"European traffic planners are dreaming of streets free of rules and directives. They want drivers and pedestrians to interact in a free and humane way, as brethren -- by means of friendly gestures, nods of the head and eye contact, without the harassment of prohibitions, restrictions and warning signs."
"The new traffic model's advocates believe the only way out of this vicious circle is to give drivers more liberty and encourage them to take responsibility for themselves. They demand streets like those during the Middle Ages, when horse-drawn chariots, handcarts and people scurried about in a completely unregulated fashion. The new model's proponents envision today's drivers and pedestrians blending into a colorful and peaceful traffic stream."
I am not going to comment on this. Make of it what you will. I will say, though, that the article contains the interesting tidbit that Germany has 648 valid traffic symbols.
Posted by Ken at 1:33 PM
HonestArgument.com allows users to create an argument, i.e., a topic for debate, and then debate them back and forth. The assertions or refutations are mapped out in a visual tree with nodes and sub-nodes. It is an interesting concept, but, in my opinion, needs a lot of help, particularly with the UI.
Posted by Ken at 12:35 PM
A publication of the DOE. There are some pretty cool charts.
As a general rule, I like solar energy and wish it were actually energy efficient (i.e., I wish it didn't take more energy to create the things than they will produce in their lifetime before they break down).
Anyway! A company called Infinia is building a new type of solar energy . . . . capturing device (as opposed to panel). It's a solar electric dish that focuses solar radiation on a motor suspended in front of it (where the receiver would be on a normal satellite dish). The motor is a "free-piston" Stirling engine that uses changes in air pressure to drive a motor, generating electricity.
The company claims that the system is (a) cheaper than traditional photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems - which, in theory, means that it takes less resources (energy as well as materials) to produce, which means that it may be (1) economical and, (2) therefore, energy efficient (the theory being that being non-economical is a symptom of being non energy efficient - if you don't get it, ask me or Alex), (b) manufactured without producing any harmful pollutants (which means it doesn't do one part of the environment a favor at the expense of another), (c) is recyclable ('nuff said), (d) 24% efficient, which is about twice the going rate, (e) aesthetically pleasing (you can decide for yourself), (f) capable of producing 9 megawatt-hours per year, and (g) available in 2008. For more details, see the website.
To point (f), this figure is probably assuming optimal conditions, do, for the sake of the following, let's say that a typical residential install would probably produce 66% of optimal, i.e., 6 megawatts. Why 66%? Well, I was going to figure out the average amount of energy produced each month (using the earth rotation, etc.), how many clear, partly cloudy, and cloudy days there are per year on average for my neck of the woods, etc., but I got tired of it because there are a lot of variables, so I just went for 66% because it seems not-too-optimistic and not-too-pessimistic.
Anyway! The average price of residential electricity in the US is $.08/kW-h (as of 2003 according to the DOE). Thus, if the system produced 6 MW-h per year, it would be producing $480/year worth of electricity (I'm glossing over the issues of whether a single residence would be able to consume all of the energy being produced at any time and whether or not it would be able to feed back into the utility grid using a net metering system). Now, lets say that the system lasts for 20 years. Why 10? Well, ...... no, don't worry, I'm not going to do that again. GE says that its residential solar panel system will last for "many" years, though the batteries will probably need to be replaced every 5-10 years. Thus, I guess that the system could last for, say, 30 years. Again, taking the idea that 66% is neither overly-optimistic, nor overly-pessimistic, I settle on 20.
So! Let's say that the system works as outlined above - oh, and let's throw in that it maintains its efficiency throughout its life cycle and, for the sake of argument, let's just hold the price of electricity static. Let's also say that the interest rates (savings rates, not mortgage rates) in this country average 4% over the foreseeable future. (Let's not even get into how I came up with that). I don't have any information on how much the system will cost, but, it seems that the system would pay for itself in whatever year corresponds to its cost below:
(Note: this assumes that interest compounds only annually, not monthly as it usually does. Thus, the monetary numbers are a little low).
Now that I have rambled to my heart's content, I'll stop :-)
Posted by Ken at 4:42 PM
Mariners in the South Pacific have reported the emergence from the sea of a new volcanic island near Tonga. According to the ship's blog, the mariners saw "streaks of light, porous pumice stone floating in the water -- then 'sailed into a vast, many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice.'"
