A Good Day for Wind Energy on PEI

When I talk to people about wind energy generation on Prince Edward Island, they are often under the impression that the wind is a relatively small part of the energy mix on the Island.

And there’s no doubt that because of its variability sometimes there is no wind energy generation on the Island. Like when the wind isn’t blowing. And that’s one of the significant challenges of wind’s contribution to the Island’s energy future.

That all said, sometimes there are days, like yesterday, when the contribute of wind energy is near or above 100% of the provincial load for most of the day.

On this chart, showing 24 hours of load and generation starting at 3:00 a.m. on March 11 and ending on 3:00 a.m. on March 12, the orange line represents wind energy generation in megawatts and the blue line the province’s load in megawatts (the load being “how much electricity we’re all using together”). The wind topped the load several times during the day, including the four and a half hours from 9:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

PEI Wind Energy vs. Load, March 11, 2015

How planes fly over the Atlantic Ocean

If you’re interested in how it is that, without radar available to air traffic control, airplanes can fly over the Atlantic Ocean without flying into each other, this video from NATS about the Shanwick OCA is a fascinating one.

The video features a walkthrough of an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston, EIN137.  In a delightful coincidence, last night around midnight the return Boston-Dublin flight, EIN138, flew over Prince Edward Island at 37,000 feet:

EIN138 flies over PEI

Prince Edward Island School Calendar, 2015-2016

I’ve again taken the official Prince Edward Island School Calendar and updated a set of public calendar files to make it easier for parents and others to shunt the information around their digital devices. Here you go:

(Note for those of you who already had the 2013-2014 and/or 2014-2015 School Calendasr integrated into your digital devices: you don’t need to do anything, as those addresses haven’t changed from last year).

As a member of the School Calendar Committee for the PEI Home and School Federation I again asked to have the official calendar released as structured data by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development itself, but as yet this (still) hasn’t happened.

Detecting Aircraft in Charlottetown

Longtime readers may recall that, starting three years ago, I’ve been running an AIS receiving station here in the Reinventorium in downtown Charlottetown, listening to the automated ships location broadcasts for Charlottetown Harbour and pushing the data to MarineTraffic.com.

It turns out that where ships broadcast AIS (Automatic Identification System), airplanes broadcast ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) and, like AIS, these broadcasts are in the clear and can be received by any old radio capable of received on the ADS-B frequency.

Like, for example, the NooElec NESDR Nano SDR & DVB-T USB Stick that I bought for $18 last fall to support my electricity meter reading project. It was manufactured as a European digital TV receiver, but, under the hood, it’s a software-defined radio capable of receiving radio from 25MHz to 1700MHz.

What’s more, just as MarineTraffic.com aggregates AIS reports, FlightAware.com aggregates ADS-B reports, and it has a Raspberry Pi distribution that makes sending data their way as easy as burning an SD card.

So, of course, I built one.

PiAware in the Reinventorium

You can follow along on my FlightAware status page, which lists flights detected in various formats.

And sure enough, the system worked: here’s what Sunwing Flight 351 from Cuba to Charlottetown looked like on the local status page as it was coming in to land this afternoon just before 4:00 p.m.:

Sunwing 351

And here’s flight RRR4520 flying at 27,000 feet high above the Valleyfield Road:

It all seems like magic. But it’s just radio waves.

The Guardian goes #FF5900

The Charlottetown Guardian unveiled its new design this morning, part of a redesign of all of parent company TC Media’s local newspapers called “Project Orange” internally. On the left is Saturday’s pre-redesign cover; on the right is this morning’s newly-orange front:

The Guardian Design, before Project Orange

It’s an interesting – and somewhat bizarre – move to paint all the company’s papers with the same orange brush (the exception is the Journal-Pioneer in Summerside which is turning blue instead of orange), especially given that one of The Guardian’s strengths locally has always been that, despite its rotating cast of parent companies, it’s always been strongly identified as a local paper, not an “outlet” of a corporate brand.

That this morning’s Guardian looks an awful lot like this morning’s Telegram in far-away St. John’s might make sense of some sort of corporate synergasm way, but I’m not sure why it’s required or even preferable when looked at from the ground. Doesn’t our community deserve a newspaper designed and built by Islanders for Islanders? What’s the upside for the reader in brand unification?

There’s also the issue of the web and the attention span: the redesign brings with it a collection of the short and snappy – the “quick questions” and the “things to know” and related factoid boxes – and an aversion to the beautiful grey expanse of type the defined The Guardian – and newspapers in general – for a good part of their lifetime. The aversion to grey isn’t new here, of course, and it’s not unique to TC Media: big photos and fact boxes have been a part of The Guardian’s recent incarnations, albeit to a less dramatic extent.

Philosophically I’m on a different page from where newspaper design is heading; I think the reaction to the web should be to go long and go deep and go grey and go big. In that I am, alas, perhaps alone. But man was 1964 ever a great year for newspaper design on Prince Edward Island:

1964 Guardian Front