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Journal Journal: Water-activated batteries (NoPoPo)

The Japanese manufacturer Aqua Power Systems Japan is producing Water-activated battery in the AA and AAA sizes, with larger sizes and capacities on the way. As far as I can tell, this is the only commercial offering of these batteries in the AA and AAA form factors.

Liquid is injected into the batteries via a pipette, where it combines with magnesium & carbon to form the battery charge. It's rumored that these batteries have a 10-year shelf life while dry, and can be reused several times. They have a 500mAh capacity (Standard alkaline batteries produce 1700mAh or more), which is sufficient to power a flashlight for a while.

Sadly, many websites are getting distracted by the fact that these batteries can be posted by urine. Discussions of this product quickly degrade into a kindergarten mentality, and there aren't many serious reviews.

While the 500mAh capacity isn't great, I can definitely see this product for use in emergency kits. I keep a couple of flashlights in my car for emergencies or for late night hikes. Often these 'long life' alkaline batteries are often dead (or leaking) by the time I use the flashlight, which I only discover a year later while trying to repair a flat tire on the freeway at 10:00PM in the middle of nowhere. This seems to happen even if I leave the batteries in the original package. The temperature fluctuations inside a car probably worsen this problem.

This battery could solve the 'dead battery', because it remains inert and inactive until activated by water. And I have water in my car and in my home earthquake preparedness kits.

Pretty nifty technology.

I remember reading about a similar 'emergency' battery when I was younger. In this other version the battery remained inactive until you needed it. The battery contained two chambers separated by a seal. Water is contained in the top chamber, and the carbon & zinc cells in the bottom. You twisted the top, which broke the seal between the two chambers, and activated the battery. This battery didn't seem to go anywhere, and I have no idea if it ever reached production. I can't find it anywhere.

User Journal

Journal Journal: California threatens to close innovative computer recycler

The Alameda County Computer Resource Center is an innovative computer recycler in Berkeley, CA. They are an environmentalists dream-- all waste is reused when possible, the rest is recycled. No waste is shipped to questionable trash dumps overseas. Locally, the ACCRC provides computers to local schools and nonprofits.

During the Makers Faire in San Mateo, California, the ACCRC brought in tons of computer and electronic parts which were salvaged and reused for various projects.

Sadly, the State of California is threatening to shut down the ACCRC, mostly for failing to maintain an inventory of all of their computer equipment, and for keeping interesting/historical equipment onsite (a Computer Museum), instead of destroying the equipment.

I've been using ACCRC (and their predecessors) for years, and I've volunteered for several Linux installfest events using their hardware. I sincerely hope that State is able to work with the ACCRC and reach a compromise.

Update: 10/02 23:46 GMT by stefanlasiewski:

My journal has been referenced on the front page article Major Linux Hardware Donor Is a CNN "Hero", which is about the ACCRC founder and manager, James Burgett.

I had this journal entry sitting in my Wordpress blog queue for the last couple of weeks, waiting for the final edit. I saw the article about the ACCRC coming down the firehose, and posted it here since it seemed relevant.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Linuxworld SF 2006: Unreal, dotOrg Pavilion & Segregation

Gah, I barely made it to Linuxworld this week for a couple hours. I've worked at two businesses 3 blocks from the Moscone Center, so I try to go to the big Expos every year.


- Unreal Tournament- Sun was showing off their new workstations using Unreal Tournament. They held a competition, with prizes like a nice Apparently myAmygdala did pretty well.

I did pretty well at first--I was in the lead for about 3 minutes, and this was my first time playing Unreal Tournament. but then got snookered by the 'R' key. On other FPS games, the 'R' key typically for 'Reload'. In Unreal Tournament however, it stands for 'Chat"--so instead of reloading the gun, I kept getting the Chat prompt, filled it with phrases like "wwwasda awsdawdwww" and promptly got fragged. They would not let me redefine the keybinding, so I ended up dead last.

