Bad 24 months

It seems like it has been years since I have had a chance to make a post about anything and it actually has been. The last couple of years have been a struggle with a few moves. I have not felt settled for a while which has limited my ability to do a lot of the things I like doing. Photography, posting articles and so on. I will be attempting to change this. So stay tuned for future post updates.

How to save the planet and the human race

This is a conceptional article not one with exact calculations. Saving the planet and the human race is going to require looking at the energy problem on a global scale. And I have a solution.

The key to long term survival is making sure the carbon cycle is in balance. Currently we extract carbon out of the ground, oil, natural gas and coal as the main sources. Secondary to this is the creation of methane from our food supply and lastly because of global warming methane trapped in permafrost is escaping into the atmosphere. So you have a LOT of input into the system that far exceeds the ability of the planet to suck it backup through the normal natural process.

The human race will never be able to reduce enough carbon input fast enough to make a difference not with out killing off a large portion of our civilization and rolling back to the dark ages. And because of the run away effect this would probably not work either leaving the planet warming for 10s of thousands of years or longer. And our energy demand is only going to increase drastically in the near future to just be able to sustain us. As glaciers melt key water systems will collapse especially in Asia leaving salt water desalination and large distribution infrastructure required to keep populations alive.

Renewable resources as we think of them now is not the easy solution either. But they will be part of the greater solution with you will read about further down. The problem with Wind and solar mostly is the unreliability of the energy production. Wind can only produce when it is windy, and if it is two windy they need to shut down. Solar requires sun and that disappears nightly. One of the expensive parts of using these technology is the storage of energy outside of production times like at night.

So what is my solution? Use all sources of energy and create a balance and I will explain how this can be achieved. We already have the technology to capture carbon from the atmosphere. The problem is it takes as much energy to remove it as it took to create the carbon pollution in the first place. The only way this will be viable is free energy to power this technology that is intended just for this purpose. And this can not be a carbon producing source which defeats the purpose. The byproduct of this technology is fuel which can be used. Before I continue I should explain how power generation works. For the most part almost all power generation relies on spinning turbines which produce electricity. One of the few technologies that does not are solar cells. Hydro electric uses water and gravity to spin turbines. fossil fuels are burned to generate heat which creates steam to spin turbines, this includes nuclear energy. Solar heat exchanges, those large mirrors focus sun light to a central point which creates steam to spin turbines. So all most all power generation revolves around spinning turbines. On the small scale liquid fuels like gasoline is exploded to create energy for engines.

What we need to do is maximize our solar energy production during production hours to create as much clean energy as possible to reduce our day time foot print. The same goes for our Wind generation in places appropriate for Wind generation. The idea is to limit the production of carbon during those periods of the day where we can. The second part is to use fossil fuel power generation to augment the power requirements which will be at night and cloudy days for solar and during periods of reduced or excessive wind for wind generated power. The day time output of these sources of energy must be triple the demand and energy needs of the population. The reason for this is because the fossil fuel generation stations that augment the power will not release the carbon into the atmosphere but capture it in large storage facilities. When fossil fuel generation tapers down during the day or during peak wind production, the energy created from solar and wind will not just need to power our cities but they will need to convert the stored captured emissions back into a solid fuel. The fuel which will be re-burned outside of peak renewal energy production periods. This turns the fossil fuels used to generate power a renewable energy.

This isn’t energy balance, this is just greatly reducing the amount of carbon emitted Into the atmosphere. Cars, trucks, planes, boats, wildfires and manufacturing will still emit carbon into the atmosphere. The second stage is to build dedicated carbon extraction plants in the deserts to pull out the amount of carbon produced by all those other sources as a dedicated function. Why in the deserts. Using solar mirrors to heat water to spin turbines to generate energy is as free as you can get for the production of energy. Transmission of that energy to population centres at great distances is where the cost comes which is why we don’t see as many of these power farms as we would like. But if the carbon capture technology is located in the desert with the energy production then by day these massive carbon extraction facilities can capture the amount of carbon from the air in the amount of what is generated by all the other sources mentioned above. When enough of this technology is constructed and meets that requirement we are finally on a global equilibrium on the carbon cycle. Of course to undo the damage we have caused we need to exceed this capacity and be pulling out far more then we input.

Essentially my plan calls for use of renewable energy by day/wind periods and other sources by night or stale air periods. Using technology to turn fossil fuel into a renewable source and removing excess amounts of carbon from the atmosphere to undo undo the global warming effect. The energy produced by solar and wind during peak production must be substantially more than required to power out civilization so convert the night time use of fossil fuels back into a solid carbon to keep it out of the atmosphere. We need enough dedicated carbon air extraction powered cheaply by solar and wind energy to compensate for sources that can’t easily be captured like automobiles. And we have to factor in the increased demand on energy to operate things like salt water desalination which is going to be inevitable in Asia to supply the fresh water needs for the populations that rely on glaciers to fill rivers. This technology will also be needed in places that deplete ground water. Large swaths of desert lands are very suitable for the dedicated power extraction and could lead to a very profitable industry for Africa. The extracted carbon is a fuel source that will help limit the need of new extraction from the ground.

We need to continue to become more efficient with energy. But we have to be realistic capabilities. Countries like Canada and Russia will have a higher dependance on fossil fuel vehicles due to climate and geography. Cities like LA, New York, London should be able to sustain electric vehicles much easier. Hot locations will have cooling needs while cold climate will have warming needs. The amount of energy used, how it is used is drastically different from location to location. But with using renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and hydro electric augmented by carbon fuels using capture and conversion methods we can greatly reduce the carbon emitted into the atmosphere with out making crippling changes to society. A global carbon tax dedicated to the manufacturing and running of carbon extraction facilities is needed. And because the great deserts of Africa provide a great place to do this from this will inject much needed capital and industry to further help a people in need of help.

The next great hurdle is vertical farming and water recapture to sustain food production. But that is a completely different article on its own right. The key point I want to make is we can’t try and be extreme on one way such as reducing the reliance on fossil fuels to renewable sources. Complete reliance on renewable sources will require expensive energy storage technology which in turn makes renewable energy expensive and those storage technologies are not exactly the most environmentally friendly and rely on resources that there is just not enough of to be a global solution. Using a balance of Renewable energy with fossil fuels with smart collection and recycling is a far better approach that is more sustainable.

I will follow up with this article with numbers which is going to take more time to compile.

Carbon Tax is a failure

I am not a fan of the Carbon tax and I don’t think it will ever work in the way it is intended. It is a punishment for a feel good attempt to curb climate change and it affects every one in the most negative ways with little to no benefit. And I will explain why.

When people think about the carbon tax they think this is good, this will cause people to drive less. But the sad fact is most people that drive are not going to drive less because driving is a necessity of life. Is a parent that drives kids to school going to decide one day a week the kid will stay home to save on driving… No. People will just pay out of pocket and for those with the least amount of money it is going to hurt them the most. But say some one decided they will change from driving a car to taking transit. The sad fact they are still paying for the Carbon tax.

The carbon tax affects all methods of transportation. The transit system is not immune to the tax so the cost of taking the bus is higher to support the extra cost to the transit system. Trucks that deliver goods to stores pay the carbon tax and those costs get passed down the chain so the stores pay a higher rate for deliveries and pass that on the consumer. City services such as Police, Ambulances and the Fire Department also end up paying this tax costing the tax payer more money for these basic services robbing the cities the ability to fund other things or increasing property taxes to support the carbon tax. Home owners that have to pay higher property taxes will charge more for rent. Essentially the Carbon tax hits every one in multiple ways which is not calculated. The only calculations people see is the cost at the pump. Not the cost to the fruits and vegetables they eat, the amount they pay for rent and the cost of recreational services offered by the city all having to recoup higher costs from the tax.

This overall increase on everything is the most insidious part of the carbon tax. And one of the intended targets such as large polluters from industry will just pay the tax and pass those costs down as part of the manufacturing cost to the consumer. So at what stage does this tax actually help with reducing pollution when the majority of people are not really doing anything excessive beyond just trying to live a simple regular life.

