Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The sun influences our Climate?
Maybe so ...
Climate change | Bubbling up | Economist.com:
Oct 26th 2006
From The Economist print edition
A new experiment to test the role of cosmic rays in global warming
SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL, an 18th-century astronomer, is credited with being the first person to notice the effect of variations in the sun's activity on the Earth. In 1801 he observed that when the sun had many spots on its surface, the price of wheat fell—a connection he attributed to the weather being more temperate. Over the next 200 years scientists tried, without much success, to understand exactly how these transient sunspots might affect the climate. Now an experiment has begun that could explain what is going on.
Customer Deflation Mismanagement | Doc Searls' IT Garage
I like the idea of VRM vs CRM:
"I bring all this up because I want to imagine out the DIY-IT successor to the silo'd systems we're still suffering with here. As always, I can imagine lots of reasons to build out VRM (vendor relationship mangement) systems where customers can keep their own records of their ends of relationships with companies of all kinds. That way we can come to the likes of Dish and DirecTV and anybody else with our own data intact, and in some cases much more richly furnished than providers' own CRM (customer relationship management) systems allow."
Monday, October 30, 2006
earthlights02_dmsp_big.jpg (JPEG Image, 2400x1200 pixels) - Scaled (39%)
One interpretation being "Civilized" World Illuminated
Soup :: Ryder Notes: Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP World Champion :: 10-29-2006
From Valentino Rossi, who many consider to be the world's greatest competing rider: "Nicky is my personal favorite (if I don't win!); he's a great guy as well as a great rider. This is not easy in this paddock. I like him, I like his family. His father came to my motorhome after Portugal to congratulate me—after Portugal....! Fack! 'He deserves to be World Champion."
Shots are from last July when Nicky won at Laguna Seca (US MotoGP venue)
Finished 3rd yesterday at Valencia to score enough points for the World Championship.
Nice deal for a nice kid from Kentucky.
Honda Press Release :
Honda On Hayden
HONDA RACING INFORMATION:
Nicky Hayden MotoGP World Champion:
The 'Kentucky Kid' is now the 2006 MotoGP World Champion. Nicky Hayden has taken on the best riders in the world and triumphed in what has been a gruelling 17-race season spanning the globe - the toughest task in motorcycle racing.
But here at Valencia, Spain the 26-year-old has achieved his life ambition and taken the greatest prize in two-wheel racing.
At the end of an emotional day Nicky said. "When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true it feels so good. This is a proud day for me, the team and my family. I want to thank everybody back home and I hope they're partying back there in Owensboro. When I went down at the beginning of the Estoril race I thought the dream was over but I just didn't give up. Anything can happen in racing and you just keep fighting until the end. I just believe good things happen to good people and this is a great day for me. I swear on the warm-up lap this morning I was riding round in front of a full house here and I had tears in my eyes because I knew this was the chance of a lifetime and I had to go for it. I've felt all year that this was my year - even at Estoril when Elias beat Rossi I believed it. I knew that, win or lose, I was going to sleep well tonight because I was gonna give it my all today.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Daily Mail/London paper:
North Korea might now have The Bomb, but it doesn't have much electricity Last updated at 10:46am on 13th October 2006
Blackout: While South Korea is a blaze of light, there's barely a glimmer in North KoreaAs the world grapples with how to rein in the "axis of evil" state which this week conducted a nuclear test, this spectacular satellite photo unveiled yesterday by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shows in stark detail the haves and have-nots of the Korean peninsula.
The regime in the north is so short of electricity that the whole country is switched off at 9 p.m. - apart from the capital of Pyongyang where dictator Kim Jong-il and his cohorts live in relative luxury. But even there, lighting is drastically reduced.The result, as shown in this picture taken one night earlier this week, is a startling contrast between the blacked-out north and the south, which is ablaze with light, particularly around major cities and the capital, Seoul, in the north-west of the country.
Mr Rumsfeld showed the picture to illustrate how backward the northern regime really is - and how oppressed its people are. Without electricity there can be none of the appliances that make life easy and that we take for granted, he said.
"Except for my wife and family, that is my favourite photo," said Mr Rumsfeld.
"It says it all. There's the south, the same people as the north, the same resources north and south, and the big difference is in the south it's a free political system and a free economic system.
"The people in the north are starving, their growth is stunted. It's a shame, a tragedy."
