Mystery tower a micro-cell tower

July 31st, 2014

Looks like the mystery cell tower may actually be a distributed antenna system, otherwise known as a mini cell tower site. The idea is to fill in the weak coverage spots with smaller towers.

A Pennsylvania-based company called Crown Castle has been installing these micro cell sites on utility poles around the US. A few Google searches reveal that the company is currently hiring project staff here in Raleigh.

So there ya go.

Is this a Stingray site?

July 31st, 2014

Mystery tower site

Mystery tower site

Update: Mystery solved? I believe this is a micro-site cell tower.

A few weeks ago when I went with Travis to a birthday party held at Adventure Landing on Capital Boulevard, the radio geek in me was drawn to an unusual device mounted on a utility pole outside.

Located on the corner of the parking lot next to a sword-shaped, pirate-themed sign that reads “Parking” is a newly-planted utility pole. Mounted on the pole is a locker-sized utility box, meter box, antenna feedline, and a cell tower-shaped antenna on top. All of these were painted brown to match the nearby light poles in Adventure Landing’s parking lot.

It appears to me to be a mini cell tower of some sort but it does raise some questions. Capital Boulevard is arguably the busiest street in the city and this spot is near its intersection with I-440. This would hardly be considered a cell phone service “dead zone.” Why would a single-node booster tower be here?
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Man-made ‘breathing’ leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel – CNET

July 29th, 2014

A scientist has devised an oxygen-producing fabric.

One of the persistent challenges of manned space exploration is that pesky lack of oxygen throughout much of the universe. Here on Earth, trees and other plant life do us a real solid by taking in our bad breath and changing it back to clean, sweet O2.

So what if we could take those biological oxygen factories into space with us, but without all the land, sun, water, soil, and gravity that forests tend to require? This is the point where NASA and Elon Musk should probably start paying attention.

via Man-made 'breathing' leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel – CNET.

RALEIGH: New Raleigh neighborhoods won’t get individual mailboxes | Raleigh |

July 29th, 2014

As I left the home this morning, I drove through the new Oakwood North neighborhood and something caught my eye. Workers have installed a concrete pedestal near the front of the subdivision to house the community mailboxes that the neighborhood is now required to have.

I beat up on Colin yesterday about his targeting of certain councilmembers (and I will have more to say about this soon) but he is capable of writing stories that deserve kudos. This one about the Postal Service discontinuing home delivery for new subdivisions was interesting and newsworthy. It’s something that apparently even caught giant homebuilder KB Home by surprise. Suddenly their ultimate home for retirees is much less attractive if living there requires daily trips to the mailbox. Or perhaps homeowners will be the fittest in Raleigh?

RALEIGH — At the model home for the newest neighborhood inside the Beltline, an ornate black mailbox sits atop a post at the curb.

But homebuyers in the Oakwood North subdivision won’t be getting one of their own. After developers started work on the community, the U.S. Postal Service pulled the plug on what’s been a standard amenity: curbside mail delivery.

via RALEIGH: New Raleigh neighborhoods won’t get individual mailboxes | Raleigh |

N&O’s Colin Campbell writes hit piece on Crowder

July 28th, 2014

Well, that was predictable.

Days after Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder defended against the recent attack on planning documents our city and citizenry spent millions of dollars and many years crafting, News and Observer reporter Colin Campbell writes a hit piece on Crowder’s pursuit of parking lawbreakers.

Objectivity does not appear to be Campbell’s strong suit. He needs a new beat, pronto. And shame on the News and Observer editors for condoning this tripe.

On a related note, I have been doing some research on Campbell’s reporting that is providing some interesting insights. Stay tuned.

RALEIGH — Two years ago, Raleigh City Councilman Thomas Crowder spearheaded an effort to ban front-yard parking in his district. These days, he’s filing dozens of complaints to make sure parking scofflaws are held accountable.Crowder has asked city zoning staffers via email to investigate 26 possible front-yard parking violations – many within blocks of his house – in his Southwest Raleigh district during the past year. Crowder’s complaints represent nearly 30 percent of the parking ordinance reports received in Raleigh since July 2013, according to city records.

“I have complaints regarding the above referenced property,” Crowder says in many of the emails, sometimes including a photo of the offense. “Please investigate and notify me of your findings and action taken.”

via RALEIGH: Raleigh councilman turns in neighbors under controversial parking ban | Wake County |

Vladimir Putin’s circle of fear

July 27th, 2014

I enjoyed this account of the current state of Russia’s political opposition.

