Author Archives: Bob Fine

About Bob Fine

Engineer, Environmentalist, IT Architect, Publisher

4 Great Green Technologies
 Celebrate Earth Day

4 Great Green Technologies
 Celebrate Earth Day
By Lynda Chervil

Just as intended, the 44th annual celebration of Earth Day is surrounded by talk of our environment, our impact on it and what we can do to better live in harmony with it.

“We’re seeing more and more people who realize that, if each of us does what we can every day, collectively, we can have a tremendous impact,” says Lynda Chervil, a thought leader and green technology advocate whose new book, “Fool’s Return,” (, mirrors real-life efforts to develop sustainable energy sources.

“All the people carrying reusable grocery sacks, people who’ve quit the plastic water bottle habit, folks heating their pools or houses with solar panels – that’s what we should be celebrating this Earth Day.”

This year’s March Gallup Environment poll found that 42 percent of Americans believe the outlook for the environment has improved, up from only 26 percent in 2008.

Chervil, who studies the science behind green technology, says environmental awareness has ramped up production of affordable goods that can shrink individuals’ carbon footprints. She shares four devices she says would make a nice gift for Mother Earth on her day:

HybridLight Solar Flashlight:  These flashlights never need batteries, can be charged from any light source, and they always work. The 120 lumens model will burn for eight hours on one charge. HybridLight’s flashlights are so reliable, the Boy Scouts’ Utah National Parks Council endorse them – and they come with a lifetime guarantee. For every 10 hours of use, 100 HybridLight flashlights avert 60 pounds of toxic battery landfill waste. An added very cool note – HybridLights has a mission to light up corners of the world with little or no electricity. Recently, the company supplied everyone in a Kenyan village with their own flashlight.  Cost: Prices start at less than $20.

Bedol Water Alarm Clock: Imagine a water-powered alarm clock that’s loud enough to scare you out of bed. Bedol’s water clocks run strictly on tap water – no batteries, no nothing else. The energy comes from a natural reaction between the water and two metal plates. The smallest clocks in the line run for six to 12 weeks before the display begins to fade, indicating that the water needs to be changed. Occasionally, you also need to clean the metal plates with vinegar. Just in time for Earth Day, Bedol is launching it’s 12-by-15-inch wall-mount water clock. Cost: Prices start at $19.

iGo Green Power Smart Wall:  We’ve all heard of the “vampires” in our homes that suck up power whether we’re using them or not – everything from coffee pots to laptops. Stem the bleeding with this surge protector that cuts the suck by up to 85 percent. The unit, which plugs into the wall, has four outlets, two of which are always on. The other two automatically power down when the attached appliance is not in use. Cost: Prices start at about $12.

Pama Eco Navigator Satellite Navigation system:  This GPS system also saves gasoline by providing you with the most energy efficient routes to your destinations, and feedback on your car’s performance, so you can adjust your driving habits to improve your gas mileage. It also saves all your routes, so you can assess their fuel efficiency. Cost: Watch for pricing and availability on Amazon.

“Most of these items are not only budget priced, they save you money in batteries, electricity and fuel,” Chervil says. “Not only are you doing something great for the planet when you use green technology, you’re taking a load off your wallet.”

Lynda Chervil is the author of “Fool’s Return,”, a new novel that incorporates valuable life lessons in a page-turning tale that touches on technology, the green movement, and other aspects of contemporary society. She graduated from New York University with a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications and has extensive experience in consumer and commercial banking and has held positions in new business development, sales management and executive leadership. Chervil seeks to push the limits of established understanding by exploring alternative forms of spiritual healing, and, through creative writing, to expand the narrative of cutting-edge energy technology to promote sustainability.

Brooks Introduces Social Media Bill to Increase Public-Private Collaboration

Brooks Introduces Social Media Bill to Increase Public-Private Collaboration 

As Chair of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications (EPRC), Representative Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) introduced the Social Media Working Group Act of 2014. EPRC Ranking Member Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ10), Vice Chairman Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS4) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA15) are all original cosponsors. The bill – H.R. 4263 – expands both the membership and influence of the Department of Homeland Security’s Virtual Social Media Working Group. The new group will include representatives from the private sector and will be required to file a yearly report with Congress.


