20×2 NEEDS OUR HELP! Please RT, and OFTEN.

So you guys might remember when I did a guest spot at 20×2 in Austin, during the SXSW Interactive Conference a few years back.  Here’s my presentation for the 20×2 Festival to refresh your memory:

20×2 is a volunteer thing – an awesome thing – and it’s a thing that is very jam-packed with very awesome and intelligent people.  Mark Couvillion, one of the creators of 20×2, has reached out for some help this year.  Mark needs someone to help him broadcast and record the 20×2 show happening at Skinny’s this year, on March 9.  This is on FRIDAY of this week.  This year’s question that the list of folk need to answer is:  How Did I Get Here?

Look – if you’re going to be around the Austin area on Friday night, March 9, and you happen to have some gear that could make something like this possible, can you contact Mark Couvillion pronto?  Mark is on Twitter at @chimchim, or you can email him directly here.  Mark and his wife just had a baby, so as you can imagine, he has no time.  Please help him out if you can.  I owe you one. This is a volunteer opportunity, but it’s one of the more prestigious ones you’ll do.  If you can’t but know someone who might be able to help out, please tell them to get ahold of me or Mark ASAP.

THANK YOU!

Pay As You Go Solar in South Kenya

I saw an interesting article this weekend from CNN World’s website.  A company called Eight19 has created a pay-as-you-go solar technology called IndiGo that is being deployed right now in Kenya.  Check this out, this is Simon Bransfield Garth, the CEO of Eight19.  I knew I would like this company as soon as I realized what “Eight19″ meant – it’s the time that a ray of light from the sun reaches Earth.  Here’s Simon:

Here now is a quick video of a man named Samuel talking about the benefits of his Pay-As-You-Go Solar installation:

This is some pretty cool stuff.  The solar technology that Eight19 prides themselves on is a low-manufacturing-cost solar cell printed on a plastic film.  The reason that they can have products that are so low cost is that the printing method benefits from being able to use the high-speed roll printing technology that exists in the solar printing industry.  From the Eight19 website on the benefits of printed solar technology:

So, when the customer purchases the IndiGo package for installation, they get an Eight19 solar panel that connects into the IndiGo device.  The gist of the system is this:  without the customer “topping up” their IndiGo device via their cell phone, the device doesn’t charge the battery inside the device.  From the IndiGo website:

IndiGo is an affordable solar lighting and battery charging system that brings low cost energy to off-grid communities. With IndiGo, users put credit on their solar cell, just as they would on a mobile phone. Power from the cell then charges the  battery in the IndiGo box, making electricity available for lighting or charging other devices, such as mobile phones. The top-up codes are sent securely to owners’ mobile phones as text messages. Without the codes, the system does not generate electricity.  The IndiGo 2.5W solar home lighting and charging system includes: A solar panel and IndiGo box with a charge controller and battery; an LED lamp; an adapter lead for most popular mobile phones; connecting cables; and two, one-day top-up cards.

For most Americans who haven’t been overseas or in Canada, with pre-paid cell phones, you buy minutes on what’s commonly called a Top-Up card.  No different than the ones in the USA, they’re based on minutes, all that.

So the idea here is that people in South Kenya will not have to use kerosene lamps inside their places at night to do what they have to do needing illumination.  This is a tremendous thing; one of the biggest increases of our technological development has been increasing the CRI of the light we use to do things like read and develop.  With this implementation, the people in South Kenya will be getting  some seriously higher CRI than kerosene-powered sources.  This cannot be a bad thing, right?  Hell no.  People that live in kenya are no different than people who go to Yale.  They have the same potential as all of the rest of us, especially when given the opportunity to grow with the rest of the world.  No matter where you grow up, as long as you are given the opportunity to develop, you will succeed, especially if you apply yourself.

Something that I found interesting was found in the comments of the excellent CleanTechnica article on the IndiGo system.  A user named Bob_Wallace (THE Bob Wallace? Or the Shareware guy? I kid, I have no idea) posted some email exchanges he had with Simon from Eight19.  The bolded markings are things I’d like you to pay close attention to in the paragraph:

“The cost and payoff time varies a little by country as you would expect (for example there are variations in transport costs, distribution costs and local taxes between locations). In Kenya the weekly fee is 100KSH (approx $1.10) for our “duo” product with 2 lights and phone charging.

