Mega Windmolens – The Making of a Mega Wind Turbine

I mentioned windmills, from looks to functionality, in a few posts already, but I never actually took a closer look, at a wind turbine. That amazing machine, which powers up our homes, in a very eco-friendly way, deserves to have its story out there.

We see them on the fields, turning gently in the wind, and they seem big, but not extremely big. Also, from a distance, not much seem to happen, but once you get closer, you realize how impressive the machines really are. From the sound they make, to the size, to the speed with which the blades turn, they surely leave an impression on us.

Coming back from a trip, I passed by a construction site. At a second glance, I’ve realized what was actually being built, were a few wind turbines. Because of the enormous size of the foundation, I couldn’t tell from the start what type of construction I was looking at, but after the first towers were up, it was pretty obvious: mega wind turbines.

Compared to the already existing large windmills (149 m height, 3.0 megawatts of power), the mega wind turbine (E-126), has the height of 198 m, and can generate up to 7.58 megawatts of power! Absolutely impressive size and power, and it definitely deserves the title of the World’s Largest and Most Powerful Wind Turbine! (or at least, for now)

The Towers, Foundation and Start of a Tower, and Metal Tower Sections

The Towers, Foundation and Start of a Tower, and Metal Tower Sections

Every tubular steel tower is made out of sections of 20-30 meters (with an increasing diameter towards the base of the tower, for strength reasons), with flanges at either end, so the sections can be bolted together. Each section is transported one half at a time, and then put together on the site.

Once the towers are in place, huge custom made trucks, which travel only during the night so they don’t affect the traffic (as sometimes they need to close entire roads, in order to move further on with the transportation), bring the gigantic blades to the location.

With the 127 m diameter rotor put together, cranes and quite a lot of man power, the blades and rotor make it to the top of the tower, and the windmill is finished and ready to start the job.

Wind energy definitely came a long way, in the past century, going from propelling boats, to pumping water, to producing only 12 kW, to powering entire cities. Scientists look constantly for more ways to improve the performance of this fascinating machines, and considering the latest wind turbine, I think they’re doing a pretty good job.

Since the first construction of such an impressive machine, in 2008, it is estimated that only twelve such wind turbines are enough to power approximately 50,000 homes with environmentally-friendly electricity. Now imagine making it global! With more and more wind farm being constructed, the future can look pretty green.

I don’t want to protect the environment.  I want to create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting.


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The Special Photograph

Cleaning a hard drive is an interesting and also exhausting experience. Besides finding all sort of files you have no clue about where did you got them from and what’s their use, you also come across hundreds of GB of data you definitely want to keep, organize and never lose. The closest files to our hearts, are definitely the personal pictures. Losing part of our photos is enough to make any grown man cry. Been there, done that, have the sad t-shirt.

Going through my picture archive made me realize that after the digital camera boom, we all have way too many tens of GB of pictures, from the past few years alone! Every trip, special or less special moment and event, are documented and are a priceless reminder of our past. We definitely don’t want to lose those.

Digital cameras and the evolution of storage options made holding on to beautiful memories so much easier for us. Pretty much every gadget you buy nowadays, which can be connected to the internet, is equipped with a camera. This gives us an insane mobility and the opportunity to turn every moment of the day in a photo / video diary, if that’s what we really want.

But, things weren’t always this way. Actually, the digital cameras weren’t around until the 1990s! Yes, we survived that far without them. And nowadays, we simply can’t imagine our lives without such a precious gadget.

Short history of cameras

Who remembers the film cameras? Oh yes, the good old film cameras, which only allowed you to click 36 pictures? Yep, only that … You don’t know that feeling? Try buying a single use camera, in case you’re looking for that unique experience, without spending too much money on buying an old film camera 🙂

The man we should thank for giving us the opportunity to immortalize a few moments from our before the 90s lives, is called George Eastman, the person who created a company called Kodak, in the 1880s, which started selling the first flexible roll film cameras. The buyer, after clicking the pictures would send the camera back to the factory for the film to be developed, much like the disposable cameras nowadays.

Oh and you think that’s bad? Let’s look even deeper into the history of the cameras.

