Change is everywhere. Spring is changing things outside. At work, we just
finished Xandros Server 1.0, our major new product and everyone is changing
over to Xandros Desktop work. Another change is a significant decrease in
noise: the renovation that has been going on all winter at the Xandros
office building is finally done. While I prefer the old "80's technology"
look that we had before, the new plant life does good things to the lobby;
it really is a unique building, even if its construction is flawed in many
I'll be off to Toronto tomorrow for the official launch of the
aforementioned Xandros Server at LinuxWorld Expo. I expect it will be a new
experience, as I have only attended technical conferences in the past. At
the moment, I'm just putting the final touches on my speech regarding
standards, and why they are important to Linux. In fact, here is the
Pat Suwalski explains how Linux engineers are incorporating open
standards and specifications, and why they are important to the future of
Linux from the point-of-view of distributions, software, and hardware
My talk has been put directly between two rather influential people,
Waldo Bastian and "Maddog" Hall, so the pressure is on. But then, I like
speaking. The hard part is condensing the talk to a small timeslice and in
terms that business people can understand. A good challenge, it is.
An interesting story from this week is about a smart battery that wasn't
so smart. Peter had a spare Palm Zire he had no use for, so he donated it to
my brother, who really wanted one. It was new-in-box, but the battery did
not work. The 3.7V unit only output about 0.1V, and charging had no effect;
zero current draw. So, we ordered a new one from eBay. In the meantime,
seeing as the current cell was dead, I decided to see if anything could be
determined from an autopsy. Taking the plastic sheath off the battery, it
became apparent that it's a "smart" battery. This surprised me, as I had
assumed all of the smarts were on the Palm's mainboard. Putting a voltmeter
directly to the cell, it gave a healthy 3.5V. Clearly, the electronics had
gone insane! Where's the reset pin? With nothing to lose, I shorted all of
the pins on the chip to the negative terminal on the cell. Immediately
afterwards, the whole unit began to behave. We now have a spare Zire
battery. Remember kids, do not try this at home.
] | posted @ 03:39 | link
Well, I guess it was a good day. While changing the winter wheels on my car
to my summer rims, I noticed that the passenger-side ball joint was very
loose. Finally, the culprit that was going "clunk-clunk."
As luck would have it, a friend who goes through parts at at-cost prices
got me a pair of new ones for about 35 bucks apiece (the driver-side is
loose, but not noisy yet). That's an amazing deal, seeing as I paid 200
dollars for the last one.
It was a difficult job. Of course, a bolt snapped along the way. Still, a
good learning experience.
Change of subject: I got a surprising amount of feedback about the gas
graph. I was told a lot of interesting theories, but they all pointed to
what I alluded to: normalization to prices elsewhere in the world, with a
growing population and growing demand. So, I'm not complaining about gas
prices anymore, and neither should you. But feel free to complain about the
uncompetitive "up-and-down" methods of gas stations.
] | posted @ 03:55 | link
Now that gasoline is regularly over a dollar per litre, I decided it was a
good time to make an effort to do something useful with all that data I
collect at every purchase. Yes, every time I buy gas, it's recorded.
People these days complain a lot about rising fuel costs. The recurring
question to me is whether or not the complaining is justified; perhaps the
rate is increasing more-or-less with other prices?
The resulting graph is interesting. It shows that:
- Gas prices were fairly consistent throughout the nineties
- Prices actually dropped to 1988 levels in 1999 and 2002
- The variation in pricing used to be a couple of cents
- Since 2000, price variations are large and unpredictable
- The average increase since 2001 is more-or-less linear
I am not an economist, and I do not understand the "economic ecosystem"
(my guess is that no one does), but it seems to me that if a chocolate bar
that cost 50 cents in 1988 now costs a dollar, then it makes legitimate
sense that gasoline would double in price as well.
Unfortunately, the average Canadian salary has not doubled. Perhaps this
is why people feel the impact. Nevertheless, prices on many items have gone
up significantly in the last eighteen years, so is it oil getting expensive,
or oil catching up to the rest of society? Will the graph level off once
again in the next year or so?
] | posted @ 03:07 | link
Spring Has Sprung
I'm happy to report that things at work are slowly returning to "normal,"
whatever that means. Actually, it means that my projects are frozen and that
there is more time to enjoy life, including the beautiful weather these last
few days... and to write here.
This evening was the first meet of the Rideau Nautical Modellers at
Andrew Haydon Park. The water is now 99% liquid, the evening a nice 18
degrees. I took the little boat out; still working on the top for it. Peter
took a photo with his nice new D-SLR that makes it look like its wake is
really big. Next week I'll have the big boat out.
The project for this evening was to update four years worth of gasoline
data into my trusty spreadsheet that goes back to 1988. The goal here is to
produce a date-vs-price graph for the last 18 years. When that's done I'll
post a nice picture here. I expect a relatively smooth curve with a spike
around 2003. I predict that when inflation is considered, the rise in gas
prices is less significant than many think.
] | posted @ 03:59 | link