Green my Apple

Greenpeace have launched Green my Apple [via Total Tactics].

I can’t find the reference, but I do remember calling Apple in Australia about their recycling plan – i.e. they didn’t have one. At the time I thought it would be a great action to set up, but, alas, I didn’t have the time to put it together. Good to see someone’s onto it.

(Update: It seems they’ve been hacked by some Apple-lover – all the forms are pre-filled with attacks on Greenpeace.)

VoIP – the $1000 telephone?

Robert Cringely: Beam Me Up:

"VoIP is replacing a $20 phone with a $1,000 computer. What Apple has in mind is creating an entirely new form of computing experience, but this time — because it will take place mainly on a TV and not on a computer — many users may not think of it as a computing experience at all."

Well, not quite. I can get VoIP using my AUD$299 router, but he’s talking about Skype, and Apple’s iChat AV play. Interesting take…

Tesla Motors presentation – one for the energy geeks

Tesla Motors have posted a short segment from a recent presentation that highlights the energy efficiency of electric vehicles over those that use hydrogen or biofuels directly. In short, electric cars are at minimum twice as efficient as the alternatives in terms of energy required for miles traveled.

It also looks at the land mass required to replace 50% of US car travel using electric vehicles powered by electricity. Specifically, looking at the difference in land mass required to generate the electricity from solar, “best-case” cellulosic ethanol (this type of ethanol is currently in the research phase if I’m not mistaken) and corn-based ethanol sources. Of these options, solar is by far the clear winner.

To a lot of my readers, that probably sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook. But it is very impressing to a (budding) energy-geek like me…

Branson on climate…

Richard Branson has made another major announcement today, committing over $3 billion to “climate change”. From the reports I’ve read (1, 2, 3) it seems a lot of this money is going into biofuels research for moving the Virgin fleet to oil alternatives.

One of the quotes is telling:

"High oil prices is what has been needed to wake the world up to deal with this problem," he said. "The only way global warming will be whipped is if we can come up with alternatives to oil that are affordable."

Any money being funneled into sustainable bio-fuels development is welcome in my view. But there is obviously a huge financial incentive for Virgin to switch – especially given Branson’s recent investment in a biofuels company.

I think there’s another business imperative at play here too – protecting the future viability of his transport business lines. I often wonder what boards and CEOs of today will say to shareholders in the future as oil prices continue to rise, carbon taxes come into play, and liability issues for failure to avert business risks related to climate change start to drop. It’s a smart move by Branson, and of course he knows how to get the maximum PR spin for his bucks.

I’m not being cynical in saying the above, btw. I actually think this is great news, regardless of the motivation. I can’t help but think of our government’s commitment of AUD$100 million over 5 years, and how that pales into (relative) insignificance against the US$1.5 billion over 5 years committed by one company. At the time of the AP6 meeting in January the Prime Minister urged businesses to do their part. I wonder what Mr Howard has to say about this?

Update: Hugg points to the video of the announcement:

Podcast updates and Apple’s helpful support (not).

On Tuesday arvo I added the David Suzuki interview to our podcast feed. I checked the iTunes store and it hadn’t appeared. I waited until the next morning and it still hadn’t appeared. So I rang Apple’s tech support. Mistake…

After an hour on the phone they pointed me to the forums for iTunes Store. Those who are familiar with my griping in the past about Apple’s lack of support will remember that those forums are not monitored or contributed to by Apple support personnel. It’s a “fend for yourselves” type of vibe.

Needless to say it wasn’t a particularly helpful or useful response. I suggested to the support person that this was an admission that Apple did not support the iTunes Store – and amazingly they agreed! I’m sure it was a slip up – but it’s a little close to the truth.

Despite pleading with the support rep to provide me with an email address to talk to a real person within Apple that might be able to help, they were unable to assist me.

So I posted to the message board. What else to do?

FTR – I didn’t receive a response on the message board. But this morning – about 36 hours later – the feed has been updated in the iTunes Store. So if you want to be notified of updates to podcasts, don’t rely on the iTunes Store to do it promptly – better to subscribe directly to the source feed.

My concern is that we submit our feeds to the iTunes Store to make it easier for people to find, subscribe and be updated easily in iTunes. And yet when there’s an issue with the feed, Apple’s support is nowhere to be found. In this case it was simply a delay of a day and a half. But what if it was a more serious issue? What then?

Just another in a long list of failures of Apple to support this customer…

An Inconvenient Truth

WWF had an advance screening of An Inconvenient Truth last night at the Dendy Opera Quays. We had around 250 people come to the night, and by all accounts it was a successful night.

For those that missed it, Dendy is running preview screenings at various cinemas this week – they’ve got more info on their website.

On the second viewing I still had the same minor qualms I had the first time round, but I did pick up on a few things more clearly this time. I do wish they’d modified the closing credits to reflect each local release (“write to your MP” rather than “write to congress” for example), but again, that’s a minor thing.

I do really hope that a wide audience gets to see the film, although I suspect the sceptics will remain sceptics given Margaret Pomeranz’s odd response to the film on last night’s At the Movies.

Despite giving the film four stars, she apparently (I’ve heard this second hand – would love to know if there’s a transcript somewhere?) says she wants to see an unbiased presentation and that we should get an unbiased body to report on it.

Update 2006-09-12: David posted a review that, among other things, includes Margaret’s statements.

In the film I think Gore goes out of his way to cover off all the typical objections in an unbiased manner. In one part of the film, and last night this stuck out as the most important point, he demonstrated that a review of roughly 10% of all the scientific studies (one assumes these would be reasonably “unbiased”) showed that none of them contradicted the fact that global warming is happened. That’s right – 0%.

And yet media reports of the global warming suggested that there was still some doubt about global warming 53% of the time. Little wonder, then, that people are confused.

Would Margaret consider the findings of NASA, the IPCC, or the U.N. unbiased? ‘Coz they all accept global warming as a real problem that needs action. Hopefully, over time, that message will break through the confusion.

Update 2006-09-12: David also suggests why Margaret asks the question:

…people are used to social documentaries that concentrate on conflict – where people from two very different viewpoints are interviewed and their opposing views and stories presented. Documentaries do this because they want to appear to be balanced (though they rarely are) and perhaps more so because playing up the conflict creates drama and interest.

When that format is absent from a movie, I think people naturally ask whether they’re being told the whole truth. I guess it’s also because climate change science is presented popularly as much more controversial than it truly is. I would have liked to see Gore engage some of the main opposing arguments a little more – even if they don’t truly deserve airtime.

Well put – much better than I did 😉 I thought some more about this on the weekend too, and I actually came to the conclusion that I’m glad Margaret asks the question – for a couple of reasons.

The first is that hers was an honest reaction to the film. I live in a bubble of sorts where I’m exposed to the science and frustrated by the so-called “sceptics” and media skew (see above). So it’s important that I hear what Margaret has to say to pop that bubble and get me back to reality – as well as giving me some insight as to the issues other people are likely to come across when watching the film.

The second is that she’s obviously been touched by the film and is thinking about the issue. Her awareness has been raised and I suspect she’ll dig a little deeper, and hopefully will find the evidence she felt was lacking in the film.

I think that second point is amplified with David’s final comment:

It certainly gets people thinking and talking about the issues. Our Saturday night was spent talking climate change, Kyoto and politics until the early hours of Sunday morning – not the usual Saturday night fare.

If that’s all the film does, I think it has been a done a tremendous service.