Archive for May 2008
I was a long-time user of Symantec’s Grandview, an unmatched outliner that ran under DOS. So far as I can tell no Windows outliner really matches its speed, capability, easy of use, and interface. But I recently had need of an outliner, so I started looking. Two posts that were quite useful:
- Overview of Windows outlining programs — though somewhat out of date.
- Outliners and Mind-Map programs — good annotated list.
And this site has a series of articles on effective use of outliners.
Read about this clever preparation. And let me emphasize: never discard beet greens—they’re delicious and highly nutritious.
Hard water works against good lather, and very hard water can make lather almost impossible. The ideal solution (for shaving, doing laundry, showering, doing dishes, and so on) is to buy a good water softener (that recycles based on volume of water used and not on time) and plumb it so that all the water in the house goes through the water softener except for the kitchen cold-water tap. By having all water soft, the pipes will say clear, the taps will operate better, and hard water deposits will be a thing of the past.
But installing a water softener is not cheap, and if you live in an apartment, it may be impractical. A good fallback is to buy “purified” water at the drugstore (essentially distilled water), which costs about $1/gallon and is sold for use in humidifiers and steam irons and the like. Then get something to heat it with—and my recommendation is the Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle, which will heat water to the temperature you specify: from a full roiling boil down to moderately warm. You will have to experiment a little to locate the setting that brings the water to the ideal temperature for shaving, but then you have hot water that will produce a flawless lather and will rinse razor and face with no traces of soap scum.
The second edition of the Guide to Gourmet Shaving has been available from Lulu.com for a little while, and today I approved the book (having received proof copies and deciding against further changes), so in 6-8 weeks it will be available on Amazon.com. Until then, Lulu is the only source for the second edition.
This is a self-published book, and that section of the book market is growing rapidly. Tom Colvin notes in Becoming a Writer Seriously:
Publisher’s Weekly has recently revealed an absolutely astonishing figure for POD books in 2006 and 2007. Here’s its summary:
The production of traditional books rose 1% in 2007, to 276,649 new titles and editions, but the output of on-demand, short run and unclassified titles soared from 21,936 in 2006 to 134,773 last year, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by R.R. Bowker. The combination of the two categories results in a 39% increase in output to 411,422. Although it has tracked production of on-demand titles in the past, this is the first year the company has broken out the segment to better show the differences in the traditional categories (such as biography, fiction, juvenile) and the on-demand segment.
You can read more of the article HERE.
If you juggle lots of documents, folders, programs and websites, you know how frustrating it is to dig down through Windows Explorer [!] and various history lists to get to what you are after. RecentX makes it a snap. It intuitively gathers locations of your most-accessed files and sites into clear lists. To see how it works, just view the demo’s at the program’s homepage.
For me, the program still seems worth the purchase price of $19.95 for the time and frustration it will save.
Sridhar Pappu has an interesting report in the Washington Independent on McCain’s difficulties with the base:
In late January, just days before her son would win the Florida Republican primary, 96-year-old Roberta McCain—whom in another era might have been called a real broad, a pistol — was asked by a C-SPAN interviewer how much support her 71-year-old boy had among “the base of the Republican Party.”
“I don’t think he has any,” said Mother McCain. “I don’t know what the base of the Repub—maybe I don’t know enough about it, but I’ve not seen any help whatsoever.”
Pressed about whether, given that, he could take the nomination, the elder McCain snapped: “Yes, I think holding their nose, they’re going to have to take him.”
Since then Sen. John McCain has gone through a Russell Crowe in “Gladiator”-like journey: from front-runner, to broke-and-destitute has-been, to the man who would win the GOP presidential nomination. Yet little has changed for the Arizona senator when it comes to the base — the internal light at the center of the modern Republican Party, whose foundations were laid in the successful presidential runs of Richard M. Nixon in 1968 and 1972, and fully-realized with the triumph of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
In it’s design, the GOP base is a three-legged chair, wobbly at moments, but effective if put together by the right assembler. One leg consists of social conservatives — those members of the evangelical movement and Moral Majority, who seek to eliminate abortion and restore Christian values to the environs of the public school system and to government at-large. Then there’s the fiscal/small government types, which includes Wall Street, people who spend their off hours debating the tax code at The Palm, with expense accounts … of course. The final leg are defense hawks — the folks who pushed for a build-up of military strength as a way to outspend the Soviets, who advocated the war in Iraq and consistently push for increased defense spending during dinner parties in McClean.
Banded together, with a leader they believe in, these three are like the Avengers under Captain America, seemingly able and ready to defeat any opposing candidate. But McCain–his heroism in the Vietnam War not withstanding — is not Captain America, much less Ronald Reagan.
