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Paul Mobbs &
Mobbs' Environmental Investigations –

Work Archive –
Themes Index:

Permaneering

I've worked primarily with community groups for many years – mostly in the UK, but also in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. The materials produced from that work have relevance not just to the people who commissioned them, but many other communities too. For that reason I maintain an on-line archive of my work.

For details of the licensing restrictions on using these resources, see the Copyright and Sharing page.

Work Archive:
'Themes' Index

Articles

Handouts

Infographics

Media Coverage

Podcasts

Presentations

Ramblinactivist

Reports/Research

Themes

Activism

Climate

Cyberwarfare

Ecological Limits

Energy

FLOSSH

'Fracking'

Hacktivism

Nuclear

'Outdoors'

Peace

Permaneering

Planning

Pollution/Waste

Simplicity/Less

Quakerism

Video and Audio

The 'Permaneering' theme covers a variety of activities around "trash technology", recycling equipment, and issues related to our long-term use of resources and engineered systems.

The term itself is a contraction of the the word 'Permanent' and 'Engineering' – which, like permaculture, embodies the idea that we need to reconsider our relationship to the technological systems which surround our lives.

Engineering is one of my natural talents – be that electrical, mechanical, or 'logical' (computer) systems. My first jobs was in the engineering industry, before I left to become a freelance consultant in 1991, and 'tinkering' with physical or logical machines is still something I enjoy.

Of course the benefits of being good with machines is that it makes it so much easier to work in the technical side of social issues – be that the regulation of an industrial site, protecting people's privacy on-line, or even teaching people how to camp outdoors using minimal equipment. That practical side to my nature has always added an incredibly interesting dimension to my work.

'Permaneering' is the seed of an idea I hope to find the time to develop further over coming years.


The 'Permaneering' Theme

inc image Mobbsey's Musings: 'The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics – The gaping hole in the middle of the Circular Economy'

17/04/2018

Listening to Radio 4 this morning I heard the two juxtaposed keywords that I've learned to dread over the last couple of the years; 'circular economy'. It's a great idea, and I can't fault the true belief of those promoting it. My problem is that the way they describe it has little to do with the physical realities of the world, and hence it's really just a 'get out of hell free' card for affluent consumers.

file icon read the 'Musings' article
130.2 kilobytes



inc image Ramblinactivist 4/17: 'The Free Range 'Feral' Stick-Fire Cooking Grate'

14/06/2017

Cooking outdoors is a fun skill to learn to expand your ecological awareness and personal resilience. Cook well outdoors from fresh or foraged food, and you can cook well anywhere. Problem is, where do you find the 'ecologically sound'/fossil-fuel free kit? The Free Range Stick-Fire Cooking Grate is a small, light-weight, trestle-style cooking grate designed to burn small sticks which, with a few tools and components, you can easily build yourself.

file icon Youtube channel
This 'ramblinactivist' video shows the process of building and using the grate – enjoying an evening not just 'out in the sticks', but 'cooking with sticks too.

file icon Design handout
For the detailed design information, and background on the use of the grate and land law in England and Wales, see the design handout on the Free Range Activism Website

file icon Mobbsey's Musings: 'Taking the Fossil Fuels out of Camp Cooking'
The are some innocuous uses of fossil fuels which go largely unnoticed. One such example is camping outdoors. Camping shops sell a variety of stoves fuelled by gas, liquid petrol or methanol, or chemical-based solid fuel compounds. Thing is, if you're outdoors, is the use of fossil fuels necessary?
1.8 megabytes



inc image The Free Range Do-It-Yourself 'Feral' Stick-Fire Cooking Grate

14/06/2017

Cooking outdoors is a fun skill to learn to expand your ecological awareness and personal resilience. Cook well outdoors from fresh or foraged food, and you can cook well anywhere. Problem is, where do you find the 'ecologically sound'/fossil-fuel free kit? The Free Range Stick-Fire Cooking Grate is a small, light-weight, trestle-style cooking grate designed to burn small sticks which, with a few tools and components, you can easily build yourself.