Photography, in the form we know it today, started in the late 1830, in France, when Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a camera obscura to expose to light a pewter plate coated with bitumen which led to the creation of the Daguerreotype, the ancestor of modern film.

Emulsion plates replaced the Daguerreotype in the 1850s, using an emulsion process called(Collodion process), which involved a glass plate, much more sensitive to light.

In the 1970’s, the dry plates gave photographers much more freedom in taking photographs, as the plates could be stored and the cameras became much smaller. The last big step for this fascinating device, before the first film camera became part of our lives.

Evolution at its best, or what?

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Old baby photograph – Yep, that’s me 🙂

In the past, a photograph was a piece of art, a rare precious possession to cherish and pass from generation to generation. A camera was a very unusual object to be found in a house, and would be used only on special occasions. Every picture we clicked was so special to us, and even more, the preparations, surroundings, people and occasion made it rise to the level of worthy for immortality. Today, not so much.

We don’t have a lot of pictures from before the digital cameras era, but the ones we posses are definitely a small treasure. Something about the black and white pictures gives us a warm cozy feeling inside. Oh yes, the nostalgia for the good old days…

Nowadays, with the easy access to cameras, the value of pictures dropped down. We basically turned a form of art, into a common everyday action, we perform mechanically.

There’s nothing special anymore about the process of clicking photographs with our phones, tablets or digital cameras. I don’t know about you, but seeing a picture being clicked with a tablet, gives me the feeling of someone pointing a door at someone else. Not very attractive, in the least and definitely not a form of art.

It seems like the access to cameras mean access to more and more pictures, which have little to no value.This considered, how many pictures, are really special, and how many are just filling? Also, how many pictures can be considered pure art, and how many are useless in value?

How many true photographers are still out there? How many really appreciate and understand the evolution of this amazing piece of technology we carry along everywhere. And how many take photographs in that spirit of mind, giving the camera the respect it demands? I believe way too little…

The word goes around that all you need in order to become a photographer nowadays is a Facebook page with ‘Your Name‘ + the word ‘Photography’. Unfortunately, this is very true, as in many cases, every person with a fancy digital camera wants to believe in the: ‘I’m a photographer‘, which isn’t always true. The amount of work and dedication going into capturing that special photograph, is enormous, and not all of us are willing to invest that much time and energy into obtaining it.

Don’t you miss the film cameras? Not even a little bit? I sure miss the feeling an old camera gave me, in terms of appreciating the value of every frame immortalized. Film cameras made us so much more conscious about our surroundings and the true meaning of value. Even if digital cameras gave us the wings to fly, I wonder if they will ever rise to the level of the previous generation of cameras. Or, even better, if WE have what it takes to make the beautiful device get there.

We Don’t Control Technology. Technology Controls Us

At a first glance it might sounds silly, but every time I look around me, I can’t help but think it’s true, and it only gets worse by day. Think about it. You go to a restaurant and see a family or a group of friends, at the table, all on their tablets or smartphones, browsing the internet, not exchanging a single word during the entire meal. Later, they all pack their stuff, and leave. I always wonder why did they went out in first place and not stay locked in their rooms and chat via Facebook, while eating alone.

Visiting a new city / country often turns, for most people, into a quest to find a Wireless Network, just so they can talk to someone else, or update their Facebook status about the new ‘exciting’ location they are at. We are losing ourselves into the technology in our pockets and not living in the present day. The acute desire to always be connected and record every move we make, makes us forget to actually enjoy the moment, and be there, with the persons sitting next to us.

The social disease of recording our moves, checking-in from every location, posting pictures of the food we eat, and look in a certain way for the photos we ‘HAVE TO’ upload online, turns us into the slaves of the applications we’re using. Some people say: ‘I need to check-in now, because later it won’t be valid anymore.’ or my old time favorite: ‘I need to smile in a certain way, because otherwise I can’t post the pictures online.’. To whom are we trying to prove what, by acting in a way we are not, just for the sake of being connected, with some people we most of the time don’t even like? It seems like lately what’s more important than anything, is live to the expectations of a pretended life.