After a period of time, the product is deemed to be paid up and the customer has the option to buy the product out for a small fee or upgrade to a larger system. Again, this period varies a little between country but is normally between 18 and 24 months.

Our initial estimates suggest that typical users save in excess of $2/week with the kerosene and phone charging costs they save, with some users saving much more than this.”

In reply to a question about how upgrades work…

“People return the old system and get a new one (with the exception of the lights/wiring unless it needs replacement, as it is pointless to take down old one only to put the same thing back). We then refurbish and reintroduce the old systems. The weekly fee for the new larger systems takes into account the fact that we have recovered some value from the old system so they pay less than if we had to cover the full cost of the new system.”

Rough math says that Eight19 is able to get people in ownership of a basic lighting/phone charging system for somewhere just above $100US.

($1.10 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $114.40)

After two years they should have free power for a few years. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years and the LEDs after several. The panel should last a lifetime or more.

This is something to check out – basically a person using the IndiGo system uses it for about two years before they’ve paid it off, at the tune of about $114.40 USD.  The figure is for their “duo” product with two lights and a phone charger that has several charger tips for different phones.  After two years they have a few years of free solar electricity conversion.  Now granted it’s only at about two watts, but it’s free where before they’d have to pay to get kerosene to charge their stuff and see in the dark.  I think this is a pretty cool idea, as does the organization SolarAid, who has partnered with Eight19 to do this project in South Kenya.  From the SolarAid press release on the subject:

Thanks to the work of SolarAid and other players in the sector over the last few years, solar lights and phone chargers have been available for some time across Africa, but the initial cost is beyond the reach of many potential customers. By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these customers can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene. But more than this, the availability of affordable electricity stimulates social and economic development too.

I think this is a pretty cool thing that’s happening.  When you think of the costs though, I think you should just remember that the Kenyans aren’t paying in USD.  One Kenyan Shilling (KES) is worth about 1.2 pennies USD.  Consider that when you consider the cost.  For example, right now a watt of solar if you just buy the photovoltaic panel is between $2.19 USD/W (for a 60W panel) up to $5.44 USD/W (for a 130W panel).  With the rest of the gear you’ll have to buy (cables, batteries, control), you’re looking at about $8.00 USD per watt of generated electricity.  I mean, come on though – after about the first six months, collecting solar using a device and a PV panel rather than taking it from a grid situation is going to pay for itself.  The sun is free, kids.  When some company or some government starts saying hey dummies!  we’re going to charge you for solar power by making you pay us for collecting it, then I am going to freak out and be really loud about it to the world, and then the world needs to kick some corporate or government tail.  Right now, no matter where you are, you’re paying for the devices that help you collect and store electricity, not for the solar energy itself  A lot of people make cracks online about how “solar should be free,” and they are totally right.  There is nothing that stops you from inventing your own solar collecting system for your own usage; money perhaps, but as long as we’re Capitalists, money will always be an issue.  Eight19 is a company, and they’re doing what a company does, and their particular skill is making and selling solar power collecting systems.  The power companies have done the same thing essentially, you’re just paying for them to make the power, and using their lines for them to get it to you.  In the US, we pay for this power from them by the kilowatt-hour, at an average of $0.118 per 1000W/h.

What do you think?  Do the costs add up?  The prices in Kenya are about comparable to American prices according to Numbeo, if not maybe a bit cheaper overall on average.

Thanks to USEIA, IndiGo Off-the-Grid, The Times, Triple Pundit, and Numbeo!

Curioser and Curioser

Curious Displays from Julia Tsao on Vimeo.

Julia Tsao’s Curious Displays are just plain neat! The proposal for a display that goes beyond set dimensions and aspect ratio is in itself fascinating, but then the augmented reality functionality shown in section 2 shows a whole new level of possibility. I would just LOVE to get my hands dirty programming some art on these little buggers!

A Guide to the Lamp Phase-Out

I have mixed feelings about this subject, but it’s important to spread the news about what’s going down and how it’s gonna go down with respect to this incandescent phase-out happening in our time.  Sylvania has an awesome guide to this phase-out, showing the whats and the whens of this thing.  Check it out here.  Also, Sylvania’s website has a link to some of the political and law items of this phase-out.  It’s worth a look.

Click on the image, it opens up full-size.  Also, check out the PDF from whence it came.

Lemme just ask you this:  knowing what we know about how the government is handling things right now, do we really want them messing in what we use to see?

