Zero-Emission Wave-Generated Energy and Desalinated Water are Happening in Australia

On February 18th, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Minister for Industry and Science (Ian Macfarlane) officially switched on the Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project's onshore power station, the first renewable energy source the country has ever utilized, according to a press release. It is said to create enough energy to power 200,000 homes while also generating desalinated water from the ocean. And the whole system operates without creating emissions…

At the exact same time next week I’ll be at the Sumburgh Airport, located on the South side of the Shetland Islands, in Scotland. There, during a whole week, I’ll be pursuing Onshore Daylight, the series I started last year during the exact same week. I was on Islay Island, in Scotland too. The picture above is from this actual series. 

If you want, you can have a look at it on my website

Knowing What to Outsource

Knowing what to outsource may seem like common sense to someone on the outside of a business. For those who are in it and have juggled everything from sales, marketing, to accounting, it isn’t quite so simple. It is hard to step away and make the right strategic decision.

We have multiple blog posts about outsourcing business functions you either:

  1. do not have the expertise to perform yourself, or
  2. do not want to incur the direct and indirect costs in maintaining internally.

The infographic below from HowToGetFocused.com is a great, simple tool to walk you through the decision-making process of outsourcing the right functions if you need help. Don’t forget, once you have made the decision you need for force yourself to take the actions needed to implement the outsourced solution if you are to free up time and resources to grow your business.

Although we like this little diagram, it is of course simplified, so keep that in mind. For example, if you own a software company and are doing the accounting because you have “time” and “want” to do it, that does not mean you should. Obviously, your time would be better spent on ensuring you have a quality product and your customers are happy.

The lesson here is to think about your business in its functional parts and run through this decision process now and on a regular basis as you grow.

Design for Future Machines/

"Countries trying to understand what’s next for their export industries often call Ricardo Hausmann. The Harvard economist and onetime planning minister for Venezuela has developed a kind of economic aptitude test for nations. Using complexity theory and trade data, Hausmann looks at what a country is good at making and predicts what types of more valuable items it could produce next…

"The U.S. has very, very high wages compared to other countries. Yet it also has a comparative advantage, which is deep knowledge, high R&D intensity, and the best science and technology base in the world.

The step that makes the most sense for the U.S. is to become the producer of the machinery that will power the next global manufacturing revolution. That is where the most complex and sophisticated products are, and that is the work that can pay higher wages…

My guess is that developments around information technology, 3-D printing, and networks will allow for a redesign of manufacturing. The world will be massively investing in it. The U.S. is well positioned to be the source of those machines. It can only be rivaled by Germany and Japan.”

(via Technology Review)

Green Toys Inc.: Reverse Globalisation

"You can’t be green if you’re shipping from China," said von Goeben in an interview with the SF Gate, the web-based subdivision of the San Francisco Chronicles.

The article commends Green Toys Inc. for “keeping the business local.” Reverse globalisation is becoming the trend for businesses with the aim to increase their efficiency while reducing their carbon footprints.

Keeping the supply chain local is part of a new trend called onshoring, [or reverse globalisation], a push back against the offshoring and outsourcing that has sent jobs and manufacturing overseas, and gobbled up fossil fuels. 

Green Toys Inc. has proven that reverse globalisation is the perfect model, especially for small firms like themselves. If needed, they can easily hop over from the company’s small San Francisco office to the various facilities that participate in the production process. In addition, they can have more flexibility with the production. 

Last Christmas, when one customer sold out of Green Toys products in early December and ordered more ASAP, the company was able to ramp up and churn out the toys in just eight days. Overseas shipping would have added weeks to the turn-around time. 

Green Toys Inc.’s practice of reverse globalisation embraces the idea of sustainable development. In addition to cutting back on the carbon emission and fossil fuel usage, promoting onshoring would promote a healthy growth for the local economy. As for the social equity aspect, Green Toys Inc. contracts with the Work Center, a human services agency based in San Mateo, California, to assemble its toys. The Work Center provides vocational training for individuals who are disabled, have mental illness, or have other challenges that have made it difficult for them to succeed in a traditional work setting. Green Toys Inc. provides them with opportunity to work, which benefits the overall quality of the community. 

Cheers to sustainability! 