file icon design/construction handout
3.3 megabytes

file icon A3 summary poster
1.2 megabytes



inc image "Extreme Resources" and The Limits to Growth

01/08/2016

Have you ever considered that we divide-up human history in terms of the technology of things that we use in our day-to-day lives? For example the Stone Age or Iron Age, and latterly the Industrial and Information Ages. As a facet of our present existence, human history is a contrast to our present technology rather than a relationship between the lives of everyday people. The reality is though that the modern measure of "our lifestyles" – economic growth – is now challenged due a lack of the rare “rocks” which our modern technologies depend upon.

file icon download poster presentation
1.8 megabytes



inc image Mobbsey's Musings: '"And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself": Tolstoy, Paine and debating the ecological impacts of social media'

09/08/2014

If you've seen my recent "musings", you'll note that the picture icons are mostly taken from old black and white films. That's not so much deliberate as reflective of the time when I've been subconsciously writing these posts. I've been really busy over recent months, and unlike newer films, with their complex plots and special effects, I find older films far more relaxing. There's something engaging about stripping out the trappings of the latest cinematic technology; focussing instead, almost like workshop theatre, on the simplicity of direct communication.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
62.5 kilobytes



inc image Mobbsey's Musings: 'Speed may shrink the time, but we still live in a very big world – the physical realities of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370'

03/04/2014

Today we move so quickly, relying on so many systems and mechanisms, perhaps we have collectively lost our sense of how small we are in this very great world. As we move faster, and demand greater comfort and safety, so our modes of transport become more complex – and thus prone to unexpected failure. From plane crashes to train wrecks, being reminded that things can, and sometimes do go wrong unsettles our consensual illusion of safety.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
83.7 kilobytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.12: "Promulgating the Web's calorie controlled diet" – web design, environmental impact and the much ignored ecological efficiency of the Internet

23/05/2011

I'm feeling pretty awful; for the last few days I've been laid low with a bug that just won't go away. As I sit, trying to find something to do, it occurs to me that I could catch-up on some of the really tedious, dead-head chores that I've been putting off for a while. If I feel so awful, how more awful can it be to do those things that I never feel like doing in any case? I begin by trying to write a long-overdue beginner's guide to the Linux command line interface – I get as far as designing a rather entertaining logo before realising this requires far too much brain power for my current state of mind! Then I remember the "design statement" for the Free Range Activism Web Site. That requires measuring lots of web pages to demonstrate, statistically, why the design system for the FRAW site is, ecologically, better than mainstream design methods. Hmmn, yeah, downloading lots of web pages, categorising their component parts and then spreadsheeting the results for later analysis. OK, as occupations go it's the digital equivalent of watching paint dry, but right now I feel that I can do that!

file icon HTML version
528.9 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
704.3 kilobytes



inc image The "Limits to Technology": The annotated workshop/presentation slides

2011

"Limits to Technology" examines the role of resource depletion and the ecological limits to human society's future use of "technological systems" – a broad term covering not only our use of computers and mobile technologies, but also the electronics, metals and chemical components of everyday goods and products, and the latest "green technologies". Like the human system in general, our use of technology is subject to certain resource specific limits; by understanding these limits, and how they affect us all, we can address our minds to devising new ways to live our lives in an inevitably more resource-constrained future.

file icon annotated slides
3.1 megabytes

file icon presentation slides
3 megabytes



inc image Ecolonomics no.3: The Trap – Technology, the Virtual World, and Hacking the Meanings of Society

25/08/2009

The predominant view of how we radically change society is by "taking over"; revolutions – be they political, technological, intellectual, or merely the sophistry of the marketing profession – represent the succession of one dominant culture by the next, and are the means by which we take one way of viewing society can supplant it with another. But in a society where our relations are increasingly virtual, and we put our faith into mechanistic systems to handle our lives – not through conscious understanding but by attaching abstract meaning to technologically mediated interaction – is that view of changing society still valid?

file icon HTML version
58.5 kilobytes

file icon PDF version
196.2 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Sheet O8: Light and Power – Using micro-power systems outdoors

September 2008

There are a lot of good things about technology: being able to make light at the flick of a switch is one; getting information and entertainment over the radio is another. This unit looks at how we can generate, store and use electricity outdoors using very small-scale micro-power systems.

