Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Innovation in places you wouldn’t expect

The Bay Area is full of tech innovators, and seldom are the achievements of the entrepreneur who operates outside of Software, Internet or Biotech recognized. Ellen Raynor the owner/operator of SF Carpet Recycling is the kind of person I’m talking about. Full disclosure, Ellen is a close family friend, but I think you will agree her efforts are commendable in taking recycling to the next level.

SF Carpet Recycling is a collection site for post consumer carpet and carpet pad for the San Francisco Bay Area. Conveniently located in the 3rd Street corridor in the southeast part of San Francisco, we accept used carpet for the purpose of recycling.

For every 10 million pounds of post-consumer carpet recycled:

• 50,000 cubic yards of landfill space is saved

• 70 million pounds of GHG emissions are avoided (CO2 equivalents)

According to the 2006 CARE Annual Report

Planet Green video and more info

Mean and Green, hopefully lean

Earlier today the Mayor signed into law the nations most ‘stringent’ green building codes, for both residential and commercial construction. This being a continuing effort by the mayor to put San Francisco in the spotlight when it comes to progressive politics. All politics is local as they say, and energy policy is probably the most pressing issue the world is facing today.
From the Chron earlier today:

The new codes are to be phased in by 2012. Projects will be evaluated on a point system with credit given for materials used in the building, the location of the building site and water and energy efficiencies…..

Despite those predictions, the city’s Office of Economic Analysis estimated that the new codes would cost the city between $30 million and $700 million a year in economic output, as it could lead to higher rents and businesses choosing to locate elsewhere.

Newsom called that report inaccurate and predicted the new regulations would actually attract businesses to the city. That opinion was echoed by Phil Williams, an executive at San Mateo-based Webcor Builders, who sat on the city task force on green building that developed the new regulations.

The LEED certifications for green building will apply to larger projects, both residential and commercial and the Greenpoint system will apply to smaller projects.

The opposition are crying that the added expense will further drive up the cost of owning a home or a business in SF, and I cry bullshit on that. For far too long people have not paid the true cost of housing, energy and other resources. And this is where government certainly has a role, protecting the commons.

There will be cost savings aplenty as people fall in line with the added up front expense of building to codes that make sense in today’s world.


Photograph CC by Chance Gardener.

AT&T backs down on Utility boxes

AT&T has backed down on their plan to install 850 large utility vaults throughout the city. As reported back on July 15th, there was a supervisors meeting on July 29th, and several neighborhoods organized a significant opposition and showed during this Supes meeting. The following report from one of my neighbors who was there:


Check out BBTV’s coverage of the Long Now’s mechanicrawl, which took place on July 12th of this year. In case you aren’t familiar The Long Now foundation is an incredible (local) organization, focused on long term thinking.

The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.

And we are treated to video coverage…

Boing Boing tv guest correspondent Todd Lappin (R) and cameraninja Eddie Codel (L) trek to the Long Now Foundation’s first-ever Mechanicrawl event, and bring back tales of early analog computing, fantastic timepieces, and impossibly eccentric mechanical things.


Also from Laughing Squid.

Pic courtesy of Todd Lappin.

Code is Poetry? And Other Thoughts on WordCamp

Despite the day’s schedule still being unannounced, the upcoming WordCamp conference looks to draw many a passionate fan and developer of WordPress come mid-August. Sure, I may have taken advantage of Blogger-sponsored libations in the past courtesy of the city’s unending schedule of 2.0-themed happy hours, but I’m really a big fan of the easy-to-use WordPress platform (which SF Metblogs and my personal blog are published on). The Mission Bay-based day costs $20, and volunteering is also an option if you’re interested in being the keeper of the ever-popular T-shirt/sticker/frisbee chochkeys and attending for free.

Smart(er) Parking in the Future

Parking Meter
[Photo by Nate Enyedi for Wikipedia.]

