Friday, December 31, 2010

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Down the Foxhole - ActiveDen

Link to Envato Notes

This Week at Envato

Posted: 31 Dec 2010 02:01 PM PST

It has been a pretty quiet week at Envato. We had two public holidays this week, and another next week. Many of the staff have taken leave on the remaining three days to make the most of the holiday season.

On behalf of the team, I wish you an amazing and prosperous new year! Enjoy this clip of the fireworks from Sydney as the clock hit midnight.

Freebie Friday – My Top 10 Freebie Apps for 2010

Posted: 30 Dec 2010 06:33 PM PST

We’re coming to the end of my first full year of using Mac OS X as my primary operating system. I spent the previous six years using Linux, so I’m very familiar with lots of open-source apps. At the beginning of the year I was curious about which of these would come with me on my journey through the land of Apple. Twelve months later I can tell you!

Keep in mind that this is my list of top freebie apps – the apps I actually use most days for my work, which is mainly writing and editing text on an iMac. Don’t be put off that they are all Mac apps—they all work on Windows too (and all but one also run on Linux). So there’s a good chance your favorites won’t be there. But I’d be interested in reading your list in the comments.

1. Komodo Edit

I spend a lot of time in text editors, writing and editing articles and tutorials. Although I got my favorite Linux editors working on my Mac they looked a little out of place, so I decided to check out the Mac freebie editors and discovered Komodo Edit.

Although the app starts a little slower than I like, once it gets going I really like it. Besides the editing window, I tend to keep two additional panels open. On the left I keep the “Toolbox” open with a list of frequently used macros displayed. These do things like converting the HTML of headings to the way I like it, common search and replace operations, and case conversions.

The other pane I keep open is for “Command Output”. I do a search for all headings (using a macro), and they are displayed in this bottom panel, effectively giving me an outline of the tut or article. I can quickly jump around the document by double clicking the heading I want.

Komodo Edit isn’t the only editor I use though. In the second half of the year I’ve spent just as much time in everyone’s favorite Textmate, and have also been fiddling with the difficult-to-master Emacs, mainly to experience Org mode.


I’ve been a fan of since it first came out. But now that I live and work on the Internet I don’t really need a word processor—a text editor is a better tool for my work. I don’t even print any more. The only thing I printed in 2010 was an application form for my daughter’s passport.

But I still use Writer most days—but only just. I use it to get a word count for the HTML tuts people send me. Most text editors include HTML code in the word count—I prefer only to count actual words.

3. Dropbox

Dropbox is an app that becomes more useful the more I use it. Shared Dropbox folders are  great way for regular writers to get their stuff to me—especially with files too big for email. I also regulary work on my laptop—I try to escape my home office from time to time. So I store all the tuts that I need to edit in Dropbox so they’re accessible from all of my machines. Very handy!

4. Evernote

Where do you put random facts and snippets of information? I stick it in Dropbox, and it’s available on all my computers and devices.

It’s important to use only one app for that purpose. For a while I was experimenting with different apps, and I’d never remember which one I saved something in! This is another app that becomes more useful the more I use it.

5. Google Chrome

This is currently my favorite browser. I love its speed. It took a while for the extensions I rely on to become available, but now I use it for all of my personal browsing.

6. Flock

I like using separate browsers for personal stuff and work stuff. It helps when I use separate Google IDs for work and home, and it’s often handy to have two different browser windows visible on the screen at one time (for example, I can have reference information from a website in one window while typing an article in the other).

I used to use Firefox for my private browsing, and Flock for work stuff. When I switched from Firefox to Chrome for my personal browsing I just kept using Flock as my second browser. Flock has some handy social features, but I don’t really use them much for work. It’s also able to use most Firefox extensions. In 2011 I’m considering switching from Flock to Firefox for my work browsing.

7. Skype

I mainly use Skype for instant messaging, but occassionally use it for “phone calls” (and sometimes video calls) to authors or other Envato staff. And I used it a lot to keep in touch with my daughter when she was away from home for six months. It’s also handy to remind you of people’s birthdays if I’m not Facebook friends with them.

8. The Gimp

As a Linux user (ex Linux user?) I’ve been using the Gimp for years. It’s a very capable image editor with an interesting interface that is quite different in some ways to Photoshop’s. My image editing needs are simple—resizing, adjusting brightness, contrast and saturation, and occassionally editing text. The Gimp does all of those things very well. I still use it every day even though I also have Photoshop installed on my iMac—Photoshop’s interface is quite different, and I haven’t found enough time to play with it enough to get used to the differences.

9. Audacity

Similar to the way I edit images, I often need to make small, simple adjustments to an audio file. Someone may have sent me a WAV file that needs to be converted to MP3. Audacity makes this easy.

10. Focus Booster

When I started writing a few years ago, I discovered a strange compulsion to get up and stretch my legs. Constantly. Not all the time—quite often I was able to focus all of my attention on what I was writing—but some days every time I achieved the smallest success (like writing a whole paragraph) I’d want to celebrate by getting a drink of water.

A second issue I was keenly aware of is the need to look after my health by taking regular breaks from typing. Hammering away on a keyboard for hours without a break is a health hazzard!

Focus Booster helps with both of those issues. It is a simple and elegant Adobe Air app that helps you practice the Pomodoro technique, which is to work as focused as possible for 25 minutes, then take a five minute break, then repeat as often as necessary.

When I’m feeling compelled to get away from the computer, Focus Booster helps me to tell myself that I just have to work for another 10 or so minutes before a break. It’s amazing how effective that is, and I get more done. And when I am feeling focused the app doesn’t really get in my way. I can work through a break (or sometimes two) so I don’t lose my flow of thought. Overall I find it a helpful method and useful app.

The app does take up a bit of screen real estate, which is fine on my iMac but a little frustrating on my laptop. I’m currently experimenting with other Pomodoro apps, especially ones that live on the menu bar or system tray.

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Latest From : CleanTechnica

Ghana Clean Energy Development Project

Posted: 31 Dec 2010 07:00 AM PST

I normally don’t post project descriptions and requests for investment on here, but I’m making a special exception for this project. It is for a district solid and liquid waste-to-energy facility in the the Central Region of Ghana. We’re big fans of waste-to-energy projects, of course. And the following project seemed like something worth sharing.

PROJECT OBJECTIVE: The objective of the project is to establish an inter-district scale waste-to-energy facility at Edina Essaman in the Central Region of Ghana, West Africa, to combat environmental degradation, global warming and climate change while providing energy to needy communities

CURRENT PROBLEM DESCRIPTION: At present solid waste and sewage collected from the communities, towns and other settlements in the catchment districts are deposited at a site at Edina Essaman without treatment. The situation causes environmental pollution including the emission of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change while simultaneously creating sources of disease vectors that periodically lead to the outbreak of cholera epidemics and other sanitation-related diseases in the communities.

TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM: The problem described above is to be tackled by establishing a waste treatment facility that employs biomethanation ("biogas") technology to treat the organic fraction of incoming waste. The end products of the treatment process will consist of biogas which will be used for electricity production as well as direct fuel supply and digested residues which will be processed into good quality organic fertilizer. The fertilizer will be used in part to rehabilitate the degraded land on which the waste is deposited.

PROJECT EXPECTED OUTPUTS: The facility to be established to serve a catchment population of 200,000 will consist of:

  1. 100 metric tons per day capacity Modern Pollution-free Biomethanation Sewage Treatment Plant;
  2. 200 metric tons per day capacity Modern Biomethanation Solid Waste Recycling Plant;
  3. 7.95 Megawatts Bio-electric Power Station and Bio-fuel Gas Plant;
  4. Greenhouse gases reduction: 58,200 metric tons per annum of CO2 equivalent.

PROJECT COST: The cost of the project is estimated at US$12,574,250


  1. The project will result in the derivation of clean energy for needy communities.
  2. The project will result in the provision of both short and long-term sustainable employment for more than 1,200 persons.
  3. The project will be self sustaining by the use of the energy and fertilizer derivatives for socio-economic applications.
  4. The project will assist in environmental improvement and ecological restoration of the degraded land on which waste is deposited.
  5. Considerable amounts of greenhouse gases emissions will be saved, thus mitigating global warming and climate change.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

The project proponents are looking for investors for this project on a Build Own Operate basis. Interested investors may kindly contact the project proponents at the address below:

Global Works Ltd
P. O. Box DC 549
Dansoman, Accra
TEL: +233 244 449614; +233 277 579481

Geothermal Energy Gathers Steam in India

Posted: 31 Dec 2010 06:09 AM PST

Geothermal energy is getting popular among the Indian energy companies and government policymakers. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had commissioned a research, development and demonstration program involving geothermal energy. The program aimed at locating the potential geothermal energy exploration sites in several states across the country.

The program covered states like Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Many of these states have confirmed the identification of geothermal potential sites. Some of the most active geothermal sites are believed to be located in Jammu & Kashmir with significant resources potentially present in Himachal Pradesh and in central India.

