Wagner Street Project – electrical panel Inspection is today

OK, today is my electrical panel inspection. Although I’d had it tagged before but it needed a new one because it had been disconnected so long.  This meant I had to make changes for what I think is a change in the code.  The main wires were looped down via a J shape onto the main bus but now need to be going straight on from the top.  I also had to bond to the water pipe via a special clamp that takes a bare #4 copper wire going up to a neutral in the panel (this was not a change in rules).

Hopefully I’ll get the tag today and Pacific Power will hook me up tomorrow as scheduled, and put in the new meter (the Power Company does the connect from street to the wires as they come out of the mast on top of roof).


Sex, drugs, and blogs – New York Times on the rise of the “Artist 2.0”

The NYT has  been doing a nice job of making Web 2.0 more accessible to a non-tech audience via a lot of good stories about people and biz.    This latest NYT story “Sex, Drugs, and updating your blog” follows a programmer turned rocker who now lives his musical life … online with his fans.    We’ll see a LOT more of this in the future and I think it’ll be a great thing:

It’s possible to see these online trends as Darwinian pressures that will inevitably produce a new breed — call it an Artist 2.0 — and mark the end of the artist as a sensitive, bohemian soul who shuns the spotlight.

Nikola Tesla

‘The Prestige’ is a very enjoyable film that is set about a hundred years ago and features a battle of wits, romance, and magic between two brilliant magicians.

I’d assumed they had taken great liberties with the character of Nikola Tesla, played wonderfully by David Bowie. Tesla was an inventor of spectacular brilliance whose place in history has been somewhat eclipsed by his contemporary Thomas Edison.

Remarkably, the film has only taken a few liberties with the remarkable feats of Tesla. This actual photo of Tesla’s colorado “office” looks a lot like his Colorado Springs place in the film. (This is a double exposure – the guy was not sitting there at same time as the artificial lightning was created).

Tesla was decades – perhaps even a century – ahead of his time. His invention of alternating current revolutionized factory power during the industrial revolution. He also developed ways to transmit electricity wirelessly such that he illuminated light bulbs from a distance without wires (this idea is featured in another great scene in the film).

Despite his undisputed brilliance Tesla’s odd demeanor and immigrant status appears to have kept him from the later respect he deserved, and may have kept Tesla from other amazing inventions such as a particle beam weapon and unified field theory (Tesla challenged parts of Einstein’s vision of physical reality).

Tesla, one of the greatest geniuses of modern science, died in poverty.

Excellent Wikipedia Article

Here is Tesla’s Autobiography.

Google and Privacy

Here is a nice post from Google about their new policy to anonymize search info from users. Like many I have been critical in the past of Google and others for storing this information with little regard to who owns it or saying what they’ll be doing with it.     Yahoo and MSN do not (yet) have similar policies so I think Google can rightly claim a higher road since they have also been the one who has fought Government attempts to nab search data.   (I have mixed feelings about that since, unlike folks like Battelle, I fear commercial abuses  more than I fear the Government will use my data in illegal and harmful ways.

More DMCA fun

OK, this seems { NYT article } like an interesting twist on the normal stuff about DMCA.

The company says that because the companies are avoiding use of its purportedly effective product, they are violating the DMCA.

Hmm – I can see how they might argue generically that the companies have an obligation to protect digital rights, though even that’s a complex issue since the violation does not come so much from the lack of protection as from the theft.    Can a lock company sue me because I did not use their lock and then I got robbed?

Verdict:  This suit will be thrown out immediately but will win a lot of free publicity for them.

Wagner Street, Talent Oregon

What better way to process a big project than … blogging! ?

Today I had the Pacific Power guy come over tell me what tree trimming was needed to reconnect the service Panel that I’d installed some time ago but had been disconnected. The Electrical inspector was by the other day and told me I would need to add a ground to the water pipe (this is in addition to the ground running to two 8′ iron grounding rods!) I think this is standard Electrial Code stuff. I’ve certainly got nothing against the inspectors personally – most are courteous and professional around here.

