Free Photoshop alternative?

Say goodbye to Photoshop

If we talk about digital image-editing software, Photoshop clearly comes in
mind.

Adobe’s program is probably the best and with a price of about 1000€ one of
the most expensive tools in this area.

Nowadays, Photoshop is the epitome of image editing. Not everyone needs it,
wants or can afford it and looks for alternatives. Meanwhile, there are a lot of Graphic-Tools that provide professional results similar to Photoshop. The extensive feature set of Photoshop leaves nothing to be desired, but quite a lot of them can also be found in free, (online) applications.

When I strumbled upon John Arnold’s Blog while discovering the web, I realized that there are quite some neat tools which are directly usable in the browser:

1. GIMP  – opensource all-rounder 

The “GNU Image Manipulation Program” (GIMP) got published in 1995 and is by
now one of the most used free opensource alternatives
to Photoshop. For professional image-editing demands GIMP offers a lot of
features for the creation, design and editing of images and graphics.

The program contains all the common functions that we already know through
Photoshop and offers many effects and filters, good retouching- and montage
features as well as functions for image correction as well as tousands of
other options. Almost every action can be automatized by scripts. A lot of
downloadable plug-ins available in the internet allow to integrate useful features into GIMP and hence its opensource software it will be constantly developed.

2. Picnik – Google’s image-editing tool 

Today’s Web 2.0 provides countless free tools to edit images and graphics. The problem most of those tools have is that they lack possibilities in terms of functionality. Often there is too much advertising that impairs the usability of the program. When Google developed Picnik they created an exception. The application is based on Flash and in terms of usability and functionality almost on the same high level as Adobe’s Photoshop.

It’s possible to import photos from your own computer as well as from photocommunities like Flikr or from social networks like facebook and easily edit them. In addition to the usual image processing functions such as rotating, cropping, exposure, sharpness and colors, the basic version of Picnik provides the user some nice features like “Instant Slimming!”, adding picture frames or  the possibility to place text(bubbles) in your picture for snapshots or traditional holiday photos. The premium account offers more features, including batch uploads, full-screening and professional photo editing tools.

While researching I found heaps of free image-editing tools and websites.
Most of them are pretty similar, without major differences in terms of
functionality. These tools are great but yet unable to compete with
Photoshop. You can easily sharpen or cutting a snapshot with Picnik, but
you will have problems with coloring or collaging. A huge plus for online
tools like Picnik is that they generally have no hardware requierements to
your computer. You don’t need a highend cpu neither an expensive graphic
card.

We will see what will be developed in the future.

Ads can be fun

Ads suck…mostly! They interrupt television program and make us feel like we’ve been taken for fools often enough.

But, if you already feel annoyed by certain advertisements, would you have the willingness to buy the praised product? Probably not!

 

It could be different. Sometimes, there are actually exceptions between promotional movies that do not force you to grab the remote control to zap on a different channel or make you flee towards the fridge. Some spots can literally be awesome – weather because they convince in terms of movie technology and offer something pleasant for the eye of the viewer, or because the they contain funny/exciting moments. Sometimes advertising is so good that the spot even reaches cult status.

If you are searching for these spots on the internet, online platforms such as Youtube are probably the best place for it. Many companies, for example the mail order company OTTO, publish their spots on Youtube: “Cloth Swopping – OTTO”

The advertisment remains memorized – in this case, in a positive way!

 

Some more pics that I’ve found on the web:

Nike Run benches NYC

Nike Run benches NYC

reverse installed Subway Station benches. Facing the Ad.

reverse installed Subway Station benches. Facing the Ad.

Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegetarian Restaurant

Swiss Skydive - Elevator

Want more? Visit: Coloribus

The Sahara – Powerhouse of Solar Energy

In my last week’s post, I wrote about the introduction and buildout of solar ovens in Africa which was one indicator of my today’s entry. I talked about the advantages and the sustainability of these tools, that surely have a big impact on the African population and ecology but if we take the sun as a source of energy, trust me, it can do way more than what I’ve talked about so far.

