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June 2007 Archives

June 14, 2007

Mosquito destruction via acoustics

The resonant frequency idea is apparently more than half-baked.
At least one company, New Mountain Innovations, claims to be able to destroy mosquito larvae up to a five foot radius by sending audio signals at the resonant frequency of the mosquito larvae air bladder. Go Michael! The story is good - now does it really work?

The concept is simple: Use acoustic energy to kill mosquito larvae before they can become biting adults. All mosquito larvae, regardless of species, have internal air bladders that help them breathe and move up and down in the water where they feed and grow. Send sound waves through the water and those bladders start to vibrate like a tuning fork. Eventually the bladder tissue ruptures, killing the larvae.
There is at least one scientific paper on this giving 1 MHz as the frequency of choice.

I'm still hopeful on getting adult mosquitoes in mid-flight. Suppose you were able to send back ultrasound at the frequency the mosquitoes are flapping their tiny wings. Could you (a) cause them to fall to the ground via destructive interference, or (b) cause their wings to rip off via constructive interference? That would a cool demo. The device would need to listen and then replay using large volume the correct frequency. Of course, since you could hear mosquitoes buzzing, perhaps this may not be such a good idea. The frequency here is 250-1000 Hz. Here's some more serious analysis.

Ultrasonic mosquito repellent - will it work?

I was wondering about this all night after a friend of ours mentioned it. Their grandkids are currently in Central Asia getting eaten alive by these little buggers. The question at hand is whether there is anything that technology can offer besides air conditioning, netting and hazardous chemicals. Enter the ultrasonic mosquito repellant. The original theory goes like this - bats, el mosquito's #1 enemy, emit sonar in the 20-50 kHz range. By mimicing these bats, the mosquitoes should take a hike. But does it work? Cecil Adam's straight dope concluded in 1977 "no" based on EPA testing in Chesapeake Bay. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Center for Disease Control in 2002 said "no" -- this time to a new set of frequencies set to mimic "male mosquitoes and dragonflies".

...ultrasonic products are not effective at preventing mosquito bites. It advises people to:
  • use insect repellent containing DEET, according to the manufacturer's instructions;
  • wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants;
    spread mosquito netting over infant carriers; and
  • stay indoors at dawn and dusk.

As of 2005, the verdict from the CDC was still a resounding "no" -- ""ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites."

But it is 2006 now. And these things still sell. Perhaps the theory has changed?

Continue reading "Ultrasonic mosquito repellent - will it work?" »

Recommended Book Reading List - Stories for Young Children

Checklist

Verna Aardema, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale
Karen Ackerman, Song and Dance Man
Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express
Claire Huchet Bishop, The Five Chinese Brothers
Jan Brett, The Mitten
Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon
Margaret Wise Brown, Little Fur Family Board Book
Marcia Brown, Stone Soup
Margaret Wise Brown, The Runaway Bunny
Virginia Lee Burton, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
Geoffrey Chaucer, Chanticleer and the Fox
Barbara Cohen, Canterbury Tales
Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius
Roger Duvoisin, Petunia
P.D. Eastman, Are You My Mother?
Ian Falconer, Olivia
Marjorie Flack, The Story About Ping
Mem Fox, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Don Freeman, Dandelion
Hardie Gramatky, Little Toot
Donald Hall, Ox-Cart Man
Russell Hoban, A Bargain for Frances
Russell Hoban, Bedtime for Frances
Russell Hoban, Bread and Jam for Frances
Mary Ann Hoberman, A House Is a House for Me
Margaret Hodges, Saint George and the Dragon
Ludwig Bemelmans Author And Illustrator, Madeline, Reissue of 1939 edition
Ruth Krauss, The Carrot Seed Board Book
Munro Leaf, The Story of Ferdinand
Leo Lionni, The Biggest House in the World
Patricia MacLachlan, All the Places to Love
Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Snowflake Bentley
Robert McCloskey, Blueberries for Sal
Robert McCloskey, Make Way for Ducklings
A. A. Milne, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh
Evaline Ness, Sam, Bangs & Moonshine
Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish
Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could
Patricia Polacco, Thunder Cake
Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit
Marjorie Priceman, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
Cynthia Rylant, Henry And Mudge First Book
Cynthia Rylant, The Relatives Came
Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!
Esphyr Slobodkina, Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business
William Steig, Amos & Boris
William Steig, Brave Irene
Sarah Stewart, The Gardener
Ruth Tiller, Cinnamon, Mint, & Mothballs: A Visit to Grandmother's House
Brinton Turkle, Thy Friend, Obadiah
Bernard Waber, You Look Ridiculous, Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus
Lynd Ward, The Biggest Bear
Jane Yolen, All Those Secrets of the World
Jane Yolen, Owl Moon
Harriet Ziefert, A New Coat for Anna
Charlotte Zolotow, Big Sister and Little Sister
Charlotte Zolotow, Something Is Going to Happen

