I am deriving enormous satisfaction from cutting my electric bill in half from an out-of-control high of 1,841 kilowatt hours (KWH) or $307 in January to a mere 758 KWH/$127 in April. My experiment with transmission supplier National Grid was based on replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs and shutting off the hot tub whose heater I estimate was costing at least $50 a month during the cold months here in the Northeast. Near as I can tell, the CFLs accounted for 30-40% of the drop while the lion's share goes to shutting off the hot tub which we used infrequently. My last child is headed off to college in the fall and she was the primary user. And there's a certain reluctance to don a bathing suit (or less) by the adults in household approaching a ripe middle age. No one seems to miss it and it's wooden housing stuff with insulation is largely a home for mice.
There are other ways I will cut my energy consumption. My next car will almost certainly be a Prius. As I seethed yesterday in my six cylinder powered sedan (a wonderful Mercedes E320 with 170K trouble free miles) during a crushing two hour and fifteen minute commute, I thought a hybrid would be drawing tiny amounts of power when stopped in traffic. An announcer on the radio said gas consumption is up 1.75% from a year ago as we rocket up to $4 a gallon. This is insane! Bring on the high prices, I say. Get people out of their cars. For the three years I've had this onerous commute, softened only by the 1-2 days a week I work at home, I've cursed, seethed, sighed and thrown my hands up. Thing is, I love my job at Design News. The topics it covers are truly fascinating.
Our eneergy habits have to change and I'm trying to do my part. My global warming column in the 4/30 elicited more than 40 letters and they're still coming in, many of them disagreeing with my assessement of its true and present danger. One point made several times that really bothered me was that what I do to cut my own energy consumption is insignificant. That's a horrible cop-out. We all need to kick in here.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.