I don’t think, for most people, there’s anything more painful when going out into the real world, than the lack of internet connection or the ‘Low Battery’ warning. It makes me wonder, when and where do they actually live if they are so busy with technology all the time? They live on the social network or in the real life? Because most act like their life is over when the battery dies.

I believe we are missing on a lot, because of this kind of perspective on socializing… We have no idea how to enjoy a moment of silence in the nature, we can’t enjoy a peaceful meal with our loved ones, without obsessively check our phones every few minutes and posting a picture of the food on Instagram or Facebook, and we definitely don’t enjoy special moments in our lives, like birthdays, holidays, fireworks and so on, without letting go of reality, and moving ourselves into the piece of technology which has to record it all.

I find it particularly sad to know some people can’t spend a moment alone with their own thoughts, without playing loud music to push away loneliness, and without connecting to a social network, to scroll through other people’s lives. Is like we are trying to run away from … ourselves.

And what is so social about Facebook? What does it have so special that makes us give up the most beautiful application, REALITY, just to spend virtual time, with out eyes glued to a screen? Why are we so afraid of the Low Battery warning, when it actually means: ‘Why don’t you look around you and find someone real, to really talk to?‘. What makes us chose the pretended life of so many online ‘friends’ (who only wish you happy birthday because Facebook informs them to do so) over our real friends and family, sitting right next to us?

Such a beautiful world out there, and we push it away for a small box with a screen… Who controls who again?

Food Diary: Happy Chicken? – The Horrors Behind the Industry

We hear a lot of times the expression: “You are what you eat.”. Some of us have no idea how true this is. You have to see the growing up/old process as playing with Lego. You add more bricks everyday to the structure, and they have to be the right bricks, otherwise the whole construction will come to the ground.

You only get one body, one chance at being healthy. Everything you put into your body will eventually do you good, or wrong. It’s up to you to decide what’s best, and you can only do this if you know the whole story. This is why I find it very important to share a few thoughts on the truth behind the chicken industry, hoping you will find this article useful, and help you chose better next time you go out to eat/buy meat. It was extremely difficult for me to put all of these into words (it wasn’t done without a lot of tears), but shedding some light on the matter is much more important.

In the race towards producing more and cheaper food, we sometime forget the quality is what really matters, long term, and not the quantity. Here are the horrors which happen behind the scenes.

The chicken meat production

Let’s take a closer look at one of the most desired meat on the market: chicken. The chicken on the right is how the animal used to look like, 60 years ago. The one on the left is how chickens look today, a fast growing breed of chicken, which came into the picture after the war, as a cheap solution to bringing more meat into our homes.

Not so much of a difference? Look closer and you will see how deformed its legs are, and how overweight it is compared to the chicken on the right. Why? It’s easy. Selective breeding turned the chickens into food eating driven machines, with the ultimate goal of delivering the big, juicy chicken breast, we buy from the supermarkets.

Chicken nowadays grow larger and larger, and so fast ( with an insane average of 60 grams per day), that they can barely stand up. Actually, they are growing at a rate three times faster than they used to, 60 years ago, in only 35-39 days! Sounds like Sci-Fi, but it actually happens.

The unnatural growth rate of these chickens doesn’t come without a price, but it affects their bodies, especially their hearts, lungs and bones. Most of them never walk in their lives, lying in their own feces, with open sores and wounds. Remember ever buying a whole chicken and discover its legs are cut off or have black spots here and there? That’s because of the bone deformities and the ammonia from their own feces, which burns the skin on the legs.

What also doesn’t help is the crowded sheds in which the birds are kept. With very little movement space, up to 19 birds can live in a sqm! Without ever seeing the sun, and touching the grass, that’s a very short and miserable life for a bird, especially when the mortality rate is pretty high.

If they make it at the end of the 39 days alive, they are killed by electrocution, which makes the bird unconscious, followed shortly by a bloody process which is meant to terminate its life, process which I don’t even want to recall…

Battery eggs and the caged chickens

This industry is separate from the one in which the chickens are raised for meat, and it starts with the chicks, freshly hatched. The females are separated from the males, and after the males are discarded (gassed – a slowly and painful death, then chopped for future processing), the females are put into extremely small cages (around 4 in such a cage), with no room to move around, where they eat, drink, poop, lay eggs, for a year, in almost complete darkness, without ever seeing the sun, time in which they lose most of their feathers, because of the severe stress they are put through.