Source: http://writing-edu.com/literature/booklistA.php

Continue reading "Recommended Book Reading List - Stories for Young Children" »

Thinkpad X61 tablet -- MultiView vs. SXGA no more!

I've been window shopping tablet PCs for a few months now, with particular interest towards Lenovo Thinkpads. About a month ago, I made a brief excursion MicroCenter only to find an overpriced, underspeced Thinkpad tablet in inventory. A few weeks ago, I almost pressed the (online) trigger, but couldn't get past struggling between the MultiView vs. SXGA pardox. The MultiView option provides higher visibility during daytime -- good for computing at parks while keeping eye on kids. The SXGA, well, not sure if I can really live with only 1024x768... With the X61, Lenovo presents a new option, 12.1" MultiView WVA SXGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV . Fortunately, they made me think twice by placing "Selecting this option may delay your shipment 3-4 weeks" right under it. Nice.

With employee discount + sale dejour, here's what got speced:

ThinkPad X61 Tablet Series 1 Yr Depot Warranty
  • 12.1" MultiView WVA SXGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV
  • Genuine Windows Vista Business
  • 2 GB PC2-5300 DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz SODIMM Memory (2 DIMM)
  • 60GB Hard Disk Drive, 5400rpm
  • DVD Recordable 8x Max Dual Layer, Ultrabay Slim
  • Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN
  • Integrated Wireless WAN: Verizon Sierra CDMA2000 (New)
  • ThinkPad X60 Tablet 8 Cell Li-Ion Battery
  • 7764: Express - 1 Yr Depot Warranty
  • Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 - English
  • ThinkPad X6 Tablet UltraBase
Total: $2,067.20

Not bad, considering that the overpriced underspeced non-MultiView, non-SXGA X60, non-Core 2 Duo tablet at MicroCenter was about the same price. Estimated shipment date: 8/2/2007. Uncool. A lot can happen between now and early August. Does Lenovo manufacture these AFTER they get enough orders? This is not "just-in-time", this is "NOT-in-time". Tim suspects that once the back-to-school orders start shipping (1) price will drop, and (2) availability will be immediate. Is there a Lenovo store? I say wait.

Thinkpad X61 Tablet -- MultiView vs. SuperView

Evidently, there is a typo on the Lenovo site regarding the new X61s. There is no "12.1" MultiView WVA SXGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV". It should be SuperView, not MultiView. That in itself is confusing already, shouldn't a "super" view be better than a "multi" view? Here are the options on Lenovo's site, read and scratch head. Every option may delay your shipment... nice.

  • 12.1" WVA XGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV
    Selecting this option may delay your shipment 3-4 weeks.
  • 12.1" MultiView WVA SXGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV
    Selecting this option may delay your shipment 3-4 weeks.
  • 12.1" MultiView + MultiTouch WVA XGA TFT and Intel® Core™ 2 Duo L7500 LV
    Selecting this option may delay your shipment 3-4 weeks.

dp22 on tabletpcreview.com has kindly provided the lowdown:

1) MultiView SXGA+ is actually SuperView SXGA+ which is NOT an actual outdoor screen as the XGA option totes. SuperView works better than normal indoor screens and tests have shown good results outdoors (in the shade).

