• led light 01.03.2012 No Comments

    Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has broken his silence to talk about life inside jail, the difficulty he has had settling into the country he wants his children to call home - and how he will beat the United States.

    In his first interview since being granted bail, Dotcom said he was stunned to be locked up in prison over claims of criminal copyright infringements when accused murderers were bailed to await trial.

    He said his month behind bars at Auckland Central Remand Prison had led him to consider appealing to the Department of Corrections to review treatment of those who had yet to be convicted of any crime.

    “The first night I didn’t have a blanket, soap, toothpaste or toilet paper. They didn’t provide us with the basic things.

    “Every two hours, they would wake me up. I was deprived of sleep. I wrote a complaint. I said, ‘This is torture, this is sleep deprivation’.”

    During the day, Dotcom - who court records stated earned $50 million last year - would mix with other prisoners being kept on remand.

    He met methamphetamine cooks who claimed to have prior convictions for manslaughter, and an inmate who showed him a criminal record with an extensive history of convictions.

    “I’m thinking, ‘What am I doing in here?”‘

    Despite the notoriety of his case, Dotcom said had no bad experiences with any of the inmates.

    If there was a bright side to his time in jail, he said, it was weight loss - he dropped 16kg in the month inside.

    Dotcom, who founded the filesharing website Megaupload, denied any deliberate copyright infringement by his company. He said the US could not win the case - although it would take years of fighting through courts to prove his innocence.

    Dotcom and three others were arrested in a January 20 raid by New Zealand police after a request from the US Department of Justice. In a co-ordinated global move, the US authorities shut down Megaupload - which carried 4 per cent of global internet traffic - and froze hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.

    He was bailed last week to a $5m home north of urban Auckland.

    Yesterday, he faced down an appeal over bail, defeating claims he was a flight risk. He shares his home, which is next to his former $30 million mansion, with wife Mona, who is pregnant with twins, and their three children.

    Dotcom, who was granted residency under the National government’s investor category, said he still wanted to live in New Zealand and raise his family here.

    He said it had been difficult fitting into the country after encountering people whose opinions appeared to be shaped by what they had read about him online, which was inaccurate.

    He had become the unwelcome centre of a neighbourhood controversy, which included complaints to the office of Prime Minister John Key about his driving at speed.

    He said he and Mona left the property increasingly less as they felt more and more unwelcome.

    Odd reactions from people began almost from the moment he decided to move to New Zealand, he said. He visited a car yard to buy a Mercedes using his credit card, which cleared and confirmed the payment.

    However, after leaving the car yard, he was phoned and told the sale had been cancelled.

    He was told the decision had been made after someone put his name through a Google search.

    “This is the country where I want to live and where I want my children to grow up. I love it here.”

    Dotcom said the indictment used by the US Department of Justice to trigger the raid represented only a fraction of the real picture. “For every email they have in the indictment, I have 100 others that disprove it.”

    He said the evidence that would clear him was also held by US authorities and questioned why prosecutors had presented such a one-sided picture.

    The evidence included email trails in which Dotcom had personally requested sites carrying links to infringing material to stop linking to Megaupload.

    “How do you cherry-pick in a way which is so misleading and so malicious? For me, sitting in my cell, I’m thinking, ‘Why are they doing this? They can’t win it’.”

    Dotcom said there was clear evidence he and his team had worked to stop copyright infringement.

    The evidence stemmed from Megaupload’s terms of service, which forced users to agree they would not post copyrighted material to the website.

    He said the first indictment, used to trigger the January 20 worldwide assault on his company, had not included the company’s terms of service.

    He said it was a critical piece of evidence to leave out of the indictment, which had convinced authorities around the world to co-operate with the United States.

    The second indictment, issued a month later, did include parts of the terms of service.

    Dotcom also said firms with concerns were given their own direct access to Megaupload to delete infringing links. There were also 20 staff dedicated to taking down material which might infringe copyright, he said.

    One difficulty Megaupload faced was it was issued “take down” notices by copyright holders which turned out to be links to material legally owned by its users.

    “We determined that 10 per cent of all take-downs were false but we continued to take down every link that was reported to us.”

    Dotcom said US authorities knew his movements before the raids, and would have known he was planning to visit the US.

    Instead of waiting, they acted in New Zealand, forcing everyone into an expensive and time-consuming extradition battle.

    “They knew Mona and I were planning a trip to the US about six months after the twins were born. If you look at how long extradition can take, they could have waited for us to arrive in the US.”

    He said that during his time in jail, he made trips to and from the North Shore court for bail hearings in a prison van which felt as if it had no suspension.

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  • It’s true that hotels, motels and inns have made efforts to lessen their impact.

    Rare is the bathroom these days that doesn’t have a little sign telling guests to hang up their towels if they don’t want them replaced. The environmental cost of washing and drying all that terrycloth is huge.

    But I’m not seeing much else of significance.

    I stayed in a Virginia hotel over the weekend that I was pretty sure was new. The place sure looked like it. And smelled like it. So one might think they had incorporated some of the latest thinking.

    But on a cold night, the room was roasting. I finally wound up turning the heating/cooling unit to air conditioning and set the thermostat at 64. There wasn’t much improvement.

    The room had a small refrigerator humming away. Nice convenience! But I had maybe two cans of juice and an extra sandwich to put in it. Someone ought to make smaller “motel” fridges that would be more efficient.

    The fixtures has CFL bulbs, to be sure. But my big beef is nightlights.

    Consider: Hotel rooms are pretty dark. If you get up at night to use the bathroom, you don’t want to stub your toe in unfamiliar surroundings, so you need some small degree of illumination. I usually achieve this by opening the curtain a bit.

    When it comes to the bathroom, however, you have to turn on the light to see. And then you’re blinded by the brightness.

    And I’m sure most people do what I sometimes do if the curtain trick doesn’t work: You leave the light on in the bathroom, and then close the door most of the way so the light doesn’t keep you awake, but do you can find the door.

    Which means there’s 100-200 or more watts of lighting burning all night.

    An LED nightlight would consume less than a watt. Big difference! I usually bring my own, but I can’t imagine many other people do.

    Some chains are finding that if they install nightlights, energy use dips impressively.

    Theft would be a problem if they were plug-ins, but I’m sure these things could be permanently installed.

    Is anyone other than me upset by the myriad tiny plastic bottles they provide the shampoo in? Ugh. I’d love to know the policies at hotels: Is it like food? If the guest doesn’t use the product, does it have to be tossed?

    One new ray of hope in the hotel world: the Clean the World Foundation. Its mission is to collect the soaps and shampoos discarded by the hospitality industry, sanitize them and redistribute them to homeless shelters and impoverished people worldwide.

    Cradle to grave, I’m not sure if there’s a significant eco-benefit. Saving soap instead of tossing it clearly reduces waste, but then there’s the matter of transporting it …

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  • Michael and Edith Laba consider the weather more than most people.

    Activities that use a lot of electricity, such as vacuuming, washing and ironing, are programmed for sunny or breezy days, when their solar panels and two small wind turbines will be generating.

    A forecast of misty, sunless days is enough to amend their plans to less energy-intensive chores.

    While they are connected to mains electricity and have a back-up gas hot-water boiler, the couple like to use as much self-generated energy as possible.

    Mrs Laba, a French Canadian from a country with an abundance of electricity, says it “never crossed her mind” that electricity was something people might have to ration.

    “But it is quite satisfying to be self-sufficient and in control.” The couple, who met in Vancouver in the 1970s, moved to Dunedin in 1977, living first in Lynn St, Wakari, then in Garden Pl, Glenleith, for 25 years.

    Mr Laba, a retired University of Otago audio-visual technical adviser, had long been interested in passive solar homes - homes that use location, sunshine, heat-trapping masses such as concrete floors and walls, and large amounts of insulation to do most of the work of keeping the interior warm in winter and cool in summer.

    He had also begun generating electricity at Garden Pl and, 12 years ago, converted a Mini into an electric car.

    When he and his wife decided to build a new home, two things were non-negotiable - it had to be on a north-facing site to harness solar energy, and it had to have a harbour view.

    The couple searched for several years before settling on a Company Bay site and engaging Dunedin architectural designer Biz Boyle.

    Their smile-shaped, 160sq m, three-bedroom home, completed about six years ago, is just what they envisaged.

    For Mr Laba, there is a separate 90sq m garage and workshop, where he can potter and experiment.

    For Mrs Laba, there is a kitchen with a harbour view, and a bath with a view as well.

    However, their favourite room is an atelier, or studio, which runs the width of the western end of the house and is used as a study and a base for his electronics and her wool craft.

    The Labas have a Centameter, a device that gives a minute-by-minute read-out of electricity consumption. But they are not obsessive about reducing their energy consumption. They have three small televisions, a computer, a dishwasher, a microwave and a freezer.

    Their kitchen has a gas hob and gas oven, as well as as a half-sized electric oven. They use a pop-up toaster, an appliance Mr Laba says uses a surprisingly large amount of electricity.

    On the rare occasions when it is necessary, the couple supplement natural heating with a wall-mounted electric heater in the living room.

    Underfloor water-filled pipes can also be used to heat the living room and bathroom, an option Mr Laba estimates they use about 10 days a year.

