2009-11-11

Development

Recently we (NET) have stepped up development in multiple areas. Inspired by the activity and cooperation within the Sequence of Relations, our department, the Sequence of Administration has opted to adopt a similar model. Our office hours have been defined as 16:00 to 18:00 CET, each Sunday and during this time we are actively working on our tasks.

I have also been in contact with Raffael Kemenczy from our Sequence of Relations and Mark Ciotola, author of the Energy Input Labeling project. Together we have determined that the time is ripe for more active development of an Energy Accounting prototype (dubbed Project ENACT). Although the Sequence of Administration did not iron out all the quirks in the theoretical framework for nesting Energy Accounting system within monetary systems, I have decided to start work on the practical implementation of the ENACT support software.

The requirements for implementing ENACT currently include characterizing the energy flows, which we found can be accomplished via more widespread use of the Energy Input Labeling technology. The Energy Input Labels indicate the amount of energy added into a product at each step of the production process, allowing for progressive, but ultimately relatively accurate determination of total Energy Input required to produce a certain product. This information is then vital to determining the total production capacity of an ENACT system and determining the Energy Cost of individual products.

By making the Energy Input Labeling software accessible to the general public in the form of open-source, standards compatible software, we hope to accelerate it's adoption. In tandem with actively recommeding the software to the organizations we at NET already cooperate with, this will no doubt create a userbase capable of forming an ENACT system.

The progress of the ENACT support software, namely the Energy Input Labeling framework, can be followed in real-time here. The software is fully compatible with the XMLoverHTTP technology.Link

2009-08-02

The masterplan

Click on the diagram to see the full view.

Being somewhat overwhelmed on the amount of interdependent ideas I had, I decided to put them all on a diagram in order to keep a better overview of what needs to be done when. Each box displays a project I intend to finish, each bubble represents contributions I expect from the outside.

Arrow colors are supposed to help you understand the diagram, although basically, each arrow represents a dependency that needs to be fulfilled in order to be able to complete the project it is pointing to. Ideally, all dependencies would have to be fulfilled before I start working on the project that depends on them, to avoid doubling up work every time something changes fundamentally in the project fulfilling the dependency, however it appears this will not be possible (because of circular dependencies), so some compromises will have to be made.

The descriptions of the projects are as follows:
  • Project Senzor: Interfacing real life industrial hardware with XMLoverHTTP and implementing it's regulation in the package.
  • Internet XML proxy: Sortof like an XML firewall, which publishes certain XML data directly from the protected LAN, while preventing access to other XML data published within this LAN.
  • GUI XML browser - web based: Graphical User Interface for browsing XML files for common users.
  • Internet Spreadsheet: A web-based application that allows users to create spreadsheet documents, which's cells can link to other XML data over the Internet.
  • XHTML data output examples: Simple XHTML documents generated dynamically based on XML data published elsewhere.
  • Framework for creation of XML forms: Likely something based on XForms, a framework that allows easy and fast design of internet forms which provide feedback in XML.
  • Accounting software: Energy accounting software, bundled with accounting software for non-profit organizations.
  • Automatic interorganizational communication: A framework which allows standard business transactions to be preformed automatically (without unnecessary paperwork) as well as bringing together all information published by an organization using XMLoverHTTP and publishing it, or retrieving this information from other organizations using the same software.
The overall idea is to:
  1. Develop all software in frameworks to avoid doubling up any work.
  2. Approach users of software by offering software packages comparable with what is currently on the market.
  3. Introduce the XMLoverHTTP concept, allow users to be creative with it and hence generate usable content.
  4. End up with the possibility to create large-scale control loops* such as would be required for a fully integrated prototechnate.
* = An example of such a control loop would be, say you want to use your air conditioning only when there is surplus electrictiy in the power grid. Ecologically, this would be a smart move, and it wouldn't prevent you from ever using your air conditioning either. This system once complete and in widespread use, would allow you to do this quite easily.

I will reiterate that most of the technologies required to implement what is presented in the diagram already exist at the moment and that the designs are quite down to earth.

Currently, I have practical work done in project Senzor and are learning the necesary technologies I will need to create the other bits.

As a side note, I have also published my Accountability system within a Technate article, there was no peer review, which is likely attributable to the holiday time. Still I assume the article was of some use and might generate discussion.

2009-07-30

Coding and design

I have managed to arrange for a chance to present the XMLoverHTTP project in a short presentation at work, hopefully it will generate some interest in the properties of the technology.

While I have been slowly making progress on the code of the project itself (invested relatively little time in it these past few weeks due to inevitable circumstances) I have also taken some time aside to think about designing some of the accompanying applications.

Specifically, when I was coding up a quick website project, I realized that while I have spent a lot of time programming complex back-end programs that are ultimately required to produce data that machines can process, I should also have spent some time to implement trivial front-end applications that display the data harvested in this way. The technology (XML) and why it is so interesting is much easier to explain once you have a simple example to show how everything just works.

Creating the aforementioned website has also shown me, again, the value of creating frameworks and how they can save a lot of time in subsequent programming. So I was looking to design a framework that would serve to create the kind of simple user interfaces that I'll need to make in order to create the XML-based accounting software I am ultimately aiming for. My current idea is creating a framework that allows the creation of XML+XSLT based "Internet Spreasheets", which's cells can be linked to XML data available on the Internet if necesary and the results can be either displayed as the spreadsheet itself, or read directly in XML, for processing in other similar spreadsheets or other XML-based webpages. The cell math equasions would be XPath based for processing in XSLT and I have also been looking to the xsltforms project to simplify communication between the client and the server to directly usable XML.

The aim of these procedings is to create software that people can be comfortable enough working with, to get used to the idea of making calculations based on direct sources of accurate data rather than of one-time copied averages or approximates in instantly outdated books and such. Once a network of such data exchanges exist I persume having this data on the Internet will seem much more interesting.

As a side effect I think the back-end projects I was working on before will be able to use some of the functionality created here (for example feedback from XForms can be used as input controls for manual hardware regulation). And although I am somewhat confused as to what my priorities should be (there appears to be insufficient time, no matter how I look at this), I will always keep working on something.

As a side note, I have also moved my Senzor project to a Mercurial CVS, since due to certain network restrictions in effect I have been syncing the code using an USB key, this should proove quite valuable.

2009-07-02

Progress

More meetings are scheduled to occur on Friday (3. 7. 2009 in Izola; meeting with Raffael of NET), during the weekend (4. or 5. 7. 2009 in Maribor; ZM meeting) and Tuesday (7. 7. 2009 in Ljubljana; meeting with Gorazd of BrainBox Community). I am not sure if I will manage to take part in the weekend one, but everything has been arranged for the other two.

At the same time, I am continuing development (learning along the way) required to complete the XMLoverHTTP project. I have spent time programming a batch of hobbyist applications, which purposefully included an asynchronous pipe mechanism, which I intend to use in XMLoverHTTP, to overcome the problem of pushing commands from a web-based interface (PHP; with very limited permissions) to a hardware control program (Assembly; running with root permissions for hardware I/O).

I am noticing a difference in pace between the social and technical aspects of the progress we need to do and I fear that they may represent a problem on the long run. In simpler terms, we have been having a lot of meetings with people, a lot of discussion taking place, a lot of knowledge being exchanged in a short amount of time; on the other hand the software development, hardware repairs and construction projects have been naturally progressing at a substantially slower pace, and they cannot go any faster due to purely practical reasons. I fear that in expecting results from the practical projects, we will soon have nothing more to talk about and interest in the movements will fall. These differences in pace may even lead people to believe that we are "all talk and no work".

Regardless I hope for the best and intend to keep bussy.

2009-06-11

Meetings

Recently I and Igor had had a number of meetings with Zeitgeist Movement Slovenia and a meeting with a Slovenian group of local exchange users, and I have continued my work on the XMLoverHTTP coding project.

The meetings with the ZM Slovenia group tell us that ZM Slovenia is growing and that we may have a number of motivated people setting up organizations working there. They are also quite open to cooperation, while of course they are not ready for many of the complex solutions we, NET, have already developed. They prefer doing things at their own pace, as they grow. This information is useful to us as it tells us that any solutions we want to offer to other organizations have to be made appropriately simple to use.

On the meeting of the Slovenian local exchange users, me and Igor had the chance to present the concept of Energy Accounting, together with the solutions we have developed. At the meeting everybody had a chance to present their ideas and everybody listened to our presentation with much interest. Igor and I agreed afterwards that the presentation did in fact go very well. One of the attendees saw the possibility of using Energy Credits as the currency in a LETS system, in order to help keep pricing fair. Another one saw putting value into energy input instead of arbitrary determination of current currencies possibly more fair when considering work contributions. All in all the meeting was very interesting and productive. Although one of them refered to the Energy Accounting system as a "technotopia", I believe it would be possible to convince them that this system is in fact very possible and very real, by the next meeting, by providing some prototype of the accounting software to be used to manage an Energy Accounting system, which makes the task trivial. Of course more work is required on the Energy Input Labeling front, as this is also key to making this seem credible and making it work.

I have also been working on the XMLoverHTTP proof of concept coding project. I am currently implementing multichannel input support (both at the data gathering layer and at the user interface layer). My current goal is to speed up development to get to the point of implementation of the XML POST system, to allow XMLoverHTTP feedback / push data upload, as it is a requirement for the accounting software subproject mentioned above.