2) aphex, as alucard kindly confirmed, the "SXGA" is a typo because I called the rep and he confirmed this as well. In fact, the SXGA+ on the X61 is noted to have a brighter and clearer screen than the X60 (check out the report at gottabemobile.com). This is also due to the SuperView technology.

gottabemobile has a bit more SuperView

There has been a lot of confusion on this, some of it due to some confusing info on the Lenovo product site where, depending on where you were looking, it was called Multi-view or SuperView. SuperView is the correct terminology. It is designed to make viewing in outdoor conditions better especially in sunlight. I can’t really report on any significant results for this because our skies have been cloudy and we’ve had rain for the time I’ve had the X61 in my hands. From what I can tell the process is called “Direct Bonding” and it is designed to cut down on reflectivity and make the screen less susceptible to scratching (although I hadn’t noticed any problems with scratching at all on the X60), and more durable under harsh conditions. Here’s what I have noticed. There appears to be an extra layer on the screen. All well and good. But when you have a white background on the screen there is a detectable moire pattern viewable. It seems to be more pronounced in portrait mode than in landscape mode. I don’t find it distracting, but it is there. I also notice that the screen is particularly susceptible to fingerprints, or rather the grease or oils that may come off your skin. More so than the X60. Using any sort of cleaning solution designed for this purpose only serves to smear it around, so you’ll need a dry cloth to keep those impressions off the screen. (Remember this is a demo unit, so shipping units might be different.)"

Sounds like I am where I was before... pondering bright screen versus high resolution.

I have to say, so far, I have no doubt to Lenovo technical prowess (probably due to superior marketing), but sales and delivery have really been lacking. I've been sitting on the sidelines with a check dedictated to buying an X6x tablet, scratching my head on screen configuration and delivery times. Note to Lenovo, available to work with you on sales and delivery, can communicate in Mandarin... will travel, happy to bring components between countries in check-in luggage if this helps accelerate manufacturing.

Update: Tim Supples, who writes for lenovoblogs.com, has a posted on erroneous August shipping dates. Maybe it won't come so late after all. I hold back my tongue, for a bit. Should I hold my check? What do you guys think? (Thanks, btw, for writing me back Tim.)

June 15, 2007

Thinkpad X61 Tablet -- MultiView/SuperView update

This thread from thinkpads.com suggests that the outdoor viewing feature of the MultiView is encapsulated in SuperView. "All three good for use indoors or in bright light (sunlight)." However, reading through, including rep responses, suggests there is massive confusion about this. Remember that MultiView also includes better viewing angles... bottom line is that I'm interested in an outdoor viewable display at 1400x1050 (SXGA). The question is if it exists, or if SuperView is only "improved" viewing vs. outdoor viewing. GomJabbar summarizes:

Slashgear wrote:

The X61 Tablet has a new SuperView SXGA+ screen, coated with a special scratch-resistant and anti-reflective layer which makes it extra usable outdoors. MultiView and MultiTouch remain options. [emphasis mine]

TheTabletPC wrote:

With SuperView, a direct bonding technology in SXGA+ resolution screens, users experience lower reflectivity than similar panel technologies for excellent readability outdoors, even in direct sunlight. The technology helps prevent scratching, making the Tablet PC extremely durable under harsh conditions. [emphasis mine]

I think it is all still speculation. A good question would be whether MultiView has anything to do with the so-called "direct bonding technology". It would seem from this press release that SuperView is something else all together. (On another interesting note, the press release quotes Jerry Batt, VP and CIO of Pulte Homes... why are they quoting from a home builder? Interesting... I would say if Jerry Batt uses the SuperView SXGA in broad daylinght, reviewing some CAD drawing, I'm game.)

