Saturday, February 28, 2009

Clear as mud

You open your utility bill, you look at the balance due and you pay it, right? Have you ever stopped to look at all the various "charges" you are paying for?

Two things crack me up about utilities, particularly PSE&G. First, they often proclaim that they make no money on the actual product (gas or electric). Then, they gobble up publicity showing their latest green projects like the recent announcment of their solar initiatives.

So they don't make a dime on product, so where do they get the money to operate and to do all of these touchy-feely projects? The answer is right there on your utility bill. Look on the second page and you'll see the BGS charge and the SB charge and this charge and that charge. All of these charges add up with each turn of your meter.

And so it is indeed you and I and every other rate payer tied to the grid that is actually paying for the latest feel-good project and giveaway and promotion that PSE&G has.

Is it wrong? No, not really. But in our newfound desire for 'transparency' don't you think we should know what we're paying for?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Talking Tools

No, I'm not going to speak here about the latest cordless drill or laser level.

What if tools could talk? Imagine a tool that could communicate where it is or when it was last used. What if a circular saw could communicate it's operating statistics and tell you how much use is left in the blade?

Science fiction? Not really. Data is all around us, we just need to grab it, interpret it and put it to good use.

Check out and see how their very simple rfid system could automate some pretty mundane things. Check out this video.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Fallacy of Simple

It's human nature to look at something and to try to simplify it. We make those judgements in a split second, often without even realizing it.

Perhaps a more enlightened being would understand it differently. Maybe the seemingly simple things just aren't as simple as they seem on the surface. The doctor may seem to leave you fuming in the waiting room for 20 minutes after your appointment time not because he is careless, or unorganized but because of some seemingly small government-imposed regulation makes it so.

In Malcom Gladwell's book The Outliers, he does an fascinating job of illustrating how something simple or seemingly unrelated can indeed have a huge outcome on a situation or a town or even a nation.

Could our nation now be realizing the unintended consequences of decisions made 40 years ago?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Imagine a house that thinks for itself.

The house knows that the basement freezer is on the blink, and schedules a service call before the food has a chance to spoil.

The house knows when you arrive home from work and greets you by turning on the lights, adjusting your thermostat and turning on your favorite television show.

The house knows when the kids open up the windows on a nice summer day - so it turns off the air conditioner to save money.

In short, a Nogginhaus is a thinking house and it's ability to do the things that will make your life easier is limited only by your imagination.