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Your weekend hits August 10, 2008

Posted by Tom in Cars, Environment, health, Techstuff.
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This week’s hits start with last Sunday’s Observer story about a possible vaccine for Malaria — potentially very good news.

Wired wooden sculpture gallery

Wired wooden sculpture gallery



We next move on to some images of simply spectacular wooden sculptures for the geek in all of us. And on the topic of geeky images we have some fine Calvin meets Jobs cartoons over at Gizmodo.

On to a couple of environmental linked stories, Ars this week looked at why cars consume so much and what is happening  about it and we also have the awe inspiring story from the Guardian on a Japanese village aiming to have zero waste.

This next story has possibly some of the most important information known to man. If used wisely we may find our productivity rising dramatically and we may also find ourselves making the right decision every time… see for yourself... I wonder how the Japanese in the last link get on though.

And finally we can’t have hit of the week without a couple of interesting links on the two main stories this weekend.. the olympics and Georgia.



Now go and enjoy your coffee


Some hits for the week. August 1, 2008

Posted by Tom in Environment, health, summer, Techstuff.
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Inspired by The Morning News website here are some interesting stories to carry you through the weekend…

First off is breakfast… this looks great and I only hope it reaches us here in Portugal.

Then we move on to some interesting ideas about London underwater. (Much more interesting than the less than good recent film about London flooding).

Next up (and back on the breakfast theme) is great site for finding unsigned artists.

If you’re eating too much breakfast you may want to read this too, the you have a great excuse for some quality time in the park.

Another health link discusses whether we can see the future… and if we can should we pay to see it.

Then we get on to some technology pieces starting with the first ever computer and what has happened to it.

Anyone interested in the environment (anyone who isn’t I would suggest has a few problems) might like to see this story about cars or this Portuguese site about carbon footprints and how buy to your very own carbon credits.

Finally for those at home with their kids this summer there are at least 20 things you can do with thembesides roasting on the beach or veging in front of the telly or playstation (or whatever your games of choice are).  


And that’s it for this week… more fun next Friday :-)

100km per litre July 6, 2008

Posted by Tom in Cars, Environment, future, Transport.

Imagine driving from Lisbon to the Algarve for under €10.  Ok that’s impossible because the tolls are over 15€ either way. But the money you could be spending on fuel isn’t… or at least it won’t be soon.  

VW 1 litre

VW 1 litre

Wired Magazine recently covered a very interesting development in the world of fuel efficient cars with Volkswagen’s attempt to build an ultra lightweight 2 seater car that does 100kmh to the litre.

Our recent holiday in the Algarve cost us about €150 in petrol (there and back + runs to supermarkets and beach). It used to cost about 80 or 90.

If we are to survive in a world where petrol keeps going up in price and down in availability we will need these cars sooner than they are being planned (2010-2012).

The price will probably be worth it… 20,000 to 30,000 Euros.

Bicycle Elevator September 9, 2007

Posted by Tom in Alta de Lisboa, anti-car, Environment, Lisbon, Techstuff.
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One the strongest cases against cycling in Lisbon is the hills. While Lisbon is said to be built on seven hills most of the city is in fact fairly flat. This, however, does not stop politicians claiming that Lisbon will never be a city for cyclists because of the hills.

One of the Seven hills Lisboa

Here you can see one of the hills in question.

Thankfully we can rely on the Norwegians for a solution (Found by Tiago on Viver Alta de Lisboa) .

This is the obvious answer to Lisbon’s hills for cyclists. Now there is no excuse.

For all Lisboners (and any visitors in Lisbon) there will be a city bike ride for the European Mobility week on the 16th September:

A Federação Portuguesa de Cicloturismo e Utilizadores de Bicicleta page

The ride goes from the centre of town near the river to the centre of town in the north of the city (Alta de Lisboa) and back again.

Toms Shoes August 28, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, future, new world, Science Fiction (for now), social problems.
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I haven’t been suffering from writer’s block, or blogger’s block… I”ve been trying to find something really good…

Well, unless I’m wrong, I think have found another great New World Idea.

Toms Shoes

As far as I can tell this is a great idea and part of what I envisage in the future.

Business that gives to those who need.


By selling to those who have.

I might be wrong and I would like to research this further.

I like the idea.

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series he writes about a new economy for Mars as it is being terra-formed.

It is an ecological economy in which giving is fundamental to the way the economy works.

I would like to read more about this so any suggestions are welcome.

Anyway back to the point, here is a quick video with a slightly gushy we’re going to save the world feel about Toms shoes

An interesting view of the world June 26, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, social problems, Techstuff.
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Seacat posted about this video the other day. It’s from the author of the book Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken and has a very interesting idea of how people with like minds are coming together to seek peace, social justice and a better environment. The video is worth watching if you have a few spare moments. I love this idea and will certainly look into it further.

