seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Science & Technology

Thoughts on science, technology, energy, and policy intersecting these spheres.

Energy Resolution

Happy New Years!

I just wrote an article for energista.org encouraging people to adopt a New Year's Resolution to use less electricity in 2007. We can all increase our efficiency and reduce our footprint.

Please take a few minutes to read the article and commit yourself to the changes I recommend. Not only can it save you money, improving efficiency is the best approach to a cleaner environment with lessened global climate change. Thank you.

If you are confused about purchasing green tags or wind credits, this post discusses them to a greater depth than you probably care to read.

Happy New Year.

Iraq - Electricity

I just posted an article on Energista about the situation in Iraq regarding its electrical grid. My summary covers some of the many issues, but I encourage you to read the original article. The problems with rebuilding Iraq's grid are accessible to non-engineers and quite interesting.

Gift Cards

Have a gift in mind for someone but can't afford it? This is a gift card hack that might help you out of that jam. Be forewarned that it is illegal and totally unethical (two concepts often confused for each other).

However, you may want to make sure you purchase gift cards that do not suffer from this vulnerability.

Climate Change Investigation

Finally, a major news agency is going to investigate insinuations that the massively overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change is a conspiracy premised upon suppressing the contrary evidence.

I wrote about this BBC investigation over at energista.

Computer Efficiency

I recently put together a post about computers and efficiency over at Energista.

Bermuda Solved

The end of a mystery? It looks like we now have a plausible theory to explain Bermuda Triangle oddities.

The sudden release of gas hydrates in to the atmosphere has a long-term impact on global warming, but on the short-term, its impacts are as dramatic and tragic. When methane bubbles escape to the air, the density of water as methane goes through the water changes. Methane reduces the density of water so that ships lose buoyancy and sink. As the methane bubbles escape it create a lot of static electricity that changes the magnetic field of the area thus rendering radars useless. Once it is freed in the air, methane being a highly flammable gas, it may produce instantaneous sparks that could decimate a flying vehicle immediately.

Zune!

Any regular reader of my comments will know that I regularly rag on the iPod. Well, Microsoft is releasing its new iPod competitor - the Zune. Some say it sucks, some say it stands a chance.

Steve Wilson, a consumer electronics analyst, was so surprised this month when he read the results of a survey by ABI Research of 1,725 randomly chosen owners of digital media players. To Wilson's shock, 58 percent of iPod owners told ABI they were likely to buy a Zune, the new player Microsoft plans to start selling in the U.S. market on Tuesday, and in 2007 in Europe.

"The idea you get from Apple is that everybody loves iPod and iTunes and that they've got the market sewn up," said Wilson, an ABI analyst in Boston. "But this shows that iPod users aren't very loyal and the market is up for grabs."

Let me be clear. I think the iPod leaves a lot to be desired. The Zune improves upon the iPod in many ways. However, in the area of digital rights management, the Zune is worse. I will certainly not be buying one. Judging from the reviews and features, I think Apple produces a better media player. And it still sucks.

Firefox 2!

Mozilla's Firefox 2 has just been released. This has some great improvements, most notably a built in spell checker. For those of us who do a lot of web-delivered e-mail and blogging, it is a great step forward.

Firefox continues to be more secure and safe than IE. If you are clicking the lower case 'e' to start using the internet, you are inviting a host of viruses to take over your system. IE cannot compare to Firefox when it comes to security - for the casual user, you are safer using Firefox.

The nice thing is that it is faster and better looking to boot. It is a free download! If you don't have it yet, go download it now and install it. Don't wait. If you get a virus or other malware from using IE, we all suffer. You will likely not notice a difference in the computer. Much of malware tries to hide itself now and use your computer to send tons of spam and participate in computer denial-of-service attacks by online organized criminals against those who do not pay protection money.

This is no joke. That spam you are sorting though? It was probably sent by a computer run by someone who does not know that their system is compromised and being used by iJerks (I should trademark that) to make money.

Further, once you get malware, the only way to get rid of it in most situations is to format your computer, lose most of your data, and start over. Awesome.

Use firefox.

Even if Firefox were not a better browser on the merits of speed, features, and security, I would recommend it because I would rather support a community project than one run by a greedy corporation.

Hydrogen Economy?

It has been a long time since Klink questioned my opposition to the hydrogen economy but I just posted a short piece on Energista! on an article about the dim future of the hydrogen economy.

Boom

Did you ever wonder what would happen if someone set of a 1 Megaton nuclear blast on a Detroit city street? How about if it were set off from 8,000 feet up? How about 25 Megatons from 17,500 feet? It isn't a pretty sight.

I just read the effects of such blasts on Detroit for a class. The last 2 pages cover a comparison between a large nuclear blast to that of a terrorist one. It is somewhat reassuring that they are significantly different.

Nonetheless, yikes! The illustrations are interesting but reading about what happens and what causes the most deaths is the most gripping.

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