Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Quantum Leap In Power Generation

This could be really cool, if it's true...

For a long long time now, I've been asking people (any one who has the unfortunate luck to get me rambling about my hair brained pseudo-scientific daydreams), "Why don't we hear more about crazy inventors trying to capture and reuse some of the waste heat that nearly every human activity and technology produces?!" I've always gotten answers like "... well, in this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!". Well, Borealis Exploration Limited, seems to think this concept isn't so crazy. I read this on the Internet so that mean it's true :P

Power Chips plc: "Power Chips™, which use thermionics to convert heat directly into electricity, will be one of the first industrial applications of nanotechnology. These small, solid-state devices promise to improve current power generation and waste heat recovery techniques. Power Chips will deliver up to 70-80% of the maximum (Carnot) theoretical efficiency for heat pumps (conventional power generation equipment operates at up to 40% Carnot efficiency).

Power Chips plc has devised 'Power Chips' which generate electricity by using heat to move electrons from one side of a vacuum diode to the other. The system, currently under development, contains no moving parts or motors and can be either miniaturized or scaled to very large sizes for use in a variety of applications. Whether it is to recover energy from the waste heat of traditional engines and turbines, or to replace them completely with a compact and efficient solid-state system, Power Chips present product engineers and project managers with a broad array of design options.

We are actively seeking licensees and development partners for a number of specific applications of Power Chip technology. Our current development efforts are centered around increasing power density of research prototypes and refining manufacturing processes to complete production prototypes.

More detailed information on Power Chips can be found by reviewing our patent portfolio in the Technology section of this site. If you have specific questions about your potential application for Power Chips, feel free to contact us."

I also wonder about the net amount of waste heat produced by human activity: car engines, air conditioners, camp fires, jet engines, leaving my Dad's back door open in winter, passing gas, and patio heaters, that many Calgarian night clubs use in an attempt to (again, to my Father's horror) "heat the outdoors!"

It's all gotta add up to something and I'll bet someone is gonna crunch some numbers and do the math sometime soon, in light of all the recent environmental awareness that seems to be suddenly newsworthy.

I wanted to share your [website A] message with [another website A member], but there is no way to forward!

This is an excerpt i stole from an email i sent to a good friend of mine who, i really hope, doesn't mind receiving my raving, seemingly unprovoked, rants!

"... On a separate note, let me ask, how do you like [social networking site A]? I really like it. I think it's a thousand times better then [social networking site B] but it still drives me nuts! I wanted to share the info that you gave me in your [social networking site A] message with [another member of social networking site A], but there is no way to forward!

Not only do i have to open my email, and then follow a link, and then sign into [social networking site A] just to read the damn message, but then i need to copy and paste it to forward it to someone?! and i can't send to multiple recipients through [social networking site A] so i need to come back to my email!

It's so dumb! They are trying to drive traffic to their site by providing services that enhances social communication on the Internet and that's great ... but for the love of crap, [social networking site A], don't try to force me to use your site _instead_ of email, when you could integrate with the original social networking tool, that we all, already rely on and have relied on since the early 90's!!!

When someone messages me and you want to notify me via email, SEND ME THE FUCKING MESSAGE BODY TOO!!! I will still visit your site and see your bloody ads while i use the services and features that go above and beyond email, and actually _require_ your system! but whenever you can, for fuck sakes, TRY TO MAKE MY EXISTING TOOLS BETTER, don't fucking try to cripple them!!!

... ok, sorry, i just had to get that out...

it's kinda related to some of the stuff we (a few friends of mine) are working on. We might be trying to [do something] around fixing the lack of integration between social sites. I'm pretty excited about it! I've been thinking about this for a long time, even before i realized all my friends were using [social networking site B] and how terrible [social networking site B] is. Now that everyone seems to be jumping onto [social networking site A], and i'm forced to use their tools in the way they intended, i'm even more motivated to fix some of this stuff."

... and for anyone who had the patience to read this i thank you. some small part of the burden of my rage has now been passed along to you and has lightened the load i carry. I'm really glad the Internet doesn't ever mind receiving my raving, seemingly unprovoked, rants!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Note to self: Always learn and keep looking for the "better way"

Google Testing Blog: TotT: Stubs Speed up Your Unit Tests: "By substituting custom objects for some of your module's dependencies, you can thoroughly test your code, increase your coverage, and still run in less than a second. You can even simulate rare scenarios like database failures and test your error handling code.

A variety of different terms are used to refer to these “custom objects”. In an effort to clarify the vocabulary, Gerard Meszaros provides the following definitions:

* Test Double is a generic term for any test object that replaces a production object.
* Dummy objects are passed around but not actually used. They are usually fillers for parameter lists.
* Fakes have working implementations, but take some shortcut (e.g., InMemoryDatabase).
* Stubs provide canned answers to calls made during a test.
* Mocks have expectations which form a specification of the calls they do and do not receive."