Thursday, July 26, 2007

Solid State Drives

I'm thinking Solid State Drives, SSDs, such as these could make economic sense.

It's getting to the point you will no longer need fans or any moving parts in your computer.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tour De France

I can't say I'm sorry to see this event die. All the news seems to be about how nobody is watching it. That everybody has tuned out because they don't want to see dopers.

I'd like to see this taken to another level. For instance I don't want to see the biking event in triathlons. Yep, take it out, get rid of it. Biking ruins the sport. It weeds out the people who can't afford a high priced bike and it is responsible for the deaths and hospitalization of numerous others. Bikes should be removed.

This is not likely to happen though. Bike companies would never allow it. So we need to start a new sport. The late Jim McCain, the head of the largest triathlon club in the world, started a new event called the Aquathon. An Aquathon consists of just the running and swimming.

I'd go one step further though and do away with wetsuits, goggles, and shoes. We need a sport where money doesn't buy you anything!

Ideally the sport would consist of a swim that would take about an hour and a run that would take about two hours. It would be done on a low tide day where the beaches would be open for miles.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Checkers AI now unbeatable

It's unthinkable to most that chess would ever fall victim to something similar. I'm not so sure. I once took a computer course on the game of chess. On average there are about 42 choices per move if I remember correctly. Some 30 or 50 moves to the average game. As you can see at first glance chess seems impossible to program. You think you are dealing with 42**50 which could never be handled. Not at all like checkers. I bet somebody somewhere will figure out how to do it though. Say for example they might work backwards from different end game scenarios. So certain piece combinations, positioned in about any way, guarantees a win. This would eliminate a large percentage or possible choices. Likewise forced trades could eliminate many choices. As more creative types break the game of chess into various defined components maybe what's left could be totally handled. I bet in another hundred years they'll have Chess completely worked out.

Games capture imagination allowing people to put their very best into it.

Checkers 'solved' after years of number crunching

* 19:00 19 July 2007
* news service
* Justin Mullins

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* Chinook
* Jonathan Schaeffer
* International Computer Games Association

The ancient game of checkers (or draughts) has been pronounced dead. The game was killed by the publication of a mathematical proof showing that draughts always results in a draw when neither player makes a mistake. For computer-game aficionados, the game is now "solved".

Draughts is merely the latest in a steady stream of games to have been solved using computers, following games such as Connect Four, which was solved more than 10 years ago.

The computer proof took Jonathan Schaeffer, a computer-games expert at the University of Alberta in Canada, 18 years to complete and is one of the longest running computations in history.

Draughts is played on an 8 x 8 chequered board with 16 pieces. This leads to 1020 different possible board positions. A player's pieces capture the opponent's by jumping over them until all are removed. Large numbers of pieces are quickly removed from play towards the end of a game.
Endgame database

The crucial part of Schaeffer's computer proof involved playing out every possible endgame involving fewer than 10 pieces. The result is an endgame database of 39 trillion positions. By contrast, there are only 19 different opening moves in draughts. Schaeffer's proof shows that each of these leads to a draw in the endgame database, providing neither player makes a mistake.

Schaeffer was able to get his result by searching only a subset of board positions rather than all of them, since some of them can be considered equivalent. He carried out a mere 1014 calculations to complete the proof in under two decades. "This pushes the envelope as far as artificial intelligence is concerned," he says.

At its peak, Schaeffer had 200 desktop computers working on the problem full time, although in later years he reduced this to 50 or so. "The problem is such that if I made a mistake 10 years ago, all the work from then on would be wrong," says Schaeffer. "So I've been fanatical about checking for errors."

Schaeffer believes the techniques he has developed could be applied to many real-world problems. He gives the example of scheduling the time and work required to build a complex machine such as the space shuttle. "With these techniques, you could optimise the use of your resources to build the shuttle for the least time or cost," he says.
Inevitable result

Schaeffer has also released an updated version of a draughts-playing programme called Chinook. In the 1990s, this program failed to beat the then world champion Marion Tinsley, who is widely regarded as the greatest Checkers player ever. Before his death, in 1995, Tinsley lost only 9 games in a 45-year playing career.

"I think Tinsley would be wistful about the proof," says Schaeffer.

The revamped Chinook, which is available online, cannot now be beaten. "The best result you can get is a draw," he admits.

David Levy, president of the International Computer Games Association in London, UK, says he isn't planning to play against Chinook. "There would be a certain inevitability about the result."

Journal reference: Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1144079)

What's wrong with NASA

It's interesting how they are going back asking for help.

My perspective on the space program is a bit different than most peoples. Here's my perspective. After WWII America quickly nabbed all the rocket scientist in Germany, which at the time had all the expertise in the world, and made a special town for them in America. This town had newly built houses for them and their families. Everything they needed and all in German. Surprisingly though this town had a fence around it keeping the town separated from the rest of the world. The husbands all worked for what is today NASA. When kennedy wanted to go to the moon the slave labor, mental labor, all came from this town of Germans.

Well we had to transistion out of it eventually. The idea was that we could drop the old Germans with the space shuttle. The space shuttles were built by Americans who would do it right. These Americans sold the shuttle as being a magnitude cheaper and safer than the rockets the Germans designed and built. Unfortunately this didn't happen. The price per pound increased by a magnitude and we all know how infrequently the shuttles operate. While America has been dicking about with it's pathetic engineers the rest of the world has pretty much left us behind. So much so that when our Military wants to launch they use other countries.

Pretty pathetic. Why so pathetic you might ask? What is it about America that lowers everything to the level of a slum? Basically it's our two party political system. It can be bought out too easily by lobbyists who are working for coporations controlled by Wall Street analysts who only care about quartely gains instead of the big pictures. If we had a multiparty system like most other countries do we might not be doing fantastically but we certainly would be part of the pack rather than slipping on every front...

NASA asks Apollo engineers for help with Moon plans

* 19:52 20 July 2007
* news service
* Ivan Semeniuk

On Friday, the 38th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing, NASA called in a group of retired engineers who had worked on the Apollo lunar programme in the 1960s and 70s. They were there to share their "lessons learned" with those now engaged in NASA's effort to return Americans to the Moon by 2020.

The veterans had worked as testers for the Grumman Corporation, the contractor that built the lunar module that took astronauts down to the Moon's surface. Before the meeting, Ivan Semeniuk asked two of the former Grumman engineers, Gerald Sandler and Joe Mule, for a taste of 1960s space expertise.

How closely did you work with the Apollo astronauts?

GS: Very closely. They would continually come into Grumman and they were on the inspection teams for the vehicles. Everyone who was working on the lunar module saw them personally and recognised that their lives depended on what we were doing. Having the astronauts involved and very visible played a key part in ensuring that people felt personally responsible. That was one of the reasons why the quality levels were so high.

JM: Whenever a problem wasn't getting attention I had a guy working in my group who used to say: "Are you going to tell the widows?" It was something we always kept in mind.

The lunar module had to perform in conditions that no one on Earth had experienced directly. How did you deal with the unknowns?

GS: We did a great deal of testing before we went to the Moon, to weed out problems. We still had problems when we got there, but what's interesting is that by the time we landed Apollo 17 - the last lunar landing - there were no more anomalies to report.

JM: We were gaining a great deal of knowledge as we went along. Another thing you have to keep in mind is that there was really no limit to the funding.

GS: We worried about the technical programme rather than how much it was going to cost. We wanted to make sure everything was done right from a success and safety standpoint.

You worked for the reliability team. What does "reliability" mean to an aerospace engineer?

GS: We used to call it the ability of something to perform its function. If it didn't do this, it was a failure.

Can you give me an example of a reliability failure you had to deal with on Apollo?

GS: Sure. On Apollo 14, the abort switch failed. It had a short circuit that put the lunar module in abort mode while the spacecraft was descending towards the Moon. Mission control had to rewrite the software in mid-flight and then relay it up to the module in time for engine ignition - which was done with minutes to spare. All of that got traced back to a particular switch. The switch was soldered in, but vibrations had shaken it loose, and while it was drifting around it caused the short circuit. That was a reliability problem. When it happened, the NASA programme manager and I X-rayed all the switches of a similar type that we could find in the remaining lunar modules and looked for loose solder.

JM: A great deal of the failures had to do with workmanship in connections, in solder joints, in crimps - in all of the mechanical fastening methods. They seemed to be quite vulnerable.

NASA is hoping you can pass on some lessons to the engineers working on the next lunar lander. What is the most important lesson you have to share?

GS: It's really the logic behind how you run the programme. One of the key features of the lunar module programme was that we had a very open environment; everybody could talk to everybody else. We had a multidisciplinary approach because the interfaces of all the systems - environmental control, propulsion, and so on - are pretty critical. The second thing is that we were encouraged to challenge each other, and not just accept what we were told. There was a big emphasis on looking at alternatives, and all the trade-offs that were associated with those alternatives.

What did you gain by working that way?

GS: One of the critical things was the trade-off between weight and reliability. Because weight was so critical, you had to make sure that every time you were trying to save a pound you weren't hurting reliability. We were always making these trades between weight, reliability and performance. One of the best decisions we made was putting more weight into the size of the lunar module's fuel tanks, for just the kind of situation that happened in Apollo 13, when the module was used as a lifeboat to bring the crew back. The ability to challenge each other had a lot to do with getting that right.