- The dotOrg Pavilion: I'm mostly interested in the projects at the dotOrg pavilion-- KDE, Gnome, Debian, the LTSP,, always have good, fun exhibits. I spent 2 hours talking to the developers up there. Great folks. I got several bootable CDs, inclusing the new CAOs distro which apparently was started by some smart folks that I knew at the Lawrence Berkeley Labs, a bootable version of the Mambo CMS product

- O'Reilly's Make 3.0 is coming out: I signed up for a subscription and got version 3.0 of the Magazine. This one has a couple appropriate articles on Halloween tricks, so I'll be sure to check it out.


- Segregation: The big commercial vendors were all in the big huge hall downstairs. The dotOrg Pavilion and a handful of other commercial vendors were hidden up on the second floor. I bet many attendees did not know they were there.

Perhaps this is actually a good thing. With the huge loudspeakers & noise of the commercial vendors in a different room, you could actually have a fun, pleasant conversation with the dotOrg folks.

The Moscone Center hosted a huge Coin Show two weeks ago, and they had a similar setup. The commercial coin vendors were all downstairs in the big exhibit hall, the nonprofit & government booths were upstairs.

- OReilly Booth: The OReilly folks always put on a nice set of educational presentations. This year their microphone/speaker didn't work at all, and you could barely hear the speakers over the ruckus of the Novell/IBM/HP/Sun areas.

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: Number of diapers changed in your lifetime? (rejected)

I submitted a poll. It wasn't rejected right away which was a good sign that it might be accaped. But, alas it was rejected.

I've always been curious how many ./ers are parents, uncles, or have been around babies at all.

Number of diapers changed in your lifetime?

  1. None, Cowboyneal was born potty-trained!
  2. 1 - 10 : Occasionally baby-sit for my sister/friend/mother.
  3. 10 - 100 : Newborn! He's so cute!
  4. 100 - 1,000 : Yo kid! It's 3AM, let me sleep!
  5. 1,000-10,000 : I use a KSH script to automate repetitive tasks.
  6. 10,000+ : Perl is better for messy situations.
  7. The goggles, they do nothing!!!

2004-11-16 23:18:07 Number of diapers changed in your lifetime? (Polls,It's funny. Laugh.) (rejected)


Journal Journal: Too many social networks is anti-social: Tribe, Orkut, LJ 1

One of the more recent trends in the Internet world is the concept of Social Network's and the Semantic Web. Social Networks are supposed to make it easier for you to interact with friends and communities online and make the web function more on a human scale.

Some of us remember Six Degrees, who tried to do this years ago and went under, and are coming back with a new site. I have had email lists for this sort of thing going for over 10 years now, and participated in newsgroup-type systems years ago, done the personal webpage thing, etc.

The Social Network sites offer great feature over my old, archaic mailinglists-- Friend-of-a-friend networking, personal journals, the ability to form interest groups, etc.

I'm looking to settle on one or two sites for my journaling wants. I'm looking for a Blog/Journal; flexible look-and-feel; User communities so I can talk to people with similar interests, ask technical questions, etc.; and a Friend-of-a-Friend service. I'd like the service to be indexed by search engines so that I'm not just speaking to a closed group.

Here is a short list of the communities I have participated in recently. There are dozens (hundreds) more:

Friendster - Probably the most well known. A "Bulletin Board", , - Like Friendster combined with Craig's List and a heavy influence of Burning Man. Pretty cool. Event listing, classifieds, but no journal capability! Arg!!!
Orkut - Invite only, which makes it more scalable and more "elite". Closed to the outside world which means that non-member's can't use your information at all.
Livejournal - One of the first Blogging sites. Confusing interface.
Blogspot/Blogger - Like LJ, but with a great flexible look-and-feel.
Slashdot - I have a ton of friends and foes on this site, but the journaling aspect leaves alot to be desired.

