Thursday, May 24, 2007

Compressed Air Cars

In 2005 an Austrailian film crew produced this video on compressed air cars. It's worth watching. Compressed air cars have been around for a while. Early work on the concept was done in South Africa.

I'm skeptical about the cars because this was filmed 2 years ago and we haven't heard anything since. Also the claims of being able to drive across a continent on a single tank seems too far out.

Using compressed air as an energy storage device for our cars has numerous advantages:
1. We could stop importing oil from the Middle East. This would keep billions of dollars in our own country and stop funding regimes who hate us.
2. Our city air would be cleaner.
3. The design looks fairly simple and perhaps more reliable than current cars.

Some disadvangates:
1. Well, it's not here yet. Will it every be safe and profitable?
2. The demo cars were very noisy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Are You Losing Interest In Your Bank?

I got a rude awakening to the adult world a few weeks ago. I checked the interest rate on our savings account. 0.3%, zero point three percent! "How can that be? Just yesterday it was 3.5%".
Well, my bank, who shall remain nameless, (OK, their initials refer to a snake) had slowly been lowering the interest rate. See Boiling Frog story. I went to talk to my local branch bank about getting into CDs to raise my interest rate or moving the money to Schwab. The bank guy said, "Hmmm.... let me see. I could put you in an affinity group and raise your rates to 4.7%. Would that be OK?".
I've lost lots of interest money just by not paying attention in the first place and not asking in the second.
Check you interest rates. If you aren't getting 4.5% go to Immigrants Direct or Electric Orange, or ask to join an affinity group at your bank.

IE7 css hack

When IE7 came out last year I upgraded my css menus to account for the change in the box model from 6 to 7. Unfortunately the new css worked in IE7, but broke IE6 pages.
To fix the problem, microsoft has given us the helpful conditional tags. I put this on the base page of my site in the header and now IE6 and IE7 play nice.

<!--[if IE 7]>
<style type="text/css">
ul#nav li a { z-index: 100; width: 149px;}
ul li ul {left: 160px;}
</style> <![endif]-->

Monday, May 07, 2007

Austin CodeCamp 2007

The Austin CodeCamp was held this last Saturday in Austin. Here are a few of the highlights:

Rick Garibay gave a talk on Windows Communications Foundation (WCF) which abstracts SOAP web services, .net remoting, and other communications into a single api with lots of configuration files. Rick mentioned any application can host a web service now. You don't need to configure iis to create a virtual directory and stuff. Now you can easily deploy all your 'bots to clients using .net. Rick mentioned the .Net Web Service Studio from GotDotNet as a great tool.

Anil Desai gave a great presentation on SQL server tuning.

The author of WATIR, Bret Pettichord, gave a good overview of the GUI testing tool. We used the IE Developer Toolbar to query web pages for widgets to control. After executing "gem install watir" we executed the following lab, test.rb, to control ie.

ie = Watir::IE.start ''
ie.text_field(:name, 'q').set 'ADNUG'
ie.button(:name, 'btnI').click

Bret recommended installing "rspec" and "ruby_breakpoint". More details at "

Cody Powell gave an encouraging talk about the new functional programming constructs in c# 3.0 which will support natively maps and reducers.

Scott Bellware also talked about new features in c# 3.0 including being able to attach methods to classes. Using NUnit.Spec he wrote an interesting test line,

//instead of

Friday, May 04, 2007


Afterworld is a new sci-fi series with a twist - it's distributed not by the Sci-Fi channel or Fox, but by Youtube. The bet is that when commercials start rolling this fall on YouTube, Afterworld's producers can recoup their investment by advertising on the web instead of in TV land. Is this the first salvo in the battle of Internet viewing vs. traditional TV.
If only my Tivo got YouTube.