Tyler Whitaker's Infotech

Technology, Thoughts, & Opinions

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Small Distributed Nuclear Power Generation

October 14th, 2008 · 4 Comments

I just read an interesting interview with John Deal, CEO of Hyperion Power Generation. Hyperion is building a nuclear reactor small enough to be shipped by train or truck but powerful enough to supply electricity to a small city. At a cost of roughly $30 million each, this reactor can supply up to 30 megawatts of usable electrical power, or enough to power 20,000 US households. The reactors life span is 8-10 years.

Just doing the math, $30 million spread over 20,000 homes, for 120 months equates to $12.50/household/month. Not bad. Not bad at all.

With all of the talk about a national energy policy during this election, its good to know at least one company is willing to push the nuclear option into the commercial market place. The next U.S. President should adopt this company and streamline the regulatory process to these into working in small towns across the nation.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Energy · Green Technology

My Attempt to Find the Ecuadorian Equator

May 23rd, 2008 · 4 Comments

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2923As many of you know, I recently spent 2 weeks in Peru and Ecuador seeing the sites and working on content for our new travel site, MunchkinTravel.com. We took our 4 year old with us and he had the time of his life.  This is the second in a series of blog entries detailing some of the technology I saw on the trip.

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2931Ever since I saw my first GPS I’ve had an strange desire to go to geographically significant places. Last year we took a road trip to Bad Water, Nevada in Death Valley National Park which is the lowest place in the western hemisphere at -282 feet below sea level. This year we went to the equator near Quito, Ecuador.

First thing I found is that their are two "equator places" in Ecuador. The first is Ciudad Mitad Del Mundo or Middle of the World City. This is the bigger and more commercial place to see the2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2970 Equator. This traditional site was based on work of 2 french geographers during the 1700s .  Interestingly enough, this is not the true location of the equator. It’s actually 240 meters to the north at what is called the Intiñan Solar Museum.

  The Intiñan Solar Museum is billed as the actual equator based on measurements taken by military GPS. This fun little museum has some fun equator experiments and Incan cultural exhibits.2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2855 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2889





2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2898They have a number of different sun dials which show you how the sun spends half of the year in the northern sky and the other half in the southern sky. No trip to the equator would be complete without trying to balance an egg on the head of a nail. Which I have to admit was pretty easy.

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2866One of the most mind bending demonstrations was of the Coriolis effect. This is the force that supposedly causes drains to flow in opposite directions depending if your in the northern or southern hemisphere. To demonstrate this behavior our guide took a mobile sink filled with water, pulled the plug, and tossed in some leaves to show the direction the drain was flowing. He did this 3 times: once on the equator (no drain rotation), once on the South side (clockwise), and finally once on the North side (counter-clockwise). Some say it’s a trick. Here’s the video for you to decide.

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2911 One thing was bothering me at both of these sites. My Magellan Explorist 600 GPS wasn’t reading all zeros for Latitude. So I started walking north, through the Intiñan Solar Museum  grounds, out through the parking lot, and finally out on to a busy road. And wouldn’t you know it, right on the far white line the counter hit Equatorzero. So dodging big trunks and heavy traffic, I got my picture to prove that I had been  to the Equator! 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 2917

→ 4 CommentsTags: GPS · Technology · Travel

Solar Power on Peru’s Eros Islands

May 23rd, 2008 · 5 Comments

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1908As many of you know, I recently spent 2 weeks in Peru and Ecuador seeing the sites and working on content for our new travel site, MunchkinTravel.com. We took our 4 year old with us and he had the time of his life. Playing with the local kids and exploring a new world. Hopefully this will be the first of a series of blog entries detailing some of the technology I saw on the trip.

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1916One of the most interesting things we saw was the use of solar panel technology throughout both countries. One such example was on the Eros floating Islands on Lake Titicaca near Puno, Peru. For those of you not familiar with the Eros Islands, it’s an amazing collection of 70+ floating islands built entirely out of tora reeds. 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1917The early inhabitants used these naturally growing reeds to build floating platforms to escape persecution from the Incas and early Spanish colonizers. 

We stopped at the Island of Apu Inti which some of you might recognize from Elder Rasbands recent talk. This little island, that is home to a handful of families, sits in about 55 feet of water and is 7-8 feet thick. 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1926 Most life on these islands centers around tourism, with the natives showing the traditional tasks of life, the uses of the tora reed, how the islands are built, and dressing their guests up in native costumes.