Here is my problem. There are many (too many?) social networking sites. Each site is isolated within it's own separate universe, with little or no interaction between the various sites. The lack of interaction adds an artificial barrier within the whole social networking idea. If one friend uses Friendster another uses Tribe, and another uses Livejournal; there is no interaction between these tools.

Likewise, I will post this journal text to the journal in each of my social networking accounts as an experiment. Unfortunately, the responses to each individual journal entry will remain separate, with no social interaction between the readers.

So my choice is to:

- Use all of the sites (too much work!)
- Look at different sites, become overwhelmed and give up (This is where I've been for the last several years)
- Pick one and stick with it
- Do it all on my own server, run it over my DSL line. This is also alot of work, and it there is no way for me to participate in the FOAF's out there.

Arg, what to do? What to do?

It's funny.  Laugh.

Journal Journal: Quit my job, start a new job Wednesday 2

I quit my job today, and am starting a new, better job on Wednesday (yes!). As I left the office for the last time, I had a funny thought and thought I would share it.

After 7 years in the IT business, I now know why the cupholder is broken.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I like the greenlight/redlight/bluelight better 7

Hmm, looks like they replaced the green/red/blue liglights with happy faces.

Friend of Friend is a 404, as is

I think I like the old system better. Gave some color to the otherwise drab ./ layout. Plus, I thought it was pretty intuitive for those of us who grew up with stoplights.

Green = good. Red = bad. Blue? Ok, blue wasn't very intuitive, but at least it was pretty.

Now it's smily = friend? Or does it mean Fan? I forget. Winking face does that mean Friend or Fan?
Red frowning face, ok, I know it means they hate me. Blue frowning face?

Like WTF!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!$$$$$$$$$##########

User Journal

Journal Journal: Even more brain tricks... (optical illusion heaven) 2

Here's bunch of optical illusions, among the best I have ever seen.

Prepare to cross your eyes.

Actually, these are more like brain fucks... my head now hurts, and I think I pulled an eye muscle while staring at these things.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Fun brain tricks 6

Acocdrnig to an elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in a wrod dosen't mttaer, the olny thnig thta's iopmrantt is that the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crcreot ptoision. The rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet wiohtut dclftfuiiy.

If you can read the text above, your brain is demonstrating the remarkable human ability to force patterns on even jumbled messes

I don't usually pass on these chain emails, but this one blows me away.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bombing in Casablanca... 6

There's been another bombing, this time in Casablanca. Too soon to know the details, but it seems as if the bombing followed a familar pattern: Simultaneous bombings in a city where Westerners and Muslims mix.

Here's my theory on the reasoning for the place of these bombings.

The coordinated bombings are much more scary then a single or even 4 uncoordinated bombings: it shows that the terrorists are organized and capable. Everyone probably agrees on this.

Moroco is a popular tourist destination westerners probably the most popular of any Muslim country, especially for Spainards. Moroco had the reputation of being the safest country for Western tourists in Africa, for example. Bali (where the Terrorists struck a nightclub last year), had the reputation of being a safe haven for western tourists as well.

The purpose behind these bombings, and the ones in Saudia Arabia and Indonesia, are to destroy the intercultural connections formed through tourism. Not just to "drive the westerners away" as a punishment, but to divide the two worlds apart by destroying the tourism industry, which will ruin the local economy (Since terrorists usually care about religion and anti-materialism over money), and encouraging both Muslim and Western cultures to turn away from each other.

If Muslims and Westerners are separated, our Xenophobia will grow on it's own. The bigotry and fear-of-the-other can do work for the terrorists, and it will be even harder for our two sides to find common ground and maintain peace.


Journal Journal: Linux drives me crazy.... I just want my CD Burner to work! 5


Days like today make me wonder why I use Linux.

A few weeks ago, I hit a wierd bug with 'cd'. Basically, I went (as root, from the root homedir):

[~]# cd /foo/bar
[~]# blah blah blah
[~]# cd -
[/]# chown -r root *

What I didn't notice was at the 'cd -' step, I was somehow dumped into / instead of /root. As a result, I changed the ownership of hundreds of files to 'root' before I noticed.