2009-05-26

The prototechnate

During the AGM and after it, I and Igor of NET have been working on a promising model to use to integrate a system of Energy Accounting with the current monetary system, in effect laying the formal foundation for an organization-based prototechnate.

The idea can be summarized as an attempt to create an umbrella organization, in which different non-profit organizations take membership. In exchange for paying an universal membership fee, they receive Energy Credits, using which they can get services from the other organizations within the prototechnate. The membership fee is defined by, and is used entirely to cover the financial expenses encountered by the other organizations within the prototechnate in order to provide the aforementioned services. As in any Energy Accounting scheme, the total amount of Energy Credits available depends on the production capacity of the organizations providing services within the prototechnate.

While the system appears functional in a small group of organization, further computer simulation will be required to design more complex systems and see how they behave. There was some discussion of connecting the simulation to XMLoverHTTP data to utilize real life data and also interfacing the simulation with a MMORPG in order to better simulate the human factor, but all this is still in the distant future. For now, proper documentation of the idea is key, this is currently a work in progress.


As a side note, the content I have prepared for the AGM and have not yet published here yet is available here. It is a graph of CPU temperatures accumulated and presented using the XMLoverHTTP technology. As the data pool increases you may note the steady temperature increase due to the onset of summer.

2009-05-12

Preparations for AGM

In the last few days I have been preparing material for my contribution to this year's Network of European Technocrats AGM in UmeƄ, Sweden. Since I am counting on appropriate timing of showing the various content elements, I will refrain from including any links to what I have prepared right now. Sufficive to say, the presentation is about my XML over HTTP project.

Since Zeitgeist Movement Slovenia is preparing an interesting meeting of their own on the 21st, which is close on the calendar to NET's AGM, everything seems to have picked up the pace recently, suddenly there are many meetings, idea exchanges, etc. Hopefully everything will work out as planned.Link

2009-04-28

Social progress protests in Ljubljana

I have joined in the protests organized by various local organizations interested in social progress. This follows my interest in the Slovenian Zeitgeist Movement as well as my wider philosophical views.

I have been informed of the gathering via the Slovenian Zeitgeist Movement's mailing list. After glancing at the organizers' website and post I quickly assumed that there will be 5 people at the gathering, but at the same time knew that they were promoting something me and my friend have been working on for a long time and hence is worth supporting.

I was however positively surprised: The protest ended up quite massive with over 900 people participating, international groups participating from countries from Germany to Serbia as well as many Slovenian groups, primarily anarcho-communist groups, as well as WW2 veterans, left political party activist branches and various cultural and interest groups.

The background here is that in Slovenia the movement for social change has begun during WW2, when the self-organized resistance movement, also known as the partisans, emerged. From the very beginning this social change was designed to reach beyond simply defeating the axis forces, but ensure a fair social system. A system that capitalism is not, even by the criteria defined back then. Movements for social progress thus extrapolate upon work already done in this area historically. This is obviously a good thing as history happens to be a science.

The media coverage was poor and while I am not one for conspiracy theories, after comparing actual events and footage made, with the resulting news coverage of over 7 different media houses, I must admit the censorship was very harsh and interestingly unified. The tendencies amongst the Slovenian media today seems to be a bit of westernized revisionist history, where you try to make everything into a compromise, even if it is to suit the interests of a group of people who's intention it is to destroy everything they cannot own and control.

At the end of the day the protest was a great success... And beyond simply showing support for an idea, it was also very useful in helping the various organizations working in these areas to network. I expect interesting aftermath, when we manage to get in touch with everybody and start cooperating.

2009-04-17

Embeded system

Browsing trough a price list for a different purpose I managed to find a real life example of just the kind of embedded XML-over-HTTP provider I wrote of in my article. The Conrad Linux Control II Application Kit.

It's the kind of Linux component you would typically find under the hood of your average working network router, next to the modem chip. 16 MB of flash memory, 8 MB of RAM, and most importantly a serial, USB and network connection. The software, being Linux, offers a fully functional web server, amongst other things. Being 5V devices and draining just 300 mA of current, they use about 1,5 W, making it possible to fuel them with something as costless as solar cells. They come in circuit board form as well as in nifty packages such as seen on the picture. This is indeed just over 8 by 5 by 2 cm in size, which IMHO is tiny!

This device is more than enough to interface a data source of choice (may require USB, Serial connection or Ethernet based A/D converter) with XML-over-HTTP and connect it to the Internet to be available anywhere, or secured with the usual cheap network equipment we are all familiar with (a router, a VPN, a dailup, anything). Offers all the advantages mentioned in the article.