file icon HTML web page version
55.7 kilobytes

file icon Colour PDF version
369.2 kilobytes

file icon Greyscale 'print/photocopy' PDF version
369.2 kilobytes



inc image The "Less is a Four Letter Word" Presentation

2008

The 'Less is a Four Letter Word' presentation was developed in 2005 for the Free Range Network. It follows on from the 'Energy Beyond Oil' (EBO) presentation, picking up where EBO leaves off, it starts with the simple question, "logically, if we're going to have to use less, how do we do it?". Problematically this collides with the primary obstruction to planning meaningful change – economic growth.

file icon "Less is a Four Letter Word" – presentation slides
1.3 megabytes

file icon "Less is a Four Letter Word" – annotated slides
2 megabytes



inc image Outline for an uninterruptible/renewable power system

02/10/2006

An outline for a uninterruptible/renewable power system for a community radio station in rural Guyana (where regular power cuts played havoc with the broadcast schedule!). The general idea was that I'd make the parts out of automotive components so that it could be maintained/repaired locally. In the end I think they got hold of a wholly commercial system based around my specs.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
90.8 kilobytes



inc image Brave New Brum Workshop Summary/Handout

October 2005

The handout for a two day practical workshop on 'doing energy' in Birmingham – looking at things like how much power we use, ways to reduce it, and how to use small renewable power systems to take some of your demand off-grid. This is the sort of stuff now encompassed in some of the Trash Tech. Engineering workshops that I run.

file icon Brave New Brum Workshop Summary/Handout
272.7 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Case Study' No.1: A Gnu/Linux Laptop for a Community Recycling Organisation

March 2005

This first case study from the SSP project dives straight in the deep end – installing a Gnu/Linux system on a recycled laptop. This report outlines some of the problems inherent to installing a Linux­based laptop, and ideas for installing a system specifically for use in a small community group.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.5: ELV Dummy Load for Power Supply Testing

January 2005

You build a mains or renewable energy power supply for a laptop or other sensitive device, plug it in, turn it on and BANG – smoke comes from the power supply, laptop, or both! Here's a junk idea to avoid making such an expensive mistake.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1.1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' 5: 'ELV Dummy Load for Power Supply Testing'

January 2005

You build a mains or renewable energy power supply for a laptop or other sensitive device, plug it in, turn it on and BANG – smoke comes from the power supply, laptop, or both! Here's a junk idea to avoid making such an expensive mistake. Originally developed as part of a workshop on 'trash electronics', this sheet explains the theory behind the pulse width modulation of power supplies, and can be adapted to serve a variety of uses.

file icon ELV Dummy Load for Power Supply Testing
1.1 megabytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.4: Uses for Useless Computer Hardware #1 – PC Cases

February 2004

When old computers get too old what can you do with all that old junk? One of the big problems are the cases of computers and other equipment. They're bulky, and although the steel ones can be sent for recycling, the plastic ones tend to get landfilled, or worse, incinerated. So here's an idea for re­use.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
246.6 kilobytes



inc image Creating Linux Networks with Trash Technology

2004

A presentation priduced for ComputerAid International on recycling trash computer technology to create a community ICT training facility – based on the work previously undertaken developing the 'Community-Linux Training Centre', and then building that concept "in the field" through events such as 'The Container Project'.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
537.1 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Practice Briefing 1: The Gnu/Linux Operating System

December 2003

This, rather wordy introduction to the Linux system is intended to provide background information on Linux, and what it is. It does not provide any practical guidance. Instead it conveys the theoretical concepts that will help you understand how the Linux operating system works.

file icon download resource PDF
130.7 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' 3: The Tech2 L200 Variable Voltage Regulator

November 2003

Power is a problem. You always need it, but you don't always have a mains supply. So this regulator, originally designed as part of the Tech2 festival in 2002, was developed to solve the problem. It is able to regulate the variable voltage from a battery down to a constant voltage – for powering equipment like laptops.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
839.6 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' 2: Ethernet Cable Tester