Not being one who likes to dress up and dance, I quickly grabbed the nearest native and with my broken Spanish asked to see his solar setup.  The 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 196853 watt solar panel, made by Condumex,  feed through a charging unit in to a water proof 12 volt car battery. He also had a circuit breaker / distribution unit that powered a compact fluorescent light bulb, his TV & Stereo (so much for be true "natives"), and his neighbors house.

2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1965I asked how long he had been running this setup. He told me that the President of Peru had given the solar panels to the people of the Eros islands 6 years ago. Apparently they had been using candles and had trouble with their homes and islands burning down. Go figure. No doubt the gift was an attempt to help keep the 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1964tourist trade going.

The Eros Islands were not the only places we saw solar panels.  We found them all over Peru and Ecuador and on the islands of Amantani and Taquille. Look for pictures of these wonderful islands on our MunchkinTravel.com  website in the 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1966coming weeks.

I think the wide spread adoption of solar is directly related to the lack of quality power infrastructure. In many ways, countries with emerging markets are perfectly positioned to leap frog the US in the coming green technology revolution because they don’t have existing infrastructure that is still trying to pay for itself. It’s true that  technology is often driven by the 2008-04-23 Peru-Ecuador 1961underlying business model. It’s also true that disruptive next generation technology is also held back by existing entrenched infrastructure and it’s associated economic model.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Green Technology · Technology · Travel

Why I didn’t go to TED, Bil, or ETech: The Big Business & Technology Expo.

March 5th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Big Business ExpoJust to be clear, all of these conferences are great. I’m just not into them this year. It doesn’t work with the travel budget and I’m busy on other projects. But watching the coverage of all these other conferences has left me feeling a little like I’m missing out.

So, I thought I would cover The Big Business & Technology Expo at the McKay Events Center on the campus of the soon to be Utah Valley University. Being armed with my camera and a couple of extra free tickets (explained later), I was off for my conference experience.

Big Business Expo PR EngineAfter seeing the big press coverage and the expo’s PR machine at work I knew I needed to show up early.

Big Business Expo Parking




Parking was crazy, even at  11:10am on opening day, just 10 minutes after the show opening. These people were so excited to get here, they stole cars from a local dealership and had to park on the grass just to get a close parking spot.

Big Business Expo Show FloorThe show floor didn’t disappoint. It seems like it is exactly the same size as in years past. Among the many marketing companies, banks, and promotional item salesmen, the big surprise was how many people were playing Rock Band or Guitar Hero in their booths. There is nothing like a good guitar riff that screams "We should be your business partner."

The highlight of the expo is the free lunch from Bajios (Fresh Mex), Goodwood BBQ (BBQ at it’s best), or Rumbi Island Grill (Hawaiian goodness). Your entrance ticket is also your meal ticket. Thus, the best tip for those of you going to the Big Business Expo: Take extra tickets. That way you can get multiple meals (which are currently running small on portion size.)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Business · Technology

Solving a Home CATV Wiring Problem

February 23rd, 2008 · No Comments

Yesterday I had an interesting experience helping a good friend and neighbor set up some CATV wiring in his basement. Now I’ve done this kind of stuff in past jobs and even in my own basement. So you would think that there should be no problem whatsoever. Think again.

To be fair, he hasn’t had that much experience with Ethernet, 10-base-T, CATV, or the like. He was able to run all of the cabling himself. He followed the instructions on modular wall jacks. He had picked a wiring scheme (T568A) and was consistent. The problem was getting connectivity. There was none.

We were able to isolate the problem to one section of cabling and the connectors on each end. We verified the right order of the colored wire pairs on each end of the connection. But still no luck.

We came to the conclusion that it had to be one of the follow problems:

  1. He had miss labeled the some/all of the 15 different cables.
  2. The cable had been cut or damaged during the dry wall installation.
  3. The ends were incorrectly wired despite following the diagrams.

This is the point when a good cable tester is an invaluable tool. Luckily I had suggested that he pick up a LinkMaster – Network testing device from IDEAL.

This little tester is great. It was able to quickly show us the problem with one of the connections. Despite following the wiring diagrams exactly, the tester turned us onto a problem that the manufacturers connector wiring diagram was printed incorrectly. It showed the connector upside down, from the text. A quick fix on that end of the cable solved everything. It’s a good thing we had the LinkMaster CATV/10-base-T tester.

→ No CommentsTags: Technology