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Scotsrenewables floating tidal turbines

The innovative floating tidal turbines from Scotsrenewables are tethered by cables rather than to fixed foundations. This makes installation easier and allows turbines to use tidal forces more optimally. There are two turbines, producing 2 MW total. That’s enough for well over a thousand homes. Each turbine is 64m in length with rotor diameter of 16m.

The huge advantage of tidal turbines is the energy they will produce is completely predictable because the tides are predictable. During a 24 hour test period, one turbine produced 7% of needed energy for the Orkney Islands, with bursts up to 25%. Imagine what a couple of dozen of them could do!

The shape and design of Scotrenewables technology has been developed to enable low cost fabrication and incorporates established well understood technologies with a simplified and cost effective installation and maintenance process. This approach embodies key technical advantages over seabed mounted alternatives as it eliminates the need for the majority of high risk underwater operations and high cost vessels required for installation and maintenance.

American West using less water despite more people

Oh the horror

Water usage has dropped steadily for years in the American West and California, despite many more people and increased agriculture. This includes Las Vegas and its casinos with water fountains. Oh the horror, what horrendous water pigs they are, some howl. Except it’s not true. The fountain water is reused. In fact, all indoor water in Vegas is cleaned up and reused. It’s been toilet-to-tap for years.

Conservation is working. People are learning to use less water. More people does not inexorably mean increased water usage. Yes, this is and will continue to be an ongoing process.

Despite the rhetoric of imminent doom, the math is inescapable. From 2002 to 2013, the greater Las Vegas metro area grew by 34 percent to a population of more than 2 million people. During that same period, its use of Colorado River water—its primary source of supply—dropped by 26 percent.

The same is true of California agriculture.

When Bart Fisher returned home from college in 1972, his family’s alfalfa fields outside Blythe in California’s southeastern desert produced 7 tons of alfalfa per acre. Today, the Fishers get 10 tons per acre from the same land. They do it with the same amount of water as a much younger Fisher and his family used four decades ago.

In cities too, water use is going down. Every one of the region’s major urban areas that once depended on unsustainable groundwater mining has turned the corner. Conservation and shifts to relatively more sustainable sources of supplies have led to aquifers beneath Los Angeles, the sunbelt of Central Arizona, and Las Vegas that have stabilized or in some cases are rising.

Big Vegas casinos: Why your Twitter so lame?

Fremont Street Experience gets more retweets, likes, and comments on Twitter than big Vegas casinos do despite having vastly fewer followers (20K vs 150K or more.) Why? Because Fremont Street on Twitter has personality. It wants to engage followers and have conversations instead of just blankly broadcasting. It deliberately retweets from other accounts. It posts fun historical and quirky stuff. It’s fun to read. Contrast this with the big casinos who tweet at you, giving an overwhemling impression that you are a consumer who is expected to appreciate their awesomeness then spend money with them.
Scott Roeben, who runs the Fremont Street Twitter account talked about this last night at a blogging meetup last night here in Vegas. The big casino Twitter accounts are an example of how not to do social media. They just push content at followers. MGM, which owns multiple Strip casinos, often posts the same content on all their accounts. Yawn. There’s no attempt to get conversations going.

He says a great way to build Twitter traffic is to find much bigger accounts, find content they’d be interested in, then tweet about it, including their Twitter handle in the post. He used magician Penn Jillette, who has 2 million followers, as an example. Scott will tweet something of interest to Penn, who sometimes re-tweets it, bringing lots of hits and interest back to Fremont Street Twitter. The key here is it has to be real, something the celeb would be genuinely interested in. Don’t spam or annoy them.

Compare Fremont Street @FSELV to these biggies: @MGMGrand, @WynnLasVegas, @PalazzoVegas. Fremont has way more personality, is much smaller, yet get as much if not more retweets, etc.

Blocking Skype spam phone calls and messages

Oh lucky me. Just in the past week or so I’ve been getting unsolicited Skype phone calls and messages from Perki McBreasty and her friends. According to their bios and messages, they are hotties, smitten with me, and want to get up close and personal.

Or they could be a den of thieves in Russia looking to scam the unwary. Oh dear, is it unfair of me to say Russia? Actually, no it isn’t. I manage multiple WordPress sites. There are constant attempts to login and hack the sites. The vast bulk of the attacks are from Russia (and Ukraine.) So, that’s probably where these Skype attacks are coming from too (and they are attacks.)