I received this via email and had to post it:
Engineering Word Problem
A Backhoe weighing 8 tons is on top of a flat-bed trailer and heading east on Interstate 70 near Hays, Kansas. The extended shovel arm is made of hardened refined steel and the approaching overpass is made of commercial-grade concrete, reinforced with 1 1/2 inch steel rebar spaced at 6 inch intervals in a crisscross pattern layered at 1 foot vertical spacing.
Solve: When the shovel arm hits the overpass, how fast do you have to be going to slice the bridge in half? (Assume no effect for headwind and no braking by the driver...)
Extra Credit: Solve for the time and distance required for the entire rig to come to a complete stop after hitting the overpass at the speed calculated above.
Posted by Ken at 6:01 PM
Dliveo is a free web-based file delivery tool. Think of it as FedEx for files. Check it out, it's pretty cool, although it does have some limitations, e.g., you have to register a different account for each computer on which you want to use it, rather than being able to tie them all to an individual email address.
An Irish company, Steorn, is claiming that it has stumbled upon a method of creating energy from nothing. According to this article, the company was working on another project several years ago when it discovered a method of creating energy using magnetic fields. It claims that it has thoroughly tested the technology in house and has had outside laboratories test it as well. It is now challenging 12 physicists to test the technology in order to make it commercially credible. Many are skeptical of the claim because, according to the laws of physics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed - it can only change form.
The International Astronomical Union has proposed a new definition of the word "Planet". Under the new definition, which is basically "round and orbity", as this article puts it, there would be as many as 53 bodies in our solar system that would be classified as planets.
What do you get when you take Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, succeed from their respective unions, and form a new country? Yep, you guessed it, the Republic of Cascadia. I highly recommend looking over the website as well as the Wikipedia article.
Posted by Ken at 2:39 PM
In the past, visitors to this blog were about evenly split between Firefox and IE. Firefox was edging out IE by a few percentage points. There were also a few users arriving using Safari and other browsers. Lately, though, the Safari crowd has increased and the Firefox crowd has decreased. A knee-jerk guess is the Firefox users are switching to Safari.
Posted by Ken at 1:20 PM
Apparently, there is a chance that the original recordings of the First Moon Landing have been lost. These recordings were of a much high quality than what the public saw on TV that night, as explained in this article. This may make you think of the situation with the Saturn V plans which were "lost". It turns out that that particular story is untrue.
Posted by Ken at 11:22 AM
Posted by Ken at 6:25 PM
The Palm Islands are a group of three artificial islands being constructed in Dubai. They will be the largest artificial islands in the world and are being constructed as part of an effort to diversify Dubai's economy (in this case, by promoting tourism) before it's oil reserves run out (an event estimated to be due sometime in the second decade of this century). Each island is shaped like a Palm tree (each one is slightly different). Each island will hold multiple 5-star hotels, thousands of resort homes, theme parks, marinas, apartment buildings, and monorails.
Check out this article for more information.
Posted by Ken at 3:00 PM
Kobayashi is at it again, this time in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, at the Johnsonville World Brat Eating Championship. The previous record of 34.5 brats held by reigning champion, Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, was smashed by Kobayashi who ate 58 brats in ten minutes. Joey Chestnut came in second with 45.
Posted by Ken at 11:47 AM
Remember that hairy lobster I blogged a while back? And that fact about blue lobsters? Well, now there are yellow lobsters popping up. Apparently, there are also blue lobsters. The odds of finding a yellow lobster: 1 in 30,000,000. The odds of finding a blue lobster: 1 in 1,000,000.
In this edition, Belgians are buying used parking tickets, which, as far as I can tell from the article, would be more recognizable to the American mind as parking vouchers, in order to get out of fines imposed for illegal parking. Kicker: the site which facilitates this scam, Continental Computer Company, maintains that they are doing nothing wrong. After all, all they are doing is catering to that segment of the population that collects used parking tickets - just like all those people who collect stamps. :-)
Posted by Ken at 9:15 PM
Bars in New Zealand have borrowed the Yellow Card, Red Card system from soccer and bent it to their own purposes. Patrons who have had a bit too much are shown a Yellow Card which precludes them being served more alcohol without first sobering up a bit. A Red Card is shown to a patron who must leave the premises. Kicker: the Red Cards can be redeemed on a future visit for a free drink.
