Edison bulbs banned in E.U., why not ban PCs too?

It looks like Ireland along with the rest of the European Union will soon ban the sale of most traditional incandescent light bulbs. I've been using Compact Florescent (CF) bulbs where possible since the early 1990s but I have mixed feelings about government's one-size-fits all energy micromanagement. I don't think the fact that my neighbor uses CFs to illuminate his garden gnomes, eves and driveway 24/7 makes him environmentally greener than the doctor, dentist, mechanic or person with visual difficulties (e.g. cataracts...) who chooses incandescents for applications where they excel.

Mini screw mount CF bulbs only became available in Ireland about 1 year ago. Most stores here still only carry the bayonet CF bulbs. I haven't yet found any dimmer capable CFs in Ireland. We did find 9 watt CF bulbs which fit in the 240V/40W GU10 halogen sockets but I find that a combination of 40W halogen and 1.6W LED bulbs is more effective for some applications because both halogens and LEDs focus the light better than CFs do (. The "soft focus" of CFs actually worked to their advantage in our kitchen where they eliminated harsh shadows thrown by the spotlight bulbs but they still work best when paired 2CFs for ambient light and one incandescent for directional task light (cooker, table and counter.)

The CFs also flicker more are bluer and take much longer to reach full brightness. The (very difficult to find) Edison screw CF bulbs which fit our bathroom fixture only operate in that cool, damp environment for a few weeks before burning out. Fortunately, Ireland's new light bulb law requires merchants to take back duds. The average lifespan of brand name CF bulbs seems nowhere near what it was in the 1990s.

I can almost understand why governments are trying to force us to use CFs. CFs are functionally equivalent to incandescent for MOST applications while using 1/5th to 1/3rd the wattage. But if we can overlook edge cases, why stop with light bulbs? Sun Rays are functionally equivalent to desktop PCs for MOST applications while using only 1/40th the electrical power. Replacing PCs with Sun Rays would saves between 8 and 13 times as much as moving from incandescents to CFs. So why not ban desktop PCs?


The problem being now that there aren't any consumer offerings even remotely comparable to the Sun Ray.

It would be great if ISP's partnered up with Sun to host SRSS and provide the client to their customers. I would definitely sign up!

Posted by Ché Kristo on October 12, 2008 at 06:58 PM GMT+00:00 #

I think I would sign up too, and encourage friends and family who constantly have configuration and malware problems with their PCs to also upgrade to a Sun Ray based desktop.

Posted by bnitz on October 13, 2008 at 12:38 AM GMT+00:00 #

Can one play high-performance 3D games on a SunRay?

Are the audio capabilities of the SunRay (need I remind you of the gruesome \*hacks\* in /tmp?) fit for audio professionals?

Optical burning drives are explicitly not supported on a SunRay. So much for movies, backups, or audio CDs. Lovely!

I know Sun Microsystems, Inc. would \*love\* to replace each and every PC (and desktops in general) with SunRays (and turn a huge profit), but until such time as the SunRay offers a complete and equivalent functionality of a desktop, it is really not feasible to replace all desktops. SunRays are good for office computing, but much else.

And before you chime in, I've been a SunRay 2 consumer for almost a year.

Posted by UX-admin on October 13, 2008 at 01:58 AM GMT+00:00 #

Good points and thanks for using Sun Ray. I did consider these edge cases when I wrote this semi-serious argument for banning PCs. I'm not a gamer, but I'm pretty sure PCs aren't the optimal 3D gaming platform either. (For a few short years between 1999 and 200? they may have been, but not now) Given a few more years of bandwidth increases, maybe SR could become a gaming platform. I think many of us techies forget how many people use PCs for exactly the kind of "office computing" you're referring to.

As one of the few people who still uses physical CDs rather than \*pods for some of my music, I understand the frustration around SR not explicitly supporting CD/DVD burning. I think it's technically possible if there were ever a big demand for a consumer SR desktop, but I think CDs and DVDs (blue-ray or otherwise) are destined for that great heap of consumer LPs, 8-tracks and Betamax cartridges. The new "format" is rapidly becoming online storage.