The eggs are taken out of the cages, wrapped nicely, and delivered to your supermarket, in a pretty box, with pictures of happy chickens on it. Anything but happy I must say…

After the year has passed, the quality and quantity of eggs drops down, so the chickens are considered useless for egg laying, and moved to yet another part of the meat industry, where they get slaughtered.

Some rescued such birds, living as family pets, being loved and cared for, live for 8-9 years. Makes you wonder: is this kind of treatment necessary? Why killing an animal after one year of abuse, when with better care, the animal could live so much longer, produce better quality eggs, and live a normal happy life?

How can we, the buyers, help?

It’s a very tricky question, with a very hard answer. Not buying meat from the supermarkets, unless we know where it comes from( know the animals were treated with respect), and turning towards home growing or buying locally, from farmers, might be a start.

Also, you can avoid buying eggs from chickens in cages, but that’s not all you have to be aware of. Most products you buy at the supermarket contain such eggs, and as the producers are not forced to write on the bottles/jars/bags where do the eggs come from, you will never know the true story behind what you are eating. Examples of such products: cookies, pastries, sauces, mayonnaise and the list goes on and on.

The fast food restaurants (KFC, McDonald’s and many others) are some of the biggest buyers of birds raised in such terrible conditions. The pink mass on the left is called goop (mechanically separated chicken – basically everything they can’t use to sell goes in here, including bones), and it’s what we call the yummy Chicken Nuggets. Doesn’t look that good, huh? Would you like to know the whole process behind it? Here’s how the specialists explain what’s going on before it reaches our plates:

Because it’s crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia, soaked in it, actually. Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color.

Even if the price of meat/eggs might be a bit higher in case of a chicken grown in normal conditions, I believe it’s worth it, in the end. Every cent paid extra, sustains the right type of industry. I don’t know about you but I care about the life of the animal and I want it to be treated with respect, and live a good life, even if its purpose in life is to end up on a plate.

And don’t believe chicken meat is the only one in such a situation. Not at all. Pink Slime sounds familiar? No? It’s a lean finely textured beef, added to ground beef as a filler or to reduce the overall fat content of ground beef. Heat and centrifuges are used, in order to separate the fat from the meat in beef trimmings and the resulting product is exposed to ammonia gas or citric acid to kill bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

Eating the meat or products coming from a stressed animal isn’t healthy for us as humans either. To make matters even worse, the combination of antibiotics, steroids, ammonia or acid which get injected into the animals, are transmitted to us, which makes our immunity system weaker by day.

In the end, we are what we eat. Treating an animal with respect, giving it a chance at a normal life, is what should define us as humans. This will be a small improvement in the life of the birds compared to the improvement in what we call humanity. That being said, go out there, ask questions, get informed, and choose right for both you and the animals!

How can I become YOU

You think I can’t, but I can, if I want to. Quite easily.

How?

Ask yourself the following question: How much information about yourself, your actions, passions, hobbies, location, preferences, friends, family and pets you put in the hands of strangers? None / Not much? Are you sure? … Very sure?

Think again!

Remember that night when you got drunk with your friends? Do you remember how many bottles of beer were on that table? Do you remember all the food you ate that night? What food was that? Remember that you talked with your best friend on the phone last month for quite a long time, on that specific day? Remember you went to that event a few years back? Remember the exact day when you ate that lunch with your colleague? What color was the paint of the restaurant wall? What was that document about, the one you emailed him/her?

You don’t remember all these details? Hmm…such a shame. I remember. I remember it all…

How?!

What happens on the internet, stays on the internet. You can delete it, sure, but I will still find it. Why? Because I want to be you.

Everything you type, send, receive, upload, download it’s stored on a server. Every move you make, is documented. EVERYTHING. Every email provider, browser, application, social network, bank and mobile internet provider have at least one. Every year the number of attacks the servers receive increases considerably. Very often we see articles on the internet about leaks from the database, of a specific company. This is why internet security is a very important part of every company/institution, and they all invest a lot of money into keeping their servers safe from such attacks.

