Tooltips

Ever find a link or button on a website that looked interesting but was disabled? Did you feel frustrated when you didn't know why that certain something was disabled? This is a prime example of where a little hint as to why something is the way it is would be oh so useful. These hints are commonly referred to as tooltips, and a nice little javascript library named Tooltip.js handles this nifty little feature. Looking at their demos, it seems like a nice tool in the toolbelt. We'll see how nicely it plays with Caseman.

Greenspan takes note of alternative fuel

Ethanol has been receiving quite a bit of press, but a harsh look at the numbers show that corn is not the endgame solution for the US's energy woes. Should we hang up the spikes and enjoy our remaining years of gasoline, while bracing ourselves for a catastrophic fallout when the last gallon is burned? Nah…corn-based ethanol, while helpful, and certainly a good poster child for green energy, is not the answer. A combination of green energy technologies, including corn-based ethanol, wind, solar, geothermal, biodiesel, and others, will be the only way to curb this country's 140 billion gallons per year gasoline habit. Perhaps the most promising, though, is cellulose-based ethanol. CNN Money reports:

But unlike corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol can be made from a variety of things that might otherwise be considered waste – sewage sludge, switchgrass, plant stalks, trees – virtually anything that contains carbon.

There is a potential 1 billion tons lying around the country that would be usable, which is estimated to be equivalent to 100 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol. While it is probably impossible with our current infrastructure to tap all of that potential, it certainly poses a significant contribution towards freeing ourselves from fossil fuels.

My Public Email Key

For those that wish to send me email, I have set up my work email (james@serafinistudios.com) with a key pair. Download my public key here. Use this key with your favorite email client (I like Thunderbird) and send me email that no one else can read. Well, most any one…

Riding the OSS wave!

The Christian Science Monitor, whlie a great publication, has been challenged lately with staying under budget. In a move to help assuage costs, the CSM is moving to open source software, like the LAMP platform. Curtis Edge, CIO of the Monitor, explains in this interview the reasoning behind the move:

But beyond the tangibles like open source code it was the community that made a convert of Edge. Behind all the open code, it was the forums and flexibility that were the driving forces he believes breeds better developers than those that toil away with proprietary code.

I'm loving this move. Mr Edge, if you need some custom software leveraging the LAMP platform, give us a buzz.

Time To Sell?

Interesting sight today at "work": The FedEx guy delivered a package to the house. Not all that unsual, right? The unusual part was that he was driving a Penske rental truck. Did I miss a merger here?

Time to get a diesel

As I contemplate the next vehicle to putter about in, I see myself more and more going the diesel route. The most compelling reason for me to do so is my interest in biodiesel and having a vehicle capable of running on it sounds good to me. More good news today from the EPA:

In a move that may presage diesel's Cinderella-like transformation, the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday required US refineries to begin making ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD), a fuel with 97 percent less sulfur than ordinary diesel that, as a result, slashes soot emissions.

Sounds happy to me. Now I just have to get the bank roll going…

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Caps for you

When you look at magazines, they have pretty sweet formatting. One of the techniques I like is the drop cap, where the first letter in a paragraph is quite large with the rest of the text wrapping about it. The break down of it all can be found in this article over at mandarindesign.com. So I thought, rather than hand-coding it in on posts, I'd just rather write a Wordpress plugin to do it for me. Usage is quite simple:

  1. Download the plugin.
  2. Untar it into your wp-content/plugins directory.
  3. Enable the plugin.
  4. In your posts, put the <caps> tag in front of the letter you'd like to have the style applied.

Thank you Mr President

What do you do with a government program that save $7 for every dollar it spends? Well, if you are the Bush administration, cut its budget by a third. Seems Mr. President thinks the best way to save $155 million is to axe or cut a bunch of energy conservation programs. Very forward thinking sir. Read all about it in this article.

Wann Wedding Pictures

For some pictures from Ben and Rachel's wedding, go here. These are not the 'official' pictures but great nonetheless. They are not yet purchasable but are downloadable. More to come…

1997 Saturn SL2 Shift Linkage

Saturn sucks! So, I was driving my '97 SL2, shifting from 1st to 2nd gear when the shifter suddenly went limp in my hands. Unable to put the car back in any gear, I coasted to a stop in a left turn lane. Fortunately, the road was not busy at all and I had two friends in the car who were able to push the car into a parking lot. Also fortunate was the fact that it was maybe a quarter mile from the parking lot to my house so we were not stranded. Upon removing the center console, we discovered that the shifter had become disconnected from the shift linkage. Now, I'm not a car designer nor am I a mechanical engineer by any means. That said, I think it is bass akwards to have a crucial part of the driving system (the connection between the shifter and the shift linkage) be made of plastic!!! I'm all for plastic dashboards, plastic consoles, plastic whatever, except when it concerns the operability of the vehicle. Why the bleep would Saturn secure such an important connection with a small piece of plastic? Okay, plastic parts in crucial places is bad enough, but this story gets worse. This piece of plastic perhaps cost 50 cents max. I went to the auto parts store to see if they carried anything like it. Nope, gotta go to the dealership. We get to the dealership, I explain the situation, and the guy tells me that they cannot sell the piece by itself. I have to buy the entire shift linkage for $200 to get this bleepy piece of plastic??? WTF??? To make matters worse, the guy tells me that 5 people had been in before me that day to replace the same piece of plastic, and had all bought the entire package. Fortunately, I'm not that big of an idiot (nor do I have the dough), and I leave ready to jerry rig something fancy. Well, the car is now home, parked out front, because of twine. Why I had twine in my car is not important; it is important that I used it to tie the shifter to the shift linkage and was able to shift just fine on my way home. I figure I can drill a hole through the ball on the shifter, feed it through the hoop on the shift linkage, and feed a bolt through the newly drilled hole and not think about it breaking again. No worries, I do not intend to drive with just the twine. Moral of the story is: Saturn sucks. Not only do they make crucial parts out of plastic, but they also make you spend $200 to replace a $.50 piece of plastic.