29 March 2009

bad news for iron fertilization

I follow a few environmental blogs, and for a while I was occasionally seeing posts about the possibility of using iron fertilization for carbon sequestration. The idea (as I understand it) is that scientists would dissolve a bunch of iron near the ocean surface, phytoplankton would consume the iron (causing the phytoplankton to flourish), the phytoplankton would inhale a bunch of carbon dioxide, and the phytoplankton would sink to the bottom of the ocean, taking the CO2 with it, forever.

So they tried it.

They dumped a bunch of iron in the ocean, and the phytoplankton dutifully multiplied (and presumably inhaled a lot of CO2). But before the phytoplankton could sink, it ended up at the bottom of the food chain of a series of increasingly large sea creatures that live near the surface.

Nice try.

25 March 2009

Batman logos

There's a post on /Film highlighting a youtube video showing various incarnations of the Batman logo. The video includes logos from various comic book titles, TV series, and films. It's not exhaustive, but it's a cool presentation of a good sampling.

18 March 2009

saving space in firefox

I found a cool Firefox extension a day or two ago. It's called Menu Mod, and it's good for saving some space on the Firefox window (particularly if you have a small screen, like on a netbook). It can collapse all the standard menu items into a single menu item (after installing/restarting, do Tools->Add-ons, click Menu Mod, click Preferences, select "Place all menus inside another"). This isn't all that helpful on its own, but try also doing the following:
  1. do Menus->View->Toolbars->Customize
  2. drag all the stuff from the navigation bar (Back/Forward/Refresh/Stop/Home buttons, address bar, etc.) up next to the newly-collapsed menu
  3. get rid of the search field by dragging it to the "Customize Toolbar" window
  4. do Menus->View->Toolbars and uncheck the Navigation toolbar
If you do this and start to miss the search toolbar, try this:
  1. go to www.google.com (or whatever your favorite search engine is)
  2. right-click in the search field and select "Add a keyword for this search..."
  3. add something descriptive for the Name field (like "search" or "google")
  4. add something short for the Keyword field (I used "g")
  5. next time you want to do a search, open a new tab (Ctrl-T is as easy as Ctrl-K), then type the keyword ("g" for me) followed by a space and your search term(s)
If you use the Web Developer extension, do Menus->View->Toolbars->Customize and drag the "Web Developer" item so that it's to the left of the URL bar. Clicking this new item is a quick way to hide/display the Web Developer Toolbar.

17 March 2009


At times I've wanted to try doing some development work on my eeepc, but the default distribution doesn't come with a LAMP stack (and so far I've been too chicken to try installing something else).

Today I tried installing xampp, and that seems to work pretty well. So far my only complaint is that it doesn't seem to come with any version control tools (like svn), and I don't see an easy way to add/compile them (the eeepc doesn't have gcc).

16 March 2009

ESC key alternative in vim

I've been using vim for a couple of years now, and I really like it. But one thing that's always been a nuisance to me is reaching for the escape key. I often hit the wrong key (like the tilde or F1), and/or I have to glance at the keyboard to find it.

A recent post by Matthew Weier O'Phinney suggested binding the 'jj' sequence to <ESC>. I've been trying that for the last day or so, and I'm finding that to be a pretty good trick. Here's what I added to ~/.vimrc to make it work:

:map! jj <ESC>