Thursday, March 26, 2009

King County EcoConsumer: Educating the Public About Conservation

EcoConsumer logo The King County Solid Waste Division promotes public education about environmental protection through its King County EcoConsumer program. This program deals with the environmental impact of our daily activities, including purchasing decisions. The EcoConsumer Waste Calculator and the Eco-Cool Remodel Tool are interactive tools you can use to educate yourself about the impact of your decisions on the environment.

EcoConsumer Waste Calculator
The EcoConsumer Waste Calculator shows how everyday simple acts, such as discarding a plastic bottle, transform into a major impact when multiplied by a large population.EcoConsumer Waste Calculator For example, if each household in King County receives 30 magazines and catalogs per month, 72,319 tons of discarded paper is generated. That’s enough to fill 343 747s!

Eco-Cool Remodel Tool
The Eco-Cool Remodel Tool takes you on a tour through a virtual house and shows you ways to make your next home remodel a greener project.

Eco-Cool remodel (click to enter)

For example, you can click on the kitchen area and learn 7 facts about creating a greener kitchen:

Eco-Cool kitchen

Here’s a useful fact about refrigerators — in general, refrigerators with freezers on top use up to 25% less energy than side-by-side models.

Here’s another — since a refrigerator works most efficiently when it’s full, buy one that fits your needs.

EcoConsumer on TwitterThere’s plenty of other useful information and links to resources on the EcoConsumer site, including a Twitter feed.

Other Blog Postings on Environmental Topics
Here’s a list of other Redmond Library blog postings on environmental topics:
KCLS Offers Eco-Friendly Bags
infoGreen: Green information in the KCLS collection
An online guide to noxious weeds in King County

Redmond Library Board

Monday, March 23, 2009

My First Netbook: Inspired by the Acer Aspire

Acer Aspire ONE A150 The Acer Aspire One is an amazingly powerful 2.2 lb. netbook computer that's absolutely great for traveling. With a 160GB hard drive and an SD format card reader, it's a great machine for transferring, editing, and posting photos to the Web when you’re on the road. The 1024 x 600 display resolution of the 8.9” LCD screen is easy to read at all levels of lighting.

If you’re looking to get a netbook computer, you should make sure you try out the keyboard first. While my hands aren’t large, the reduced-size keyboard on the Acer Aspire One takes a little getting used to. However, after a while I adapted to the smaller form factor, and found I could type fairly quickly.

Acer Netbook: keyboard

The biggest drawback so far is the touchpad with flanking left and right click buttons. The buttons take more effort to press than they really should. Fortunately, the bundled USB mouse comes in handy as a replacement for the touchpad.

The Acer Aspire One comes with Windows XP Home Edition installed. Other hardware feature include a 1.60GHz Intel Atom processer, built-in Web cam, and microphone.

More Information
You can find more info at Acer Aspire One. Staples, in downtown Redmond, has this model on display.

Redmond Library Board

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Microsoft Visitor Center: An Interactive Experience

The Microsoft Visitor Center is not a museum — museums are filled with old stuff. The Microsoft Visitor Center is all about now. A trip to the visitor center, which has recently moved to Microsoft Building 92 and is open to the public, confirms this.

The Globe
The first thing you notice when you walk into the visitor center is the globe:

Microsoft Visitor Center: globe

Four projectors are used to display content onto the globe. Each projector is controlled by a computer. These computers are fed images by a master computer, whose role is to generate images that blend seamlessly onto the projected surface. The images on the globe change every minute or so.

The old Microsoft Museum was housed in a warehouse-like building below the company store. Employees and guests passed by it without stopping — nothing attracted their attention. These days, the globe at the visitor center attracts a lot of attention. In fact, the visitor center expects to get over 150,000 visitors a year — twice as many as before.

Interactive Content
Kids are immediately drawn to the Xbox lounge in the visitor center, where a large screen and Xbox 360 is set up for game play:

Microsoft Visitor Center: Xbox lounge
Another popular attraction of the Microsoft Visitor Center is the Zune listening area, where you can try out a variety of devices. Probably the most popular attraction is the Microsoft Surface tabletop display, which you interact with using natural gestures and touch:

Microsoft Visitor Center: surface

When asked what she liked most about the Surface display, a woman from Australia proclaimed, “It has streets in Australia!” She was excited to see her Sydney neighborhood on Live Search Maps projected on the Surface display. She then proceeded to show me how to zoom in and out of the map by sliding her thumb and index finger.

The only real historical information about the company is in the form of a large display representing the original employees of the company. And yes, that boyish-looking person in the lower left is Bill Gates:

Microsoft Visitor Center: original employees

Company Store
The Microsoft Company Store is right across from the visitor center, and is open to the public. Note that sales of Microsoft software and hardware is restricted to employees. These items are kept in an adjoining room that is only accessible by employees.

Microsoft Visitor Center: company store

Hours and Location
Microsoft Visitor Center: entrance The Microsoft Visitor Center is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. It is located at 15010 NE 36th Street, Redmond, WA 98052, in Building 92. Parking is available in the Building 99 parking garage located next to Building 92.

For more information, see Hours & Location.

