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.