As for the /tmp hacks, much of this has to do with the fact that most existing desktop software (on Linux, OSX and Windows too) assumes one person, one CPU and that that person has unlimited access to all hardware resources. This is improving. If you ever watched a multiuser "searching for trash" scan on early versions of GNOME's nautilus, you'd understand how far we've come.

Posted by bnitz on October 13, 2008 at 03:02 AM GMT+00:00 #

I think the arguments for banning the PC are as good as for banning light bulbs.
There are no CF bulbs, which are as bright as 100W light bulbs. They may state it, but if you compare it, you see the difference.
The CF-Bulbs do not fit in fortified basement lights, which have a glass cover and a wire basket around them.
And CF-Bulbs do not stand bad environment as good as light bulbs. It gets hot under the roof in summer and cold in winter. The energy consumption does not matter since i go there at day light most of the time. The light will be switched on for at most 10 hours a year.
CF-Bulbs have been tested recently and the promised running time has not been reached for a lot of brands. Considering the bigger energy consumption in production, these CF-Bulbs may not save energy at all.

I use CF-Bulbs in a lot of places at home, but there are well considered exceptions.

Posted by Knut Grunwald on October 13, 2008 at 06:22 AM GMT+00:00 #

Thanks for the comment. That's exactly the point I was trying to make. Incandescent lights have been around since 1879, it's silly for lawmakers to think they understand every possible use case. Here is one more:

- Poultry farms use incandescents for light, heat and durability. One poultry farm electrician explained it this way, "CFs don't stand up to high pressure hoses!"

I didn't have time last night, but I intended to post photographs of differences in light quality between these technologies.

Posted by Brian Nitz on October 13, 2008 at 06:45 AM GMT+00:00 #

Brian, I agree with you that CF is not a an effective replacement for tungsten, but I think this is just an attempt by the "Eco" party to achieve a highly visible change to increase awareness.

CF has the benefit that most homes are able to accept the replacement and they are already in the shops.

Naturally there are many other ways for people to reduce their carbon footprint (e.g. trade their SUV for (just) a "car" before the recession reduces their resale value), or insulate their homes better, or install motion sensors that affect lights and thermostats, but, let's face it, that's not going to happen RSN.

But there was a way to achieve this goal without the heavy handed forced withdrawal of the product. I'd recommend the government simply put a reasonable supplemental tax on tungsten bulbs because that still allows people to use them where they are needed, and could permit heavy or commercial users to reclaim the tax.

Which ever bulb is used, the speed with which the recession has imploded suggests that the Irish government has been in the dark for a while, and the convenient backdrop of a later breaking global recession has nearly covered those tracks.

Posted by Colm Smyth on October 13, 2008 at 12:13 PM GMT+00:00 #

Great to hear from you. If that's the strategy it is interesting, but it could backfire. The eco-incentives promoted by Nixon and Carter in the 1970s weren't this heavy handed and even these may have contributed to U.S. public distrust of anything "green."

I'm not sure what to say about the economic mess (The 'crisis' meme implies that it's short-lived but even blokes like me have been watching this train wreck in the making for half a decade.) It's a shame so many governments squandered the windfall rather than salting some away on infrastructure and energy independence. (Iceland ALMOST got the latter!) Anyway, hope you're doing well!

Posted by bnitz on October 13, 2008 at 01:57 PM GMT+00:00 #

Another thought came to mind yesterday as I waited several minutes for a newly installed CF to reach full brightness. Maybe if I turned our oil heat up and kept our house at 75degrees F instead of 53F-65F, the CF light would reach usable brightness sooner. But then wouldn't that also be defeating the intent of the new E.U. law?

Posted by bnitz on October 14, 2008 at 02:17 AM GMT+00:00 #

I was hoping Sun Ray would expand into more consumer level applications rather than the PCs shrinking, but Apple decided to eliminate the firewire port on their new "aluminium brick books", rendering them useless for my favorite fat client application, video editing. That's one less reason to buy a new.

Posted by bnitz on October 20, 2008 at 02:56 AM GMT+00:00 #

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