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Think back to yesterday.
-How many times did you do something that triggered the flow of electrical current?
-How would your day have been different if you'd only had half that number of activations available to you? (you do get to choose which ones you would have dropped)

--------
For the sake of the thought experiment, consider only first-order events: Pressing a button on the microwave counts, but the microwave then turning on both the emitter and the plate spinning motor don't.

Also treat individual triggers as distinct events: Dialling a phone number counts as seven (or 10, or however many digits you dialled) events, not one.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foms.livejournal.com
Where *did* I put that key-logger?

Ask someone who keeps those aspects of the jewish sabbath rules.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
I'm not asking for a precise figure here :)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eavanmoore.livejournal.com
I did a lot of things repeatedly yesterday -- opened and closed the laptop many, many times (don't know if that counts); dialed the same number twice just to check I'd heard the automated info right the first time; probably heated something up in the microwave, found it didn't heat well enough, and punched in more minutes.

If my button-pushing were limited, I would have done everything much more carefully and thoughtfully than the first time. Probably would have overkilled on the microwave; would have listened carefully to the phone message or even just waited for the same info to come in the mail.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 06:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dagibbs.livejournal.com
So, does every key press on a keyboard count? How about every release? Every mouse movement, how many times does it move? Hm... every gate opening & closing in a computer from the logic from a program I wrote? I have a hard problem deciding what is/isn't a first-order event. If I'm speaking on a phone... each word? each syllable? Or, do I have to know the sampling rate of the A2D convertor to know how many "ons" I've done? Cause, each of those is a first-order event equivalent to touching a digit, but they have huge numbers of cascade events as that information travels across the world.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
You've pushed me into territory I haven't considered, clearly. Of course, keyboard inputs are read not just on keypress but on release too. With mouse movements, we get into polling. I should've stayed the hell away from always-on devices :)

But your very questions prove my (hitherto-unstated) point: Electricity is such an everpresent -- yet transparent -- part of our existence that we aren't even aware of when we're making use of it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dagibbs.livejournal.com
Yup, our modern technology runs on electricity. Maybe I'm close enough to the devices, but I do find I tend to have an awareness of its presence and use.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
Does this awareness extend to specific cases of it being used? I'm aware in general that electricity is indispensible, but I find that there's more of an impact to think of a concrete example and see how my daily life would change if in that specific context, my use of electricity was rationed.

I'm not so much focusing on energy efficiency and conservation but on the impact electricity has on my/our life.

To me, it's interesting to try this with areas one doesn't commonly notice or consider. If you're too aware of electricity for this to be interesting, try it with molybdenum.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 02:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dagibbs.livejournal.com
Rationing is an odd way of looking at it from the "initializations" concept. Since rationing is generally done from the total-consumption, so we'd have to consider how much electricity is used for each activation. Some (say turning on the oven to bake a roast) would consume a lot more for one activation than others (say pressing a key on a keyboard).

Now molybdenum I'd have to do a whole bunch of research.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
Here's my rationale: In many cases, from the end-user's perspective there is no discernible difference between two devices with similar functionality but different power consumption levels.

Long-term, power consumption becomes a factor in the choice since the user has to pay for it. But when considering immediate usage, I don't believe that enters into consideration.

Though again, I want to reiterate that this isn't an exercise in energy conservation awareness. It's more akin to vulnerability analysis: How many of the things you do are dependent on electricity?

While I could have asked what your day would have looked like without *any* electricity, the answer would be too extreme to really be of value. When faced with rationing instead, I think people are more likely to also consider the value they place on their various activities. Which to me is a worthwhile goal in and of itself.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 06:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
But if you'd asked what the day looks like without electricity, then at least it is a sensible question.

During thunderstorm season, the power often goes out. Middle of the day, night time, odd and unpredicted times. And at that time, *nothing* that gets powered by the house current is an option. No desktop computer. No microwave. No lights. No laundry.

If I had a home generating system that made a certain amount of electricity, then I'd have to pick by consumption. Computer yes. Dryer no. Use the oven but it means giving up some other things to "pay" for it. Use the microwave when possible instead of the oven.

Suggesting that pushing a phone button 10 times has any meaning at all?

And to what end? Are we imagining moving into a civilization where we don't use electricity? It's the best invention we've made, and it's simple enough to use on a household scale - generation, wiring, and use.

You can "cheat" and cook your food on a barbeque and eat your dinner by candlelight, put a few logs in the fireplace to heat yourself. But electricity is much more efficient and less polluting than burning things, so we don't want to go there large-scale and full time.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
I'm sorry my question caused you such great personal offense.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 09:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
Not offense.

Great frustration.

I don't know what you are asking and why when I say sensible things you say, "no not that" and when I ask for clarification I get none.

I don't like this feeling of not knowing what's going on. I like discussion. I don't like questions that look like they're in English and then when I try to join the discussion I get the feeling I'm a dumb little girl who doesn't understand the grownups.


