Archive | March 2010

Save the world one byte at a time!

So there are enough tree huggers out there that are bent on recycling and saving the world and certain things in it like the rain forest, ozone, star-nosed mole, etc. I’m not necessarily against all of that, I’ll rant about how we spend our money later. What I wanted to share is a concept of saving the world one byte at a time. Divulge my inner-crazy for a moment and read on…

If there are less bytes floating from computer to computer the world would be a little happier and a little cleaner. The more bytes your computer has to crunch the more power it needs so the more power the power stations need to produce therefore more pollution. Our current solution for dealing with this is making more energy effecient computers. Well, energy efficient means slow. Computers need power to do their thing. The more power you can give a computer the faster and better it does its thing. Period. If we make slower computers, we’ll all go crazy waiting for things to load then we’ll want fast ones again. Think about your day to day tasks that you complete on a computer. If you cut your work load in half, your computer would have to work half as much therefore effectively saving about half as much power (which in turns requires less power to be generated).

Don’t believe me? Download something that will cause you computer to compute and crunch. Try the SETI@Home app from http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/. This is a little app that downloads data from a server and processes it in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Whether or not you believe in aliens, this app will use your computer’s resources to crunch data. This will make your computer work hard when you’re not on it. Now monitor your home’s power consumption, or at least your monthly bill. It will go up, and noticebly. Why? Because your computer needs power to do its thing.

So how can you help stop this energy consumption crisis? There are a few things you can do which will help minimize how much crunching your computer will do, and in turn minimize its power consumption. Also, by minimizing what your computer does the services that serve your computer will be minized as well.

Check your email

Unsubscribe from e-newsletters. Take a look at your junk e-mail folder in your email system and read through and manually unsubscribe from newsletters that you are apparently not even reading. Important note, some of your junk e-mail might be legitimate spam (oxy moron I know). Basically, there will be emails in your junk e-mail that are spam, not newsletters. Unsubscribing from these might open you up to more emails. Pay attention to what you’re looking at and unsubscribing from.

Stop receiving your “important” alerts. Very similar to unsubscribing from newsletters, but instead check out the emails that do make it to your inbox. Do you really need them? Do you need an email alert everytime someone comments on your Facebook? You go to Facebook daily, why waste bytes on email alerts? Update your profile and stop receiving these emails.

There may be some alerts that may be real important like from your bank or work. Keep these, but look at the data being sent. Can you configure your alerts to send less data? Why receive an alert from work that is 2 paragraphs long, when all you’re going to do is log into the system and read through it anyway? Can your alerts be reduced to a sentence or two? Can the alert be sent via SMS to your phone instead of email?

How this helps: If you use an email client like Outlook, unsubscribing will minimize the amount of bytes your computer downloads and crunches. Also, each email that is downloaded is also processed by your antivirus scanner, yup, that means more crunching. Unsubscribing will also minimize the amount of bytes sent to your email server, and other network devices like your home modem, router, your ISP’s routers and firewalls. And finally it will minimize the crunching the sending server has to do as well. Unsubscribing from that one email that you never read will reduce the bytes from the source all the way to your home. Easy enough!

Really Simple Syndication

Also known as RSS, really simple syndication allows people to subscribe to a feed, like a blog or twitter, and read a summary of the item. If there is interest, then they can click to read the full article. So instead of going to your favorite news website and blogs, get a free RSS reader and subscribe to the lists and sites you love most.

How this helps: Using this blog post as an example, if you were to read it through an RSS reader, you would get a summary, a small portion of the article, and then a link to read the entire thing. This allows you to choose whether or not you want to go to the site and read the article. Also, because the RSS reader is only downloading the content, there is no wasted bytes on the site images, ads, and other stuff that clogs up the internet. You simply download text and read text. Pretty sweet!

Automatic Updates

Chances are your computer is talking to the internet more than you know! Windows, Antivirus, iTunes, Quicktime, Rhapsody, Instant Messengers, Adobe Acrobat, Logitech, Dell and more all connect to their associated servers periodically to check for updates and statuses. In most cases this occurs behind the scenes and you only find out about it if there is an update available. Go through your installed applications and disable the automatic updating. Important note, do not disable automatic updates for Windows or your Antivirus. These two components are critical to remain as up to date as possible.

How this helps: When your computer starts up, shuts down, is idle for a period or whenever else it wants, your applications check for updates. They crunch some bytes on your computer, then send these bytes to their server (over several routers/firewalls/etc) and then their server crunches the bytes and returns more bytes. In most cases, this transaction results in nothing, there is no update available but your computer is checking anyway. By disabling the automatic updates (again, do not disable them for Windows or Antivirus) you are limiting the amount of automatic crunching by your computer. At any point in time you can manually update your applications when you want to. Why upgrade when it isn’t broken?

Do your part

If we all contribute and reduce the amount of crunching our computers need to so, we can and will reduce the amount of power needed. Some of the side benefits will be faster internet browsing speeds since the internet connections aren’t all clogged up with useless bytes.

