Ivor O’Connor

February 28, 2009

New Calendar Based on Darwin?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 6:04 pm

Today is the last day of Darwin’s 200th birthmonth. It’s a very important day.

The question is:
When will the World toss the Jesus Christ based calendar and adopt one based on Darwin’s bday?

Darwin represents the start of true enlightenment. The age of taking control of our own destiny. It’s a pivotal point. A point where we quit relying on heresy, scriptures, and dogma in favor of science. Where we realized statistics, math, and observations can produce reliable repeatable outcomes.

I suspect, if we manage to get past this century, in another hundred years we’ll change calendars…

February 24, 2009

New phone

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 3:12 pm

http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20090220/166052/

Volkswagen

Filed under: green — Tags: , , — ioconnor @ 2:24 pm

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-10169517-48.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=GreenTech

Hmmm… Nice to see they are trying. I think hydrogen, perhaps produced locally with excess pv and wind, will power our vehicles via Fuel Cells. Batteries will be minimized to act as glorified capacitors. However this article and most don’t go into the problems which make fuel cells interesting. Like keeping them warm, maintenance, tank corrosion, etc.. These things should be put squarely in the forefront so people can start discussing them.

Volkswagen recently imported 16 of the zero-emissions fuel cell electric vehicles that were developed in partnership with scientists from Tongji University and debuted at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The Lingyu uses hydrogen to power an electric motor, and produces only water and oxygen as emissions.

The Passat Lingyu can achieve up to 90 mph and a range of 146 miles on a single tank of hydrogen. It has already undergone more than 50,000 miles of testing in China, according to John Tillman, spokesman for Volkswagen.

In its new home in California, the Passat Lingyu will be tested by an internal fleet of drivers in city and highway scenarios to determine how consumers use the car and to uncover any issues in a regular driving cycle, Tillman said. At this time, the vehicles are not available for the general public to drive, but Volkwagen is working on logistics to put the next generation of fuel cell prototypes into consumer hands for testing.

The Lingyu joins eight other Volkswagen fuel cell vehicles at the Caliornia Fuel Cell Partnership, including the Audi Q5 FCEV, the Touran HyMotion FCEV, the Tiguan FCEV, and the Caddy Maxi FCEV.

Other fuel cell vehicles participating in the California Fuel Cell Partnership include the Chevy Equinox, Daimler F-Cell FCV, Ford Focus FCV, GM HydroGen3, Honda Clarity, Hyundai Tucson FCEV, Kia Borrego FCEV, Kia Sportage FCVs, and Toyota FCHV.

February 22, 2009

Bill Maher, Religulousa

Filed under: Religion — Tags: , — ioconnor @ 11:16 pm

Finally the DVD of this movie is out. (None of the 20+ theaters dared show a movie questioning religion within 50 miles of here.) However the movie had no teeth! It’s as if Maher does not have the intellectual capacity to take a bite. He’s certainly no Bertrand Russel. Perhaps this generation is not capable of recognizing and cataloging arguments? It would certainly be nice if somebody took over where Russel left off. Somebody who clearly documented the philosophical arguments and their problems. There’s no need to docilely keep confronting idiots the way Maher does. It would be much more exciting to move out of the gutter he operates in and interview intelligent people. As Bill Maher might put it, to interview the more elite “intellectual slave owners”. I’d like to know where each of these “elites” break down. How much smoke and mirrors are employed by each of the elites before they break down. I think Maher could progress up the ranks satirically taking on each elite with well known philosophical arguments while getting many more laughs…

Somebody that’s truly concerned about the subject and willing to devote their time to enlightening the human race, I’m not, should help Maher…

http://www.disbeliefnet.com/

CraigsList Reader

Filed under: Shopping — Tags: , , , , — ioconnor @ 8:03 pm

Garage sales and CraigsList are wonderful when time permits. This application “CraigsList Reader” is free and takes the hassle out of searching. No more wasted time. A must have application!

