The Cleland rides again!

Geoff Apps dropped a comment in an earlier post to say that he’s updated the Aventura for the 21st century. I’m going to have a hard time justifying not buying this bike.

I wonder what the good people of MetaFilter will think?

going postal

I got two packages yesterday. Both were posted on 16th December.

The first package was sent by my friend Jeff from Bedfordshire in the UK. That’s about 5600 km away.

The second was send (by Canada Post Xpresspost) from a store in Toronto. It’s about 9 km from here.

Assuming the same pickup and drop-off times, the package from the UK averaged a useful 77 km/h. The Canadian package did a woeful 0.125 km/h.

It also doesn’t help that Canada Post flat-out lied about their delivery time of the local package. If you go to their tracking site, they claim it was delivered on 17th December. It really got here on the 19th.

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.

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.

money mart’s annoying ad

Money Mart, a Canadian cash advance company (I won’t dignify them with a link), has an annoying advert where a guy goes to his stingy Scottish uncle for a loan. It plays on every Scottish stereotype.

I’m Scottish. I’m offended.

do me a favour

Don’t ever, ever nest ternary operators. Or at least, don’t do it in code I’m likely to see. Even if you think that ternary operators are the subject of wildlife TV documentaries, just don’t nest them. Okay?

back from ottawa

Just back from an anniversary trip to Ottawa. It’s the least “Capital City” capital city I know. Things we did:

  • Stayed at the Auberge des Artes (104 Guigues Ave [pronounced “gig”, if you’re having difficulty getting a taxi driver to get you there], tel: 613 562 0909). We stayed there when we were on our reconnaisance trip to Canada back in easter 2001, and it’s still great. Pierre’s whole wheat/buckwheat crpes are the best!
  • Catherine was actively sold a pair of shoes at Lou’s Boot Corner in the Byward market. I haven’t seen salesmanship like that in a long time.
  • Ate too much, too many times at Zak’s Diner.
  • Went to the national gallery, where they have a whale skeleton made entirely from lawn chairs.
  • Walked to Qubec over the Alexandra bridge.

Coal Seams Not So Efficient

A correspondent mentioned a recent article he had read – probably in New Scientist – which reported on the efficiency of coal seams in capturing and storing solar energy. He couldn’t retrieve the article at the time, but it calculated that less than 0.1% of the solar energy originally captured by plants has actually made its way into coal.

So that means that a coal-fired power station, at about 40% thermal efficiency, is actually 0.04% efficient, in terms of primary solar energy. Since solar panels turn about 10-12% of the solar energy that falls on them into electricity, they leave coal in the dust.

all shoes made in china

Ever tried to get a pair of casual shoes that wasn’t made in the Far East? It’s wasteful for common consumer items like this to have come so far.

tablet recipe revisited

Before revising (and moving) my tablet recipe, it needs some clarification:

  • I damp the sugar with about ¼ cup milk. The amount isn’t critical; too little, and you risk burning the mix. Too much, it just takes a while to boil off.
  • 1kg of sugar is about 5½ cups.
  • 100g butter is about 4/5 of a stick.
  • I now use a 310×480mm (I think that’s 11×19″) large cookie pan for setting. It fills nicely, and makes nice thin slabs.

seat shading

Further to my TTC rant, I’ve noticed another thing: people standing over an empty seat, too close to let anyone sit in it, but not sitting in it themselves.

I call this seat shading. It’s annoying.

so long, and thanks for all the fish

So I’m now the proud owner of my shiny new domain, scruss.com. My blog continues there.

Thanks, Jeff, for the kind use of your webspace.

Wind Energy Links

On Nov 11, I gave a talk on wind energy and WindShare to the University of Toronto Natural Philosophers’ Club. As there was so much interest, I’ve decided to put up some useful links. Please feel free to comment/add more, and I’ll incorporate them into the body of the entry.

