Saturday, October 22, 2005

Who Am I?

Saw this post on Wil Wheaton's blog and had to try the quiz on TK421's blog for myself. Kinda surprised at the results.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Reality is for people who can't handle drugs.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What is Podcasting

There is a lot of buzz circulating these days about podcasting. I have yet to see a decent definition and description of podcasting that correctly describes podcasting in its entirety. So in this article I will lay out what podcasting is and how it works

The term podcasting refers to audio files produced for distribution and to a method of delivering audio files, typically in MP3 format to the MP3 player of your choice. When podcasts are mentioned in the popular press they usually referenced as the content you receive not the method by which you receive them.

The podcasting mechanism was devised to enable delivery of audio files to your MP3 player with out a significant effort on you part, in effect simulating a broadcast to MP3 players, hence the “casting” part of podcasting. The podcast files are listed in a special file called a podcast feed. The feed file is updated every time a new podcast file is made available for download. To receive these specialized broadcasts, you typically run a specialized piece of software on your computer. The software is variously known as a podcasting client or a podcatcher. For the podcatcher to receive files you have to tell the podcatcher the address of the podcast feed. These addresses are usually found on the web site associated with the podcast you are interested in.

Once you have given your podcatcher the feed address, the podcatcher will download the feed and look for all the podcast files listed in it. It will present you with a list of files and generally download only the newest podcast file in the feed. The podcatcher will remember that is has downloaded this particular podcast file and not download it again. The podcatcher will regularly download the feed file and check it to see if any new podcast files have been added. When if finds new ones, it downloads those and adds them to the list of podcasts already downloaded so they won’t be downloaded again.

The podcatcher downloads the podcast MP3 files to a directory structure starting with the directory you told the podcatcher to receive downloads to. This is typically done when you install the podcatcher software. Below the podcast receive directory the podcatcher will create a new directory named according to the name of the podcast you are receiving. Into the directory with the podcast’s name will go all the MP3 files that are downloaded by the podcatcher.

Where do you find podcast feeds. Take a look at your podcatching software. Many have directories of podcasts built in to help you find podcasts on topics of interest to you. You can also do an Internet search for Podcast Directories to find sites that list podcast feeds.

Now that you have these MP3 files on your computer you can listen to them on the computer or copy them to your portable MP3 player to listen to away from the computer. The process of transferring files to your music player varies based on what MP3 player you have. With some players the process is tied into the synchronization of files between your MP3 player software running on your computer and the MP3 player, itself. In other cases it is a manual process where you start your MP3 player software on your computer and then manually transfer the files from your computer to the MP3 player.

If this article has been helpful or you would like to see subsequent articles with more details and resources, leave me a comment or drop an email to johniac52+pod at

I don't need anyone to drive me crazy... I'm already within walking distance.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Endeavour Returning to Shuttle Fleet

The space shuttle Endeavour is returning to active duty status joining the other orbiters Discovery and Atlantis. After putting 900,000 man-hours to refurbish and update her systems, technicians turned on the electrical power to Endeavour for the first time today.

NASA regularly schedules individual shuttles for major modification periods. A major modification period is a two year long upgrade program in which a given shuttle has its major systems upgraded and new technologies incorporated. Endeavour’s planned major modification period began in late 2003. To date, eighty-five of the planned 124 modifications have been completed. The modifications included return-to-flight mandated changes, inspection of 150 miles of wiring, and bonding more than 1,000 thermal protection system tiles.

The cockpit now sports an advanced digital display system that replaces the myriad of screens, gauges and dials that used to make up the cockpit environment. A Global Positioning System (GPS) system to improve the shuttle's landing capability was also installed. It will allow Endeavour to make a landing at any runway long enough to handle the shuttle. The previous system only allowed for landings at military bases.

Endeavour's previous modification was completed in March 1997. Endeavour is beginning 10-12 months of launch processing and power-up testing for a future flight, possibly late next year.

Visit NASA's Space Shuttle Program on the Web For the latest information on the Space Shuttle.
Source: NASA Press Release

That's the whole problem with science. You've got a bunch of
empiricists trying to describe things of unimaginable wonder. - Calvin

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gulf Coast Rebuild

The horrendous destruction wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita has generated a huge amount of debris along the Gulf Coast and some miles inland. Disposal of all this wreckage and debris is going to a monumental task.

I have uncovered a couple of technologies that might be used to convert the debris into feedstocks and building materials to aid in reconstruction, or at least turn the debris into useful materials or energy sources.

A company called Prime Environmental International (PEI) has the technology to process hurricane debris and output six different building components. The web site lists the products created as :

  • Product 1- Replaces OSB sheathing with four (4) non-wood sheet products sizes: 7/16"x 4'x 8' - 7116"x 8'x 24' - 1/2"x 4'x 8' - 1/2"x 8'x 24'; (all standard thicknesses will also be available in 4'x 8' sheets)
  • Product 2- Replaces door frames, doors, window frames, and windows with a PEI engineered (preformed) molded non-wood product;
  • Product 3- Replaces interior and exterior walls with a high-density product;
  • Product 4- Replaces structural framing with a solid interlocking structure;
  • Product 5- Replaces roofing with a fire retardant insulated roofing panel ;
  • Product 6- Replaces foundation walls with a high density waterproof material

Assuming all these products are environmentally acceptable, this would ease the burden on virgin resources considerably. Additionally, it wopuld provide employment for a large number of people in the affected areas. The web link above has the details on the processing and materials requirements.

For other waste and debris not suitable for the PEI process I would point you to the company Changing World Technologies (CWT). They have a thermal conversion process (TCP) that parallels the natural process that produce oil, but at a greatly accelerated rate. For and overview of TCP and CWT in the scheme of things read this article from Discover magazine here or here.

CWT has a nice graphic showing how the process works.

The Wikipedia TCP entry also has a chart showing what the TCP process can produce based on the waste type input.

The oil and gas could be further refined to produce adhesives, binders, asphalt shingles and other building chemicals needed to compliment the building materials produced by PEI.

CWT’s web site lists the general categories of materials that can be produced from a waste stream using TCP.

So we have an opportunity to rebuild the Gulf Coast and its environs while minimizing the impact on our existing resource base. We save energy costs associated with shipping debris out of the region and shipping new building materials into the region.

Even if this plan never materializes for the Gulf Coast, we should be pursuing these technologies and maturing them to the point where they can be rapidly deployed into any disaster area to speed rebuilding and recovery efforts.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Saw Serenity last night with #1 daughter and some of her friends. The theater was packed, but no one in costume, , although it was an early-ish show. The movie itself was really good, the effects were well done and the story line had some really cool twists to it. It was great to seeing the characters again.

No spoilers to see here... Move along

The most merciful thing in the world ... is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. - H. P. Lovecraft