(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-10 02:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foms.livejournal.com
I think that your points are well-considered but that some of them are presented as though you lack a basic understanding of the workings of some of the pieces of equipment that you mention. That's fine. I have only a basic understanding of a lot of it, myself. Your points are still valid as examination of the logic behind the question.

When you said that electicity is more efficient and less polluting than burning things, I stopped and thought about it. It is and it isn't, depending on how one looks at it. Electricity is made by burning something, directly or indirectly (and there can be a lot of layers of indirectness). Most often, in what we call developed countries, electricity is generated by burning coal or oil. There is some electicity generated by burning atoms (nuclear) and some by falling water (which is, at base, burning the sun -- though the sun will burn, anyhow). Eventually, it all comes down to suns (stars) burning but that's probably beside the point.

The question of what methods of generating (and then using) electricity are the most efficient is one I think about a bit, as is the one about what methods are least polluting. I end up thinking about how much energy it takes to get the materials to build the equipment that we use to generate electricity, in addition to the energy to find, retrieve, process/transform, and transport the raw materials (e.g. coal, oil, uranium) to the generating place and the efficiency of their conversion to electricity and how much that part pollutes and then how much electricity is lost in transporting it to where we use it (this is why people often seem to look at me funny when I talk about electric cars).

You may know most or all of in the last two paragraphs. I may have missed some of your points, entirely. I can't tell by reading what you've written. When you say that your telephone doesn't stop working when your household electrical service does, when you say that electicity is more efficient and less polluting than burning things, when you say that your telephone does not plug into the wall, I pause and reread because these things seem not to be so, to me, and I want to understand what you mean by saying them.

I think that the question may be better put by counting the number of different items that are activated by electricity one uses in a given day (and how many times one uses each and maybe by rating the importance of each one). There are nuances of Icedrake's question that are still unclear to me. I think that he is proposing the question not in hope of direct answers but as thought experiment to encourage us to think about the subject and report back to him.

I'm not sure that I understand whether it is important to him whether we (hypothetically) count the number individual presses of buttons rather than the number of times that we use pieces of electrically-powered equipment (counting multiple uses of the same piece of equipment in a given day). That is (I think) what you and Dagibbs and I have been trying to get at. I'm interested in more about how the molybdenum alternate question works, too.

My interpretation is that Icedrake's question is closely related to yours about what a day would look like without electricity. Your example of outages work fairly well for that (leaving aside the telephone exception). I think that his is more about a magical event in which unexplainable powers enforced on us that we were only allowed a certain number of “activations” per day, regardless of how much electricity each one used. How would that change our usage patterns and how does thinking about that question affect how we think about electricity use?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-10 03:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
I'm sorry for not providing clarification. Your very first comment came across as very aggravated, and I was taking my time thinking through the reply so as to not cause further conflict. That was the reason for the delay. I had an easier time answering other people, and since you then replied within those threads, I took it to mean you also saw my explanations, which addressed some, though possibly not all, of your questions.

You interpreted the meaning of "uses electricity" very narrowly, which I think is where much of the misunderstanding stems from -- I was treating all sources, whether battery, grid, solar panel, or anything else, as equal. In fact, I was ignoring the source of electricity entirely, as that was not within the scope of my inquiry.

The focus I'm trying to bring into this is from the user's perspective. When you operate a device, the amount of electricity it consumes is largely invisible; the source of that electricity is _entirely_ invisible. What isn't, though, is how much you have to interact with the device in order to accomplish your goals. In the case of the microwave it might mean using the +30 sec. button 4 times, might mean hitting 2,0,0, and start, or it might mean hitting the "2" button once -- all examples from my microwave, all would result in a 2-minute heating cycle at maximum power.

Perhaps a better question would be, how would your interaction with electrical and electronic devices change if you were limited in the number of instructions you could issue to these devices?

This all gets messy with computers: They're always on, the mouse reports its position constantly, so it could be considered a near-endless stream of user inputs, and the keyboard could be treated as each individual key being an input. I haven't figured out yet where I would draw the cutoff with respect to those; the scenarios kind of break down there.

Does this help at all?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-07 09:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
Ok I don't get the phone press thing.

Are we talking electricity? My phone plugged into the wall doesn't use electricity.
Are we talking electric house circuits? My BlackBerry only uses it when it's charging, not when I'm pressing buttons.

Is it about awareness of how often or how much we use electricity? Why wouldn't you count applications? ie heating one thing up in the microwave is one application, whether you press for two minutes the first time, or one minute twice. It's the same food.

One phone call: one application.

What is "activating" the flow of electric current? If I had "half as many" activations, do I get to count my desktop computer as "one" and check facebook my usual 120 times a day?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
Is it about awareness of how often or how much we use electricity?

That seems to be the way you interpreted the question, so I will turn this around: *Did* my question make you more aware of how you use electricity?

Though I must disagree with you with respect to your phone: It most certainly does use electricity.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 12:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
My phone works when the power is out. So how am I aware that it uses electricity?

And no, your question asking how many times I initiated a transaction, defined as one "start" of a microwave, or ten separate buttons on a single dialling, was just way confusing.

