If you are looking for the epic motorcycle journey blog that I've written, please see the Miles By Motorcycle site I put together. 
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  • Scientists uncover possible new species of human
    10/27/2004 3:57PM

    "(AP) -- In a breathtaking discovery, scientists working on a remote Indonesian island say they have uncovered the bones of a human dwarf species marooned for eons while modern man rapidly colonized the rest of the planet."

    Article over at CNN.com.

  • Generac Guardian Emergency Standby Generator
    10/26/2004 2:20PM
    At long last I'm putting up photos of our Generac Guardian EmergencyStandby Generator. This thing is extremely cool. It monitors incomingutility power and if there is an interruption automatically firesitself up and switches over loads you designate the generator power.While running it's about as loud as a lawn mower and from inside thehouse you can't tell you're on generator power.

    Check out the NeoPhoto Album.

    Strangely, I ended up purchasing the thing through Home Depot.They had by far the best price. They sell both consumer grade stand-byunits and the water cooled industrial ones up to 45Kw. They take careof the installation, hooking it up to both power and gas, etc.

    In my research on standby generators a couple of issues came up that were hard to track down:
    1. gas supply line issues
    2. UPS issues

    I have natural gas supplied to the house which I had originally wantedto use for the generator. I couldn't get a clear answer as to whetheror not the gas supply to the house would be sufficient to run thegenerator. Apparently the generator pulls alot more than averageconsumer appliances and its possible that the gas service might need tobe upgraded in order to support the generator. Since I already had twopropane tanks in the yard, I decided to avoid the whole mess and runthe generator off propane. This has the added advantage that it putsout more power on propane and I'm completely off the grid.

    The second issue has to do with an interplay between generators andtypical line-interactive UPS's you can buy at consumer electronicsstores. These line-interactive UPSs pass through AC voltage and monitorit. If they notice a certain variance they switch over to the internalbattery. Once voltage comes back to within specs they switch back. Fromwhat I've been told the tolerance that these UPS can deal with arefairly narrow in terms of voltage and frequency.

    Since the generator is a relatively weak source of power in comparisonto utility power, each time a new load is switched on the generatorwill react slightly. The closer the generator is to it's max load, themore it will tend to react to additional loads (at least if theWesterbeake 5K generator on my boat is any indication). What peoplewill tell you is to have a generator that is at least 5X the capacityof all the UPSs you have. This way when the UPSs switch on and offthere's less likelihood that they will affect the output of thegenerator.

    If your UPS load is some significant fraction of the output of the generator what can happens is as follows:

    1. UPS notices slight variance in power due to some load coming on, so switches to battery.
    2. The generator stabilizes and power comes back into the green.
    3. The UPS notices power is back in the green, so switches off battery onto generator.
    4. The generator output momentarily dips as it adjusts to the new load
    5. The UPS notices the dip in power and switches to battery
    6. etc. eventually burning out your UPSs.
    The solution to this problem is to replace your cheap consumer gradeUPSs with "real" ones. These "real" ones are what are known as "fullyonline" UPSs. They actually convert incoming AC power into DC and thenback into AC to power the loads. As a result it's always "converting"power making certain that the output voltage is solid. A side-effect ofthese UPSs is that they can stand a much wider variance in incomingvoltage and frequency than consumer grades UPSs. They are much lesslikely to exhibit the switching on/off feedback loop and I've been toldyou only need to have about 2X the generator vs the UPS load when usingfully online UPSs.

    I ended up replacing all my cheap APC and Cyberpower UPSs with aPowerWare 9210 which is something I should have done ages ago. ThePowerWare is a very good UPS.

    Photo Album
  • DTLink Software releases AnswerTool 2.3
    10/25/2004 2:39PM
    Just a quick note, we've released AnswerTool 2.3 which now features the eSellerate affiliate program in addition to a number of new features.
    AnswerTool is an application we developed to help in handle customer support for the thousands of Personal Stock Monitor & Personal Stock Streamer customers we have. Inevitably the same questions come up over and over again. AnswerTool provides a system to capture the most frequently answered questions as they're being written and then a way to quickly, using a few hotkeys, recall and paste them to answer subsequent questions.
    It's one of those applications that is vastly more useful than it sounds.
    We also use it as a knowledge capture system. When Anatoly answers questions about one of our desktop products, he captures that text in AnswerTool as he goes. It turns customer support into an asset building activity. When he goes on vacation, he just forwards me the answertool files enabling me to support the customer base. We find that, although I am not the developer of the desktop apps, I can answer over 80% of the customer support using just using the AnswerTool Files.
  • What I'm working on.
    10/25/2004 2:32PM
    The first publicly available version of formVista is near completion. I still have more documentation to write but it's coming along. I've gotten a bit side-tracked integrating the new version of formVista into MOBIE. However, I'm making good progress and will have the new version on yml.com soon. This will include a new version of the CLOG components that feature an updated HTML editor and an RSS feed, not to mention improved searching.

  • Why RSS is cool
    10/25/2004 11:36AM

    I really like to keep up with news and current events, but recently I found that I was spending more and more time navigating web sites just to get my daily dose of news. So I got myself a free RSS reader for Windows called Feedreader, and added my favorite news sites to it.

    Slashdot, CNET News.com, washingtonpost.com, Yahoo News, they all have RSS feeds. All of the blogs I read on a regular basis have RSS feeds. PR Newswire has an RSS feed. The ta-lib developers mailing list on Yahoo Groups has an RSS feed. I even added RSS support to the phpbb install on dtlink.com so I no longer have to check manually if our customers posted new messages that I have to answer.

    Wow, that saves me a lot of time. I can just browse the headlines, click on one to get a quick summary, and click again to read the full story. No more navigating through the sites, etc. The RSS reader shows me the page in an embedded browser window and in the case of our phpbb forums, I can even post the answer directly from there.

    So here are a few thoughts I had about RSS:

    • There have already been articles posted about RSS bandwidth use. Most readers don't check feeds more than once per hour by default, and there are ways in the RSS feed to specify a desired refresh time. So that's not too bad.
    • Headlines and subject lines are more important than ever. If you want people to actually read your article, you must have a headline that catches their attention.
    • There are plenty of blogs out there that are worth reading. So far I have subscribed to a handful of marketing blogs written by people who have been very successful in software or other industries, and even if I don't assimilate all of their knowledge it makes for interesting reading.
    • Yermo really needs to finish a basic RSS module for Clog so I don't miss the articles. :-)
    • RSS can be a useful business tool. It is still in its infancy, but growing fast. We just have to figure out how to best leverage it.