Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Personal update: Highs and lows

Time flies...

I'm overjoyed to announce that I'm a proud first time dad...our little one arrived on Feb. 17th, and has kept us busy for the past few weeks, to say the least! Sleep is a more valuable commodity than ever, and every day is full of new discoveries.

There is sadness, too, though -- my dear mom has was just diagnosed yesterday as having cancer once again. It's too soon to know all of the details, those will become apparent in the weeks to come.

My online efforts of late have been promoting a blog I've decided to use as a place to generate interest for my CO2 scrubber project -- where I'm attempting to independently tackle climate change, and to track its progress. You can find this at http://whatis42.blogspot.com if you are interested. I've tried to make the main post suitable as a home page, for those who would like to support such an endeavour, with links to some of the more commonly visited places on the web. I'm happy to see that this project page has gained a number of loyal viewers, and their support has demonstrated to me that an effort like this is feasible. I hope to dramatically increase the number of followers, though, as at the current rate it could take a year or more to get off of the ground.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Working on stuff that matters, and gauging public opinion

Like most people, I have a variety of hopes and dreams, with a few lofty goals thrown in for good measure.  Being an expectant father, I'm taking steps to establish specific, concrete goals, and narrowing my focus so as to give each one the best chance at success.

I'd like to thank @Tim O'Reilly for his post, "Work on Stuff that Matters". It clearly expresses a few key points that could help anyone get back on track, and renews faith in the whole "if you build it, they will come" sort of mindset.

I have been working in isolation on a number of projects, and would really like to hear what other people have to say on a few key topics to help guide my efforts for the greater "good".  [Many thanks to @ProBlogger for his post on using polls]

To begin, follow this link:  What should I personally try to accomplish to curb global warming?

[These initial questions relate to my project that's intended to tackle the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For some this falls under the umbrella of global warming, for others, emission control (see this old post for my opinion on that can of worms)].

Poll: How far should I personally go to tackle global warming

Tackling global warming (or emission control, if you prefer) can be a bit of a tall order for an individual.

When analyzing potential solutions, I've tailored them with this goal in mind: to remove 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, sustainably.

It's taken a bit of work, and wouldn't have been possible without "standing on the shoulders of giants". Such a goal now seems reachable, and is not as technologically imposing as it initially seems (Yes, that's 32 tonnes per second). It isn't even as financially imposing as I had once imagined, though a full-scale effort is well beyond my pocketbook at the moment.

How far do you think I should take my efforts?

Please feel free to add your own comments, below.




Next question: What's your opinion on global warming?

Poll: What action is needed to tackle emissions

What actions do you feel should be taken? (check all that apply)

Please fee free to add your own comments, below.




Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions -- your help is greatly appreciated!

Poll: What cause needs the most attention

Is tackling global warming a worthy enough cause, or is there a more dire need for attention in other areas?

Please feel free to add your comments to this post.



Next question: What action is needed

Poll: Carbon Offsets

Do you feel that the ability to buy carbon offsets is a valuable tool that allows us to act more responsibly, or are they simply a way of passing the buck, excusing our indulgences?

If you have more to say on the matter, please feel free to comment on this post.



Next question: Most important cause

Poll: Carbon Sequestration

Do you feel that the various means of capturing carbon dioxide and putting it into long-term storage are a viable solution?

If you have more to say on the matter, please feel free to post comments, below.



Next question: Carbon offsets

Poll: How do you feel about global warming?

What's your opinion on global warming?

If the options in the following poll don't cover your view on the matter, please take a moment to post your comments on the matter.



Next question: Carbon sequestration

Monday, January 19, 2009

A first and second glance at Twitter

I stumbled across Twitter some time ago, shortly after it came on the scene.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Twitter is a social-networking/micro-blogging service, allowing for you to communicate with people who subscribe to your updates easily, with posts generally being limited to 140 characters.

My first impressions were "Hrmm, nice, and interesting...", and "I wonder who their main audience will be" followed shortly thereafter by "What could I possibly have to say that would be of some value and interest, while fitting into the 140 character restriction".

I tucked its discovery away in the back of my mind, and promptly forgot about it.  A good amount of time has now passed, and Twitter is back on stage, front and center.  I finally broke down and created an account just the other day, and have been listening to the chatter of a handful of people or so...ok, fifty of them, I admit.

Just with this brief re-exposure, a number of things pop to mind:

  • even with the rapid growth seen in recent months which some would describe as an explosion, I do get the impression that the explosion is just beginning, and that it's reaching a critical point which will see subscribership skyrocket
  • it provides an easy way to communicate with people of like mind, in a casual manner that allows for the rapid dissemination of information -- much more so than through the regular blogging process...it's akin to having a casual conversation with a group
  • choosing who you follow (i.e. who's updates will show up on your radar) is easy, which is nice -- just like people having conversations, there are many who have interesting things to say, along with those who are happy to say any old thing at all...filtering out the signal from the noise is nice and easy in this regard
I'm happy to see how use of Twitter has evolved.  I'm not yet at the stage of putting it to use on my cell, although it's quick and easy to do so, for those who so choose.  A person can "Tweet" (broadcast) their updates easily via the web (including a mobile-friendly version), or via SMS.

If you're looking to get started, David Pogue's Twittering Tips for Beginners is a good read, as is Shayne Packer's Quick Start Checklist.

As is the case when having any civilized conversation, if you want people to keep listening to you, you don't just walk into a room and start rambling off any old thing that pops to mind.  Most people will quickly tire of repeated "On my way to the mall" updates and such.

What do I hope to get out of the experience?  Well, with the various personal projects I've been working on, I'm hoping to get some outside opinions on things...having worked in isolation for some time, it would be nice to bounce ideas off of others to make sure that I haven't fallen out of touch with what makes the most sense.  Ideally, I'll be able to give back to the communities, too, so that it's a nice two-way street.

I've already gained from listening to those I've chosen to follow...the signal to noise ratio has been good so far, and I've enjoyed the various information that's been passed on to date.

I'll keep you posted as my experience there evolves.

Fatherhood just around the corner

Time is a funny thing.

The past several months have passed by of their own volition -- some quickly, some not so much.  The first couple of months went by slowly in light of waiting to let family and friends in on our exciting secret.  The next few passed by in a bit of a blur -- "Do we have everything we need?  What do we need to know?".  Now we're down to the last few weeks, and we're about as ready as we're going to be...time has slowed down once again, waiting for our new arrival.

Needless to say, all the while most other things have been secondary, blogging included.  (Of course once the baby is here, we'll have nothing but free time ;)

I'm told that regardless of how prepared you are, everything changes when your newborn arrives...I'm expecting this, but of course I won't know just how much things will change until I'm in the thick of it.  I simply hope that I can be half the parent that my parents were to me -- if so, I'll count my lucky stars.

It's funny...so many people seem to have an aversion to finding out in advance whether you'll have a boy or a girl.  "You'll spoil the surprise", they often say.  Really, though, you'll be surprised regardless, the moment you find out, whether it's a birth or ahead of time...in the scheme of things, there are so many other surprises that are far more interesting.  What colour will their hair and eyes be?  What will they look like?  What music will they like?  Will they be interested in arts?  Academics?  What will their first word be, and when will they learn to walk?  Will they be healthy?  The list goes on and on...at least knowing the answer to the boy/girl question gives you a head start on getting to know your little one, and able to pick up a few non-gender-neutral knicknacks along the way.

And ah, yes, there will be toys...there will definitely be toys.