An aide added: "This oppressive regime is too busy trying to make war to make life comfortable for its people."
Saturday, October 28, 2006
We settle things with Charter Communications this morning.
Bill paid, AutoPay re-established, service back .
About 1:30 in the afternoon, a phone call from Charter
"we wanted to let you know that your bill was paid" (Duh ... site and email says so)
"would you like to establish autopay?" (reply - I already HAVE!)
So I try to go online to check the account ... and nope, have get into the whole reboot routine. No different than before, despite new cable modem.
So let's call Charter to reset that service call where the tech came while were at the Charter office yesterday.
We get into the Robo-voice routine for 15 min.
All because we can't seem to find the right path directly to a person to reschedule the service call. And by the way, I restablished the connection and was online while listening/trying to respond to Ms. RoboVoice... who could sense the modem (after a while) and traffic, but still thought there was a problem.
Now we have billing screw up (fixed I think), sales (who can't seem to see my account status, so want to sell me what I have) and tech support who doesn't.
New Rule: Troubles not to be taken care of by customer, but look for the "truck roll"...
Non responsive phone staff and robo-voices are ultimately NOT cost savings...
Other : Sprint has the goofiest phone bill pay system.
After you key in the payment and get the "robo-voice" (older and less pleasant than Charter) reading back your Visa information and the question "is this correct?"
Respond in positively and the same voice gives you a "confirm" number and asks "is this correct?"
Huh? You just gave me the number "robo-bitch"
Do executives of these companies ever try to use their own systems?
Just spent over 45 min with Charter Communications trying to sort out service, billing and credit(s).
Cable Modem had been failing, going from a reset every few weeks to several times a day.
Had service a few weeks ago, tested the line, good signal, but maybe some flucations.
Returned the modem to their offices yesterday afternoon... account called up and credit going forward (I had been "leasing" the box). Note that there was no mention of any problems with the account.
Purchased a modem, installed and it seems to work fine.
Watched Tigers loose last night, ah well
This AM, digital signal had a message to the effect that there's a problem with the account.
Long story short, spent far too much time (up to 1/2 hr) with the automated "bot" troubleshooting. Finally got through to a representative, who informed me that the autopay on the account was no longer in effect, and as a matter of fact, the last payment was returned.
Note that our Visa had been updated, new expiration date - this triggers the problem.
Representative offered to take my payment over the phone... for a fee!
Needless to say - screw that!
Fixed via company website.
Now to the point, besides being pissed at situation which was not of my making, there is a flaw in the "bot" for Charter Troubleshooting.
One of the steps in the decision tree is not compatible with the messages, and therefore essentially "hangs".
Having had a run-around from at Telco earlier this year, offering to show them an error on their website in return for service credit, I've taken the position that I will not give positive feedback or help with providers system errors without a payment/service credit.
Service providers can "beta test" their systems on paying clients, but not for free.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programing
Friday, October 27, 2006
"One reason to take classics in college is to learn the meaning of hubris. Better to absorb its meaning from the Greek playwrights than hearing it read out from a federal judge at sentencing."
"Jeffrey Skilling’s $70 million defense got him 24 years in prison and an order to forfeit $45 million.
What would he have gotten with a public defender?
Mr. Skilling, we are told, owes $30 million to his lawyers, having already spent $40 million of his own and Enron’s insurance money on a ludicrous “nothing happened” defense. Other chief executives, at WorldCom, HealthSouth and CUC International, admitted there was a scandal, but insisted they were victims of crooked subordinates. Sometimes the defense worked, soemtimes it did not. But at least it was better than insulting the intelligence of the jury by saying Enron turned out to be worthless because the press reported its problems and traders got scared.
Since Mr. Skilling is said to not have enough money left to pay both his legal fees and what he was ordered to pay on Monday, it will be interesting to see who gets the money, particularly given that he will run up more fees on appeals."
We'll see how well it works
So far, seems nice and slick
This little blog-this pop-up popped under, but suppose I can learn to live with that
Already like the interface, a bit cleaner, sharper
Looks like new "side scrolling" tabs, could be handy.
Prior version was slowing down, maybe time for "history clean"
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Perceptions matter, fact's less so.
Lutz's comments on the Prius as a marketing coup and hybrid prospects.