November 2003

Making Ethernet cables is easy, when you have the tool to crimp the connectors. But even then, you can't always be sure that the connector has been properly connected to the cable. Commercial network cable testers can cost £60 or more. Here's an idea for a simple cable tester that cost under £20 if you, or someone handy with a soldering iron, makes it from scratch.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1 megabytes



inc image Free Range Practice Guide No.2: Switching to Low Energy Lights

October 2003

Changing your light bulbs saves energy and can cut your electricity bill.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
61.7 kilobytes



inc image Community-Linux Training Centre Project Documentation: First Year Project Update

October 2003

The Community–Linux Training Centre Project has been developed as a means of promoting the use of Gnu/Linux for education and training amongst community organisations and grassroots activists. This briefing outline the concepts behind the project, and the progress to date.

file icon download resource PDF
93.1 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project Report 2: Networking Computer Systems Using Ethernet

September 2003

A computer on its own is a useful typewriter, or a games console. But the true value of a computer system doesn't present itself until you connect it to other computers to enable communication and resource sharing. This report looks at the issue of connecting systems together using a 'local area network', or 'LAN'. It explains the concepts behind a LAN, and outlines how to set one up using trash. tech and the Gnu/Linux operating system.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
216.5 kilobytes



inc image Free Range Bulletin 03/1: Broken Windows with Stronger Fences

August 2003

Many people do not like the practices of large multinational corporations. Some work actively to campaign against such organisations, and change the system for something better. Why then do the majority of these people hand over control of their computers to a monopoly corporation, Microsoft, and pay large sums of money for the privilege of using insecure software?

file icon download resource PDF
101.1 kilobytes



inc image Salvage Server Project 'Junk Ideas' No.1: Swappable Hard Drives for Backing-up

February 2003

Old hard disks are easy to come by. In the mid-1990s people thought 300 or 600 megabyte hard disks provided massive storage capacity. Today they are relatively useless on most operating systems (Slackware Linux excepted). This sheet looks at putting all these old disks to a practical use as bulk storage devices. For older hard disk the storage capacity is relatively similar to CD-Rs, but perhaps more expensive if you buy the drives. But when using recent, large capacity, hard disks you can achieve storage capacities that are cheaper per gigabyte than DVD-R discs.

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
247.3 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/B: Designing the Community-Linux Training Centre System

January 2003

This section outlines the technical criteria behind the development of the CLTC system. In particular, it looks at the importance of specifying the design of the local area network in advance of setting-up/installing the hardware.

file icon download resource PDF
177.5 kilobytes



inc image CLTC Documentation Sheet 0/A: Developing the Community–Linux Training Centre

January 2003

This first section provides an introduction to four differing views of the project - the history of the design, the objective of a 'community' Linux project, the financial aspects, and the potential uses of the CLTC system.

file icon download resource PDF
128.5 kilobytes



inc image The CLTC on tour at Tech 2

August 2002

'Tech 2' is a touring event. It brings together technical experts, media activists and artists to develop projects over a number of days. This year, Tech 2 has been primarily based at the Folly Gallery in Lancaster. But for its last week it moved to Grizedale Forest in the Lake District to experiment with wireless networks and Linux systems.

file icon Tech2 project index
135.4 kilobytes

file icon Erecting the wind turbine at Tech2
183.6 kilobytes

file icon CLTC briefing sheet
102.2 kilobytes

file icon Tech2 Variable Voltage Regulator
839.6 kilobytes



inc image The Campaigners' Computer Maintenance Mantra

1996

A little funny verse to get campaigners to look after their technology... "This is my computer. There are many like it but this one is mine..."

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
37.5 kilobytes



inc image GREENBASE Public Display Computer System

01/04/1991

Recently there has been a large growth in the number of interactive public computer systems, ranging from those in libraries run by local councils, to an expanding number in shop windows run by the English Tourist Board or the AA. These systems show the potential of how computer based systems can help in communicating to the public. It would be great if the environment movement could take hold of information technology and use it to promote 'green' ideas, but such systems are very expensive – but there are alternatives!

file icon click to download Paul Mobbs/MEI resource
1.8 megabytes