Let’s Green the Gaming Industry

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Games are fun and we should play more of them! That being said, we should also be conscious of the impact our technological-driven gaming has on the environment. Ben Abraham recently launched a new project called Greening the Game Industry to promote the concept of sustainable gaming. The project stems from his work on a very good book, Digital Games After Climate Change, and he hopes to get more people thinking about ways gaming companies can better respect the environment.

One of the best ways to reduce your impact in any industry is to buy second hand and use things to their end of their life. Thus, the thinking of a “patient gamer” is one we should all follow.

The initiative is called the “Games Consoles EU Self-Regulatory Agreement”, and I won’t go into the details of self-regulation but suffice to say most of what you need to know is right there in the name. This is not the EU trying to bring energy-profligate console manufacturers to heel, and is more like a simple mechanism to get them all to the table to see what stuff they already agree on and can codify into some (not even particularly binding) rules of the road. It is also not really a climate-focussed initiative, at least not primarily, which might work backwards from the known impact of the industry and/or a given constraint and say ‘you can use this much no more’ (and there are substantial barriers, practical and conceptual, to being able to do that yet anyway). Since the EU already has rules about “vampire power”, or the power consumed when switched off or in standby.

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Submerged Servers Are More Efficient Than Landlubber Servers

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A few years ago Microsoft decided to sink a data centre and see how well it performs. The short answer is: well, the underwater server farm did just fine. This is significant because it proves that underwater data centres are feasible and, to Microsoft’s surprise can be more reliable.

Data centres take a lot of energy to keep cool so by putting it in the water the cooling system uses the chilly waters surrounding it. The carbon footprint of these underwater systems is potentially smaller too since instead of running massive air conditioners (which consume a lot of energy) they are using their local environment.

Their first conclusion is that the cylinder packed with servers had a lower failure rate than a conventional data centre.
When the container was hauled off the seabed around half a mile offshore after being placed there in May 2018, just eight out of the 855 servers on board had failed.
That compares very well with a conventional data centre.
“Our failure rate in the water is one-eighth of what we see on land,” says Ben Cutler, who has led what Microsoft calls Project Natick.

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Play Games and use Your Computer to Fight COVID-19

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Without a doubt these are exceptional times; I cannot think of another moment in history in which capitalist democracies basically put their economies on hold to protect people. COVID-19 is causing great harm and we have a chance to do all our parts to fight it. The most important thing is to practice social distancing as much as possible.

Use your work computer and your own to passively help researchers using BOINC. It’s a way to use your computational powers to help researchers run simulations to better understand the Coronavirus.

While you’re staying away from people you can play Foldit@Home to help researchers working on COVID-19. Previously Foldit successfully solved an enzyme problem which AIDs researchers were facing. So now is our chance to play games to help fight COVID-19.

Foldit is a free, online game that anyone in the world can download and run on their Mac, Linux, or Windows PC. The main drive of Foldit is our science puzzles. These are weekly challenges that we refresh every week . . . that are directly related to research we’re doing here in the lab at the Institute for Protein Design or in our other labs. Foldit players can participate in the science puzzles. . .  [which] are constructed in such a way that competing players who develop high-scoring solutions make meaningful research contributions.

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Thanks to Neva!

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 Helping Hand for Shaky Mice

Almost everybody uses a computer daily, even those with involuntary muscle movements. The inability to effectively use a mouse as a result of a lack of muscle control bothered one programmer enough to create a solution. SteadyMouse is a Windows-only piece of software that makes it easier for people with Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis to navigate their computers using a mouse. Software solutions like this are always nice to see to make computers more accessible.

I was unable to find a Mac equivalent (although the built-in accessibility tools may cover this issue), nor a Linux version. If you find similar software please share in the comments.

SteadyMouse is assistive software, designed from the ground up to be your fierce ally against Essential Tremor and the variants that often accompany Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

By detecting and removing shaking motion before it reaches your cursor, and by blocking accidental clicks, the entire mouse experience goes from a chaotic battle to an enjoyable reality.

Check it out.

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