It’s based on the right concept that says “start small, grow as you go“. As I mentioned last week, the approach to implement solar ovens in the every day life of geographically remoted and electrically isolated farmers, has turned out to be a huge success, refering to the cost-benefit ratio as well as the added value. If we had to set up an equation for the poor it would be: a little=a lot.

Is Africa suited for Solar Energy?

The introduction of solar ovens is a microsocial and –economical aspect but what I’ve been wondering about for the last week is if solar energy is also applicable to macroeconomic and -social facets. How can countries and continents benefit from African  solar energy?

Have a look at the following graph.

This map indubitably reveals the potential of solar energy in Africa. As you can see irradiance of the African continent is one of the world’s highest. Meghan Simonds writes about “Africa’s abundance of solar energy“. Though the whole continent seems to face extremely high irradiance, there are two spots that stand out. It’s the deserts. Besides the Kalahari desert which marks the dark spot in the south, it’s predominantely the Sahara that could become Africa’s powerhouse for solar energy. Dr. Gerhard Knies, co-founder of TREC, believes in deserts:

“we could meet the entire world’s energy needs by covering a fraction of the world’s deserts — just 0.5 percent — with concentrated solar power plants.”

The Foundation of Desertec

Knies’ research and assumptions eventually resulted in a project called Desertec. It’s aiming for a massive network of wind and solar farms that could connect to Europe via high voltage direct current transmission cables. “These cables are supposed to only lose 3% of their electricity per 1000km“, Charis Michelsen states.

An Unattainable Dream?

While others still regard Desertec as an unattainable dream, big companies such as E.ON or Siemens have joined the project establishing the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii). Especially after Germany has announced to dismantle its nuclear power plants, the project seems like the perfect solution in order to gain energy. Is it a German project?

“Yes, the initiative came from Germany. But there are 15 different nationalities involved, including companies such as HSBC and Morgan Stanley. This is just the start”,

Paul van Son, Dii’s CEO, answers.

It’s not a Walk in the Park!

Due to the harsh weather conditions in the desert, maintaining the troughs turns out to be the biggest problem the project has to face. High winds and sandstorms let the scientists hit problems. Bodo Becker, the operations manager at Flagsol, declares tough numbers:

“Due to the dusty conditions, we are witnessing about 2% degradation every day in performance, so we need to clean them daily. We use about 39 cubic metres of demineralised water each day for cleaning across the whole site.”

39 cubic metres, that equals 10.300 gallons of water which is  38.989 liter of water each day. Taking into consideration the general lack of water in deserts, this number seems unimaginable.

Exploitation or Mutual Benefit?

Although the project could be seen as the solution of one of the world’s biggest problems, it encounters resistance, especially by Africans. Daniel Ayuk Mbi Egbe of the African Network for Solar Energy points out why:

“Many Africans are sceptical [about Desertec],” he said. “[Europeans] make promises, but at the end of the day, they bring their engineers, they bring their equipment, and they go. It’s a new form of resource exploitation, just like in the past.”

Despite all that, the truth is Europe does benefit from Desertec, but so does every African country. Since the plans include a massive network, it seeks after a fair distribution of energy.

This project, to me, seems finally like a great and effective approach to cover the world’s demand with natural, sustainable energy. With time, new improvements and methods will contribute to a more effective and efficient production of solar energy which will in fact result in less waste and destruction.

Distraction

The Internet. The World Wide Web.

One of the, if not the, greatest Tools of the last century. It has created a completely new business, it has revolutionize the way we communicate, the way we gain knowledge and understanding, the way we work and especially our whole life.

It gave us access to the whole world. In Germany are over 51 Million people “online”, nearly 2 billion worldwide. There are more than 22 million Facebook users in Germany, 155 million in the USA, and they upload a total of 36 billion images, every minute 48 hour of new videos are uploaded to YouTube and 2 billion videos are watched per day, there are 152 Million blogs and like 202 million internet domains.