How did you create that kind of working environment?

JM: One way was by mastering the art of the "stand up" meeting. Every morning at 8.30 the managers of every department would have to attend this meeting to review the status of the entire programme, including failures, design problems and so on.

Space technology has changed a lot since Apollo. Are there technical factors that you think the engineers of the next lander should keep in mind?

GS: The thing that I'd be thinking about the most is software. As long as there's a weight problem - which there has to be - more and more functions will want to be put into software rather than into hardware. Software is a more difficult problem for reliability, because you can't test it the same way you test hardware. Debugging the software and simulating what it's doing during flight is going to be a real challenge, I think.

What do you think we will gain by sending humans back to the Moon?

GS: Human experience breeds new technology. I don't think you can foresee what's going to happen when you start out on these kinds of explorations, but history tells us that good things happen.

JM: Keep in mind that we were in the thick of the cold war last time. That was a huge national motivation. This time around, I think the scientific and technical spin-off will be the motivation.

Do you think that most Americans are motivated by the plans to go back to the Moon?

JM: Not in the same way. My concern about this present programme is that the public isn't aware of it. I am a little bit more than a casual observer of the space programme and I haven't heard a lot of information about the new programme.

GS: The national will is not evident yet.

Gerald Sandler joined the Grumman Corporation (now Northrup Grumman) in 1963, shortly after NASA awarded it the contract to build the Apollo lunar modules. He was group leader of system reliability before moving on to other space-related jobs within Grumman, eventually becoming deputy director of the company's Apollo effort. He now lives in Westbury, New York, not far from the Long Island plant where the lunar modules were built.

Joe Mule also joined Grumman in 1963. He began as a reliability engineer and became assistant manager for reliability. He lives in Delaware. Both men are now retired.

Friday, July 20, 2007 is an excellent starting point to educate oneself out of the Matrix. There's not much, if anything, I disagree with in this flick. It describes an old paradigm which unfortunately describes the past and present world accurately. The new world order will no longer revolve around this archaic system. Religion will die out shortly like it is in most of the world except America. And quality of life, perhaps eternal life through genetics, is replacing the need for obscene wealth and power. Within the next 50 years life will change dramatically.

However for the time being the movie should be watched. We have nut case dynastic families, like the Bush's, making money through war and lies. Nothing new here. Understanding why things are working allows you to model it. After you know what TV, religion, patriotism, etc., leads you don't get caught up in any of it. You can concentrate on what is really important.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Best random generator yet

A good random generator is perhaps hard to find. One is now available at:
There are many UIs being built around it. Save this post if you need one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Corn biofuel 'dangerously oversold' as green energy

What an incredible waste of money. Why don't we have these farmers do something useful.

Ethanol fuel made from corn may be being "dangerously oversold" as a green energy solution according to a new review of biofuels.

The report concludes that the rapidly growing and heavily subsidised corn ethanol industry in the US will cause significant environmental damage without significantly reducing the country's dependence on fossil fuels.

"There are smarter solutions than rushing straight to corn-based ethanol," says Scott Cullen of the Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC) and a co-author of the study. "It's just one piece of a more complex puzzle."

The report analyses hundreds of previous studies, and was compiled by the environmental advocacy groups Food and Water Watch, NNEC and the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment. The study was released as the US Congress debates key agriculture and energy laws that will determine biofuel policy for years to come.
Rapid growth

Of the country's entire corn crop for 2007, 27% is earmarked for biofuels. That figure is up from 20% in 2006 and is beginning to put a squeeze on corn for food production.

Yet, even if all corn grown in the US was used for fuel, it would only offset 15% of the country's gasoline use, according to the study. The same reduction could be achieved by a 3.5-mile-per-gallon increase in fuel efficiency standards for all cars and light trucks, according a federal figures cited in the report.

And using corn-derived ethanol does not necessarily even reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A number of recent studies have attempted to assess the total carbon footprint – from the field to the tailpipe – of the biofuel. Conclusions vary widely from being worse than gasoline to being about the same.

The report includes a recent study by the US Department of Energy (PDF), concluding that corn ethanol could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18% to 28%.

The same study, however, also notes that cellulosic ethanol could reduce emissions by 87% compared to gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol produces fuel from non-food sources such as prairie grasses and woody plants, but production is still under development.
'Dead zones'

Further concerns are contained in a recent study from the World Resources Institute (PDF), cited in the report. It says the development of a corn-based ethanol market would only exacerbate problems already associated with large-scale corn production.

Such problems include groundwater depletion, soil erosion, algae blooms, and the formation of "dead zones" in waterways inundated with pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

"Corn-based ethanol hasn't been pursued because this is the best solution, it's been because this has been what's been pushed the hardest," Cullen says. The recent survey notes that Archer Daniels Midland, the largest US ethanol producer, received $10 billion in federal subsidies between 1980 and 1997.

But Brian Jennings, of the trade group, the American Coalition for Ethanol, disagrees. "We can release papers until we are blue in the face about what is theoretically going to be the best alternative to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce carbon emissions," he says. "But, from a practical standpoint, we have to start somewhere, and corn-based ethanol is the most viable alternative fuel on the planet today."

The current Farm Bill, which provides $16.5 billion in federal agricultural subsidies each year, will expire in September 2007. Proposals for a new Farm Bill are likely to include significant subsidies for the continued development of both corn-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol.

Boycott Comcast?

I don't know exactly what's going on here. They make it sound like Linux is not supported. If this is really the case it should be exposed.

July 17, 2007 |
Does Comcast hate Macs?
By David Cassel
They're the largest ISP in America. And they hate Macs. And the Firefox browser. At least, that's the impression you get from Comcast's installation procedure — and clues scattered across their home page.

Last month Dave Winer noted that Comcast's installation procedures require the use of Internet Explorer. Another Comcast user makes the same complaint. "They helpfully provide you with a CD that has a custom Comcast-branded version of IE5 for the Mac, because Apple hasn't shipped a Mac in quite a few years that has IE5 on it by default."

Even Comcast's web page shows an apparent bias against Mac users — or anyone not using Internet Explorer. When you click the page's "Games" hyperlink, an error message pops up, warning that the site "is not optimized for Firefox browsers or Macs."

"Our site is optimized for Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher, on Windows Operating System."

The web contains other stories — including one from a user group for Apple fans. One Mac owner reports he'd called Comcast to troubleshoot his cable modem. Comcast's technician told him he knew "nothing about *&@#$ing Macs,"eventually disappearing into his truck. By the time the technican returned, the customer had repaired the cable modem himself with a phone call to Comcast's support line.Now I'm afraid to ask how Comcast handles Linux….

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cocaine trade scents higher profit in Europe

I think I might want to move to Amsterdam. Though I'm not into sex, drugs, or alcohol. If it were warmer and sunnier. Just something about living in a culture without the hangups we have in this culture.

Cocaine trade scents higher profit in Europe
Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:14PM EDT
By Henrique Almeida

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Saturday night and thrill-seekers from around the world crowd the streets of Amsterdam's red-light district ready to binge on sex, drugs and alcohol.

"Hey, mister, do you want some cocaine?" a man mutters from a dark corner while a blonde prostitute removes her bra in a shop window, to lure customers into her room.

It's no accident the dealer was offering cocaine before he moved on to other drugs. Cocaine use has almost tripled in Europe over the past decade, while U.S. consumption has stabilized, according to U.N. figures released in June.

"There is a certain glamour to cocaine in the media which has become very appealing to all sectors of European society," said Peter Thomas, a spokesman for European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in Lisbon.

Portuguese police say a stronger euro is also attracting cocaine smugglers into European cities like Amsterdam, London and Madrid where party-goers can easily pay up to 60 euros ($82.78) to get high on a few lines of the white powder.

Wholesale, the drug in Europe fetches up to $77,000 per kg, almost twice the amount it sells for in the U.S., according to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration.

"Dealers focus their trade in cities with money," Jose Braz, the director of the Department of Narcotics in Portugal, which has become a significant entry-point for cocaine into Europe, told Reuters. "There is more and more dirty money in euros."


"There was a lot of euphoria with love-drugs like ecstasy 10 years ago but that is going away now," said an employee of the Magic Mushroom Smartshop near Amsterdam's night club scene in Rembrandtplein square. He identified himself simply as AR.

"Coke is cold and ego-boosting and allows people to forget about their insecurities. I suppose the world is becoming a colder place these days," he added.

Europe's demand for cocaine may be growing but the real test for the Latin American cartels is breaking into Europe's sophisticated external borders and airports.

The solution normally comes in the form of bribes.

According to the United Nations, cartels increasingly rely on corrupt officials in poor West African nations like Guinea Bissau, a tiny former Portuguese colony, to store the cocaine before it is smuggled into Europe's booming market.

"These criminals are entrepreneurs. They see a window of opportunity and immediately jump in," said Braz, who worked with Bissau police recently to help fight cocaine smuggling.

In April, Guinea Bissau's police was commended by the United Nations for seizing over 600 kg of cocaine -- worth more than 30 million euros -- but it was later discovered the traffickers had still managed to escape with about 2.5 tonnes of the drug.