Thermax, a capital goods manufacturer based in Pune, has entered an agreement with Icelandic firm Reykjavík Geothermal. Thermax is planning to set up a 3 MW pilot project in Puga Valley, Ladakh (Jammu & Kashmir). Reykjavík Geothermal will assist Thermax in exploration and drilling of the site.

Ladakh is one of the remotest locations in India. With almost no availability of basic amenities such as food, ration and electricity the inhabitants are almost completely dependent on goods imported from other states and power generated from diesel generators. The villages in this mountainous region are so far apart that connecting them all through transmission lines is practically and economically unfeasible.

Therefore, a local resource which is available around the year seems to be the only solution for the power woes of this region.

India’s first fully-operational commercial geothermal power plant is likely to come up in 2012 in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The plant will be set up by GeoSyndicate Power Private Limited, a company backed by the Indian Institue of Technology (Bombay). The company has already entered in a Power Purchase Agreement with a local power distribution company through the Non-conventional Energy Development Corporation of Andhra Pradesh.

India’s largest industrial group, Tata Sons, is also planning to foray into geothermal energy-based power generation. Tata Power is planning to invest in geothermal power plants in the state of Gujarat. Tata Power has elaborate plans to invest in various renewable energy options like solar energy and wind energy. Since the government of Gujarat has a favorable policy towards investments in renewable energy-based power generation sector, Gujarat has a special place in Tata Power’s green energy expansion.

Significantly, Tata Power bought 10 percent stake in Australian enhanced geothermal systems firm Geodynamics for $37 million.

Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that his government would soon announce geothermal energy-centered power generation policy to attract investments from Indian as well as foreign companies.

According to the research conducted by D. Chandrasekharam, Professor and Head — Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Bombay, the estimated power generation capacity of geothermal resources in India is about 10,600 MW. Geothermal energy has not been taken seriously by the Indian government.

However, with the announcement of National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008, which contained broad policy directives for promotion of renewable energy infrastructure, several Indian and foreign companies have showed increased interest in green technologies. The investors are expecting that the government would offer financial incentives to geothermal energy-based power plants as well and therefore several companies are getting attracted to this sector which seems to have a promising future.

Image: Stuck in Customs/CC

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Cleantech Link Drop

Posted: 31 Dec 2010 03:52 AM PST

As I did in the middle of the month, sharing some stories with you that I never had the opportunity to get to but think you might like to check out. Hope you enjoy them…

Clean Transport

Can Streetcars Save America’s Cities?

In a down economy, pursuing the American dream can be challenging, but restaurant owner Todd Steele was willing to take a chance.

For nearly 20 years, Steele worked all levels of the restaurant game, from dishwasher to general manager, before partnering with his mom and opening his own eatery called Metrovino on Portland, Oregon’s, 11th Avenue streetcar line.

“I would not have picked this spot if it weren’t for the streetcar, and my business has certainly benefited from our location,” Steele said. “Streetcars are also a romantic way to travel, and they are fun to watch from inside Metrovino.”…

Light Rail & Streetcars Becoming More Popular, Transforming Cities

In my graduate studies in city and regional planning, one thing became very obvious to me: cities, by definition and at their best, are densely-populated places. However, with the rapid rise of automobile use, North American cities have been on a low-density trend. Think about it, big vehicles for every individual require tons of big roads, big parking spaces, etc.

One key way to increase density is to provide good mass transit that people will use instead of cars. Attractive, modern mass transit that follows a specific, dedicated line (e.g. streetcars and light rail) is actually as much of a development tool as a transportation option. Building such transit lines results in high-density development, especially near the transit stations, which, for many, means a better city and a better quality of life. (Of course, it is also important to coordinate such transportation planning with with land use planning, but that is a subject for another day.)…

UK Government to Unveil New High-Speed Rail Route

The preferred route for the government’s £17bn high-speed rail line, which promises to whisk passengers from London to Birmingham in just over half an hour, is to be revealed later today….

Wisconsinites Rally Against Governor’s Rejection of Rail Funds

It has become pretty clear by now that the Republican party has become the “party of No.” Can you think of anything the Republican party is actually for, other than tax cuts for the rich?

A few newly-elected Republicans even ran on an anti-high-speed-rail agenda this year. Seriously, what political leader opposes better transportation that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, improves the economy, and aims to keep the U.S. from being the last country in the developed world without high-speed rail?

Governor-elects Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio carried their anti-rail torches to the finish line this election season, vowing to send over one billion dollars of federal stimulus funds back to Washington. Wisconsin had been awarded $810 million for a 110-mph line connecting Milwaukee and Madison, and Ohio had been awarded $400 million to build a Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland route….