But, what if someone finds a way around it? It happened before. What if someone gets their hands on every possible information available about you? What would they find out?

Through every information you type on a website, every action you take online, every file, photo, video you upload, you make identity theft easier, for someone who would want to do it. And this is not the only risk. The other risk is empowering someone who wants to hurt you, with all the information needed to do so. You give that person exact data about your location in real time, hobbies, likes, dislikes, friends, family, pets and so on. If they want to break into your apartment, they know when you are not there, or…are there. If they want to stalk you, you give them all they need.

Highly unlikely? They can’t know all this about you?

See if any of the below information rings a bell:

1. Email provider 

If you read this blog post, most likely you have at least one email address. You use it for work and to keep in touch with your friends and family. Just how much private information you include in the emails you send? Oh, you also keep a calendar on your email? What about contacts? Do you upload documents, or use Google docs to edit shared spreadsheets?

Normally, only you have access to the ones mentioned above. But, what if this changes? Who would benefit from the information you keep on your private account?

Could I use that information to get to your business partners, harm your friends, family or business? What about ruining your reputation or your relationships?

2. Google on your mobile phone?

Did you ever think it’s weird to be asked to sign in with your Google email account on your mobile phone? What can you do with an Android phone if you don’t sign in? You can pretty much only use it for calls. You can’t download applications and can’t use maps, navigators or others. Why? Who owns that phone you paid for, in the end? You can use the hardware only as long as you comply with the rules imposed by Google.

Every device you use, with a GPS incorporated, might be used both ways. You can find out your location, but so can others. People can track you down. This is the reason why some mobile applications were removed from Google Play store a while back ( best example is the app which allowed you to see where the ‘cute’ girls in your city are, in real time, directly from your mobile phone).

A new trend is to allow your phone in your life, even further. More and more phones help you keep track of your ‘health’. You basically let your phone count the number of steps you make everyday, write down every meal you eat, the sleeping schedule, the type of workout you prefer, the favorite jogging / cycling are in your city. Basically your phone knows all the time where you are in real time, when you are asleep or not, what you eat and when.

3. Facebook

The place where most of your friends are. Even if some of you are unhappy with this company, you don’t want to delete your account because it’s the easiest way to keep in touch with your friends. You want to show them pictures and videos from your trips, exchange pages, ideas, stories. But how private it’s what you say to them, even in private? What if that information leaks?

You liked that post? And that page? So you are from that city, went to school here, worked there and you are a person who likes dogs, a convinced vegetarian, you jog every morning, you cycle in that area, and you go out in this circle of friends.

What about those advertisements which pop random on the right side of the screen or in your news feed? How do they know you might click on that? Magic, huh? Not at all. Facebook uses your browsing history, your ‘Likes’ and location to show on the screen what you’d like to see. Even more, they use the pages you visited but never ‘Liked’

You get more spam in your email inbox lately? Selling your personal information(email), isn’t unusual. How do you think some online platforms survive? You configure your profile, and make it easier for them to send your email address to the right companies, which sends back to you what you might be interested in.

You feel the need to check-in, post pictures and other information about yourself? Who owns that information you post online? Anything you post can end up in the wrong hands. Picture this: someone wants to ‘become you‘. They will make an effort to look like you, steal your personal data ( hobbies, likes, dislikes), and pretend to be you. You give them all the tools needed in that sense. They will be able to answer any question about you, after going through your private messages, pages, groups, apps, interests, friends and pictures. Remember those security questions your answered a while back? (‘What’s your mothers maiden name?’). Easy information.

4. Phone Company

You text, you delete the text from your phone, and it’s gone? You call, hang up, and no recording of your conversation will be kept? Are you that sure? Didn’t it ever happen to hear a broken recording tape sound when talking on your phone? Neither hearing other voices during your phone call?

They phone companies can record and store all your conversations and texts. They do store all your voicemails and, by law, they have to store the ‘meta data’.

More than this, they know where you travel. How? When you move from one point to another in the country or abroad, your are switched from one cell to another. This is not only a way to find out where YOU are, but also to find out WHO ELSE you travel with.