So that´s are nice facts, but why?

Let me ask you something did you read this text above without any pause?
You did not check Facebook, Google+ or another social media?
Or maybe the television in the back? Or maybe you change a song on YouTube?
Ok, possible not because this text was very short, but I hope you get a clue of my stupid point.

Distraction

I like to quote Sir Ken Robinson.… living in the intensive stimulating period in the history of the earth.
The Distraction is everywhere, ok not only the internet, but with all the Smartphone’s around it has doubled his potential impact.

 “Dark Side “

It is a thing we are all do. By writing this text I checked Facebook, after finding Sir Robinsons video you was distracted by YouTube, because I found other interesting videos.
Sometimes I think we humans are still the noisy little monkey.

And with that comes another problem

Multitasking. Multitasking. Multitasking

We often try to keeping track of everything around us and so we try to divide your attention. But that has affects like Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor of communications, worked out on a study.

… heavy multitaskers experience cognitive issues, such as difficulty focusing and remembering things. They were actually worse at juggling various activities, a skill crucial to many people’s work lives, than those who spent less time multitasking.

Some additional information.

What I want is to encourage you to look at yourself. And rethink. How can you avoid that distraction? Because that is something you can only find out for yourself. Maybe it is the good old discipline or something else. I don´t know.

But remember the easy and all time access to all kind of information’s (distraction) is like a tsunami for us.

Google announces Search by Image and Voice Search for Desktop

I dont know if its too late to share or not because everybody seems to know this news that Google Search now can be searched by image and voice instead of typing on searching box.
 

While Google is still by far the most dominant search engine on the Web, it can’t afford to rest on its laurels with Microsoft constantly adding new features to its Bing search engine. At Google’s ‘Inside Search’ event, the company has announced several new features designed to ensure it stays on top of the lucrative search engine game. Users will now be able to search using images, enter search terms by voice and have the top search results pre-rendered so they appear instantly.

Google Goggles has been letting users conduct searches based on pictures taken on mobile devices since 2009 and now Search by Image brings the same functionality to the desktop. Users can drag and drop an image from the Web or stored locally on their computer over the Google search box and Google will try and identify it and bring up relevant results. Users can also Search by Image by copying and pasting an image URL or uploading an image by clicking on the camera icon in the search box. Google is also releasing extensions forChrome and Firefox browsers that will let users search an image on the web by right-clicking on it.

The company says it is rolling out the feature globally in 40 languages now, but it doesn’t look to have been activated in my neck of the woods yet so I wasn’t able to put it the test by attempting to identify the location of my holiday snaps. If you point your browser to images.google.com and see a camera icon in the search box, however, you should be good to go.

Another feature making its way from mobile devices to the desktop is Voice Search. The feature is limited to Chrome 11 or higher users who will see a microphone icon in the search box. Users can click on the icon and speak their search – provided their computer has a built-in or attached microphone.

Also revealed at ‘Inside Search’ is Instant Pages, which is basically an evolutionary step of its Instant Search feature introduced last year that provides search results as you type. To speed up things even further, Instant Pages will pre-render the top search result in the background so it will appear instantly when clicked. Instant Pages will be included in the next beta release of Chrome but can be tried now with the developer version.

Check out the videos below for examples of the new Google features.
 
google search by image

google search by voice

by Rusdi Rusdi

Lobbyism and SOPA

The head of the MPAA film industry association, Chris Dodd, claims US-President Barack Obama to support the controversially discussed law SOPA. If not, Obama has to go without any campaign contributions of Hollywood.

 

I recommend you to read my former Blog post about SOPA. 

Wikipedia says: 

Lobbying (also lobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals orcorporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or advocacy groups (interest groups). Lobbyists may be among a legislator’s constituents, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within his or her electoral district, or not; they may engage in lobbying as a business, or not. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest who hires them.”

