Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi

Folding Plug

Via Dezeen

Min-Kyu Choi has designed a beautiful solution to a fairly complex problem. He has managed to create a plug for the UK three-pin plug system that folds flat. Even more impressive, the plug can be used while folded flat, so he also created a hub that can power three flat plugs at once. You can check out more photos and descriptions at Dezeen, and the head to Min-Kyu Choi’s personal website.

Folding Plug Unfolded

Samsung’s Solar Cell Phone

That title has some nice alliteration doesn’t it? For the past few years I’ve had this goal in the back of my mind to take at least one of my electronic devices completely off the grid. Optimally, a solar charger for something like my laptop or cellphone. While such chargers do exist, they just haven’t been practical or cost effective enough for me to make the jump. (5.5 years of college didn’t lend itself to experimental spending either)

Samsung Blue Earth Phone

Samsung is delivering a device with the potential to prove the practicality of a device that can exist completely off the grid. Their “Blue Earth” phone is a touch screen phone with a solar cell on the back, taking up nearly all of the surface area on the back of the device. Samsung has really pushed the “green” theme far on this one. If the name isn’t enough, there’s also a calculator that will help you figure out what quanitity of resources you’ve conserved through your actions. Beyond superficial names and questionably gimicky applications, Samsung has made a serious step toward conservation by making the phone’s casing out of recycled plastic bottles, and they ship the phone in completely recycled paper packaging.

I hope that this concept doesn’t die with this model. I’d love to see effitient solar panels popping up on the backs of all sorts of devices. (Can I get one on a laptop lid please?) It’d be great to be able to set my phone face-down on the table on a coffee shop patio and get a little charge boost.

The Samsung Blue Earth phone will be shown February 16th at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

(via Inhabitat Blog and BusinessWire)


SmartSleep for Mac Notebooks

I’ve always loved the nearly-instantaneous sleep feature of Mac notebook computers. If I needed to get up and go with my 12″ Powerbook G4, I could snap the lid shut and throw it into my bag. Recently I grabbed a new Macbook Pro, and noticed that the computer didn’t go into sleep instantly. Instead, the computer was writing RAM to the hard drive, a process called hibernation, which kept the system’s state safe in the event of power failure (your battery dies, or you swap it out for a new one). This is a great feature, but I don’t have a secondary battery to swap, and I was getting tired of closing the lid and waiting for the white light to start pulsing. If you don’t wait for the light to pulse, then you’re moving the computer while the hard drive is active, and you risk damaging the drive. The sudden motion sensor (SMS) is active while the machine is in use, but apparently isn’t active during this hibernation process.

I can across this great blog post by David Alison describing the situation and showing a quick terminal command you can use to disable the hibernation mode. After running the command, shutting the lid on the notebook will skip dumping RAM to the hard drive, and will just instantly sleep. I was hessitant though, because if you don’t hibernate and your battery dies while the machine is asleep, you lose your system’s state. Also, if I bought a second battery, would I remember to hunt down the terminal command and reverse the setting? I’d also be losing the instant sleep state again.

Thankfully Jeremiah posted a link to SmartSleep in the comments of David’s blog. SmartSleep is a preference pane that lets you turn on and off hibernation (writing RAM to disk) with a drop down menu. It also features a mode called SmartSleep, where the computer will hibernate if the battery is below a certain threshold of charge, but otherwise sleep will be instant. Perfect!

If you’re a Macbook user and you want instant sleep, grab a copy of SmartSleep for yourself.


Toyota Adding Solar Panels to Prius Hybrid

Reuters is reporting that Toyota is going to add solar panels, produced by Kyocera Corp, to the roof of their Prius Hybrid cars. The panels will be on the top of the line models, and will work toward powering the air conditioner. While it’s not powering the whole car, I do imagine that it could contribute quite a bit of power to the system as a whole. It’s the first time, that I know of, that solar panels have been commercially integrated into a production vehicle by the manufacturer. I’d love to see them add the ability to switch the power over to charging outlets for cell phones and other devices when the A/C isn’t in use, or to have it contribute to the main power cells.

Read the whole story here at

I’ve been on the look out for some reasonably priced solar panels that I could use to charge a device. I’d like to try taking a device like my phone or laptop completely off the grid, only charging it with solar power. If you know of any good solar units for something like that, I’d appreciate any help there.

Via: Don (aka: Beebowallace) through Google Reader Shared Items

SunTable – Solar Power Table

Sun Table

We could be on the verge of an energy crisis… Oil just hit $100 a barrel (a combination of increased world-wide demand, and the declining value of the US Dollar I believe) so alternative energy sources are becoming more and more important. Solar seems like a no-brainer to me. We have all of this energy bombarding us every day, and it’s a shame that we don’t capture more of it. The SunTable looks like a cool concept for a small patio or deck.

There’s certainly no shortage of solar panels of various shapes and sizes that’ll let you charge and use your various gadgets outdoors, but those looking for a slightly more permanent solution now have a new option to consider courtesy of the folks at Sudia Design Labs, which recently introduced its appropriately-named SunTable. In addition to comfortably sitting six people, it’s able to provide up to 150 watts of power and recharge fully in just three hours of direct sunlight. To make use of all that juice, the table also comes with an inverter to let you plug in a laptop or other device and, naturally, it includes some LEDs to inform you of its status. As you might have guessed, however, that convenience comes at quite a cost ($3,600), and you’ll have to act fast, as there’s only fifty of the tables up for grabs, with ’em set to start shipping on March 15th.


Price is a bit prohibitive for all but the wealthy right now, but solar panel efficiency and product is getting better all the time, so I hope that some day soon this concept will be only marginally more expensive than a standard table.

To move the discussion a bit broader, I have been wondering about solar power generation a lot lately. The sun sends this energy to the planet constantly, and a solar panel can grab some of it and turn it into power. However, considering the law of conservation of energy, would this affect the environment at all? It seems that less energy would be reflected back into our atmosphere, into space, or into the ground. Are solar panels just at a scale small enough that the environment would never be affected?