Monday, September 29, 2008

Commentz - commenting widget concept

One of the headaches of making comments on blogs is that you end up with disparate contributions that become harder and harder to track... did anyone comment on your comment or reply to it? Where are all your comments? Can anyone tracking your comments easily find you? Wouldn't it be great if all your comments on other peoples blogs or web pages ended up in your own blog or twitter feed?

This is why I came up with Commentz.

Its a widget very similar to this one that can be installed on any web site but goes much further in that the comments all come from a central database that allows for a whole range of sharing of the comment data.

  • The first set of data obviously is attached to the blog site that the user comments to.
    One great advantage here is that if a user is logged on as a commentz user, there is no other logon process. If enough sites use Commentz then it will immediately be easier and more convenient to comment on sites that are Commentz enabled.
  • Another set of data goes to the commentor themselves.
    Initially the comments and any replies along with a link to the article being commented on are compiled in a Commentz user activity page. This data can then be routed wherever you want... to twitter, to facebook, to your blog... all of it in context and automatically including any follow up replies or comments based on your initial comment.
  • A third set of data gets exposed to search engines.
    You can also opt to have your comments indexed by search engines, so that people are linked not only to the origianl blog page but to your comments on your own Commentz activity page.
Please comment here or email ric.r at... r2labs dot com if you would like to be included in the beta.

A jet pack and a wing attached to a man crosses the English Channel


In the last few days a true-to-life jet scientist attached a jet pack and a wing to his back, was dropped from a plane over france and crossed the Channel in 10 minutes.

This page from the BBC includes video of the event. Here are some interesting facts from the account:
  • He had to start the turbines while he was still in the plane.. so they ended up having 4 jet engines running inside the plane just before he jumped out.
  • He jumped at 8000 feet but did not get velocity enough to have the wing work until he was at 1500 feet! Pretty close.
  • He then shot back up to 8000 feet to do the actual crossing.
  • He then circled above spectators on the English side to lose all his fuel before landing...
  • He landed with a parachute using special kneepads to help him handle the impact of having 140lbs of jet and wing on his back.
Pretty cool.

Robert Cringley says ban incandescent globes and save $27b a year

Robert Cringley is one of the best technology thinkers around, and in his latest article he poses the question of what would happen if incandescent globes were outlawed! Apparently according to his research they are responsible for 18% of the US electricity bill! He goes further with a suggestion that US residential homes go to 380 volt 3phase power as apparently Europe has already done due to its increased efficiency. Some real interesting stufdf to chew over.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Smog Eradicator - Automotive Carbon Scrubber


Ric Richardson recently finished a digital simulation of an on-board carbon scrubber for petroleum fueled vehicles. The digital model uses at its heart a small portable version of the CO2 scrubbers that are used on submarines.

The CO2 scrubbers use Monoethanoleamine (MEA) in a cooled state to collect CO2 then the unique properties of the chemical will release the CO2 when heated. The digital simulation used a fictitious CO2 scrubber based on a stripped down submarine scrubbing engine. The vehicles exhaust (a Lincoln Navigator in the simulator) was run through a liquid scrubber containing the MEA collector. The collector was cooled by the vehicles air conditioning system. When the vehicle is not in use the MEA solution warms up and releases the CO2 into a removeable collection chamber/ container.

A Lincoln Navigator emits approxiamately 500grams of CO2 per km or 1.77 lbs of CO2 per mile. The scrubber is a smaller lighter digital adaptation of the CO2 scrubbers used in submarines and unlike those (which remove almost all the CO2), the proposed scrubber is about 68% effective. The reason for this is that the back pressure of a fully closed exhaust system would adversely effect the exhaust efficiency and design of the target vehicle.

The simulation test results show an 18% loss in efficiency from the vehicles engine due to having the air conditioner on full time and the back pressure from the scrubber system on the exhaust. However the combined effect of the scrubber on the exhaust reduces the CO2 emissions by 63%. This means that a Navigator could have the same emissions as a Ducati motorcycle or a hybrid.