 

Chris Dodd

Chris Dodd

What happens if a lobbyist holds a financial gun to a politician’s head is what Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA film industry association, showed last week. Apparently, Obamas commitment against SOPA was a thorn in his eyes so he commented briefly: 

“Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood‘ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” Dodd told Fox News. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

Tech Dirt directly countered: 

“This certainly follows what many people assumed was happening, and fits with the anonymous comments from studio execs that they will stop contributing to Obama, but to be so blatant about this kind of corruption and money-for-laws politics in the face of an extremely angry public is a really, really, really tone deaf response from Dodd. “

 

The successful amalgamation of the internet community shows the enormous potential and political strength. A strength that should have been kept under control with SOPA.

…initially put on hold: too much resistance to the bill

Even if it is often told that you should regularly read newspaper and watch news, you probably got wind of this matter while surfing through the web. It concerns the controversial US draft law SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), which was submitted some time ago by the Republican Lamar S. Smith.
This law would potentially allow the American legal system to delete or disable websites that fiddles with copyright law content in any way. This sounds positive for the industry in the first case. But you wouldn’t be able to post any video that contains protected music, even if it’s in the background, for example on Youtube. Because of the strong restriction of freedom of the user in the web and because of the unduly claim to judge foreign websites, several online firms, Bloggers and so on make a stand against this bill.

What happened?

On Wednesday, the 18th of January, Wikipedia, Google, Mozilla, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, Greenpeace and many more protested against SOPA and “Blacked-Out” their sites as well as they started petitions. Because they fear the American draft law could reach Europe, Germans and other Europeans were participating in the protest.
Many American Internet users were probably highly surprised when they tried to research Wikipedia for some random facts. Instead of millions of articles they could just see the catchy phrase “Imaging a World Without Free Knowledge” on a darkened site.

Freedom in danger?

It was the biggest possible protestation that Wikipedia could have done. The English speaking online encyclopedia was shut down for about 24 hours. To obtain the freedom of information, Wikipedia removed all that content from the web.

Other reactions

According to www.marketingland.com, many prominent founders of huge tech companies, for example Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, PayPal founder Elon Musk and several others, posted an Open Letter To Washington expressing their concerns about the legislation. From the letter:

“These two pieces of legislation threaten to:

  • Require web services, like the ones we helped found, to monitor what users link to, or upload. This would have a chilling effect on innovation;

  • Deny website owners the right to due process of law;

  • Give the U.S. Government the power to censor the web using techniques similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran; and

  • Undermine security online by changing the basic structure of    the Internet.”

What is this all about?

The US House Of Representatives is currently negotiating about a two new draft laws called SOPA and PIPA. These laws would intervene deeply into online events.
The record industry as well as movie industry claimed an implementation of tight measures against websites that allow access to licensed media. Therefore, the US Parliament responded to that request with the release of the draft law “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) submitted by Lamar S. Smith.

Potentially arbitrariness?

To stop the unlicensed and therefore unpaid distribution of digital content, the bill intends to lock websites. Providers should be forced to deny the access of their customers to visit certain pages.
If a website gets classified as as illegal, no one will be able to do business with the company concerned: payment providers, advertising services or even search engines. Whoever comes to close to websites, branded as illegal, could be hold accountable.

More information about SOPA:

The “Bad” Side of Smartphones

In my blog last week I talked about the strategies some companies are following to ensure the security of important data in the devices of their employees.  Now I want to focus more into what possible problems smartphones bring into a business and how a company could prevent or fix this problem.

Some of the possible problem are:

  • Mobile phones could represent a high cost for the business
  • It could generate a problem for the IT department because of the different operating system the smartphones have.
  • Not all the applications that could be useful for the company are for every type of smartphones.
  • The company could lose very important data.
  • They are expensive devices.
  • There aren´t really for everyone.  The can be difficult to understand.
  • Smartphones could also be a very big distraction for the workers.

From the list above I would like to focus more into the high cost these devices could bring to a company.

1. Background

First of all I would like start saying a little bit more about an smartphone, what are they? How do they work? Since when exists in the market an smartphone?

Smartphones have been growing in popularity for the past ten years.  But the first was launched in 1993.  The difference between then and now is that by that time the smartphones were primarly used by business professionals and were mostly very expensive.

The Simon was the first attempt by the tech industry of a smartphone.  This phone had incorporated voice and data services into one package, the device worked also as a mobile phone, a PDA and even a fax machine, it had even a touch screen that could be used to dial phone numbers.  The price of The Simon was around $899, it was a real luxury to have one.

Beginning 2002 the RIM company entered the mobile phone market with its BlackBerry 5810, a phone with the ability to get an e-mail and surf the Web.  The downside of this device is that you needed to plug in a headset in order to talk on the phone until 2004, that the BlacBerry 6210 came out.

By 2007 Apple releases its new revolutionary device “the iPhone”.   This device has a integrated touchscreen display with a really good web-browser, that is still consider as one of the best offered on a mobile device.  In the Fall of that same year Google unveils the Android, a device with a different operating system but practically with the same features than another smartphone.

2. Current Conditions

Nowadays the smartphones´prices fluctuate between €100 and €1000 depending on the year of the smartphone.  If you buy now one that was launched in 2008, it would be much, but much cheaper than one that was launched in the past last year.

The new smartphones have improved operating system, completely new features, and they work faster than the old ones.

3. Goals/Targets

The goal is trying to get useful smartphones that increases the productivity of your business at a low cost.

4. Analysis

To be able to achieve their goals, the company needs to consider if it’s better to let their employees to use their own smartphones, if they have one, or to give them one because is necessary for them to do a better work.

5. Proposed Countermeasures

The company needs to keep in mind all the pros and cons of using a personal phone or one provided by the company.  What will result cheaper?  Remember if it treats about a private device, notice all the possible risk that it might bring and what will the company cover from their monthly bill, or if it is a business one, which smartphone then should you provide to your employee.

Another thing companies should have in considerations are:

  • Where should I buy the phone? Directly from the manufacturer or with a long term contract at the wireless service provider such as O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, etc.
  • Which kind of mobile phone package should I purchase?
  • What is going to be the specific function of this cell phone?  Is it just to call, is it to receive emails, is it to get calls, etc.
  • Is it really the adequate one for my workers?

6. Plan

To be able to choose the best mobile phone package, it is crucial to consider what your needs are.  A package that is perfect for one business may be completely wrong for another.  The two most important factor in choosing a mobile phone package are:

  • Who you call?
  • How much you call?
  • Pre-payment

6.1. Who you call?

The calls of mobile phones calls vary considerably depending on the type of phone called.  Phone calls to landlines and to the same network are cheaper than calling other mobile phone networks.

For these reason buy better then the same network for all your employees, this will not only reduce call charges significantly, it may also give your employees enough spending power to be able to negotiate a small discount.  If the majority of people you or your employees would be contacting are landlines, then it would be better to look for a package which offers cheap landline rates or a number of landline/same network minutes included.   If your contacts are based across a number of mobile networks, then it would make sense to look for a package that offers a good cross network rate or includes a number of inclusive minutes to all networks.  If the calls are all national or international, look for a plan that suits you better, like a number of inclusive minutes to all networks for a specific country, or for a whole region, or a continent, or to include some oversees countries.  These are most expensive, but will work out cheaper compared to the actual call costs.

6.2. How much you call?

The monthly rental cost of packages vary considerably along with the call charges.  The more you pay in monthly charges, the more inclusive minutes you get, and the more you save on call costs.  However there is no point paying for 10,000 inclusive minutes a month, when you only expect to use 500.  Many packages allows you to split the inclusive minutes over several phones, which works out more efficiently for businesses with several mobile phone users.   Mostly for businesses you are able to change the package you are on every month or two.  So if you choose a package is too expensive, you can move to a different one.

