Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Efficiency

I was watching Car of the Future on PBS (in HD, of course) and this struck me. Internal combustion engines run at an average efficiency of about 20% (compared to theoretical Carnot limits). Add to that the fact that we get into a 2,000 pound machine to move a 150lb human. Let's make the math easier and say we weigh 200lbs. If it takes 1 gallon of gas to move just a 200lb human at 100% efficiency x meters, it takes (2000/200)*(100/20) = 50 gallons to move 2,000lbs at 20% efficiency the same distance.

50X more resources than needed.

Meanwhile, a minister led a pray-in at a Chevron in San Francisco asking God for lower gas prices. We shouldn't be campaigning (or praying) for lower gas prices—we should be demanding better fuel economy and smarter means of transportation.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Life at 27

I was in San Francisco last week for The Relay. After the run (which was awesome, btw: 4.5 miles flat @ 8 min/mile, 5.8 +250ft altitude gain @ 10, and 3.1 +1100 @ 12), I spent a few nights with friends and family that live in the Bay area. Free accommodations, sure, but it was really healthy to spend time with some people that I don't get to see as often as I used to. It's so easy to take friendships for granted when they're convenient.

Anyway, I celebrated my 27th birthday while I was out there. One girl that I was talking to, she and I went to high school together. We were talking about reunions, etc, and she said to me that her life "just keeps getting better."

Perfect.

I couldn't agree more. My life just keeps getting better.

When people tease me about getting old or whatever, I just pause, lean back, smile and say, "You know, my life keeps getting better. And if at 27, my life is the best that it's ever been, then, you know what? I'm pretty damn happy to be 27."

May your life just keep getting better. Cheers.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

reCAPTCHA: Stop Spam, Read Books

I just discovered this site, http://recaptcha.net/. They do the regular "image verification" stuff you see to prevent spam on web sites, except they use scans from real books. They present two words: one for which the result is known and a second for which the OCR had low confidence. If you match the known word, they assume you're probably right on the unknown word, too (and they verify it multiple times to improve confidence). I think it's a great idea: as a side effect of preventing spam, they're digitizing old books. Cool.

Friday, April 04, 2008

HDHomeRun, or, 1080i QAM in Vista Media Center

The Office Screenshot 1080

Last night I installed a new HDHomeRun. It's a unique device, a network-attached ATSC and QAM HDTV tuner. Setup was a little kludgey (some steps about making sure that the call letters that it detects match up with Zap2It's listings, and you have to ignore a warning from Vista that you're using digital cable listings when you "don't" have digital cable), but wasn't too bad. After that, it was smooth sailing. And now—AT LAST—I have HD content in my Vista Media Center again. I'm SO HAPPY!!