Other problems to handle
This solution only collects CO2. One big problem remains, namely, what to do with it? In the simulation the collection container is exchanged with another empty container after every 50 miles. The full container of CO2 is released in a residential back yard greenhouse. The CO2 emissions for a family that travels 200 miles per week can be absorbed by vegetation in glass house conditions of about 400 square feet. This, and other possibilities are being explored in further digital simulations before physical proof of concepts are attempted.

In the simulator greenhouse CO2 levels were set to 1000 parts per million or 3 times current natural levels. Levels of CO2 above this result in bleaching which effects the plants negatively and drastically reduces the process of photosythnesis.

Please feel free to comment on the test or supply references for similar experiments you may know of. Ric is exploring the patentability of of some or all of the concepts here disclosed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hotswap Batteries - zero restart battery swapping for laptops

Midway through last year Ric patented and produced a prototype of a battery swapping system that allowed a backup battery to be swapped for the main battery without requiring the laptop to be powered down... thereby simply addressing one of the pet peeves of most road warriors.

The technology subsequently fell on deaf ears at two major PC manufacturers simply because the method described required re-engineering of the battery compartment.

Work has commenced on Hotswap Batteries - the second edition. The new approach involves a battery caddy that fits in the laptops battery space with removeable battery cells that can be swapped while the power remains fully flowing.

This approach will suit a much wider range of accessory companies and has wider application despite the fact that obviously the laptops main battery will need to be exchanged for a hotswap battery before battery cells can be swapped easily.

The need for a hotswap battery technology is obviously great given the excitiement generated from even only one mention of the technology on the engadget tech blog which generated over 11,000 visits.

The Swappery - Legal MP3 downloads

The Swappery is a service being planned that combines a number of pressing needs of the modern music aficionado:
  • The service of converting your CD's and LP's into MP3 files.
  • The storage of all your physical CD's
  • The ability to conveniently sell and swap your CD's with others using the service
  • The ability to check that the CD's you buy are not scratched and that the music will play.. and
  • The ability to build your MP3 library legally and quickly... using all the convenience of the internet and a reliable download service...
Sound interesting?

This is how we do this: You send your CDs to us on a spindle or as full jacketed CD's. Each CD is barcoded and ripped at a high resolution. An account is setup in your name and you can download all the music you want. Only the files ripped from your CDs are made available to you. Then if you sell your CD to another person, they not only receive the ownership of the CD but can also check that the music is all in good condition by downloading the music themselves and listening first hand after purchase. Of course, after the CD is sold the MP3s for that CD will be removed from your account to the account of the new owner. This step makes it all legal. Its then all up to you how often you buy, sell or swap your CDs as to how big your MP3 library is or how often it changes to inlcude new titles.

The initial service is in test. If you are interested in being included in the beta please email ric.r at r2labs dot com for an invitation.


Who could be interested?
  • Individuals music lovers
  • Second hand and used music dealers
  • Music clubs and promoters.
We are also looking at providing the same service for other media where there is legal precedent for the production of digital facsimiles of copyrighted works for personal use. Some of these opportunities include Vinyl LP's, Catridge music, Video DVDs, and even printed material such as magazines and books.

Volyoum - Echo Cancellation

Volyoum is a new echo cancellation technology based on a simple premise... If a microphone can be programmed to ignore sounds and speech coming out of a speaker attached to the same communication device, then it is possible to not only increase the volume of the communications coming out of the speaker, but to also amplify the sensitivity of the microphone being used to listen for the incoming communication.

The net effect?

  • Speaking to another person over skype with the speakers as loud as you can bare it yet you are on the opposite side of the room from your computer talking in a normal voice! 
  • The ability to walk around your home and talk to someone on the phone or over the Internet in a normal voice without the need for a headset or a wireless mic.
The technology can go further... to seperate voices in crowded call centers so that only the persons voice at a specific desk will be picked up by the mic on that desk... the applications are endless. And best of all Volyoum is built on technologies that already exist, that only need minor modification to be able to work in this fascinating way.