"It is regrettable that the rest of the consignment was not intercepted, but hardly surprising as the police were woefully ill-equipped and often do not have enough gasoline to operate their vehicles," said Antonio Costa, the Executive Director of the U.N.'s Office of Drugs and Crime.

In a statement to authorities in Bissau, Costa urged them to ensure that the seized cocaine would not "disappear" like previous drug busts.

The cocaine that eludes authorities is normally split among hundreds of smugglers willing to risk hefty jail sentences to enter Europe through countries like Portugal and Spain.

Last year, police in both countries, which have strong geographical and cultural ties with Africa and historic links with Latin America, seized a combined 70 tonnes of cocaine, about the same amount that was seized in all of Europe in 2004.

"We are now a key entry point of drugs into Europe," said Braz.


But record drug busts in 2006 and 2007 in Europe have prompted cartels to turn to people who are willing to fly to Europe with cocaine hidden in bags or inside their bodies for up to 5,000 euros -- a small sum considering the risks involved.

"What we have found is that drug mules have increasingly been used to smuggle the drug through airports," said Peter Thomas from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Last week, two British teenage girls were arrested at Accra airport in Ghana, allegedly carrying 300,000 pounds ($609,500) worth of cocaine in laptop bags.

But unlike the movie Maria Full of Grace, which portrays a teenage women as a drug mule, most of the mules are still young men like Jackson, a 27-year-old architect from Venezuela, who was caught in Lisbon trying to bring the drug into Europe.

Trapped in a downward spiral of debt and with a family to provide for, Jackson boarded a flight from Caracas to Amsterdam via Lisbon in June last year with one kg of cocaine inside his stomach and two kg strapped around his body.

"The deal was to deliver 3 kilos of cocaine in Amsterdam but I couldn't swallow all the capsules and was afraid to die. So I hid some of the drugs on my body," Jackson told a Lisbon-based judge at his first hearing after being arrested.

He now faces at least five years in prison and fears reprisals against his family back home from the drug cartel which hired him to do the job, but he is lucky to be alive.

For Europeans, like the group of men waiting outside the bathroom of a popular club in Amsterdam to snort another line, the party goes on. Or so they hope.

"They may forget about their problems when they're high but reality will eventually sink in. I just hope most of them are able to cope with it," said AR.

(Additional reporting by Sofia Van Holle in Lisbon)

Doctors, Democrats scrutinize September 11 dust

Basically you could look at the dust as a Darwinian test. Anybody who believed it was healthy really didn't have their heads screwed on right. We got it off of us as quickly as possible and then proceeded to watch from upwind. Never to get in it again. And though the officials said it posed no threat I don't know a single person who believed it.

But then we have lots of Bush supporters. Lots of Republican and Democrats. And a whole country full of religious people. Nothing more to be said...

Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:14PM EDT
By Ishani Ganguli

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pilar Albarado spent five months after September 11, 2001, cleaning pulverized building material from apartment buildings and offices near the site of the World Trade Center. A chronic cough came two years later, and she is also battling asthma, memory loss and acid reflux.

Only now, almost six years after the attacks, is the extent of the medical toll on firefighters, police and others who worked on the cleanup coming to light, along with questions about how much the government knew of the danger.

Albarado, 44, cannot work because of her medical problems. Her acid reflux is so bad she cannot eat most foods.

She is being treated at the recently opened World Trade Center health clinic at Bellevue Hospital, but she said the medicines they give her do little to help.

"Our problems will be with us for life," she said during a protest outside congressional offices in June. "I will never be the same."


Democrats in Congress say Albarado is one of thousands of people endangered when the Bush Administration knowingly played down the risks posed by the dust, which contained asbestos, lead and other contaminants.

Inhalation of dust-laden air has been implicated in at least two deaths -- from lung inflammation and scarring -- and connected to the respiratory illnesses and even cancers of thousands working and living within miles of Ground Zero, according to medical studies.

Mount Sinai Medical Center researchers found 69 percent of the nearly 10,000 first responders they examined had new or worsened lung problems after September 11, while doctors at New York University School of Medicine documented these problems in lower Manhattan residents.

The Bellevue program is currently treating more than 1,300 such patients, and others are on a waiting list.

Researchers are still working to understand the long-term effects of these exposures and how psychological distress from the event might contribute to physical problems.

"We're finding that there are respiratory problems that are persisting well beyond what we anticipated -- considering people were exposed six years ago," said Alison Geyh at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "The question is why."

The World Trade Center Health Registry, which includes more than 71,000 directly exposed New York City residents and workers, will track their physical and mental health for up to 20 years and may provide some answers, Geyh said in a telephone interview.


Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democratic who headed a House of Representatives hearing on the issue in June, said the Environmental Protection Agency issued falsely reassuring statements about air safety and asbestos levels.

This led first responders to work with inadequate protective equipment and New Yorkers to return to "homes, schools and workplaces that had not been properly tested."

Congressional Democrats also faulted the EPA for failing to meet its clean-up responsibilities.

Then Environment Secretary Christie Whitman told the congressional hearings she did not regret her comments, nor her role in reopening Manhattan workplaces on September 17.

She added that she acted on the scientific information she had been given at the time. "I will believe the scientists when they tell me what is safe to breathe," Whitman said.

But according to Geyh, who was at Ground Zero collecting environmental hazard data immediately after the attacks, the complicated circumstances did not warrant such early assurances.

An August 2003 report by the EPA's inspector general found that some of these statements were made without scientific evidence, and also implicated the White House in mitigating health warnings.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled that Whitman knowingly lied to New York residents about their health risks. The case is now under appeal.

Sunshine Could Help Prevent Cancer and Diabetes

I guess like everything, moderation and variation are key to life. Get too much sun you get cancer. Get too little and you get cancer. I guess I'll continue to run or swim without my shirt for about an hour every day.

A San Diego researcher says that sunshine could be important in preventing many cancers and Type I diabetes. UC San Diego professor Cedric Garland thinks a high level of sunshine-produced Vitamin D is a key way help the body fight a host of serious diseases.

Garland: 25 hydroxy Vitamin D, which is a metabolite of Vitamin D, should be regularly measured in the blood.

Garland says five to 10 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is enough to produce the required amount of Vitamin D. He says people can also take tablets to boost Vitamin D levels. Garland presented his findings Tuesday at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry meeting in San Diego.

A Supplement to Solar: Windmill Generators Make Green Electricity

There's a picture on their webpage. It's a very small turbine on a very high tower. Beautiful though.

KPBS reporter Alison St John went back to Scotland recently to visit her brother Hugh, who lives on the west coast in a small community called Scoraig. It’s a remote spot, with no roads and no electricity, except what’s generated by wind power. Here’s her audio postcard of Hugh and his windmill.

Scoraig is a lovely place on the edge of a loch. Hugh took me out to the back of his house where his windmill was spinning gently in the breeze.

Alison St John: So this is the windmill that powers your whole house?
Hugh: Yes that’s right.

St John: It’s very quiet.

Hugh: It does have a slight humming noise -- a little musical note that if you appreciate that that’s generating free energy, is music to your ears. Obviously in stronger winds that can turn into a bit of a roar.

This being Scotland, stronger winds happen quite often, whipping the windmill blades to a blur.

St John: How tall is it?

Hugh: This one is about 75 feet tall, the reason being that the trees around are 40 feet tall, and it’s necessary to be well above the trees to catch the best wind energy. It really does pay off to have a tall tower. There’s no point in putting a windmill in a situation where there’s not enough wind. It’s like putting a solar panel in the shade.

St John: So that must be one of the most tricky things: deciding in the first place is if a windmill is going to work for you.

Hugh: Yes, it’s an area where a lot of people have got it quite badly wrong. Manufacturers are not really motivated to argue with you if you say you’ve got enough wind they’ll probably just go ahead a sell you the machinery, so it pays to have independent advice.

St John: Well what about birds?

Hugh: Well, wind turbines do kill birds; in my 30 years of experience I’ve only ever come across two dead birds; I have had anecdotes of situations where there have been multiple casualties, just due to the way the machines been sited and due to the habits of the birds in that particular area, but if you look at bird casualties overall compared to birds flying into windows, birds being driven into by vehicles, flying into power lines and even being massacred by domestic cats -- the amount of birds that are killed by wind turbines is pretty much insignificant.

St John: OK, so how much power does this generate?

Hugh: The power generated in kilowatts is much less important than the energy generated over time because it’s stored in batteries. In our house we use about five or six kilowatt hours of electrical energy a day. That’s a bit less than the UK average and quite substantially less than the US average which is more like 20 or 30 kilowatt hours a day.

Inside Hugh’s house, his wife Jytte is in the kitchen where there’s no shortage of electrical appliances.

Jytte: The microwave is electric, obviously, there’s the toaster, the food processor, but all these things you use for a very short time.

St John: Hugh was saying you might wait to vacuum till it was a bit windier?

Jytte: Yeah, it’s a good excuse not to do the washing if it’s not windy? ::laughs::

St John: And you’ve got a television; you can watch that whenever you want right?

Jytte: Yes we use it as an excuse to stop the kids from watching too much telly. The little ones, we say ‘there isn’t enough electricity to watch TV right now.’ But it’s really an excuse because it doesn’t really use that much.

Hugh and Jytte have lived off wind power for many years but Hugh admits it’s not for everyone.

