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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Cutting the Last Wire for very low power devices.

The Last Wire refers to the power cord. After you've got your wireless networking/communication solution, the final concern is "how long will the batteries last till I need to recharge ?" for any portable / mobile device. The two sources suggested here would mostly likely only suit devices that use low - or very, very low low - amount of power.

I had 2 brain-farts concerning possible recharging alternations :

1) Self Winding for the 21 century : A major innovation in watches prior to the very small batteries - space spin off? - was the so-called self winding watch. The day to day motion of the user keep the watches spring coil fully wound.

I wonder if this could be scaled up to provide power for today's (or more likely, tomorrows) mobile devices, especially ones you carry in your pocket or purse. It would require that the spring coils be made of some kind a nano-tube material (could be carbon, could be something else) : super strong and flexible to store the mechanical energy used by even the most miserly electrical device, but it spring Coils do hold real potential as a storage device.

Note that even though the materials are nano derived, the final "battery" could be much larger : as big as a finger nail or a house.

The self winding aspect is a optional bonus give a object that spends it life being dropped and bounced around ( based on my usage).

2) Passive Absorptive Power : A Device which converts a (wide) range of the electromagnetic spectrum - say radio - into electricity. Main use would be for lower power devices which are not mobile (smart dust?).

This blue sky things started with 2 common device (one every day, one more experimental) Solar Cells, and Beamed Microwave power. Solar Cells convert free falling sunlight into electrics. Beamed Microwave power was the idea of sending a microwave signal at a moving target (say a unmanned plane) to provide the electrical energy for the electric (propeller) engine. Beaming energy from space to a fixed point on earth is another variation on this (combining solar and beamed energy).

Rather than use light (which is "just" part of the electromagnetic spectrum ) use the background radio noise. Another alternative would be to use background radiation, of the sort picked up by a Geiger counter - to generate power, rather than running it though a speaker.

Another Energy storage device, in addition to the nano spring coil, is the fly wheel which appears to a faded from the view screen after some promising work in the last 90's looked close to commercialization What happened? Fly wheels on the micro and macro scale are going to be important. Batteries, whether for chemical or mechanical energy are critical for a whole host of devices and solutions, but they not improving on any sort of Morse Law for them - or if we are then it on the flat early stage.

update questions : what would be most energic part of the em spectrum to absorb? What part do plants absorb. Might there be ocasional energic events which might be aborbed ? (like cosmic rays or neutrinos? althogut detectors for these events are so large it would likely rule out them, but how energic are they?)

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Refreer Stats for Nov 2003

This month: 628

Top 3 Refreers : (124), NSFTools (92), (16)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The rise and rise of the Asia weblog

The rise and rise of the Asia weblog, a well researched and written piece from Bandwidth/Asian Century Magazines

Sunday, November 23, 2003

The Elements of Genius , Not!

Julian Robichaux of kindly bloged my Mathematics of Origami piece, and since then I've been getting a (ill) regular stream of referrers via nsftools.

The Spain in Rein falls plainly in the main.

We are Home, safe and sound. Had a great time, details / impression's to follow. (666 emails , Mozilla id'ed half as spam)

After a scan of the newspapers, I am deeply sadden that Cecilia Zhang ( A 9 year old girl kidnapped during early morning of Oct. 20th, 2003 ) remains missing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

By John McCrae (1915)

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Rain in Spain falls mainly in the Plane

Off to Spain (Madrid, Barcelona & Seville, with a couple of side trips) for 2 weeks. Please, don't hate me. So, apart from a cybercafe posting with I might try, not much new new stuff till I get back and then a flood of crap no doubt. Don't forget to Vote Nov 11. Honor for brave defenders (Nov 11) and Have fun, cause I (we) will !

Friday, November 07, 2003

The Future of Notes / Domino

Internet Week > Lotus Domino > Lotus Preaches Richness, Open Source For Future Domino Apps > November 5, 2003 provides a badly need vision for the direction of the Lotus notes client (if not the Domino Server) in an age of internet thin clients (the browser) and new thick clients (such as demo in Microsoft's "Longhorn" FUD demos just recently)

  • the goal for Domino 7 and 8 over the next few years is to provide full "rich" client access to applications whether the user is connected or disconnected from the Web...This rich client will be based on open-source Eclipse code.
  • The Eclipse code demonstrated the performance and functionality that a end user client needed, much better that others that were unacceptably sluggish.

  • Domino 7.0 is due in the fourth quarter of 2004 and promises DB2 support, enhanced portlet support, and integration with Lotus' other Workplace offerings.
  • Further DB2/portal and integration (beyond what is already available in Lotus R6.5) is all very good. The time frame is going to be tricky for firms now looking to move from R5 to R6 infrastructure (do they go forward or delay?).

  • The continued existence of Domino, even as its underpinnings shift from proprietary code to a standards-based J2EE foundation, is no small matter.
  • No kidding! It a huge deal for the developer community who need to re-skill. If it can be done so as to preserve the existing investment in applications, which IBM/Lotus is promising, is however badly needed.

    Moving to a J2EE foundation (JSP and servlets, plus relational DB ) would allow a huge improvement in development practices : unit test, tag libraries, object coding (too painful under LotusScript).

    Currently it is very diffused to justify Domino as a server versus Websphere. Domino wins as a mail server, as a document workflow environment, as a RAD tool. Websphere wins for raw functionality (sometimes too raw) and scalability, and for it java skill set. If a shop does not currently use Domino or have mobile users that worked unconnected to the internet, I would not endorse Domino as a Application server. (Which is painful to say). When Domino (or at least the Mail and NSF (database format) portions) get abjured by WebSphere+DB/2 then a new Lotus Notes Client (with single user version of Websphere and DB/2) can gain new marketshare.

    updated 1 Via Ed Brill a IBM pdf :
    protect and enrich Domino investments

    update 2 from John D. Head aka "Starfish"he future of Notes, Domino, and Workplace ...

    I'll think about thiis more...after...

    Tuesday, November 04, 2003

    Novell to acquire SUSE LINUX

    Via Slashdork: News for nerds, stuff that matters: "'Novell today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire SUSE LINUX, one of the world's leading enterprise Linux companies, expanding Novell's ability to provide enterprise-class services and support on the Linux platform. Novell expects the transaction to close by the end of its first fiscal quarter (January 2004). This latest move follows Novell's August purchase of Ximian.'"

    Very good news. Novell's new products (built and bought) bring new exciting alternatives to the Microsoft monopoly. Novell lost a great change to do this in the early 90's (or very late 80's early, I can't remember) when the acquired Unix (the brand, code and intellectual property) from AT&T and then did nothing with it. There where no Netware application (developing or porting them was too hard ) but Novell did little to allow Unix server to co habitat with a Dos and Netware network environment (this was in window 3.0 days, so DOS and IPX ruled and IP stacks were extra). Over the next five years the Unix or Window NT servers used to host the applications took over the file and print network services provided by netware. Now, perhaps a reborn Novell can start rebuilding based on Linux servers providing File, print, identity and other servers based on Netware technology. This will also help SUSE Linux get a higher profile outside Europe (where they have their home base), and compete against the Red Hat brand. Also, give SCO brain dead lawsuit, and the fact the Novell still holds most of the IP (I think they just reneted it to SCO ??), should protect them in the worst case and during the FUD period (IANAL). (I hope this does not lead to IBM acquiring Red Hat) Still Novell needs good marketing, as always, not just kick ass technology.

    Update : I read some more. IBM put $50 megabucks in Novell, so clearly IBM acquiring Red Hat is unlikely. More like IBM is ensuring there is a strong cpmpetitor to Red Hat. This (SUSE 9 Hits American Shores) from Oct 30th covers who and what SUSE is about. NewsForge had a nice Putting Novell's SuSE purchase into perspective piece.

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    The World's Most Opinionated Guide to Hong Kong Blogs

    Hemlock (of semi-blog format) has publish a useful lists : one being a Guide to Hong Kong Bloggers (most of which are familiar to me and are my primary sources to amuse my lovely HK born wife) and includes a link to
    A Guide to China related Blogs

    Saturday, November 01, 2003

    Inside the Fold: the Mathematics of Origami.

    Folding paper cranes or fancy boxes may seem like a quaint and old-fashioned hobby. But paper folding, or origami as it's more properly called, is serious science. Everything, from the proper loading of the space shuttle's cargo bay to the best use of materials to make cars, can be improved if we understand how to fold things up. Not to mention the problem of how to get that map refolded and back into the glove compartment. At the forefront of this field of computational origami is Canadian scientist Dr. Erik Demaine, who recently became one of the youngest people to ever win a MacArthur award - known as the genius prize. (Via CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks).

    Some interesting stuff on the young Doctor's page, I'm going to stress my poor brain out try to comperhend.

    Updated : Professor Tetris , unfolded

    Bruce Sterling returns to Blog-dom

    Beyond the Beyond is his new bloging home after retiring his old SchismMatrix (one word or two?) blog.

    David Langford's The Runcible Ansible is still alive next door... Where I learned of Hard SciFi author Hal Clement's (Harry Clement Stubbs, 1922-2003) passing. (famous for his most excelent "Mission of Gravity". Thanks Hal! )