Paris to Introduce Self-Service Electric Car Scheme

First Parisians were urged to get on their bikes with an innovative self-service cycle scheme. Now residents of the French capital and tourists who embraced the Vélib bicycle hire scheme will soon be able to zip around town in environmentally friendly electric cars for less than the price of the average bottle of vin de table….

States Ignoring Link Between Transportation and Climate

Report suggests current transportation policy in most U.S. states will likely worsen greenhouse gas emission trends.

With federal policy action on climate and energy appearing unlikely for at least the next couple years, public policy and financial analysts are increasingly turning to state-level analyses to inform policymakers, business leaders about the policy and business landscapes for clean energyenergy efficiency, and in the case of a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the link between transportation and greenhouse gas emissions….

Clean Energy

UK Renewables Smash Output Records as Wind Capacity Soars

Government figures show renewable energy supplied 8.6 per cent of total electricity during the third quarter of the year….

'Tis the season to manufacture: Why “Made in America” is the gift that keeps on giving

Clean energy technology represents a promising area for innovation-led investment where the United States has historically led in dramatic growth and technology-led productivity gains, in turn creating new, well-paying jobs….

San Francisco Pledges Astounding 100% Green Energy by 2020

While some U.S. cities have made substantial gains in clean energy, it'll be hard to compete with San Francisco's recently announced goal. Believe it or not, the City by the Bay plans to be 100% green-energy-powered by 2020….

One Person’s Cost, Another’s Opportunity

Transitioning into a new, low-carbon energy future costs money. No doubt about it. Yet the flip-side of cost is opportunity.

Pew just released a new study on Global Clean Power: A $2.3 Trillion Opportunity. Is this just a smart attempt at rebranding the inevitable, or is there more behind this?

Solar Energy

US Army Evaluating Solar Powered Tents

Advances in photovoltaic technology have led to the development of thin, flexible solar cells. It's possible to build a tent out of them, and the US Army is considering acquiring and using such portable structures….

Solar Power to Cut Colossal Cruise Ship Emissions

Good news out of Los Angeles, where the completion of a 1-megawatt (MW) solar power system covering 71,500 square feet will now allow ships docked between cruises to access some 1.2 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable solar power instead of using their diesel generators for shore-side energy needs….

Solar company to hire 100-plus next year in recession ravaged Florida

Mustang Vacuum Systems of Bradenton, which has plans to expand operations over the next few years, will create and fill 125 jobs next year. The manufacturer of machines for solar cell equipment intends to hire about 10 employees by the end of March. After that, Mustang will created jobs for welders, fabricators, assemblers and mechanical engineers….

Cost of Solar Dips to All-Time Low in US, Texas Tops List as Cheapest

A complex mix of market forces and policy incentives contributed to a historic low for the average cost of installing solar panels in the U.S. in 2009, according to a new study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Perhaps the most important finding of the study, however, is that decreases in the cost of producing solar modules, which traditionally lag behind a few years before they are passed on to the consumer, are contributing to a “significant decline in average installed costs” for 2010….

NRG Energy to Buy Rights to World’s Largest Solar Project

A power company with headquarters in New Jersey agreed to acquire rights to the world’s largest operational solar project for $800 million, according to published reports.

When construction is completed in 2014, Agua Caliente of Yuma County, Arizona will be a 290-megawatt generator that will encompass 2,400 acres of land. The purchaser, NRG Energy of Princeton, New Jersey, is buying from First Solar, a Tempe, Arizona photovoltaic developer and manufacturer….

Wind Energy

Vestas confirms Fallago Rig deal

Vestas reveals it has won contract to supply 48 turbines to controversial borders wind farm….

Geothermal Energy

And if you’re interested in geothermal:

GEA Geothermal Energy Finance Forum 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
8:30am-5:00pm Finance Forum
5:00pm-6:00pm Networking Reception
The Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, New York, NY

Photo: Michael | Ruiz; US Army; Port of San Diego

Iberdrola Opens First US Co-Generation Biomass Plant in Oregon

Posted: 30 Dec 2010 04:43 PM PST

Iberdrola Renovables has begun to build its first US forestry biomass co-generation power plant in the United States, in Oregon, in response to new renewable energy standards requiring Oregon utilities get 25% renewable energy by 2025.

Its 27 MW Lakeview co-generation plant will be producing energy from forest waste, a renewable resource in Oregon, by the end of 2012, according to a report at Ordons Energy.

As a co-generation plant it essentially doubles its output, making both heat in btus, and power by the kWh.

The plant is sited in rural Lake County, where it is not only ideally positioned to utilize biomass from forestry waste, but it is also strategically located just 20 miles from the California border – and close to major transmission lines.

Oregon’s rural south eastern Lake County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the US. This project brings 200 jobs to get it built and going, and another 50 ongoing jobs operating the plant, and transporting and storing biomass to fuel it.

Iberdrola’s first forestry biomass co-generation plant in Guadalajara, Spain will serve as a benchmark for the construction, commissioning and gathering of biomass in this project. Like it, the Oregon plant will be entirely air-cooled, reducing water use by more than 80%.

Biomass co-generation represents a departure for global wind leader Iberdrola. In the US, it is the second biggest wind company, with 47 wind farms in 23 states totaling 4,314 MW.

Although Iberdrola Renovables was born in Europe as a result of the progressive legislation there since the EU signed the Kyoto Accord in 1997, requiring carbon emissions reductions; it is now beginning to expand in the US, as more states pass clean energy policy that is as progressive as that in EU nations, and consequently add more renewable energy.

With total global wind capacity totaling 12,006 MW, Iberdrola is the world leader in wind power, but its US wind farms now represent a quarter of its global wind business. It now has 800 US employees and has generated over 14,200 other indirect jobs here since 2006. Over the last three years, it made purchases from US companies worth $5.5 billion.

Image: Michael McCullough

Susan Kraemer@Twitter


Foreign Windpower Giant Iberdrola Taps Saudi Arabia of Wind Because We Can’t
US would Gain $342 Billion From a National Renewable Energy Policy, Pew Report
Make electric Power in Your Basement?
Volkswagen to Make Electric Power in Your Basement

Indian State of Gujarat Unveils Plan to Build $2.3 Billion Solar Park

Posted: 30 Dec 2010 04:38 PM PST

I know, Mridul normally covers our India stories, but I like to cover one from time to time myself as well. Gujarat, an Indian state, announced plans earlier today to invest over 105 billion rupees ($2.3 billion) in a 500-MW solar park. No small news.

“The proposed park will be located on 2,000 hectares of land at Charanka village and will be connected to the grid by the state-owned electricity utility,” Tom Young of Business Green reports. Never heard of Charanka? Nevermind. The point is that at this location, the park is expected to get sunlight 330 days a year, and studies show the expected average intensity to be six kilowatts per square meter.

The state government is taking care of most of the work, already completing geotechnical and topographic surveys and intending to provide the necessary electricity, water, drainage, and transportation infrastructure.

“Plots will be leased on 30-year contracts to companies and the Gujarat government has already agreed to purchase nearly 933MW of power generated by the solar farms to help encourage further investors,” Young reports.

The state government is looking at this solar park as an economic stimulus project. And it is reported that 80 solar power project investors have already contacted the government.

“The park will have a need for assembling, civil works, electrical wiring, solar panel cleaning and thus will give employment to large number of local people,” it says.

The government intends for there to be research and development projects on the site and want the necessary machinery to be manufactured locally.

In 2009, Gujarat introduced solar power legislation and announced its plan to create 1,000 MW of solar power by 2012 and 3,000 MW by 2015. Some of the tools it is looking to use are feed-in tariffs and tax cuts for solar power generators. Sounds like a good plan.

Related Stories:
1. Tata Power Planning India’s Largest Solar PV Power Plant with 50 MW Capacity
2. India’s Renewable Energy Generation Capacity Could Reach 48 GW by 2015
3. Europe to Invest in Massive Solar Power Plants in India

Photo Credit: Sunset in rural Gujarat by jkairvar

Look at a Picture, Make a Windmill [VIDEOS]

Posted: 30 Dec 2010 02:12 PM PST

I know, we normally focus on the most efficient or biggest windmills or other clean energy technologies here on Cleantechnica, but this is a story I couldn’t pass up.

I think it’s better just to watch these videos to learn more, but for a brief intro, here’s the story:

William Kamkwamba dropped out of high school when much of his village (Malawi) was facing famine and starvation. Not satisfied to live such a simple life, he thought it made sense to take advantage of the great wind resources of the village. He went to the library and found a some physics books he liked as well as a book called “Using Energy” that included pictures of windmills. Unfortunately, it didn’t give clear instructions on how to build one and he didn’t know English that well at the time anyway. (Note: he had never used the internet at that time either and didn’t have access to it there.) William found materials at a scrap yard to build the windmill with and built it. Oh yeah, William was 14 years old at this time.

Anyway, watch the videos for more.

The Story:

William’s first time at TED (from his first trip away from his village):

William’s second time at TED:

h/t Climate Crocks