Kamis, 31 Agustus 2006

0 Ratcliffe Power Station

[Images: The archetypically geo-monolithic cooling towers of Ratcliffe Power Station, Nottinghamshire, England, photographed by Michael Kenna (©). Don't miss Kenna's recent work, including these spectacular photographs of Hokkaido – then go buy his 20-year retrospective. Earlier: Nuclear ambition].

0 How to Google from your Cell Phone

A few months back while traveling for work, I had some time to kill in between meetings. Unfamiliar with New Jersey, I used the Google SMS service to locate a Costco (because I admit to being a browser). I entered the search on my cell and within 1 minute, I had the address and phone number of 2 Costco's in the vicinity.

This morning the Cool Tools site shares how to actually use the service:

The steps (given by Google):
1. Start a new text message and type in your search query
2. Send the message to the number "46645" (GOOGL)
3. You'll receive text message(s) with results

One of the tough things is understanding what to enter and what Google understands. Here is a few samples:

To get business listings:

  • Enter what you want to find. You can search for either a specific business (Pizza Hut) or a general service (pizza).
  • Make sure to include both a city and state, or a zip code with your search terms.
  • If you want to make sure you get local listings, put a period between the business name and the location ('pizza.10013' or 'pottery barn.boston ma')'

To get driving directions, use any of the following combinations as your query:

  • Address + zip code
  • Address + city + state
  • City + state
  • City (for major metropolis)
  • Zip code
  • Airport code (e.g., EWR for Newark Liberty Airport, LAX for Los Angeles Airport)

To get answers:
Sample queries:

  • population of Japan
  • Mark Twain's real name
  • who wrote hamlet

There are a ton of things you can do. If you want to read up on more options, go to Google SMS.
Visit Cool Tools for more, well, Cool Tools.

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Rabu, 30 Agustus 2006

0 Beijing Orbital

[Image: "The northernmost, barren reaches" of Beijing's 6th Ring Road. From Wikipedia].

In a recent interview with Ballardian.com, British author Iain Sinclair mentions that he hopes to begin a project called Beijing Orbital:
    When I was in Stavangar in Norway at one of these strange conferences, I saw a presentation by an assistant of Rem Koolhaas which was about the China TV building he’d built. He showed this virtual version of a city with seven orbital motorways just spreading out from the centre of this very traditional city into the desert, and the incredible pieces that were going up. I thought my god, it will be amazing to travel around these seven orbital motorways. Of course, that is relatively attractive to be made into a film. I think it will be reasonably possible to get a commission for that, which may also become a book. It will also involve me doing a lot of other things – circling round China as to what China means to different places in Europe, in the sense of Fu Manchu or people being drowned in Morecombe, all these stories, before I even embark on a journey to the place itself.
Maybe BLDGBLOG will beat him to it. Interested funders be in touch.

0 Bypassing Forced Registration at News Sites

When Marie wrote her semi-rant on news organizations, she was totally correct about the media not being user-friendly (which is the simplest way to put it).

One of her points pertained to the forced registration that many news sites push at you before you get to read a story. This is invariably immediately following a click on teaser headline.

Today the Bivings Report discussed a similar topic and got a lot more in-depth than we did. While it was a good message, the best consumer tip came from the comment section. A reader suggested using a site named Bug Me Not to elude forced registration. I tried it a few times and it works like a charm. Just enter the site you want to read and Bug Me Not gives you a login/password that already works on the site.

The NY Times, Chicago Tribune, and LA Times are among the sites they claim are accessed the most often.

You can read the Bivings article here and here is Bug Me Not.

0 Nuclear Ambition

New Scientist reports that the cooling towers of nuclear power plants "could be evolutionary hotspots for new respiratory diseases."
It's architecture as a stimulus for Darwinian novelty.

[Image: Didcot power station; from Wikipedia].