St John: So are there any arguments for someone in somewhere like California to be using wind energy on a domestic basis?

Hugh: Well I would say yes. That’s a scenario where a lower cost wind system as a backup to a solar system does actually make sense, provided that whoever is buying it does look carefully at whether there is enough wind to make it worth the investment. And very often it will be cheaper to run a generator during those periods when there isn’t so much sun, but that’s a lot less satisfying than using renewable energy. When things are going well it’s completely maintenance-free, you can just enjoy the benefits and listen to the sweet music of electricity being generated from the wind.

That was KPBS reporter Alison St John’s brother Hugh, who is a small wind turbine consultant living on the west coast of Scotland.

Nuclear Waste at San Onofre Plant Supposedly Earthquake-Safe

San Onofre nuclear plant officials say what happened during the recent earthquake in Japan won't happen here. KPBS reporter Ed Joyce explains.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, or SONGS, is next to San Onofre State Beach in northern San Diego County. It's operated by Southern California Edison. The Japanese quake caused a leak of radioactive waste water that was flushed into the sea. SONGS Plant Manager Raymond Waldo says the facility here is designed to keep that from happening.

Waldo: Our spent fuel building is a concrete structure that, if the water were to spill out of the pool, would just go down to the basement of the building and collect there in a sump. So there is no direct line that would take it to the ocean.

He says the plant has never had any earthquake-related problems. The plant was built to withstand a major 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

Uh huh. Like I so believe them. What's this about water anyways? Nuclear proponents are always talking about spent fuel. Pretending that's the only waaste. They never admit that much of the waste is liquid.

We need more muslim politicians

Published: July 17, 2007 at 7:21 PM

Critics: Muslim rep. likened Bush, Hitler
NEW YORK, July 17 (UPI) -- Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, drew fire this week for comments about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Late last week Ellison told a Minnesota atheist group the Bush administration took advantage of the climate of fear after the destruction of the World Trade Center to expand its powers, much like Hitler was able to seize power in Germany after convincing the public Communists were responsible for the burning of the Reichstag, the New York Post reported.

Some critics said the statement amounted to accusing President George Bush of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks, since Hitler staged the Reichstag fire. That view mirrors accusations by many conspiracy theorists that the Bush administration staged the attacks for political gain, then blamed them on Muslim terrorists.

But Ellison defended his statement, saying he meant that tragedy can be taken advantage of by politicians, the newspaper said.

It's about time we had some politicians who say it like it is. I should send her an email thanking her for the honesty.

Though he should have came right out and said Bush was responsible for 9/11. Everything points to it.

Harry Potter Spoiler

I've read all the books so far. I'll read the last one eventually. But I'd like to know what happens now. If anybody cares to write up a brief synopsis here that would be great. I'd appreciate it.

It's about time we start seeing some common sense in the court. This is in stark contrast to the idiots in Georgia who sentenced a kid to 10 years in prison for getting a blow job. The courts there, despite the parents of both kids, threw the boy in prison. Of course the boy was black and the girl white so it makes sense.

Darwin, in today's world, would have gone to Georgia. No doubt. See for the details.

Utah court clears girl, 13, of sex abuse
SALT LAKE CITY, July 17 (UPI) -- The Utah Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that finding a 13-year-old girl and her 12-year-old boyfriend guilty of sexually abusing each other is "absurd."

The high court dismissed the charge against the girl, identified in court documents only as Z.C. of Ogden, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The boy had not appealed the finding of delinquency.

The girl was 13 when she became pregnant in October 2003. State authorities filed sexual abuses charges against her and the boy in July 2004.

Justice Jill Parrish, in the court's opinion, said the Legislature may have been trying to discourage reckless behavior by teenagers. But she said legislators could not have intended to treat both parties to a consensual sex act as simultaneously victims and perpetrators.

Parrish said the ruling applies only in cases where no victim can be identified and not to those where an adult has sex with a minor.

Microsoft Windows patent will spy for advertisers

Microsoft has filed a patent that threatens to breathe life into Bill Gates' and Ray Ozzie's Frankenstein-like Windows Live "vision", unveiled in November 2005, for putting annoying, in-your-face internet adverts inside your most important Windows applications.

Here's the Patent.

I guess anybody who is stupid enough to still be using windows deserves what they get.

Linux-USB-Users mailing list

This mailing list was a total let down. There was no systematic approach to USB problems. No consistent help. Instead it consisted of people asking for help and others saying it sounds like a hardware issue or you need to recompile your kernel. Or worse.

The best approach to USB problems is to do the research yourself. There are no experts where there should be. On the other hand if you wanted to be recognized as an expert it might be a good mailing list to take ownership of. It's something to consider...

If so check out

Friday, July 13, 2007

Never buy from Sony!

Sony, at the time, was making wise cracks about their root kits. At the time I was amazed Sony was making such public statements and supporting their root kits. Guess times have changed and they now are looking for scape goats. What's next, titles like "Military sues suppliers of weapons to Iraq" because they have lost the war. What ever happened to responsibility. Companies don't seem to have much responsibility. Bad management making bad decisions at dramatic pay is the norm. And if they can't blame others then they will take their golden parachutes and leave. Grrrr.

Not that I would mind the Military suing the weapons suppliers. Or that I mind Sony suing the root kit manufacturer. I wish them all long, expensive, bloody horrible ordeals. May they all lose everything. The human race doesn't need them.

Logitech MX Air

Ok, I like Logitech products. They have a new mouse. (It's wireless. So I'm not going to buy it. See my rants about batteries.) The "mouse" looks very interesting. Far too big. It's more like a first step into the future. Check it out at:,1895,2158059,00.asp

(Logitech doesn't have it on their own website yet.)

Smart batteries?

My last post got me thinking. In the past I have labelled battery cells. I put them in little sleaves and write out what their stated capacity is, when they were bought, their price, the actual capacity, and the number of charges. I'm tempted to go look at one and see what all I put down. I think I may include much more.

I only buy metal hydride batteries. I have a special charger for them. You can see it here:

This charger is by far the best currently on the market that I know of. I bought mine two or three years ago. The LCD display is horrible. And it will destroy itself if you charge alkaline or regular batteries in it. I have stupid kids about whom snuck in normal batteries into two of the slots. The batteries heated up releasing acids that drip down into the circuitry destroying the battery charger. (What can I say, kids are kids and you have got to protect yourself from them. If you don't it is nobodies fault but your own.) However, though the battery charger will breathe new life into old batteries wiping out their memories, tell you what the batteries actual capcities are, etc., it's not enough.

We need battery chargers controlled by the computer. So we can upgrade them on the fly with better intelligence. And so we can identify and monitor their lives in databases. How to automatically identify them? The best way would be to put a RFID like chip in them. Or just the circuitry to give it a serial number. No need to stop there. With technology where it is at now we might as well put a chip with some memory in. I'm thinking there must be something that can be done on an evolving basis. We start now with just the serial number.

With just a serial number and a charger controlled by a pc we could make a centralized database to hold all of the batteries lifetime information.

In the future it would be great to have the battery record it's power useage. Then we could get a much better idea how the batteries perform in differen environments. But that's another step.

Rechargeable products done right.

I'm very tired of products that come with batteries and battery chargers built in to them. The problem is battery memories. When charged all of the time they end up losing half their capacity in about a year and need replacing after 3 years. In our consumer oriented disposable life style this is considered a plus. It gets customers to keep on buying new products every three years. Like the car industry. I of course have problems with this.

We need a battery compliance standard. A logo to be put on products that conform to this standard. And this standard should include the following:
1) The batteries must be standard sizes easily found at stores.
2) The batteries must be rechargable. (Yes redundant, but should be said.)
3) The batteries must be easily accessible and without tools.
4) There must be two battery compartments. When one battery goes completely dead then and only then do you start to use the other battery while the dead battery charges.
5) The charged battery is kept topped off after charging.
6) More to be added as I think of them.

With a system like this the batteries should last 10years to life. Of course the manufactures like Apple with their iPods and iPhones would never go for it. Along with all the other sleazy companies taking advantage of dumb consumers. However this is what is needed.

Platform Independent GUI in C++?

I just discovered this GUI today. Apparently it works on most all platforms I care about. Now if I only had a reason to use it. With Firefox almost making GUIs obsolete I doubt I will ever have a need for it. Still it's good to know it exists.

Free AIX 6?

No, unfortunately not. Yet. A huge step in the right direction though. This is something similar to M$ releasing beta software for people to test with. Both parties get something out of it. Still it might be great for developers to use. Then they could test their software on it to work out all their bugs. I remember I used to use M$ to test out all my AIX code. I'd also do the same for HPUX environments. That way I could use the excellent programmer tools found on the PC such as PC Lint without worrying about whether the final platform would have all the right tools. Of course not all code could be tested since some of it was almost always unique to the hardware and OS but a huge chunk of it could be.

I wonder if this version 6 of AIX runs on PC hardware? Sure hope it does.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Another crooked politician: Chuck DeVore

Any politician who is pushing nuclear instead of solar and wind is crooked. They get kickbacks from the monopolies who want to control power. In today's world there is probably nothing more important than getting renewable energy. A list should be made of these greedy bastards so we can prevent them from working anywhere.

California lawmaker seeks vote on nuclear power
Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:22PM EDT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Assemblyman Chuck DeVore will try to put an initiative on the ballots in June 2008 for Californians to decide whether the state should allow construction of nuclear power plants, his office said on Wednesday.

The Republican from Irvine in Orange County, who has failed to get the state legislature to lift a ban on new nuclear power plants, needs to get signatures of 500,000 registered voters. To ensure those signatures can be validated, he wants to collect 1 million.

In 1976, California banned construction of new nuclear power plants until "there exists a demonstrated technology for the permanent disposal of spent fuel," according to the California Energy Commission.

In February, DeVore introduced a bill to lift the ban, but that bill died in committee in April. The committee vote was along party lines -- six Democrats against, three Republicans for.

DeVore says he will bring the bill back to the legislature next year, in addition to working on the ballot initiative.

"Modern nuclear power will allow us to add jobs while improving the environment. There are really no other options capable of generating the large amounts of power we need," DeVore said.

Proponents of nuclear power argue that it is better for the environment than other sources because it does not emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.

Opponents fear dangerous accidents and say there is no safe way to dispose of the spent fuel.

California last year passed an ambitious law requiring the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, to levels not seen since 1990.

DeVore wants to get his measure on the June ballot but may have to delay until November 2008. He said he prefers June to avoid competing for attention during the presidential election.

California has two working nuclear power plants, both in place before the 1976 ban. Those plants along with imported nuclear power -- mainly from Arizona -- account for about 14 percent of the electricity the state consumes.

No new U.S. nuclear power plants have been ordered since 1978, the year before the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania.

DeVore said a draft of his initiative mentions dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel as a solution to the waste issue. He said such storage -- already in use at the two California plants -- can keep the spent fuel for at least 100 years, when a long-term storage site or other solution can be found.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Microsoft will bankrupt Yahoo

As much as I dislike Microsoft it's obvious they are going to bury Yahoo. Yahoo would have a chance if they had good management. Their market share is great. Their name recognition is great. People like them. They just have bad management and that's going to sink them. They are too concerned about making money and that's causing them to chase people off. They need to start giving value so people will want to spend money. In other words they need to use honey instead of the stick. They've got old management style and that's going to be the end of it. Here's probably the final nail in their coffin unless they really get their act together and fire management.

Could Microsoft Knock Off Yahoo To Become Google’s Biggest Competitor?

No lint for PHP?!

Yeah, PHP sucks. No lint that I can find. Ideally there should be a product like for PHP. But the programming tools for PHP suck. They have a "lint" but it can't even tell you about unused variables. If you code something like "$microsoft = "sucks";" and then never use the variable it is not flagged as an error. Neither do the warning options pick it up even when set to max. Which is my default mode.

PHP basically sucks. The language itself is far worse than C++ however it is interpreted so it can run everywhere. It also has regular expressions. And it has nice libraries. What it doesn't have is a serious set of programmer tools to verify the code written is good, used, etc.. It's a script kiddies paradise that unfortunately must be used by real programmers too.

Google map mashups released today.

Google maps are great. Far better than the competition. I use them extensively and hope that this new feature will be programmable via php.

Google Inc. to unite mapping mashups

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer Wed Jul 11, 12:42 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Hoping to make it even easier to turn its online maps into collages of local information, Google Inc. is introducing tools that will stitch together applications from a hodgepodge of Web sites.

The free service, scheduled to be introduced Wednesday morning, represents the Mountain View-based company's most ambitious attempt yet to capitalize on the growing popularity of hybrid maps known as "mashups."

In the last two years, Google estimates more than 50,000 mashups have been built on its maps to highlight information about gas prices, running routes, earthquakes, apartment vacancies, home prices and a wide range of other information.

Until now, the mapping mashups were scattered across thousands of Web sites.

Google is hoping to unite the information mishmash by encouraging mashup developers to package the creations into mini-applications called "mapplets" that will be posted under the "My Maps" section of Google's Web site.

Multiple mapplets can be laid over Google's map simultaneously, meaning a user theoretically could get a glimpse at where homes are being sold in a specific neighborhood while also analyzing the area's recent crime patterns.

"It's a really powerful innovation," said John Hanke, Google's director of maps. "It's like combining chocolate and peanut butter. They're good by themselves, but the combination is much more valuable than when they are served in isolation."

Google introduced My Maps in April to give users a way to save and share their own mashups.

Now, users with Google log-ins will be able to pick from more than 100 mapplets to customize and save their own maps. Google expects the number of mapplets to increase as word about the service spreads. To encourage the phenomenon, Google's own engineers also contributed mapplets.

Like with most things it does, Google is hoping the new feature will generate more advertising revenue as people spend more time on its site. Advertising already accounts for most of Google's profits, which totaled $1 billion during the first three months of this year.

The company believes developers will be eager to share mapplets as a way to distribute their own ads and attract more traffic to their Web sites.

Google's maps attract the third most U.S. visitors in its category, ranking behind rival services from AOL's Mapquest and Yahoo Inc., according to comScore Media Metrix.

But Google has been steadily gaining ground in recent months. In June, Google's maps attracted 28.9 million U.S. visitors, a 28 percent increase from the same time last year, Media Metrix said. Meanwhile, Yahoo's mapping traffic fell 12 percent to 29.6 million visitors. Mapquest continued to hold a comfortable lead with 53.9 million visitors, a 3 percent increase from last year.

DELL charges $225 to remove Vista

What can be said about this? Hopefully it's just a wrinkle and DELL will straighten it out quickly...

Reneged: Ubuntu Dell is $225 More Than Windows Dell

14950 points posted to Linux, Desktops and Notebooks, Advertising and Marketing by thebittersea May 5 none

Dell has no shame!

$774 Inspiron 1420 (Ubuntu)
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5250 (1.5GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
Ubuntu version 7.04
Anti-glare, widescreen 14.1 inch display (1280x800)
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
1GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz
80GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
24X CD Burner/DVD Combo Drive
Intel® 3945 802.11a/g Mini-card
Integrated High Definition Audio

$824 Inspiron 1420 (Vista)
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5250 (1.5GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
Genuine Windows® Vista Home Basic Edition
Anti-glare, widescreen 14.1 inch display (1280x800)
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
1GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz
80GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
24X CD writer/DVD Combo Drive
Intel® 3945 802.11a/g Mini-card
56Whr Lithium Ion Battery (6 cell)
Integrated High Definition Audio

Wave-skimming plane!

Seems to me there is something here that should be looked into. I'm guessing the thicker atmosphere at sea level is offset by the bounce back from the ground/water and not having to reach altitudes of 30,000'. Safety is a toss up. On one hand you are not way up in the air but on the other hand you are at the mercy of all the local weather between points A and B. And you have to worry about things in the way. Then there is the safety of what is on the surface you are flying over. The plane would probably kill any fish near the surface. To understand what I mean imagine if you will standing under a 747 as it lands, skimming only a few feet over your head. There was a movie showing this in one scene. You'd be thrown about at whiplash speeds probably killing you. Now imagine these planes doing the same to all marine life it flies over...

Wave-skimming plane developed in China

* 15:44 11 July 2007
* news service
* New Scientist staff and Reuters

Chinese scientists have developed a "wing-in-ground" (WIG) aircraft that can fly long distances just a few metres above the sea surface, state media reported on Wednesday.

The plane can fly as low as half a meter from the ground, hitting speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour (180 miles per hour), while also carrying up to 4 tonnes on takeoff.

WIG aircraft exploit a phenomenon known as the "ground effect", which occurs as a plane flies close to the ground.

At a height roughly equivalent to twice the plane's wingspan, trailing wing vortices that cause drag are disrupted by the ground. This allows the aircraft to travel much more quickly through the air and increases the lift experienced.

The plane is as safe as a ship, although much faster, according to Xu Zhengyu of the research team that developed the plane at Tongji University in Shanghai. "It can carry much more weight than ordinary planes, while costing half as much and using half as much fuel," he says.

The China Daily reports that the Tongji University plane should consume one third as much fuel as standard planes of the same size, by harnessing the ground effect (see Green sky thinking: eight ways to a cleaner flying future).
Military purposes

Tongji University plans to develop a 50-seat WIG by 2013, with prototypes capable of carrying 200 to 400 tonnes scheduled for 2016 or 2017. Xu says such plane could be flown for military purposes, including border control.

The WIG has been listed as one of three experimental types of aircraft given the green light by the State Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense, Xu says.

However, the Chinese news agency Xinhua says: "The Civil Aviation Administration of China has yet to confirm aviation regulations at such low altitudes, which may become a problem."

During the Cold War, the Russian military also developed a giant WIG plane known as Ekranoplan. This was around 100 metres long and could carry 540 tonnes at 400 kph (250 mph).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Nielsen website ratings?

I see this and wonder what drugs they take. Don't they know anything about HTTP protocol. The problem here, assuming this article isn't a joke, is all websites are not coded in a way to measure how long a person is at that site. You have to go to extra lengths to put in code to eat the server and clients bandwidth. Not something everybody wants to do. And even if the website has added code the client may have his browser set to ignore nosey websites. Now assuming you have a website coded like this and elderly people who don't set their browsers to ignore this you must still worry about people leaving their computer pointed at a website.

Nielsen? Aren't these the people who made TV so bad nobody watches it anylonger. (Unless they are trying to learn another language.) What idiots.

