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.

Office Party, Canadian Tradition

It was our office party last night. I had, I’m told, the quintessential Canadian suburban experience — a 40 of Olde E, and a monster bag of Sun Chips. And I’m still alive, apparently.

I’d better translate. “Olde E” is more properly known as Pabst Olde English 800 Malt Liquor. It’s 7.9% alcohol. It’s sold in 40 ounce bottles, so that’s 1.18 litres of beer-like substance. And it’s $3.95 at the LCBO, but quite how control is involved in selling this much alcohol for so little money, I don’t know.

happy birthday, WindShare

windshare birthday cake

The WindShare/Toronto Hydro wind turbine was officially one year old yesterday. Coincidentally, we’ve generate 1,000,000 kWh, too.

There was a big event at Liberty Grand at the CNE. The cake was particularly good.

best porridge ever

I’ve become a bit of a porridge monster lately. It’s absurdly easy to make. After trying this, you won’t buy Quaker oats again.

Ingredients, per person:

  • ½ cup (125ml) steel-cut oats (called ‘pinhead
    oatmeal’ in Scotland)
  • 2 cups (500ml) water

The night before: Bring the water to the boil, and add the oats.
Cover the pan, and remove it from the heat.

In the morning: Add a pinch of salt, and bring the porridge to
the boil. Be careful to stir the porridge, or else it may stick and
burn.

Serve with milk, and salt/sugar/maple syrup/toasted oatmeal to taste.

Cleaning the pan: Fill with cold water as soon as possible, and
leave to soak. The remaining porridge should just float off. Using
hot water makes the porridge stick.

Oatmeal storage: it doesn’t keep for very long. I keep my dry oatmeal in the freezer, since that stops any bugs that might be lurking in the meal from hatching.

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.