Monday, October 28, 2013

Winter blues cure

Time to switch to winter lights. These halogen bulbs (just one in the room) are full spectrum and alleviate my "winter blues" . It's not on the label, just a home remedy that seems to work for me. Just has to have halogen on the label.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

KDP tips for slimming down your download fees

Found my old notes on how to reduce the size of Kindle Files by manually editing the HTML, they might be useful to you and it's not all that hard to do, even though manually editing HTML sounds very intimidating. It should be noted that my version of Word is as old as my 2003 Laptop (Win XP, Word 2k?), so newer versions might act a little different.

Step 1> Save your DOC as a WEB page (.HTM). File/SaveAsWeb
Close Word. Make sure it isn't XML, this only applies to files ending in HTM.

Check where you saved the Web file. It should be Name.HTM AND, if you have images in the word file, you should also get a folder with a bunch of JPG and PNG image files in it. PNG files are HUGE while JPGs are TINY. We want to lose the PNG and keep the JPG and this will save your big download fees. Look at each image file, you should see the same image, once as a JPG and again as a PNG. If you do, this is good, it means you can reduce the file/download size by roughly the size of all the PNGs. Take note of what the numbers are with the PNGs and JPGs. PNGs are usually (but not always) odds and JPGs are usually evens.

Step 2> RIGHT CLICK on Name.HTM and OPEN WITH NotePad or WordPad but NOT WORD.

Step 3> use the Find function and search for image00
It should find something like this:
<v:imagedata src="./Personal%20space%20w%20cover_files/image001.png" o:title=""/>

Now, you have to do some manual editing, but it's easier than you think.
<v:imagedata src="./Personal%20space%20w%20cover_files/image001.png" o:title=""/>

Select everything from the left of the I in image to the quote, in this case ./Personal%20space%20w%20cover_files/ This part needs to be deleted. In this example, the Folder created was named Personal space cover_files. This tells the browser to look for images in that folder. We're changing that. % generally is a stand in for a blank space. You need to keep the " but lose everything up to the I in image.

It should now look something like this. (Yours will be a little different)
<v:imagedata src="image001.png" o:title=""/>

But you're still not done. We want JPGs because they're smaller. IF the image you've found ends in JPG, then you're done and you can move on and find the next image00 but this one needs a little more editing. Since there is no image001.jpg just changing the jpg isn't going to do. You also have to change the image number. Usually you can just at one to the image number and change it to a JPG, but check before you do.

In my case, it gets changed to this:

<v:imagedata src="image002.jpg" o:title=""/>

Now, go through the rest of the file until you reach the end. Remember, even if you screw this up, it's no big deal, you haven't changed the original DOC it came from, so worry not.

When you get to the end, simply save it and close NotePad or WordPad (whichever you used).

Now make a new folder (something like TEST) and copy the HTM file and all the JPGs (and only the JPGs) into it. Go into it and open the HTM with your browser of choice (NOT WORD!). Scroll through it and see if everything looks right. Pay special attention to the picture files. If something went wrong, you can generally tell because it'll have an empty picture frame where a picture should be. Generally this is caused by forgetting to change the image00 number, or changing a PNG to a JPG, or leaving a period after the first quote.

If it looks good and seems to work fine, great.

Check the sizes of the JPGs. If any of them are over 1 meg in size, consider opening them in an image editor and resaving them in at a lower resolution (changing dimensions sometimes causes problems, so don't resize them unless it can't be helped) check it again and if it looks good on your 16" computer screen, it'll look fine on a 7" Kindle. Remember, you're editing the JPGs in the TEST folder, you still have the originals to fall back on if you screw something up.

Last step> Select everything in your TEST folder (HTM and all of the JPG, that should be all there is in this folder) then RIGHT CLICK, Select SEND TO, and COMPRESSED FOLDER, then answer yes if something gets asked. After a few moments you should see a new file in that folder, ending in .ZIP. This is the file you upload to KDP instead of the normal DOC file.

Last word.

Things happen. You should ALWAYS look at every page in the Kindle Viewer, AND download the HTML file they offer (usually as a ZIP, so unzip it on your computer after downloading), open it in WORD, and use compare to compare it to the original DOC. I have caught GLITCHES before, so ALWAYS do something like this to check your book before going LIVE.

Good luck!

PS, cover image MB size plays big here too

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bobblehead and straw tidal generators

Been thinking about tidal power lately. It keeps coming up in my random readings, so I'm guessing the Gods are telling me to revisit it.

In "Wandering Island Factory" I briefly talk about tidal power, so I guess I should be more specific now.

There is no shortage of designs, so I'll just focus on the two I thought were the most viable and the least expensive to implement.

I'll call the first one the straw design.
If you look at a cup of straws and imagine a wave of water in the cup, you'll realize that the air inside each straw is forced up and down as the wave goes through, no matter how small the wave is. Much like with windmills, most wave generators SUCK at harnessing small waves and breezes. But the VAST Majority of all waves are tiny.
This straw approach solves that.
A simple one-way flap valves on the tops of the straws tie the tiny puffs of thousands of straws together into enough of a constant breeze to do something with. Remember, each time the wave recedes it draws a vacuum, each time it advances it increases the pressure.

Now, lets talk about scale, because obviously straws are too tiny to be useful on an ocean. The bundles of 'straws' should be about the size of the typical wave (1-4 feet in diameter) and the height of the straws should also match the typical waves at high and low tides. They can be made to look like massive piers or even those temporary boat bridges or other useful structures or platforms.

