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.

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.

car free in canada

It’s fairly easy to do without one if you make your housing and
working arrangements around it. I’ve been car-free since 1996, but
we’re mostly urbanites, so this may not work for everyone.

Most of my ideas come from a great UK magazine called AtoB.