard of living (depending on your point of view)--in store for us.

For anyone interested in keeping on top of "green" developments, I highly recommend adding MetaEfficient, Treehugger, and WorldChanging to your daily reading material. These sites typically contain reccomendations that middle-class consumers can reasonably act upon.
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  Toronto Businesses Squandering Electricity  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Ontario, Canada has been slogging through a 3-week series of heat-alerts--8 of them designated "extreme"--resulting in official advisories to stay out of the heat, and to conserve power. Toronto, Ontario's economic center, tends to foster its own special brand of disgusting weather, sucking up humidity from Lake Ontario (which has warmed 5 degrees higher than normal) and then heating it via sun-soaked concrete. Treehugger contributor Lloyd Alter points out how locals are receiving electricity at a dangerous discount, while Toronto Hydro notes that 25% of us find our workplaces too cold. That means 25% of local businesses are not keeping their air-conditioning at the advised 26 degrees Celsius. I recall that in the city-wide blackout of 2003, some local businesses kept their billboards glowing while the rest of the city had to rub sticks together to cook pigeons.

Wise up, corporate Toronto. You're getting a bad rep.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Juicy Solar Backpack  
 
 
Posted 2005-07-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
HippyShopper.com brings word of the "World's first flexible solar bag," a backpack that weighs under 3 pounds, but can hold up to 25 litres, and contains a 12 volt / 6.3 watt car-style charger for powering-up compatible devices (laptops require an accessory battery). While dreadfully unstylish, the eco-friendly "Juice Bag" sports a flexible solar panel, providing more "give" than the reportedly rigid Eclipse or Voltaic products. Nature shows us that if something doesn't bend, it breaks. The Juice Bag goes for about $200 USD at several online retailers.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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