Monday, September 25, 2006

Getting the FujiFilm F20SE Camera to Use iPhoto on Mac OS X

I just bought a Fuji FinePix F20SE digital camera for my wife. She already had a nice little Nikon Coolpix 2500, but it didn't have the resolution she needed, plus the Fuji had image stabilization and a huge LCD panel on the back.

Anyway, I set it up on her computer (a Mac Mini running OS X Tiger) and was dismayed to find out the installation CD wanted me to install a bunch of crap software, including a viewer program called FinePixViewer. What a disaster! The installer looks like a Mac OS 9 program, and then when the viewer comes up it looks like a clunky version of iPhoto.

And the integration between FinePixViewer and iPhoto??? None.

Oh, I was mad.

So, I set about figuring out how to get FinePixViewer off the machine and get the camera talking to iPhoto. I checked the Apple Website for cameras that it supported - alas, the FinePix F20SE was not on the list.

I decided to take the two FinePixViewer packages sitting in my application folder and drag them to the trash to see what happened.

Then I tried loading the photos from the camera. iPhoto popped open! Yes! But then, it wouldn't load the photos in. It recognized the camera model perfectly, but no photos.

My solution was to close iPhoto, disconnect the camera, and reboot the machine. After that, I connected the camera again, with great apprehension. Guess what?? It worked.

iPhoto immediately loaded all the pictures in from the camera, and everything recognized everything else.

I don't know whether I could have avoided the installation disks altogether. I'm guessing I couldn't, because it's pretty clear that Apple's iPhoto does NOT carry the drivers for the FujiFilm FinePix F20 SE, so the drivers would have to be loaded somehow. And the installation CD from the camera would NOT allow me to load drivers only.

So, that was my story for getting the Fuji F20 SE to work with iPhoto:
  1. Load the drivers and crappy viewer software (Fine Pix Viewer) from the camera installation CD.

  2. Load the photos from the camera into FinePixViewer.

  3. Close FinePixViewer and delete it and the other application in the Applications folder.

  4. Disconnect the camera, reboot the Mac.

  5. Load the photos in from the camera into iPhoto.

It should work. Hopefully, Apple will have the drivers for this camera as standard within iPhoto. I think this is going to be a popular model, it has excellent features. My wife loves it.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Holistic Health Nation Featured on Global Public Radio

I've decided to feature my podcast Holistic Health Nation on the radio network Global Public Radio.

Global Public Radio is a Website that features a variety of podcasts that express alternate points of view from the mainstream.

Here is what they do:
Our goal - To bring political and economic awareness, personal responsibility, and the development of consciousness and environmental awareness and sustainability into the mainstream through the Global Public Radio program.

Non-commercial - As you listen to Global Public Radio you will notice that we don't air commercial messages like other talk radio stations do. Neither do we solicit cash contributions.

Support - You can help support Global Public Radio in a unique way. We offer shopping opportunities with affiliated sponsors through the GPR Sponsors page. When you do this, a portion of your purchase goes to Global Public Radio.

You can also support GPR by telling friends and associates to listen and and encourage them to shop affiliated sponsors.

Let me know what you think of their Website. The streaming radio program should begin shortly.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Modern Marvels Hosts a Renewable Energy Show on the History Channel

Modern Marvels, the often interesting series on the History Channel, is showing a feature on Renewable Energy this coming Wednesday (9/20). I'm excited to see their take on the status of these sources of energy, and that perhaps this message will be getting to a lot of people who haven't heard the details of what's going on in this field.

Modern Marvels
"Renewable Energy"
History Channel
September 20 - 8pm (7pm Central)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jennifer Aniston - Yoga Gives Me Strength

Fashion Monitor's Website has an article on Jennifer Aniston's dedication to yoga, especially since her break up with Brad Pitt.

Apparently Jen had a breakthrough moment right after a yoga class. As she describes it "I was doing yoga with my girlfriend and we were finished and we were sort of sitting there just stretching and I looked over at her and I said, 'You know what, I'm feeling a feeling - I don't know if I've ever actually felt before, buy I don't want to be anywhere other than where I am right now - sitting across from you."

Yoga really is special. I've had moments similar to that, and also after I had been doing yoga for a long time.