“During the recent tragic explosion in East Harlem, we once again witnessed the powerful role social media plays in disseminating information and coordinating response and recovery activities during a disaster,” Rep. Brooks said. “Last week, people were logging onto Facebook and Twitter for links to local news stories and to view firsthand accounts of damage. City residents were checking social media for vital information such as street closures, where to get assistance and also taking to social media to share their thoughts, and comfort fellow New Yorkers. Social media is not a trend, it’s a new reality.

When used properly, it can save lives and mitigate damage during very challenging situations. In 2013, the Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee heard testimony from cutting edge corporations like Google and Palantir, as well as state and local stakeholders on the topic of social media in emergency management. We learned the potential for greater success is within reach, but there needs to be greater collaboration among all parties involved. By adding representatives from the private sector to the working group, this bill will allow a wider range of stakeholders to share best practices and make recommendations for improvements to government partners.”

The Virtual Social Media Working Group has held meetings since 2012. By requiring the group to file a yearly report with Congress, the legislation ensures members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate have an opportunity to review findings and address areas of need. It will also ensure local officials receive more information on using social media to effectively disseminate critical information.

“Far too many local officials lack the understanding of the importance of social media and need guidance on how to use it most effectively in a government setting,” Brooks said. “The working group will provide much needed guidance when it comes to strategic planning and staffing for local communications personnel.”

The legislation expands the diversity of voices providing expertise and offering solutions. In addition to the current chair of the working group – the DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology – the new working group will be co-chaired by a state or local official. The bill also requires members from the working group to come from outside of the federal government. This will include representatives from state or local government, non-profit disaster relief organizations, academia and the private sector.

The new working group is required to hold its first meeting within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation. Its yearly report must address several factors including best practices, recommendations for improving the use of social media and information sharing, and a review of the training available on using social media.

Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana and Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis where she focused on public safety issues. For more information on Congresswoman Brooks, please visit To read her recent op-ed in Social Media Monthly, click here. To learn more about the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications, click here.

Vietnam: Blogger Pham Viet Dao Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

Vietnam: Blogger Pham Viet Dao Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison

FIDH and its member organization, the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR), strongly condemn the 15-month prison sentence imposed on March 19, 2014 on blogger Pham Viet Dao. A court in Hanoi sentenced him under Article 258 of the Criminal Code on charges of “abusing democratic freedoms to harm the interests of the State” for posting online articles that “distorted, vilified, and smeared the senior leaders.”

The imprisonment of Pham Viet Dao once again calls into question the Vietnamese government’s stated commitment to respecting human rights. In fact, Vietnam continues to behave as an authoritarian government that perceives every freedom, including freedom of opinion and expression, as a threat to its rule,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji. Vietnam must end the harassment, arrest, and imprisonment of dissidents and immediately release the more than 200 political prisoners it holds,” Mr. Lahidji added.

Pham Viet Dao, 62, is a former Inspector in charge of corruption issues in the Ministry of Culture. He is also a member of the Vietnam Writers Union. After his retirement, Pham Viet Dao started an internet blog critical of Vietnamese government leaders and their policies with a focus on the ongoing territorial disputes with China. Pham Viet Dao was arrested on 13 June 2013 at his home in Hanoi. Analysts deemed his arrest, which took place six days before Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang made an official visit to China, as a gesture of friendship to Beijing.

Pham Viet Dao is the latest blogger to be imprisoned under Article 258 of the Criminal Code. On 4 March 2014, a court in Danang sentenced blogger and human rights defender Truong Duy Nhat to two years in prison under the same law for posting articles online that were critical of the government.

Vietnam currently holds the largest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia and its press freedom ranking is the lowest in the region,” said VCHR President Vo Van Ai. The international community must keep the release of political prisoners and the amendment of draconian legislation as its most urgent and pressing issue whenever it interacts with the Vietnamese government,” he urged.

It is estimated that there are over 200 political prisoners behind bars in Vietnam and many more are under house arrest. Those incarcerated include lawyers, bloggers, land rights activists, Buddhist monks, journalists, writers, singers, labor activists, pro-democracy campaigners and members of ethnic and religious minorities, including Buddhist Khmer Krom and Christian Hmong and Montagnards.