CraigsList is one of the top visited websites in the world, but to gather information out of it is very challenging. Not any more. Now, all the information on that site is very easy to collect. Now it is very easy to get targeted information that is not based on demographics.

There are also programs for other sites that I am not aware of. Such as:
http://www.kijiji.com/
http://www.backpage.com/classifieds/index
They look much like CraigsList but I don’t have the time, desire, or inclination to check them out.

Perhaps the best way to look for things is to use these three programs using the email alert option? Then say if you are looking for that old Schwin Continental bicycle you grew up on you’ll be able to quickly suss out the going price or immediately buy one. I’m thinking I’d like to get a pencil sharpener too. A big heavy duty hand operated one. Do such things even exist?

Awk and Sed one liners explained

Filed under: awk/sed, bash, cli, php, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — ioconnor @ 7:44 pm

There is an excellent article at OS News here http://www.osnews.com/story/21004/Awk_and_Sed_One-Liners_Explained

Much of the stuff presented there is very useful. However… Yes there is a big “however”. Howevery do you really want to use these platform specific arcane relics that do not have the error handling capabilities needed to handle unexpected scenarios? Short answer… NO.

Use PHP instead. It can do everything awk/sed can much more easily. More importantly you can plan for the unexpected since you get errors back instead of just blindly assuming the awk and sed commands worked as they did in your microcosm of a test world.

Sure PHP is not always installed on the platform. Say you are planning to put your code in a debian package and you are afraid to use PHP since it does not come preinstalled. Well simply put the latest release of PHP as a requirement for your package. Done. Before your package is loaded PHP gets loaded so you have all the wonderful PHP tools and perhaps libraries available.

Then there is the matter of running your code run on windows platforms. Same thing. Require PHP to be installed first. You can find it here for free on the M$ world. Sure there are some cooler languages like python and ruby but they simply are not as solid as PHP nor do they have the excellent pear libraries.

Scientists Close To Universal Vaccine For Flu

Filed under: anti virus, Uncategorized — Tags: — ioconnor @ 6:54 pm

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100931249&ft=1&f=1001 is an interesting article by NPR. I’ve never seen any claims of a universal vaccine for flu before. However a universal vaccine for flue does not pass my “common sense” test. If anything our bodies probably need to fight off flus much like our bodies need exercise. Even if it does test out would somebody want to take it? Perhaps old people sure. Or people with AIDS. Or patients with other terminal conditions. But perhaps the rest of us would like to simply watch. If it’s successful flu strains will die out pretty much on their own because they have nowhere to go. If it’s not successful well the people who took the vaccine probably had to sign paperwork saying they’d take full personal responsibility. And they’ll probably invest the last of their money to medicine in the hopes of fixing what was done to them.

Am I cynical or is this just common sense? Perhaps it was not presented correctly or there is some information missing that would allow me to think differently about this?

Google Spreadsheet Data Validation

Filed under: GOOGLE DOCS, Uncategorized — Tags: , — ioconnor @ 6:40 pm

It is good to see google attempting to supply data validation on the cells of a spreadsheet. See details here:
http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/02/data-validation-gives-you-more-control.html

However it’s only a first start. In my spreadsheet demo yesterday the input for employee tax status could not have been validated. As one person mentioned google’s text validation is more like a check off box. Either the text matches exactly one string or it does not validate. There’s nothing equivalent to a pick list. How long will it take Google to supply a pick list? Or for that matter to verify the numeric dollar amount is withing a certain range? I bet it won’t be long. The question is why did they not include these validations in their first release?

February 21, 2009

Tutorial / Example on Google vlookup Spreadsheet Doc

Google spreadsheet information is hard to find. It’s not nearly as documented as Microsoft Office or Open Office. Subscribing to their official blog at http://googledocs.blogspot.com/ is helpful. They replaced the usenet group with a forum at http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Docs?hl=en which is under the general category of google docs support at http://docs.google.com/support/. Here you’ll find descriptions like the following for vlookup:

VLOOKUP(search_criterion, array, index, sort_order)
Searches vertically with reference to adjacent cells to the right. If a specific value is contained in the first column of an array, returns the value to the same line of a specific array column named by index. Search_criterion is the exact value searched for in the first column of the array. Array is the reference, which must include at least two columns. Index is the number of the column in the array that contains the value to be returned. The first column has the number 1. Sort_order (optional) indicates whether the first column in the array is sorted in ascending order.
We’d love to learn how you’re using the VLOOKUP function. You can now show off your finished spreadsheet by editing our knol at [link] (a knol is an authoritative article about a specific topic).