Kevin A. Wilson
Hummer H2, Meet Molecule H2
By KEVIN A. WILSON
AutoWeek | Published 10/11/06, 2:20 pm et
“You approach this business rationally at your peril,” says General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz. Not a surprising declaration from a proponent of such products as the Dodge Viper or Pontiac GTO, but he wasn’t talking about the irrational passion you and I have for such cars. He was talking fuel cells.
Fuel cells are moving out of the realm of the research department and into the product-development side, out of Burns’ purview and into Lutz’s.
Apart from the considerable progress on the technology front, Lutz was clearly persuaded by the success of the Toyota Prius, not so much as a machine or even a profit center, but in giving its maker a public image of technological and corporate leadership. GM could have built hybrid cars at the same time Toyota did, but opted not to when it didn’t pencil out as a profitable venture. But what Prius did for Toyota wasn’t just measured on the bottom line.
“The public image of GM is [Hummer] H2; for Toyota it’s Prius,” said Lutz. “It’s ridiculous—the Chevy Aveo was the best-selling small car in the country last year, and Toyota makes the Sequoia, which doesn’t match our trucks on fuel economy—but it is what it is. We need to reestablish our position.”
Review of the Sequel is here: Chevrolet Sequel - AutoWeek: "Chevrolet Sequel
Can it become the real answer?"
Monday, October 16, 2006
Yamaha's Valentino Rossi (left) is on his way to the championship lead as (right) Honda's Dani Pedrosa brings down teammate Nicky Hayden.
Young Dani really screws up
Going into the race Nicky had 12 point lead, but having been crashed out by his teamate, and with Tony Elias barely beating Rossi, Nicky is down 8 points. The only redemption would be for Nicky to win the next, last, race and Dani to take second, therby allowing Nicky to win the championship.
Loosing on the track is racing, being knocked down by your junior teamate is ... astonishing.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
So How DO you make money?
Become a Doctor/Lawyer or Finance Chief (either government regulated professions (high fees) or set your own pay in area where there are massive flows of bucks)
Saturday, October 14, 2006
"In the 1970's my generation thought that solar water heaters on roofs were a good idea...We were blithky ignorant of American experience only a half century in the past, when solar water heaters routinely crashed through the newly rotted roofs in Pasadena in the 1920's"
Ah,now there's the value of "institutional memory"
Solar History lecture
California Solar Center - Solar Thermal History
Looks like a useful "Post PC" or network device. Esp for tasks other than spreadsheeting, data-massaging, word processing and the like.
I'm not very good or fast with "thumb-typing" but the Rachel Ray generation likely is.
The $699 Pepper Pad 3 isn’t a tablet or a laptop, and it’s far too underpowered to run heavy-duty software. But it has a Web browser and it supports most e-mail systems along with AIM instant messaging. It has better video playback and a faster processor than previous Pepper Pad models and is a bit cheaper. The Pepper Pad 3, the joint creation of Pepper Computer and HanBit Electronics, can be preordered at Amazon.com and eCost.com and will ship next month.
The Pepper Pad has a built-in universal remote for turning on TV’s and stereos, and there’s a kitchen diary for storing recipes and notes. The entire device weighs 2.5 pounds. PC software allows you to stream music and photos from any computer on your wireless network.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Cows don’t call 911,
Nor do fruit trees or cornfields.
Why we need farmland preservation.
Some think that there is advantage to promoting, or acceding to, development of our open spaces with new housing.
I, for one, question this approach.
While we need to prepare for and to accommodate a growing population in our county, we need to do so with care and an eye to protection of features that make our county so special, so attractive to long-term residents, to newcomers as well as seasonal visitors.
Some may think that encouragement of new housing will build the tax base, and therefore provide greater tax revenues. This may well be true, but such developments also bring costs.
Higher human populations invariably bring higher demands for services, from police and fire to EMS, road maintenance and social services. On the other hand, small business, light industry and agricultural interests generate proportionally smaller demands for county services.
As residents of Leelanau County, we should continue to seek to find and maintain a balance between the various qualities of our area. We should seek to maintain what is wonderful and appealing while preparing for inevitable growth. A healthy community reflects and honor’s its heritage, encourages and nurtures growth, while seeking to channel or manage such growth.
The ability to use these funds to leverage Federal and State grants is an added bonus. We will get to bring some Federal and State tax dollars back to our county.