Let me try asking the question again (which only Lenovo can really answer...). With regards to outdoor brightness viewability (no i didn't mean the font size), choose one answer:

  1. SuperView = MultiView
  2. SuperView < MultiView
  3. SuperView > MultiView
  4. SuperView <> MultiView

I bet it is #4.

Update: This is direct from the Lenovo site:

Work efficiently indoors and outdoors with the MultiView/MultiTouch and SuperView screens, even in sunlight.

MultiView/MultiTouch display provides outstanding indoor/outdoor viewing and versatile interaction through touch or digitizer pen. SuperView SXGA+ high resolution screen offers improved outdoor view-ability, especially in sunlight.

Does "outstanding" = "improved"??

Thinkpad X61 Tablet -- SuperView outdoor viewability

Warner Crocker at gottabemobile.com has an update on his Thinkpad X61 escapades. Specificially relevant to your truly are his comments on the screen:

I’ve already commented on how much I like the brightness of the screen. And I have had a chance to view it outdoors. (Still no successful way to take a picture of this, sorry.) It is readable in outdoor conditions, but the screen brightness needs to be turned up, especially on bright days. That said, the screen collects dust, grease, and oils from anything that comes in contact with it. After using it in Tablet mode for any length of time it can be quite covered with residue. What I’ve noticed that I find troubling is that this residue does cause the stylus to drag a bit as it passes over a dirty area. And if you take the X61 outside the residue shows up as a white chalky looking mess. This seems to defeat the idea behind SuperView in my mind and I find it troubling. I’m not sure what the best method to clean the screen is, and I worry about using any cleaning solution on it until I get some word about what is recommended. Some of the smudges and residue can be removed with a dry cloth designed for cleaning screens (like the ones by 3M) but in some cases it still leaves residue behind. I’ve also discovered that if, on a hot day, any of the residue is still moist or damp, it just gets smeared around if you try to clean it. I have more success if the screen is completely dry. The real plus of the SuperView technology is that the screen is easier to read under fluorescent lighting which is what we have in our rehearsal hall. This is a big plus for me. [emphasis mine]

He later adds in a comment,

My personal tastes here, I would not call this an indoor/outdoor display. The viewability is better outdoors than screens (like the x60) that don't have the SuperView Bonding. (Look for other posts on that on the site.) But it isn't designed for outdoor use in the context that many think of has indoor/outdoor. [emphasis mine]

Still no clear comparison with the MultiView outdoor performance, but it helps. Note cleanliness... I suppose you would want some sort of plastic on top of the display if possible.

"Good material everywhere" -- casting shadows from refuse

Clever and well-executed. Spotted on pantherhouse, Tim Noble (1966) and Sue Webster (1967) re-arrange piles of refuse into... well, take a look.

Ingrid Sischy provides insight through interview on the rather romantic British duo in Interview.

Sue immediately found a room that had no windows, no natural light, and a big lock on the door, and she just secluded herself from all the other students. I spent a lot of time trying to get in the door. Once I did get in we realized we were quite happy in each other's company.

I like the last part of the Interview:

SW: Probably a quite recent one, actually. I think maybe when we first got to London we felt a little bit vulnerable and possibly made stuff that we thought would be successful, as opposed to things we actually felt comfortable with ourselves. It's only in the last three or four years that I've actually begun to feel comfortable making work that I feel is real. This would include some of the first light pieces we did, such as "Forever," or "The Fountain" and "Excessive Sensual Indulgence." Also the first shadow work we did, called "Miss Understood and Mr. Meanor."

IS: Does that one involve garbage?

SW: Yeah, it was the first piece using garbage. We fumbled around in the studio making it and were really embarrassed by it. We didn't think it was any good. It was made up out of found objects that I collected, things like bean tins and other rubbish.

IS: And the shadows of your profiles on the wall, are these actually made by the shape of the sculpted garbage?

SW: Yes. Making the sculpture is one thing, but then disguising the fact that it makes the shadow is another--that's why the sculptures are such odd shapes.