The bugger costs just over 230 € and while this makes it about as expensive as any low cost desktop missing a few components and thus sort of unsuitable for home use, I immagine in industrial use where other concerns are more relevant (vibration resistance, durability, size, power supply) they are quite a good deal.

I'd love to program a real life application using XML-over-HTTP with these.

2009-04-13

Slovenian Zeitgeist meeting

I have joined in on this week's Slovenian Zeitgeist Movement meeting, in hopes to learn more about them. They seem to be an interesting bunch with varied expertise and a technocratic vision. This is somehow different from what I had expected, but in a good way.

The general consensus was to try to reach younger people (students) with a gentle reminder of the system in which they live in and various technical solutions to their problems. They will be producing leaflets and leaving them in waiting rooms and other places where bored people hang out at. It was also decided not to go for rigid geographical grouping, but rather feature a map with members marked, where people can decide for themselves what they consider to be "local".

As previously mentioned, I have committed to helping them on the technical side. I will be helping them adapt their Plone based website to the common ZM design.

2009-03-30

Weather reporting

As an example practical application of "XML over HTTP" that would look good enough to an end-user... and motivated by the point that my friend was saying he was going to convert one of his old laptops into a digital picture frame... I was working on a "XML over HTTP" application for weather reports.

The weather reports come in XML over HTTP, the idea was that the application chooses an appropriate pretty picture for the weather foretasted for tomorrow, combines it with a little overlay using SVG and outputs a picture that is set as a Windows desktop wallpaper by a third application (I'm thinking Active Desktop or something more secure). This means that when using the application, your desktop wallpaper is a pretty picture that matches the weather that is going to be tomorrow and has all the info on the side in case the picture doesn't mean much to you.

The problem currently was that the weather report comes with 8 levels of cloudiness plus 16 types of weather, which sums up to 128 distinct weather states, which I didn't want to end up finding pictures for. Right now the data structure is made so that the 16 weather states have pictures they default to when separate cloudiness pictures aren't set. This however makes the application dull and boring, when there are not enough pictures entered.

Ultimately in order to make this application work out, it'd have to be a community effort, where a website would allow visitors to enter picture URLs and associate them with different weather states or link them to weather transitions (the application could pick out a picture depending on what weather today is turning into what weather tommorow, for an added sense of realism). The server would then allow the user to pick, or randomly select out a suitable image from the pool and use it for that user's wallpaper. The problem with this scenario is that of course, the weather reports are for Slovenia, and finding a suitably sized community of picture authors is somewhat unlikely.

Still this is an interesting project, I will prepare the code and try to make it as universal as possible, then leave it up to the end-users if they want to make it live or not. The current code is able to interpret a weather forecast and output a picture using SVG. I will still have to add rendering into a format you can display in Windows, and the overlay box with the details.

2009-03-25

Human Resource Managment

Thomasz (from NET) and I have been discussing creating some computerized interface for Human Resource Management during the last weekly NET meeting. And while the current interface (the user addition thingy for Joomla, which is essentially a forum member registration and login tool) exists, it is not very practical in that when a new organization comes work with us, we can't immediately produce a list of things we could do for them as a team of experts.

If a similar situation arised at my job, I would have defenitely used a database to solve it. Databases are uniquely suited for this type of problem: Enter your people into a table, fill out the data you can and do your best to keep it up to date either trough convenience or automation. Then when somebody asks you a question, pull up a query and tell them.

Doing something like this for any group of people larger than six, without a database, would be a major nightmare: How can you give someone an answer you are honestly sure of, when they present you with a set of complex criteria and you have 50 people to consider and compare? Obviously however, a database is not good at subjective comparisons either, so the key to setting up a database you can use, is setting up the fields so that comparing them using logic functions or using simple math, gives you the answers you'll need.

So I have rememberd the Semantic Wiki extension I have set up into our wiki purely out of curiosity. The last that I was working with it, I realized it produced database-like functionality: If you give your properties in your articles their values, then you are able to query your wiki for the data and end up with a value, list or table. I thought that was really cool and still do. For this particular situation, we will be using this functionality to experiment with different fields (table columns, in databasespeak) and seeing how they work out for the output we need.

Once we have a good idea of what to pick, we will decide what to implement it in. At that time I will likely be discussing with Igor. I am looking at the idea of keeping Semantic Wiki underneath since it so conveniently produces "XML over HTTP" output, which would work neatly with you-know-what. But then again it is also very complicated, especially considering the point that we won't need this flexibility once we are all set and that reimplementing "XML over HTTP" output using PHP is childs play.

We will see.

2009-03-23

Article done

The article I was writing, Technocratic information exchange is now 'complete'. Actually section 7.3 is still not finalized since the software package on which it is based is not yet complete.