Indeed, you could say that McCain has spent his career alienating the base. Running against George W. Bush in 2000, McCain accused his rival of pandering to leaders of the religious right, whom he called “agents of intolerance.” Specifically, he said Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell — fixtures in the religious intellectual movement that surrounded Reagan — were “corrupting influences on religion and politics.” All three parts of the GOP base bristled at McCain’s biggest achievement, campaign finance reform — which they saw as an instrument of limiting their influence in the corridors of power.
McCain’s litany of sins against the party goes further. …
David Axe has begun a three-part article in the Washington Independent on how the military is adapting to the Internet. The first part (so far all that’s published) is very interesting and well worth reading. It begins:
This winter, the Air Force, as the Pentagon’s point agency for Internet operations – “cyberwarfare,” in military jargon – banned access from official networks to many blogs, declaring that they weren’t “established, reputable media.” The Air Force didn’t seem concerned that America’s greatest enemies, international jihadists, had long ago latched onto websites as cheap, effective tools for sharing ideas.
Indeed, the Air Force’s ban was part of a widening military crackdown on so-called “Web 2.0” Internet sites, including blogs, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, all often grouped together as “social media,” because of their potential for easy, global communication. Mostly, Website-banning Pentagon officials were worried that U.S. troops, in using these popular Web 2.0 sites, might inadvertently release secret information on the Internet.
To many in the military, the need for secrecy outweighed the Internet’s value for rapidly and widely sharing ideas. While jihadists built entire intelligence and recruiting machines online, huge swaths of the U.S. military were walling themselves off from the Internet.
But not entirely.
The Army cleverly dodged the bans, setting up its own versions of popular Web 2.0 sites, but hiding them behind password-protected portals. In that way, the Army appears to have found a middle ground between Internet proponents and skeptics. On this toehold, the land combat branch is steadily building new Internet tools that might help the United States catch up to Internet-savvy jihadists. In late April, the land-warfare branch even launched an official blogging service for officers. The blogs combine the best of the civilian Web 2.0 with old-fashioned military-grade security.
Matthew Blake in the Washington Independent tells how Conyers is far from giving up:
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi.) moved forward last night with his multi-pronged effort to get the White House to say something. Conyers, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, fired off a press release that Congress has filed a brief (pdf) in a civil lawsuit against the White House. The lawsuit is against former White House aides Joshua Bolten and Harriet Miers, who have refused to testify about the Justice Dept’s firing of U.S. attorneys. When Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he would not force Miers and Bolten to testify about their roles in the scandal, Conyers proceeded with the civil suit.
The brief continues in the recent tradition of Conyer’s colorful oversight. He slams Miers and Bolten for their “contumacious disobedience.” And it appears just about every former U.S. Attorney has filed a friends of the court brief (Conyers’ press release explains that the “list includes a bipartisan group of U.S. Attorneys appointed by every President since Lyndon B. Johnson except Gerald Ford.”)
Last week, Conyers subpoenaed Karl Rove to testify about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Seigelman (D) as well as U.S. Attorney-related matters. Conyers has vowed to “get” Rove and seems intent on pinning down Miers and Bolton as well. None of the three has legally asserted executive privilege, so Congress seems to have a strong claim that nothing is stopping them from testifying. But the Bush administration just needs a few more months of contumacious disobedience before the spotlight shines on a new administration.
Bad news, from ThinkProgress:
Army Col. Peter Brownback III, a judge who was hearing a war crimes case at Guantanamo Bay and “publicly expressed frustration with military prosecutors’ refusal to give evidence to the defense,” has been dismissed. Brownback had threatened to suspend the proceedings against Omar Khadr “unless prosecutors handed over Khadr’s medical and interrogation records since his July 2002 capture in Afghanistan.” Pentagon prosecutors have also rushed to schedule high-profile detainee trials during the height of the presidential campaign season.
Replacing the judge simply because his decisions aren’t in the game plan makes it clear that these “trials” are show trials with predetermined outcomes—kangaroo courts that mock justice and further tarnish the image of the United States. The country we once knew is moving increasingly toward totalitarian mechanisms.
The soap was Honeybee Spa’s Victorian Rose, the brush Rooney Style 2, the lather wonderful, the razor Gillette’s TV Super Speed, the blade Astra Superior Platinum, the shave smooth. I used my own mix for the oil pass, which polished away the final traces of roughness, and Paul Sebastian aftershave was a fine finishing touch.
And very easy to cook. They’re boneless in the sense that some watermelons are seedless: they have bones/seeds, but they’re so soft it makes no difference.
I washed them, pulled the heads off (which cleans them), shook them in a plastic bag with seasoned flour, sautéed them in olive oil (or butter), drained them on paper towels, squirted the juice of a lemon over them—man, they were tasty. I’ll get more tomorrow.
