Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Pergelator

Silicon Forest

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carbon

Les Stone / Corbis
Some people believe global warming is real and is caused by burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil. So what's to be done? Stop burning coal and oil? You might want to have another think about that. From an IHS newsletter about the world's use of coal: 
Ironically, in what is known as the “pollution paradox,” growing an economy to the level where it can afford to deal with such things as coal-derived pollution typically requires that that economy grow via coal-fired generation. 
Note about the photo: I was looking for a picture that would show the air pollution caused by burning coal, which is a serious problem in China, but what do you see? Gray, like fog, obscuring things. Well, is it fog or smog? Hard to tell, and not very dramatic. Ask Google for pictures of coal burning pollution and you get lots of pictures of big smoke stacks pumping out huge white clouds. But those are not pollution, they are steam and carbon dioxide, which is what you get when you burn hydrocarbons. This picture is kind of cool because it looks like evil clouds of black smoke billowing from the smoke stack. I suspect it is just a trick of the light and the clouds are actually white. It's just that is was shot at sunset and so most of the cloud is in shadow and appears black, while upper portions are hit by the red light from the setting sun.

Zone Rouge

Patrick Renoult, Head minesweeper Civil Security of Versailles Demining Centre and head of the museum before a collection of bombs and shells of the First and Second World Wars.
I've written before about leftover bombs in Germany. Seems France has a similar problem. The area around Verdun is so bad that parts have been cordoned off. Via Detroit Steve.

Hair of the Dog by Barbara A. Oakley

An American catcher boat approaches a Soviet processing vessel (1979).
CREDIT COURTESY TONY ALLISON.
I picked this book up on a whim. Something prompted me to order a copy of Evil Genes and buying one book wasn't enough, so I bought two. It's a heck of a story. Barb got a job as a translator on a Soviet fish processing ship 30 odd years ago when a couple of guys ginned up a Soviet-American joint venture to harvest fish from American territorial waters, which had just been expanded from the old 3 mile limit to 200 miles.
    Curiously, the only mention I found of this joint venture in Wikipedia is in an article about Polar Star, a murder mystery by Martin Cruz Smith. Martin is one of my favorite writers. He wrote Three Stations and Stalin's Ghost, which I have read, and Gorky Park, which I have heard of (it's famous), but never read.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Monica at Mozilla: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Securit...

video
Search for 'Tracking' turned up this video on Vimeo, which is much more interesting than a bunch of power point slides, which is all I got for 'Tracking Protection'.

From the Monica-At-Mozilla blog, via Detroit Steve:
My paper with Georgios Kontaxis got best paper award at the Web 2.0 Security and Privacy workshop today! Georgios re-ran the performance evaluations on top news sites and the decrease in page load time with tracking protection enabled is even higher (44%!) than in our Air Mozilla talk last August, due to prevalence of embedded third party content on news sites. You can read the paper here.
This paper is the last artifact of my work at Mozilla, since I left employment there at the beginning of April. I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable "free" content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns -- and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.
Advertising does not make content free. It merely externalizes the costs in a way that incentivizes malicious or incompetent players to build things like Superfish, infect 1 in 20 machines with ad injection malware, and create sites that require unsafe plugins and take twice as many resources to load, quite expensive in terms of bandwidth, power, and stability.
It will take a major force to disrupt this ecosystem and motivate alternative revenue models. I hope that Mozilla can be that force.
I use the Chrome browser on a Chromebook and a Linux Mint system. I have managed to dispense with Windows entirely. Okay, I still have a Windows machine, but I haven't turned it on for a month.

The Chrome browser runs a noticeably slower on the Linux system. I use it because I think Google carries some stuff around with their browser, stuff that means things work pretty much the same on either the Chromebook or the Linux box. I'm not even sure what it is, I just know that I tried Firefox a couple of times and something didn't work as expected, so fine, I can wait the extra two seconds for Chrome to load.

There is one class of websites that is absolutely horrible in terms of load time, sometimes they never finish. It's just one autostart video after another pageload of crap. I kill them, I don't care what their content is. Usually the content is pretty worthless, celebrity gossip and that kind of thing, so no big loss.

I still don't have a good way of dealing with pictures. I was using Picasa, which was pretty good, but Google changed the way it works when they started Google+. I tried Google+ once a few years ago, didn't like the way Picasa worked, so I switched back and Blogger lost a few hundred of my images, images that I had gone to a lot of trouble to steal all fair and square off of the internet.

I recently decided to go all in with Google, I was just going to have to find a different way of dealing with pictures. But then Military Photos dot net died, and I lost my biggest source of pictures and my biggest time sucker. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hand Dancing


Глухой танцор Андрей Драгунов
(A deaf dancer Andrei Dragunov)
Via Southwest Jacob

Credit Cards

V for Vendetta
Marcel has a post up about credit card hacking. My kids use all cards all the time. I try to use cash for incidentals, I don't want to see a long list of transactions at the end of the month that I am supposed to reconcile.
     The worst part is that the credit card companies are like the mafia. They offer you 'protection', but then they charge you for it, sometimes as much as 5%. Now I can see how using credit card transactions can benefit a business. You don't have to spend any time actually handling cash, counting it, transporting it, or losing it. You may not be dealing with a large sum of money, maybe only a couple of hundred dollars, but still, having to take the day's receipts to the bank and picking up change for the next day's business takes time. Plus you don't have to worry about losing your money, like you do with cash.
    So I can see how a business would like to use credit cards. But what the credit card companies are charging is extortion. Credit card companies are all trying to recruit customers with their promises of cash back, but who do you think is paying for those kick-backs? You are. And I'll bet the credit card companies are using every trick in the book to maximize their return and minimize those kick-backs. It might not be something any one person would notice, but one-tenth of one percent of a billion dollars is still a million bucks.
    I'll bet there is well documented phenomena that a certain percentage of those kick-back checks are never cashed, and I'll bet that goes into the executive bonus slush fund as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Russian Locos in Portland

Russian gauge track at Oregon Rail Heritage Center
Now I remember how I got started on my last post: Jack and I stopped at the Oregon train museum Monday on account of we were in the neighborhood. They were closed but we hung on the fence and drooled over the thoughts of massive iron machines. Then we noticed a slab of concrete that was sitting next to the path. It looked like an old section of roadway, but why does it have 3 rails embedded in it?

American built locomotives loaded on Russian ships for Vladivostok in Portland harbor Nov. 6, 1944. Larry Barber.
Willamette Iron and Steel Works:
During WWII Willamette assembled over 800 Russian gauge Baldwin steam locomotives and shipped them to Vladivostok. NW Front Ave. in Portland had a short distance of Russian gauge track for the engines to move from the engine house on the west side of Front to the loading dock on the east side of street. These were shipped across the Pacific on USSR flagged ships, since the USSR and the Empire of Japan were not at war. A Porter 0-6-0 was bought from the US Government in Panama to switch the broad gauge track.

UT 1580 Russian Freighter "Felix Dzerzhinsky" 47-46 N 129-53 W 288 7. 1 June 44. 
1851 B.M.T. OR 14321420 . 150 PT. "U.S.C.H". Carrying locomotives.