Accepting peer review on the subject here. Still have to prepare a presentation for it... but these are things I can do simultaneously.

2009-03-22

Writing article

I am currently working on an article regarding my XML over HTTP project mentioned here. It is taking shape on the NET article writing wiki here. I have named it "Technocratic information exchange".

I think I have managed to describe the concept much better in the article and I have also managed to include comprehensive diagrams and references that I have not had an equal chance of including during my blogging and forum posting on the issue.

The article is not yet finished... Part 5, describing how my software development fits into all of this, is not yet written and I usually write the introduction and conclusion last... as well as of course the abstract. But those do not take much effort it is the creative stuff that is hardest to write.

I intend to have a presentation of the content offered in the article during this year's NET AGM (Annual General Meeting), on May 15-17th in Umea, Sweeden, where I will of course also include all the progress that I have made on the project in the time being. Get in touch with NET if you also wish to attend!

2009-03-15

Publicizing XML over HTTP

A few days ago I have started investigating the options of obtaining XML over HTTP data from devices managed by the government, which produce data that is already made publicly available in other formats.

I have been looking at atmospheric quality control sensors on two locations and traffic counting and categorization sensors in Ljubljana as well as statistical data offered by the Slovenian Eurostat equivalent. If this data was made available using XML over HTTP, it should be easy for third-parties to produce a wide variety of usable webpages with live data, from WAP-based traffic reports to national energy output analisyses.

I have sent out a number of emails to different government and maintenence addresses in a quest for information. I had hoped to accumulate enough information in order to prepare a project I could do for them with a complete solution that offers XML over HTTP. I have recieved some responses so far, so here is what I got:
* The statistical office of Slovenia reports that they are aware of the value of offering XML over HTTP and are planning to implement this in the next version of their website. All we can thus do for now is wait and see.
* The municipality of Ljubljana reports that data from their atmospheric quality control sensors is collected and made avaliable on their website (as we already knew) and in a standard format over FTP which can be made available for educational purposes upon agreement. FTP access can be scripted, thus the data could be made available using XML over HTTP.
* The maintainer of the traffic counting and categorization system reports that the devices call home using a GSM communicator, meaning the data is likely gathered on another system via some kind of automated mechanism. Further investigation would be needed to figure out if an XML over HTTP access point could be created without incuring any additional costs.

I have also recieved a hint from Thomasz of NET on how to properly address government institutions. I plan to contact them in the name of NET with the framework for a project ready to enable XML over HTTP access as well as demonstrate practical implementation of a third-party XML data presentation program.

2009-03-09

Senzor update 2

I have been working some more on the project to create an example program for industrial application that utilizes XML over HTTP. The program's data output now works flawlessly for 1 channel which includes outputting the data into a SVG-based graph. I have also set up the appropriate mechanisms to ensure that the XML to SVG processing is done client side when supported (Firefox, Opera, etc) and server side when not (Internet Explorer).

In the future I will work on making the user interface as convenient and pretty as it can be, working on expanding the hardware I/O software to read from all 16 channels and look for a way to implement feedback.

2009-03-08

RSS - continued 5

I updated the XSLTaggregator code to properly handle RFC 822 dates, for sources that omit the weekday.

2009-03-04

RSS - continued 4

I have made a few minor adjustments to the XSLTaggregator program. Apparently I got part of the RSS 2.0 standard wrong, RSS 2.0 tags have no namespace. Corrected this and the validation now succeeds. This also makes the RSS feed viewable in Internet Explorer 7.

The source code ZIP is automatically updated with the latest code of course and I have also updated the websites that offer these combined feeds, including the one that offers the NET Blogs feed.

EDIT: I also got the idea to set up a combined RSS feed for all Zeitgeist Movement blogs. I don't know if the idea will work out but I will try. Posted about it on the Zeitgeist Movement forums. Also set up a common website for all XSLTaggregator installations I intend to set up.

2009-03-03

Biogas update 2

Just thought I'd also mentioned that the car modification company, mentioned in an earlier blog, has replied to my email and summarily answered that the conversion costs approx 1150 € plus taxes and that cars could be converted to run on methane too.

This basically means that the technology is all there and there is nothing more to ponder about in that respect.

2009-03-02

RSS - continued 3

The XSLTaggregator program has been updated to include a properly functioning sorting algorithm. While this is not actually necessary as any properly designed RSS tool should be able to display the entries in the proper order anyway, this improvement is designed for all the improperly designed RSS tools. ;) The order of choice is latest-first, so the same as typical blogs.

I would like to, again, thank the helpful people who helped me:
* Combine the for-each loops that check all items in all documents into a single one
* Properly sort by date in XSLT 1.0

The code is available on the existing link published in the last blog post.