Nielsen adds time spent on sites to Web rankings
Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:30PM EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nielsen//NetRatings, the media research firm, will overhaul the way it measures the popularity of Web sites, moving to add two new yardsticks to its service, it said on Tuesday.

The move follows growing criticism of how Internet user behavior is measured and how the value of Web sites is determined, both of them key factors in convincing advertisers to shift more of their spending to the Web.

Currently, advertisers and online sites often use so-called page views, or the number of times a page was viewed by users, to judge the audience a site attracts.

Nielsen//NetRatings, however, is introducing measurements that will show the total number of minutes per user and the total session per user on Web sites.

The move is intended to give a better picture of audience activity online, given that users are increasingly spending more time with one site watching videos or messaging, for instance.

As one example, Nielsen//NetRatings noted that visitors tend to spend more time per page on Google's YouTube than they do on News Corp's MySpace, since they are primarily watching videos. That means fewer page refreshes and fewer page views.

When ranked by total minutes, Time Warner Inc's AOL and Yahoo would have been the top brands in May, with 25 billion and 19.6 billion minutes, respectively, largely because of their instant messaging and e-mail services, Nielsen//NetRatings data show.

That compares with a ranking of unique visits to the site, which puts search leader Google ahead at 110.2 million.

Internet media companies, search providers and marketing agencies have long touted the ability to track how a user might react to an ad online as a major advantage for Web ads over television and other media.

But in recent months Nielsen//NetRatings and another closely watched tracking firm, comScore Inc., have faced scrutiny over the way they measure audience. In April, the Interactive Advertising Bureau asked the two firms to allow a third party to audit their ratings practices.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch)

Doing away with crazies

I suspect most of the crazy people in this world may be crazy because of heavy metals. Like lead, mercury, etc.. For those of you who don't know the phrase "Mad as a hatter" describes people who used mercury to shape the leather used in hats. Mercury was apparently taken as a "picker upper" in our past too. Read the excerpts from many of the early explorers of our country. They'd "clean their body out" by taking massive doses of mercury. And in today's world we still get mercury from coal plants. All lakes in the world near coal burning power plants have been polluted with mercury. You can't eat the fish because of it. And heavy metals once absorbed stay absorbed for life. Finally though Europe is starting to do something about it:

EU bans mercury in barometers, thermometers
Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:38AM EDT
By Huw Jones

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) - Tapping a barometer to check the weather may become a thing of the past after the European Parliament on Tuesday adopted new rules to scrap the use of mercury and protect the environment.

The EU assembly agreed to ban the sale of non-electrical instruments containing the toxic heavy metal, such as thermometers for taking people's temperatures at home.

The ban, already endorsed by EU states, will apply to new devices only. Existing instruments or antiques can still be repaired or bought and sold second-hand.

Measuring devices containing mercury may be imported if they are more than 50 years old and therefore classified as antiques.

There are exemptions for the healthcare sector.

An earlier attempt to exempt barometer makers was dropped after opposition in some EU states. Manufacturers will be given a two-year grace period.

The measure is part of a wider EU strategy to crack down on the use of mercury. Around 80 to 90 percent of all mercury is used in medical and other thermometers for household use.

Philip Collins of Barometer World in Devon, England, said the measure would harm the environment.

"It's chiefly barometer makers who are in a position to advise customers about handling mercury. In the short and medium term it will produce more indiscriminate dumping of mercury barometers," said Collins, who is also secretary general of the British Barometer Makers Association. Continued...

Imagine Chinese law applied in America!

Imagine if we applied similar laws to all the political appointees in America. And to the Bush administration itself. Who would lead our country? Everybody would be dead!

China's corrupt former food chief executed
10/07/2007 09h21
BEIJING (AFP) - China executed the former chief of its food and drug watchdog, following a sensational downfall that saw him become a symbol of the ruling Communist Party's struggle against corruption.

The unusually swift execution of Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, announced by the official Xinhua news agency, also came rising international concern about the quality of the foods, drugs and many other products that China exports.

Zheng was sentenced to death in late May after being found guilty of accepting 6.5 million yuan (850,000 dollars) in bribes in exchange for granting approvals for hundreds of medicines, some of which proved dangerous.

The former director of China's ministry-level State Food and Drug Administration, who served in the post until 2005, is believed to be the highest-ranking Chinese official put to death for seven years.

Other administration officials have also been implicated in the scandal and authorities said following Zheng's death that China was serious in wanting to protect the integrity of the nation's food and drug procedures.

"This case of serious infractions of law and discipline by this small group of corrupt officials has really brought shame to the entire administration," a spokeswoman for the administration, Yan Jiangying, told reporters.

"We have to ask ourselves what kind of deep lesson we can learn from this... what can make us really do our supervision for the people in a way that we can really guarantee the safety of the food, drink and drugs of the people."

Monday, July 9, 2007

iPhone, no thanks

Why would we want to pay for an iPhone? We'd be tied to one service provider. We'd get crappy service. Basically we'd be paying to be a lemming. A much better alternative are the new linux iPhone killers. Basically everything and more than the iPhone. It looks like it starts off with basically the same hardware but at half the price. It can connect to all networks. And it's open source so you can make it truly useful.

I personally will wait until I see battery lives that are rated in weeks rather than days. Wireless network speeds that are comparable to normal PCs. And reception that is actually measured and reliable.

But what the heck. I'm a stick in the mud... All those little kids who have too much money and no personality can buy their personality, uh, iPhones and help lower the prices of better technology.

NYC cameras

Why in the world does anybody want to live in NYC? It's like the shit hole of the modern world. You want fancy towns you need to go to the orient. If you want a broken down cess pool of noise, smells, and crap then you go to NYC. But what the heck. Anybody stupid enough to live there needs to be monitored. And they'll soon be doing just that. is reporting that a security system modeled after London's "Ring of Steel" is coming to New York City. The plan, to include license plate readers and over 3,000 public and private security cameras, aims to aid officials in tracking and catching criminals. "But critics question the plan's efficacy and cost, as well as the implications of having such heavy surveillance over such a broad swath of the city. [...] The license plate readers would check the plates' numbers and send out alerts if suspect vehicles were detected. The city is already seeking state approval to charge drivers a fee to enter Manhattan below 86th Street, which would require the use of license plate readers. If the plan is approved, the police will most likely collect information from those readers too, Kelly said."

Floating Wind Turbines in North Sea?

It would be amazing to see this. I wonder how the electricity would be transported. Salt water not being very friendly to high power lines...

Can Cuba totally power their island with wind?

I wonder just how much energy Cuba needs. Seems to me they could fully power their island with just wind...

Cuba says it wants more wind power
RSS Feed - Energy - Briefing
Published: July 9, 2007 at 2:16 PM
E-mail Story | Print Preview | License
HAVANA, July 9 (UPI) -- Cuba could be generating around 11.5 megawatts of wind power per year by the end of 2010, according to the Cuban Electric Union.

In total, Cuba is looking to bring its power generation up to 300 megawatts; that's nearly the equivalent of what a major regional generating plant puts out, Radio Habana Cuba reported.

Bolstering wind power is part of the country's "energy revolution" project, promoting alternative power sources that are under research and development on the island.

The director of the Cuban Electric Union's Wind Engineering Group, Eduardo Sante Fernandez, said Cuba expects to generate more than 11.5 megawatts from wind power in 2008.

Cuba's first wind farm was built in 1999 on the island of Turiguano as an experiment and has a generation capacity of 4.5 megawatts. There are now two other wind farms, one in Gibara, Holguin, that's 5.1 megawatts and one on the Island of Youth that's 1.65 megawatts.

The Cuban government is currently conducting a wind power feasibility study and has already created a map identifying the energy potential of wind across the island. There are 100-meter-high monitoring sensors spread out through 11 of the country's provinces as well as coastal stations measuring winds off the east coast.

As part of the energy project, Cuba is also looking at other potential alternative energy sources like current and tidal power as well as the use of photovoltaic panels and biogas.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


I had liked the idea of wikipedia. Sure I've seen it winning comparisons versus paid for encyclopedias. And I've seen the press about professors banning quotations from it. And I've seen the press talk about how great it is too. I've seen many experts point out examples, current examples, of how bad the information really is because it's based on a democratic system. Seeing the correct information replaced with popular myths is sobering. However if it doesn't happen often then it's like any tool. You must use it appropriately. Little did I realize just how bad it was until I wrote an article on something I'm an expert in. I soon discovered people who don't know anything are in charge of editing your posts. Furthermore they are only concerned with eye-candy. Don't give details or it becomes something not suitable for the wiki. And don't give numbers or else they become worried it is code to hack their site.

Needless to say I will be using this blog from now on. Screw the idiots who control the wikipedia.


I love the idea of being able to run multiple operating systems in real time. VMware allows that. Unfortunately it's buggy and slow.