Vertical Farming June 20, 2007

Posted by Tom in anti-car, Cities, Environment, future, Science Fiction (for now), tech news, Techstuff.
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One of the vertcal farm ideas
I have many visions of the future of humanity living in a world that we have finally grown old enough to manage sensibly. I have lots of ideas on this topic but one area I like to dwell on is the future of cities.

I would love to share them all now but I think I will finish my second degree first and get some more knowledge, then they (my ideas) might be taken more seriously and have some positive effect other than spreading ideas (which is, of course, useful). That is how I would like them to be taken so that’s the way I’m doing this.

Anyway one of my personal visions is that we all live close to one another. By this I don’t mean that all humans live crammed into a tiny space.

We will, I hope, reach a collective realization that our personal goals are less fulfilling than that of our planet’s and species’ survival and we will live in communities (I’m not envisaging some future communism) in which all services and needs are taken care of close by. If they aren’t serviced in that region they will be in the next. This will involve a dramatic decrease in the use of transportation of goods and people.

I cannot go into too much detail here as I mentioned earlier I wish to be able to develop this idea further.
What has struck me in the news this week was Vertical farms.We are one step closer to this idea. Vertical farms are skyscrapers built with farms on every floor. They will have a renewable power generator (solar or wind) on the roof that provide energy throughout the building and will have elaborate irrigation systems that recycle all the water.

So while people in cities live close to their food supply (that hasn’t been flown in from miles away), the countryside, outside the population centres, can thrive and seeds can evolve as they should.Some may feel this is removing the natural from food. What many don’t perhaps realize is that this happened a long time ago. What we may be looking at here, is allowing the natural food sources to develop themselves so we can develop our own versions safely without destroying the source.

One has to be careful though as with all miracle solutions, we do not then want to turn the solution into another problem. I would hate to see the remaining countryside be used for biofuel production.
Another projectAll images from the project’s site: http://www.verticalfarm.com/index.php

China sets example for Europe June 18, 2007

Posted by Tom in anti-car, Cities, Environment, tech news.
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In my search for an interesting piece to follow up on that had nothing to do with phones or Leopards I stumbled across a brilliant technological solution to decrease greenhouse gasses and energy consumption.
This can only deemed as brilliant for its simplicity.Europe should wake up and take notice.
Yes that’s right. T-shirts.
Planetsave is reporting that Chinese workers now have to wear T-shirts instead of suits in a move to turn air-conditioning down.
I have frequently discussed this with friends, colleagues and students and we all agree it is sheer idiocy to wear a suit in August to get to the office and sit in cold air-conditioning.
The sight of men in suits in 35ºC + (95ºF) temperatures walking to lunch is very common. I wonder what they would be wearing if there was no air-conditioning in their cars or offices.
I vote to start a pro T-Shirt movement. The cooler the better (and once we are all wearing t-shirts we can also wear trainers and walk to work).

What if…. June 12, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, social problems, Techstuff.
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I have heard arguments against global warming and I have heard people “rubbishing” the whole environmental movement. I personally think most are being selfish and lazy, after all it’s easy to say “someone told me otherwise and therefore I can continue my comfortable lifestyle”. I am currently reading a book all about overcoming our consumerist desires (more about that later) and I am beginning to see that we are all trapped like rabbits in the lights of a car. We know there is something wrong but we are unable to move. Why? Fear. When faced with such a difficult idea, that of going against our instincts (consume, work for money, work more and consume more (ok I’ve made it a bit too basic but I’m sure you understand)) we are stuck. Which is why the argument on this video is so good. Unless the author is wrong, we have no choice. Personally I’d rather run from a car that might never hit me than be hit by the car.
Note: there are many hoax emails on the web that say send this to 15 friends or you will suffer a pain worse than death (or something like that). I ignore them all. This is a wake up call not a “forward this email or else” hoax.

Thanks to seacat at What it’s like for the heads up :-)

No tech legs May 22, 2007

Posted by Tom in Cities, Environment, health.
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In reference to Seacat’s post in What it’s like, I thought I’d add a few simple thoughts.When I go to work on public transport:I leave my houseI wait for a busI get on the busI get off the busI get on the metroI get off the metroI walk about 5 mins to workI arrive at workTotal time taken: 20 minutesActivity undertaken: avoiding looking at people, reading for 10 mins (if I get a seat)When walking to work:I leave my houseI walk down the roadI walk through the parkI walk down a polluted streetI walk through another parkI notice the architectureI stop for a coffeeI speak to someoneI notice a different view of the building on the cornerI think about my dayI appreciate my cityI get annoyed that there is a hole in the pavementI see stressed people waiting at the traffic lights (and smile inwardly)I find a new road to go downI notice the ground (and appreciate it)Oh and I listen to my latest acquirements from emusicTime taken: 1 hour and 20 minutesActivities undertaken: see above and add 1 hour twenty minutes of exercise.Satisfaction rate HUGENote Anyone attempting to do this should wear deodorant and carry work shoes in a bag :-)Also… I tend to take Public transport home after work.