Also, apparently the other members of NET have agreed to set up blogs for the purpse, which is great as it means my code will actually be used in at least one place.

2009-03-01

RSS - continued 2

The source code for the XSLT based RSS aggregator is now complete released under GPL (v3) at:
http://dustwolf.ctrl-alt-del.si/downloads/XSLTaggregator_src.zip

There is hopefully sufficient documentation included with the files. Some very basic technical skills required to get it doing what you'd want it to do, but it's all very clean and flexible. It is officially faster than Planet too (benchmarked on my Celeron 300 MHz).

If there will be any modifications to the code, they will always be published under that link.

2009-02-28

RSS - continued

I have gotten some time and wrote the XSLT-based RSS feed aggregator. The software offers a lot more standards compatible output, which however ironically not even the official validators comply with, due to those silly Atom wars.

If you ask me, Atom is unsuitable and RSS 2.0 is completely acceptable. This statement is based on RSS's compatibility with RDF extensions, which are a key feature for full XSLT compatibility. If you ask others Atom is the future and RSS 2.0 is awkward. What really suprizes me is that the W3C would side with the Atom proponents, considering the point that RSS 2.0 is more compatible with their remaining standards that they still support.

I will release the XSLT source code under GPL for the aggregator shortly, it just needs some basic documentation and some PHP code to go with that can be used to reconfigure the feed aggregator dynamically. As it is right now, the software allows you to write an XML file with the desired links and other information and the software will automatically fetch the data and produce the combined feed. It should be trivial to produce PHP code that can generate XML output to be used with the software, especially considering the point that I already have code that does exactly this. I consider this PHP code part of the package and will finnish it tommorow and include it.

2009-02-26

RSS

One of the ideas I was pursuing recently was the idea of setting up a number of blogs, for the currently active Network of European Technocrats (NET) members, in which we would describe what we are doing. This is the concept behind this blog as well.

The idea is to show other NET members and our visitors the point that we are in fact, working on things, even when we are not discussing anything together. The idea was that the blogs RSS feeds would be combined to produce a single RSS news feed that could easily be read or displayed on a website.

A few days ago, I set up a test feed aggregator and fellow NET member Igor, set up a sample component in the NET website which parses it's output into a set of links, in style with the other components. We are currently discussing how to proceed.

I had hoped that I would be properly prepared with examples, to show the potentials of this technology, but as could be expected, I did not prepare enough. A NET website themed full blog content output is something I would need. Preparing this as an example to show functionality is a little impractical for me as I do not have access to the tools that would make this job trivial. I'm also still a little uncomfortable with Joomla's interface.

If I get a little time for these things I will instead try to create an XSLT+PHP based feed aggregator and do my best to produce standards compatible output, since the popular blogging sites do not and I have to fix this somehow.

2009-02-22

Self-management

This year is the 30th anniversary of Edvard Kardelj's death, which gives me a unique opportunity to study the history of my country and learn about this man, who was apparently just as important as Tito, that I have almost never heard of before.

Political issues aside, his work extends into the more philosophical area of ensuring actual freedom for everybody (taking it further from the abstract concept of our current "democracy by proxy" approach), as a progressive upgrade to democracy, summing it up to a philosophy called "samouprava" which was translated into "worker's self-management", which shares many common points with the theory we are working on at the Network of European Technocrats and the Zeitgeist Movement today.

I find it very interesting that someone from my nation's not-so-distant past was already working on a philosophy similar to the one we are working on now, and has worked on implementing it his entire life. Albeit it could be said that he did not succeed, I think that is a matter of perspective as to me, working towards a goal, is sometimes as good as achieving it, so long as there is someone to pick up where you left off after you are no longer able to continue.

Unfortunately for this man, nobody did pick up where he left off... there are a few statues of him around town, but I haven't learned anything about him at school for one, nor has anyone else I know. Luckily, his work survives in the form of speeches and books, and I may be able to find some of those in the local libraries. Hopefully we will be able to derive some usable information from them, something we can use to continue his work today.

Biogas update

Upon reading into the issue somewhat I have learned that car-gas adaptations typically use liquefied Propane/Butane which, having a boiling point of -0.5 ˚C and -30 ˚C are much easier to store in liquid form than biogas / Methane, which has a boiling point of -160 ˚C. The Propane/Butane mix is also a bit denser as liquids than Methane which is all bad news for any plan to run a car on biogas.

Fortunately however, it turns out that Methane burns hotter and as such gives more energy per kg. The figures, are that Propane/Butane gives off 49,2 to 49,9 (depending on the mix) kJ per gram (or MJ/kg), whereas Methane gives off 54 kJ per gram, obviously more.

To convert these values together with density this means...

