A Website Powered by the Sun

solar

The world wide web consumes a lot of energy to keep running as it is. The energy sources we use to power the net can make a big difference in the baron footprint of the entire web, which has led one website owner to see if they could run their website using only the sun. It turns out that a relatively small solar setup can do the job.

One catch is that the website had to do without some dynamic elements like a constantly updated database or calls to ad services and other trackers. Reducing your carbon footprint is yet another reason to use ad blockers AKA tracker blockers.

That said, both the network infrastructure and the end-use devices could be re-imagined along the lines of the solar powered website – downscaled and powered by renewable energy sources with limited energy storage. Parts of the network infrastructure could go off-line if the local weather is bad, and your e-mail may be temporarily stored in a rainstorm 3.000 km away. This type of network infrastructure actually exists in some countries, and those networks partly inspired this solar powered website. The end-use devices could have low energy use and long life expectancy.

Because the total energy use of the internet is usually measured to be roughly equally distributed over servers, network, and end-use devices (all including the manufacturing of the devices), we can make a rough estimate of the total energy use of this website throughout a re-imagined internet. For our original set-up with 95.2% uptime, this would be 87.6 kWh of primary energy, which corresponds to 9 litres of oil and 27 kg of CO2. The improvements we outlined earlier could bring these numbers further down, because in this calculation the whole internet is powered by oversized solar PV systems on balconies.

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Dead Laptops are Fantastic Sources for new Projects

E-Waste continues to be a growing problem in our waste streams. This is unfortunate since it doesn’t need to be this way as people can use computers for longer, or, use the laptop for parts. In the video above you can get some really neat ideas for DIY projects all from reusing parts from a dead laptop. Some are practical like reusing the hard drive while others are more for fun. Either way, it’s worth a watch.

How to wire up laptop screen backlights: https://youtu.be/Y2KK4YiOO1o DIY Secondary Screen (from laptop screen): https://youtu.be/CfirQC99xPc Dual Screen Laptop Project: https://youtu.be/J2aY6cvk-WI DIY Smart Mirror: https://youtu.be/puFSdfIRNIw CCTV from laptop webcams: https://youtu.be/CouxmNqxO4A Media PC project: https://youtu.be/e3fnsGHe8eE

A Map to find Organizations Fighting Climate Change

tree with climate knowledge

Climatescape is a new web-based database to help you find organizations around that world that are trying to save the planet from environmental destruction. It can be hard to find groups on the other side of the world to partner with, or just to find a local organization that is also interested in your goals. Climatescape is trying to make it easier and faster for people to make the world a better place.

The creator mentioned on Hacker News that they are looking for more support in all sorts of ways:

I made Climatescape after seeing dozens of people go through a similar process of cataloging interesting climate-focused companies in spreadsheets, notes, and elsewhere. The goal is to unify these efforts and provide the content free to anyone who might find it useful. The website is open source[1] and content is Creative Commons licensed.

This is really just the beginning of what I’d like to see the project become. We want to go deeper by including key org attributes like headcount, location, investments, and more. There are also plans to increase the breadth of the database by including books, podcasts, events, data sets, and other important resources related to climate.

If anyone is interested in contributing please get in touch! brendan [at] sinceresoftware.co

Check it out!

Canada to Update Digital Privacy Laws, Hold Companies Accountable for Breaches

computer screen

Last year Canadians witnessed too many data breaches of their data and the federal government is reacting. Large Canadian corporations didn’t do enough to protect their databases against attackers and as a result personal data of Canadians is now in the hands of criminals. Canada will now follow the lead of Europe and other jurisdictions by holding corporations financially responsible for any future breaches. This should help force companies to respect their customers.

“It will be significant and meaningful to make it very clear that privacy is important. Compensation, of course, is one aspect of it,” said Bains, adding that the government also wants “to demonstrate to businesses very clearly that there are going to be significant penalties for non-compliance with the law. That’s really my primary goal.”

Statistics Canada says that about 57 per cent of Canadians online reported experiencing a cyber security incident in 2018.

Ryan Berger, a privacy lawyer with Lawson Lundell in Vancouver, said legislating compensation could get private companies to start taking privacy more seriously.

“It will incentivize organizations … to take steps to protect that information and ensure that, for instance, health information is encrypted,” he said.

“So right now, there aren’t the sorts of financial implications for them if they fail to do that.”

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Tips for Remaining Anonymous in the Surveillance Age

safe texting

Surveillance capitalism benefits companies who have large datasets about what people do and where they are – without the consent of those being monitored. The pervasive modern surveillance which is around us everyday from our phones to private cameras can be connected to large corporations or governments for nefarious purposes. Sometimes it can seem innocuous (but not positive) like ads or utterly terrifying like what’s happening in China.

So what to do if you don’t want to be monitored? Step one is to constantly pester politicians about it. You can use privacy enhancing browser extensions or go a little further and get glasses that prevents cameras from seeing your face.

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) technology, such as facial recognition, has become more widespread in public and private spaces — including schools, retail storesairports, concert venues and even to unlock the newest iPhones. Civil-liberty groups concerned about the potential for misuse have urged politicians to regulate the systems. A recent Washington Post investigation, for instance, revealed FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used facial recognition to scan millions of Americans’ driver’s licenses without their knowledge to identify suspects and undocumented immigrants.

The motivation to seek out antidotes to an over-powerful force has political and symbolic significance for Doctorow, an L.A.-based science-fiction author and privacy advocate. His father’s family fled the Soviet Union, which used surveillance to control the masses.

“We are entirely too sanguine about the idea that surveillance technologies will be built by people we agree with for goals we are happy to support,” he said. “For this technology to be developed and for there to be no countermeasures is a road map to tyranny.”

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