6.3. Pre-payment

Some businesses use a system of pre-payment for their mobile phones, this consists on “paying as you go”.  All this calls are paid for in advance.   You buy credit and added to the phone, and calls are made until this credit runs out.   This kind of service is advertise more for consumer service, not a business service.  But if you are just a small business and any package really suits you, because at the end the will result much more expensive, this in an alternative you should consider.

The main advantage of pre-payment is that you only pay for what you use.  There are not monthly charges, and there is no need for any contract.  The main disadvantage is that call charges are more expensive than contract phones, and there are no inclusive minutes.  The is also the risk that calling credit will run out in the middle of an important conversation.

If however, your business needs a phone for incoming calls only, or makes only a small number of short calls, then pre-pay services will more than likely work out cheaper.

7. Followup

To have a better result and to be able to minimize your cost, check each month for a period of time if the package that you got for your employees and for yourself are really the adequate for you.  Maybe you need a package with more inclusive minutes, or maybe one with less, and remember always think, who you call and how often do you call?  These two questions will help you reduce your bills considerably.  Also keep in mind the different kinds of providers, look up for promotions, special offers, compare them and find out which one suits better to your business.

In this post I informed you about the evolution of the smartphone through the time and I gave some tips on how companies could reduce their monthly costs with the right mobile package depending the type of business they run.

 

Heavy advertising pages will be punished

Image taken from bloggeri.esInternet giant Google improves its search engine algorithm. For the first time the design of a website takes part in the search results. Homepages that show a lot of ads will be rated worse in the future.

According to Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer of Google, the newly implemented change to the algorithm shouldn’t affect more than one percent of all searches. Still, this modification is probably not as important as the previous Freshness– and Panda-Update. The Panda-Change had an impact of six to nine percent while the Freshness-Update even affected up to 35 percent of all searches.

The change is primary directed at domains that are heavily advertising in the upper area. Sites using Pop-Ups or overlay ads are not affected this.

“As we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away. So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change.” – Cutts

With the implementation of the layout of websites to the algorithm Google has made a huge step forward.

Cutts recommends to hide the ads or to edit the design in an appropriate way. The new algorithm would detect the changes in the next run of the crawler and change the ranking immediately.

“On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.” –  Cutts

All that glitters is not gold

In my Opinion Google’s approach is completely right. “Ad-banner-garbage-dumps” which are ranked on top of the search results annoy me very often.

Critics will probably accuse Google to have double standards. Google sins against its own requirement quite obvious. Depending on the browser resolution there is a large part of visible advertisements on Google’s search result page.

The example above is pretty extreme since we can see the maximum of three ads that Google will ever show “above-the-fold”.

(low resolution netbook)

Solar Ovens in Africa – A Shining Business

Africa, a Continent of Superlatives

With an increasing population of about 1 billion which equals 15% of the world population and an area of 30.3 million km², Africa is a highly important and big part of our earth. The “poor continent” copes with huge difficulties and is basically depending on our help. More than 10% of its population suffer from malnutrition and only 0,8% receive food aid.

Money Can’t Solve all Problems

Facts like these, urged countries/organizations/companies and citizens to donate money for Africa. Who doesn’t know the signs and advertisments that call on us to grasp the nettle and donate money for Africa, money that often does everything but help. Money, that is abused by certain groups and people, that supports corruption and that is used desultorily. And even if the donations are used appropriately, there is still one thing they bring in their wake: NOTHING!

Because most donations are unsustainable, they might help a regional group of people to have something to eat, but it’s all temporary. They don’t decrease government expenses and in fact lead to a dependency and a decline in autonomy. Africa needs Sustainability, Tyler Suiters believed and went on a trip to South Africa where a new, sustainable form of help has been introduced : Solar Ovens

A Lack of Alternatives

Solar Ovens…to inhabitants of a developed country, it sounds like another green, hippie-like project that some might buy in order to ease their conscience. To the people in Africa, the meaning is totally different because their lacking in alternatives. In a place without any accessability to electricity but 320 days of sun per year, people, mostly farmers in rural areas, need to find another way to cook their daily meals. Sibbuseso Mkhize, a local farmer in Umbumbulu, South Africa, explains :”I use too much the wood, I cut it from all my area.