As gas Propane/Butane gives off 91,3 to 122 MJ energy per m³, and Methane 38,7 MJ per m³. As a liquid Propane/Butane gives off 25,33 to 29,52 GJ per m³, where Methane gives off 22,41 GJ per m³. So keeping Methane as a gas for fuel on a car wouldn't work out very well, but as a liquid it could work. That being said however, it is true that given that you can find a place for a suitable container on a car, biogas does provide more punch per kg of fuel than gasoline, unlike Propane/Butane.

Having done this little bit of amateur research I find that I don't have a clue about chemistry and will have to find someone who does if I intend to continue this project.

2009-02-21

Senzor update

The project I wrote of before that aims to get industrial control hardware to utilize / output XML over HTTP is called "Senzor", due to a general lack of imagination on my part.

The program is designed to run under Linux and I am using an old 300 MHz Celeron for the task. The physical hardware I/O is done by an industrial RTX-03A 12-bit A/D D/A card.

I am making the hardware control component in Assembly and the user interface in PHP with XSLT. The Assembly part is divided in several components, such as hardware I/O, pooling, averaging, etc; today I am writing the component that outputs the XML file.

Web 2.0

Me and a bunch of other people from the Zeitgeist Movement IRC server, have been thinking of compiling a set of Web 2.0 type programs to allow the distributed community across the many different websites to work together as one, without necessarily having people wander across different websites reading everything and sharing links where the topics matched.

We have been trying to learn about the existing technologies available in the field already to attain maximum compatibility, and just prepare some kind of guide that would make it trivial for people to link up into our network. Naturally thus we are looking at XML, RDF and XSLT (google them if unfamiliar).

Mainfram, a person I know from the Zeitgeist Movement is currently working on a way to interface together different forums. I have suggested doing this in a way that works with SIOC, in order to take advantage of the existing work put into it by other people as well as maintain compatibility in the future. It's all looking very interesting thus far.

This idea has vague connections to my idea to link industrial hardware into the Internet. XML over HTTP being the data format of choice, the output is compatible with the other XML-based applications including the ones mentioned above. Using XSLT engines it becomes possible to combine and convert the data and by combining this with the existing dynamic web page generation software, such as PHP, there are no more limits on what can be done this way and how user-friendly it can become.

I am currently thinking of making a CMS for generating XSLT-based data converters for XML in PHP. This could be big, like Facebook big.

Given all these possibilities, I am eager to continue my work, however I will have to balance my wish to prove this technology in the many areas of possibility, with the need to finish the basics first. As in order to do this, I have to both explore my options in order to know how I am going to implement existing functionality already present in other industrial software, AND have to deal with the low level details of implementation, I would really appreciate having anyone else on my team!

Veganism, etc

Just a little upset by the whole concept of veganism and how it's always (almost literately) forced down your throat whenever people talk of health or righteousness... which is not surprising now that I come to think of it.

Anyway, wrote a little scientific rant about the whole thing and set my mind to write an article about it... The truth is, it's a personal decision that, if you make it, is essentially bad for your health (albeit arguably better for the animals). Not to say mine, about my preference of meat (which is based on my personal beliefs) is actually any healthier, but still.

Interesting that with that kind of technology, which is in our reach at the moment, you could make people carnivores as well... with the proper microbial gut flora, eating raw meat would not be toxic, etc. But then this then becomes an almost moral / psychological issue.

2009-02-20

Biogas

One of the more interesting ideas that I have been working on in my mind quite recently was the idea of using an algae growing photobioreactor together with a biogas generator to produce free methane and the oxygen required to burn it, using sunlight.

The point of the concept is to have a sustainable source of a fossil-type fuel, which is convenient for transport and use. The whole idea has already been extensively discussed on the Network of European Technocrats Forum. The necessary steps, before we even start dreaming of a large-scale implementation were the feasibility studies to see how useful the system would be, theoretically.

The results of a quick preliminary feasibility study, using the information available on the Internet was not good: "A theoretical algae biogas system capable of generating as much energy as a standard N4 nuclear power plant would thus have to have 500 square kilometers of photobioreactor surface." This great disappointment is likely because the figures for photosynthesis efficiency are in fact much lower than the biology geeks would have you believe: around 8%. However we did not give up, it is likely the figures will move in favor of the technology when more accurate experimental data is obtained, since the current data was based on biological and technological systems that do not come together as efficiently as we suspect an algea biogas system would.

While I have continued work in the many other areas I am also interested in, Mansel Ismay from the Network of European Technocrats has started working for a company interested in oilgae. The projects are related in that we both use algae, so we could share some data. An important distinction is that in oilgae, not all of the algae biomass is used to produce the fuel, rather just a slime that a few algae species secreet in order to stick together. From the biotechnological perspective this difference is quite significant as optimization studies being done will likely not target growing the most algae possible, rather they will likely target the exact circumstances under which their species of algae secreets the most slime. Therefore their data may not be directly usable, yet I guess at least they are growing algae.