Posted by Ken at 9:10 PM
While I generally appreciate attempts to preserve cultural heritage, reason does have its limits sometimes: Iran has decided that some 2,000 foreign words are no longer to be used. Among them, "pizza", which will now be referred to as "elastic loaf".
Posted by Ken at 9:46 PM
There is an interesting article regarding how quickly visual information is transferred from the eyes to the brain. It includes a hypothesis that there is a two-tiered system of nerves - the brisk and sluggish nerve pathways that both transfer information, but at different speeds. The sluggish nerves transfer standard information, while the brisk nerves transfer information regarding danger much more quickly. The explanation for the sluggish pathway is that the brisk pathways consumes much more energy, while the sluggish consumes less and doesn't need to be any faster. The study appears to lack an explanation of how the retina would "know" what information to pass down each pathway. This would appear to require that the retina be "smart" and push some cognitive ability out to it, much the way some such "decision making" is said to reside in the spinal cord.
ILC Dover LP, the company that manufactures spacesuits for NASA, is working on a spacesuit that would be able to heal punctures 2mm wide and smaller, alert the astronaut of holes larger than that, kill off bacteria automatically by slowly releasing silver ions, generate its own power by means of solar cells sewn directly onto the out layer of the suit, and block radiation using a polyethylene layer containing hydrogen. The company is still experimenting with exactly which of a number of options for materials they are going to use, but, in principle, they've already got all the things mentioned above working.
Posted by Ken at 10:11 AM
In what sounds like another version of "This is How the 3M Post-It Note Got Invented", here is a video report on how one scientist discovered how to make waterproof paper. (By the way, 3M is a really cool company, in case you were wondering :-))
Apparently, there is an overabundance of natural gas, heating oil, and kerosene worldwide. There is so much, in fact, that companies are having to get creative with where to store it all, sending much cargo to Western Africa until it is needed.
While attempting to roll their way into the record books by "crafting" a 1.12 meter long joint, a bunch of Frenchmen have found themselves under arrest. After a few minutes of research, which including Guiness World Records, Google, Wikipedia, and, of course, the Ganjapedia, I was unable to find official documentation on the current record for the world's longest joint. Maybe you'll have more luck ;-)
Posted by Ken at 4:33 PM
An unusual gemstone in one of Tutankhamun's necklaces has apparently been determined to be glass that is older than the earliest Egyptian civilization. This discovery led to the discovery of glass chunks scattered across a remote region of the Sahara desert. The glass was formed at a temperature so hot that only a meteor impact could have caused it. There were no traces of an impact site, though. Thus, scientists have come to the conclusion that there was a Tunguska Event-esque above Ancient Egypt that formed the glass. Others have found evidence of a similar, yet more powerful, airburst above southeast Asia 800,000 years ago.
An English mathematician has worked out an equation with which one can predict how long it will take children in a car to begin asking the question "Are we there yet?" The source article has a number of ambiguities in it that are somewhat perplexing. For more, see the comments below the article.
Posted by Ken at 12:27 PM
You really can't make this stuff up:
The headmaster of a school in China secretly (by which I mean "in a somewhat shady manner") sold a 1,000 tree arboretum surrounding the school. In an attempt to buy-off the teachers, who he feared would publicize his actions, he brought in two dogs and promised that the teachers would be treated to a dog-meat lunch. (Sidenote: notice how dog meat lunch is supposed to be a valuable bribe in China) After killing the dogs and, presumably, dressing them, the schoolmaster witnessed his brilliant plan go awry when the dog meat stopped happily baking in the oven, and presumably, stewing in its own juices, and instead burst into flames. The resulting fire destroyed 10 classrooms along with all computers, televisions, and other equipment contained therein.
Posted by Ken at 10:14 AM
- Humans don't want babies.
- Human women take the pill. . . . a lot.
- Chemicals from all those enter the sewage systems after being discharged.
- Water treatment facilities are not designed to remove excess estrogen from waste water.
- Excess estrogen finds its way into the water supply, including streams and rivers.
- Excess estrogen rises to such levels in the water system that "fish are swimming in a soup of estrogen-like compounds.
