stones, as current vernacular would have it

Finatics' sign, by Big Al's

I’m no fan of billboards, but I have to congratulate Mike of Finatics for sheer gall when he put up this sign. See the plastic shark on the building behind? That’s Big Al’s, one of the biggest aquarium stores in Canada. Mike’s probably not going to get any favours from them any time soon.

hpshopping.ca really hates French people

hpshopping.ca really doesn’t like Francophones. If you go to the section for the HP Compaq dx2200 series, you’ll see the following:
$589 for an english machine, $9999 for a french machineYup, the French version’s nearly 17x the price of the English one.

Goodbye, childhood

Goodbye:

  • headache glue cracking from finger tips
  • badly-painted pilot with obvious thumb-prints
  • squint and/or torn decals
  • undercarriage installed backwards, if at all
  • spilled tin of Humbrol enamel
  • leftover sprue rattling in cardboard box with an unidentified piece still attached
  • curious v-shaped stand that never quite stood level
  • hung squintly from bedroom light by white thread until dusty wing missing from too many runins with parental heads
  • taken down for final flight whirled round head on string until dashed against clothespole or arcing up up into neighbour’s fir tree (it’s still there today)
  • when older, packed with cotton balls nicked from sister, doused with turps, crashed flaming kamikaze onto the compost heap (sorry dad, your onions never did well on paint thinner and burnt plastic)

Goodbye, Airfix

mame is lame

I suddenly got a retrogaming jones on, and had a strong need to play Robotron. So I downloaded MAME and some ROMs, but no dice — every archive was missing files. Seems that to get the few games I need, I have to download a 16GB torrent of ever game that MAME supports.

My arcade game sensors withered about 18 years ago, so nothing past about 1988 registers with me. You could probably fit every pre-’88 ROM onto a couple of floppies. And it’s not like I’m not allowed to play the ancient Williams games; I have the Arcade Classics CD somewhere which has the games in licensed (but MAME-incompatible) form.

back to 32-bit

I think I’ll have to install Ubuntu for i386 on the Sempron box, as too many hardware things don’t work. At the moment, I’m stuck with unaccelerated graphics and wired etherent; the via graphics driver isn’t yet 64-bit clean, and none of my wireless adaptors have 64-bit drivers, either.

Maybe at the next release I’ll go 64-bit.

east coast, but further west

Strange to think that I’m on the east coast, but actually further west than home in Toronto. That whole curving away to the Gulf of Mexico thing will get you if you’re not careful.

The strange thing is, if you take my current longitude, and the latitude of our house, you get a point near Rte 16 near Brussels, ON that I’ve been through on the way back from the wind farm. That’s like, y’know, stuff, and some like other stuff too, whoah!

calculator porn

For no good reason, I think I need the new HP 50g calculator, if only because it’s so absurdly large. Mind you, since I recently found my 49G again, I don’t think I can justify it.

the end of poverty in your coffee cup?

I’m not sure what to make of EWB‘s current campaign, which features a future newspaper headline G8 Leaders Declare End of Extreme Poverty. It links to playyourpart.ca, which seems to say that we can end world poverty just by buying fair-trade goods?

I know there’s a lot wrong with the coffee industry (Free Trade Coffee: You Grind The Beans, We Grind The Peasants! Enjoy the smooth trickle-down flavour, etc) but it’s a simplistic argument. What can the extremely poor sell to us?

I don’t know what to think.

FUNtain.ca

Steve Mann‘s done it again: the FUNtain.

Though totally different in scope, it reminds me of a device I saw at a street fair in Glasgow. This was a bank of drainpipes, arranged in a circle. One end of each pipe had a pressure washer head with a flat nozzle played across it, and the other end was stopped at just the right length to play a note. The pressure washer triggers were arranged as a keyboard, and there was a (laminated against water damage) music book on the console. You could play simple (if very loud) tunes.

I’ve never seen such a device since then.

gone with the wind

I see that Americas Wind Energy updated their website to replace the site I wrote for them a couple of years back. It’s purty, but:

  • The page URL sometimes inexplicably switches to d3095932.ejt86.ejtechinternational.com from awe-wind.com.
  • The product page for the AWE 52-750 shows a bunch of non-operational turbines.
  • The AWE 52-900 page also has a picture of a parked turbine, and it looks a lot like Tallon Energy’s 52-750 at Pincher Creek.
  • More parked turbines on the 54-900 page, and occasionally a completely different machine is shown.

Oh wait, I get it – it’s a random turbine image for each page. Hmm.

RE Imaginations – Renewable Energy Art

I was about to rush off and tell Emma Jane about RE Imaginations – Renewable Energy Art, when I discovered she exhibits on it already.

(They had a nifty display at AWEA, and I just bought an Aleksandar Rodic print.)

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006

Clipper wind turbine nacelle, at AWEA06

Stewart’s Images :: AWEA 2006 – pictures from the floor of the American Wind Energy Association trade show and conference, Pittsburgh, PA – June 4-7, 2006

AWEA06: by the river (or in it, nearly)

by a river at AWEA06

We’re not getting the best weather for the conference, but I hear that the coincidentally-running Three Rivers Arts Festival has had rain 18 out of the 20 years it has run, so noone’s surprised.

Conference hasn’t quite started yet, but the preliminary swag is quite promising; yoyos and balsa aircraft.

I spent the day in workshop run by KidWind, who have a school science kit for teaching the basics of wind turbine effectiveness. We got to build wind turbines, and test them. Here’s mine, big wean that I am:
stewart's kidwind turbine

I guess I got some losses near the hub there, but at least it worked. I was the only developer type there (there was a DoE person, and lots and lots of Pennsylvania teachers). I came away impressed, and hope I can work with Michael Arquin of KidWind to bring the project to Ontario.

(This post has the worst GPS location ever; could only get a fix to within 100m, so that’s why the map location appears to be in the river.)

Pittsburgh: I’m only hea for AWEA

In town for the AWEA 2006 Conference. Pittsburgh looks like it has some interesting topography, and has some huge buildings downtown. Trying to get a GPS signal for the map (amid a bemused high-school prom crowd) was hard.

Danish Modern in Ringkøbing

I’m currently checked into a hotel which reeks of 70s Danish modern — blonde wood, bare brick, smoked glass surfaces — and, like many places in Denmark, cigarette smoke. Being in the presence of an authentic Beocom phone makes up for it though:

Beocom Phone

Also, there’s a cute little wind farm outside; a few Vestas V27s (or smaller) on lattice towers at 56° 7′ 22.11″ N, 8° 13′ 48.94″ E:
Little wind farm near Ringkøbing, Denmark

i saw saws

You have got to see these folks! The Singing Saw Shadow Show were amazing the other night; wild raucous lo-fi that had me on the edge of my seat. I must get the old saw out and rosin the bow.

The support were interesting. Pyramid Culture, while better than Better Than Everyone, are okay if you want to learn about the perils of artificial sweeteners, face transplants and parasitic foetal twins. Faun Fables produced their art-rock pantomime The Transit Rider; fun, and with a fab rendition of The House Carpenter, too.

But go and see this Singing Saw Shadow Show if and when you can. They will blow you away.