Archive | April, 2007

CFL Mercury Nightmare

30 Apr

I came across a story on regarding one man’s “nightmare” from using a compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL). I had no idea that CFL’s contained mercury! I did a little more research and found the following links:

CFL Bulbs Have One Hitch: Toxic Mercury
“But the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin, and the companies and federal government haven’t come up with effective ways to get Americans to recycle them.”

“Experts agree that it’s not easy for most people to recycle these bulbs. Even cities that have curbside recycling won’t take the bulbs. So people have to take them to a hazardous-waste collection day or a special facility.”

Exposure to Mercury From Fluorescent Light Bulbs
“The diagnosis was mercury poisoning, and an investigation of his environment disclosed that he had been exposed to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs.”

I also found some articles that attempted to minimize the risks of CFL’s, but they seemed to be primarily from companies that sell CFL’s. I would advise educating yourself on the pros/cons of CFL’s prior to using them.

While reading some of the articles, I came across Dimethylmercury (not in CFL’s). This nasty neurotoxin was responsible for killing a researcher who accidentally spilled a drop or two on her latex gloved hand! Absorbing a thousandth of a milliliter is fatal.


Andy McKee

25 Apr

Andy McKee is an amazing guitar player!

Here are some more videos

22 Apr

Had lunch with Mike F. on Friday and he mentioned a site called It’s a great free site for streaming audio. Did I mention it’s free? You can create a bunch of channels for different styles of music that you “seed” with a song or an artist. Then you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to songs as they play, and it will learn about your likes and dislikes and attempt to play songs you like. It doesn’t learn quite as well as I would like, but for being free, it’s pretty handy, and it has already shown me a few songs that I really like that I probably wouldn’t have found without it.

Get started here

22 Apr

Ya gotta love robots 🙂 Trevor Blackwell, the founder and CEO of anybots, worked with Paul Graham on Viaweb which was a pioneering ASP using Lisp which eventually sold to Yahoo! for a nice sum and became Yahoo! Store. Very sharp guy, but I’m quite skeptical that a walking humanoid robot (technically a remotely operated machine since it won’t be autonomous) will be profitable. I hope it is.

Anybots announces the world’s first dynamically balancing walking humanoid robot.

Go to for more info.

Time wasters

22 Apr

Outstanding Flash based games

Flash putt-putt golf
If I remember correctly, when I played this putt-putt game back in 2002, my low score was around 27 or so 🙂

Jump a snowman into a BMW

Shave a Yeti

19 Apr

About five years ago, in an effort to organize my library and be able to share titles of interest with other people, I created a simple XML file to catalog my books. Using an XML file allowed me to easily transform the data to be displayed on a web page, but it was time consuming since I had to type everything in by hand, and over the years it stagnated and I stopped updating it. I recently thought I’d update the file, but before I got around to doing it, a friend of mine (Chip H.), mentioned, so I checked it out.

It was incredibly easy to use – just type in the ISBN (or other info such as title), and LibraryThing will grab the rest of the data from Amazon or the Library of Congress. Alternatively, you can buy an inexpensive bar code scanner and scan the bar code on a book to save a little typing. The price is free for 200 books or less, but I found it so useful, I signed up for a lifetime membership for $19. They say the lifetime membership is $25, but when you go to pay you’re given a choice of amounts, so I naturally picked the lowest one.

You can see a partial tag cloud of my books below. I haven’t spent much time tagging, but it will give you somewhat of an idea of the type of books I have. Click on one of the tags to see a list of my books with that tag:

The full tag cloud is: here

You can also rate & review books. I found it fascinating to see which of my books were most/least in common with other people on the site. They have over 170,000 users and 11 million books in the system, so you can get some pretty good statistics. I have 48 titles that no one else on the site has (or possibly wants 🙂 ).

They provide an export capability so you can obtain a tab-delimited text file or csv file, and there are a lot of other features that I haven’t tried out, but just the ability to import book data by typing an ISBN number was enough to get me hooked.

UPDATE: the site is listed as ‘beta’, but I haven’t experienced any issues until today. Andrea just gave me a list of 130 ISBN numbers, so I used the import facility to import them all. It worked fine, and Andrea was able to tag most of the imported books, but I just discovered that the public can’t view any of the imported books. I emailed LT; I’ll be interested in seeing how long it takes them to fix this bug.

As I was typing this update, I was notified of an email response from Tim (the owner) who stated he’d take a look at it tomorrow 🙂

UPDATE: Tim has fixed the problem I had with imported books not being visible. Now there is a minor problem with tags containing & characters. I expect that will be fixed shortly.

Inner Life of the Cell

14 Apr

SIGGRAPH award winning animation of the inner life of the cell. To see a version with narration, click the image below, then choose the version appropriate for your internet connection speed: