random musings...

Organic Food

I saw this article- in yahoo news, and had one thought pretty much immediately

the hypothesis is flawed

I buy organic veggies or milk not because I believe it to have some sort of mythical higher nutritional value. I buy it for what it doesn’t have; insecticides, growth hormones, etc.

beyond that, I try to buy my organic produce at the local farmers’ market. not because it’s necessarily any better than what I might find elsewhere, but it hasn’t been shipped in from the other side of the globe.

when I showed him the article, my friend alan pointed out that organic farming isn’t just about an end product. it’s about how much permanent damage we do to the land and the environment in the production of the food. even if no chemicals end up on the food I buy, that doesn’t give me much hope if they just washed off end up in the water I drink, or the water that the next crop is irrigated with.

makes me want to find the original study, and more importantly, take a look at who funded the study and who funds the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. maybe I’m seeing conspiracy where there’s plain laziness, but they really missed the boat on this one.

to close with another insight from alan:

This reminds me of other junk “science” research – like the ones saying that protein/health bars are no different than snickers candy bars. Because the only thing they compare are raw calories.

edit:
the article doesn’t seem to be there anymore… in any case, it was about how buying organic food is irrational because it provides no additional nutritional benefit over conventionally-grown produce.

Ruby's Mileage Over Time

fresh from google docs, mileage over time for ruby (our 2005 prius)

edit: new chart link, using the new charts on google docs…

the chart covers september 2005 to now. I haven’t figured out yet how to get google docs to include the values in the date column as labels along the X axis, then again I’m not really a spreadsheet sort of guy. ;-) (note, the problem here is that the date is not in an adjacent column, and can’t figure out how to do disjoint ranges when defining the range for the chart).

mfd mileage is direct readings from the computer in the car at the time of the fillup (I reset those with every tank).

calculated mileage is the number of gallons used in the last tank divided by the number of miles driven.

calculated mileage can be a bit rough because of the flexible bladder in the tank (smaller tank when cold, etc.), so the 4 tank rolling mileage is the gallons used in the last 4 tanks divided by the miles travelled on those tanks.

she’s currently averaging ~46mpg for her lifetime (calculated, not mfd). and even the calculated mileage has been less spiky recently.

Rose Is Sweet!

things look pretty much the same here, but under the covers a lot has changed. I just finished rewriting all the database interaction using Rose::DB and Rose::DB::Object

back when I first wrote the code that handles these pages, I was really frustrated by the depth of the dependencies involved in getting create/read/update/delete dynamic model classes working. so I wrote my own. and it worked, but it was a bit clunky. Rose does everything my clunky class ever did, and more, and it’s a lot cleaner. the real evidence of that is that creating model classes and porting the controllers to use them really wasn’t all that hard. a half day of hacking, if that.

Mileage 33333

ruby rolled over 33333 miles at the end of may, while we were on a road trip to visit my in-laws. 22222 was the end of march 2008, so 11111 miles in 14 months. all things being equal, not really too bad. certainly below the california average.

Lion, Yanlb

another new linux box.

this one is a new mythtv frontend, based on a little mini-itx nvidia ion board. sinced it’s an ion chipset, and I needed a “big cat” name (io triumphe!), this one is lion. ;-)

the ion is actually pretty slick for a mythfrontend. it’s got an intel atom, an nvidia 9400M, hdmi and optical audio outs… the 9400M is new enough that it can use vdpau for playback, definitely gives it a leg up over the appletv box in the guest bedroom.

it’s been able to playback almost everything I’ve thrown at it. 720p and 1080i ota hd, no problem. 720p divx re-encoded from the ota hd to save space, no problem. dvds, no problem. the only thing it couldn’t handle was a 720p ogg theora file of big buck bunny but I wasn’t really surprised by that, vdpau can’t do ogg theora in hardware (yet? hoping…).

