Environment Life Random Thoughts

I should be in Copenhagen but instead some tales (and video) from Snowy Berkshire!

Thought it might be worth posting about the Big Freeze, seeing as we seem to have been hit quite badly here in my Village (just north of Newbury near J13 of the M4)…

I’ve taken some photos and videos: Update – I’ve now embeded some of them – note that they were shot in HD (click the HD button at the bottom of the videos) to enjoy in full 1080!)

Facebook Public Photo Gallery

Right now I should be in Copenhagen, not still in Berkshire, but that trip has been canned as although the flight might still be running I don’t fancy the very early hours of the morning / late at night coming back drive to and from the Airport.

I plan to go into work tomorrow as things seem to be improving enough – to get the cars out my neighbours and I cleared the 25-30 metres of 7″-10″ of snow (I have only seen snowfall like this in the Alps previously!) and all 4 of us blokes who live next to each other got 3 cars out (1 driving 3 pushing!!) onto the road which is reasonable (although it is like a snow rally stage in places – in my VW Passat you have to turn off traction control, use 2nd, 3rd and 4th with minimal-ish revs and go no faster than 40 (although to prevent getting stuck up hills when you see a hill you need to give it some beans – otherwise you just wheelspin!)

Managed to get into Newbury at Lunch to get some essential supplies from Sainsburys (they are well stocked, and there was a petrol tanker there too) so filled up with Diesel to be safe (as was almost empty) and bought food essentials for me and my neighbour and a colleague in the next village to me

After lunch drove the other way to Compton (where my Colleague lives) and delivered his food and we worked together on a bid. On the way back  I had to rock the car back and forth using the clutch to get back on the main road but once there no worries as long as you stay at 20-40 (20 ish downhill, 30 ish on the flat and 40 ish uphill to prevent getting stuck)  and steer, accelerate etc smoothly! Shame some people are idiots and tailgate you on an uncleared B road when you are doing 35mph!!!

Have started a working from home pattern of get up early assess weather do work until the conditions outside warm up enough to clear snow and ice and drive, then work late into the evening to make up the lost time at lunch. Can’t clear snow in the evening (too icy/cold/dark) or drive (ditto) as its getting down to below -8 at night, was -6 this morning and -3 most of the day.

My pet theory (as of course everyone in the world with a blog has pet theories!) is that this could be the first signs of the Trans Atlantic Conveyor (that keeps the UK warmer that its latitude would normally allow for – eg we should technically get Canada / Norway-ish style weather) shifting course…? But this link offers the BBC’s take on things. Whatever the science the reality is that its crazy cold here right now!

Keep safe everyone – as by all  accounts its not going to get better for a few days (depending on which forecasts you believe it could get worse over the weekend – fingers crossed it doesn’t). I am supposed to be going to Kiev, Ukraine next week – we’ll just have to see if that can happen…

Environment Technology

Some recent browsing (Green Issues, SOA, Dashboards)

Some sites that I found interesting recently…

I’ve been looking at quite a lot of Green IT/Business type issues recently is a good site (even if it does heavily promote its events on the content).

Carbon Calculators article: Its disappointing it mentions AEA only in the context of providing the emissions factors – we actually do a whole lot more including building online carbon/emissions data platforms (and calculators) ourselves.

Great article from Adobe on Web 2.0, SOA etc – gives a great overview:

Sun Microsystems came into to talk to us about their Java CAPS recently and it looks really interesting. We’ve already started to look at NetBeans IDE more closely (particularly the PHP plugin and its SOA/Business Process (BPEL) diagram/visualisation to BPEL XML code features…


Dashboards, Flex with PHP etc:

One of my current projects is update our (data) visualisation and dashboard piece of our offering – as such we’ve been researching whats out there that we could use to enhance our technology stack:

Flex and PHP

Zend Framework/Adobe Media Remoting –

Interestingly Microsoft seem to be about to launch a new Dynamics AX product which is focused at Environmental data management – interesting to see the main IT vendors start to move into the space that we’ve been in for some time. This is really good news as it will give more deployment and integration options moving forward (eg for customers already using Dynamics).

