Wednesday, April 27, 2011

4-27-11: The Economics of Absentee Rent and Lazy College Students

I've been living in the Boston area for almost a month now. Things are great. I like the area and my new job, and it's good to be around the lady again.

Unfortunately, the timing of the move wasn't perfect. Right now I'm paying rent for my current apartment and the apartment in New Haven. It's only for a few months, but it definitely sucks to pay $600 a month (each) for an empty place. It's the price to pay for the great opportunity, I suppose.

Our landlords in New Haven were pretty cool about us leaving. Why wouldn't they be? We're still paying rent. They did put the place on the market as soon as we told them back in late February, but haven't had much luck. One of the more interesting tid bits, explained to me by one of the landlords, is that the apartment is a little too far away from the Yale shuttle bus route to attract many Yale students (not to say Yale students would be searching for a new apartment in March anyway).

The point he was really trying to make is that he can't charge as much rent as landlords with similar, if not inferior in quality, apartments located on the Yale shuttle route. Even being one block away from the end of the route can be a problem. The value placed upon convenience and location by Yale students is higher than the value they place on the living standards within their physical domicile. Good for those lucky landlords, bad for my landlord (and therefore me, the absentee tenant).

On the flip side, I now live just far enough away from Tufts University that it's inconvenient for students who wish to live within walking distance of campus. My rent is therefore fairly reasonable for the location. Tufts doesn't have the same sort of shuttle service that Yale has, so I'd imagine the drop off in rent pricing isn't as drastic here in Medford. I have no data to back that up. Just a guess.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smart Transformers

"If one neighbor plugged an electric car into an AC charger, for example, it could respond by tapping otherwise unneeded DC power from another neighbor's solar panels."


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Controlling the flow of electricity to stabilize the grid

In a lab wired up to simulate a residential neighborhood, Alex Huang is working to revamp aging power grids into something more like the Internet—a network that might direct energy not just from centralized power stations to consumers but from any source to any destination, by whatever route makes the most sense. To that end, Huang, a professor of electrical engineering at North Carolina State University, is reinventing the transformers that currently reduce the voltage of the electricity distributed to neighborhoods so that it's suitable for use in homes and offices.


Things you can do from here:


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Can an Algorithm Spot the Next Google?

"By extracting words and phrases from the collected documents, Quid constructs a "technology genome" that describes the primary focus of each of those 35,000 entities. A map of the connections those genomes can be used by investors to find hints about interesting companies or ideas, says Gourley. Most companies cluster around established sectors, but a few will sit in the white spaces between the clusters and can represent the seeds of new technology sectors."


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A startup analyzes tweets, patents, and lots of other data in the hopes of identifying the next big thing.

By definition, "disruptive" technologies are those that take the world by surprise. Now a startup called Quid claims that its software can make good guesses about what the next big thing will be. It does this by analyzing a store of data on existing companies, ideas, and research.


Things you can do from here: