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Technology

Broadly defined "technology" e.g. software, water pumps

Critique of Google Calendar

I've been using Google Calendar for a while now and there are a couple of problems that I have noticed and a couple that friends have pointed out.

Event Parser

Generally, Google has yet again made a great product. The new event parser works really well. If you don't know, it basically allows you to type in events the way that you think about them (e.g. "

adding event to calendar

Public Calendars

Another thing that they got right is public calendars. There are currently thousands of public calendars that you can add into your Google calendar like a calendar of holidays. But you can also subscribe to iCalendar feeds (as I have demonstrated icalendar importing of Drupal events in the past). This is the kind of thing that will take a geeky technology (iCalendar) and hopefully make it easy enough for "my mom" to use. She can just use the "search" box for the term in an iCalendar feed and there she has it without knowing about iCalendar protocol at all.

Shared Calendars

In that same vein, you can have multiple calendars in your google calendar - e.g. work and personal - and share your calendar with different permission levels. So, the wife can see and edit my personal calendar but not my work calendar. You could allow coworkers to view (bot not edit) your work calendar and only let your coworker friend see your personal calendar as well. Pretty cool.

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an open letter to sun microsystems

In his weekly article Robert Cringely decided to skewer Sun Microsostems:

[...]Sun is simply doomed. Their software isn't better, their hardware isn't better, and they can't see themselves as anything but a maker of hardware or software, so my simple recommendation is that they take the rest of their cash and try entering a hot new field like -- say -- space flight. Or making really fine cakes. The world will always need fine baked goods. Or just give it back to the shareholders. Really.

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Colorado Wind Power

Ecology by Choice

I'm a big "choice" person. I want people to have the choice to do a lot of different things. I don't like monopolies, or overly restrictive regulation and I think those are fairly commonly held beliefs.

A few years ago I bought a house and started to pay more attention to the bills from our utility company, Xcel energy. One thing in the newsletter they send out got me curious: wind power for your homes. Xcel offers a program where you can buy wind electricity credits to cover your home usage. The details of the program aren't important aside from the fact that I pay a few extra dollars each month (and it really is just a few) so that my house and everything inside it "runs on wind power".

I like this solution because it lets Xcel know that I prefer a renewable energy source to a non-renewable one. Wind has its own problems, but I think they are outweighed by its benefits. This is great and I tell everyone I can to sign up for the program. It's amazing to me how many "environmentalist" friends that I know do not use this service.

Ecology by Force

A year and a half ago Colorado voted to force Xcel to make more of its energy from renewable sources with a specific amount from wind and a specific amount from solar. I'm opposed to this kind of regulation because our prescriptions for the amounts of wind/solar in the mix may not be the best decision 5 years from now, but we're basically stuck with them. I would much prefer that Xcel and residents work together in the way demonstrated by the wind credit program and through net-metering of home solar panels to help bring renewable energy into the mix based upon market demand. My belief was that if the people who voted for that renewable energy signed up for some wind credits then Xcel would see that the renewable energy sources stand on their own and that Xcel should provide more of them.

At the time of the legislation, there was excess capacity in the wind farm even though it's only 2% of the state electricity generation. How can a program that provides only 2% be under-subscribed when a ballot measure gets a popular vote by approximately 20% of the state? Basically it's because people are hypocrites or lazy or both. note: I got to 20% based upon ~60% of people in favor and ~30% voter turnout.

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