There is something about Jennifer's energy. It seems like no matter what movie she's in, I like it. I know she's been in some really bad movies (I haven't seen The Breakup, though) , but something about her being there makes it okay. Yes, she's incredibly pretty, but is there something else? Or am I just being a man?

Also, here's a little known fact about Jennifer. She went to a Rudolf Steiner school as a little girl when she lived in New York with her mother.

From Sewage Sludge, Wood, Manure, Trash, and Even Plastic To Diesel

AutoblogGreen has an article today stating that University of California Riverside, in parnership with a private company, have created a new process that can turn many of society's waste products into diesel fuel, including sewage sludge, waste wood products, agricultural waste, trash and plastics.

Diesel engines have long been able to burn a surprising variety of compounds as fuel, but this new process has more promise than most. First, the items are turned into a gas, then that gas is converted into a liquid fuel.

This process is supposed to be less costly, more efficient and faster than previous gassification efforts.

The end result is that a gallon of diesel can be created for about $1 U.S. per gallon. Retail prices would obviously be higher, but a $2/gallon price doesn't seem out of the question, making it very competitive with gasoline today.

I have two big questions. One is -- what waste gases come out of the gasification process and just filter out into the atmosphere? It seems like there would be a lot. And two - is the diesel fuel that results high quality, or would it have a lot of impurities in it that would damage or clog engines?

Still, this is another positive step towards energy efficiency and actually turning our trash problem into an advantage. I love ideas that take a systems view of our entire society and our planet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Transaction Number and Label Number for Post Office Click and Ship Refund

Okay, this took me days (literally) to figure out, so I'm telling you here and hopefully you can just search for it and find it easily on this blog.

Being a home-based entrepreneur (and married to one) I use the U.S. Post Office's service "Click 'n Ship" a lot. Almost every single business day.

It is an excellent service. We sign in to the Website, print out a mailing label and stamp using our credit card, and then leave it on the porch for the mail carrier to pick up that morning. It is so friggin' easy and convenient.

But what about refunds? Well, yes, you can get a refund for a Click 'n Ship label that you didn't use. But their refund page is VERY confusing.

Here's what I finally figured out:

1. When the refund request page asks you for Transaction Number you look on your receipt on the label you printed (but didn't use) and use Transaction #. Simple enough.

2. When the refund request page asks you for Label Number you again go to the receipt for the label and use Delivery Confirmation Number. That's the big bold number across the top of the "Online Label Record" box.

Number 2 is what took me days to figure out. I entered so many different numbers that I thought it would lock out my user ID (but it didn't, thankfully). I just couldn't believe that they meant delivery confirmation.

I guess it was weird for me, because delivery confirmation number is optional when you take a package to the post office manually, but with Click 'n Ship is is mandatory (and free, by the way).

Okay, got it??

Transaction Number = Transaction #
Label Number = Delivery Confirmation Number

I feel better now.

Oh, and if you need a place to buy the labels with a perfect little peel-off for the label then the bottom for the receipt, choose Label Universe. They're excellent.

Monday, September 11, 2006

EPA Going With 100% Green Power

You know me, I'm always trying to find both sides of the story, but on this one, it's all up side as far as I can tell.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. has proclaimed that it will use 100% green energy for its buildings. It's doing this by purchasing nearly 300 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power annually in the form of renewable energy certificates (RECs) or delivered product. They say that this amount is equal to 100 percent of the total estimated annual electricity consumption at all of EPA’s nearly 200 facilities across the country—enough electricity to power 27,084 homes for an entire year.

How cool is that? The EPA leading the way for the rest of us on green power! I'm so proud of them! Holy crap!

I guess there's no mention of their automotive usage, so maybe they're just focusing on how much electricity and natural gas, etc. they're using for the buildings. That's my guess.

Even one agency doing this has such a huge effect on our environment. The EPA's decision will mean that 616,279,179 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be avoided annually.

And all of this under the Bush administration! Why aren't the media going nuts over this? I guess it got missed in all the coverage of the fifth anniversary of 9/11. Too bad. But understandable.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bill Maher is Back!

Well, it's official. Bill Maher is back.