Sunday JimOnLight Flickr Pool

Well, I’m in Canada!  I finally got my visa, as you might have read earlier this week.  I’m working my ass off up here, we have lots in the pan right now.  I’m also writing and working on the first JimOnLight TV episode, and let me tell you – I am not a video editor by trade.  It is some hard shit that takes tons of time!  Ask Jeff Waful!

Hahaa as far as my romantic life?  I think there is a good saying for that:  “It is only once that you’ve hit rock bottom that you bounce.”  I think I should go out more.

HEY HEY!  SUNDAY JIMONLIGHT FLICKR POOL!  Check out this week’s gems!

Hanging lamp

in the heat of the fired wing we rise again...

Tate Modern

Lady Justice

Piano Stomp

抬頭

Paris Exposition: night view, Paris, France, 1900

Andrew Hedges’ Awesome Aspect Ratio Calculator

I have been using this free online tool for so long I feel it is my duty to share it with the rest of the web.  Check this out – this is Andrew HedgesAspect Ratio Calculator:

I use this aspect ratio calculator to resize images and video that I post on JimOnLight.com.  it is awesome.  Thanks Andrew for making such a f*cking awesome and useful free tool!

No, I didn’t get paid to post this, nor would I have taken the money to do so.  This is just an awesome tool that always stays open on my Chrome browser.  All 172 tabs of its Chrome glory.

I found the information below on Wikipedia – a visual list of commonly used aspect ratios and their applications.  Nerdy?  YES!  I’m JimOnLight!  What do you expect??

Lamps That You Shoot On and Off

My dad would love this.

HEY DAD!  CHECK THIS OUT!

Also, this:

This is from a company called bitplay, INC from Japan.  About the lamp:

BANG! is a desk lamp with a gun-shaped remote controller. User can fire the “gun” to turn the light off. The light goes out and the lampshade knocks to the side, showing that it’s been hit. To turn it back on, simply shot it again, and the lampshade will raise up slowly and turn the light back on at the same time.

So obviously you know now that it’s called BANG! – I’m guessing.

Jim Hutchison Promoted to Product Manager at CAST Software

W00T! <hands raised in the air quite in the same fashion as if I didn’t care>

So this is some pretty awesome news I want to share!  I am not really a press release guy, but this is MY press release!  Sorry I’ve had to be so secretive about this news, there was some Immigration stuff that had to happen first before it could all be released!  I’ve taking over the Product Manager gig at CAST Software in Toronto, Canada for wysiwyg and Vivien Virtual Event Designer!  I’m moving up here to Canada for a while, but still doing the tradeshow route and traveling the globe talking about light and the world of lighting!  Here’s the release, sent earlier today:

TORONTO – CAST Software of Toronto announces the promotion of Jim Hutchison, creator and editor of the internationally renowned JimOnLight.com, stepping up to assume the role of Product Manager for CAST Software’s wysiwyg as well as for Vivien Virtual Event Designer, the CAST software suite for the special events industry.  

Hutchison has been contributing marketing and technical copy for CAST Software as their Social Media Manager since early 2009, in addition to writing various articles for the company’s newsletter, The Plan. Given his technical experience with the company’s products, CAST has chosen Hutchison to lead the way forward for wysiwyg and Vivien Virtual Event Designer.

“I’m beyond thrilled to be leading the amazing development team at CAST,” Hutchison said. “I’ve been a wysiwyg User since Release 4, and I don’t think that there is a design I haven’t created in wysiwyg since the early part of this century. I love the products, I love the teams, and I love talking to our Users about how wysiwyg works for them. I’m excited to bring my industry enthusiasm and knowledge to the Product Manager role.”

Before joining CAST Software, Hutchison was a full time writer, lighting designer, and professor, teaching lighting design and production lighting technology. He started JimOnLight.com in 2008, writing about all genres and applications of lighting. He is a practicing lighting designer, a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and a contributing member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

Gil Densham, CEO of CAST, says, “We are excited to have Jim’s enthusiasm and industry expertise in the Product Manager’s role. Knowing the vigor Jim invests, it will no longer be quiet around CAST as we look forward to the future, with a grander vision for wysiwyg and Vivien Virtual Event Designer.”

Email Hutchison at [email protected] or phone him at +1.416.597.2278 x271.

Somebody asked me at PLASA Focus if I was still going to be writing JimOnLight.com.  I had to respond with “OMFG OF COURSE I AM.  I’m JimOnLight!