    “Being warm is one of the main things in life. If you’re not warm, you’re miserable,” he says.

    Mrs Laba says she particularly enjoys warm feet in the mornings and evenings.

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  • Dear EarthTalk: What do I need to know about the new U.S. energy efficiency standards for light bulbs that take effect in January? Will certain bulbs be unavailable? And am I supposed to switch out my older inefficient bulbs with newer efficient ones?

    Indeed, January 2012 marks the beginning of a planned phase-out of inefficient light bulbs in the United States that was signed into law five years ago by President George W. Bush. It was designed to reduce energy usage nationally from lighting by some 30 percent overall within three years.

    The benefits of the phase-out will be a savings of between $100 and $200 annually on electric bills in each American household — a total energy savings equivalent to the output of 30 large power plants — and reductions in global warming-inducing carbon pollution equivalent to taking 17 million cars off the road.

    The first bulbs to disappear from store shelves are conventional 100-watt incandescents, but consumers can get compact fluorescent (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs with similar light output instead. There are also some new, more efficient incandescent bulbs that made the cut and will be available as replacements for conventional incandescents.

    In 2013, conventional 75-watt incandescents will be phased out, while conventional 60- and 40-watt bulbs will be phased out in 2014. Given the great alternatives available these days, most consumers will hardly notice any difference except lower electric bills.

    As for what consumers should do to prepare themselves, the best advice is to get educated about the difference between power use and light output as we enter the brave new world of more efficient lighting.

    “Given the range of efficiencies the new bulbs provide, buying a bulb solely on the amount of power it uses no longer makes sense and we’ll have to shift to buying lumens,” reports Noah Horowitz of the Natural Resource Defense Council. “For example, a typical 60-watt light bulb produces around 800 lumens. The CFL that produces 800 lumens only uses 15 watts.” He adds that bulb packages will likely contain claims like “as bright as a 60-watt bulb” or “15W = 60W” to help consumers make the transition.

    Horowitz adds that consumers looking to replace their old incandescents with new more efficient varieties should look for CFLs or LEDs marked as “warm white,” since the quality of light they give off will be most similar to that given off by old-school incandescents. “Those marketed as ‘cool white’ or ‘day light’ have much different light color, which only a small minority of consumers prefer,” says Horowitz.

    Also, Horowitz warns that most CFLs are not dimmable and “may fail prematurely if installed in a dimming circuit.” So if your space features light sockets with dimming capability the best bet would be LED bulbs or newer, more efficient incandescents. Specially marked dimmable CFL bulbs are also an option but at present are less commonly available.

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  • As part of the Rossland Energy Diet, FortisBC is helping to brighten the holidays and save residents electricity by providing CFL bulbs and strings of LED holiday lights.

    “FortisBC is welcoming winter with a light bulb and holiday light exchange for all Rossland residents and a contractor meet ‘n greet for Rossland Energy Diet participants,” said Tom Loski, FortisBC’s vice president of customer service.

    “Natural Resources Canada tells us that just changing your holiday lights can make a big difference. ENERGY STAR LEDs use up to 90 per cent less electricity and last 10 times longer. An average home would pay about $27 in energy costs using the old incandescent lights versus only 32 cents for LEDs.”

    The light bulb and holiday light exchange event is scheduled for Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 6 p.m. at Rossland Miners’ Hall. Residents can exchange five old incandescent bulbs for CFLs (two globes and three twisters). They can also exchange two strings of incandescent holiday lights for two strings of high efficiency LED lights. All lights are available on a first come, first served basis.

    “The energy diet is well underway, with over 200 residential participants who have now completed their home energy assessments and 34 small businesses that have completed a lighting audit. This event is another opportunity for the community to get involved in energy savings, even if they aren’t doing major home or business upgrades,” added Loski.

    For Rossland Energy Diet participants who are already registered, the event will also provide an opportunity to meet and speak informally with local contractors about how to improve the comfort and efficiency of their homes. They can even schedule appointments for work with these contractors to help achieve home energy efficiency goals.

    Some other simple tips to save you energy and money this holiday season:

    Decorative holiday LEDs are cool to the touch, reduce the risk of fire and are available in a variety of colours, shapes and lengths.

    Using a timer will help save electricity. Switch lights on at 7 p.m. during weekdays to avoid the electricity peak and remember to turn holiday lights off if you are leaving home for extended periods of time.

    Buy ENERGY STAR electronics. ENERGY STAR certified electronics – TVs, DVD players, VCRs and cordless phones – use significantly less electricity than their non-certified counterparts.

    TVs, DVD players, computers, printers, radios and many other electronics use energy even when they aren’t turned on. Unplug these items before you go on vacation and enjoy the energy savings.

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