A few years ago, the Port of San Francisco wanted to study parking-use patterns at a third of the 950 meters it controls along the Embarcadero, using a technology developed by the SF-based Streetline Networks Inc. — little sensors glued to the street that transmit a wireless signal to a central database when a parking space is occupied or vacated. Now SFMTA has picked up the idea for another purpose: to (hopefully) make free spaces easier to find on the fly, by transmitting the data to a service you will apparently be able to subscribe to, according to this NPR story. (An iPhone app, perhaps? Maybe by the time it’s ready Apple will be done hosing their own servers.) The same sensors will be capable of monitoring the speed of traffic past the spaces, and that data will be transmitted as well. SFMTA intends to analyze the data they collect from this network, and based on that, they will set policies to adjust the price of parking in response to demand, aiming for a vacancy rate of 15%. (Expect a glacial pace on that, with lots of legislative bickering once it comes down to choosing actual prices. Dynamic server-to-meter price adjustments are a distant dream.) Reportedly San Francisco is the first city to reach this stage with the technology.

(Unrelated, but the question occurs to me: why do I have to rely upon the New York Times and NPR to bring me local news of this potential significance? And then the Chronicle wonders why they’re losing money.)

Hey, is this thing on?

San Francisco coder Alex Payne‘s gets a plug in the New York Times tomorrow; the piece went online an hour ago. Payne’s site answers that nagging question “Is there something wrong with (insert favorite website) again?”

In a blog entry in which he discusses that and other side projects, he calls the site “a quick hack” for which “I don’t have the time or resources or desire to build the ideal solution. I hope that some big ISP or networking outfit takes the simple design and puts it in front of a proper setup.”

If that concept sounds familiar, not surprisingly Payne works at Twitter.

LA Times reports Violet Blue vs Boing Boing web "sh*tstorm"

I saw that occasional SF Metblogs contributor and relentless self promoter and sex book author Violet Blue is the latest recipient of the tempest in a web teapot award. The LA Times website has David Sarno covering a fracas in which any Violet Blue mentions or posts have been deleted from Boing Boing and it’s archives.

Writes Sarno:

“I’ve been wracking my brain thinking of what issues I might’ve come down on the wrong side of,” Blue told me on the phone. “There’s been no argument, there’s been no disagreement, no flame war, none of the usual things.”

Could Boing Boing really be a Stalin era throwback that wants to erase it’s own history, and somehow have the world to believe the widely read SF Gate columnist doesn’t exist?

At AdRants they speculated a possible conflict with blog ad provider Federated Media, which seemed somewhat unlikely to be involved in editorial concerns (IMHO ) since they supply ads for dozens of popular sites including the Metblogs network.

BoingBoing eventually issued it’s own terse comment and explanation after the web “sh*tstorm” lapped up on it’s serenely acerbic shores:

“[Violet’s] posts were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.”

Read the LA times blog, or for a more concise semi ad biz related wrap up read more at AdRants.

The Broadband Census

299972023_e54925a1b8_m.jpgThe PEW Internet project is supporting the Broadband Census, a project that is being overseen by Drew Clark, a telecommunications and technology journalist. The point is to gather as much information about peoples actual upload and download speeds. From home or work.

The census is open to anyone who wants to participate. So get to IT.

According to the government, San Francisco has 10 service providers. Not sure if that’s truly the case, as I can only think of two, Comcast and AT&T, with very different offerings.

Participate in the census so we can truly see how we stack up to other cities and communities in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Xamad, Creative Commons.

Bullet Train hits Snag in LA/SF/SD Route

Pacific Union has withheld their “Right of Way” over key segments of the LA/SF corridor that the Bullet Train would traverse. They claim safety issues as the reason.


From the LA Times last week:

Officials at Union Pacific railroad recently told the California High Speed Rail Authority that they have safety and operational concerns about running a bullet train close to lumbering freight trains.

“Just look at what happened in L.A. a few years ago,” said Scott Moore, a Union Pacific vice president, citing the 2005 crash of a Metrolink passenger train that killed 11 and hampered rail operations.

“Those accidents happen.”

This is kind of a big roadblock from what I’ve gathered. And if you’re motivated, for or against, drop them a line here.

Here is a sample trip:

  • SF to LA
  • Distance: 432 Miles
  • CO2/Saved per trip: 324 lbs
  • Travel Time: 2hrs, 38 mins.
  • Estimated Cost: Train $55, Car $86, Air $120

Poll and linkage

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