I had it installed under a W2K system. However IDE drives are too slow. So I got SATA drives and since W2K doesn't work with SATA I used linux. This was acceptable but I wanted more hard disk space. Hence I got a RAID system. Unfortunately VMWare just quit working on me. I learned not to ask questions in the IRC channels. You'd think VMware would staff the IRC channel so you wouldn't get little wise ass kids dominating their support channel. But they don't. So after a few days more of trying to figure it out on my own I called their support. The lady was polite but informed me I'd have to pay for support. That they have forums I can post questions and likely solve the problem. (Total bullshit but I was being polite figuring the lady knew nothing, like most support centers.) I knew the magic phrase to get her attention would be to mention I'm on my 30 day trial period. And this did have the desired effect. All of a sudden she was very helpful. Future money was riding on it. Well, it's been a week now and I haven't gotten any support. I figure I'll reinstall linux and use the free vmware server for as long as it will work. I'm very glad I lucked out and didn't buy their commercial version. I'd be all full of various kinds of resentment right now.

Maybe I'll give it another try when VMware Workstation 7 comes out.

Movie Review: Flight Of Fury

Steven Seagal...

He's a CIA Field Op who at the start of the movie is tied up to a chair about to be injected with something that will remove his memories because he knows too much. With the help of several people on the inside who apparently know all about it he breaks out and is on the run.

Now you have got to ask yourself if he has so many friends how is it that he finds himself in this situation to begin with. Next question is how is he able to move his fat ass to the top of a moving truck while it in the process of being searched. Given the fact he's so incredibly fat it's probably hard to just stand up.

Reality check. Steven Seagal is truly way over weight. He uses garter belts and loose fitting black clothes in the hopes of hiding it. Along with hair coloring, skin coloring, and cream on his face to tighten the fat. He looks like a talking java the hut straight from star wars. For him to do anything physical with all that fat and pencil thin arms and legs is a bad joke. For us film watchers to ignore the unrealistic plots we need somebody who looks a bit more realistic. Perhaps Michael Moore? Seagal's voice and respectful manners would make his films into cult classics. If the plots were improved.

Getting back to the plot. He has soo many friends yet he is forced to go on the run? Why doesn't a friend pick him up and get him to wherever. No, instead he hot wires some vehicle and drives until he is about to fall asleep. When he goes to get coffee at a gas station he ends up killing the 20 or so people that were in the process of robbing the place. Yawn. He is taken to a police station that watches and rewatches his fight scene in awe making comments about this guy being, well, something similar to an alien superhero. At this point in time a stealth fighter bomber/jet that has the ability to go invisible is stolen. Apparently it can fly from California to Afghanistan without refueling. The thief is the best fighter pilot in the world. Except for fatty Seagal who trained him. A general even fatter than Seagal, or perhaps somebody who isn't wearing a garter belt like Seagal, picks him up and tells him he has 24 hours to make it to Afghanistan and retrieve the plane. They put six seals, not sure why seals would be used for land based operations, in but they die off in a stupid shoot out. No problem, Seagal has an undercover sweetheart waiting for him with everything he needs. She knows everybody there and they kill everybody and fly home. Oh yes, there is a dog fight between him and the other guy and of course Seagal shoots him out of the air. Much to the relief of everybody because if he were to lose the biological bomb he's carrying would kill off all mankind.

Just who is Seagal's audience? Why does Seagal participate in such bad movies? It's all very sad.

Movie Review: Smokin' Aces

I suppose this is suppose to be a light hearted fun movie. Perhaps in the style of "Scary Movie". Tying together the contract killers of various movies to make one huge funny parody of them. However it didn't quite turn out funny. I found myself looking at the time. I recommend you don't waste your time watching this movie.

Movie Review: Black Snake Moan

A very good movie.

Samuel Jackson used his signature "Mother Fucking Nigger" type lines but not too often. I think some stars must be so tired of saying things like "I'll be back", or "I feel good", or "Can't get no", and Jackson is probably in the same rut.

However here it is kept to a minimum as he portrays a salt of the earth senior farmer part time blues singer. His wife who had always treated him horribly finally runs off with a younger man leaving him depressed and rudderless. A young little white girl, the town slut, is beaten and left for dead near his farm. He helps her recover and in the process recovers himself.

Some of the dramatic parts are chaining her up so she doesn't run off in her drug induced deliriums. I'm sure that has got many feminists riled and up in arms. With them, perhaps rightfully, pointing out this sets a bad precedent with all the young idiotic men that it's ok to tie up women because the guys know best. Here though it was done with class. What's more I'm tired of everybody being PC. We need more movies that are not afraid to be un PC like this one.

All in all this is an uplifting movie that should be watched by all.


The Boeing Dreamliner is getting a lot of press now that it's about to actually be released. I'm glad Boeing is finally showing some signs of life. However I have my doubts about the materials. I know everything eventually fatigues out. Carbon composite frames like they are using for the plane will too. In the biking world companies like Trek have given lifetime warranties out on their carbon frames. I don't know if they still are and whether they lost money doing so. I do know that it seems like every carbon framed bike that gets much use falls apart. The frames just collapse with fatigue after a few years and the rider is left with having to walk home if able. Hopefully these new aircraft from Boeing can be monitored closely and their parts replaced well before fatigue causes real problems. Because I don't think passengers will be able to walk home when the plane breaks apart at 30,000 feet.
With press releases like the following which don't mention anything negative, in fact say just the opposite, that these new plastics never fail and blah blah blah it makes me want to avoid the dreamliner forever. I wonder how long it will be until the plane is dubbed the "nightmare".

New materials are star of 'Dreamliner': Boeing
07/07/2007 18h50
Jeff Hawk, Boeing's director of certification, Government relations and environment for the 787 program, told journalists he was unaware of any drawbacks to using composites.

Twice as strong as conventional materials, lighter than aluminium and offering greater resistance to fire, state-of-the-art carbon fibre will be used in the fuselage of a commercial passenger jet for the first time with the 787, a medium-to-long range plane capable of seating up to 330 people.

The lighter weight of the aircraft's component materials allow the Dreamliner to make massive savings on fuel -- around 20 percent less than similar-sized planes -- according to Boeing.

The durability of composites will also lead to lower maintenance costs, officials say. "Composites don't fatigue," said Tom Cogan, the 787's chief engineer. "You don't have the maintenance problem. Aluminum can corrode, composites don't corrode."

Although Boeing declined to predict the lifespan of a 787, they said they expected it to outlast existing passenger jets, which typically remain in service for between 20 to 30 years.

Asked about possible weaknesses in the new materials, Boeing said composites had been used in the beams of its long-distance 777 for 13 years and were still in immaculate condition.

"The way it held up over time was exceptional," Cogan said. "The floor beam was pristine after 12 years."

Seems to me they must have hired Ex-Bush Administration Neo Cons to do their advertising...

The Dreamliner uses plastic composites instead of aluminum.

Up to 50 per cent of the primary structure, including the fuselage and wing, will be made of composites such as carbon-fibre, which reduce the weight of the aircraft.

Boeing said in a statement ahead of the Dreamliner's unveiling: "By manufacturing a one-piece fuselage section, we are eliminating 1,500 aluminum sheets and 40,000 to 50,000 fasteners.

"The airplane will use 20 per cent less fuel for comparable missions than today's similarly sized airplane."

So what tests has this plane gone through? What happens when the wings are covered in ice and it's 30 below? I can easily imagine the wings shattering in these conditions. Now what happens to these wings when they are hit by hail? At 300mph? In various temperatures. What happens when the aircraft is hit by lightning? Do they melt like normal plastic toys? Do their properties change requiring the airplane to be disposed of? I don't see anybody talking about these obvious scenarios. I suspect Boeing will soon become a footnote in history.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

AMCC 3ware 9500s RAID controller

See for their overview.


The 3ware 9500s series of RAID cards use SATA drives to produce RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and 50. The card can be used in 32 and 64 bit PCI slots. The card supports up to 64-bit PCI-X-133. They do not work with the new PCIe busses though, since they were designed before PCIe came out.

SATA II is not supported. You will need to set the jumpers on your drive so that they do not cause problems with the card.

There are only 3 stripe sizes allowed, 16, 64, and 256K. The board comes with 128MBs of RAM which is apparently expandable with ECC or DRAM. The maximum allowed memory is not clear. Official claims state 256 or 512MB. However reviewers claim they can put in 2GBs of RAM.

Performance tuning this card consists of upgrading the firmware, drivers, and then issuing "blockdev --setra 16384 /dev/sda". 3ware recommends XFS as the file system and to play with the stripe size to find what works best in that configuration. If the drive isn't set aside for a particular application then run the utility "bonnie" to determine various throughputs to get the best configuration.


Pick the PCI slot nearest the CPU is an often used rule of thumb to get maximum performance. SATA cables can be installed in any port and in any order. So if you have 4 drives you can stick them on ports 0, 1, 2, and 3 or 11, 10, 9, and 8. And if you discover it would be more convenient due to physical cable issues to mount them in another order after you have made your RAID volumes just do it. The card automatically handles this.

The Battery Backup Unit, (BBU), is a bit difficult to get on. I had to actually remove the metal clip on the side that you screw down to get it on. Then I read the manual and discovered my extreme approach is exactly the right way to do it.

Before connecting the drives you can update the firmware on the drive. Go to 3ware's site and download their utility. It can be run directly from your operating system. No messy floppy drives! The firmware upgrade also updates the BIOS on the board that you will probably use to create your RAID drives.

Once this is done then follow the procedures or whatever makes sense. No instructions are needed, everything is self explanatory from this point forwards.


