Category: Technology

UW Grad New CEO of Yahoo

Carol Bartz was named the new CEO of Yahoo! today, replacing Jerry Yang.  I know nothing about her, other than she’s a UW grad, which is good enough in my book!

Yahoo! faces huge challenges ahead and hopefully she can turn them around.
EDIT: My brother informs me that Bartz gave a guest lecture in one of his UW Computer Science classes this year and that she seemed smart and interesting.

How Much Pollution do your Google Searches Generate?

Alex Wissner-Gross, a physicist and owner of, claims that every two Google searches uses as much energy as boiling a kettle of water.   I have no idea if this is correct, but it seems very high to me.

Experts have also claimed that the Internet industry produces about as much carbon emissions as the aviation industry.  Server farms produce huge amounts of carbon because they are running 24/7 and have to handle huge amounts of calculations at all times.  
Wissner-Gross claims that Google is a big offender because of the way searches are handled.  When you submit a search, Google sends the information to multiple servers competing against each other for speed.  This procedure makes the site very fast, but wastes the server capacity for the requests that are not displayed to the searcher.
He has set up a website that allows companies to “make their sites carbon neutral.”  Its a similar idea to a company that two UW students have started: Powered Green.
Powered Green sells stickers to put on laptops that advertise that the computer is “Powered Green.”  The proceeds from the stickers fund alternative energy projects that offset the energy used over the life of the laptop.
I really like both of these ideas and it will be interesting to see if this type of personal environmentalism continues to catch even as the price of energy continues to crash.

Floating Plastic Island 2x the Size of USA

No, its not science fiction.

I just finished reading the Economist’s special report on the world’s oceans.  Its really good, worth the read, and best of all, its free on the Economist website.

One of the articles describes an area in the Pacific ocean 2x the size of the United States that is completely full of plastic.  Can you imagine walking across the USA, surrounded by plastic the entire time?  Apparently, water currents pull most of the world’s discarded plastic into this zone, creating a floating wasteland of plastic.  Another study found that for every square kilometer of ocean, there are 18,000 pieces of floating plastic.  Another found that the average Dutch seabird has 44 pieces of plastic in its stomach when it dies.
Check out the special report at

How Much Does it Cost?

Citizens for Responsible Government, a citizens’ action group based in Milwaukee, recently generated a searchable database for all of the expenses from the Milwaukee Public Schools.  It allows anyone with internet access to easily see how our tax dollars are being spent.

I would love to see a similar searchable database for all hospitals and doctors, listing what they charge for every procedure, office visit and drug.  Apparently there is a huge difference between one hospital and the next.  It would be great to allow people, especially those without insurance, to start to decide where they went for medical procedures at least somewhat based on price.