What I would prefer to see is positive incentives for people to reduce the carbon foot print. Electric car rebates, building code changes requiring the connection points in parking garages for residences to purchase and add charge stations as required. Offer a power rebate bonus at the end of a 12 month period for using less fuel. Offer rebates for companies that allow and encourage working from home. Introduce distance based Transit fares with the first 5 km free for every one to encourage the use of transit for short trips. These are all positive incentive systems that will allow those that can make the change to do so with out punishing the rest of us.

Another alternative to the carbon tax current method of collection is to set an amount that every one is entitled to as a basic exemption based on locations. The way it would work is that you pay at the pump as you do now but you kept your receipt for a 100% rebate that can be submitted at tax time up to the allowed limit. For argument sake say every personal user is allowed 3000 L of fuel per year, then the tax payer can submit tax receipts up to 3000L to get a full rebate back for that first 3000L of purchased fuel. City services for police, fire, ambulance get a 100% rebate on ALL fuel so does public services like Ferries and Transit. The transportation of goods can also be rebated based on the cargo so essentials like Food is not taxed at all. The limit of rebate for trucks could be set to scale based on the age of the vehicle and the vehicles fuel economy rewarding trucking companies with newer fleets that are more efficient with a much larger carbon exemption. Industry that reduces emissions through investment should get rewarded by large exemptions. If a business reduces emissions by 10% the exemption should be increased by 20% for every effective 1 percent of reduction.

While this is not a perfect solution its a solution that does not punish people, allows for basic exemptions that people can attempt to live with in and provides incentives to invest and reduce. The current blanket approach just makes life harder for every one and with a cost of doing business mentality passing down the buck for the increased costs little changes and people suffer.

Ultimatly there is much much more that can be done to reduce the carbon foot print but that is for another post.

Family and Friends, please pay attention – Backups

Family and Friends, please pay attention. This is very important and could save you a lot of frustration and emotional heart breaks.

People’s lives are stored on computers and devices. Every one takes digital photos, and most people save them on computers. Some do not even do that and just leave it on phones. I want you to think about this for a minute. Where are your wedding photos and video’s? What about your children’s important moments like school performances, sporting events and birthdays?  What about the photos of loved ones, boyfriends, girl friends, husbands, wives and parents.

I hope I have your attention and have you thinking now. So hear me out as an IT professional. Most people do not make backups. The people that do make backups use manual methods that are not consistent; myself I am just as guilty. My Time keeps reminding me it has been 43 days as of when I write this of my last backup. (I am actually safe because I use iCloud as well).

Two reasons off the start why this is not good enough if you are one of those people that thinks they are backing up.

  • It is manual, you will eventually forget to do it, or get complacent because nothing has happened and stop doing it.
  • This hardly protects you, except for if you accidently delete a file or your hard drive crashes or you lost your laptop.

The concerns are, natural disaster and your home is destroyed. Think wild fires for small towns, floods near rivers, a house fire, earth quakes and super hero’s from space fighting it out on your lawn. Ok I admit I watch to many marvel movies. The greatest concern these days is ransomware viruses. These are viruses that infect your computer, encrypt all the files and they demand payment to restore it. A regular external hard drive plugged in USB is not immune to this at all. It will become part of the encrypted mess thus, your backups are gone too.

The only solution is to have two kinds of backups, one that is offsite and the local one to be inaccessible to the user. It is such a small price to pay to preserve such a important part of your life.

Now I work for a IT company and we offer protection for a very affordable price. But this isn’t about bringing business to the company I work for. I want my friends and family to be safe so I will tell you what you need to do on your own but would encourage you to use my company. If not for yourself think about parents and grand parents that are not tech savvy that could use our help.

Step 1: Get a network attached storage device. They care called a NAS. If this is your only method of backup you should get one with two hard drives. If you will be using offsite backups as well then you can get away with a single drive but it is not recommended.

Step 2: Configure the device with a login account with a secure password.

Step 3: Configure backup software to connect to it via this secure login. The software is totally free for Windows Computers, and Mac’s have many options to. DO NOT set this up as a drive to use for yourself. It is only for backups. The second you make it a mounted drive you lose protection from Viruses.

Step 4: Setup internet backups in the cloud. I can provide this for a very cheap monthly price and our data center is located here in BC, so nothing is going out of the country. But you can also use Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive and so on.

