Saturday, January 31, 2009

World's First Hybrid Tugboat

Thick, squat and powerful, tugboats are the pint-sized strongmen of the maritime industry.

But, despite their stature, they tend to be big polluters, spewing heavy clouds of diesel soot into the sky as they push and pull massive freight ships into position.

Their reputation as grimy workhorses, however, may be changing with the recent development of a diesel-electric hybrid tug - the Carolyn Dorothy - by Foss Maritime Co. The quiet, 78-foot tug carries all the punch of its counterparts without the environmental price tag.

"Tugboats spend most of their time sitting around idling, and while they're idling, they're sending diesel (soot) into the air," said Foss engineer Jerry Allen during a visit to the boat's engine room. "This tug doesn't consume diesel during down time, so you're having no (ecological) impact there. And it's emitting much less during routine operations."

Externally, the $9 million Carolyn Dorothy - named after a Foss executive's wife - looks like any other tug. But unlike its rivals, it emits roughly half the emissions, including significantly less diesel particulates, which can lodge in workers' lungs and cause cancer.

And because it can plug into an electrical outlet while docked, operators are able to recharge the ship's 126 12-volt batteries during down time. Built during the past year at Foss' Rainier, Ore., shipyard, the Carolyn Dorothy is the source of much hope and pride among port authorities in Long Beach and Los Angeles, who together kicked in $1.3 million to fund its development.

"This proves the technology works in this application," said the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioner. "We think it serves as a template for future (green) growth."

Foss has agreed to operate the tug exclusively in Long Beach-Los Angeles through 2013.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'm picking up some serious NetVibes

NetVibes is one of those under-appreciated apps that does one thing amazingly well - namely, sets up a tabbed homepage full of live widgets and streaming feeds. Next to a cup of coffee, it is the best way to start the day.

Put your email, facebook, flickr, weather, news, live tv, podcasts and more in your face.

Rick Broida of LifeHacker, wrote how to trick it out...


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Blind Boys of Alabama

A good friend recently invited me to see these guys in concert. They have a dynamite sound that will blow you away.

They've been making music for over 60 years, won 4 Grammys and are up for a lifetime achievement Grammy next month.

You can get a taste of their sound here.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Words Matter

"Words not only convey something, but are something; words have color, depth, texture of their own, and the power to evoke vastly more than they mean; words can be used not merely to make things clear, make things vivid, make things interesting and whatever else, but to make things happen inside the one who reads them or hears them."

- Frederick Buechner's English teacher, Mr. Martin


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Don't Stop...

So I pick up my son today after his tubing party, and I had the volume on the car radio turned down because I had been chatting with his youth leader. The title of the song on the display was "Don't Stop" so he immediately cranked the volume.

When he found out that the rest of the title was "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" by Fleetwood Mac, he moaned and said, "I thought it was 'Don't Stop Believing' by Journey."

So he switched the radio to his favorite station...and what song were they playing?
"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey.

I don't make this stuff up.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How to Remove Caffeine from Tea

[ from ]

The biggest surprise is that approximately 80% of the water soluble caffeine in tea is released during the first 30 seconds of brewing. So, to remove most of the caffeine from your tea, simply pour boiling water over the loose-leaf tea leaves in your teapot, allow the tea to steep for 30 seconds, and then discard the liquid. Use the same tea leaves with fresh hot water to brew a close to fully decaffeinated cup of tea for drinking.

You will find this process highly effective, allowing you to enjoy the originally caffeinated teas you love without major concern over caffeine content. Test it for yourself and you will see that it works.

Be sure to use only loose-leaf, premium-grade teas instead of the tea in teabags. Unlike teabags loose-leaf teas can be brewed over and over again until you have depleted the leaves of their wonderful natural flavor. This means that the same teaspoonful of tea can produce two, three or more cups of tea all from the same leaves. It is nearly impossible to brew a second worthwhile-tasting cup of coffee from the same grounds, or a good second cup of tea from most of the off-the-shelf supermarket teas sold in teabags.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Water Figures

Fotoopa's flickr set called Water Figures" has more amazing shots like this one:

The setup includes a homemade hardware controller and a couple of lasers to control the flashes.


Friday, January 09, 2009

French Knitting with Reclaimed Plastic Yarn

How could you possibly resist a blog entry with a title like this? Anyway, Mike over at Atomic Shrimp shows how to do something a bit more creative with that mound of plastic shopping bags that you've been saving to reuse. If you're like me, just reusing them to throw something out doesn't seem to cut it.

Kids love to knit using the French bobbin technique, and I have no idea why it seems to be something that we outgrow. It's a pity really because it truly is a lot of fun.

