Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The invisible infrastructure

A recent survey published by Arquiva and YouGov has a few interesting observations about what is happening in the UK “Smart Cities” movement. I haven't yet seen the study itself, but the press release and associated info-graphic make some interesting points. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

ADS TownHall Covers the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This entry also appears as a guest blog at Smart Grid Library's Blog

Last week I attended the Association for Demand Response & Smart Grid (ADS) TownHall meeting. Since this was my first time at that particular event, a few things struck me as noteworthy:

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Animal Farm of Things

(This article originally appeared in the Smart Grid Library blog on March 27, 2015)
I'm prone to literary and cinematic allusions, sometimes those allusions are obscure, or at odd angles to the main topic, so for those of you who are confused already, bear with me.

I have been immersed increasingly in the Internet of Things discussion, and trying to understand how it relates to Smart Grid and specifically Demand Response. Since Demand Response requires information connectivity, it appears, on the surface at least, as though there is a natural convergence there. Appearances can be deceiving.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

ZigBee or Not to Be, or, Why Fi?

One of the interesting things to come out of a number of my conversations at conferences is the single-minded focus on a given company's chosen approach to implementing Demand Response.  The most often mentioned approaches were either ZigBee or WiFi.

Each has it's advantages, and disadvantages.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A diversion from work... which we take a break from technology, Smart Grid, and doses of irony to talk about some charitable efforts I'm undertaking this summer.  When I say "efforts" I mean just over 1,000 miles on a bicycle in charity events (and another 3,000 miles or so in training).

Depending on what you care about, I hope you'll pick one of these events, and make a donation to sponsor me (or us, since my Beloved Bride of a shockingly high number of years is joining me on at least one of them).

This list is in rough chronological order, but grouped by the charity that the ride supports (and from whom you will get your tax deductions).

Tour de H2O - 5/30/2015  100km / 62 miles

This is a Columbus, Ohio event that supports the work of Global Partners for Development to provide clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in Kenya and Uganda.  Imagine having to hike 4 miles or more to get clean water, if it is even available at all.  That is the situation many in rural Kenya and Uganda face.

Lack of clean water in a community has far reaching implications. Limited access to water influences the sustainability of other critical needs, including education, economic development, nutrition, environmental health and gender equality.  Sick adults are in a poor position to take care of their families. Sick children are unable to go to school or they have to drop out of school because there is not enough time for them to complete their daily chores, which includes spending substantial time getting water. Women also spend hours gathering water, which is time that could be diverted to income-generating activities that could enhance the standard of living for their families. According to the World Health Organization, "improved water and sanitation also contribute to gender equality and empower women, being linked to school enrollment and attendance, especially of girls."  A steady supply of water is also important for irrigation and livestock to keep crops and animals strong and healthy. In total, a reliable source of clean water can go a long way in helping a community break the cycle of poverty. 

Marcy and I are riding this together, and you can sponsor us here:

 Tour de Cure - June 6, 2015 160km / 100 miles

I have two friends who have Type 1 Diabetes (the kind that isn't a result of bad choices, just bad luck).  In Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas is pretty much under attack all the time, and can't make insulin the way it's supposed to. 
I do this ride for Julia and Nina, two amazing young ladies whom I have come to admire for their ability to hang in there, and face the world, and their disease.  

This one kicked my behind last year...4,800' of climbing hurt.

Bike MS Events

I do a lot of these.  They're great events, well supported and interesting and challenging routes, but I mostly do them because I have family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers who are affected by MS.

MS is currently understood to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the meyelin sheath surrounding the nerves.  Imagine a short circuit inside a computer.  Now imagine that the computer is your brain, the thing that controls all pain sensation and muscle movement, all perception and speech.  

It is a challenging disease to deal with, because the nerves are constantly in a state of damage and repair, so the symptoms are inconsistent, and sometimes devastating.  It usually affects people in the prime of life, and affects women disproportionately.

Bike to the Bay - June 20 - 21, 2015 320km / 200 miles

This is the first of the three MS Bike rides I'm doing this year.  It's the one that Marcy and I did together last year, but she can't ride in this year because of a schedule conflict.

Sponsor me here:

Central Ohio Challenge - July 11th, 2015 160km / 100 miles

This is the toughest MS Tour that the Buckeye Chapter puts on.  It's a pretty similar course to the Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, and the climbs will put a hurt on the unprepared.  I take this one on because I have so many friends who can't.

Sponsor me here:

Buckeye Breakaway - August 1-2, 2015 282 km / 175 miles

This used to be the Pedal to the Point, the tour that got me back on a bike back in 2004.  New route this year, new turnaround point, better facilities.  The real point here is that a few thousand people get together to challenge themselves, and do something to stop a terrible debilitating disease.

Sponsor me here:

And finally, the big ride of the year:

South Dakota for Sun Dial - August 23rd-28, 2015
705 km / 435 miles (estimated)

This is being put together by a friend, to support a retirement/assisted living facility in his home town.  More details as the plans come together.

I'm a little shocked by the mileage I've committed to this year, a total of 1,072 miles.  

If you want to help me make good on those commitments (or just want to see me suffer all summer) pick an event and sponsor me!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It's been a while...

Unfortunately, I've been too busy doing stuff to write much about what I'm doing (and a lot of what I'm doing is subject to NDA's anyway).  That will change soon, but in the meantime, this bit from the Comics page is worth thinking about...

Monday, January 19, 2015

The scariest things at CES:

On a purely visceral, creeps-me-out level, Toshiba's 30-something robot.

On a more intellectual, I'm-sure-I-saw-this-in-a-dystopian-Sci-Fi level, this.

Friday, January 9, 2015

CES 2015 - Last thoughts

Just some general thoughts from this year's CES:
  • You can always spot the CES rookies.  Just look at their shoes.  If the guy is in wingtips, or the lady is in narrow heels, they're either rookies, masochists, or they're being paid based on the amount of suffering they endure.
  • I already talked about the issue with cloud services and DR.  A few conversations with engineers indicate that they "get it" but the company has made a "business decision" to go to the cloud.  This kinda proves my point: If going to the cloud is a business decision that overrides engineering needs, then abandoning the cloud can also be a business decision that overrides engineering needs.  Not reliable enough for an industry that can't just make a "business decision" to shut down.
  • On the flip side of this, a LOT of people are looking to engage and interest the consumer in energy management, under the guise of convenience.  This is a good thing for Smart Grid, because the customer doesn't care about grid reliability (until it isn't there) but they'll definitely buy into comfort and convenience features, and if they can feel good about helping the world be a better place, that's just another selling point.  This isn't anything new, I talked about it in my 2014 CES reports, but it is getting more prominent.
  • If CES is any indication, EVs may just become the next target for the "rice rocket" and "pimp my ride" crowds.  I saw some definite "lust after-able" and tricked-out EVs,  Wish I'd had time to gawk more...
  • If you're a VC who is interested in Smart Grid (or an angel investor who believes in energy efficiency and demand response) ping me.  There are a few projects I'd love to tell you about...
OK, I think that's it for now.  I'm on the flight home, sipping a Dewars on the rocks, and trying to ignore the effect of 14 hour days on my feet.

One last thing: If you are in Vegas, check out the Cirque de Soleil "O" show at the Bellagio.  The rigging and stage tech alone...

Will. Blow. Your. Mind.

  (Thanks Martin!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

CES 2015 Update

Well, as I write this, I'm winging my way to Las Vegas for the 2015 CES.  I'll be updating this entry daily with interesting bits as I come across them.  One thing though, is worth mentioning right off.