Steve's random ramblings and technical notes

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Basic Utility Vehicle

"The Basic Utility Vehicle is a vehicle for change. Its purpose is to help meet peoples' everyday needs at the ends of the earth. More than cars, we are building people, opportunity, and freedom. BUVs will promote trade and reduce poverty at a grassroots level. Besides rural transportation, BUVs also represent a mobile power source (i.e. powering generators, water pumps, etc) for further development."

Charles Osgood talked about this today on his program.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Shipping Containers as structural components

On-Site Storage Solutions - Container Marketing

Shipping Containers seem like they would be a great tornado shelter or storage room if buried under a garage floor.
The basic idea for an attached garage is to dig a hole beside the basement wall, drop a container in and build a doorway between them. The door would have to open in (toward the container) in case of a tornado depositing debris by the doorway. Finally, back-fill to the proper grade and pour the concrete for your garage floor. The container structure should support the weight of the concrete while it cures, then the concrete protects everything below from mother nature.
In fact, with the proper footings poured, an entire basement could be built from shipping containers. Doorways would be cut with a torch, sheetrock added for a wallcovering, drop ceilings installed, carpeting added, etc... Large open areas could be created by cutting 8, 10 or 12' openings between two containers.
Waterproofing - I'm still debating the method that would be best for keeping ground water out (and away from the wooden floor). It would be easy enough to coat the whole thing with a liquid sealer that's used for basement walls, but would it seal the bottom of the floor?
Another idea - this time for a detached garage - would be to bury the container behind the structure and build a ramp (covered by a steel plate) down to the container for underground car storage. (okay, the link is pointint to a storm shelter - if it took you to a picture, I could hardly call it my idea)
As shown below, the containers could be used for general purpose construction, but try to get your zoning board to approve that one for a home. Instead, the same containers could be (and have been) used for construction then covered with more traditional siding.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004 - Applications in your pocket - Applications in your pocket: "...where the goal is true portability. Not for your computer, but for your tasks and data. Our goal here at is to find the best applications, utilities and tips to enable you to use a portable USBDrive to free yourself from any single computer. We look for applications that are small, portable (i.e. no registry dependencies, relative pathing, etc.) and, ideally, free or low cost. So look around and see how easy it is to store your life on a keychain!"

Monday, December 27, 2004

Wired 12.04: START - Box Office

Wired 12.04: Box Office
This is just far too cool [SLW]

Photo by Michael Betts
Photo by Michael Betts
"It's no accident that architect Nicholas Lacey's latest London office complex looks like a Lego creation. The structure consists of 26 bright red shipping containers stacked on top of one another. Lacey bought the 40-foot-long metal crates secondhand for $1,400 each and reconditioned them in his own factory.
He hopes the recycled boxes will last as long as the century-old library next door - much longer than they did at sea, where salt-water corrosion put them at risk of leaks after just seven years. The units are prefit with plumbing and wiring, which means the finished real estate costs around $95 per square foot to build, or about half the price of a typical brick-and-mortar building in England. 'You can play endless variations of how you stack them up,' Lacey says. Next up: a timber-clad container apartment building in historic Rochester, some 30 miles away.
- Matthew Stibbe"

Friday, December 17, 2004

Digital Photography Review

Digital Camera Reviews and News: Digital Photography Review: Forums, Glossary, FAQ
"Digital Photography Review
Where you'll find all the latest in digital photography and imaging news, reviews of the latest digital cameras and accessories, the most active discussion forums, a large selection of sample images, a digital camera buyers guide, side-by-side comparisons and the most comprehensive database of digital camera features and specifications."
Like Steve's DigiCams, this site focuses (heh, a pun) on reviews of digital cameras. In addition, they include comparisons to competitor's models with similar price or feature-set.