- Male fish begin developing female characteristics and organs.
- Male fish begin producing eggs.
- The proportion of male to female fish begins threatening the viability of the gene pool.
- All that is an aside, however. Back to the cycle!
- Humans consume water from the water system, thereby drinking a soup of estrogen-like compounds.
- Human men begin having severely lower sperm counts.
- 1 in 6 human couples have trouble conceiving, i.e., when they want to.
- Probable solution: take more pills - just different ones this time.
Posted by Ken at 9:36 AM
itsweather.com is a mashup of the Google Maps API and local radar maps. It also allows you to overlay StormTrack dots that indicate the location and severity of independent storms. Note that the "Find Address" functionality only works if you enter a complete street address. Also, the tool has loading issues where it will not completely refresh the screen when you move from one location to another or shift from one view to another. Hopefully, they'll fix these issues soon.
Piers Sellers, a British astronaut currently in space, dropped one of six spatulas contained in his toolkit into space while working on a space walk. As a joke, the mission controllers made him count his remaining spatulas before allowing him back on board the shuttle. The stray spatula is now orbiting the earth once every 90 minutes at a speed 25x that of sound, and is being monitored by 20 sites around the world.
Posted by Ken at 9:57 AM
Another installment of BBspot's Top Eleven Lists.
Posted by Ken at 8:33 PM
It seems that the people of Scotland have chosen a national anthem: "The Flower of Scotland". Here is a fairly good article on the subject of how it was chosen. Go to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for recordings of "The Flower of Scotland" as well as other contenders.
Posted by Ken at 12:02 AM
Extensions for Firefox are awesome. They're part of what makes Firefox great. Here are some of the best that I have found:
- Tab Mix Plus - Includes a ton of options and settings for how tabs and tabbed browsing operate. This is definitely better than the previous best extension for tabs, Tabbrowser Preferences.
- Google Browser Sync - Allows you to tie certain browser-specific user information, e.g., cookies, history, bookmarks, saved passwords, and sessions, to your Google Account. You can then sync any (Firefox) browser on any machine using your Google login. Thus, you can maintain the exact same list of bookmarks (and their folder structure) with very little effort. I love this one (although, I admit, all I use it for is the bookmarks). Think of it as logging in to your browser the same way you log into a specific computer - all your preferences come with you no matter what machine you're using.
- Image Toolbar - This extension gives you an IE style image toolbar when you hover over an image. The settings are fairly customizable. This one is quite handy.
- Download Manager Tweak - Gives you options such as loading the Download Manager in the sidebar or in another tab. Very nice if you do a lot of downloading since the standard Download Manager is so annoying.
- All-In-One Sidebar - While I don't find this one all that useful, I can see how it would be wonderful to anyone who uses the sidebar for more than one thing. I really only use the sidebar for bookmarks, but this extension allows you to change the content of the sidebar (between, for example, bookmarks, history, download manager, extensions window, page properties, etc.) simply by clicking one of the small icons it places next to the sidebar. Apparently, this mimics Opera's sidebar quite a bit.
If you know of any other really good ones, let me know.
Despite the assertions of Monty Python's "The Funniest Joke in the World", one can safely read the World's Funniest Joke. There is an official World's Funniest Joke, you ask. Yes, as a matter of fact, someone spent the time to do the research and has declared a World's Funniest Joke.
Posted by Ken at 5:56 PM
While the last post concerning iPods was interesting, thing one goes one step further. iCarta is an iPod docking station that includes a fold-out toilet paper holder. Yep, you got it, you can now bring your iPod to the bathroom and enjoy your music collection with quality speakers and without taking up too much room (you need a toilet paper holder anyway).
Posted by Ken at 5:50 PM
There is a growing initiative to develop renewable energy sources that are essentially lunar power. The various methods would harness tidal energy to generate electricity. For example, turbines can be placed at the bottom of rivers and other bodies of water that experience periodic tides. The movement of the water would generate electricity in the same way that wind turbines do. There are also several other interesting methods under development. The nice thing about tidal power is it generates more power than wind (since water is denser than air) and it is more predictable.