The average cost per homeowner of this proposal is really quite modest, and years from now we’ll be able to reflect on what has been achieved and we’ll be pleased with ourselves for having such foresight.
I suggest a visit to www.saveleelanaufarmland.com for much more information.
From Stewart Brand (The Clock of the Long Now)
On history ...
“The Jews consecrated their own history, including their historic encounter with Egypt, and thus introduced the idea of history to the world. Still they sought release from history, placing the escape in the future. All the “peoples of the Book” adopted varieties of the approach. To character each of their stances: Judaism says, “The Messiah is going to come, and that’s the end of history”; Christianity says, “The Messiah is going to come back, and that’s the end of history”; Islam says, “The Messiah came, history is irrelevant.”
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Here are a few pieces from the business press (may be biased) the first being diesel vs hybrid, the next being the issue of energy density and risk with Li-ion batteries.
Recycle all those Sony laptop batteries?
Note : copyrighted material
(Fortune Magazine) -- As night fell over the 24 Hours of LeMans this summer, spectators at France's prestigious endurance race detected a pattern. While competitors entered the pits to refuel, a sleek pair of Audi R10s kept stealing laps around the 13.7-kilometer track. Already the fastest cars on the course, and eerily quiet thanks to a unique emissions filter, the Audis were also proving the most fuel-efficient. When the checkered flag flew, the Audi had made history as the first diesel car to win a major international race.
Diesel isn't just changing LeMans. Thanks to technological breakthroughs, at least six automakers - starting with Mercedes on Oct. 16, Jeep in early 2007, and eventually even hybrid pioneer Honda - will be launching a fleet of New Age diesels. They promise to boost fuel economy by 25% to 40%, with huge torque and turbochargers to deliver the power American drivers crave.
Though initial models won't pass air-quality standards in five states (California and New York among them), Mercedes has announced three 2008 SUVs that will achieve 50-state standards. Honda (Charts), VW, and GM (Charts) are close behind. How big is the market? J.D. Power estimates that diesel sales will triple to 9% of the U.S. market by 2013, compared with a projected hybrid share of 5%.
While a diesel may have won LeMans, winning over American consumers won't be easy. "[Toyota's] success has been to put the idea in consumers' minds that hybrids are the only solution, but that's wrong," says clean-diesel proponent Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault (Charts) and Nissan (Charts). Though half the new cars in Europe have diesel engines (credit $6-a-gallon gas and tax subsidies), most Americans still associate the word with soot-spewing, bone-rattling specimens from the '70s. "People ask why we don't just bring them over, but it's a challenge," says Frank Klegon, chief of Chrysler Group's global product development. While hybrids are seen as cutting-edge, "with diesels, it's 'Well, those have been around for 100 years.' "
More than 100, actually. Bavarian Rudolf Diesel patented his groundbreaking engine in 1892. While a gasoline engine squeezes gas and air together, a diesel compresses only air, at high pressures, creating so much heat that added fuel ignites without a spark. (Diesel contains more energy than gasoline, and engines burn it more efficiently.)
Though diesels produce fewer greenhouse gases, they make more smog-forming pollutants. Mercedes debuted the first mass-produced car model in 1936, and popularity peaked here during the early '80s, when four of five Benzes sold featured a so-called oil burner. But the era of cheap gas left most buyers oblivious to fuel economy. As emissions standards got stricter, the EPA even discussed banning diesel a decade ago, notes Margo Oge, director of the EPA's office for transportation and air quality. Except for pickups and a fringe of Volkswagen fanatics, the technology largely fell by the wayside.
Until now. The first breakthrough is that ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel will roll out to the nation's pumps this month. The move was mandated by the EPA, whose 2009 emissions rules will hold diesels to the same standards - the world's toughest - as gasoline cars. (Environmentalists were thrilled, oil companies less so: The rollout will cost them $6 billion to $9 billion.) The new fuel eliminates 97% of sulfur, and it's also the catalyst for automakers to devise strategies to reduce the remaining pollutants.
Mercedes is furthest along. In the E 320 Blutec, a trap stores and purges smog-forming nitrogen oxides. A second filter captures particulate matter - diesel's black calling card, long linked to cancer, asthma, and other health risks. Then ammonia compounds are used to convert nitrogen oxides to water and nitrogen. What will consumers notice? It goes fast, it delivers a knockout 38 highway miles per gallon, there's no smell, and it costs just $1,000 more than the gas model, vs. Lexus's $8,000 premium for its GS hybrid sedan.