TN: The light pieces are very hands-on, but they can be manufactured elsewhere. The rubbish pieces are too, but we need to do those ourselves--they're very time-consuming.

SW: Just because you can't afford bronze or other materials is no excuse for not making art. There's good material everywhere.

Together they are also quite astute at marketing, which is really to key to selling garbage. Gratuitous wikipedia link.

reinvent -- Proctor & Gamble packaging design competition

P&G and "designboom" are taking entries for the reinvent packaging design contest. With regards to U.S. standards, the payoff is not great, considering big time design can go into the millions. But hey, who needs mulah when you can have fame.

reinvent
Maestro Limpio®, Buena Vibra® and Salvo®

- packaging + in-store design competition -

reinvent the package design of Maestro Limpio®, Buena Vibra®, Salvo®,
(you can choose to develop one or more of the products)

create the difference in the eyes of the consumer through:
easier usage, fun usage, avoiding product waste, promoting reusability and more!
Maestro Limpio® is a hard-surface cleaning brand that holds the following product forms:
liquid multiuse cleaner, anti-grease spray, anti-stain spray, liquid bathroom cleaner,
liquid aromatizers for floor cleaning, solid dust cleaner and solid scratch remover.
Buena Vibra® is a hard surface liquid-cleaner
Salvo® is a dish washing detergent in powder and liquid forms.

note:
the product name of Maestro limpio® varies from country to country,
and is more commonly known as Mr Clean®
examples of these three products can be seen > here < for your reference

awards - in-store point of sale design: $4000 USD. - packaging: $4000 USD. the organizers will assign honorable mentions to other projects (beyond the winner in each of the categories) that will be considered particularly meaningful for aesthetic, functional or technical reasons. PROCTER & GAMBLE undertakes, in the event that it uses for production one of the designs submitted for the contest (wholly or in part), to pay a one-off fee to the designer of $2000 USD. this does not apply to the 2 winners, their fee is the prize as written above.

Deadline for applications registration is September 20, 2007. I would have to say that the website for this contest is suspiciously cheesy.

June 16, 2007

Paul Potts chronology

Paul Potts (not to be confused with Paul Pott) has got talent, there is no question about that. The Sun, bastion of journalism, has a piece on readers furious with the revelation that the "unassuming mobile phone salesman" had been coached by Luciano Pavarotti. The Sun claims that Mr. Potts

  • has received extensive training
  • was a regular at Bath Opera, including being a lead in Verdi Don Carlos
  • spent two summers touring northern Italy with a major opera school, taking master classes with top stars, including Mr. Pavarotti
  • won £8,000 in 1999 on a TV talent show

Says Mr. Potts, "I am not a professional. I’ve never been paid for my singing, all the training I’ve received I paid for myself, and I grafted hard to do so." That's believable, you would have expected this if he was serious. Of course, the bonus points are much less than if you had done all your training in front of a karoke box...

Mr. Potts' Bath Opera bio doesn't elicit too much sympathy, though this is not unexpected, since one would expect the opera to market experience, rather than inexperience.

Paul Potts (Don Carlos) is a relative new comer to Grand Opera after an apprenticeship in Gilbert and Sullivan in Bristol.. His claim to fame is his 1999 appearance on Michael Barrymore's My Kind of Music. This was followed by singing for Bath Opera in Turandot as Prince of Persia and Herald. He has since performed with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and spent three months touring Northern Italy as a soloist, training under top teachers Mario Melani and Svetlana Sidrova. He has been invited back for a concert to be recorded and also for a masterclass with Luciano Pavarotti. Future plans include a summer tour with the RPO.

Wikipedia has a bit more. You can also visit his MySpace page for more personal content. Modern technology... wow.

Your personal crash test dummy...

ConsumerReports has crash test videos for 150+ vehicles. It's rather unsettling, and a good reminder that driving is no walk-in-the-park. The slow motion is especially revealing. Choose some pricy cars. Note to self: new Volkswagen Beetle -- poor side impact results, yikes.

