who loves the sun?

After my solar course, I’ve been messing about with the UO SRML: Sun chart program. It shows sun angles and day lengths throughout the year.

Toronto: where I live
Glasgow: where I'm from. Not much sun there, but looong summer days
Phoenix, AZ is pretty sunny
I think I'd freak out if I lived at the equator: every day is nearly the same length!
Mombasa, Kenya: point your modules north!
Not much sun in far north Alert; sometimes, the sun doesn't set — sometimes it doesn't rise
I don't think I'd mind living in Glasgow — Glasgow, Guyana, that is.


I’ve been using BIXI every day, despite the rain. They’re slightly different from the test-ride bikes; the ex-Montreal ones had 8 gears, while Toronto flatlanders only get three. The brakes work better too; I’m expecting to get rear-ended any day at a stop sign, since I seem to be the only one who even tries to stop at these things.

I’ve worked out a nifty route down St George and Beverley across the lanes to Simcoe and Queen. Takes me 10 minutes down, 12 back up. Fun!

ExPlace Turbine Shutdown for Service

I noticed this in my twitter feed the other day:

windshare: ExPlace Turbine Shutdown for Service http://wp.me/p11wfW-8T

From what the linked news release said, it looks like the turbine has had a major mechanical component failure. The replacement part will take several months to arrive, then needs a crane to replace it. The turbine is structurally sound, and is even yawing to follow the wind, but can’t generate.

This is a shame, as the volunteers at WindShare had just got the turbine operating at very close to commercial availability. There are also a couple of usefully windy months before the summer for which co-op members will lose revenue.

Update: a very watered-down news release went up on April 3rd: Turbine Technology Update.

bike locker

I’ve got a bike locker. You can have a bike locker too. It’s $10+tax a month.

The bike just fits in. It isn’t tall enough for my ill-fated bike mirror (which doesn’t fit in my own shed, so is likely soon to be removed).  The locker tapers towards the back, so I’m not sure I can reach the nurse’s lock on the frame.

My locker hadn’t been used for a while, so I had to attack the mechanism with spray lube before it would reliably lock and unlock.

roti frenzy, part II

After several months closed, the Jamaican restaurant at 224 Adelaide St W has reopened as Caribbean Taste. It’s the same folks (Robert & Wendy, from Tropical Desires on Old Weston Rd) cooking as before, and it’s still able to provide a life-changing roti experience.

Donating Rob Ford’s $60 bribe

So I got my vehicle tax refund cheque yesterday. In a city that’s gridlocked, if anything is a blatant attempt to buy votes, this $60 “refund” is the worst possible way to reward voters. I think that the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation could use the money better than me.

aah! my eyes!

Seems that Shangri-La Toronto wants to surround their building with a bright magenta billboard. This is the view from my office:

It’s so bright everything vaguely reflective on my desk appears to be pink. I’ve made a couple of calls to the City of Toronto – Sign By-law Unit and Toronto 311 and await developments.

Why I didn’t vote for George Smitherman

I didn’t vote for George Smitherman because the secret deal he initiated with the Korean Consortium is anti-competitive and utterly counter to the spirit of any feed-in tariff. Pantalone, despite a rather weak platform, was closer to my ideals. There was no way I’d vote for that glistening oaf Rob Ford.

I didn’t vote for George Smitherman because I fundamentally disagree with the secret deal he initiated with the Korean consortium (including Samsung and Kepco). A feed-in tariff is all about equal access to the right to connect. The consortium, with its guaranteed grid capacity, sidesteps this equal access.

To make things worse, the consortium may have access to a price adder on top of the FiT prices. This is supposed to recognize the consortium’s expertise in the supply chain, and its consequential creation of jobs through local manufacturing.  There are many other companies — some of which actually have supply chain experience in the renewable energy sector — who would bring the same number of jobs for the same number of megawatts.

So, ixnay on the Ithermansmay for that. There’s no way I’d vote for the glistening oaf (a phrase coined by Catherine after seeing this picture), so Joe Pantalone it was.  Joey Pants’ campaign was, well, a bit pants, but he was the most appropriate of the candidates.

Test-riding the Bixi

BIXI Toronto had a demo station outside MEC today. They had a few slightly beat-up (I suspect, ex Montreal) bikes on display at a station and for test riding.

I checked out one the bikes for a ten minute test ride. For such a solid bike, I was impressed with its swiftness. You won’t find yourself hopping curbs, but the big smooth tyres roll fast.

The bike’s pretty sensible, with a fully guarded chain, guards, dynamo lights and a front carrier.

A clever bash guard protects the hub gear settings

The pointy nose at the front locks into the Bixi station:

All the controls are where you’d expect them:

And a graduated seatpost for us tall forgetful types:

The one thing I was disappointed with was the brakes. My bike has similar Shimano units. They’re a bit gentle, but they do stop you. The ones on the loaner bike brought back memories of trying to stop in the rain on my steel-rimmed paperboy bike.

Still, I’m really looking forward to Bixi arriving in the city next year.

late bloomer

I guess I must’ve dropped a sunflower seed earlier in the summer. So now we have a sunflower blooming in the back garden in October. Not many bees around.

old computers, new computer

Had a bit of a clear-out yesterday. I dropped off

  • one Sempron-based PC
  • an ancient eMac
  • a built-like-a-tank Samsung laser printer
  • two monitors: one LCD, one flatscreen
  • two mini-itx boxen of undetermined operation
  • about six external USB drives
  • a DVD player with VGA output
  • a box of stuff, including various network thingies, an NSLU-2 and a KVM switch.

at Free Geek Toronto. I’d heard about them from Colin at Mappy Hour, the monthly(ish) OpenStreetMap event. They have a very neat warehouse, and are definitely doing the right thing in getting surplus electronics either to people who need them, or properly recycled. On the (lengthy – 2 hours from the Junction to home, grr) drive back, I even heard a tiny CBC radio spot about them. Shame that the announcer almost said “old electronics crap” instead of “old electronics gear”, though …

I just built a new linux box to replace a bunch of the stuff I just threw out. It’s a small and quiet MSI 6676-003BUS with a fanless Atom 510 processor. It plugs straight into the HDMI of the TV, and remote work is done with VLC or SSH. To cut down clutter, I’m using a cheapo Logitech® Cordless MediaBoard Pro for PLAYSTATION®3, which works just fine as a keyboard and mouse with a generic $10 bluetooth USB adaptor.

Please Be Kind | Colleen and Paul

<a href="http://colleenandpaul.bandcamp.com/track/please-be-kind">Please Be Kind by Colleen and Paul</a>

I like this album a lot. Colleen and Paul have been working together for years (I saw ’em as Jack and Ginger in 2006), and this music needs to be heard!