It's like asking if I'm aware of my water usage by asking me to count how many times I turn on a tap. I use a lot more water in a shower (one tap) than I do washing dishes (on and off often once for each dish as I rinse it off).
I perceive water as a total amount, not the number of times I turn on and off the tap.

Ok, so I perceived the question differently than you intended. What did you want me to take away from it?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dagibbs.livejournal.com
It works when the power is out because it has a battery that supplies it with electricity.

I think he was trying to get at the pervasiveness of electricity -- not neccessarily how much is used, but the fact that it is used everywhere.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 06:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foms.livejournal.com
Mobile telephones (like Blackberries) work by battery power. Plugging them is pretty much only to recharge the batteries. So, yes, when using a mobile 'phone, one is using electricity. The question of the number of activations is still open.

Land-line telephones (the older-fashioned ones from before mobile/wireless tech) also use electricity but there may be two separate sources for different parts of the apparatus. Basic land-lines are powered remotely, by the telephone service provider (all of those that used to be a monopoly of Bell Telephone). They have batteries and generators as back-ups for their system (it doesn't take much - as I recall, it is a six-volt system). That is why traditional 'phones work when our electrical service is down.

Some fancier 'phones have features that take electrical power of their own. That's why many newer 'phones plug in in both the 'phone service outlet and an electricity outlet. Some of those work without the extra electricity and others don't.

Yup, I'm a pedant but you knew that.[g]

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
Yes, that is the kind of telephone I have, it doesn't plug into the wall.
There is a spot for batteries but that spot is completely empty at the moment, and so my digital display doesn't display anything.

If the electric power is at the telephone company, what does it matter if I push 7 buttons or 10?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
What do you mean "electric power is at the telephone company"? How does that differ from any other electrical device you have in your house? You don't generate electricity in your home, after all.
(deleted comment)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 03:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
My reply was to the second part of your comment, which is in no way affected by whether you have a battery in your phone.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
I also still have no idea what your question is supposed to be about.

If I want "one activation" I want to "phone a friend." Whether I need to push 7 buttons or 10 is a decision made by the phone company, and if I push just 7 I will not get my phone call.

What on earth are you trying to ration?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
Dial telephones have batteries?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
Dial as in rotary dial? Not that I'm aware of. The switching office, on the other hand, does.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-11 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dagibbs.livejournal.com
Sorry, I mistook what telephone -- I was thinking your mobile phone (which has a battery).

The old-fashioned type pull current from the phone grid, rather than the electrical grid. Now, somewhere the phone grid has a source of power... generally from the electrical grid, but usually with back-up power so that if the electrical grid goes out the phone grid can continue working.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-08 06:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foms.livejournal.com
I did not mean to come across as snarking. Other commenters have expressed aspects of my wondering about how you would want to measure and/or count.

It seems as though automation would save activations but not reduce the benefits that we get from our use of electricity (our reasons for doing so). For instance, when I program my thermostat to change the temperature of my house several times per day, I am reducing the number of activations that I must do in each following day for the same benefits.

My jewish sabbath comment was meant to communicate that there are groups of people who have this particular bit of awareness called to the fronts of their brains on a regular basis.
Edited Date: 2012-06-08 06:52 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 03:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
Nothing wrong with a quality snark, anyway.

A comment someone made on the same question on G+ was interesting, though: He would have not turned off the lights when leaving rooms, for example. Perfectly reasonable behaviour given the framing of the question, but certainly not one I expected to see emerge.

As for the Jewish Sabbath, that's a great point -- I was just reading recently about the struggles rabbinical scholars are going through with technology in general, and the internet in particular. Apparently, some communities have been known to outright ban internet access without express rabbinical permission.

That said, and keeping in mind I'm about as kosher as a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese, I was under the impression that the Jewish view on electricity was a binary one: If you think it's related to electricity, *don't*.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] horsetraveller.livejournal.com
What about heating your house? "Don't"?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-09 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] icedrake.livejournal.com
You're not permitted to light a fire (which they ruled includes electricity) or perform any work on Shabbat. You are, however, allowed to use timers to activate electrical devices before the Shabbat.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_on_Shabbat_in_Jewish_law for waaay more detail.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-10 02:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] foms.livejournal.com
A bit of clarification without reading the mass.

Before the advent of electrically-powered equipment, the rule (as I understand it) was that one was allowed to use a fire to, e.g., heat an oven so that it would be hot after the sabbath start-time. A traditional meal was made by leaving the food in the hot oven so that it would cook overnight. I'm not clear on whether everyone was in agreement about whether one could use a residually hot oven by introducing new food into it after the sabbath had begun. There are and were shadings of adherence to these rules.

A lot of rules governing electricity are by extension about the rules on building a fire. Buidling a fire is forbidden because it is interpreted as work. It's work that is forbidden on the sabbath because the divine rested. Don't get me started with the jokes from Leo Rosten.

Edited Date: 2012-06-10 05:32 am (UTC)

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