The tragedy of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 has brought the conflict between Russia and Ukraine back into the headlines. This crisis, and the accompanying crackdown on domestic dissent in Russia, represents a new and frightening phase in a process that began 15 years ago: Vladimir Putin’s reversal of the freedoms Russia gained after the fall of communism in 1991 and the creation of a new authoritarian Kremlin regime.

Consider it a predictive metaphor for recent events in Russia, a quarter century after the country’s awakening from communism. The neo-authoritarian Kremlin regime of Vladimir Putin is squeezing the air out of the remaining pockets of dissent, cranking up the propaganda machine to Soviet levels, and setting up the conditions for a new Iron Curtain.

The spring of 2014 featured a high-water mark for Putin’s post-Soviet restoration, with its belligerent rejection of ‘‘Western values,’’ its confrontational stance toward NATO, and its aggressive claims towards former Soviet territories. As Komsomolskaya Pravda columnist Ulyana Skoibeda rhapsodised after the mostly unchallenged Russian annexation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, ‘‘It’s not about the Crimea coming back to us. It’s we who have come back. Home, to the USSR.’’

via Vladimir Putin's circle of fear.

BBC News – US says evidence shows Russia fired artillery into Ukraine

July 26th, 2014

While the United States government has been investing billions of dollars so it can listen to Grandma’s phone calls, Russia has been busy boosting its military and invading neighboring countries.

Hey, DoD, the threat is over THERE.

The US says it has evidence that Russia has fired artillery across the border targeting Ukrainian military positions.

Russia also intends "to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers" to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the state department said.

Russia has frequently denied sending any rocket launchers into Ukraine.

The US comment comes a week after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, with the rebels widely accused of shooting it down.

via BBC News – US says evidence shows Russia fired artillery into Ukraine.

Copious free time? What’s that?

July 24th, 2014

I’ve been burning the midnight oil on both ends lately. My new job is keeping me plenty busy (and engaged) but had led to several early Sunday mornings spent doing server maintenance. On top of that, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the Ligon PTA newsletter when the parent who had volunteered to do it declined at the last minute. Oh, and family life has also been squeezed in there whenever possible.

Don’t worry, I’ve been saving up a few things to say since then. I’ll get to posting them when I can.

Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn’t compete | Giles Parkinson | Comment is free |

July 9th, 2014


Last week, for the first time in memory, the wholesale price of electricity in Queensland fell into negative territory – in the middle of the day.For several days the price, normally around $40-$50 a megawatt hour, hovered in and around zero. Prices were deflated throughout the week, largely because of the influence of one of the newest, biggest power stations in the state – rooftop solar.

“Negative pricing” moves, as they are known, are not uncommon. But they are only supposed to happen at night, when most of the population is mostly asleep, demand is down, and operators of coal fired generators are reluctant to switch off. So they pay others to pick up their output.

That’s not supposed to happen at lunchtime. Daytime prices are supposed to reflect higher demand, when people are awake, office building are in use, factories are in production. That’s when fossil fuel generators would normally be making most of their money.

via Solar has won. Even if coal were free to burn, power stations couldn't compete | Giles Parkinson | Comment is free |

Segway Inventor Dean Kamen Thinks His New Stirling Engine Will Get You Off The Grid For Under $10K

July 9th, 2014

For the new issue of Forbes Magazine I wrote an article about David Crane, the visionary CEO of NRG Energy. When I met Crane for lunch a couple weeks ago, no sooner had we sat down than he began singing the praises of this new contraption he had in his basement. The machine — which can generate 10 kilowatts of continuous power, fed by Crane’s natural gas line — is a new iteration of an old creation, the Stirling engine. This version, called the Beacon 10, was created after a decade of engineering by famed inventor Dean Kamen.

With the Beacon 10, says Kamen, “you don’t have to feel guilty heating up the pool.” That’s because of the highly efficient nature of the Stirling engine. First conceived in 1816 by Scottish minister Robert Stirling, the device in its simplest form consists of applying an external heat source to a closed cylinder where the cyclical expansion and compression of air inside the cylinder drives the pistons up and down. Unlike your car, where fuel is combusted inside the engine, the Stirling is an external combustion engine; it can work with any external heat source.

via Segway Inventor Dean Kamen Thinks His New Stirling Engine Will Get You Off The Grid For Under $10K.