5. Your Bank

Did you ever got a phone call from a guy talking very fast: “Hello, I am a broker and I want to talk to you about this investment … ” ? Where did he got your phone number from? How does he know you’ve received a transfer and you posses cash in your account? Only your bank has access to that information, right? Or, do they?

Have you ever watched missing persons documentaries? Someone interested in this, can find out exactly how much you’ve spent, where you’ve been and when, by looking at your bank statements, since the beginning of the bank account to the present day. If someone is really interested in ‘meeting’ you, they can notice a certain pattern in your spending ( e.g. shopping for food every Saturday morning, at X Supermarket) and also keep track of what you buy! At some point Target congratulated a teen-age lady on her pregnancy, before her parents knew about it. Impossible? It happens all the time.

Now, with the internet banking becoming more and more popular, the risk of your banking information ending in someone else’s hands, it’s even higher.

If I want to become you, I can read all your emails, know your history, your work, your thoughts and I can use all that information to harm you. I can persuade you or people, to give me access to your bank statements, phone records, texts, conversations, by creating and using an invented scenario that increases the chance to divulge information or perform actions that give me access to what I want to know.

If you don’t give me the information, I can simply take it away from you. I can just burn a CD, containing a malware, write on it “Executive Salary Summary – year X”, and leave it at your work place, somewhere where I know you find it. You wouldn’t resist the temptation to check it out, right? The malware would be unknowingly installed by you, likely giving me unfettered access to your PC and information.

With the right skills, your personal data might end up on the wrong hands. Even if every company mentioned above state they are careful with your data, most of them are, but in the same time, some might make you think they are careful, and sale your information to whom might benefit them.

I believe the scenarios mentioned above aren’t far away from reality, but they are the actual reality.

We trust our computers and phones with a lot of personal information, which can be used in our detriment in case they end up in the hands of other people. As long as the companies you trusted your personal data with are safe or ‘good guys’, you are safe. But what if they stop being good guys, who owns the information you post online? What if they get hacked? What if you give away the access by mistake? Ask yourself, what could they find out about you, if all of the above would be revealed? Would you still be safe?

You still believe I can’t become YOU?

Back to the Past – Journey Through Time

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the pictures below, I can see the past and the present blending right in front of my eyes.

DSC_1549

Even if after the first glance you might believe there’s no place for such a device, in the present, think again. Evolving from a generous size box, to a brick, to a mobile brain, you are looking at the ancestor of your smartphone. Hard to believe, especially for the younger generations, as we are used with our phone doing a whole lot more than just phone calls. Besides this, we can’t imagine not having our own, personal one. Does any of you remember the times when you had to call your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s house, and one of the parents would answer the phone? You were facing the hardest decision of your life: hang up or blabber your way through the conversation 🙂 Sure our current day phones tend to be a bit more ‘supportive’ and flexible in this sense.

DSC_1552Seeing this typewriter projected me into the moment of the first document I’ve ever typed. Even if I was only 5 years old, I still remember using it. Putting the few words I knew how to write back then, on a piece of paper, was an extraordinary experience!

Typewriters have come a long way over the past couple of centuries. At one point, the keyboard got separated from the printer, so the typewriter was split into two completely different devices. Nowadays we are used to a smaller size keyboard (no offence to the typewriter) which makes less noise, and a separate printer. Yes, the typewriter is the modern day printer and keyboard, combined. Hard to tell when we are used to keyboards which can now be folding, water-proof, thumb-sized (for mobile devices) and virtual (touch-screen). Now that’s what I call evolution!

DSC_1548Before the manufacturing of the first sewing machine, clothes were expensive to make because of the amount of time invested into sewing all the pieces of fabric together. During the Victorian era, sewing machines became a very common device into every household, and slowly spread in every corner of the world. Since then, electric machines appeared, with a motor strapped on the side, and later on, computer controlled machines, which made easier the mass production of clothes, all around the world.

Such beautiful pieces of technology, taken on a crazy journey through time, changed to adapt to our needs. Don’t believe even for one second that there’s no place for them in the present, because they are everywhere around us. You are looking at a few pillars of the society we live in today!