Updated: 8/29/02; 8:03:29 PM.   Our weather

Thursday, August 29, 2002


Wednesday, August 28, 2002

While I'm spouting crazy ideas...

Why don't they sell LED replacements for refrigerator lights? Think of it, your fridge and freezer are the last place you want a conventional, hot tungsten lightbulb. They are also a pain to replace. Put in an LED replacement and never worry about it again. Cool illumination that lasts some 100,000 hours. White LEDs or a blend of colors for a natural hue, maybe Red so the light doesn't hurt your night vision during midnight snack raids, or Green to give the food a ghastly glow and help keep the diet going. Surely the The LED Light guys have the answer somewhere?

E4 Engineering has an article on the EnviroMission Solar Tower. This 1km tall tower (six tenths of a mile) is "fed" hot air from solar heated panels below, the hot air rising and spinning internal wind generators. Hmmm...I wonder if they could use two towers, the air being sucked down one tower before being drawn up the other, harvesting moisture in the process? Imagine, cities of the future sucking clouds dry as they pass overhead. ":^)

Hats off (safety helmets on) to Dane and James and their new water rocket. Can't wait to see some launch pictures...certainly the touchdown of such a monster warrants a photo.


Cherry, grape, pear...whatever they are, the small tomatoes are now ripening. Good for impromptu snacking.

I'd been thinking my old Palm PDA (pricey daily aggravator) had finally bitten the dust. Window shopping at the local Staples I found Handspring's Treo 90. Sweet little unit. Fits in your hand like a sliver of half worn soap. It uses the same form factor as the Treo cell phone combo, which might be fun and useful if Sprint (or anyone else for that matter) could figure out how to distribute cell signals to our neighborhood. As luck would have it my Palm picked up on its pending relegation to the junk heap and decided to miraculously heal itself.

I've been Jaguar'ized. Most of the time & effort was in preparation, trying to figure out what to backup. The upgrade was cake. Pop in the disk, agree to the EULA and do something else while they mold the Mac into its new form. Afterwards everything was mostly as I'd started with the addition of a few new icons in the dock (iChat, Sherlock, a couple others). Played around with them a bit. Checked out the System Prefs...many new things there, some not as obvious. Changed to the new Graphite appearance. Checked out some of the new sharing options (printer, windows...cool). Glad to see that file find has escaped the clutches of Sherlock.

I'd also upgraded to Mozilla 1.1 and while checking things out ran across the The Global Civil Society Laptop. My kind of computer appliance. Here's a few quotes:

You have to get power somewhere, why limit yourself to one source? The global civil society laptop gets power from anything you can clamp it to- from solar cell to car battery, funky native power outlet, or someone rubbing their hands against a balloon. I thought I'd avoid red for positive and black for negative.... aren't there enough color problems in the world? Besides, that would imply that you could screw things up with the incorrect polarity... which you can't. That's the nice thing about the GCSSPS...it'll take anything you give it.

If you're running on a potato or watch battery, and it's not a lot of power, the system merely slows down. If you attached it to an arc welder and really, there's probably too much power, it runs a lot faster. If it gets too hot, you can always submerge it in a lake or river. (It's all vacuum-sealed and waterproof)
Grommets make it easy to attach a handle, shoulder strap, or mount it on the wall. Attach to a fishing line and drop the whole thing down a well for cooling or archival purposes. Chain it to yourself for a quick security solution. If you ever had to mount a server to an elephant or an iceberg, you know that grommets make the job a whole lot easier.

Monday, August 26, 2002

the end

A colorful end to the day and another stage towards the end for our old tree friend. You may remember the tree from here and here.


I ordered Jaguar last week and am really looking forward to getting it. I've seen so many people complaining about the price...lessee, at $120 if you use it for one year that's $10 a month, less than...well, you get the idea, probably less than you spend for coffee per year. Some folks are completely irrational about buying software. Amortize it, figure out if/how it saves you time/money. How much is your time worth per hour? If it doesn't add up then don't buy it.

In case you are curious as to what's new, Ken Bereskin has started a daily posting for each of the 150 new Jaguar features.

A fog encased morning's walk. Behind us another couple drifts in and out of the mist, silent, whatever words spoken are swallowed by the heavy wet air. It is a tapestry of spider webs, thousands visible in the heavy dew their occupants patiently waiting for Sun to restore the subterfuge. And then, almost magically and without a sound, shapes bob into view up ahead as doe and three fawns jostle in confusion on the road's edge. She can't seem to decide which side offers the best protection and for a long while nervously leads her fold on the road in front of us. Big ears turn and twist to harvest faint sounds. The fawns flinch at the sound of their own clumsy footfalls, ready to bolt, prancing nervously on the pavement. Finally mom leads them through the ditch and into the cornfield. The road is empty and silent except for the sniffing sounds of the dog, decrypting the deer smells left behind.

Technical note: there are a few portions of the Jer Zone which are dynamically created, that is, which will often change for each person who reads the page. The list of recent weblogs on the right margin is one of them. A PHP script is triggered every fifteen minutes by a cron entry on the Linux host machine, the script gets the XML document from http://www.weblogs.com/changes.xml, parses it into a hash, looks for matching URLs and updates their timestamp in the database. It works well. The one shortcoming is that some of the weblogs don't "ping" weblogs.com when they update. I fixed that this weekend. Another cron triggered PHP script (four times a day) goes out and grabs the weblog page for each of these loners, strips off the markup, creates an MD5 checksum from some of the remaining text, compares that to the previous checksum, and updates the timestamp if they differ. The MD5 checksum is nice because only 32 bytes get stored in the database rather than a 1-8k chunk of text.