Other Blog Postings on Microsoft Here’s a list of other Redmond Library blog postings on Microsoft:
Microsoft Commons: It’s a Mall World After All
Microsoft Lincoln Square: A Lunchroom with a View
A New Bridge for Redmond: The NE 36th Street Overpass
Redmond Town Center: A View from Virtual Earth 3D
Exploring the Skies with the WorldWide Telescope
Microsoft Building 83 under Construction

Redmond Library Board

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

SR 520: Major Construction and Repaving in 2009

Drivers face a jarring bump at overpasses where the asphalt meets concrete bridges. Along SR 520, the asphalt road is settling and crumbling in places and it’s time for WSDOT to upgrade the roadway. Asphalt is a weaker material that is more vulnerable to water and freezing damage than sturdier concrete.

520 Repaving: existing road surface

This project replaces the crumbling asphalt with new concrete slabs where the road meets the concrete overpasses. Other parts of the route will be repaved to extend the life of the road.

Construction will occur between I-405 in Bellevue and West Lake Sammamish Parkway in Redmond. New concrete sections will be built between March and May 2009 near five overpass bridges. The mainline highway will be repaved in summer 2009.

520 Repaving map (click for details)

Weekend Closures
Weekend closures are planned for up to eight weekends in March and April, and possibly May. One lane will remain open on westbound or eastbound SR 520 between I-405 and West Lake Sammamish Parkway.

Nighttime Lane Closures
Nighttime lane closures are planned during the summer paving months, roughly May through August 2009. One lane will remain open to traffic during construction.

More Info
For more info on the SR 520 construction and repaving project, click here.

Redmond Library Board

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring 2009 Recycling and Collection Event

One of the most popular events sponsored by the city of Redmond is the Recycling and Collection Event, which is held three times a year in April, July, and October. The Spring 2009 Recycling and Collection Event will be held on Saturday, April 4th, 2009 between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm.

Recycling and Collection Event This event, which is for Redmond residents only, is designed to help you reuse or recycle as many materials as possible that are currently not included in curbside recycling programs. Electronic units of any kind will NOT be accepted for this event. For details on what you can and cannot bring to this event, click here.

Recycling and Collection Event: recycling scrap wood

Event Location
The Recycling and Collection Event will be held at 18120 NE 76th Street.

Recycling and Collection Event (click for larger map)

Redmond Library Board

Saturday, March 7, 2009

When Good TV and Good Books Meet

Original Novel
Despite being a voracious reader for as long as I can remember, I'm ashamed to admit that I was once a teenage girl and have never read "Wuthering Heights". While I've inferred the general story over the years (who hasn't heard of the stormy affair between Cathy and Heathcliff?), I've never gotten around to reading the Emily Bronte classic. It's apparently never been out of print, so I have zero excuses to have never picked it up. I have however, read every book by Stephen King (except his latest which I'll devour in the next few weeks) and the entire "Twilight" series (say what you want about those, but perhaps Bella's interest in Austen and Bronte novels will introduce teenage girls to their works as I never was at that age).

In fact, I seemed to have missed quite a few classics. All I know about Dickens is what I've seen on TV! Simply shameful, I know. And that leads me to the real subject of this post: Fall in love with Masterpiece Classic. It's on PBS, so I use "TV" loosely in the title.


They recently aired an adaptation of "Wuthering Heights" that I found simply incredible. It was dark and stormy and despite it being so distressing and tragic, I wanted to watch it over and over again. The soundtrack and the landscape of the film, actually shot on the moors of Yorkshire, added to the overall haunting tale. Currently on air is a selection of the works of Dickens, which for now, will still be all I know about him!

Masterpiece Classic

The Masterpiece website is an excellent companion for their Classic, Mystery, and Contemporary series. The Book & Film Club section is particularly engaging as it provides fantastic resources for discussion about the works, including comparing the books and the film. Not only does it provide a resource on creating and managing a club, there are also activities and period-specific recipes so that you can plan an entire event around a work!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gold Creek Pond: An Easy Snowshoe Hike

Gold Creek Pond is an ideal destination for an hour-long snowshoe hike. The scenery is impressive and it’s easy to get to. It’s right off Exit 54 on I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass. In the photo below, snow covers the pond — Rampart Ridge is to the right, and Kendall Peak is to the left.

Gold Creek: mountains frame the snowy pond

The first part of the hike follows a fire road that takes you to a parking area that is closed in the winter.

Gold Creek: snow covered kiosk

From here, the loop around the pond is about a mile. Probably not a good idea to hike across the pond!

Gold Creek: shadows on the pond

It might be a little tricky to cross some of the snow-covered foot bridges. However, snowshoeing with a couple of ski poles helps a lot.

Gold Creek: snow covered foot bridge

There’s not much wildlife to see during the winter, except for a hungry Gray Jay or two.

Gold Creek: Gray Jay

Driving Directions
Gold Creek: Sno-Park logo From Seattle take Interstate 90 east and exit at Exit 54 (Hyak-Gold Creek). Go left under the freeway and turn right onto the Gold Creek frontage road (Forest Service Road 4832) and drive about a mile until you’re near the gate. You’ll need a Sno-Park pass to park in designated Sno-Park areas. For more info, see Washington State Sno-Park Permits.

Click to view larger map

Enjoy your visit!

Redmond Library Board