Posted by Ken at 5:16 PM
It's bad enough when one's doctor informs one that one is overweight or in some way diseased. The British have decided to add insult to injury by passing that job off to one's toilet. The toilet can then take the liberty of informing your supermarket what foods they should sell to you to correct the problem(s). You think I'm joking, don't you? I'm not. I'm totally serious. The Twyford VIP not only analyzes waste to determine a person's health, but it can be adjusted (much like a car seat) using either push buttons or voice recognition. Again, you think I'm joking, don't you? I'm not.
As one commentator put it: "Physical output becomes digital input in this transformation of waste into metadata. Sensors are coming to a loo near you. And this strange business of sensory cyberspace imports has just begun. We can hardly imagine all the weird and wonderful possibilities." Morville, Peter. Ambient Functionality (Sebastopol, CA: O'Rielly, 2005), 90.
Posted by Ken at 2:08 PM
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?" . . . No
"People who like Eating Tasty Animals"? . . . No
"Prince who likes Eating Tasty Animals?" . . . YES!
In an interview with the Danish magazine Ud&Se, the 72-year-old Prince Consort of Denmark, Prince Henrik, a Frenchman by birth, who happens also to be the Honorary President of the Danish Dachshund Club, has stated that he has enjoyed eating dog meat since the time he spent growing up and studying in Vietnam. He invited Danes to try eating dog meat themselves. "I do not mind eating dog meat at all," he said.
"The dogs I eat have been bred to be eaten anyway, just like chickens. . . Dog meat tastes like rabbit. Like dried baby goat. Or perhaps - I know! - like veal. Like the veal of a baby suckling calf, only drier. He said the meat tasted best when it was sauteed or grilled and cut into thin slices.
As if this weren't enough, the Prince owns several dachshunds and, despite publishing a cookery book called Ikke Altid Gaselever (Not Always Goose Liver), has even published eulogies to them.
A book of Prince Henrik's poems, in which he praised his dogs, was published last year. A poem to his dachshund Evita compares her paws to 'wings.' "I love to stroke your coat and to see how it shines/ You dear, you special dog..../ You receive me with papal pride."
Since the prince's admission in the magazine Ud&Se, Danish newspapers have reopened their files on a royal dachshund that disappeared from Amalienborg palace, Copenhagen, in the early 1990s. Despite a countrywide search, it never reappeared.
By the way, the Prince also recommends that parents raise their children using techniques of dog training.
One ton of recycled paper saves:
- 4,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity
- 7,000 gallons of water
- 100 gallons of gasoline
- 60 pounds of air pollution
- A bandwidth performance tester. (If you don't know what that means, you don't need it ;-))
- Ever wonder where those "stock" photos of people, places, and things that you see all over come from? iStockPhoto.com of course!
- This Lightweight Visual Thesaurus is pretty cool. Try it out (because it will take a lot less time and be much more effective than me trying to explain in words how it works). N.B. - I know of a couple of tools like this that are available on the web, but this is the only free one of which I am aware. Also note that you can drag and drop the anchors of the visual as you see fit (which is handy since the system does not always present it in the most user friendly fashion.
"An amphibious wormlike creature has been found in Kenya whose young feed on their mother's skin. . . Nursing mothers of Boulengerula taitanus, part of a group of tropical, legless terrestrial amphibians called the caecilians, transform the top layer of their skin from its usual flat, dead cells to a thicker layer of large cells rich in protein and fats in order to nurture their young. The nutrient content of this skin layer is similar to that of milk. . . The infants . . . are born with modified teeth that allow them to scrape off the top layer of their mother's skin."
Click here to read the full story. The really interested among you may want to watch the video :-)
Posted by Ken at 11:43 PM
I got these via Mike. I don't know what the show is about, but they're still funny in their own right. The top link is to the index and those following are to my favorites (in no particular order). By the way, some of the clips are preceded by a short ad.
NBC's "The Office" April Fool's Day Public Service Announcements
Posted by Ken at 12:30 PM
So, let me get this straight, you are more willing to do potentially dangerous things because, if you get hurt, the government will pay to have you hospitalized, rehabilitated, and returned to the work force? Gee, that's a great way to show concern for the common good of your country - do stupid things because literally everyone else in the country will pay the penalty for it so you don't have to. It sounds like something a 5 year old would come up with.