Calculating federal tax withholdings is a good way of demonstrating vlookup. The documentation on federal tax for 2009 can be found at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf. The percentage method is described on pages 36 through 39. It’s a simple three step process. 1) Calculate withholdings by multiplying the number of them by $70.19. 2) Subtract this from the gross pay. 3) Use this number to access the appropriate table on page 38 and 39 for the federal tax. To make life simpler only the first table was used. (The table for people being paid on a weekly basis.)

Two sheets were used. The first sheet is for the employee. The second sheet contains the tables. The first sheet for completeness sake has columns “pp” for pay period and such. Needed input are Status, number of deductions, and gross pay. Under status there is ‘S’ for single, ‘M’ for married, and ‘H’ for head of household. The unnamed column to the right of these yellow input columns is for validation. If the input validates then it is assigned a ‘P’ and the calculations to the right can proceed. The table sheet is basically a copy of the information from page 38 left in basically the same format making it easy to copy.

The validation column is interesting.

=if(and(or(“s”=E11,”M”=E11,”H”=E11),and(0=F11),and(0G11)),”P”,)

Apparently case is not important in comparisons. I put literals to the left for safety so no accidental assignments could happen. The logic operators remind me of reverse polish notation on HP calculators for some reason. If implicit logic couldn’t have been used there are true() and false() functions to fall back on. If it doesn’t validate then nothing is inserted keeping the sheet uncluttered.

The gross minus deduction is simple.

=if(“P”H11,,if(0>G11-F11*70.19,0,G11-F11*70.19))

In English it reads if the input passes and the deductions are less than the gross then subtract them. Otherwise there is no Federal Tax.

Unfortunately the table lookup with vlookup is not so uncluttered. It seems either a spreadsheet looks cluttered yet full of simple logic or looks uncluttered but with cells full of pages of logic. Or maybe I don’t know the right tricks.

=if(“P”H11,,if(0>if(“M”=E11, (((I11-(vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,1)))* vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,4))+ vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,3)), (((I11-(vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,1)))* vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,4))+ vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,3))),,if(“M”=E11, (((I11-(vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,1)))* vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,4))+ vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$20:$D$26,3)), (((I11-(vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,1)))* vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,4))+ vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,3)))))

In English it starts off verifying the input passed. Then a check is made to make sure the result does not go negative. Unfortunately this duplicates a lot of code. Once this is done the employee’s status, married or not, is checked to determine which of the two weekly tables should be used. Finally the vlookups comes in to play each one looking something like this:

vlookup(I11,’Table5 – Fed Witholding’!$A$10:$D$16,3

The important thing to notice is the vlookup took only 3 arguments. The first argument is the argument to be searched for. The second describes a rectangle to be looked at. The third is the index of the column to be returned. The index starts at 1 not 0. Now you’ll notice this does not work like similarly named functions in open office and M$ office. And the documentation is wrong. An exact match is not needed.

Anyways, you can see vlookup’s usage and play with it in the google spreadsheet here:
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=petVh_GdUZbASvuKR4dMOPA&hl=en

You’ll need to login by making yourself an account and then copy the spreadsheet to play with it in any detail. Also some of the code in this post is wrong because wordpress garbled it. See the spreadsheet to see the correct non-garbled code.

February 19, 2009

Possible Book To Read

Filed under: Uncategorized — ioconnor @ 8:20 pm

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0980076315/ref=nosim/kkorg-20 which I found through the blog http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/003532.php.

Seems like a very interesting book. Maybe it contains some facts to counter all the religious emotional beliefs on the other side?

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