Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Congressional Reports online 

American taxpayers spend nearly $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a "think tank" that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained.

Until now that is - and the launch of this handy new website facility:

A virtual treasure trove of current research information previously reserved for those only with access to these public documents.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

American Idles: Gas up and pay up 

President Bush continues to cost Americans more - added to the $175+ billions in Iraq is now $5B at the gas pump - and uncharted costs in environmental effects beyond that.

The Sierra Club's new report, “Shifting Out Of Reverse: Making Pickup Trucks Go Farther on a Gallon of Gas." gives details. They say that automakers can use existing off-the-shelf technology—such as starter-generators, cylinder deactivation, and more aerodynamic design—to raise the fuel economy of a full-size pickup from 20 mpg to 34 mpg.

The net result would be 9.3 billion gallons of savings every year. Ironically, the list of off-the-shelf technologies that the Sierra Club recommends to boost fuel economy are all important components of GM’s nascent hybrid program. The Sierra Club says that inaction on the part of the automakers cost pickup truck drivers alone $387 million at the pumps last year.

The U.S. PIRG Education Fund issues its own report on the same subject, entitled, “American Idles: President Bush’s Inaction Costs Americans $5 Billion at the Pump in 2005.”

Meanwhile the big oil companies and automakers continue to fight this progress; in fact, while consumers are paying more at the pump, oil companies are recording huge profits. In 2004, the top ten oil companies enjoyed net profits of $100 billion, an increase of more than 30 percent from 2003. Surprisingly they are not offering their windfall profits toward the cost of the Iraq war.

The best way to reduce our dependence on oil and save consumers money at the pump is to make cars go farther on a gallon of gas. Today, fuel economy is at a 24-year low of 20.8 miles per gallon (mpg). The National Academy of Sciences has stated that we already have the technology to make cars get 40 mpg.

Since I drive a car today that regularly gets 46mpg up to 52mpg and with ULEV emissions - this is no surprise.

The chances of President Bush doing anything more than talking about technology being the solution and actually adding some push to get to the solution are of course vanishingly small.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Cool uses of XML - maps and overlays 

The new Google maps allows programmatic access and this has opened up some interesting new uses where demographic information is overlaid onto the maps.


The ability to toggle to satellite imagery makes this especially compelling. These images are very useful - (I use them alot to locate soccer fields for away games where the directions are woeful - road signs poorly located - and Americans just do not give good directions - not a skill taught in school!)

Microsoft is also implementing technology too with 45' angle views:

The next step is to get these search interfaces using a common XML syntax based on ISO23950. to see how this can work - and also examples of the underlying XML query syntax, see:

Can the software patent process be fixed? 

Seems like its an open question. And especially when the people doing the fixing are the ones that broke it in the first place.

Here's the latest attempt at righting the ship and making it more seaworthy. http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-5737961.html

The only problem is that the patent system is rapidly becoming a dinosaur with respect to how the software industry really is run, with open source public collaborative projects built around technology where there are no existing IPR claims.

Hopefully sooner than later everyone will realize that patents on software are no longer relevant and do far more damage than good, add costs and overhead to customers, and certainly never helped the people that they should have done in the first place.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?