The "warm, wet conditions" inside the towers have been found to host "several previously unknown strains of bacteria, including some that were similar to Legionella pneumophila, the cause of legionnaires' disease." The scientist behind this discovery warns that cooling towers are thus a source of pathogenic "aerosols" – invisible germ-clouds blowing out from their architectural origins to infect the lungs of animals nearby.
This nuclear landscape of concrete hyperboloids belching steam, and virulent microbes, into the sky should therefore "be monitored for emerging pathogens." Super-germs. Radioactive pneumonia.
Sci-fi novelists, heads up: a new plot beckons.

0 The U.S. Army Permafrost Tunnel

Between 1963 and 1965, the U.S Army Permafrost Tunnel was dug "entirely within frozen ground on the north slope of Hill 456 near Fox, Alaska."

Ice_Intrusion_155_ft_deep"Initial research" at the site "focused on developing new mining and tunneling methods for building underground facilities and foundations in permafrost. Special emphasis was given to tunnel behavior in permafrost, including deformation, natural air flow, feasible types of ventilation and thermal regime."

The tunnel is now maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory – whose work "includes an amazing array of topic areas, including engineering and technology in cold regions, seismic-acoustic physics, tools for military combat and survival in cold weather, and many others."

If you're hoping to explore the place in person, however, beware that the tunnel's structure "requires a freezer unit" in order to survive the Alaskan summer – lest the whole place spontaneously liquify...
Meanwhile, soon to be discovered: a whole city of post-military ice caves, carved throughout the Alaskan peninsula and populated entirely by sightless humanoids – who are victims of an Army gene experiment gone awry.
Starring Samuel L. Jackson as a hot-headed spelunker who discovers his own father living nude in the deepest tunnel. "Enough is enough!" Jackson yells. "I have had it with my motherfuckin' father living in this motherfuckin' cave!"

0 All of your Web 2.0 in one place

So who is hot in this next generation of Internet sites? Well, to answer that we need to know the players. Web2logo.com has started graphically listing and tracking the sites claiming to be part of Web 2.0.

When you first hit their site you are greeted with a ton of logos:

Simply click on a logo and you are then presented with the sites Alexa stats, Technorati stats, and you can read comments left by registered users. All in all, its not a bad way to keep up to date on all of these newer sites. I admit that there were several I had not seen before.

[via Livemarks]

Selasa, 29 Agustus 2006

0 Calculate the Cost of Driving

Tip #24 in one of my previous posts regarding my efforts to save money, was simply that I would force myself to bike to work once per week. I have actually done quite well with that and have actually increased it to twice/week. As part of the plan and to keep my motivation, I tossed together an Excel spreadsheet that helps me log savings. I was saving roughly $4.00 per round trip. So in a typical month my average savings is $32.00.

What I want to introduce you to here is a site named Unfocused Brain. They put together a site that allows you to enter your gas price, distance and your miles per gallon. Once entered, you hit calculate and it will show you how much that drive costs you.

Check it out for yourself and start planning better routes to reduce your mileage!
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0 Saving Money with Peroxide

Being a cheapskate is changing my life - I can feel it. A few weeks ago I was excited to write about 75 ways to use Vinegar and this morning I was just as happy to see how I can use a $1.00 bottle of peroxide for a ton of different things around the house. Something tells me these approaches are much cheaper than what most of us do today.

These revelations come from The Frugal Duchess which has become one of my daily feed-reads. Here are a couple of the good ones that I enjoyed:

  • "You can also add a cup of peroxide instead of bleach to a load of whites in your laundry to whiten them. If there is blood on clothing, pour directly on the soiled spot. Let it sit for a minute, then rub it and rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary."

  • "Tilt your head back and spray into nostrils with your 50/50 mixture whenever you have a cold, plugged sinus. It will bubble and help to kill the bacteria. Hold for a few minutes then blow your nose into tissue."

  • I use peroxide to clean my mirrors with, there is no smearing, which is why I love it so much for this.

So we save money with Vinegar and Peroxide. What other common household products can replace high priced store-bought remedies? Share in the savings and let us know in the comments?