I really don’t care which of the cloud providers you use, each have different strengths and weaknesses. The NAS box I recommend has the ability to sync up to these services directly as well making this process automated. FYI my company offers as much storage for the same prices.

So that is my rant, think about how important your files are, besides pictures work files, documents and receipts and other things. You might be thinking I am safe, all my photos are in my facebook. Well that is true until you get banned or hacked.

Single Drive NAS box that can also connect to online services like DropBox to automate offsite backups

Prices are as of the posting of this, they can change in the future and is a guide only. Small shipping charge for sending completed units, NAS box plus Hard Drives setup. Setting up the backup system which is done remotely over the internet has a small charge as well.

Qnap 1 Bay, I can do for $230 plus Tax (No Hard Drive)

http://www.ncix.com/detail/qnap-ts-131p-1-bay-personal-cloud-94-137848.htm

Qnap 2 Bay, I can do for $275 plus Tax (No Hard Drives)

http://www.ncix.com/detail/qnap-ts-231p-2-bay-personal-cloud-fe-137847.htm

Hard Drives, for the 2 Bay NAS you need two Hard Drives.

1 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $85 plus tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st1000vn002-1tb-sata-15-135300.htm

2 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $120 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st2000vn004-2tb-sata-e6-135301.htm

3 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $148 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st3000vn007-3tb-sata-d1-135302.htm

4 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $182 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st4000vn008-4tb-sata-15-135303.htm

6 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $285 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st6000vn0041-6tb-sata-f9-136977.htm

8 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $365 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st8000vn0022-8tb-sata-e9-136979.htm

10 TB Ironwolf Hard Drive, I can do for $500 plus Tax

http://www.ncix.com/detail/seagate-ironwolf-st10000vn0004-10tb-sata-4e-134127.htm

The recommended software for Windows computers I suggest is Veeam Endpoint Backup. It is free but you do have to register with a real email address to get the download link.

https://www.veeam.com/windows-endpoint-server-backup-free.html

Lastly, you can use corporate level high protection Antivirus for a fraction of the price, I can make it available to home users. You do not get the managed service for this price, which is central monitoring by our security department for problems. Nevertheless, this Antivirus has special capabilities that help protect from ransomware viruses. However, nothing is perfect so the most important thing is backups.

You can watch the video of this antivirus here at https://www.computerworks.ca/webroot-secureanywhere/

The filter add on for the Internet Browser does a good job keeping users safe. The file monitoring it does on unknown files and roll back capability of changes my by those unknown untrusted files is the strong point of why its better to use a paid product over free antivirus that comes with Windows.

I can offer this for $60 a year per computer, for more then 3 I can offer a small discount.

If you have read all this, good on you. If you do not want to use my company for your personal security needs then by all means use what I have posted above to secure yourself. At the end of the day I want my friends and family and the friends and family of my friends to be safe. I provided retail links to the recommended devices and hardware, my suggestions for setup is listed. The free backup software is linked and some people already have lots of online storage already and can use it for backups. If you do want this professionally setup and to use the services the company I work for by all means contact me.

The importance of off site backups

1468377492_866fa1c772_zAsk yourself this question and answer yourself truthfully. If my computer was to get stolen tonight, what have I just lost that I can’t get back. Can you remember everything on your computer that is important? Some tax returns here, the kids school word documents there. A weeks worth of work on a report intended for the bosses desk in the morning. Some important photos not uploaded to Facebook yet or chat history with a love one. You might even be thinking I got nothing really important on that computer. But then a month later you remember something that was.

 

 

2291127824_087a497bea_zBut really home robberies are so rare, its not really something to worry about. And myself personally computer theft if not that high on my list. So what about a natural or human caused disaster. Perhaps a fire or a flood does the computer in. For many of us this is a far greater concern and a more likely possibility depending where you live. So its something that gets a passing thought every year at insurance renewal time.

 

 

 

15462325023_85083999b2_zRansomware… Have you every herd of it? Yes, in passing? But you are not really sure what it is. Ransomware is the new kid on the block, and have been poking its ugly head around for the last couple years. And because early versions of this have been so successful financially for criminals a lot of hackers and other criminals have copied the methods and type of attack causing a big increase in Ransomware attacks.

