Putting the rant back into intolerant

What’s with Canada’s eminently sensible newspaper The Globe and Mail carrying ads for far-right Colorado-based Focus on the Family? Are we getting so tolerant that we tolerate intolerance?

The words far-right Colorado-based, aren’t mine, by the way. They’re from an article by the Globe‘s Leah McLaren where Focus on the Family … claim homosexuality is both preventable and treatable.

Some of my best friends are from Colorado, and in a perfect world I’d hope that FOTF would take massive umbrage at Leah‘s article, and withdraw their ads from my paper. As is, I wish I had a subscription to the Globe, so I could cancel it in disgust.

How to make Windows suck 10000 fewer times

In the same spirit of Marvin’s comment about Arthur Dent’s brain (It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small.), it amazes me that anyone can actually get work done on a Windows box without having virtual workspaces …

But I found DESKWIN, which does all I need; four virtual desktops, with hotkeys between them. Not much else. Perfect. Well, okay, Windows has still got about seven orders of magnitude of improvement to go before it’s even mildly usable, but it’s a start.

too many cables

The iRiver remote unit decided to self destruct last night, so it was a rather hurried trip off to G-WIZ to get it replaced. I’m also having a bit of a problem with cable management — my Sennheiser headphones have a 3.5m cable, and there’s probably another good metre or so of cable on the iRiver remote. So I’m wandering around looking as if I’m lugging a protable recording studio, even though the player itself is quite svelte.

raw, raw!

I’ve just ‘hacked’ my Nikon Coolpix 2500 to run in raw mode, using cpixraw (on a Windows machine, alas). I can read the files with Dave Coffin’s dcraw. So far, it seems I’m getting a bit more extra detail than from the original JPEG files.

The only real disadvantage I can see is that for every picture I take, a regular JPEG and a raw file is created. The raw file is confusingly called *.jpg. I think I can live with this.

iRiver, youRiver, hesheitRivers

I just bought an iRiver H120 portable hard disk/audio player/recorder. It seems to work quite well with Linux, so far. Even at over 9MB/s, it’s taking a while to transfer my music collection.

I bought it from the terribly-named G-Wiz store in Scarborough Town Centre. I think it might’ve been a store return — there was some truly execrable music on it (Eminem and Kylie Minogue … bleah!), and the packaging was slightly open. Hmm.

Windsave, again

Anent my previous rant about Windsave claiming impossible efficiencies, they’ve made some changes to their website. The machines now have larger diameters (1250 and 1750 mm — up from 1000 and 1400mm), and much lower rated power (500W and 1000W at 27mph — down from 750 and 1200).

Plugging in those numbers to Cp = P / ( 0.48106 d2 v3 ), we get more realistic efficiencies of 0.378 and 0.386 (for the small and large machines, respectively).

The Lakota turbine we installed last week has a nominal rated power of 900W at 28.8 mph for a 2.09m diameter rotor. It has a very conservative Cp = 0.20, although David Cooke says that typically they see 1,000 Watts at around 25mph (a Cp of around 0.34).

At the other end of the scale, the Lagerwey LW52 is a 51.5m diameter machine rated at 750kW at 12ms-1. This advanced utility scale, variable pitch machine has a Cp = 0.34.

Windsave’s revised figures are much more credible, but until we have real figures backed by a few years of installations, there’s little more we can say about them. I’m a little concerned that, although there are claims that 1000s of these machines have been sold, there’s not a single real photo of one on the web.

I’m going to enjoy putting up an anemometer and logging system alongside the urbine downtown. We’ll see how it runs.

illicit substance: Caffeinated Scots Tablet

I make Scots Tablet; in fact, I’m almost famous for it. I also roast my own coffee, which I get from Merchants of Green Coffee. What harm could come from combining the two, I thought?

Plenty, is the answer. By adding ¼ cup (measured before grinding) of finely-ground coffee beans to a half batch of tablet has resulted in almost black tarry lumps that combined sugar, butterfat and caffeine into a mallet-to-the-back-of-the-head rush.

Next time, I might use just a smidge less coffee. At the moment, it’s like a cross between full-on Rademaker’s Haagsche Hopjes and Uncle Ump’s Umpty Candy. I suspect that the RCMP will come knocking soon.

The Cyborg’s Windmill

Steve Mann's Wind Turbine
We spent the day helping wearable computing guru Steve Mann put a wind turbine on top of his Existential Technologies Research Lab (a.k.a. 330 Dundas St. West), smack-dab downtown in Toronto.

We installed a True North Power Lakota turbine. We had David Cooke and Doug of TNP guiding us, and the installation went without a hitch.

The picture above links to more pictures of the day’s activities. There are also Steve Mann’s Urbine pictures (and, if you really want bigger versions of my pictures, they are on scruss at eyetap).


We found a baby bunny by the side of the road. He seems a bit stunned, but otherwise okay.

Zoë has veterinarian training, so she’s looking after him.

He fits in the palm of your hand, and is unbearably cute.

Here’s a better picture (thumbnail links to larger image):

Dave’s picture of the bunny

Both pictures by Dave.

Temporary hearing impairment for pleasure

(or, life without midrange)

The Apples in Stereo rocked The Horseshoe last night; Robert, Hilarie, John and Eric always give a great show, and they gave everything they had last night. It was especially cool, as Hilarie had just played a set as guitarist for her other band, High Water Marks.

Is it me, but on HWM’s song “Good I Feel Bad” do they really sing “She always keeps me open source”?

CD Thinning annoyances

Don’t you hate it when you have two copies of a CD, prune your CD collection, then discover that you’ve got rid of both copies?

I’ve found I’ve done that with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan — even if it has the most cringe-making liner notes ever published.

Fortran has no STDERR

I suspect it’s comp.lang.fortran‘s second most frequently-asked question, but the language has no concept of stderr, the POSIX error output stream. Or at least, there’s no standard IO unit attached to stderr, if it’s defined at all.

Since writing to stderr is my usual debug message method, this is going to be a slog …

Was there something in the water?

Just found one of my old Fortran-77 fractal programs, output of which is shown above. Reminds me of the days I used to consume (and ocasionally write for) Fractal Report avidly.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, 2004

Hardly the perfect weather for it, but I did my best for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Photo above links to my gallery of today’s efforts.

I think I’ll be using Ilford Delta 3200 again. I love the soft grain you get in Microphen.

so it might not look much to you …

Being able to see this represents quite a bit of work on my part. It’s the output from WAsP‘s map editor, reprsenting some terrain roughness data exported from Surfer.

The original data set looks a bit like this:


It’s a grid of values. Unfortunately, WAsP wants the boundaries, and it took me a while to work out a (rather inefficient) algorithm to find them.

Now I have to go off and recode this in Fortran 90. I’m glad that the Intel Fortran Compiler for Linux is available free.