Thanks for taking a moment to read this month’s update. The photo above is the view looking southwest from Trumpet Blossom Cafe on 24 Sep 2022. It’s nice to see flowers and pollinators in urban areas.
This month’s update is longer than others from recent months. I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve created a page to share my photography. At present there is a photo that was published in a book about Lake Tahoe. I hope to add more links and materials to the page in the coming months. [View Page]
Tech Tips for Protecting Vision and Hearing
I wrote an article today with some tips on tech devices and settings for protecting vision and hearing. [View]
It’s a topic I’ve written on in the past, but I wanted a refreshed version of the information.
I’ve been drinking more tea lately, and keep several varieties brewed and chilled for drinking throughout the day. Having a variety helps make drinking tea interesting and flavorful. So, I’m less likely to get bored and lose interest.
I have a simplistic way of visually categorizing the teas based on their appearance when brewed. There are a few different common colors that tea might have once brewed.
I like to have a fruity tea on hand. These are not made from tea leaves so they are called a tisane. This is usually red it appearance because of the color from hibiscus and berries which are common ingredients. The chai spiced tisane blends can have an orange or brown color when brewed. I like to have traditional green teas and black teas either hot or cold. Some of the teas have a light green color. Others have a dark traditional tea color.
So, through the day, I can keep drinking a variety of teas, benefiting from their unique properties, and enjoying the variety of flavors.
In recent years, purchasing tea in 1-pound bags as resulted in a surplus of tea. I want to use up the tea that has accumulated and then start trying some new teas.
A tea-adjacent beverage I enjoy is fresh ground local roasted coffee mixed with chai spices like ginger, cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, clove, and allspice. Mixed with milk, this results in a delicious spiced coffee similar to Lebanese coffee.
Low Cost Low Power Tech
It’s part of our human nature to want to share experiences.
As a tech enthusiast, I’m interested in devices that can be used by as many people around the world as possible. This is why I’m most excited about devices that are priced economically and have low power requirements to operate.
In my own daily life, relying more on solar power, I’m becoming more interested in low power tech devices. Installing more solar panels really isn’t “the answer” for most homes. A few solar panels are easily purchased and setup, but many people don’t have the space or view of the sky for an array of 5, 10, 20, or more panels. Small-scale solar is more practical, affordable, and possible for people.
Present-day household appliances and electronic devices have very high power demands. The ideal combination would be small-scale solar paired with low power devices. In this month’s update I share about some interesting low-cost low-power devices.
The computer for Everybody
I was able to purchase the Raspberry Pi model 400 computer in March of this year when it was available for $100. It is a keyboard that contains a computer and comes with a mouse. [Learn More]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation states on their products website: “… we make computing accessible and affordable for everybody.”
One of the challenges with making a computer for everybody is that everybody wants one. As a result, they are now in high demand for their practical value, and also as a novelty item. This is driving prices up. They are being sold on Amazon now for about $190. [View]
One of the greatest benefits of the Raspberry Pi computer is that the operating system can be installed and a computer setup in about 3 minutes or less of hands-on time. The setup includes an open-source office suite of software with word processing, spreadsheet, presentation software, an email client, and an Internet browser. The operating system is a version of Linux, so it is compatible with the millions of Linux computers around the world. The interface is similar to Windows, making it easy for most people to use.
The computer uses about 5 watts of power, so it’s a great choice for people using solar power.
Before you ditch your current computer and order a Raspberry Pi, you should know that it’s suited for basic tasks, but most intensive computer users would still need a typical desktop system for their typical workload.
Amazon Kindle Scribe
On 29 Sep 2022, Amazon announced various updated versions of their products and a few new devices. In my opinion, one of the most interesting products announced is a new 10.2-inch Kindle reader with digital ink note taking capabilities. It’s called the Kindle Scribe. It is priced at about $330 to to $420 depending on the configuration. [View]
These devices promise 12 weeks of use between charges based on 30 minutes of reading a day (or 42 hours), or about 3 weeks of writing 30 minutes a day (or 10.5 hours). It’s clear that the battery life estimates in weeks, as provided by Amazon, are based on casual periodic reading and not all-day use of the device.
The battery life for reading is longer due to the special static display technology of Kindle Paper White displays. Writing requires an active display with higher refresh rate, and this uses more power, so the expected runtime on a single charge is less.
The battery life estimates are based on a backlight level setting of 13, but since the Paper White technology generally doesn’t rely on any backlighting, I’m very curious to see what the battery life would be in a real-world daily use scenario without the backlight on.
You’ve heard of people tailoring their driving habits to optimize fuel efficiency, particularly with hybrid vehicles. This is known as Hypermiling. That’s what I want to do with this new Kindle Scribe system to find out if it can be used as an ultra low power alternative to computers — at least for reading and writing, which are two of the most predominant tasks we use computers for.
Depending on the power demands of the Kindle Scribe, it may be an excellent tech device to run entirely from solar power.
All versions of the Scribe include either a basic stylus or an enhanced stylus. This new stylus technology does not use batteries, and does not need charging. By including the stylus for free, Amazon is clearly wanting to entice customers and stand out from Apple — given that an Apple Pencil (stylus) is a separate $130 purchase. [View]
I’ve pre-ordered a lower price Amazon Scribe model with the enhanced stylus for review. I want to do some testing of the device to creatively explore the range of tasks can it perform, and also discover the real-world battery life. The devices will be shipping and available in stores on November 30.
