mp3cddb

I’ve been looking for a program that would, given a directory of MP3s ripped
from a CD, calculate the freedb DiscID, and get the names from there. Today I found mp3cddb, a Perl/shell program to do just that. It’s a little old — it only supports ID3v1 — but it’s GPL, so we can fix it.

WindSave cleans up

If you go to WindSave’s website, you’ll note that their performance claims have gone.

Update, 5 April 2004: I am no longer supplying their PDF brochure. WindSave does not seem keen to back up their product with reliable technical information. If their original dimensions were accurate, here is all you need to know about WindSave’s designs (and why they won’t work) .

Enoch, the Money Mart ad guy

It seems, by an almost impossible coincidence, that I’ve spoken to “Uncle Angus” from the Money Mart ad. I learnt from a copy of Penguin Eggs, a Canadian folk music magazine, that the part is played by Scottish-Canadian singer Enoch Kent.

Back in May 2002, before we had a place to live (and probably long before Enoch knew he’d play this part on TV), famed Toronto Glaswegian (well, okay, from Busby) Tam Kearney and his wife Lynn very kindly offered their place as a house-sit. Tam and Enoch were working on a recording at the time.

Just before Tam and Lynn got back, I answered the phone. Enoch, getting a Scottish voice on the line, very quickly launched into a torrent of things they had to do before the recording could be released on CD.

It took me a while to convince Enoch that, no, I wasn’t Tam, and yes, he’d be back in a couple of days. That Scottish accent of mine can really get me into trouble at times.

Maybe Enoch needs the money from the ads. Buy his CDs instead!

hugin on gentoo: panoramas at last

mid-scarborough community centre

The above may not be the most remarkable panoramic picture ever — the back of a suburban hockey rink — but it’s the first image I’ve managed to stitch with hugin, a front-end to Helmut Dersch’s panotools.

It was a bit of a fight to get it working with Gentoo linux.
Continue reading “hugin on gentoo: panoramas at last”

Ph frenzy

pho xe lua

I love Vietnamese noodle soup. I love Vietnamese “cafe sua”, or coffee with condensed milk. But what I really like is filling in the order card. Everyone gets to squabble over what they want, what size, and what it all totals to.

But the food is so good.

style

I changed the stylesheet of this site. Nice though Georgia is, it doesn’t handle superior and inferior text very well. I suspect Jeff Walker has something to do with the new stylesheet, so: thanks, Jeff!

WindSave: All Betz Are Off!

Update, May 2005: While it’s true that WindSave appear to have made their device obey the laws of physics (at least according to their published spec), I’m keeping this posting intact.

If the data on their website are to be believed, WindSave cannot generate the figures they claim. There’s much geeky theory involved, but basically, they’re claiming efficiencies that cannot be attained.

In short, they are claiming coefficients of performance of 0.724 and 0.887 for their turbines. Unfortunately, the theoretical maximum efficiency for a wind turbine — the Betz limit — is 0.593. So something, somewhere, is screwy. I’m pretty sure it’s not my sums, as they’ve been verified by an external source.

I worry that the UK energy minister, Brian Wilson, has been taken in by this. Five minutes with a calculator and a wind energy primer shows that these things are too good to be true.

Continue reading “WindSave: All Betz Are Off!”

DNX-1000 Hardware /dev/null Accelerator

scruss.com and eitzen.labs today announced the release of the DNX-1000 Hardware /dev/null Accelerator. Utilizing state-of-the-art FPGA technology and supplied as a PCI card, it is claimed that the card has been benchmarked at up to 1,000,000× faster than the software /dev/null device provided in the Linux 2.4.20 kernel.

Targeted at the enterprise user, the DNX-1000 is reported to meet the needs of the most demanding bit-bucket user. No longer will power users be penalised for throwing out large quantities of data, says eitzen.labs CTO, Norvin Eitzen.

It’s a real milestone, adds scruss.com COO, Stewart Russell. Most /dev/null implementations require date to be pushed at them, but our patented ElectronVacuum™ technology actively sucks the data from your system.

Both Eitzen & Russell declined to comment on reports from beta testers that the card appeared to delete random files from their system. They categorically denied that the disappearance of one of the alpha tester’s chinchillas was in any way related to the DNX-1000.

Now Reading: The Machine in the Garden

Leo Marx’s book tells us that, even from Virgil’s time, the rural idyll was far from the reality.

(book details: The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, by Leo Marx. Oxford University Press; ISBN: 019513351X)

learning about wind turbines

If you want to learn about wind energy, you might want to visit the Danish Wind Energy Association, the British Wind Energy Association, the American Wind Energy Association, the Centre for Alternative Technology, or the Canadian Wind Energy Association. All these folks have been proposing and living energy generation solutions for years.

wind-farm.org, however, is a hilarious mess of nonsense. It has been put together by a very few antis who managed to scrape up hosting and a CMS package. They also use that Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world… Margaret Mead quote that coincidentally appears on many pro-renewables sites. I’m half tempted to post to the forums under an assumed name, but I’m minded what Big Fred N. said: Battle Ye Not With Monsters, Lest Ye Become A Monster.

highly subjective guide to wind turbine photography

more than somewhat subjective:

  • don’t make the blades blur into a propeller-style disc
  • don’t show parked turbines
  • don’t show a windfarm with the turbines all pointing in different directions
  • don’t make ’em loom

I’ll expand on this later.

malicious deomnibusation of maternal relative’s maternal relative strictly forbidden

culled from memory, and several versions floating about on the net:

YE CANNAE SHOVE YER GRANNY AFF A BUS

Tune: She’ll be coming round the mountain
Lyrics: possibly by Matt McGinn, or Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor

Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Oh ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Ye cannae shove yer granny
For she’s yer mammy’s mammy,
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

chorus:
Singing: I wull, if you wull, so wull I
I wull, if you wull, so wull I
Singing: I wull, if you wull
I wull, if you wull
I wull, if you wull, so wull I

Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer ither granny
‘Cos she’s yer faither’s mammy
Ye can shove yer ither granny aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus,
Uncle Wullie’s like yer faither
A harum-scarum blether,
Ye can shove yer Uncle Wullie aff a bus.

Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus,
Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus,
Auntie Meg’s yer Faither’s sister,
She’s naethin’ but a twister,
Ye can shove yer Auntie Maggie aff a bus.

But ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
Ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus,
O ye cannae shove yer granny,
‘Cos she’s yer mammy’s mammy,
O ye cannae shove yer granny aff a bus.

Glossary
blether: gossip
harum-scarum: scatterbrain, random
twister: liar
ither: other
naethin’: nothing

the little turbine that …

Seems that a little turbine from my old hometown is causing quite a
stir. The WindSave looks like it plans to be a distributed project of 1000s of micro-turbines, each “phoning home” to report its production to a central site.

Contentious article in The Guardian, which I already know that Paul Gipe has had a good grouse about.

I don’t see what this does that a Marlec doesn’t. I’ve sent for more info.

I’d hate to have to consign this to my “Wind Energy Annoyances” folder,
but it may be heading that way. And I’m very, very suspicious of any
wind turbine that’s backed by Country Guardian, the UK’s anti-wind energy, pro-nuclear group.

tearin’ out a tonsil

My throat may never recover, but it was fun to almost completely lose my voice last night at a singing circle. Yep, we’re a bunch of hairy old folkies, clutching our battered copies of Sing Out!. I don’t care what you think.

I did introduce two songs to the group, I wish I was a Mole in the Ground (Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s subterranean wishes explained in a how-not-to lesson about the subjunctive), and the perennial Glasgow favourite, Ye cannae shove yer Grannie aff a bus. I kind of had to busk it with the lyrics for the latter one.

4 beeeeeeeeeeeellion dollars?!

Yup, it’ll cost $4,000,000,000 to restore the Pickering nuclear power station to full operation. Oh, and five years, too. And all because of bungling management.

This isn’t just a day late and a dollar short. In 1997, the refurb was estimated at $780m and five years. Now, they’re saying more than 5× the cost and twice the time. Someone please nominate ousted OPG chair Bill Farlinger — author of such classics as The Commonsense Revolution and How to Privatize Hydro for Fun & (my) Profit — for the Giller Prize, since it’s Canada’s Premier Literary Prize for Fiction.

Look, I’ll make Ontario a deal. Give me the CAD 4bn, and I’ll give you enough renewable energy to make Pickering history. And I’ll only bungle on my own time. Deal?

More on the annoying pseudo-Scot

After sending in a complaint, I got this response from MoneyMart’s Director of Corporate Communications, Lorne DeLarge:

Dear Mr. Russell;

Thank-you for taking the time to provide us with your comments regarding our
television advertisement. Let me say that it is not our intention to
offend, demean or disparage any individual or group of people with our
advertising. In fact, we take great pains to ensure that this does not
occur. Money Mart prides itself on being a responsible corporate citizen
and a responsible advertiser. We do not condone discrimination of any sort,
nor would we knowingly engage in it.

We would like to describe the process that we followed for creating and
approving this commercial. We feel that it is important to know the extent
of due diligence that we undertake prior to releasing a commercial.

We have three goals when we create our advertising: (1) the ad needs to be
memorable, (2) the ad needs to clearly display our advertising message and
(3) the ad needs to be likable. We strive to ensure that our ads fully
reflect these three goals. Any ad considered demeaning or discriminatory
would not fulfill our third objective.

When creating advertisements for television, we undergo multiple steps to
test and measure how well we are doing at achieving these three goals.
These steps include initial vetting and refinement of advertising concepts;
focus group testing with randomly selected Canadian consumers; approval by
several advertising standards organizations and finally, exposure of the ads
to a wider audience prior to airing.

Each step of the process was designed to ensure that the objectives for the
ad were fulfilled. If we had received any indication that this particular
ad would be considered offensive, we would have taken steps to rectify the
situation. I think that you will agree that our process is both exhaustive
and thorough.

This ad was about an exaggerated, “over the top” presentation of an exchange
between two generations who have different values and priorities when it
comes to money, not about disparaging an identifiable group.

We thank-you for taking the time to provide us with your thoughts.

itively by Mike Myers in “So I married an Axe Murderer”, and then it jumped the shark. It’s just not funny any more, as the Toronto Star notes.

Announcing SINC

Canada has this very nifty program called LINC — Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada. But language is just a tiny part of the Canadian experience, so I propose SINC — Skating Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.

It seems that being at home on ice is an essential part of the Canadian winter experience. And since a Canadian winter seems to take most of the year, it’s important to be acclimatized.

(The French-language equivalent of LINC is CLIC — Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada)

mid summer, 1987

In UK exams, a “No Mention” was basically where you did so badly in an exam that they didn’t bother to mark it, and you weren’t actually listed as ever taking it.

I got a No Mention for my A-Level Special Maths. I got talked into sitting it by my mate Matthew, who is a maths genius. It was on my 18th birthday, my last day at school, and a gorgeous day.

When I opened the exam paper to see proofs of things involving frictionless pulleys and light, inextensible strings, something snapped. I wrote my name, then:

1) I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it is silly.

I sat for a few minutes, watching the dust motes groove about in the light from the library windows, then walked out.

Matthew got a special distinction, by the way.

I would have liked to add that I went home and listened to “A Can of Bees” by The Soft Boys on my brother’s hi-fi. But I think he’d already left home by then, taking his record collection with him.