Oh yeah, the whole Zorbing thing makes this article worth reading also ;-)
Posted by Ken at 12:25 PM
Video of Boeing 747 & 777 Crosswinds Landing Test <-- The last one is the best
The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Jenga blocks
Russian Drivers <-- Where does the second truck come from!!!!??? Alex, Anthony, and I still can't figure that out.
Parking Trick (side view)
Parking Trick (top view)
Posted by Ken at 5:22 PM
Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
When the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers play football at home, the stadium becomes the state's third largest city. (I know, I know - but I'm not even going to argue about it. All I'm going to say is "you know what they mean.")
- The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses.
- The longest monosyllabic word in the English language is "screeched"
- There are 293 different ways to make change for a dollar
- The microwave was invented after a researcher walked past a radar tube and a chocolate bar in his pocket melted.
Posted by Ken at 11:37 PM
- On the Canadian Two Dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament Building is an American flag.
- On the American One Dollar bill, there is an owl in the upper left hand corner of the "1" encased in the shield and a spider hidden in the front upper right hand corner.
- On average, right handed people live nine years longer than left handed people.
- Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
(By the way, I have yet to confirm any of these. If anyone has any suggestions on how I could go about confirming #3, I'd be most interested ;-))
Posted by Ken at 10:06 AM
This is too cool. Granted, it's a very small map and was done more for the heck of it than anything, but still - it's cool.
I also liked the headline: "Google claims its next planet with defeat of House of Atreides."
It's so sad that not all of you get that reference . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted by Ken at 9:47 PM
- Coca-cola was originally green.
- Every day, more money is printed for Monopoly than for the US Treasury.
- Statistically, one is more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider.
- Dreamt is the only word in English that ends in "mt."
- Elephants are the only animals that can't jump.
- In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
- It would take 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days of continuous yelling to heat one cup of coffee via sound energy.
Posted by Ken at 9:12 AM
There are a couple of sites that offer free, legal downloads of old, public domain movies. These movies are public domain because either they were never protected in the first place or their copyrights have expired.
Veoh was originally intended to be a place where people could post their own home videos (and they have - 10,000 of them), but it has also become the platform for old cult movies.
Public Domain Torrents, on the other hand, is devoted to Classic and B-rate movies.
This looks like it could be quite cool: the site requests that you input a subject in which you are interested and your five favorite news articles, blogs, images, etc. concerning that topic, and it automatically generates a personalized start page that includes RSS feeds, links to news articles, etc. The site, Boxxet, is currently a by-invitation-only, preview site. It should be up by the end of April. You can read more about it here.
Oh wait, everyone with half a brain already knew that. My bad.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (which, I admit, I don't know very much about) has released a series of statistics that show that, over the last 22 years, the states that have poured the most money into their public school systems have not even come close to producing the best students. Moreover, the states that did the best at reducing the student to teacher ratio likewise did not end up at the top of the list of best-student producing schools.
Posted by Ken at 7:15 PM
Last year, a team of divers, diving in 7500 deep waters 900 miles south of Easter Island, discovered what can be described as a 6 inch long, hairy lobster. The creature, which is so distinct from other known crustaceans, merited a new family and genus. Kiwa Hirsuta is the first member of the family Kiwaida, named after Kiwa, the Polynesian goddess of crustaceans.
An interesting take on the recent flurry of anti-Ave Maria activity.
On a slightly different note, I love how it took the rest of the world so many years to even hear about it - but when they did, boy did they jump on the mass-media-story-of-the-week-to-blow-out-of-proportion bandwagon :-)
Posted by Ken at 4:27 PM
Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour.
(Please don't try this at home . . . . . or anywhere else. No matter how tempting it may be. T'would be better to go jogging up the hill in shorts in the middle of winter at 1:00am. Maybe. Well, they're both not advisable. Don't try either of those at home. Or anywhere else.)
Posted by Ken at 8:48 AM
There are a number of different websites, which all take a number of different approaches, that track gas prices and can tell you where the cheapest gas is in your area. The two that stand out to me are (in no particular order):
MSN Autos - Local Gas Prices, the upside of this site is that their pricing data is provided by OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) - which makes it accurate. The downside is that OPIS data, even though it is updated nightly, might not be truly up to date. It may be up to 7 days due to the electronic processes by which they collect their data (e.g., through credit card transaction records). As well, the mapping element is provided by MSN MapPoint - which means that you can't scroll a map the way you can with a GoogleMaps mashup (in fact, you can't scroll this map at all). You can zoom, though, within the specified zip code without requiring an annoying page refresh.
