Computers are taking over the world. Not in a Skynet-sortof way but in a TiVo-sortof way. All of us should know that the TiVo, or any digital video recorder, is a computer. A computer that runs all the time unless you physically unplug the unit. We may not have much control over those computers (though we need to push for more control) but we do have power over traditional computers.
Google has been pushing for more efficient power supplies and most high tech people are aware of how cost ineffective cheap power supplies are when you look at how much electricity they waste.
As a computer geek, I took an interest in a recent post from the Foreign Policy Passport blog: "Microsoft could save 45 million tons of CO2 emissions with a few lines of computer code."
The idea is that Microsoft should make power saving modes a default after an hour. Its new operating system, Vista, offers much better power saving features than predecessors. That being said, Microsoft has set a low bar for itself.
I too have been reluctant at times to use power saving modes because of the many computers I have seen that crash or behave erratically after entering a power saving mode. Nonetheless, I am excited to see if Vista can live up to the hype.
The slashdot community quickly responded to the post, deriding non-technical people who do would not recognize the problems with FP's proposal.
I have to agree that Microsoft should not roll out a patch which changes power saving settings on anyone's computer - but I sure would like to see a patch that improves the reliability of power-saving modes on my XP computers. I would still have the choice not to use it, of course.
The bigger issue is the default nature of power saving mode in Vista. Many people set up their computers and do not play with the settings due to intimidation or fear. These people will now have power saving modes enabled.
More importantly, Vista's power saving mode allows computers to partially power down while still receiving updates. As most companies and large networks deliver patches and updates at night, this will save a lot of power from those who refuse to turn computers off at night.
This is an area in which we can see tremendous improvement. It would be nice to see businesses tell Microsoft that power management is a major priority for them in order to push Microsoft even further to find ways of trimming the power requirements of computers.