To pass the strictest air-quality rules, part two of Mercedes' plan involves adding a small tank of urea, an ammonia-like fluid that further neutralizes pollution. The EPA's Oge says that while the agency has been leery of emissions systems that require maintenance, it will back Mercedes' approach.
By the time Mercedes' 50-state diesels launch, the competition will be heated. In September, Honda - a company long associated with hybrids - announced a catalytic-converter breakthrough that requires no fluid additives, saying it will deliver 50-state models by 2009. And GM recently showed off a burly, ultra-clean V-8 diesel that should arrive around the same time. VW, Audi, Nissan, BMW, and Chrysler Group also have versions in the works.
The question is, Are Americans ready for diesel's second coming? "We've always been a proponent," says Mercedes' E-Class chief, Bart Herring. "But changing the perspective of the rest of the market will take time and effort." Honda's research showed that older Americans are more skeptical of diesel. "Younger people are more open to it," says John Watts, Honda's manager for product planning. "They're more our target of who diesel would appeal to - cars with lots of power yet low fuel consumption."
In other words, for eco-conscious buyers, the race is on.
Remember The Pinto
Jonathan Fahey 10.16.06
You've heard about lithium ion batteries catching fire in laptops. Want one in your car?
If you are worried that a laptop powered by a dozen lithium ion cells may burst into flames, how do you feel about cruising down the highway at 70 miles per hour in a car powered by 6,000 of them?
Automakers are scrambling to get lithium ion batteries into hybrid vehicles, and they are hoping these batteries will make plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles possible soon, too. But talk about a public relations problem. The series of laptop computer fires that led
Hybrid vehicles like Toyota's Prius, which are propelled by both gasoline and electric motors, now use nickel metal hydride batteries to store electricity. But Toyota and other automakers like lithium ion because they can get at least twice the horsepower per pound from the battery. And nickel's price has grown from $2 a pound to $13 over the past five years, making expensive hybrid vehicles more so. Problem is, lithium ion batteries are inherently unstable, so safety systems have to be built in to prevent the batteries from getting too hot from, say, overcharging.
Happily for Toyota, the batteries in hybrid vehicles are never fully charged. They capture energy during braking and release it during acceleration, all within a range from 75% charged to 45% charged.
Blast May Be Only a Partial Success, Experts Say - New York Times
"The North Korean test appears to have been a nuclear detonation but was fairly small by traditional standards, and possibly a failure or a partial success, federal and private analysts said yesterday."
And more from ArmsControlWonk:
"I close this discourse about operational confidence by noting that the United States has built a missile defense that does not work, to defend against a North Korean missile that does not work, that would carry a nuclear warhead that does not work.
This is all very postmodern."
Monday, October 09, 2006
08:36 Oct 09, 2006
HA HA HA HA.
I love the US Geological Survey.
You’re thinking, 3.6, 4.2, in that neighborhood. Seismic scales, like the Richter, are logarithmic, so that neighborhood can be pretty big.
But even at 4.2, the test was probablya dud.
Estimating the yield is tricky business, because it depends on the geology of the test site. The South Koreans called the yield half a kiloton (550 tons), which is more or less—a factor of two—consistent with the relationship for tests in that yield range at the Soviet Shagan test site:
Mb = 4.262 + .973LogW
Where Mb is the magnitude of the body wave, and W is the yield.
3.58-3.7 gives you a couple hundred tons (not kilotons), which is pretty close in this business unless you’re really math positive. The same equation, given the US estimate of 4.2, yields (pun intended) around a kiloton.
A plutonium device should produce a yield in the range of the 20 kilotons, like the one we dropped on Nagasaki. No one has ever dudded their first test of a simple fission device. North Korean nuclear scientists are now officially the worst ever.
Of course, I want to see what the US IC says. If/when the test vents, we could have some radionuclide data—maybe in the next 72 hours or so.
But, from the initial data, I’d say someone with no workable nuclear weapons (Kim Jong Il, I am looking at you) should be crapping his pants right now.
First the missile, then the bomb. Got anything else you wanna try out there, chief?