More than nature is represented in the prepared skinof a pink fairy armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) collected by the naturalist Louis Agassizin Mendoza, Argentina, in 1872. It recalls a deep-sea dredging expeditionaround South America on the steamship Hassler in 1871-72. Led by Agassiz and chronicled by his wife [Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, also a naturalist, and the first president of Radcliffe College], the expedition sampled life at the sea bottom and onshore, looking in part for evidence that Agassiz hoped would refute Darwin’s theory of evolution. … [This] specimen is a portal not only into natural history but also human history.

Agassiz’s pink fairy armadillo is an example of the objects that are featured in Tangible Things: Making History through Objects, an exploration of various collections from Harvard University that presents an innovative new framework for thinking about museums.

Photograph by Samantha van Gerbig. Do not use without permission.

Apple is under so much pressure in Washington over its offshore cash that it’s doing things it almost never does. CEO Tim Cook is coming to Washington to testify in front of a panel of senators about stashing more than $100 billion overseas, rather than sending a lower-level executive. He will offer Congress Apple’s ideas for comprehensive…

Liking the new flavor of interaction with the outside world we’re seeing in Apple these days. Tim Cook is making some very positive changes to the company - onshoring mac production being the coolest!

Manufacturing Leaving China?

The Atlantic recently published an article about General Electric moving its appliance manufacturing operations back to the States from China. A great (and lengthy) article, it highlights some of the challenges businesses are facing in China.

For much of the past decade, General Electric’s storied Appliance Park, in Louisville, Kentucky, appeared less like a monument to American manufacturing prowess than a memorial to it. The very scale of the place seemed to underscore its irrelevance. Six factory buildings, each one the size of a large suburban shopping mall, line up neatly in a row. The parking lot in front of them measures a mile long and has its own traffic lights, built to control the chaos that once accompanied shift change. But in 2011, Appliance Park employed not even a tenth of the people it did in its heyday. The vast majority of the lot’s spaces were empty; the traffic lights looked forlorn.

Yet this year, something curious and hopeful has begun to happen, something that cannot be explained merely by the ebbing of the Great Recession, and with it the cyclical return of recently laid-off workers. On February 10, Appliance Park opened an all-new assembly line in Building 2—largely dormant for 14 years—to make cutting-edge, low-energy water heaters. It was the first new assembly line at Appliance Park in 55 years—and the water heaters it began making had previously been made for GE in a Chinese contract factory.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Ronnie Polidoro for NBC’s Rock Center:

In an exclusive interview with Brian Williams airing tonight at 10pm/9c on NBC’s “Rock Center,” Apple CEO Tim Cook announced one of the existing Mac lines will be manufactured exclusively in the United States next year. Mac fans will have to wait to see which Mac line it will be because Apple, widely known for its secrecy, left it vague. Cook’s announcement may or may not confirm recent rumors in the blogosphere sparked by iMacs inscribed in the back with “Assembled in USA.”

“We’ve been working for years on doing more and more in the United States,” Cook told Williams. It was Cook’s first interview since taking over from his visionary former boss, Steve Jobs, who resigned due to health reasons in August 2011. Jobs died on October 5, 2011, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Barring some unforeseen disaster, I would expect to see the manufacturing of just about everything Apple makes get onshored in the next decade. Tim Cook isn’t any happier when preordered devices have to come all the way from China than Apple’s customers are.

Also interesting:

What’s next for Apple? Did Cook leave us with a clue?

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook told Williams. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Maybe 2013 will be the Year of Gaming on the Apple TV. (Sooner or later I’m going to be right about this.)

Siemens Exec On Why It Built A Plant In Charlotte

“A lot of things that were offshored in the past were offshored because of lower-cost labor, but that’s no longer the most important factor,” said Eric Spiegel, president and chief executive of Siemens’s U.S. subsidiary. “The reasons you bring a plant like this to the United States are higher-skilled labor, access to the world’s best research and development, and good, sound infrastructure.”


Waterspouts aren’t quite tornadoes - tornadoes are driven by shearing, high-speed winds, while waterspouts are driven by warm, moist air at the ocean surface that rises. Since rising air will always have some spin to it, the rising column of air will start spinning, creating a waterspout. This is stellar video of a waterspout coming onshore in Brazil - the waterspout hits shore, loses its supply of warm air from the ocean, and dies out pretty quick, but definitely scared a lot of people.