Plagiarist's Nightmare

This article calls Google Books a plagiarist's nightmare. Interesting article, worth the read.

Line Rider

Cool Flash-based game. You draw a line and the little man rides it on his sled. Here's an example:

A Brief History of the Apocalypse

An index of hundreds of different predictions of when the apocalypse would (or will) occur.

Black Friday

Black Friday is not the busiest shopping day of the year - it ranks sixth. Cyber Monday is the ninth busiest online shopping day of the year.

Source article

European Cities Do Away with Traffic Rules

"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.

Impairing Productivity since 1997 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.


Orsinal is a large collection of Flash games created by Ferry Halim. I've only tried one, Milk the Cow, which is . . . . . interesting.

Enjoy :-)

Subtly Simpsons

Residential Electricity Prices: A Consumer's Guide

A publication of the DOE. There are some pretty cool charts.

Cool New Solar Energy Idea

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:

Year 1 499.2
Year 2 999.168
Year 3 1499.167
Year 4 1999.167
Year 5 2499.167
Year 6 2999.167
Year 7 3499.167
Year 8 3999.167
Year 9 4499.167
Year 10 4999.167

(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 :-)

Fantasy Congress

You know, just like Fantasy Football.

Plane Caught By Satellite

Look at this map. If you don't see anything, make sure the marker is centered, go to satellite view, and zoom in the the second to closest setting. Enjoy :-)

Speculation that Viking Landers Found Martian Life After All

Automating the Nightly News

News at Seven is a computer system still being developed that automatically compiles a nightly news cast from various sources, which is then presented by an animated news anchor.

Mariners Report Appearance of New Island

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.'"

Sony PS1 = High Quality Audio Deck

It seems that audiophiles have realized that old Sony Play Station 1s make great audio equipment - especially those marked with the model number SCPH-1001 because it has separate audio and video output jacks.

100 New Aquatic Species Found

The discoveries were made during an expedition to French Frigate Shoals, northwest of Hawaii.

Research Beyond Google

Here is a handy list of resources (mostly free) that are good alternatives to Google when doing serious research.


I apologize to everyone who is checking my blog and not seeing anything new each day. I've been crazy busy with work and other things lately. Hopefully I will be able to keep up from now on.


scrybe beta

Read this article about scrybe beta. I personally think it looks pretty cool.