June 19, 2007

"Playin'" with the T-Mobile Wing and T-Mobile Dash

I had a chance this afternoon to spend a half-hour or so with the T-Mobile Wing and Dash. Both running Windows Mobile, the main attraction was a phone-based EDGE solution for my laptop. Prognosis? Pretty, reasonably functional, but both require two-hand operation. My Blackberry's mostly one-handed operation turns out to be more valuable to me than I thought.

The Dash is unusual for a PDA-esque Windows device in that it does NOT have a touch screen. While still useable, I found several moments in my trial having to hold back my fingers from the screen. The Wing, on the other hand, DOES have a touchable screen, and comes with stylus operation. Interestingly, I found myself using both hands to type, as well as using the stylus. While in general I do not recommend using any kind of smart phone while operating a vehicle, I really don't recommend Wing usage at a stop light or in traffic. I suppose this should have been expected given the full keyboard.

Size-wise the Wing is a bit on the fat size, but forgivable since it comes with a beautiful large screen and a reasonable camera (not a problem if you carry a purse or equivalent). The Dash on the other hand, is just a bit thinner than my Blackberry. Towards the end of my short session, I had to look something up on Google. I tried it on the Dash, gave up. Tried it on the Wing, gave up, and finally got it done on my Blackberry... with one hand.

So, there it is. I was looking for a laptop-modemable Wifi, Edge-cable phone. I found two, none of which I was ready to take in exchange for good ole' BB.

Addendum: The fact that I found myself using the stylus on the Wing and wanting to on the Dash says something. I never need to worry about the screen on BB. But then, it doesn't run PowerPoint.

T-Mobile vs. Verizon vs. Sprint

a.k.a. EDGE vs. EVDO Rev 0 vs EDVO Rev A

To think, the T-Mobile looked straight into my eyes and said that there wasn't much different in speeds between T-Mobile and other carriers. I found some real numbers on Richard's spreasheets on Swivel. His answer is resounding Sprint. The test is not quite what I wanted, since it is access from his location to various Speakeasy speed test servers. What I really want is a true test, using the speed test servers, from the various locations. In any case, the SF download speeds for T-Mobile vs. Verizon vs. Sprint is 144:930:1,081, uploads are 9:114:512 kbps. 9?!?!

Update: What we really want is a GPS-enabled phone (same phone) on all three carriers (four including Cingular), giving us location-based results for the different carriers. THAT would be a very nice article and mashup project.

Printing with Google Spreadsheets

5:01 PM 6/19/2007. Printing does not work. It flat out doesn't work. Ok, ok, it works in a sense, stuff comes out of the printer, but columns are chopped and the chopped data doesn't even show up on future pages. See scan. Now I will humbly copy my spreadsheet data to Microsoft Excel and print. Mr. Gates, you may now say "I told you so." (Of course, maybe this is G's way to wipe out all paper copies... but hey, I still don't have EDGE or EVDO in my car, and no, I shouldn't be looking at Google Docs with my one hand while driving...)

5:10 PM 6/19/2007. Cutting and pasting into Excel from Google Spreadsheets does not work. It flat out doesn't work. The caveat here is that I have It doesn't work when you paste from the app, and it doesn't. Here's the source:

And the Excel paste:

Not cool. You get somewhat better results by pressing Print in Google Spreadsheets, and copying and pasting from that. However, the results are still rather lacking...

Sigh. The problem here are all the carriage returns I have embedded in the cells.

Update. The (lame) solution. Wipe out middle column so I know there is enough paper space. Print first page, establish what I need to re-size the last column to. Re-size and re-print.

June 20, 2007

Chimichanga de Manzana

Spotted on the Guadalajara (Redding, CA) menu. A flour tortilla filled with apples and deep fried. Topped with sugar, cinnamon, honey and whipped cream. Served with two scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream. $5.25. Mmmmmm.

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Tim's Journal in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the previous archive.

July 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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