Enterprise, Enterprise Connect, RFID and happy/creepyness

Just returned back from Enterprise Connect down in Orlando and encountered two different applications of RFID tech – one happy, one bordering a little on creepy.

First, I picked up my car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Hmm, why hasn’t someone done a commercial tie there yet?). The vehicle was equipped with TollPass, a solution that automagically paid the tolls on Florida’s roads as I was driving to and from the airport and rolled them onto the on-file credit card.   Cost is $2 per day with a ceiling of $6 dollars for the entire rental period.

If you’ve every done the whole toll road scene, you know how convenient this is, especially in a rental car on business where you want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

And then we come to the Enterprise Connect 2012 badge. It has an RFID tag in it, which is way more convenient/less awkward than the fumbling world of optical character badge scanners, which usually require two or three tries before they collect data.   The smaller RFID scanners in use at Enterprise Connect just require a quick bump against the plastic badge, so it’s quick and easy to “scan” a badge at a booth or going into a keynote session.

What I didn’t expect was an email shortly after I went into the keynote, asking me to evaluate the session.

I mean, I appreciate the need for feedback and collecting detailed information, but the suddenness of it was a bit jarring. Maybe it’s my closet Luddite/Libertarian streak kicking in, but it might have been nicer to get a single email at the end of the day, I think.

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Pictures from Iceland – Part 3 – Landsvirkjun Power Sog Hydroelectric Plant

Landsvirkjun is the largest producer of power in Iceland. It operates 13 hydroelectric facilities, 2 geothermal facilities and one fossil fuel backup plant.

We got to visit one of the oldest operating plants in the country sitting on the Sog River, Irafoss Station. There are three hydro plants in total running along the Sog, which starts to the Northeast of Reykjavík at Lake Þingvallavatn and runs westward down to the sea.  Irafoss is in the middle.

Pulling up, it’s easy to spot the tell-tale signs of high voltage.

From the outside, there’s little to indicate what’s going on in this little building, other than the big wires and transformers outside.  Originally built in 1953, the plant got a  makeover/rebuild a couple of years ago, including a new structure with aluminum outer siding.

Inside, at ground level, it’s just like any other office building in Iceland, complete with the obligatory artwork.

You take an elevator about 30 meters down to the generator room to see and hear/feel what’s going on.  It’s noisy with the hum of the generators going, but you don’t have to yell to be heard.

There are three generators, two Westinghouse, one made by ASEA of Sweden, all dating back to 1953 and still generating power today.

Amazingly, there’s no “end-of-life” planned for the power hardware. They are given pristine care and get a preventive maintenance overhaul every couple of years.  However, the monitoring and control electronics are all shiny new and modern, abet a little dull in their cabinets.

A floor below, we see the underground river flow as the water continues downward.

To exit, we walk past the “bottom” of the three steadily turning generators and into a sloping tunnel to reach the outside and the welcome sunlight.

 

 

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Pictures from Iceland – Part 2 – Reykjavik Energy Hellisheiði Geothermal Plant

It was a dark and rainy morning – dark because in February the sun doesn’t rise until 9:30 to 10 AM local time, rainy because that’s what the weather is like – when we headed out into the mountains above Reykjavik to visit the Hellisheiði Power Plant.

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Hellisheiði Power Plant is the biggest geothermal plant in Iceland, if memory serves.  Ultimately, the plant will deliver 300 MW of electricity and 400 MW of thermal energy (hot water).  Hot water is piped down to Reykjavik to heat buildings and pools; some of it is even being used to melt snow on sidewalks and new-build roads.

Future plans include building a huge greenhouse in space set aside for an industrial park to grow cherry tomatoes for Marks & Spencer.

Inside, there’s a big pretty wooden staircase that doubles as seating for school groups who come to visit the place.  Bigger businesses in Iceland seem to be keen on making money in as many was as possible, so the welcome center makes some side cash charging tourists admission.

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At the top of the stairs, there’s a floor-to-ceiling video display illustrating and describing the various functions of the plant. It’s very high-tech.

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Groundwater comes out of the boreholes at 300 degrees C, goes through one set of heat exchanges to drive power turbines, then a second set of heat exchanges to heat up water.  At the end, the cold(er) water is re-injected into the ground.

Up another floor, there are more elaborate set of exhibits, and views of the heat exchanges and turbines, with a balcony overlooking the turbine power room.  During tours, they push back a sliding glass door so you can get a better view of the equipment and hear the powerful hum of the generators.

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I’m drawing a blank as to what these things are, but they look cool.

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Back out front, you can see it’s now dawn – around 10 AM – and there’s no ice or snow in the parking lot. Hmm. Wonder how they work that trick, eh? You’ll note the surrounding vacant land where eventually you’ll have some industrial business put up.

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Geothermal power is currently 30 percent of Iceland’s total energy mix. The other 70 percent is hydroelectric, but power plant construction moving forward will be almost all geothermal and maybe some wind power.  Hydro is “out” due to environmental and tourism considerations.

Wind makes some sense, given the strong winds.  It will be used to off-load/complement hydroelectric power.  When the winds die down, hydro will be used to pick up the power generating load; in the States, there are all sort of elaborate schemes to buffer/store energy when the wind dies down.  In Iceland, hydro is the “battery” for wind power.

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Vodafone Iceland mobile coverage rocks

For under $20, I picked up a 5 GB pre-paid data Vodafone Iceland mini-SIM for my iPad 2.

Had to go to the local mall to get it since the airport duty-free store didn’t carry ‘em, but no biggie since everyone traveling to a different country for the first time should go to the mall and hang.

During the Verne Global press adventure, we went into the mountains on the second evening of the trip and off-road out of sight of civilization — but I was still able to get 2-3 bars of 3G signal!

Similarly, when we drove up above the capital and around the mountains on the last day to visit the geothermal and hydroelectric plants, I had no problem checking on things from my bus seat as we were zooming along at who-knows how many miles per hour.

 

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Pictures from Iceland – Part 1 – Verne Global data center

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Door number 1 of 5 doors to get to the server area in Verne Global’s data center. There’s a security checking photo ID before you go into the man trap (doors 2 & 3), followed by at least 2 more doors.

Equipment deliveries have a similar man-trap style arrangement for vehicles before they can unload.

After you get through the man-trap, you’re in a small lobby area with a couple of pictures on the walls. Everywhere you go in Iceland, you’ve got some token of fine art work in the form of paintings and/or statutes.

Through another card-key door, we move into Colt pre-fab data center land.  Everything you see in white and shiny metal is built by Colt, designed for shipment and quick assembly into data center space into any “raw” space.  It took four months from shipping from the UK to Iceland into ready-to-use commissioning — including burn-in testing of power and air circulation — with Verne providing the empty warehouse space.

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Down a bland hallway …

Through a set of sliding doors …..

Into one bay full of covered racks.

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And there’s prefab space for five more bays to be added.  Plus a couple of buildings and acres of land to build on.

The outside of the data center Colt pre-fab space. The bright orange bottles are environmentally-friendly fire suppression gas, a mix of argon and nitrogen which is “unpleasant” to breath when discharged, but won’t kill you.

All of this is just one big frickin’ warehouse.  Bonus points for cooling with the big concrete slab that happens to conveniently double as a cold sink.

Above is outside air intake and air sampling gear. Outside air is use for “free” cooling.  Since Iceland is pretty cold and wet for over half the year, you can simply suck ambient air through the facility to keep the servers at a comfy temperature.

If there’s too much particulate matter in the inbound air — local fire, random volcanic ash (But VERY unlikely, the data center is on the southwest part of Iceland while the active volcanoes are on the other side of the island and the wind blows eastward towards Europe — no problems in the capital, very annoyed air travelers) — the air intakes shut down and air goes into recirculation mode.

 

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How did I live without satellite radio? Seriously….

Over the holiday season, I received a Sirius satellite radio (OK, so it was a freebie from a promotion, let’s not go there right now…). 

After waiting two weeks for the indoor dock pieces, I had a very pleasant less-than-5 minute conversation with the Sirius people to turn it on (And thanks, but I really don’t want the Internet/smartphone add-ons or the other offers. But you were nice enough about it and could teach the Sprint and Verizon call center a couple of lessons….)

Let’s face it, DC ain’t no mecca for tunes, so practically anything outside of the talk-show and sports radio circle is a gift.

I’m sure my music-loving friends will tell me something different, but right now I’m loving satellite radio…

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Bob Marley and speakers – Stuff you cannot make up, mon!

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The House of Marley (www.thehouseofmarley.com) audio product line features “top quality performance” with “eco-conscious” materials. First products include an iPhone dock, headphones and ear-buds. The products support the Marley family charity www.1love.org.

Uh hum.

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The launch of DougonTech

Seriously, do I really need another blog — in the words of my father, “Like you need another hole in your head”?

Weel, kinda-sorta-yes.

I come across “stuff” that doesn’t cleanly fall into the buckets of HD Voice News (www.hdvoicenews.com) or IP Communications aka www.dougonipcomm.com.

And I’ve been doing a lot of writing for Green Data Center News (www.greendatacenternews.org) along with a number of space/satellite columns for TMC on its Satellite “channel” (http://satellite.tmcnet.com)/

I know I’m going to come across “stuff” at CES which won’t fall into the HD Voice News or DougonIPComm buckets. Not a lot, but some.

So DougonTech will be an anchor point for “stuff” and listings of what I’m doing over at Green Data Center News and TMC’s Satellite/Space section. At some point, space news may get dumped into another bucket, er website.

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CES, CES, yes yes yes, it’s CES 2011

Consumer Electronics Show Fun: I am rolling into Vegas on Tuesday morning and the first session for the media I’m attending is the “State of Consumer Technology” industry brief at 2 PM, followed by… well, I don’t need to detail all the crap I’m doing, but suffice to say I’m going from dawn to beyond dusk into darkness for at least two of the four (4) day’s I’ll be out there.

Net-net: Working hours at CES will be from 8 AM to at least 8 PM or later.  And if you are trying to find me after 10 PM local time, it’s likely to end badly for both of us.

You can find me/follow me on Twitter – DougonTech (if I can remember what my password is) and/or DougonIPComm (if it’s HD voice or IP Comm-tyhpe news)

Since I have one of those newfangled smart phones, you can also email me directly at moo@vegascommando.com.

Don’t know how well tracking me via Foursquare will work, but since it will cross-post to Twitter. follow twitter.

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