I installed mythbuntu on lion, which is a bit of a departure for me. the rest of the linux boxes in the house run gentoo. but JYA has backported the vdpau support from mythtv trunk to the 0.21 fixes branch, and he maintains an ubuntu repo with his builds. so I decided to go this route rather than try to build his 0.21 backport in gentoo, or try to track trunk. so far it’s working really well…

did I mention that lion is really quiet too? the board itself is fanless, and the case I chose has a DC power supply with an external brick for AC/DC conversion. the case has a small fan that I had removed at first. but since we’re heading into summer, and the den is the hottest room in the house, the fan is back in for now. but I think the tivo is still the loudest thing in the room, and it’s not all that loud, so I think the fan will stay in for now.

Caracal

so, I read this post on mythtvnews about hacking an appletv to run linux and a mythfrontend, and I just had to try it. a 40GB appletv arrived at my office last friday courtesy of amazon. after some hacking and a bit of frustration, I’ve got things mostly working…

  • continuing the oxy tradition of naming boxes after cats, this little guy is caracal.
  • getting gentoo installed and running was simple, possibly because I run gentoo on some other boxes.
  • with a 2.6.24 kernel, nvidia driver 169.09 and a wired network, everything just about works. I still don’t have the internal IR working though.
  • wireless networking doesn’t want to work under 2.6.24, which is a bummer because I want to set this up on the tv in the guest room.
  • with a 2.6.25 kernel, wireless networking works.
  • nvidia 169.09 won’t build with 2.6.25, and the driver that does (173.14.09) doesn’t seem to work. I get a flash of green and then nothing… black. X is running, mythfrontend is running, but nothing outputs to the tv.

all-in-all, the things that are working work well… playing 1080i and 720p recordings from the backend works just fine, with maybe the occasional buffering pause in 1080i.

next I’m going to try the 177.13 nvidia beta driver under 2.6.25 to see if that works any better than 173.14.09.

edit:
177.13 does the same thing that 173.14.09… quick green screen followed by a bunch of nothing.

I just ordered a ethernet over powerline kit and a second streamzap (identical to the one I use on the main mythbox). with that hardware (wired network and external IR input) the appletv should be ready to move to the guest room.

Silence Is Golden

for the past month or so, I’ve been trying to quiet down the computer noise in the den/tv room/office. bigger heatsinks, bigger/slower fans, that sort of thing. no rocket science involved, and silent pc review is an invaluable resource.

after all that, it turns out that the loudest computer left is kitten, an aging mini-itx with a via edan processor. but here’s the strange bit, kitten is fanless. the only moving parts in the entire box are in the harddrive, and the noise isn’t the skritch-skritch of a harddrive. after some reading, it seems to be singing capacitors. there are some things we can do kernel-wise, which is what that link is about, but singing caps can also signal failing hardware, and since kitten is approaching 6 years old, and all of that time without cooling fans………

so, last night I swapped kitten out for lynx, an asus wl500w running openwrt, a stripped down linux distribution for wireless access points. seems to be working quite well so far. it’s doing most of what kitten did, and anything that was too heavy has been moved to boxes behind lynx on the internal network.

with lynx in place managing the network, things are much quieter. there are a couple of things I can try to quiet the other computers down a bit, but they’re pretty quiet as-is. currently the loudest thing in the room is the fan in the tivo, and I’m not sure how much we can do to mitigate that…

ok, enough geeky talk for now. maybe more later… ;-)

Mileage 22222

ruby (my little red prius) rolled over 22222 miles on the way to work this morning. that’s a bit of a milestone. it will very likely be a while before 33333, I just don’t drive all that much.

Easter

for easter this year, karen and I went to the bel air presbyterian service with our friends david and marian… in the hollywood bowl!

it was all a bit weird. not the service itself, but being in a church service in this venue where I’ve seen so many concerts. rock, classical, jazz… I’ve even sung along to the sound of music a few times.

all said it was a pretty cool, though surreal morning.

New Server

rest in peace tomcat. long live tigger.

the server (tomcat) that handled the database and application server that makes this site possible (and a bunch of other services on the internal network) died last week.

I’ve built a new server (tigger), and recovered almost everthing that was on tomcat. the only thing I was unable to recover is the database, so we’re stuck with this very old and out-of-date backup. I think I took this snapshot right after I set things up on tomcat years ago. I’ll clean things up a bit in the next few days. and I’ll start taking decent backups… I suppose it is true, the cobbler’s children go shoeless. :-/