However what seems to me to be a lot of unneeded change and overkill in the regulations is very interesting and I think can only be explained if you assume that there is a sort of “priesthood” of contractor/inspector folks who make these rules and want to both cover themselves against the slightest chance of problems arising combined with the fact they make more money and have more power if the rules are more complex.

The difference in mishaps in houses that have ONE 8′ grounding rod (old code) vs TWO 8′ grounding rods has GOT to be unmeasurably insignificant, yet those extra rods represent a huge amount of time/expense. Believe me, pounding an 8′ rod into the soil here is not fun and not educational!

Hmmm – let’s assume it takes a contractor a total of 30 minutes extra to install that extra rod, plus materials at $15, and the contracted labor is $60 per hour. This is $45 per install extra. So, one way to determine if this extra cost makes sense we could use the value of an American life according to the Dept of Transportation, about 2.7 million, and try to answer this question:

Since it costs folks about 2.7 million to install a second ground rod in about 60,000 houses, we’d expect to see at least one life saved by the second rod.    This seems EXTREMELY unlikely given that electricity is not a major cause of death at all (There are typically under 500 electrical fire deaths per year from ALL causes.  I’d bet there is not a single death attributed to the lack of a second ground rod).

Vending machine payment for drink = watch an advertisement!

I love this idea of choosing to either pay for your soft drink or watch an ad and get it for free.    We’ll see a LOT more things like this over time as consumers start to demand that companies cut out the middleman and pay them *directly* for providing attention and the potential to be influenced by advertising.

To me it’s very natural for a consumer to be compensated directly for their attention, It’ll shake up the ad industry in new, fun, and interesting ways.

Twitter and SEO

Interesting.   My Chico the Wonder Dog SEO experiment is yielding some unexpected results.    A tweet about this is now higher in the ranks than the original blog post page.

Chico the Wonder Dog has been trading places with another Chico the Wonder Dog.   That post is much older and may have more incoming links since that guy seems to spend more time posting about his dog than I do, though based on my quick analysis of this and a few other cases I think it indicates that Google looks carefully at the rate of link growth, and if it slows they tend to put back the “old, tried and true” page in favor of the newcomer. This makes sense from an anti-spam perspective although in Chicos particular case it probably does not yield the top dog.

However, the Twitter reference rising to high seems really surprising because Twitter posts are generally small and insignificant (as it is here).  I’m surprised Google ranks these at all, let alone makes them competitive with meaty postings.  Perhaps Google has elevated “social media” in some algorithmic fashion though my guess is this is a defect that will be corrected – ie Twitter is structured in a way that links to these posts from many Twitter people and this is messing up the Algo’s handing of this insignificant material.    If I’m searching for “Tesla Coil”, let along pretty much anything of any relevance, I hardly want a bunch of Twitter posts!

Pew Study – new web stuff is catching on *fast*, not slow!

Matthew Ingram has got it right when he suggests that the recent Pew study results are an indication that many, not few people are engaged in Web 2.0. Several headlines about the study suggest, oddly, that there is some sort of tech elite who participates in web stuff when in fact the study is a powerful indication that the social internet is thriving and getting adopted by a broad spectrum of society rather than an elite group.

Click here for the Pew study with these key findings:

8% of Americans are deep users of the participatory Web and mobile applications.

23% are heavy, pragmatic tech adopters – they use gadgets to keep up with social networks or be productive at work.

10% rely on mobile devices for voice, texting, or entertainment.

10% use information gadgets, but find it a hassle.

49% of Americans only occasionally use modern gadgetry and many others bristle at electronic connectivity.

MORE:  Wow – I don’t think I’ve ever seen research so hopelessly misinterpreted as these findings.  Perhaps those writing about this like the idea of being a “tech elite” so they interpret accordingly?

The significant finding was that only 15% are “offline”.     Hmmm – compare this to 10 years ago when only about 15% were “online”.   This is called “rapid adoption” rather than “tech elitism”.

Off the network (15 percent)
People in this group, tending to be 65 or older, do not have a cell phone or Internet access. Some have computers or digital cameras.