If you have other ideas on how to help reduce your computer’s power consumption, let me know!!

Pray like a kid

My family recently moved. Before the move, a friend of ours, let’s say Jane (to protect the innocent) came by with her son Billy (yes fake again). Her son Billy and my son Jonny are friends. We were looking at an apartment around the block from their house. Billy was happy because he’d be able to see Jonny more. I asked Billy to pray for us to get that house.

Jane tells me the next day that they all sat down that night and prayed for our family to move into that apartment. She said that her two oldest sons, Billy being one of them, prayed that they want Jonny to move in so they can come over and play with all of Jonny’s toys and Legos. Jane then finished off the prayer with a less selfish prayer, the type of prayer an adult would pray, the whole “let your will be done” thing. This has been stuck in my head for a few days so I decided to share what I’m thinking.

I don’t believe God doesn’t always want us to ask him to do what he wants to do. He knows what he’s going to do regardless. I believe that God wants us to pray to him and tell him what we want, what we need. Several times throughout scripture we are called children of God. Jesus says in Matthew to become like a child to enter his kingdom. Why? I think because children will say what’s on their mind, and ask for what they want, they wear their emotions on their sleeves. At some point in growing up, we lose sight of this. We become “mature” and fight back emotions, manipulate people and lie (playing politics) to get what we want. God doesn’t want that for us! As a father myself, it would drive me nuts to always hear my kids say “whatever you want to do” and never tell me what they wanted.

I do believe that God wants us to be like children who simply know who our father is. We can whine and complain and ask him for everything we want. He’s our daddy, and wants to know what’s on our hearts. As we mature in our relationship with Christ, much like maturing in life, our hearts change and we begin to realize that whining to God that I didn’t win the lottery is just plain silly. We begin to realize that there are things we don’t need, but we want them so we don’t ask God for them any more because it’s not a need.

I want a new car, specifically the 2010 Taurus SHO. It is a b-e-a-utiful car, but has a ridiculous price tag (at least for me). The model below it will do just fine. It will get me from point A to point B, heck a 20 year old car that runs will do that. But I want it, it is not a need, but I want it. So, being the mature adult that I am, I don’t ask God for it because it’s silly. My current car’s lease is up in a few months so I will be in the position of getting a new car. Will it be the SHO? I doubt it. But you know what, I want to act like a child and complain to God about it, I want to let him know what I want, and I may even stomp my feet. How many times have you felt like this? How many times did you actually do it? Do it! He can handle it!

God can handle our temper tantrums. I encourage people who say they are mad at God to let him know it! Yell at him, tell him what you’re feeling and what you want. Act like a little kid and tell him everything. My God is bigger than me and my complaints. He’s bigger than you and your issues. All he wants is to be our daddy, so lets treat him like one! At the end of the yelling, learn to shut up and listen. Grab the Bible, read; take a long drive alone with the radio off; go for a walk; whatever it is, just go and wait on him. Just like having a real dad, we need to give God the chance to respond to what we said to him. No, he won’t slap you across the face or ground you for what you said. He will answer you, I guarantee it. And this is where maturity comes in.

As we mature in our relationship with God, we learn to listen after we complain and we wait. God has two answers, Yes or No. As children grow up they begin accept the No answer from their parents. Sometimes there might be a little push back “but pleeeeeeeeease dad” and the answer is still no. Accept it and move on. This is sometimes hard, but God does know what is best for us. Being a dad myself I see this metaphor of God being our dad so clearly. There are many times I say no to my children for their sake. They don’t realize it, but it really is for their good.

God’s other answer is yes. This can be the real frustrating one! God can say yes to our prayers, he can even give us promises of things to come. The frustrating part is that whole time thing. Know that old joke:

      A man was taking it easy, lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds. He was identifying shapes when he decided to talk to God. “God”, he said, “how long is a million years?” 
      God answered, “In my frame of reference, it’s about a minute.” 
      The man asked, “God, how much is a million dollars?” 
      God answered, “To Me, it’s a penny.” 
      The man then asked, “God, can I have a penny?” 
      God said, “In a minute.”

God may say yes, then we have to wait and be patient. My son asks to play Wii all the time. I will say yes, but not now, after dinner, after homework, after you clean the room, etc. It frustrates him because he wants it now and I said yes. How many times have I done that with God: you said yes so I went ahead and did it. I forgot to then ask God, when? I need to learn to wait more. I hear God saying yes a lot and I always jump on the first sign of it coming true. I recently had an issue (I’ll blog about it later once I completely understand it myself) that God said yes, and I jumped on something that I thought was awesome and it ended up hurting me, my family, and friends. So now I’m playing catch up and trying to undo some of this so I can move into what God said yes to. So much fun being human.

Pray like a kid, whine and complain, pout and throw your temper tantrum. Just let God answer you when you’re done.

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