January 4th, 2005

Whew! (cough)

Okay! Thanks to a good deal on network switches at CompUSA and some quick thinking on Ivan's part, the house network runs on 100-megabit switches now. We used to have only 10-megabit hubs, so this should be much better.
  • Current Mood
    hungry, covered in dust

[idea] Chat reply markers.

Quite often during online chats, i find that there are multiple threads of conversation going on at once. Even when i'm only talking to one other person, it takes some time to think and type, and that can lead to occasional ambiguity. I've thought of three ways this might be addressed:
  1. No technology required; just adopt a convention for disambiguating replies. Prefix your reply with the last word or few words of the line you're replying to, followed by a ">". I've been thinking about using iChat this way. For example:

    Alice: Is your project going well?

    Alice: And have you been getting enough sleep?

    Bob: well?> Yeah, it's not bad. There's a lot left to do though.

    Alice: That's good news.

    Bob: sleep?> No, not nearly. I hope i get to catch up after the project is done.

  2. Add a feature to the chat client that numbers each of your outgoing lines in sequence. (The display of the numbers should be small and subtle.) Then you can establish a convention for using the numbers to refer to previous lines, as in the previous suggestion. This would also let you know when lines of text are dropped, which would be useful for unreliable connections (or to let you know how much you missed if you happen to go briefly offline).

  3. Add a feature to the chat client so that when you click on a previous line of the conversation, it's linked to your current line of typing with a thin arrow. When you hit Return to send the current line, the other side sees a little arrow pointing from the line you selected to the line you just typed.
What do you think?

What is the matter with these hydrogen people?

Today Slashdot referred to an article at Physics Today about the "Hydrogen Economy". I just submitted the following letter using Physics Today's form for Letters to the Editor.

Dear Editor,

Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not an energy source.

In Physics Today 57(12), Crabtree, Dresselhaus, and Buchanan write, "Hydrogen, like electricity, is a carrier of energy, and like electricity, it must be produced from a natural resource." The authors point out that "it does not occur in nature as the fuel H2," yet contradict themselves by describing hydrogen as a "promising alternative to fossil fuels".

Until fusion becomes practical, hydrogen is not a naturally occurring energy source. It therefore cannot replace fossil fuels, which are a naturally occurring energy source.

Although hydrogen has promise as a compact energy storage medium, to call hydrogen a replacement for fossil fuels is inaccurate and irresponsible.

Ka-Ping Yee
University of California, Berkeley

If you feel the same way, i urge you to write and submit your own letters. Or please tell me what is wrong with my thinking. I just don't understand how three established scientists can publish something containing such blatant contradictions. Why do proponents of hydrogen keep presenting hydrogen as a new energy source?