Senin, 28 Agustus 2006

0 5 Tips for Saving Money at Home

Bankrate.com recently had a contest asking for people's best tips of frugality. I didn't participate because I just found out about it but you can bet I am here to clean up awful mess afterwards. I reviewed each of the tips and guess what...only 5 are going to be of value to you. Sure, if you have all the time on Earth you may save by following their other tips. However, most are not things that can be worked into a normal schedule (I am almost surprised making your own butter wasn't on the list).

However, as I mentioned there were 5 very solid tips. Here are the ones that are worth considering:

  • Extinguish your pilot lights and save $$! : "During the warmer months turn off your pilot lights to your gas furnaces and gas log fireplaces. This has saved us $15 a month. Every little bit helps!!"

  • Appliance timers -- blessings in disguise: "...Now, the electrical water heater is off during the day when nobody is home, and is programmed to operate an hour before I return home from work. I have saved approximately $20 per month, and am now planning to put a programmable timer or thermostat on my furnace as well..."

  • Increase the r-factor in windows easily: "...They are held in place by the lip edge of the window and the exact fit. It cost about $40.00 to do all the windows and saved 40 percent on my heating bills."

  • Use Vinegar to clean: I talked about it a while ago but it's worth repeating. "Use directly in the laundry to eliminate musty odors, it even works on urine odors. Fido have an accident? Douse the area with vinegar, place an absorbent cloth over the spot and step on it, press your weight into it to absorb vinegar and old urine and let dry."

  • This is the winner in my book - The 30-day-rule: "When you see something in the store that you absolutely have to have, come home and mark the item, store, and price on your calendar. Then count 30 days ahead, and circle the date. That is when you can go back and purchase the item, if you still want it. Making yourself wait for an item suppresses impulse purchases, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back to find that same item on the clearance table!" --Sarah Gorman Virginia Beach

Well Sarah, you said a mouthful. That is something that I have never done and I am as cheap as they come. Sure comparison shopping is fine but when you want to make a purchase, waiting 30 days eliminates 100% of the impulse. That really gives you a chance to be sure you want to buy. If we all get that strategy into our heads, we'll avoid regretful clutter.

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0 Create your own Photo Planetscape

When I first read the title of Photojojo's post, I honestly thought that is was going to involve placing artificial planets into your photos and I almost didn't bother reading it. Now I am kind of happy I did because the tutorial is about, what I will call, Planetscapes (derived from cityscape: Wikipedia).

By using a series of photos, you do in fact create an image that..wait. Just look at the image below. It will do a much better explanation than my babbling.Here is another visual sample:

These are almost worth creating and framing for the office. I am just pretty amazed at the look and more amazed that it seems relatively simple to do yourself.

0 Windows Live Hotspot Locator + 5 other options

If I am going on a trip, I avoid Internet withdrawal by searching for hotspots before I leave. The results get printed out and put into my carry-on bag so that when I arrive at my destination, I already know where to go for access.

While this may appear to be a Microsoft mini-commercial, rest assured it's not. I just personally like their wifi search because it lists free and paid locations, addresses and phone numbers. It also lets you filter locations based on your needs (hotel, airports, health club, library, etc.).

If you'd rather remain Microsoft-free, here are other ways to find hotspots. There are a ton of different ways so we am only listing a few:

On your cell phone
Using Google Maps

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0 Get American Express Member Incentives via RSS

I have been an American Express Gold member for 5 years. As a Gold Member, you are supposed to get perks.

So for example, if there is a sold out concert that I want to go to, I can call American Express to see if they have any seats set aside for Gold members. A lot of times they do have tickets but they lacked an effective way of letting members know about it. Aside from the periodic mailer sent to the house, you would simply never know about the perks.

Well, I think American Express may finally get it. I noticed this morning that I can now subscribe to their RSS feed and get updates on their travel rewards program, special events, etc.

Since I seemingly live in my RSS reader, this makes a ton of sense for me. If you want to check it out, visit American Express. Oh, and no, you do not need to be a card holder to get the feed.

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