So my system is functional, but certain commands aren't working very well, because they need files owned by someone like 'daemon' or whatnot.

Well, I run RedHat 7.2. And since RedHat 9 was going to come out soon, I decided to not reinstall 7.2, and just upgrade to RedHat 9.

Yesterday, my RH 9 CD's arrived from CheapBytes. Groovy.

So today, I get ready to upgrade my system to RedHat 9. "This shouldn't take more then 2 hours" I thought...

I had problems when upgrading from 7.1 to 7.2, and lost some data-- Moving to from LILO GRUB hosed my MBR, to the point where neither the Win98 nor the LILO bootloader could *write* to the bootsector... really wierd.

Since I got burned before, I decide to save a bunch of files (/etc/ for future reference and /home/, and some other stuff) using my brand new CD Burner!

And then I enter this nightmare world of installing kernel support for the CD Burner. Some odd facts:

- Linux doesn't support IDE Burners, so you need to run an IDE-SCSI emulation somethingrather.
- The Documentation on how to do this is nearly 3 years old, and only talks about the Linux2.2 kernel. I can't be sure if the stuff I'm reading is accurate for my 2.4 system. Maybe it's fine, I don't know.

I've recompliled the Kernel several times today, with the correct modules (I think). I reboot, the new kernel loads, and I get odd errors like this:

Kernel command line: auto BOOT_IMAGE=linux-2.4.18-18 ro root=1605 BOOT_FILE=/boot/vmlinuz-2.4.18-18.7.xcustom options ide-cd ignore=hdd alias scd0 sr_mod
ide_setup: ide-cd -- BAD OPTION

Arg! Ok ok, so the documentation told me to use ide-cd as a module, but I compiled it into the Kernel. I'm bad. Still, since ide-cd is compiled into the kernel, it should still work. Right? RIGHT?

But all the other modules loaded fine, but I still can't get cdrecord to recognize see my drive!

[~]# cdrecord -scanbus
Cdrecord 1.10 (i686-pc-linux-gnu) Copyright (C) 1995-2001 Jörg Schilling
cdrecord: No such file or directory. Cannot open SCSI driver.
cdrecord: For possible targets try 'cdrecord -scanbus'. Make sure you are root.

ARG!!! Ok, ok: Maybe I missed a module somewhere. So I go through "make xconfig" for the kernel again, look for anything I miss, change ide-cd to be a module instead of part of the kernel.

Now, I'm rebuilding the kernel, again, and now I'm getting "unresolved symbol with CONFIG_X86_SPEEDSTEP" problems during "make modules_install". What the heck is Speedstep? I go back to the documenttation, only to find no information for Speedstep whatsoever.

The compile survived through an hour of "make dep, make bzImage, make install, make modules", but failed in the very last step...


So here I am, a beautiful Sunny day outside, and I've spent the last 4 hours trying to figure out how to make my CD/RW work with Linux.

User Journal

Journal Journal: We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. 9

So I finally turned on the Television, expecting to see live footage of reporters about happenings in Baghdad, or experts talking to former Secretaries of Defense about strategy, or something.

Instead, I see all the normal programs: Survivor, American Idol, sitcoms... one news program talking about the war (With ironically, Jim Miklaszewski).

It's like it never happened...

User Journal

Journal Journal: The surreal Baghdad webcam with microphone 2

Holy shit, I can hear the birds chirping, the few cars honking, and the explosions of the bombs. At this point, I've heard several dozen explosions, so we're beyond the "target of convenience" now.

Tires screeching. Planes zooming overhead. The honking will stop during the more intense bombing. The birds keep chirping...

Posting here in the journal for interested people, to avoid the ./ effect: and click on Baghdad Camera.

I'm using Windows media. Not sure if there is a Linux tool that would work, however.

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It is masked but always present. I don't know who built to it. It came before the first kernel.