Yes, his season of Real Time started about two weeks ago, but it was a rocky start. I blogged about his first show, where most of the jokes bombed and the guests were even worse. Even "New Rules" was a washout.

But this week's show was great. Bill's back.

The Best Earphones for Your iPod or Other Portable Music Device

Okay, after years of searching, I stumbled upon the best earphones for my iPod --- for me.

They are the Koss P-9 In-Ear Headphones. They're actually earphones - no padding around the ear.

Here's why they're so great:
  • They stay in my ears. The regular Apple earbuds do not stay in, especially on my left ear. My ear canal must be shaped a little weird or something. But these Koss earphones stay in.

  • Great sound. They're Koss.

  • Easy to put on and off. You can tell which one is left/right just by the shape, no need to look for "L" and "R."

  • Cheap. Amazon has them for only $10 plus shipping.

  • Fits people with funny ear lobes. My wife has a hard time clipping earphones over the top of her ear, but these fit her fine.

  • Widely available. I actually bought them at Radio Shack, but it seems like Amazon's price is better.

  • Cord is the right length. I am kind of tall, so sometimes I get these earphones with short cords that don't allow me to have the iPod in my fanny pack, but this cord is just the right length.

I think the iPod earbug crisis has been solved. I can listen to my music without worrying about the earbuds falling out while I'm mowing the lawn or bending over to pick a weed. These suckers stay in.

I haven't really found a downside. I'll let you know in a future post if they crap out on me for any reason.

Way to go, Koss!

Contact ABC to Ask Them to Drop Their Miniseries "The Path to 9/11"

I urge you to contact the ABC television network today to ask them not to show their new miniseries "The Path to 9/11."

This miniseries is filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods created to portray the Clinton administration as bumbling and inept, while showing the Bush government as strong and on top of it all.

We really don't need this kind of crap on television. Ask ABC to cancel their showing of this TV special.

Even Harvey Keitel, pictured above, has stated that he feels there are inaccuracies in the film and has called on ABC to fix them before airing the miniseries.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Project Censored - Here are the Top 25 Underreported News Stories

Project Censored is a kind of media watchdog organization that maintains a list of the most underreported (hmm, least reported?) stories in the media.

Why aren't these stories getting aired? Some say they already are, but maybe not. If they're not getting reported, maybe there's something happening behind the scenes.

Here are their Top Twenty-Five Underreported Stories:

#1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media

#2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran

#3 Oceans of the World in Extreme Danger

#4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US

#5 High-Tech Genocide in Congo

#6 Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy

# 7 US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq

#8 Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act

#9 The World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall

#10 Expanded Air War in Iraq Kills More Civilians

#11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed

#12 Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines

#13 New Evidence Establishes Dangers of Roundup

#14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US

#15 Chemical Industry is EPA’s Primary Research Partner

#16 Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court

#17 Iraq Invasion Promotes OPEC Agenda

#18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story

#19 Destruction of Rainforests Worst Ever

#20 Bottled Water: A Global Environmental Problem

#21 Gold Mining Threatens Ancient Andean Glaciers

#22 $Billions in Homeland Security Spending Undisclosed

#23 US Oil Targets Kyoto in Europe

#24 Cheney’s Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year

#25 US Military in Paraguay Threatens Region

You be the judge. And if the mainstream media is self-censoring, who will jump in?

Bloggers unite.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Cost of Solar Power to Drop 50% by 2010

MSNBC reports that Katsuhiko Machida, president of Japan’s Sharp Corp., the world’s largest maker of solar cells, expects the cost of solar power generation to be cut in half by 2010. Solar electricity now costs about $0.50 per kilowatt hour to produce.

Machida also predicted the cost of solar to comparable with that of nuclear power by 2030, and that the use of fossil fuel “will be totally out by then.”

With the price of oil going up (except for the downward blip the past 2 months) and the price of everything else coming down, it seems like it's just a matter of time before Mr. Machida is right, we'll all be using something other than oil.

Thanks to Solar Energy Investing for the tip.

Steve Carson and Pat Smith

Steve Carson

Pat Smith

Strangest darn thing!

As you probably know, I used to work in the computer consulting field for many years. I got out in 2002.