Downsides: 'things' will get into them and start attaching to the insides of the straws. This shouldn't impede function for a long time, but it will eventually and cleaning out the straws promises to be a nightmare. Two flap valves per straw could also cause problems with troubleshooting (though flap valves are fairly foolproof).
Big storms and high waves could flood it with water, and that could pose a problem eventually too. Placing a flexible membrane between the waves and the top of the straw to make it a 'closed system' could solve a lot of this, but starts adding expense.



Think of a thousand bobble heads turned upside down, their feet glued to a board and you have an idea where this is going.

Basically it's a 55gallon barrel with a piston attaching it like a bobblehead to a superstructure. That main piston acts as a pump every time it bobs up and down. Four other pistons, like spokes on a wheel, act like pumps as the bobble head bobs in the water with the sides of the waves. A simple plastic cover keeps the barrel from filling with water when it rains or storms. The hydraulics from the pumps obviously is where we tap the power.

These are the heavily engineered versions of the straw design and the most similar to the tidal generator used in The Wandering Island Factory. It, by the way, simply used an array of floating blocks connected to each other by a piston/pump on each corner.

I'm partial to the straw design because of its simplicity.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Homemade wheat sprouts

Big fan of Red Wheat Sprouts.

They're cheap, sweet, and easy to make.
You can go very expensive at a few dollars for a 4once bag "For Sprouting", or you can do it like I do and just use whole wheat for making flour, Walmart delivers it in 5 gallon buckets for about $24.

First, find a good plastic container. It should be rectangular and come with a tight lid. The dollar tree sells plenty of them. A regular silverware spoon full of seeds is all I use per container. It looks tiny, but the seeds triple in size after the soaking, and they explode with the sprouting shortly after that. The dry seeds should cover no more than a tenth the area (IF that!).

I sprout, soak, and pretty much all the time keep the lid on this thing, tight. And always keep them in a warm, dark place (not HOT, just 55-70 degrees). Most places tell you to use something fancy and talk about making sure it can breath and crap, but you don't need to do any of that crap. As long as you soak it every day and the container is a few inches tall, they get plenty of air. Those things made especially for spouting tend to grow mold. Just be sure to WASH (not rinse, but WASH) the container after each use and you shouldn't get any molds. Mold generally has a 'cheese' smell before you can see it, and will look like fine spider webs around a clump, this is different than the web-like roots that are everywhere. When in doubt, throw it all out!

Soak the dry seeds overnight. That morning, check and see that the vast majority have a little white dot at one end that they didn't have the night before. That's when you know they've soaked long enough. If only a few have it, then change the water and let them soak longer, but never more than two days.

BEFORE you drain the water, wash your hands with soap and water and look for broken pieces. The broken parts will be bright white and should be easy to find. Slosh it around some, then look for more. Out of a tablespoon of seeds, I generally find about a dozen broken pieces. This is normal, even in those labeled "For Sprouting". You end up throwing away what might seem like a lot, but since the sprouts five days away weigh ten times what those seeds weigh today, throwing way a few broken pieces now is meaningless. But these broken pieces are where most of the mold infections originate, so get out as many as you can. But don't spend all day with it, just a minute or so before each draining is enough. Also look for any pieces that have swollen abnormally big (they've cracked down the middle and need to go) and any pieces that have a dot on both ends (or a second white dot anywhere on them).

Drain it as best you can (I use the lid to hold back the seeds as I drain it over the sink). They don't have to be patted dry or anything, so don't worry. Take the back of a spoon and spread them out as evenly as you can. You just want to eliminate 'clumps'. Leave about an inch free on one side. Put the lid on tight and put it on a flat surface (like a counter) but in a dark place (or under a towel or aluminum foil). Now, wedge something under one end, a spoon, clothespin, sock, pretty much anything that is about a half inch. This will let what water you didn't drain out over the sink drain into that inch that you left free of seeds.

You're done for the day. Forget about it.

The next day, leave them soaking in water for 10-30 minutes, give a quick glance for bad seeds, drain, spoon, lid, done.

In a few days, the roots will start to weave together into a matt. When this happens, instead of draining after the soak, gently shake each 'clump' with your fingers in the water. This lets the runts fall out of the clump. Then move the clump to the lid. Repeat this until you have just runts left in the water. Discard the runts, they'll ruin the flavor and a few of them that haven't sprouted at all will contaminate the rest. I know it seems wasteful, but do it anyway. Put the good spouts back into the container and drain as normal.

When the average stalk (pre-soak, the roots have fine 'hairs' on them) is between 3/4 and an inch long, its ready to eat. If you like them refrigerated, soak them one last time before putting them away. You can let them grow longer, but when the stalk tips start to show any color, it starts having a 'grassy' taste. They only keep fresh in the refrigerator for a day or two before they start losing flavor.


I keep the lids on because it reduces the chances of airborne and insect contamination, but mold still happens on occasion.

Mold often is accompanied by a cheesy smell, so get used to the smell of your sprouts.

The mold often resembles the normal root structures, so it can be difficult to identify (I wanted to include mold in my pictures, but it's been such a long time since I've been infected : ( But mold is most easily identified by the way it's structured. The 'hairs' on roots always follow a precise symmetry, mold looks more spider-web-like and often has a slightly different color. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

Washing your hands before touching them will help greatly, as will washing the container out after each sprouting (every 5 days or so), picking out the defects, and tossing the runts.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Just when I was getting paranoid about the omniscient NSAgoogleFacebook DATAbase, I start getting hammered with Ashley Madison ads and spam everywhere.

Its the cheating site for married people to get dates with strangers without getting caught.

Three problems. 1) I've never been married. 2) I haven't dated in decades. 3) that SO ISN'T ME or anything I believe in.

So much for those fancy hummingbird algorithm upgrades :)