If you mostly use your computer for reading and writing, a Kindle Scribe may be a helpful and simple tool for much of your work.
The Kindle Scribe seems like a good tech device for places in the world with limited electricity and Internet access since it can hold thousands of books and easily run on solar power. As we increasingly see power outages in the United States and elsewhere, having an energy efficient device can be a good device to have available.
For reading without note taking, Amazon is releasing a new Kindle in ten days that will cost $99 and have many tech benefits beyond what a computer can provide. [Learn More]
One Million Views
I was happy to learn that my photos posted to Google Maps have had over one million views. These are mostly posted with my written reviews of businesses, but also include photos of parks and other destinations.
Google Maps gives me access to a much larger audience than my own website or social media services like Facebook that functions as a broker between me and my contacts, requiring that I pay to share posts more thoroughly and effectively with my family and friends.
The photos posted to Google Maps are adequate, but not as sharp as the originals. So, it’s not a way to showcase photos with great clarity and precision, but they are good snapshot quality sufficient for people wanting to get a general idea of visuals. The quality is reduced by Google so the photos require less bandwidth to display and less storage space.
You can view my Google profile page to see the reviews and photos. [View]
The $29 Smart TV
Today I received the new Google Chromecast system. It’s a small $29 device that provides smart TV streaming with HD (High Definition) resolution output of 1920×1080 pixels. [Product Page]
It’s a lower resolution video compared to 4K, but it’s the standard that we’ve come to accept for high definition video over the past 20+ years. A higher resolution 4K version is available for $40 on sale, normally $50. [View]
The 4K resolution system would produce a resolution of commonly 3840×2160, but that’s not needed for lower resolution televisions, and it requires a faster processor, faster internet, and more storage capacity. So, it’s an example of where the lower tech vintage standard may serve just as well as the newer standard.
My interest in this device is prompted by fiber internet service being installed in Iowa City by a Cedar Rapids company called ImOn. [Website]
This has resulted in many people having video streaming tech questions for me. I’m familiar with Roku, Apple TV, and some other streaming options, but I wanted to be familiar with this cheaper $29 option as possibly a better streaming options for people to use.
With a low-power portable flat panel HDMI display, and this smart TV device, it would be possible to have a tiny television that could run on battery power for many days. This interests me because it’s a good device to power with the off-grid solar system I’ve been using.
Last month I switched to solar power for most of my tech devices. A small panel and two battery packs allow me to have unlimited solar-sourced power through overcast days and at night. I’m using solar power for my smartphones and wireless accessories like mice, keyboards, trackpads, headphones, watch, and rechargeable AA batteries.
The power packs have an LCD display to show power input from the solar panel and power output. This makes me more aware of how much wattage is received from the sun, and used with devices.
Because printing and scanning are relatively low power, and used briefly, I am able to do all of my printing and scanning using 100% solar power. I found some paper available at Best Buy that is made from sawmill scraps and produced using wind and solar energy. [View]
I hope to expand on these small measures of progress, starting with an easily attainable foundation of sustainability and growing from there.
This helps meet a goal of using and promoting more sustainable technology choices for the Iowa City Tech initiative. Having portable solar power lets me continue using solar power even when I’m at a remote job site. With multiple consecutive sunny days, I bring computers online and can complete customer service requests with solar power. People are encouraged when I can tell them that all the work on their computer was done using 100% solar power.
Year Month Day Date CODE
With filenames, documents, and even some online posts, I will use a date format that includes the year, month, and day to create a unique serial number for a document that makes it easier to find in my computer or on the web. For this document, since it is a monthly update, I only include the year and month (202210) in the title.
On my computer, I am able to quickly search for items created in October 2022 by searching for 202210. Even when adding contacts to my address book, I will include that date code in the notes so I can easily see a list of new people. This comes up in busy months when I might try to recall the name of a new customer from a few months ago. I can just search on 202207 to find all new customers from July.
IOWA CITY FREE
Last month, I wrote about the Iowa City Free project. [View Site] The website has a resources page that lists free services in the Iowa City area. [View]
I’ve been trying to give away items for free, but haven’t had much luck with that. For some reason, selling items is an easier way to downsize.
I may begin using eBay as a method for listing items at low prices with a broader audience so it doesn’t take as long to get items to people who need them. People in the Iowa City area can get items for no shipping cost. I may figure out a way to keep the items free for people who request that.
Giving items away is an eco friendly way to downsize because recipients of items do not need to generate the income required to purchase those items new. Generating income typically has a negative impact on the environment (such as traveling to work and using supplies or energy while working).
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Many thanks to all of you who keep in touch and provide support for the work I do.
Origins. For those of you who are new to these monthly personal updates, they began about 22 years ago out of a desire to share from my personal life about topics of lifeways (faith/philosophy), health, career, finances, relationships, effective living, and public interest efforts. This is based on the Life Map presented on the Resources For Life website. [View]
Photo: Below is a photo I took on 16 Sep 2022 at Pikes Peak State Park. [Learn More]