For AMCC recommendations see:

Based on stated benchmarks:

"Tested using Intel’s Iometer(R) benchmark program on a dual processor Intel(R) Xeon (2.4GHz) system with PhoenixBIOS(R), 512MBytes system RAM, Microsoft(R) Windows(R) 2000 Advanced Server, the 3ware 9500S-8 66MHz SATA RAID controller and Maxtor(R) 7Y250MQ, 250GB, 7200 RPM drives"

They must be using one of the following cards

Manufacturer Model Chipset BIOS BIOS Version PCI Slot CPU St Price (07/04/07)
Intel SE7501CW2 Intel E7501 Phoenix 86B.0022.P04 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $320
Intel SE7505VB2 Intel E7505 Phoenix blank 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $380
SuperMicro X5DA8 Intel E7505 Phoenix Rev 1.0 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $490
SuperMicro X5DPE-G2 Intel E7501 Phoenix Rev 1.0 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $440
SuperMicro X6DAE-G Intel E7525 Phoenix REV 1.0a 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $400
SuperMicro X6DAi-G Intel E7525 Phoenix 1.2c 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $380
SuperMicro X6DH8-G Intel E7520 Phoenix blank 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $480
SuperMicro X6DH8-G2 Intel E7520 Phoenix 1.2c/6.1 PCI-x 133 & PCI-E x8 Dual Xeon EM64T $500
SuperMicro X6DH8-Xb Intel E7520 Phoenix blank 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $520
SuperMicro X6DH8-XG2 E7520 Phoenix blank 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $1300
Tyan S2603 Intel i860 Phoenix 1.07 64-bit PCI-66 Dual Xeon $???
Tyan S2665ANF Intel i7505 Phoenix 1.05.2665 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $410
Tyan S2668AN Intel i7505 Phoenix 1.03 32-bit PCI Dual Xeon $250
Tyan S2676 Intel i7525 Phoenix 2 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $???
Tyan S5360G2NR Intel i7520 Phoenix V1.00 64-bit PCI-X-133 Dual Xeon $390

The hard drive they quoted as using in the above quote, copied and pasted directly from their website gotten to by URL included above, does not exist. However if you look at their supported hardware PDF they must be referring to the following drive: which as of 07/04/07 goes for about $69. (The highest rated retailers were three 4.5 star out of 5 star dealers. Two of those three 4.5 star dealers sell the 7Y250M0 at $69. The cheapest but with only a two star rating was $46.)

Benchmarking Overview

Run a benchmark test on one of the drives you are going to use to create a RAID device with. Do it using the motherboards normal SATA connection. On Ubuntu install bonnie, sudo apt-get install bonnie++, and then run it. I recommend the -f option otherwise you may be waiting a couple of hours for the results. So type something like "script; date; time bonnie -f; date; exit". Before you do that though open another terminal and enter "tail -f /var/log/messages" so you can immediately see if the drive is giving you any problems. Now kick off bonnie. You'll want to store the results in a spreadsheet so you can compare it with the RAID results.

Now make a RAID 1 configuration and repeat the test. Now do the tuning they recommend which consists of entering "blockdev --setra 16384 /dev/sda". Repeat the performance test and record the results once again into the spreadsheet. Now pull one of the sata cables off the RAID drive and see what happens. Does the system crash or continue? It's suppose to continue on.

Before doing the rest of the tests make sure you are running with your motherboards latest BIOS, your OS's latest and greatest, and call the HD manufacturer to determine how to get the latest firmware on your hard drive. You don't want to have to repeat the time consuming tests.

Benchmarking Results

To understand the results from the utility bonnie see the man page. Online man pages can be found here:

Please contribute your results to this wiki page so that others can gain from your experiences. Include the motherboard, bios version, 3ware card, it's bios version, hard disks, their bios version, the RAID configuration, stripe size, and any tuning parameters used to achieve the bonnie results shown.

I wrote this wiki because the performance of the card was far far below what I expected. As a result I kept reading in an attempt to figure out where the problems are on my system. Basically I went from a single disk reading and writing at about 40MB/s to a RAID5 system that writes at about 6MB/s and reads at about 80MB/s. Using the same disks. I now suspect the problem is with the motherboard. I had assumed the RAID card would give any motherboard the ability to read at 400MB/s and write at 100MB/s. So my 1900MHz CPU on a A7N8X Deluxe 2.0 ASUS motherboard, probably a 32 bit pci slot running at 33MHz, just can't handle it. Why the card slows down the writes is confusing. But oh well.

Trouble Shooting

Ok, first off, you want to only buy disks that are supported and found on their supported webpage at otherwise when you call them they will claim the problem is with your hard disk. Yes, they are very very quick to blame any problems on somebody else and dismiss you. Expect that and you won't have to get your expectations constantly lowered. Think that's bad? That's not even the half of it. You've got to have one of their approved motherboards too! Finally you've got to have an OS that's supported on their web page too! Would you believe Ubuntu is not supported?!?!

Secondly, buy a speaker phone. Getting through to their support takes lots of time. Getting through to any support takes lots of time. You can't hold the phone up to your head that long! It's much more relaxing to listen to whatever music they may play when you are busy doing other things. So go out and buy a cheap AT&T 1855 for $40 at the local Staples if you don't have a speaker phone yet!

Now make sure you do everything while monitoring via the "tail -f /var/log/message" file so you can see any problems that crops up.

Also download the CLI interface and get use to it. You can install it in any directory and then type "tw_cli" to get it going. All the commands are fairly obvious and soon you'll be using it without any trouble. (Now don't expect their support to know the commands, believe it or not they are supporting so many products they don't get down to the CLI interface very often.)

Remember the 9500s card is only SATA-1 and if your hard disks are using SATA-2 speeds you'll get into trouble. So set the jumpers on the drives to use only SATA-1 speeds. This has been confirmed to fix issues of arrays failing to initilise and/or degrading prematurely, when using the 9500S with SATA-2 drives.

When all else fails, turn off the caching on your drives, any queuing your MB may be doing, and the APICs. You do the latter two from your mother boards BIOS and the first from the 3ware BIOS.

From personal experience I know that unless you pick motherboards and hard disks from their recommended list you can expect your multi disk RAID 0 configuration to run SLOWER than one of the same disks via your motherboards SATA connection.

Useful Contacts

3ware support: 858-535-6517 Monday thru Friday, 7:00am to 5:00pm, Pacific Time (excluding US holidays).

Maxtor support: 1-8002maxtor (First level support seems to be from India.) The lady asked for telephone number, name, and email address, model, serial number. They must use VOIP for their phone connection and it was awful. The lady didn't know how to spell out phonetically and she wrote things down wrong repeatedly. Once you make it clear firmware updates are needed you get transferred to 2nd level support where somebody who can actually understand English will ask you all the details again. They must have a high turnover rate because it took them days to send the right upgrades. It seemed like it was the first time they were doing it. And they don't have the patches on the web freely available for us competent people. With many emails between us I was finally able to upgrade the drives several days later.


When I looked into first getting a RAID card I was fairly excited. I thought I would be getting 400MB/s reads and 100MB/s writes with 3% CPU utilization. And if I were not then it would only be a matter of adding more drives to the mix. Seeing what looked like incredible prices for 200MB disks and great prices for 12 SATA port cards on Ebay I proceeded to spend my money. That I could basically extrapolate the performance I got on one disk to multiple disks to the point I was happy with the speed.

This hasn't been the case at all. There have been all sorts of unexpected hiccups. I'll name a few here:

  • 3Ware passing the buck. Who would have known "This information is not intended to imply that AMCC Storage endorses, or chooses not to endorse, any particular vendor or product." verbage found on their system compatibility page,, meant the support center will not help unless you are using hardware from that page. (I'm probably making a false assumption in assuming they would help if the product were on that page.)
  • That the 3ware card would disable the motherboards SATA and EIDE controllers.
  • That performance would be worse or about the same as using just one of the drives connected to the Motherboard's SATA.
  • That they do not support Ubuntu despite it being on their list of supported operating systems. Apparently there are different levels of "support"...
  • That the CPU usage is huge, no where near the 3% claimed, when tests are done via bonnie. (I added bonnie results here but some art major deleted them mistakenly thinking somebody was trying to ruin the site because he didn't understand the lines of numbers. Jeesh.)

I suspect this RAID controller would give performance as stated on the 3ware site if you were using the right hardware. I have now got an RSS feed into Craigs list so if anybody sales that hardware near me I can contact them and hopefully give it a try before I spend more money. It might be most economical to buy the hardware used as a complete system. After all, this card is meant to work with PCI-X busses which are no longer being produced in favor of the newer bus style PCI-E.

The final conclusion... It might be far better to buy 3Wares latest card, the 9650SE, which gives you RAID6. They claim you can read from it at 800MB/s and write at 600MB/s. Lets assume again that they have overstated themselves by a little more than a magnitude, like they have done with this card, which would leave you at read and write speeds of nearly 80MB/s and 60MB/s. That would not be too bad. The card is more pricey but the motherboards required are much cheaper. So for about the same price as getting this old technology off Ebay you can get a faster more robust solution with the latest hardware.

I'll probably always use this card now. Being able to chain multiple disks together is very nice. Even if they do not supply a working GUI to control the RAID configurations. It's liveable. I will however buy their latest card when I need to upgrade...