Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Welcome back old friend

Back 10 or 12 years ago when MP3's were new and exciting, wow I feel old, I used Winamp. It was a fun, small, efficient MP3 player for windows and I liked it. As time passed it became everything it wasn't supposed to be. It became slow and bloated. If you use Winamp try to remember version 3 without shuddering. As I recall this happened about the time AOL bought it, coincidence? When that happened I stopped using it and I used either iTunes or Windows media player. They both suck. Media player is bloatware and I didn't ever get a good feeling for itunes. It wasn't customizable enough for me. Besides I think the only reason to use itunes is if you are a consumer whore and need something to plug your ipod into.

Anyways, the other day I reinstalled XP so I needed something to play MP3's and I thought, "Why not give Winamp a shot again?". I am quite happy that I did. The interface is a little busy but gives you lots of information about your music, it does the album art thing and has quite possibly the greatest feature ever. Auto tagging. Now your MP3's that don't have tags don't need to languish in the no man's land of your music list. Simply click Auto Tag and wait for the information to be filled it. You can do it for multiple songs at once and I'd say it has about a 95% success rate so far. Even for very poorly named and obscure songs. I really like how customizable the views are. Everything from showing the full media library to a little slit of a program at the top called window shade mode. I'm sure I haven't even started to scratch the surface of this program.

I'm not going to get into all the features but give Winamp a try again and you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Solar Cooker Fun

I mentioned before that I was going to show a video of burning something, in this case cardboard, with the solar cooker. Well here it is.

It is amazing how fast the cardboard starts to smoke and with in seconds is showing visible flame.

If you look close you can see that one of the handles on that pot has been turned to white ash. The heat is amazing. I am going to measure the area of it but I bet it is producing more than 1000w of heat.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Asperger Syndrome

I was reading this article about a connection between people who work in the IT industry and Asperger Syndrome and it sounded familiar. I started to look around a bit and I'm starting to wonder if I have it.
I found a test online and took it. I scored a 39 which was at the high and of
the scale. I was reading an article on about.com related to aspergers and
they had some self diagnosis questions.

If you answered “yes” to some or most of these questions, you may decide to find out more.

I find social situations confusing. - Yes, I usually try to avoid them.

I find it hard to make small talk. - Yes. It will be a quiet drive if I don't know you well.

I did not enjoy imaginative story-writing at school. - It was like torture.

I am good at picking up details and facts. - Yes.

I find it hard to work out what other people are thinking and feeling. - Yes, empathy is hard for me

I can focus on certain things for very long periods. - Yes

People often say I was rude even when this was not intended. - Not so much, but maybe people don't tell me

I have unusually strong, narrow interests. - Yes

I do certain things in an inflexible, repetitive way. - Yes, my morning schedule is usually down to the minute.

I have always had difficulty making friends. - I wasn't exactly the bell of the ball.

Hmm... I wonder if I'm on to something here. Perhaps or perhaps I'm just different. I wonder who I could talk to.

Solar cooker

Here is a solar cooker video for you

I threw some snow on there so you can tell how hot it is. 
You can hear the stainless plate warp shortly after I put the snow on.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The power of the sun

I forgot to post this before but this video is what happens when the pump stops on a solar evacuated tube collector.

Sorry about the quality,  it was taken with a camera phone. I uploaded this on January 31st so this would have been around that time. I think it was about -15C that day. This is a 10 panel, 200 tube solar water heater that is capable of 20,000 BTU/hr or more when the sun is shining.

I was reminded about this video because I was playing with a solar concentrator food cooker today. When the sun was out I could start cardboard on fire in about 5 to 10 seconds. I'll be posting a video of that early next week.

How is this news?

Wow, I was watching the "news" tonight and people need to get over themselves. I am talking about the 16 year old video tape of some of our politicians making comments about gays and Ukrainians.

Ok people, it happened, they apologized, now get on with life. You can't tell me that no one in politics today hasn't ever made hateful comments about race, sexuality or any other difference between people before. Maybe they should take a look in the mirror before calling for resignations. How is it going to help our current government for these people to resign? For crying out loud this happened 16 years ago and they were all drunk. Just let it go.

Some people might say, "But you're not gay, how would you know how it feels?". True I'm not gay and perhaps my skin in a little thicker but I've had people call me names and I haven't gone crying to the news about it. Every time I hear a Scottish or Ukrainian joke I don't start crying in my beer. I've even had some racial slurs come my way, whitey or moby dick or being told to get back to work so I can pay for welfare. It's a two way street and we're all guilty of it.

How much money is going to be wasted while the government runs their little witch hunt?

Common sense is not that common.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Driving Rant

I know my posts are few and far between but this is to get something off my chest.