For most of the 1980s and early 1990s, I worked for SHL Systemhouse, Inc. This was a Canadian company that grew to be quite large and was later acquired by EDS, I think.

In the late 1990s, I worked for Claremont Technology Group, acquired by Covansys.

With Systemhouse, our top technologist for many years was Pat Smith. Pat was a great guy. Extremely knowledgeable, could deal with the politics, impressed the hell out of clients, good salesman. He was also one to go to the bar with the young people and tell stories. I liked Pat a lot.

With Claremont, we were growing like gangbusters and then we suddenly had two big projects go bad and the company was about to go under. The Board fired the CEO (Paul Cosgrave) and an interim CEO took over. His name was Steve Carson. I got to know Steve a little bit, because I was in a corporate overhead position at the time and Steve was giving me a fair amount of direction as to how he wanted me to run it. I didn't agree with everything he said, but he was an approachable guy and really knew a lot about running a business.

Well, in each case, we went our separate ways. But my friend mentioned Steve's name the other day and I decided to search for him on Google. Steve is now a CFO at a WIMAX company, riding the Web 2.0 boom, I'm sure. And he is also a Board member for Natural Convergence, a new company that does a software-only VoIP product (Skype-like, I guess).

And the chairman of that board? Pat Smith.

I was so surprised. I wish this company and Pat and Steve well. I'm a little shocked that a company could make a go of it offering such a simple product/service, but it seems like they're doing alright. They must have carved out a niche for themselves.

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Surfaces in South Africa

A new strain of tuberculosis has been discovered in South Africa. It seems that it is resistant to all known forms of drugs.

This is bad news. However, I haven't seen the media reporting on an important facet of the story.

Why? That's the question.

Why did we get this new strain of tuberculosis? To my understanding, these new strains have a predictable trigger. They come into being because we are overusing antibiotics. When we are buying anti-bacterial soap to wash our hands, we are unnecessarily using an anti-bacterial product (scientists agree that the extra ingredient, triclosan, adds NO protection) and we're creating more exposure for these new strains to be created.

I'm not saying South Africans in particular are using too much anti-bacterial soap, but all of us are too cavalier about taking antibiotics for every little infection or perceived problem. Then when the new strain comes along, we wonder "How could this have happened?"

For myself, I stay away from anti-bacterial anything. I wash my hands often, and use cleaners, like Miracle II, that don't contain these substances. Miracle II has anti-viral properties without creating a haven for new strains of infectious diseases like TB.

Please, media. We want to know the WHY.

Disney Branded Fruit?

I'm not sure how to feel about this one.

Disney is allowing its brand to be used on a variety of fruit packages now, using the Mickey Mouse, Tasmanian Devil and Sponge Bob characters.

"We're doing it predominantly because it is the right thing to do, but secondarily because it is the right business to be in," said Harry Dollman, head of food products licensing for Disney.

There are a couple of great things about this. First, it's a great business move. Disney is distancing itself from the McDonald's Happy Meal thing, and moving towards fruit. Excellent.

Also, heck, it's fruit! That's better than some sugar-coated piece of whatever. That's good too.

I guess (wishful thinking) there's a part of me that wanted them to endorse organic produce. Would that be too radical? Pesticide-free, not genetically manipulated, non-petroleum fertilized organic stuff. There is a Winnie the Pooh organic apple that is coming out in September, but what I'm saying is I wish the whole line was organic. And don't give me the excuse that there isn't enough organic food to make up the volume. Whole Foods Market is a multi-billion dollar grocer that serves a ton of organic produce. It just takes extra work to find it.

But this half-way measure is still pretty great.

So, that's how I feel about this. (How's that again??)

It looks like at least one other columnist is as conflicted as I am, albeit in a different way.

And here's what CNN had to say.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Garden Railroad Tour

Columbus, Ohio (my home town) has a very cool tour coming up this weekend. It's a tour of "garden railroads." These are miniature railroads built in people's backyard gardens. The pictures are breathtaking.

I'm thinking about taking my little brother (from Big Brothers) on this tour if he can make it. Sounds really fun!

Here are the details.

