Category Archives: 6 Information and Communication Technology

Internet service may become tiered

In comments to the US Federal Communications Commission, which is investigating net access, the Justice Department said that internet service providers should be allowed to charge for priority traffic saying it is opposed to “network neutrality” – the idea that all data on the net is treated equally.  This is extraordinary; it is contrary to egalitarian principles.  It is one thing to charge for different levels of service, but to control the actual content is anti-competitive and protectionist.  Even companies such as Microsoft and Google have called for legislation to guarantee equal access to the net.

The attempt to tier content levels has been pushed by several US ISPs, including AT&T and Verizon, who want to charge some users more money for certain content such as TV and film download services.  A similar debate is ongoing in the UK.

The immediate solution  is simply to ration bandwidth according to demand, which is easy to do and treats all users equally.  If a user wants more bandwidth it can raise its service level without restricting content to others.

Carbon footprint your notebook

Those people that run large IT departments can obtain energy estimates and carbon calculations for their infrastructure and potential purchases reasonably easily: they’ve got the budget and the customer power. For those of us running one or two machines, we might not even think of the carbon footprint. But browsing a couple of sites (How Many Watts Does that PC Consume Exactly, and Why? and the Dell energy calculator) helps put us intthe picture.  You can expect a PC used regularly (say for work) to be consuming a minimum of 100 kwh per annum and contributing a minimum of 100 kg Co2.  This goes up by a factor of 10 for power desktops and older machines.

Build your own virtual world

A free tool that allows anyone to create a virtual world has been launched by Metaplace. Users can build 3D online worlds for PCs or even a mobile phone without any knowledge of complex computer languages.  Users make the virtual spaces from simple building blocks.  The results, which could be used for gaming, socialising or e-commerce, can be embedded in a webpage, facebook profile or blog.

The web-based program is the brainchild of Raph Koster, one of the developers of massively multiplayer online games such as Ultima Online. “We are out to democratise virtual worlds and bring them to absolutely anybody,” said Mr Koster, founder of Areae, the company behind Metaplace. “You can come to the site, press a button and have a functioning virtual world that supports multiple users in about 30 seconds.” Cool!

Green IT operations, contribute to profits

There are a range of ways enterprises of all sizes can bring down the energy use of their IT operations, and a new article points out the six best, from outsourcing IT operations to building green data centers. In Six Ways to a More Efficient Data Center, CIO magazine offers six ways to lower the high cost of hardware, cooling and power needs of IT while improving environmental performance.  The six points are:

  • Decide whether you really need your own data center.
  • Weigh the costs and benefits of green design.
  • Improve flexibility by designing for closely coupled cooling.
  • Think about the floor tiles: It’s the little stuff that matters.
  • Move support equipment outside.
  • Monitor for power management.

And GreenBiz offers a handy summary here.

New green PC

A new green machine from Lenovo is a response to rising energy costs around the world and to growing concern about electronics’ impacts on the environment.  The new PC, officially known as the ThinkCentre A61e, is the company’s first EPEAT Gold-rated product, and surpasses the EPA’s Energy Star 4.0 criteria for computer systems with its 85% efficient power supply.  It is made of 90% reusable and recyclable materials, and its packaging is also 90% recyclable. The 45-watt AMD Athlon processor that powers the computer is so energy-light that Lenovo said it can be powered by a solar panel. It is estimated that an individual owner of the ThinkCentre could save more than $20 per year in energy costs with the machine, and a company with 50 such computers in its offices would reduce its carbon footprint by more than 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions.  The ThinkCentre targets energy- and environment-conscious consumers, as well as the market in developing countries like China and India, which make up 70% of Lenovo’s global sales.  It will hit the market in October with an estimated retail price of $399.