Environment Technology

Talking Green IT strategy at the Green IT Expo!

Ollie talking at the Green IT Expo

Work asked me to talk at the Green IT expo Tues/Wed this week at the Barbican in London – so I put together a talk on how we see IT being used strategically to address Environmental management and other business critical issues (eg cost minimisation).

I talked about how Green IT should be more than just trying to reduce IT’s energy/environmental footprint (through initiatives such as virtualisation) – but also how IT can capture critical business data (eg on Energy use, and employee behaviour) and also how it can help with the digitisation of products and processes (reducing energy/waste – eg through elimating paper production).

My first proper public speaking gig so a bit scary; but I’d love to do more of it! Photo is one of my colleagues managed to grab during my talk on Tues – I am holding one of our brochures.

The Green IT expo was an interesting event – IBM had a big presence and the general focus was mainly on the data centre and IT end of life equipment waste. Adobe did an interesting talk on focusing on the usability of online processes (eg those replacing paper) dovetailing quite nicely with some of my content. Learn’t more about their LiveCycle suite – which looks really interesting for creating paperless processes although it isn’t cheap unfortunately!

Environment Web Development

New AEA website

Really impressed with the work my colleagues have done on the new AEA website ( This also includes the ecopath website which will be vastly expanded in due course.

AEA home pageI can’t claim to have been hugely involved (other than some bits and pieces behind the scenes) although this is partly because they kicked off the project whilst I was in Paris (talk about quick turn around!). The plan is to move it to the Silverstripe CMS in due course which will make management and updates easier.

Environment Technology

More Green Reading

Servers as bad for the Environment as SUVs? – New Scientist Article

No more Arctic ice in the summer by 2013 (BBC)

Some sites that I’ve come across that are targeting the individual to try and adjust their habits:

Environment PHP Web Development Zend Framework

Latest project – London Green500 goes live

Green500 site Screenshot

London Green500 is an exciting project I’ve been working on for the last few months. The full details of the programme for the London Development Agency will go out next week.

In a nutshell its a Carbon Management program for large organisations in the London area – aimed at reducing CO2 emissions by 1.5 million tonnes over the next couple of years. Today the marketing site went live (which is mainly a Content Management System), later in the month the Customer and Administration parts will go live. This post also has a bit of an ulterior motive – getting the site into the search engines – as its brand new and I know my blog is crawled by Google etc.

From a development standpoint the Customer and Admin areas are more exciting as they are powered by the “AEA Framework” which is major initiative I have been working on since I joined AEA earlier in the year as Architect/Senior Developer. Zend Framework (and therefore PHP5) powered, with Smarty for views (of the MVC part) some nice templating and other modules to support the various projects at AEA.

When I can spare a bit more time I’ll post some more stuff on the AEA Framework. All I say for now is that at the moment I’m putting the finishing touches to what we are calling Advanced Forms. Forms that (as an Administrator) you can edit via the site right down to the field and validation level. So you can build complex multi-page forms and ultimately processes with less code – actually mostly from the site itself). We are also integrating YUI components such as the Datatable. Can’t wait to write more about it!

Update on Green500 – see

It made it on to the BBC news site too – which is good news.

Environment Technology

Green IT – interesting reading

Seeing as I now work for what is predominately an Energy and Environmental consultancy these days – I’m doing a fair bit of reading and research into Carbon Dioxide and other climate change issues. There seems to be a real momentum building behind green Information Technology. Today I came across The Green Grid who are a consortium of technology companies that appear to have joined forces to create a panel of experts on green data centre design. Interestingly their members feature:

2 of the companies I am currently considering using at work to replace our current hosting company (Donhost) who have let us down recently (more on that in about 12 months – when our current servers expire!!!)

Additionally I dugg a BBC article on Green IT which happened to be headlined under technology tonight and discovered that Google plan to be Carbon Neutral by 2008. Strange how patterns can emerge from web surfing at times!

I might blog a bit more about Green IT issues in the future – particularly once a big (and rather exciting project) that I am currently doing the analysis and architecture for goes live.