Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Jerry Pournelle commented on this LA Times article about electrolyzed water in the View from Chaos Manor and it does sound amazing.
The stuff is a simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have been scrambled with an electric current. Researchers have dubbed it electrolyzed water—hardly as catchy as Mr. Clean. But at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, some hotel workers are calling it el liquido milagroso—the miracle liquid.That's as good a name as any for a substance that scientists say is powerful enough to kill anthrax spores without harming people or the environment.
It turns out that zapping salt water with low-voltage electricity creates a couple of powerful yet nontoxic cleaning agents. Sodium ions are converted into sodium hydroxide, an alkaline liquid that cleans and degreases like detergent, but without the scrubbing bubbles. Chloride ions become hypochlorous acid, a potent disinfectant known as acid water.
However, some mail at Chaos Manor points out that this is nothing more than weak bleach.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
This is a very interesting paper on a talk: Design Beyond Human Abilities by Richard P. Gabriel (PDF file).
I've heard (but am not going to take the time to find references) that Twitter is overtaking Facebook in popularity (either in user population or rate of increase, I expect, but I'm not sure which).
This article by Shannon Clark is insightful.
I'm not sure I get Twitter yet. I'm not even sure I get Facebook yet other than it's qualities as a closed email system that I've talked about before.
The array of communication options is dizzying and I'm having trouble finding a comfortable place to stand. I clearly understand it's not a place to set up shop, put down roots, or find a solid foundation to stand on. The information world, web world, etc., evolves much too rapidly for that to be an issue. It's a matter of finding the best place to stand at the moment.
Right now blogging works for me, and unfortunately email. It's unfortunate because I think email's architecture is the most inefficient and troubled in spite of being the most widely adopted. Now pretty much everyone has email. Everyone. And Gmail is beautiful and a joy to use, nonetheless.
But, then, maybe email doesn't work for me. Lately it's been seeming more and more like an empty room. I get very little email other than from spammers that I've asked to receive it from. Sending email feels more and more like speaking into an empty room. Hm.
Back at Emory, I held the position from the time of LiveJournal and MySpace that the students had already found effective and useable solutions to their communication problems while we struggled to provide a barely successful (at best) email solution. What we really should have done was provide a way for them to all connect together, and make sure we knew how to reach them officially, then let them carry on.
Maybe the rest of the world is catching on to these post-email solutions.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Hey, another interesting UNIX timestamp is upon us (thanks to a note from Simon on the dreaded Facebook). It will soon be 1234567890 seconds since the UNIX epoch of 1 Jan 1970 0:00 UT, and on Friday the thirteenth no less!
>>> time.ctime(1234567890)'Fri Feb 13 18:31:30 2009'
Remeber when the timestamp was 1000000000?
>>> time.ctime(1000000000)'Sat Sep 8 21:46:40 2001'
(The times I've shown here are Eastern Standard), i.e.,
>>> time.ctime(0)'Wed Dec 31 19:00:00 1969'
and of course these are from the Python interpreter.
As always, we live in interesting times!
P.S. And I can't talk about time stamps without reminding us of UNIX's equivalent of Y2K, when the timestamp reaches the maximum value of a 32-bit signed integer (i.e., a 31-bit number):
>>> time.ctime(0x7fffffff)'Mon Jan 18 22:14:07 2038'
Mark your calendar!