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Showing posts from May, 2007

Which kills more birds: Wind Turbines or Cats?

As a resident of a fairly windy area, I am always amazed at the level of resistance people offer to wind power. It's free, sustainable, clean, and cheap. There are usually two reasons that anyone actually offers against wind power. The first is noise (from the spinning turbine blades); that one is solved with moving the turbines to remote locations, like unpopulated hillsides or offshore. The second is the one that gets most people up in arms: birds cannot see the spinning blades, and are cut to pieces. This leaves most environmentalists at odds with their bleeding hearts, as clean power that is borne on the back of dead avians seems to be a real gut wrencher. Luckily, along has come this article , which correctly points out that the United States' incredibly large feral cat problem easily eclipses the amount of bird deaths caused by wind power. Windmills? An estimated 40,000 birds each year meet their ends from these power producers. Feral cats? "Hundreds of millions"

My Other Blog

Believe it or not, I actually contribute to another blog for my company, the Loyalty Dogs Blog . I tend to put sporadic entries in, but the comments from Mark, our CEO and one of my co-founders, are actually extremely insightful and well stated. Charles' comments are incredibly helpful, as well. If you're looking to see another side of me, come run with the Dogs.

The Chronicle: The End Is Nigh

I have commented several times about my opinion of San Francisco's "premier" paper, the San Francisco Chronicle . When I first moved to the Bay Area, I was disgusted with this laughable excuse of a paper. As a man who consumed the Boston Globe from cover to cover, every day, for over a decade, I was shocked that a city with such a proud literary history called this pathetic excuse of newsprint as it's paper. In the last 5 years, however, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the quality of it's coverage improving, with an emphasis on actually finding stories, instead of just picking up what the wires spit out. Coincidentally, it happened that this was the time the Hearst group picked up the paper, and made a real dedicated effort on it, and it was paying off. From the Barry Bonds scandals, to the coverage of Nancy Pelosi's ascension to the head of the Congress, the paper has been getting to be a real paper, and one that is actually a pleasure to occasionall

Big Brother Takes Flight

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAV's, were once the subject of science fiction ( Real Genius , anyone?), but the one thing this illegal invasion of a sovereign nation (aka, the horribly misnamed "Iraq War") has proven is that UAV's are here to stay. With "an astonishing 80%" of all military flights in Iraq being flown by UAV's today, these remote controlled/robot planes have proven their worth as bloodless soldiers in the military skies, from surveillance to full on hunter/killers. Despite the rampant warning we have received from countless scifi films about the wisdom of allowing semi-autonomous vehicles of speed and strength roaming the skies, these UAV's are slowly seeping their way into the civilian skies. This Popular Mechanics article focuses on their ever increasing presence in our day to day lives, as Big Brother straps on his goggles and takes to the air. As with all such adoptions of military technology to civilian matters, the first incurs

Coffee is the new Data

Ok, so what the heck is with this trend to deliver data via alternative indicators? For example, Ambient Devices makes the Orb , which changes shade of color to determine weather, stock trends, etc. We've all heard the little chirp of the IM client as a message comes in (like you couldn't see the window spawn). But this one takes the, cup. News Brews brings the world of RSS feeds, dynamic data monitoring and on demand computing together with...a cup of coffee. Yep, the system monitors RSS feeds for the mention of certain countries and dynamically, once a minute , changes the brew of coffee it makes, in response. As TechDigest says, "The concept behind News Brews is, why read the news when you can just drink it? The steampunk-style machine contains a wide geographical assortment of coffee beans, and generates a custom blend every minute depending on what coffee-origin-country is in the RSS fees. If Ethiopia scans at 33%, Kenya at 50% and Costa Rica at 17%, you

Gentlemen, place your BluBets

Like so many of the "sins," this country has its collective head up its ass when it comes to the natural inclinations of its inhabitants. We are the most open nation on the planet, in terms of individual freedoms and founding principles to protect them, and yet we are constantly hobbled by our Puritanical beginnings. Sex, drugs, controversial music or movies: we litigate against them and yet celebrate them in popular culture at the same time. But nothing shows the US of A's utter hypocrisy more evidently than gambling. It's illegal, yet in over half of the states in this country, you can legally gamble in casinos. And let's not even get started about the lottery: the worst cruel trick you can play on the most helpless people, and yet the state makes its revenues from it. We love to gamble. We love to believe that we are imbued with that special power that will help us see something that the other people do not. We love to compete, and gambling lets us compete with

Dining by, LED-light

I normally leave the blogging about design and furniture to Pete, but this one caught my fancy. As Gizmodo says, "When an object—usually transparent—interrupts the path of the light through the table, the light gets transferred into the object and lights it up all pretty-like. We're not sure what practical use this table has, but who can say no to LEDs?"

Apologies for the long absence...

It's been a crazy time. First, the move to the new house. Then, the arrival of the in-law family: first my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law, then the arrival of my brother-in-law, followed by the departure of my sister-in-law. Essentially, for the better part of a month, we've had houseguests. On top of that, work went crazy this week: growing pains from scale, along with the surge of the Mother's Day holiday, and several new clients (and a new team member!), what a ride. The good news is that I survived. Now, to get back to this blogging thing. :-) I decided to finally listen to Charles and chuck the mountain bike for my daily commute: I'm now 8 miles, each way, to the Ferry. So, last Saturday, we headed to the bike stores for the test rides. First, I was amazed they let you test ride these things on the street: hand over an ID and a credit card, and away you go. With bikes that were, on average, well over $1000, and some stretching up to $5k, this seemed crazy

Stranger than Fiction: The CIA, Iran hostages, and a sci-fi film

It's 1979. Several Americans have escaped the militant takeover of the embassy, and are hiding, Anne Frank-style, in various other diplomatic residences. The US knows they are there, but how to get them out? In a story that Robert Ludlum's editors would have rejected, the CIA invented a fake science fiction film, hired Hollywood professionals, and, improbably, used it as a cover to smuggle these people out. This is too good to be believed. Read for yourself, courtesy of Wired Magazine.