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2005-06-30

[Farvernügen] Mah Truck's Smarter Than Ah Am

OK. This is The Future, right? The Twenty-First Century? Where's my Smart Car?

Ever since I read about Gay Deceiver (see model pix) in The Number of the Beast, ah done wanted me a Smart Truck. The SkyCar is optional; all I want to do is to drop my briefcase in the back seat, stick my thumb into the print reader and my eyeball up to the iris scanner, and tell it I'm going to work. Then I sit back, and let it do the driving for me,

Stanley the robot ('autonomous') SUV is getting closer to that highly desirable goal.

Stanley's a pretty-close-to-stock, street-legal (a first for robototrucks) VW Touareg with a miserly and eco-friendly turbo-diesel, in keeping with for VW's legendary fuel economy (and, yes, it will run on bio-diesel ; would you like fries with your ride?)

It will be entered in DARPA's second Grand Challenge for robot vehicles. Last year's event was comic, with the best vehicle only going eight miles of the 300 mile course before failure, but this year, the Stanford team is far more optimistic.

2005-06-29

[Environment] You Can't Smell the Global Warming BS Without a Scorecard

Is there really a relationship between Global Warming and Greenhouse Gases? Sure, there's a lot of talk, but when I listen to scientists, I either get healthy skepticism about it (along with a suggestion that a methodical collection of data would be really useful), or a lot of handwaving and airy refutations along the lines of "everyone knows that's so."

Most of the latter don't even realize the Number One greenhouse gas is DMHO, nor do they advocate a plan for dealing with DMHO and its impact on the environment.

Penn and Teller have a better term for the latter kind of science. However, it takes soothing, calm words backed with facts to counter the output of powerful media machines.

There is some useful science going on. One analysis presents major claims by Global Warming/Greenhouse Gas advocates, goes back to the models and data, and from that, created a Greenhouse Warming Scorecard
{snip}Using a Win-Loss-Tie (or W-L-T) scoring system, we estimate the record is 3-27-5 for the greenhouse warming hypothesis, which is a poor record. The three items that seemed to be positive (receding glaciers, decreasing snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, and stratospheric cooling) are heavily publicized without much mention of the other items..... As our "Greenhouse Warming Scorecard" shows, the IPCC models are false in many ways.{snip}

2005-06-28

[Environment] Yet Another Refutation of Man-Made Global Warming

Der Spiegel, a well-respected German publication, here documents that the earth was once much warmer than today, with solid geologic proof, by looking at glaciers in the Alps.
The most dramatic change in the landscape occurred some 7,000 years ago. At the time, the entire mountain range was practically glacier-free -- and probably not due to a lack of snow, but because the sun melted the ice. The timber line was higher then as well.

The scientists' conclusion puts the vanishing glaciers of the past 150 years into an entirely new context: "Over of the past 10,000 years, fifty percent of the time, the glaciers were smaller than today," Joerin states in an essay written together with his doctoral advisor Christian Schluechter. They call it the "Green Alps" theory.

Gee, how many SUVs were there 7,000 years ago? How many CFCs were leaking from air conditioners to deplete the ozone layer? How many smokestacks caused that 5,000 B.C. global warm-up?

Folks, the sun is a variable star. It gets brighter, and dimmer, without regard to what we do on this planet, and even minor variations can affect how our climate works.

There's no question that some of the engines which drive climate are changing; just read this report on the Gulf Stream and the implications. There's some real science being done to measure this more precisely, which is good news.

We may need to develop a planetary thermostat if we want to keep things the way they are, which means more real science, not moaning about the inevitability of global warming, and the necessity of wrecking the North American economy so China (exempt from the Kyoto requrements we'd be subject to if we bought into that farrago of lies, BTW) can continue to pillage the planet.

2005-06-27

[Robots] Flocks of... computers, flying

The astoundingly prescient Neal Stephenson in his DIAMOND AGE came up with the idea of small, autonomous flying computers, connected in a wireless grid. Well, here's the first real example of a flying grid.

These would, as Neal wrote, be dandy for security purposes, as well as for extending a WiFi net over any territory without ground based infrastructure.

2005-06-23

[Mobiles] Carrying hyperlinked documents on a Palm or other PDA

A member of the Studio Audience had a question which I think PDA users of all stripes might find handy to have an answer for. I learned how, becasue I tote around about a hundred documents at all times, and wanted a good solution for how to make Palm-readable documents.
Originally posted by duugg
I have a large Word doc on my desktop that I'd like to convert over to "some" reader on my Treo. I want this file to have hyperlinks so that I can jump to and back to wherever I want (will bookmarks do the same?, other than hyperlinks taking you to a website, I'm not really sure of the difference).

My suggestion would be to strip as much of the Word cruft out of the document as you can, save to HTML, and then use either Demoronizer or Word Unmunger, depending on the version of Word used. Both fix the awful HTML which Word generates. Then convert it to Plucker.

Is it worth it? Well, download Plucker, install it, and then install some good HTML docs (like Accelerando by Charlie Stross, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, and the 9-11 Commission Report. The latter is an excellent example of a Palm-optimized HTML hyperlinked document.

2005-06-22

[Hacking] DIY Hacks day

Hope you enjoy this compilation of DIY hacks.

2005-06-21

[Society] Hey, Klingons have feelings, too!

A Blog mom here relates her eight year old's allegiance to the Federation, and what that did to the minds of the teachers at his school. What a hoot.

2005-06-19

[Robots] We Love Our Roomba: Here Comes Scooba

Scooba now enters the scene, as a floor-washing robot, a companion to the Roomba which Mrs. Jetson and I are both fond of. I have to say, the Roomba service department has been fall-over-themselves helpful with the one problem we had with Rosie, our Roomba.

2005-06-14

[Health] Blogs Fight Epidemics

The use of blogs to counter government non-information is discussed in this weblog, and another weblog focuses on avian flu. The Wikipedia entry on avian flu is being used by a Spanish epidemiologist as a clearinghouse for the latest information on avian flu.