I've just read Greenpeace's report on the energy sources for serverfarms.

There's some interesting takeaways. Looks even more vital now to promote alternative entertainment outside of the "streaming services"!

Streaming is not green. Downloading it won't be much better, but will once you've rewatched it instead of something else!

@alcinnz I am recently pretty torn about that. From one perspective, I applaud the idea to download instead of streaming whole-heartedly. Then again, in example looking at friends running Synology boxes, QNAPs or large Linux servers at home, 24x7 with large disks to store all the stuff they downloaded even by now, I wonder whether we do have a "total" energy-wise look at this issue. 😐

@z428 @alcinnz
Synology boxes have power saving features. They'll power down the drives and idle at under 4W.

(Plus I run mine entirely on electricity from renewables.)

I think the bigger problem is people reusing old hardware or standard desktop or gaming PCs as servers, as they generally aren't designed for low power consumption.

@mathew @z428 Though there's a good reason to reuse hardware: it's environmentally costly to produce.

People often forgot to incorporate that into their calculations, in part because it wasn't such a big problem before computers.

@alcinnz @z428
Indeed, though there are limits. I once helped someone move a PDP into his attic, I doubt that it makes any sense to keep using it from an environmental point of view though. 🙂

@alcinnz @z428
Another thing people often forget to factor in is that if you have fewer power hungry computers heating up the office, or more efficient devices, then you need noticably less air conditioning. I was quick to get rid of all my CRTs once LCD panels became affordable.

@mathew @alcinnz @z428 I remember reading a study about this wrt. laptops; it takes about seven years for a new, more energy efficient laptop to break even with the energy needed to produce it. Of course those numbers will be drastically different with different degrees of utilisation and power efficiency, but I think the energy efficiency effect is typically overestimated.

@michiel Yes.... that's an aspect I didn't even have in mind at the moment. But as always... things get more difficult, the closer you look. No real idea how to ever come to a meaningful conclusion here. Every "solution" seems to have pretty "interesting" drawbacks in other dimensions. 😐

@mathew @alcinnz

@z428 @mathew @alcinnz Agreed. It's frustrating; I'd like to contribute something tangible to the reduction of fossil fuel use, and this *is* a field I'm at least familiar with, but it's clear that there are too many trade-offs to easily find big wins. Which doesn't mean that these big wins don't exist ...


@michiel @z428 @alcinnz
Best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to not have children.

Second best is to be vegan or vegetarian.

Reducing electricity consumption is pretty far down the list.


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@mathew Oh well... I've at least ruled out one of these options, but at least I'm vegetarian so guess that counts a bit as well... 😀

@michiel @alcinnz

@mathew @z428 @alcinnz Yes, and I hope you don't take my exasperation with this advice personally: it makes individuals responsible for a collective problem.

I'm a software engineer; my entire supposed value in the labor market comes from my ability to solve problems *once* and reuse the solution infinitely many times over.

If we investigate and educate each other about good choices in this problem space, we *can* have a significant impact as a profession.

@michiel @z428 @alcinnz
Oh, absolutely. Individual approaches are minor in scope compared to the effect if the 20 worst corporations took action.

@mathew @z428 @alcinnz We can't reasonably expect someone watching Netflix to realize how much energy they're using. Making the consumer responsible for something that happens completely out of their sight is not a reasonable solution.

We (I think we're all tech geeks here) are the ones who know how the sausages get made. We even have some influence about what goes into them.

@michiel @z428 @alcinnz
I've just realized that I mostly stream TV and movies, because I'm mostly unlikely to watch them again; but I download music, which I listen to repeatedly. This isn't a position I ended up with for energy efficiency reasons, though. It's just a happy coincidence.

(The few movies that I know I'll want to watch repeatedly, I still buy on disc.)

@mathew @michiel @z428

> This isn't a position I ended up with for energy efficiency reason, though. It's just a happy coincidence.

The more often we as software developers can make this the case the stronger impact we can have!

@mathew @michiel @z428 @alcinnz I assume music players for streaming services make use of local caching to get similar results?

@teleclimber @michiel @z428 @alcinnz
Probably depends on the service. I know Google Music on mobile devices does.

@mathew @michiel @z428 @alcinnz indeed. I assume they all do because it would cut their own streaming costs.


> something that happens completely out of their sight

hmm. this is a tough one, given how high a priority is placed on moving so much out of their sight

@mathew @z428 @alcinnz

@deejoe @michiel @mathew @z428 Which is why I advise to fight capitalism as a top priority for green digital technology...

The profit is all messed!

@alcinnz @deejoe @mathew @z428 One of the most interesting anticapitalist figures I've seen on the fediverse is @emsenn, who, if I'm not mischaracterizing his position, doesn't so much *fight* capitalism as ignore it, working on the things and building the organisations he finds important as if it didn't exist.

This is less straightforward for us techy people wanting to do techy things, as many of the tools we used are built by a complex supply chain of capitalist infrastructure.

@deejoe Yeah, but that's what "specialization" seems to be all about... I'm pretty much a "techie" when it comes to computers and software but most details in most other fields of relevance are "out of sight" to me as well - and in quite some ways, I do expect experts to "do them right" because I either lack knowledge or time or both to dive into this in a meaningful way and to a meaningful degree. 😉

@michiel @mathew @alcinnz


and thus arises the question about those expert in a field not your own: Whose expert are they? Yours, or someone elses?


@michiel @mathew @alcinnz

@z428 @michiel @mathew @alcinnz

if you're in tech, raise your hand if you have a fiduciary responsibility to any end-user of your work (other than yourself, of course)

@michiel Agree very much, especially with the first part. That bugs me pretty much in many of these disputes these days. A lot of these things can't be solved or even addressed on an individual level (see, too: "privacy" and the like), but rather end up risking "blaming" and "shaming" of certain individuals, making things only worse. 😟

@mathew @alcinnz

@z428 @mathew @alcinnz When I was a teenager, people were admonished not to leave their TVs on standby, because this would waste a lot of energy. (it did!)

How was this problem solved eventually? Because TV manufacturers added a few cents worth of components to reduce energy usage on standby. Why did they do it? Because EU lawmakers forced them to. Why did EU lawmakers force them to? Because engineers told them it was easy and possible.

@michiel Yes, but that's very much my experience as well. When I was a kid, there used to be two devices in the house allowed to consume energy all day: The fridge and the water pump in the fish tank. Everything else *of course* was supposed to be switched off. This experience still in some way is here and still makes me power down most devices at night or when unused (except the fridge, apparently, and the Wi-Fi / DSL router because it takes ages to start...). That's the ...

@mathew @alcinnz

@michiel ...same with lightbulbs by the way: We had these old-fashioned ones, wasting quite some energy but being *cheap* and efficient to use. Now there are "energy-saving" bulbs which are complex, expensive to make, contain a load of "difficult" resources and need expensive recycling once they broke - plus they're still tailored for being left on, not for switching them on/off if needed.

@mathew @alcinnz

@z428 @michiel @alcinnz
There's a case to be made for moving most of the house over to low voltage DC at this point, rather than having almost every electrical device have its own AC to DC converter; but the entrenched infrastructure means it'll probably never happen. I have a dream, though, USB-C on every socket...

@mathew @z428 @michiel @alcinnz could happen. many power strips have USB pins now. some of the fancier power plugs do too.
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