I don't think I would be as ambitious to take on this for an initial project but it at least shows what is possible to generate ideas.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Introducing the Personal SuperComputer

Remember the Charlie Chaplin TV spots promoting IBM's first personal computer? You may not be old enough, but I am and I do.

Which is why I can't wait to see how NVIDIA plans to market their new Tesla.

How would I use a PC that is 250 times faster than what I use today? How fast can I really play Mah-Johng?

The entry level Viglen CL2000 PSC-2 Personal Supercomputer puts nearly 2 teraflops of computing muscle at your fingertips for a mere 3,999 pounds (what with the exchange rate that's less than 6,000 bucks)

I guess if they offer it in the same harvest orange color as my electron microscope with matching particle collider, I might be tempted.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Awaken Your Inner ChessMaster

[ from LifeHacker ]

Whether you'd like to increase your mental health or just relax after a stressful day in the salt mines, there aren't many games more classic than chess. Over at tips and tricks blog MakeUseOf, they have rounded up a variety of ways you can both play and sharpen your chess game. One offering there is a beautifully rendered flash-based and free for download chess game called FlashChessIII. If you're concerned that all the playing in the world won't make you any better, they have a variety of resources listed for helping you not just play but increase your grasp of the game. Our favorite was Chess Problems, a site which generates "puzzles" based on chess board setups ranging from simple to extremely complicated. After some practice at Chess Problems you won't find yourself often staring down a chess board without a clue what your next move will be. If you're absolutely brand new to the game, make sure to check out a beginner's guide to getting good at chess.

The Best Online Sources to Learn and Play Chess [MakeUseOf]

(We included Chess in our look at Strategy games back in 2006)


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Step-by-Step Plan for Networking Your Next Event

[ from ]

Virtually everybody is nervous and anxious about meeting new people at conferences and events. But networking at such events, especially during our troubling economic times, is crucial for giving your career a boost.

That's where etiquette comes in, says Judith Bowman, founder of Protocol Consultants, an etiquette advisory firm, and Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work. They say that good etiquette engenders goodwill and trust from others, and makes it more likely that others will want to work with you. "Etiquette is really about the golden rule," says Whitmore.

Perhaps the best part of focusing on etiquette is that you'll be so busy concentrating on following guidelines and making others feel comfortable that you'll have less time to remember your own nervousness.

Checkout the slideshow here.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Sustainable Sanitation

Bulgarian organization Earth Forever has as one of it's areas of interest how to handle the problem of so much water being used to dispose of human waste. Their solution? Don't use any...

Their Mission: "We consider our mission to promote community sustainable development through proper environmental management, efficient economic practice, social justice."

You can check out their research here.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Real Thing

[ from inward/outward ]

Alessandro Pronzato

The crowded bus, the long queue, the railway platform, the traffic jam, the neighbor's television sets, the heavy-footed people on the floor above you, the person who still keeps getting the wrong number on your phone. These are the real conditions of your desert. Do not allow yourself to be irritated. Do not try to escape. Do not postpone your prayer. Kneel down. Enter that disturbed solitude. Let your silence be spoiled by those sounds. It is the beginning of your desert.

Source: Meditations on the Sand


Saturday, January 03, 2009

So Much for "No Copies"

Two brothers in Wisconsin recently bowled perfect 300 games whilst playing for the same team in the same game.

Ed and Tom Shircel are both decent bowlers with a combined 10 perfect games to their credit, but they never imagined anything like this.


Friday, January 02, 2009

From Boredom to Board Room

Matthew Baldwin's 2008 Good Gift Game round-up is worth a look - some great games and fun reviews!

Board games make great gifts, so great, in fact, that every year Matt assembles a top ten list of Good Gift Games (G3s), titles that even those who don’t typically play games will love playing. In doing so, he primarily looks for those that meet three criteria:
  • Easy to learn, with rules that can be explained in less than five minutes
  • Entertaining enough that even the guy who comes in dead last has a great time playing
  • Quick, lacking downtime, and requiring an hour or less to complete
My most likely to buy? TZAAR and The Hanging Gardens


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Facing the World with a New Face

Details of the first almost-complete face transplant from a dead donor performed in the United States have emerged.

Eight specialists transplanted bone, muscle, blood vessels and nerves in the 22-hour operation in Cleveland, Ohio.

After such transplants, the new face does not look like the donor because its shape is altered by the muscles and bones of the patient's face.

But some experts have warned of possible psychological side-effects which may include remorse, disappointment, or grief and guilt towards the donor.

The hope is that as this procedure becomes more commonplace, people who avoid others due to their appearance may have an option to help them feel better about themselves.