Links

  • OSEA — the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. Dedicated to community-based renewable energy.
  • The Kortright Centre — teaches short courses in renewable energy. They’re run by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
  • Home Power Magazine — the source for home-scale renewable energy. The previous issue is always online.
  • Grassroots — a local store who can help with any renewable energy/low energy installation.
  • IPPSO — Independent Power Producers’ Society of Ontario.
  • CFRE — Citizens For Renewable Energy. Based near the Sky Generation wind turbine on the Bruce peninsula.
  • CanWEA — Canadian Wind Energy Association
  • Heiner H. Dörner — catalogues wind energy designs that didn’t quite work. Has some pictures of the huge 4MW turbine built on Cap Chat.
  • Centre for Alternative Technology — based in mid-Wales, this charity has impressive resources on all aspects of renewable energy
  • Scoraig Wind Electric — Hugh Piggott has been home building small wind turbines for his remote community for years.
  • Fair Isle — Britain’s most remote inhabited island. They’ve been using wind power for years. Coincidentally, this is where Catherine & I met … ☺

Books

Paul Gipe has written some of the best books on the subject. My favourite book of his is Wind Energy Comes Of Age (John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, 1995. ISBN: 0-471-10924-X). It gives a good overview of the technology, and a rare look into the impact on society of wind energy.

If you just want the heavy theory, the Wind Energy Handbook (Burton, Sharpe, Jenkins & Bossanyi. pub John Wiley & Sons, 2001. ISBN: 0-471-48997-2) has everything you need. Based on the famous Loughborough Wind Energy Course (formerly at Imperial College, London, where I took it), it’s absurdly complete.

Canada supporting copy-controlled CDs

Canada, though its Sound Recording Development Program, supports local musical talent. Canada also permits private copying of music as part of its Copyright Act, and levies a charge on recordable media to support this.

BC band the Be Good Tanyas acknowledge the support of the government’s program on their new album, “Chinatown”. Unfortunately, their record label EMI Canada has decided to copy-control the CD, depriving us of our rights to make a private copy of the work. The band is not happy about this, and ask you to complain to their label.

just like Ms Morissette said

I find it amusing that, after co-chairing several acrimonious public meetings supporting the development of Dun Law Wind Farm against accusations of it being a potential eyesore, it’s now a tourist attraction — <http://www.discovertheborders.co.uk/places/33.html>

argh… software annoyances

My list of you can’t get there from here software annoyances:

  • Nautilus: you can drag the Home, Start Here, and Trash icons over to the right of the screen, but the icons for removable media always float back to the left — right under where my windows are. It doesn’t seem possible to save the position.
  • GNU Emacs‘s HTML editing mode doesn’t have a close-tag function. PSGML under XEmacs had this a long time ago, and jEdit will close a tag as soon as you type </ (although, being written in Java, it does so very slowly). So why not the editor of nearly-champions?
    Easy Solution: go back to using XEmacs — it’s just so much better for creating XHTML.

I hope only to be able to delete entries from this list, but I’ve a nasty foreboding that it’ll grow.

happy birthday to, erm, me

Jings, 12418 days old today.

Through the wonders of gift exchange (where geographically diverse families agree to spend an amount on each other, then buy something for that value; saves mailing stuff) I got a used but gorgeous Zero 2000 camera, all teak and brass, from my sister and my parents. I took this with it:

Light Streaming through Leaves
(image links to a larger version at photosig.com).

And now, to a birthday breakfast …

a great place to be *from* …

[Bit of background here. I’m Scottish, but I live in Toronto. Canada is big, Scotland isn’t.]

There’s this thing I like to call The East Dunbartonshire Conspiracy. I used to live in Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire. It’s a small central Scotland town, rapidly becoming another suburb of Glasgow.

Since coming to Canada, most of the expat Scots I have met are from East Dunbartonshire:

  • The LCBO guy in Toronto Union Station is from Kirkintilloch, about 100m from where we used to live.
  • Another LCBO guy on the Danforth is from Bishopbriggs, where I used to work.
  • The GO Train customer relations person who called me about the new proposed train station at the end of our street (yay!) grew up in Bishopbriggs, and has relatives I think I worked with when I was at Collins, the publishers.

So what’s this all about? Why are so many people leaving East Dunbartonshire for Toronto? Is it the horror of living at 56°N, with dark, windy wet winters? Who can say?

damn your photoshop, sir!

I’ve decided I really loathe all those composited, over-sharpened retouched images that folks spew out of photoshop. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

To this end, I will mostly photograph without lenses for a while, using pinholes. A small gallery of mostly pinhole images is here (or possibly here: Pinhole).

After all, as Cartier-Bresson once remarked to Helmut Newton: “Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”