Map Gas Prices, the upside of this site is that their mapping element is provided by GoogleMaps, so you can scroll without requiring a page refresh. Also, users can enter pricing data directly - which means that this site may be more up to date, but it also may be inaccurate due to the possibility of human error. It is unclear whether all of the pricing data on this site is obtained merely through user input (which I doubt, since 110,000 price points is an awful lot of user input), or if user input simply supplements data acquired through other means, e.g., OPIS. Another nice feature of this site is that you can sign up for automatic alerts via email for the lowest price point near you.
Map Gas Prices is produced by a company called Orbizon, Inc., which also produces a site called Map Sex Offenders, which (yes, you guessed it) displays the registered street addresses of registered sex offenders on a GoogleMaps map - this data is compiled from the web-based databases of various states.
"Barbra Streisand has launched a new spelling error-ridden dispatch on the Internet -- a dispatch that mocks President Bush for being a 'C student!'" (This is, by the way, the second time she's done this).
Actual Barbara Streisand dispatch (as captured by a webcrawler)
Posted by Ken at 2:48 PM
Outsourcing customer-facing business processes, such as tech support, is a bad idea. I'm glad that Einstein was reincarnated so that the world could be thus enlightened.
Posted by Ken at 11:25 AM
Pfizer rules mouthwash market for more than a century with Listerine.
Proctor & Gamble gets jealous and develops Crest Pro Health mouthwash.
Not bothering to poll actual dentists, P&G advertises product as "4 out of 5 dentists would recommend it."
Pfizer sues to prevent "irreparable harm and damage to Pfizer, as well as to consumers."
Don't believe me? Go here.
Posted by Ken at 11:21 AM
I know I've already told some of you about this, but, for those of you who haven't heard about it yet:
1-800-free-411 is a service that gives you free 411 directory assistance any time. The catch is that you have to listen to a 15 second ad. But hey, it saves for a buck or two.
A "large and aggressive" hare has reportedly attacked a dogsled team in Norway.
Wenche Offerdal, who was driving the dogsled team, said she'd never seen anything like it.
She told newspaper Nordlys that she and her team of huskies met the "aggressive" hare in Troms County.
"It was sitting 10 metres from the trail and I figured it would run off, and even that the dogs would go after it," Offerdal said. "I was wrong."
Instead, the hare came running towards the dogsled team, and jumped right into the middle of the dogs.
"It was an absurd situation," Offerdal told Nordlys. "The dogs were completely perplexed. The hare stared at them and they stared back, like they were all frozen."
Suddenly the hare leaped out of the ring, hitting a few of the dogs on their noses with its paws on its way.
"It was an enormous leap, the hare landed outside the ring of dogs and ran off into the woods," Offerdal said.
For any of you who haven't heard about this yet, there is a search engine that runs off of the Google API (meaning you get the exact same results you would if you were using Google.com), but, rather than keeping the advertising money it generates, donates it to pro-life organizations - ProLifeSearch.com.
So, for any of you that use Google, start using this - it's just the same, except that money goes to pro-life organizations when you do. Also, for you Firefox fans, you can add this search engine to the search bar in your browser just as you can with any other browser. To do this, go here, and click on the prolifesearch.com link.
Posted by Ken at 2:32 PM
A study finds that children who are taught verbally with reinforcing gestures learn better; those who are taught verbally with complimentary gestures learn better still. Repetition is the key to learning and it seems that complementarity is the "open sesame".
Posted by Ken at 2:22 PM
I figured that, instead of continuing to clog everyone's email inboxes with annoying little tidbits that I pick up in the course of my travels through cyberspace, I would just start posting them to a blog and allow everyone to consume them at their leisure (those more technically inclined among you will notice the reference to the site feed (http://kens-tidbits.blogspot.com/atom.xml)). If anyone would like to contribute to this blog, which I hope will be a good place to communicate about various news articles, internet resources, and the like, please let me know!
Posted by Ken at 2:11 PM