Drivers in Saskatoon are terrible.

Lets start with a small sign quiz. You should know all of these.



1. Obviously you should know this one. It is a stop sign. It means you should stop. I'll touch on stop signs more later. For some reason these still seem to be a mystery to people.
2. This is a yield sign. This means you have to slow down and check that it is safe to proceed. This is not a free pass.
3. This is a center turn lane sign. Most people seem unable to figure this one out. No it is not a passing lane nor is it another driving lane. This lane is for turning left. Don't be stupid and drive in this lane, you've got the possibility that someone is driving towards you from the opposite direction.
4. This one says what it is but no one manages to obey it. The left lane is for passing. If you are going the speed limit you could still be "slower" traffic. Stay in the right lane. It is not your job to make sure people go the speed limit. Just drive to keep your self safe.
5. Here is a hard one. This is an added lane sign or a free flow lane sign. If you are making a right turn under one of these signs it means you have your own lane to turn into. DO NOT STOP. I can't emphasize this one enough. You do not have to stop and think, this is like a merge without other traffic.
6. If you see this at a 4 way intersection it means everyone has a stop sign. Just stop and go. You do not have to stop and wait for the other guy to stop before going. This does not mean you shouldn't pay attention to the other people. You need to know the rules of the road.
7. I just threw this in to see who's still paying attention. It means the pavement is going to turn to gravel. You'll see lots of these in Saskatchewan.
8. This one works with #4. You need to drive in the right lane. If you suddenly have a new right lane, that isn't a turning lane, you should be in it. These signs are usually found going up hill so faster cars can get around slower large vehicles.

Ok now for a few specific rants.

Four way intersections. No matter how these are controlled they seem to mystify the general public. Lets ignore traffic lights because most of you have a handle on those. Lets start with the most basic type, an uncontrolled intersection. The rule here is "right of way". This means you yield to the guy on the right. This does not mean you blast through it and hope, this does not mean you stop completely and then go. There is no need to stare blankly at the guy on your left and wave him through, you have the right of way. Simple, no? Right of way means the person on your right has the "right of way". A four way stop is similar but different. The guy that stops first has the right of way. If you stop at the same time the person on the right has the right of way. If you stop at the same time but you are turning left and the other guy is going straight through, he has the right of way because you are crossing oncoming lanes. It is a little more complicated but is still simple logic for humans. Stop being afraid of stop signs.

The added lane sign. Perhaps this is a new sign to Saskatoon but sweet zombie jesus it is not difficult to understand. It means shut up and drive. Do not stop and think about it just go. Be kind to the people behind you and just drive. I don't know how I can make this any simpler. You do not have to merge but for the love of god don't stop. Stop being an asshole and stop trying to merge into one of the other lanes when you have one of these signs facing you. The whole idea is to speed up traffic. I can't count the number of times I've seen someone stop, look, wait, merge into the center lane and continue straight down the road. You could have eliminated everything and just continued down the right lane and lane changed later. This would have saved everyone time and prevented a whole line of traffic from having to stop.

This brings us to merging. For fucks sake don't stop at the end of a merge lane. You are asking to be removed from this world by a fast moving truck. Also do not merge way below the speed of traffic. This seems to be difficult for anyone over 25. You NEED to be going the same speed as the faster traffic in order to safely and smoothly merge into it. Again this is not a complex concept. Learn to love your gas pedal and just put the hammer down. Do people not realize how dangerous it is to stop on a merge lane?

Now here is a sign that seems to have everyone completely dumb founded.

This is a traffic circle sign. We have one traffic circle in Saskatoon and it is a source of constant entertainment and frustration for those of us that can figure it out. Please stop being ignorant and just ask what it is and how you do it. I've seen too many people go the wrong way around or even try to drive through the middle. Follow the arrows. The issue most people have is they have to yield to the left instead of the right. Ok its a little odd but it is not rocket science. The person in the circle has the right of way and the person entering has to yield. Think of it like merging into the circle. Then you simply go around the circle and exit where you want. Yes I realize that sometimes this means you have to go the long way around but stop going the wrong way.

Do you know why this rant exists? It exists because our driver education is a joke. My driving education was 4 in car drives and the exam consisted of 5 right turns, 5 left turns, a couple lane changes and a parallel park. I'm pretty sure that driving dog on tv could get a license in Saskatchewan. More time as a learner and more probation will not fix this. As a learner you learn the bad habits of your family and friends. You will not be able to elevate yourself to the level of a good driver if everyone teaching you cannot figure out a traffic circle. It should cost you more than $25 to get your license.

Ok that's enough for now. Please put some more effort into your driving and put down the cellphone, burger, newspaper, coffee, and smoke. Won't somebody please think of the children!