What’s the goal?

The goals and targets are clearly defined. Provide poor people in remoted, electrically isolated  villages, with a way to cook food tapping an abundant source of energy. By introducing solar ovens to the population you can not only reduce emissions but also give people a sustainable and reliable solution, which is easy to operate and does not take any deeper technological knowledge.

On the first day, the womean walk to the nearest place where wood can be gathered. On the second das, they search for firewood. The third day is spent carrying the wood on their backs home to the village – from Chad, Africa


Solar Cookers International East Africa Office - Number of Ovens per Organization in East Africa 2005-2010

Helping is not easy

It all started out of problems. It’s no wonder that every human needs food to survive. In order to cook you need energy. If you have no accessability to electricity or whatsoever, you use chopped wood to inflame a fire. The demand for wood in areas with a high population density is enormously high, which leads to a continuously progressing deforestation that results in a desertification. Another problem is the financing. In order to supply the regions with ovens, it takes money. We’re not talking about a few thousand affected people but many millions, some might be able to pay a small price but the majority is too poor.

How to Solve these Problems

To encounter the deforestation as well as the desertification and to create a more efficient way of cooking(which does not only include the actual cooking but also the acquisition of needed resources, such as wood and stones), scientists tried to find a sustainable solution and eventually ended up with the solar oven. The ovens only need sun which will safe time and resources, that can now be spent on equally essential activities/work. The non-profit organizations undoubtably depend on donations, government support or fundraising in order to finance the ovens.

Ways to Finance Sustainability

Hope reposes on the manufacturing costs which are comparatively low. “The solar cooker can be made for a cost of about $17“, David Chandler writes and reveals that it surely doesn’t take much to achieve something big. In addition, the Solar Cookers International organization has established a so called marketplace where people can purchase a solar oven and by that help financing projects. Emily Heskey adds that everyone is welcome to help financing solar oven projects. He also mentiones something that truly helps non-profit organizations. It’s the fact that it’s nowadays inevitable to implement environmental activities and sustainable thinking in a company’s corporate culture. Emile writes:

Many companies are keen to show their environmental credentials, which will mean that financing a project such as yours will be an attractive option.

Success or Failure?

So far the distribution of the solar ovens has been quite successful. According to Radha Muthiah, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, there has been between 2.5 and 3 million households, all over the world, that have adopted solar cookers. She discloses the desirable numbers for the future “We’ve set a goal of a hundred million households adopting clean cooking solutions by the year 2020.” Mrs. Muthiah knows that it’s still a long way to go but it’s a start.

What a great Invention!

I mean, seriously, it’s such a plain idea, you just take a little bit of metal, have it face the sun and guess what, there is fire to cook. Though I think the distribution and expansion of solar cookers could have already been started way earlier, it’s great to see that it finally picks up pace. I think the more these approaches succeed, the more publicity and attention they’ll get. A lot of aspects currently fit in the concept as “thinking green” is more important than ever before and these cheap tools unquestionably prove themselves. Especially since Africa is probably the sunniest continent on earth, it’s highly effective and sustainable. What we should keep in mind though is that invention such as these cookers don’t solve the actual problem of getting food aid. It’s absolutely senseless to have an oven but nothing to cook.

At this point I would like to again reference donations. Obviously, as I’ve mentioned before, there is no way around donations. Now that I’ve dug deeper into the topic I would like to correct my statement. Donations are important and effective but donators should always question the flow of money. Supporting organizations that use the donated money to establish sustainable tools and machines, is a great way to help creating a brighter future for other people.

To end my post I would like to quote the Audubon Magazine that once wrote:

“The world can choose sunlight or further deforestation,
solar cooking or widespread starvation.”