Living off the grid is illegal in Cape Coral, Florida, according to a court ruling Thursday.

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that the city’s codes allow Robin Speronis to live without utility power but she is still required to hook her home to the city’s water system. Her alternative source of power must be approved by the city, Eskin said.

As previously reported in Off The Grid News, Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November when a code enforcement officer tried to evict her from her home for living without utilities. The city contends that Speronis violated the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid.

“It was a mental fistfight,” Speronis’ attorney Todd Allen said of Eskin’s review of his clients’ case. “There’s an inherent conflict in the code.”

Part of the conflict: She must hook up to the water system, although officials acknowledge she does not have to use it.

Speronis told Off The Grid News in February she hopes to win her case and set a precedent for others in her situation. After court Thursday, Speronis told Off The Grid News that she actually won on two of three counts, although she acknowledged her legal battle is far from over.

“But what happens in the courtroom is much less important than touching people’s hearts and minds,” she said. “I think that we are continuing to be successful in doing just that and I am so pleased — there is hope! [Friday] morning, as I took my two hour walk, there was a young man, unknown to me, who drove by me, tooted his horn and said, ‘Robin, congratulations on your victory yesterday, keep up the fight and God bless you.’ That is beautiful.”

Eskin spent several hours reviewing the case and admitted that the code might be obsolete, the local Press-News newspaper reported.

“Reasonableness and code requirements don’t always go hand-in-hand … given societal and technical changes (that) requires review of code ordinances,” Eskin was quoted as saying.

Eskin’s remarks indicate that he views the code as both obsolete and unreasonable and in need of change. Yet he felt he had to enforce it.

In most of the country — including major cities like Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, and Denver — there is only one major cable provider, which happens to be Comcast. In many of these markets, much smaller providers do, in fact, exist around the edges of the dominant company. “Standard Oil did the same thing,” Crawford said during a lecture last fall at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, where she recently joined the board of directors. “You let a little bit of competition exist so you can point to it and say ‘Ha, we’re competing!’ But otherwise it’s mostly controlled by one company.”

East Harlem, NYC: Protest against Con Edison and the city’s racist neglect that led to deadly building explosion, March 23, 2014.

Rally and march in support of the people of East Harlem and against the racist neglect of Con Edison. The lack of infrastructure upgrades caused a gas leak and the explosion of two buildings that killed eight people and injured more than 50.

Photos and report by Brenda Sandburg

Winter is coming!  So I thought I’d generate some maps on how people heat their houses. The top map shows the balance between electricity and gas, which are by far the most common heating methods. Gas values include both utility-provided gas and non-utility gas (e.g., bottles, tanks). The scale shows how many times more households use a given method. For example, the darkest purple shade means a county has at least seven times more houses heated by electricity than gas. The lightest orange shade signifies a county where more households use gas, but there are fewer than twice as many gas users as electricity users. The trend in this map is quite clear – the Northwest and Southeast tend to use electricity, while the rest of the country relies on gas.

The second map shows the plurality (most common, but not necessarily the majority) heating method for each county. The vast majority of counties use gas or electricity as the dominant heating method. However, in the Northeast, fuel oil/kerosene is the mode choice. In some western counties, burning wood is the most common heating method. Finally, in Hawaii, most households don’t have any heating method installed.

Data source: (Table B25040)

'The Hanaga Tap Nose Outlet' from ekoD Works, a small design firm that’s known for coming up with cheeky designs for everyday use objects. This one turns your two-pronged wall outlet into a nose, and you’ll be sticking in plugs into the nostrils.

When I got up at 7 a.m. the outside temp was -14F here on the east side of Detroit. Birmingham, AL, was 8 degrees. My heart breaks for everyone who does not have proper shelter and heat. It is a crime against humanity!!! This is why I fight.
—  Kris Hamel via Facebook

"My photo is the full moon over Holguin, Cuba in November. Note the lights in the city. How can Cuba — a poor country, economically blockaded by U.S. imperialism — have the darn lights on when Detroit and cities across this country can’t light the streets and homes are dark? Maybe we should ask Cuba."

Cheryl LaBash via Facebook

The top lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission confirmed on Tuesday that the regulator is considering treating cable companies like utilities as it fights off a wave of protest over the future of the internet.

In a live chat on Twitter, Gigi Sohn, the FCC senior counsel for external affairs, said the regulator’s “open internet” proposals, to be published on Thursday, will seek comment on whether broadband internet access should be treated in the same way as electricity, telephone calls or water, where consumers have equal access to the same service.

Sohn’s comments give the clearest indication yet about how the FCC is proposing to rewrite the rules on broadband access in the US, following a January court defeat in a case involving Verizon that challenged its powers to regulate the web.

“Chairman knows free market won’t protect open internet. That’s why he’s proposing new #FCCNetNeutrality rules – none exist today,” wrote Sohn, as thousands of Twitter users bombarded her with questions.

The FCC has faced a mounting backlash from consumer groups and tech firms after chairman Tom Wheeler appeared to signal he was preparing to formalise the creation of a “fast-lane internet” for those able to pay for it. Wheeler has denied that is his intention, but critics charge he has signalled the end to “net neutrality” – the principle that all traffic online is treated equally.

Sohn said the FCC was looking at two legal options for protecting an open internet. The first is Title II of the Communications Act, which would regulate companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to “common carrier” rules.
SwiftKey Keyboard - SwiftKey

SwiftKey Keyboard
Genre: Utilities
Release Date: September 17, 2014

SwiftKey Keyboard for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch is a smart keyboard that learns from you, replacing your device’s built-in keyboard with one that adapts to the way you type. The app learns your writing style to give you super-accurate autocorrect and intelligent next-word prediction, reducing keystrokes and getting smarter over time. SwiftKey Keyboard is loaded with features to make typing even easier, including multilingual typing and speedy swipe typing with SwiftKey Flow.

SwiftKey learns your writing style to predict your next word with uncanny accuracy. Autocomplete a whole word with a single tap, instead of typing letter by letter.

Say goodbye to typos with autocorrect based on your personal writing style. SwiftKey even inserts missed spaces for you.

Choose a different way to type by sliding from letter to letter with SwiftKey Flow.*

Type in up to two languages at once, without changing any settings.

Sign up for SwiftKey Cloud to make SwiftKey even smarter in just seconds.

SwiftKey Keyboard for iPhone & iPad supports the following languages:
English (UK, US, AUS, CA)
Portuguese (PT, BR)
French (FR, CA)
Spanish (ES, USA, LATAM)

Supports iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices running iOS 8 and above.
*SwiftKey Flow is currently only available on iPhone and iPod touch.
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