Matthew Blake in the Washington Independent points to an interesting story:
Tim Shorrock at Salon has a great piece of investigative reporting on, what he calls, “the intelligence industrial complex.” Shorrock chronicles how White House officials and contractors have benefited financially from the “war on terror,” while leaving open the question of how the arrangements have affected intelligence gathering.
About 70 percent of the $50 billion budget for America’s spy agencies goes to private contractors, often run by people that just left the Pentagon or intelligence community. Roger Creasey, the national security council’s deputy director under Bill Clinton, says that the connections made working for spy agencies is “liquid gold” in the private sector. Joan Dempsey, a former top intelligence official in both the Clinton and Bush administration, is now vice-president of Booz Allen, a company she likes to see as a “shadow intelligence community.”
Dick Armitage’s business practices are specifically targeted. While Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term, Armitage had cultivated an image of an administration maverick critical of the Iraq War. Now Armitage splits time amongst being adviser for the McCain campaign, adviser to the Pentagon, and a stakeholder in several companies profiting off the war Armitage opposed.
Coverage of Iraq War contracting has been largely critical, citing waste, fraud, and abuse. Some suggest that the contractors are actually counterproductive to the military’s efforts. That conclusion is not in Shorrock’s Salon piece, which is excerpted from a book he just completed. It would be interesting to find out how making the spying trade a for-profit business has hurt or helped intelligence agencies.
Amazing story about renewable carbon-neutral gasoline by Jozef Winter at EcoGeek:
… Sapphire Energy, a California-based company, has been working away to create actual gasoline from a renewable, carbon neutral source: algae. While we’ve heard of many different processes for making fuels from algae, this one certainly tops the list. They’ve managed to produce 91-octane, ASTM certified gasoline, ready to be pumped into your car. They stress that it is not ethanol, and not biodiesel.
Move over Brent Crude, it’s Green Crude’s turn.
The company, they say, started with 3 friends discussing a very interesting question: “Why is the biofuel industry spending so much time and energy to manufacture ethanol — a fundamentally inferior fuel?” A very good question indeed, and one they sought to answer on their own terms. The friends – a bioengineer, a chemist, and a biologist – set out to recruit the best minds they could find to collaborate with them on the project, and the results are staggering. “The company has built a revolutionary platform using sunlight, CO2 and microorganisms such as algae” to produce the fuel, without the use of arable land, and while we haven’t yet seen any data, they claim it to be very water efficient.
They also announced that they raised $50 million from Arch Rock Ventures, Venrock, and the Wellcome Trust. It is evident that Sapphire will become a major player in the coming years for alternative fuel production, and one cannot help but be inspired with confidence when Arch Rock says: “We realized at that point we could change the world, so we sat them down and told them, ‘the checkbook is completely open; tell us what you need’.” Not a statement you hear everyday from a venture capital firm. …
… Greensulation is a renewable and biodegradeable insulation currently undergoing testing, and when it hits the market – potentially as soon as 2010 – it will be the first of its kind in the industry. The insulation is made mainly of rice hulls, mushroom roots and recycled paper, which are mixed together with water and hydrogen peroxide, placed in plastic containers, and put in a dark place where it can literally grow into shape. It is then baked to stop photosynthesis of mold and spores, and voila! – a rigid panel of insulation that can withstand heat up to 1,112 degrees Fahrenehit. The best part is it can be done cheaply since it utilizes agro-garbage and easily obtained ingredients, and contains no petroleum.
The product is proven to be fire retardant – far more so than common pink insulation products – but is still under testing to make sure it can resist mold growth and conforms to strict building codes. But building companies all over the world are already contacting the inventors at Ecovative wanting to know more about the innovation. …
This looks like a nice watch. Gearlog says:
The Pathfinder is shock-proof and extreme temperature- and water-resistant at up to 200 meters deep. It comes equipped with a digital compass, altimeter, barometer, and thermometer. The Ultimate Pathfinder includes Casio’s self-adjusting technology, solar power and Waveceptor Multi-Band Atomic Timekeeping Technology—meaning no need to change the time manually for Daylight Saving Time or leap years
The Ultimate Pathfinder includes a large LCD screen for reading the time, graphs, and measurements. One-touch sensor buttons leads to direct operation of sensors and means no scrolling through menus to get the measurements you need quickly. Button guards prevent against accidental operation of sensors and enhance the practicality of the Ultimate Pathfinder.
The PAW1500-1V is currently available in black resin at Macy’s stores for $350 list. The same Pathfinder model is also available with a titanium band, model PAW1500T-7V, at other Macy’s for $400.