Bushnell InstantReplay Digital Binoculars

Bushnell InstantReplay Digital Binolculars
Bushnell InstantReplay is the only digital binocular camera that takes pictures through the actual binocular lens, and it means you capture EXACTLY what you see with the same magnification!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sharp Shooter Supply

Sharp Shooter Supply - Specializing in custom centerfire Savage rifles and accessories.
The SHARP SHOOTER COMPETITION TRIGGER is designed as a drop-in replacement. It may require some alteration to the trigger guard on some models, depending on the type of stock. The SHARP SHOOTER COMPETITION TRIGGER is fully adjustable in respect to engagement, over-travel and weight of pull, and uses the original factory safety. The pull range is approximately 2lbs. to 12oz. The COMPETITION TRIGGER comes complete with installation instructions and the wrenches needed for adjustment. Fits models 10, 10ML, 11, 12, 16, 110, 111, 112, 114, 116, & 210SG
Item #SSCT...........$90.00
see also - Savage enthusiast pages

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

IBuyPower Computer :: Battalion 101 SC-Series

IBuyPower Computer :: Notebooks :: Battalion 101 SC-Series
Took delivery of one of these today at The U. The purpose for this laptop is to be a mobile Access Grid Node.
In addition to a 3+ GHz processor, it has a built-in camera as well as s-video input which will allow two video streams if needed.
The ATi Radeon 9700 series chipset will allow us to run a second display for viewing slides or media from the other sites.
Of course, it came preloaded with XP Home, so the first order of business (after exploring the built-in apps) will be to wipe the drive and install a licensed copy of XP Professional. After that, I'll be installing the AG Toolkit 2.3 and snapping screen-shots to prepare for a presentation I'll be doing for the SD Board of Regents' Network Security meeting.
I should mention that this laptop was purchased as a proof-of-concept for Biomedical Research communication as part of the SD BRIN program as a possible replacement for H.323 (IP) video conferencing.
(NIH Grant Number 2 P20 RR016479 from the INBRE Program of the National Center for Research Resources)
This mapping and routing portal can be used with two different mapping technologies:
1) The static map feature using simple bitmaps or
2) The interactive map feature based on their unique vector streaming technology Mapsolute MapTP(TM)

Running Linux Apps w/o becoming Root

Pulled from the ntop FAQ, but applicable to any linux app. I used this trick to run iftop without having to su every time I logged in.
Q. How can I run ntop without being root?
A. A very simple way of doing this is:
  • su
  • chown root ntop
  • chgrp root ntop
  • chmod 6111 ntop
  • exit
This makes ntop read-only for everyone and sets the setuid and setguid bits.
Do not forget to use the -u flag so that ntop changes user as soon as it is started.
Understand that setting the Setuid and Setguid bits allows ANY user to run ntop and it will run with ROOT privledges. This is very powerful, and often a source of security exposure - many system hardening scripts and recomendations tell you to look for and remove the setuid and setguid bits.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Bandwidth Tester Mozilla Extension

Bandwidth Tester Mozilla Extension by Jeremy Gillick
From the author: "This is a mozilla extension that tells you the bandwidth of your current internet connection. It is very useful if you have a laptop and use it in different areas and networks frequently.
This tool is more accurate than many of the website testers because it downloads several files at different sizes to find your average connection speed. However, this is also dependant on where you are in relation to where the test files are being served from. You can change the test files used in the Bandwidth Tester options."

I've installed this on my laptop at the office as well as my USB drive with Portable Firefox for testing network response from various sites and machines.
Here are a few screen-shots of Bandwidth Tester on my machine.

After installing it and restarting your browser, click Tools -> Bandwidth Tester.

Here is the interface we see when Bandwidth Tester opens.

Checking the Options screen we see that it's pulling files from the author's home page.

After running, you can see I'm getting ~533.5 Kbps (hmm, not so great today)

I'll use cURL to d/l the same files to my page on the local network...

and set the Options to use the local copy...

and BAM! now we're getting some network response!

Open Perl IDE

Open Perl IDE: "Open Perl IDE is an integrated development environment for writing and debugging Perl scripts with any standard perl distribution under Windows 95/98/NT/2000."
Just downloaded and will check this out. Much better than having to run an editor and a console window side-by-side for debugging.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Good prices on digital cameras - like the Digital Rebel...

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