In case you were wondering, a biogas generator is capable of converting any biomass into Methane and CO2, this process is theoretically a lot more direct than the oilgae approach and may proove to be more efficient. The reason why oilgae projects are going for the somewhat cumbersome option of producing biodiesel instead is because they believe that biodiesel will be easier to adopt, as little or no modification is required on existing vehicles in order to use it.

Biogas is similar in that aspect, but not identical. As a first and most obvious point, biogas is a gas, whereas biodiesel is an oily fluid. Yet a quick review of local history prooves that vehicles have been and can be quite easily converted to run on gas. Most recently I have even managed to spot a local company that makes these modifications to cars. Their current solution appears to be centered around liquified gas of a different type. I am not sure if the technology could be used to accept any other type of gas, but I intend to find out. A requirement to liquify gas after producing it is just another figure to be taken into account when calculating total process efficiency... if the figure becomes or drops under 0%, we will know the technology cannot be used to this end.

But we just won't know until we do the math and hence I am still very interested in researching the technology.

LP,
Jure

First entry

Hello readers,

Although I do keep a number of other blogs around different services, as appropriate for each area (art, kernel programming, Slovenian tech support), I found I still needed to cover a specific area of my life.

Specifically this would be the philosophical direction of where my life is going right now, my leftist roots and my subsequent work in the non-profit organization called Network of European Technocrats. The network of integrated programming / hacking solutions that have been inspired by it and so forth.

Being the design perfectionist that I am, everything I have made is somehow related to the ideas previously explored and works with them. My creative spirit guides me trough new technologies with my either simplistic or typically over-elaborate solutions. It is my intention to keep this blog up to date with my programming / learning progress, so that others may share in the benefits... as a form of progress documentation, a helpful reference for those seeking to understand the software I make and/or theory I write.

To help put things into perspective, here is some background information:

A long time ago I realized that many of the decisions in life are ambiguous and any choice is valid. Instead of making the decisions myself, I have decided to leave them to another person and thus combine my philosophical neutrality with my desire to express loyalty. This person, who shall be known as Ice, is a revolutionary socialist. Remember this perspective in life is not wrong by itself, it is ambiguous, taking another principle for your guide in life would change nothing, as in the end it is your ability to believe in something that makes you a better person or worse in the eyes of the community you chose to identify with. I was quickly able to search trough my past and find my leftist roots that were there all along. Ice is a hard working, good person, with wishes and goals like any other person. While trying to reach the goals he spoke of I have never lost my ability to view a situation objectively and find the best possible solution. This may sometimes have not been in accordance with his short-term desires, yet I have been successfully pursuing all the long-term goals he had in mind, and I have been doing that ever since.

Currently, I am involved with the Network of European Technocrats, as I believe working with the other skilled experts there greatly increases the probability of being able to change something for the better for every person in the world in the future. I currently hold a Director position with the organization, though I made it clear on multiple occasions that all I really wish to do for them is productively contribute in a way that they deem useful. The advantages of working with them are showing already, as they have covered many areas that need to be taken care of, which in effect means that I can focus on the more technical of solutions required in the world today, which is an area I am very skilled at.

Recently I had focused on the quite specific areas of XML over HTTP as a communication facility and Assembly for efficient hardware control. I have also been working on various other areas, such as providing an IRC server for the Zeitgeist Movement. Then there is also the point that I work as a programmer (amongst other things) in a company that deals with biotechnology, and have quite some experience writing control software. It is highly typical of me to be working on several very different areas at the same time.

While at one point talking on the aforementioned IRC server, I had realized that by bridging the gap between Industrial hardware control and XML over HTTP, may help significantly improve overal industrial efficiency on the long run. The idea is to provide an automatic interface between infrastructure machinery data sources (powerplants, etc) and the Internet. Typically information is transfered manually between the two areas, e.g.: 1. Researcher makes a survey of the state of machinery, 2. Researcher writes a report and publishes it, 3. People on the Internet gather the information and transform it into feedback. This is slow and leads to a situation in which the people capable of providing usable feedback do not have direct access to the data they require in order to provide it. My solution aims to overcome this bottleneck, by providing people with a single simple step to them publishing the data directly on the internet and thus greatly reducing the effect of their lack of time to do some charity of this sort.

The solution seems trivial to implement. Of course I do not dream that my 1 program will change the world, it may however work as a working example I can show. If the effect of the synergy between low level and Internet technologies prooves attractive to commerce, the idea will likely quickly spread and thus will change the world.

I will keep you up to date with my progress.