Ransomware is pretty ingenious when you think about it. Traditionally Viruses would do things like make itself noticed on the computer so the maker of it got famous. It was a game. Others used viruses to steal documents from computers to sell on the black market. I really do wonder what a SIN /SS number is worth these days on the black market. But most of the time these viruses at worst only crippled the computer and the data was actually safe. Ransomware is different. It is designed to hold your data hostage. Using strong encryption methods Ransomware will encrypt all your data and demand money to release it. Most of the time those that paid didn’t actually get the data back. And the files are lost for ever because no recovery method can actually recover an encrypted file unless a super computer is involved, and lots of years to break it. You might remember that last year the FBI had some problems getting data off a iPhone that was encrypted.

The only real solution and viable option of protecting data from Ransomeware, theft and natural disaster is off site backups that are automatic. External hard drives, USB drives, tape backups, zip drives and yes I just said zip drive just so the young ones can go look up what is a zip drive, all offer the same kind of protection. That is, if the person making the backups remembers to A) test the backup media and recovery options, B) remembers to plug in the backup drive, C) remembers to unplug it when completed and D) actually take it to a secure location like work or a friends house or in the case of a business a secure storage facility like Iron Mountain. The failure in this method is, well, humans. Face it we suck. We are inconsistent with what we need to do, and get easily preoccupied with other tasks. We tend to let things slide with a “I will do this tomorrow” mentality but tomorrow never actually comes. The fact is most of us fail to maintain such a routine and because nothing bad happens for a very long time we get complacent with not doing it.

Automatic offsite backups through the internet solves almost all of these problems. While not 100% perfect since technology can sometimes break, for the most part the Automatic nature of offsite backups means you are well protected and never need to lift a finger. Additionally its off-site which means its protected from all the the above. Network servers and attached backup devices are susceptible to a virus. If you can save your work on it, a Virus can ruin that work since a virus will have at least as much access to stuff as you do.

So if you have questions about off-site backups or would like help to get setup to protect all the unimportant data and those few really important things you can’t think of until its gone kind of files then give me a shout to set you up.

Image Credits
Broken Window – Jon Collier Image License
Computer on Fire – Matt Mets Image License
Virus – Yuri Samoilov Image License

A good movie!

Last summer a real awesome movie came out. Originally I had written off as being something stupid. I ignored it based on the trailer. Ironically this is one of those movies that trailer does not do it justice. A now former friend convinced me to go see it in theatre. The movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. 

To say this movie was a pleasant surprise is a understatement. The  cinematrography was excellent. The special effects mind blowing. The actors selected for the roles they played perfect and a adventurous story line made this a pleasant wonderful movie to watch. It’s one I would enjoy seeing again and again with friends. 

I only bring this up now because I just finished watching it again. I don’t recall ever posting anything about it really and its ashame I didn’t because it’s a movie that deserves being talked about. 

So that’s it for this blog post. Thought this town after watching I would post something about it. I don’t want to go into a review about the movie itself and ruin it for people that have not seen it. I highly recommend any one that has not seen it should.     

Windows 10 release date and more

My Computer has alerted me to the free upgrade through Windows Notification area and it appears Windows 10 is available on July 29th of this year. You can reserve your free copy via email. Now I wonder how this works with people who have more then one computer like myself.

windows10message windows10message2

How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet

Web startups are made out of two things: people and code. The people make the code, and the code makes the people rich. Code is like a poem; it has to follow certain structural requirements, and yet out of that structure can come art. But code is art that does something. It is the assembly of something brand new from nothing but an idea.

Source: How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet

Why Has Yahoo Killed Flickr? 5 Alternatives For Photo Sharing – Forbes

In an exclusive article, Gizmodo penned a powerful exposé about how Yahoo has bludgeoned Flickr. The title conveys the brutal reality of how the internet giant slowly ruined one of its best web properties. Eric Jackson frequently writes about Yahoo! and offers ideas on how it can turn the ship away […]

Source: Why Has Yahoo Killed Flickr? 5 Alternatives For Photo Sharing – Forbes

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