Prognostications and other thoughts

Monday, February 27, 2006

Found a fossil



Found this fossil a few weeks ago while looking for spawing salmon.
See more pics here.

Snow in the Bay Area


Lily and I headed up on Skyline Blvd - we didn't have the nifty camera yet.

But a photographer working for the Open Space Preserve got some shots of us. He wants to use them for their newsletter. Just got them today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Great memories

Two cool things these past two weekends.

1. Went with my Dad and daughter to try and see Steelhead spawning in a local creek.
Didn't see any steelhead, but I did find a fossil. Think it was a bone from a mastadodon. My dad is trying to get it professionally (academically) dated. Regardless, awesome time with grandpa and grandkid.

2. It SNOWED in the Bay Area. Was able to take Lily up to the mtn range (2000 feet) to see a nice dusting of the white stuff.

Nature is pretty damn cool.

Coolest Tech Gadget in a while


I just bought the Casio Exilim S-500. This is by far the coolest gadget in a long while.

I wanted to have a digital camera available whenever/wherever so I could take pictures of our 3-year old daughter. We have a Nikon Coolpix 4300 and an 8700. The 4300 is small but not really "pocket size". Additionally, Nikons are remarkable because the image quality is outstanding. However, they typically suffer from slow start up time, slow shutter speed, and a propensity toward red eye. In any case, I was intrigued by the Nikon S4 but it turns out it's actually quite big.

Then I saw the little Casio. It is seriously tiny-the size of a deck of cards but less than half as thick. And it has 5 megapixel resolution, plenty for what I need. The real clincher, though, is it's so easy to use.
- Start up time is almost instant
- Shutter lag is very good
- Very easy to change to "rapid fire" mode
- Idiot proof to toggle between take pictures/view pictures/take video
- very simple "best shot" selector
- total cool-when looking at previously snapped pics, you can zoom/pan on the image-up to 8X magnification
- recording movies is so incredibly easy. Just click the "Red button" to start, click again to stop. You can then download mpeg-4 movies (massively compressed) right to your desktop and see 640x480 movies with stereo sound and excellent image quality. No conversion necessary
- pictures seem to be very good quality with no red eye; have not had any printed yet
- in sum, for $350, this is amazing. Wait a few months for the "600" version to come out (6 megapixel) and you'll be able to get these for 70-100$ less.

Drawbacks?
- there is no viewfinder. This is fine for taking photos but for video, it "feels kind of weird" to hold this thing out
- requires a dock to charge and upload photos. There is an optional battery charger ($40) and a card reader can make uploading more versatile.
- should have a lockout for the power button. Power has gone on in my pocket

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

President's State of the Union Address

The president did a good job with the State of the Union address. This is a huge step/admission that we must innovate and break the chains of dependancy.

Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources -- and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.

So tonight, I announce the Advanced Energy Initiative -- a 22-percent increase in clean-energy research -- at the Department of Energy, to push for breakthroughs in two vital areas. To change how we power our homes and offices, we will invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants, revolutionary solar and wind technologies, and clean, safe nuclear energy. (Applause.)

We must also change how we power our automobiles. We will increase our research in better batteries for hybrid and electric cars, and in pollution-free cars that run on hydrogen. We'll also fund additional research in cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and competitive within six years. (Applause.)

Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. (Applause.) By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past. (Applause.)