I finally got around to increasing the RAM on my two year old iMac. It came with 4 GB and I've been happy with the machine, but I do use a few memory intensive applicaitons (Mathematic and Photoshop) that tend to use a lot of memory and there is quite a bit of inefficient swapping as virtual memory is invoked.
Moving to 8 GB cost under $50 and the surgery took less than ten minutes - most of that being finding the rigtht screw driver. Absolutely trivial and a large performance increase.
... Professor Kroto - based at Florida State University - is not in Australia to talk about climate change. He wants to talk about science and why it is important not to let it drift into the zone of ideology and belief, rather than reason and evidence.
''Science is totally misunderstood … It is the only philosophical construct that we have to determine the truth with any degree of reliability, and that requires evidence, which elevates it to a different plane - it elevates it to something that every child should have,'' ...
''[Science] can't be a belief system, because belief by definition is to accept something without evidence,'' Professor Kroto said. He pointed to the push in some parts of the US to teach creationism alongside evolution in schools.
''There is no theory which is more proven than evolution and the evidence for evolution comes from every discipline within the sciences,'
Compared with Northern Europe, bicycle use in the US is rare and appears to be aimed more at recreation than transportation. Recreation is fine and bike riding is great for fitness, but it is still a rare activity. This is unfortunate a for short trips it is a much more efficient mode of transit than a car with a potential for great savings. But getting to the point where Holland or Denmark are is a very non-trivial task and requires serious attention to infrastructure. Safety and the perception of safety are critical elements and tend to be more important for women than for men. In areas where bike riding is perceived to be safe the percentage of female riders increases and in some countries more women ride than men - women are an indicator species for bicycling as transportation.
Here is a video on biking in Holland - how they got where they are today.
Another piece of the puzzle is the right bicycle. Practical commuter bikes are beginning to become available in the US, but few are designed with women in mind. You hear about "wsd" - women's specific designs - but they are frequently little more than downsized men's frames in different color schemes - "shrink and pink"...
There are exeptions. Given enough money there is the bespoke route and a few custom builders specialize in women's designs, but $4,000+ bicycles are hardly practical for the average commuter. Terry Bicycles is a line focused on women. Run by Georgena Terry, they tend to concentrate on the enthusiast. The bikes are very well reguarded and, like enthusiast bikes, tend to be spendy. This is changing a bit. The blog bikesfortherestofus noted they will be releasing the Terry Burlington by the end of the year. A geometry appropriate for most women, fenders, a rear rack, kickstand, a seat that actually fits women, and even a resonable price at about $750. There will be a range of frame sizes including one that is 41cm - probably suitable for someone who is as small as 4'11".
It would be nice to see something that is lower maintenance - an internally geared hub and perhaps drum brakes and even a carbon belt, but they would add cost and this is a very positive sign. Just the thing for those short trips where a car is a very inefficient choice.
The Trek Cocoa looks like a women's European design and may be a good candidate at a good price. If the bicycle as transportation becomes more important this will be one of the main growth areas.
Ned points out a bike lighting project on Kickstarter - Revolights. Timed LEDs that mount on bike wheels - watch the movie for an idea of how this works.
The project has been very successful at raising money and it looks like they are in a development phase. Brightness does not appear very high compared to fixed LED lights of the same price range, but it looks cool and that may drive sales.
I wonder what the success rate is on Kickstarter projects - first the percentage the achieve their funding goals and second the percentage of funded projects that ultimately are successful (a much more difficult measure).
Batteries for electric cars are still very expensive and it is common for governments to subsidize their cost to encourage production ramps that should lead to lower costs as well as more R&D that should also lead to lower costs.
One class of vehicle - the plug-in hybrid - has a battery that is large enough for short trips, but a conventional engine is used for longer trips. One can work out a calculus of what the most economical size is given someone's driving pattern as well as which has the most positive environment impact given driving patterns and the source of electric used to charge the car (coal being the worst case and hydro power or other renewables being the best case).
These calculations can get tricky - here is the latest from CMU (highly readable pdf). For current technologies they conclude that a fairly small and inexpensive battery pack has the best economic and environmental impact. Perhaps stimulus plans need to reflect that (in the US tax incentives increase as the battery size increases).
Of course ecars get better environmentally as the source of power on the grid cleans up. This and the falling price of batteries means this question should be revisited on a regular basis.
Perhaps the most interesting part looks at the role of electric assist bikes - it is claimed this would have an even larger impact on decreasing car travel than regular bikes. A few years ago we studied the impact of electrically assisted bicycles for several regions. The sweetspots for marketing these are Demark, the Netherlands and Germany. North America shows very small niche penetration.