Really Skype, you can’t block obvious spam like this? Because you need to.

After a few days of manually blocking them, I set Skype to only accept calls and notifications from Contacts. This cuts down on, say, a potential overseas client calling me because he got my Skype name from my website. Now we have to be Contacts first. However it does avoid spam call and messages. (I’ve gotten four in two days…)

Notification Settings
Instant Messages from: Contacts Only

Allow Calls From Anyone: Off

Time, tide, and WordPress wait for no one. Gutenberg is coming

Sometimes change happens incrementally and within an existing framework. Other times though, change requires a new way of doing things where old ways become irrelevant and are replaced. WordPress is about to go through such a change. This means, among many other things, that my favorite theme, Canvas, is being retired.

Canvas was developed in 2010 by Woothemes. It allows the look and feel of a site to be customized in hundreds of ways from the theme control panel rather than with code. WordPress bought Woo a few years back, renamed it Woocommerce, and just announced Canvas was being retired. Why? Because WordPress is embarking on a huge new project called Gutenberg which completely alters the core of the WordPress editor and customizer. Canvas was made for a different era and can’t be updated to work with upcoming versions of WordPress that have Gutenberg. Canvas will slowly become obsolete because it can’t take advantage of these new features, which start with a new editor in WordPress 5.0.

Woo did the right thing. They announced why they are retiring Canvas, are providing a free upgrade path to another theme, Storefront. They admit Storefront is for commerce so might not work well with blogs and magazine-style sites. I have multiple sites using Canvas and am looking at TagDiv Newspaper and PootlePress 18tags themes as possible replacements.

We’ve come to a difficult decision: as of today, we’re no longer selling Canvas.

WordPress is constantly evolving, and Canvas is no longer a good option for site builders using newer versions of WordPress – we don’t want to recommend a theme we don’t think will serve you in the future.

The WordPress theming world will experience a new wave of innovation over the next two years. The rise of page builders and the many multipurpose themes means more and more people expect easy-to-use customization tools for WordPress. Current work on the WordPress core Editor and Customizer will evolve how we build and use themes, and the Gutenberg plugin will fundamentally change how themes and content within WordPress are created.

Canvas isn’t built to keep up with the changes

While still early, we believe strongly that Gutenberg is the future. We’ve decided to invest our resources in preparing our products for it in order to bring you the best experience. Unfortunately, that won’t include Canvas.

We will keep Canvas compatible with the latest releases of WooCommerce and WordPress until all existing Canvas support subscriptions have lapsed. Lifetime subscriptions will end on October 24, 2018, and all other subscriptions will end at their currently scheduled date.

WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg on Gutenberg, which starts to roll out in WordPress 5.0. It’s big. Everything is based on blocks, it’s modular, so changes, editing, plugins, themes, blogging, stores, become easier to create and maintain for everyone, not just developers.

When Johannes Gutenberg’s press came out, people mostly used it to print the same religious text monks had been copying. It wasn’t until ten or fifteen years later that people started innovating and trying their hands at new kinds of writing, and the wheels of change started to spin faster. Now it’s WordPress’ turn to do the same. Gutenberg meets our challenges and opportunities head on while simultaneously benefiting everyone who makes a living working in the WP ecosystem. It’s about a lot more than just blocks. Our Gutenberg moves every part of the WordPress ecosystem forward:

Plugin developers will be able to completely integrate into every part of WordPress, including posts, pages, custom post types, and sidebars without having to hack TinyMCE or squeeze their entire feature behind a toolbar button. Today, every plugin that extends WordPress does it in a different way; Gutenberg’s blocks provide a single, easy-to-learn entry point for an incredible variety of extensions. Some folks have already begun to port their plugins over, and are finding that they’re easier to build and have a much improved UI. I’m looking forward to highlighting those stories as we get further along and more people write about them.

It’s big. It moves the WordPress ecosystem forward, but it also moves the whole web forward.

Which is scary! Because change always is, and this is a big one. But a scary thing is usually a thing that leads to growth, if you can push through it.

Gutenberg will be a sea change for WordPress. I’m looking forward to it even if all my sites with Canvas will need new themes.