Ode to Joy

(or, how Stewart is obviously very easily pleased …)

At work, I use emacs over an ssh connection in a Gnome terminal window. For months, I’ve complained that it wouldn’t respond to mouse clicks, and thus cursor movement was tiresome.

So today, on going back to a particularly large project file, I wondered if anything could be done. Googling for “emacs xterm mouse”, I discovered xterm-mouse-mode. It does what it says on the tin; gives you basic mouse control in an xterm. I’m happy now. Almost too happy, in fact.

I also found out about flyspell-mode today, an on-the-fly spelling checker for XEmacs. It does the equivalent of the little wiggly red line under misspelt words in Word, except not quite so in-your-face. Neato-mosquito.

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.

everyone else is voting, why can’t I?

It’s municipal election day here in Toronto. I’m a Toronto resident, homeowner, and taxpayer. Yet I can’t vote, because I’m not a Canadian citizen.

I can understand not being able to vote in federal or provincial elections, but I’m as much of a citizen as anyone else living in Toronto. Toronto has such a vast immigrant population that many people are disenfranchised. Perhaps that’s why the city is failing to provide for its citizens.

so long, emusic

I left emusic — despite me originally saying this — because they changed. Unlimited downloads went away.

I did download a ton of good music before unsubscribing. But they let me down — they shouldn’t have promised what they couldn’t sustain. Just like Bigfoot For Life, who promised free, unlimited e-mail forwarding for life, only to turn around and start charging.

yay, go nettwerk!

After writing this, I emailed Nettwerk about the essentially broken CDs they were selling. Very quickly, they said they could send me a non-copy-controlled one. And a week later, it arrived. I now have happy CD players, happy MP3 players, and a happy me, ‘cos it’s a good album.

Someone at Nettwerk hinted to me that they’re dropping copy-controlled CDs because of all the bother. Good.

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.

found sound

Hauling my bike up the stairs up the Queen St viaduct over the Don this morning, I found a beat-up discarded demo CD for Estella Fritz. Being an avid fan of the 365 Days Project, I hoped this would be a demented demo for some superannuated wedding singer.

On hauling it into the office, I was disappointed. It’s generic overly-angsty rock from Windsor, ON. They have a website, alas: estellafritz.com.

Dang.

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>

i think i like emusic …

Just signed up for emusic.com. US $10 per month for unlimited download of some excellent artists, encoded as decent MP3s.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve downloaded so far:

  • The Dickies
  • The Fall
  • Ewan MacColl
  • Jah Wobble
  • Gorp
  • James Taylor Quartet
  • Daniel Johnston
  • Holy Modal Rounders
  • Wesley Willis
  • Boards Of Canada
  • Perez Prado Orchestra
  • Young Fresh Fellows
  • Mayor McCA
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Dressy Bessy
  • The Fugs
  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Maybe I don’t like them all, but at least I haven’t paid extra to find that out.

where’s willy?

Okay, so I got a $20 the other day in Scarborough inscribed with See Where I’ve Been… Track it online… www.whereswilly.com. Seems I’m the second-last person on the continent to hear about this little diversion for tracking paper currency. Shame about the name, though.

renewable energy spam!

Browsing through an old mail address’s cluttered inbox, I came across a message touting EnviroMission‘s Solar Tower technology. (Site warning: annoying flash graphics.)

I’ve always been dubious of this idea — basically, build a big transparent canopy somewhere really hot, and exhaust the hot air through turbines at the base of an enormous concrete tower — but to get spam from them is quite the limit.

Stuff like this doesn’t help the renewables industry. We’re building reliable machines that fit into a dependable power infrastructure. Fly-by-night spamming seriously damages the entire industry’s image.

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.

Well, George, I didn’t expect to find you here …

w

In a Food Basics supermarket in Scarborough, there’s a kiddie ride that reminds me of a certain world leader …

Sick beyond belief

It’s called Policy Analysis Market, and the blurb sounds fairly innocuous:

PAM is intended to have a globally distributed population of traders. Individuals interested in the Middle East and in the involvement of the United States with the countries of the Middle East are welcome to register as PAM traders. Individuals who are interested in the use of market processes to manage risk are also welcome to participate in PAM. Whatever a prospective traders interest in PAM, involvement in this group prediction process should prove engaging and may prove profitable.

… until you realise that it’s basically a stock-market system in which traders can bet on the likelihoods of terror attacks and assassinations in the Middle East. Eww!

I’d heard that money was amoral, but this is straight immoral. How soon will it be before an investor consortium on this market hires hitmen to make their “investments” profitable?

And all because They say that The Market can predict anything. If that’s the case, I’ve got a nice fish I can sell you, and you can tell the future by looking at its entrails.

The return of Mayor McCA

Back on June 6, I lamented the lack of interest there is in determinedly indie Canadian musician Mayor McCA. How wrong — or premature — I was.

I just heard from Mark at Sonic Unyon records that not merely does the Mayor have a new CD out, but that they’re sending me a copy! Whee!

Better yet, the Mayor is playing a free show later in the month at The Horseshoe, Toronto. This is all on his website, mayormcca.com, along with a track from the new album. Great stuff!

Stumpy!!!

stumpy4.jpg

I just got a classic bike from a small ad in a bike shop: a mid-80s Specialized Stumpjumper — with ultra-relaxed 69° angles and retro tiny main tube diameters — converted into a singlespeed.

The frame’s a little rusty, but it’s still lovely. The seller had done the conversion with pretty decent parts, so I’m happy as a clam. And the price was great. And it rides like a dream.

So, only 20 years after drooling over a Stumpy as a paperboy, I’ve finally got one. Wheee!!

the wisdom of chairman ralph

You know, you can’t let people like this get away with stuff like that because if it’s a pie today, it could be something else tomorrow.

 — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, after being pied at the opening of the Calgary Stampede. Thanks to The Globe & Mail for the sharp words.