Under USDA Proposal, Beef Can Be Labeled "Grass Fed" Even If It's Feedlot Raised

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a new standard to lower the bar on what it means for a cow to be "grass fed." If this passes, beef marketers can sell their beef as "grass fed" as long as they were fed grass at some point in time, but it doesn't have to be grass that they eat while on the open range.

It would also allow cows to be fed "immature corn silage" which you would think would constitute a "corn fed" cow, but under this proposal, it's still grass. Apparently, corn is considered a grass until it starts to sprout the ears, but the USDA is trying to push the definition a little.

And finally, this proposal would allow cows that are injected with antibiotics and hormones to be called grass fed as well. This has the American Grassfed Association up in arms, but I don't really understand that part. It seems like the antibiotics and hormones are a separate issue from whether a cow is grass fed or not. Still, if they can constrict those practices, that would be great, I don't like having them in there anyway.

This is why I tend to ignore the labels on meat or other produce and put my trust into the retailer. I talked about this in my previous post "How to Close the Organic Gap."

Idaho Observer - Aspartame Makes a Great Ant Poison!

The Idaho Observer reports a first-hand account of how aspartame, known as Equal, makes a great ant poison.

This lady had a bad ant problem in her bathroom, and the Orkin Man wasn't able to help. She read that aspartame was originally developed as a poison, so she thought she might try using it.

It worked! The ants took the aspartame crystals away and the ant hill was completely gone - all the ants either dead or evacuated.

She doesn't know the nature of how aspartame poisons the ants. It is an excitotoxin that causes specific brain cells to be become excited to the point where they quickly die.

As with any poison, she warns, wear gloves while using it and DO NOT get any in your mouth!

NOTE: As far as I can tell, the Idaho Observer is not a regular daily newspaper, like the name sounds. It seems to have a lot of articles about aspartame, so this article may be suspect. Still, it's worth a try. We've had ant problems from time to time in our house, and I'm wondering if this might be a solution.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Three Reasons to Continue Believing in Solar

Red Herring magazine gives us three reasons why we should still believe in solar technology.

Have you doubted it? Well, lots of people are doubting investments in solar, with a few of the flagship companies gone bankrupt (AstroPower, etc.) and also the big price drop of oil lately.

Is solar dead? Red Herring says no. I'll give you their reasoning in short form, for the longer version you can click through to their full article.
  • Reason #1 More government support. More and more governments around the world are anteing up for incentives for using solar power. Germany leads the way, with Spain, Italy and South Korea not far behind.

  • Reason #2 Easing supply bottlenecks. Polysilicon has been a bit scarce, which has caused demand to exceed supply for solar panels, but that it changing. Again, Germany is bringing some big plants online, and the U.S. also has a plant coming in Washington state.

  • Reason #3 Growing demand. Big companies around the world are still ramping up their orders, even with scarce product out there and dropping oil prices. They're not showing signs of backing off.

I'm keeping solar in my stock portfolio. Remember, BP is one of the largest solar panel producer in the world. Other companies leading the way are Shell Solar, GE Solar, Sharp and Kyocera.

And I know what you're thinking. These big oil companies - Shell, BP - are just hording the solar technology so they can put it on the shelf and wait until the oil runs out.

Not so.

This does not match their behavior in this market. They are actively competing for market share and are ramping up their capabilities. BP and Shell are very active in solar and other renewables, while Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco lag far behind. It is becoming more and more clear which of these are "energy companies" versus "oil companies." My money goes on the energy companies.

Friday, September 01, 2006

General Motors Sequel Car Runs on Hydrogen, Has Other Futuristic Features

General Motors, yes the company that is barely afloat and can't even afford to pay its employees healthcare and pensions, is developing a concept car that is beyond your dreams.

This car, originally introduced in 2002 as the Autonomy, is now called the Sequel.

It's list of amazing technology goes something like this:
  • Powered entirely by hydrogen fuel cells and an on-board hydrogen tank

  • Drive-by-wire. No steering mechanism, it's all by computer.

  • Brake-by-wire. No brake disks or drums, nothing mechanical, all computer.

  • No drivetrain. No transmission. No pedals.

  • Replaceable chassis to suit your needs. Switch your car from a convertible to a station wagon to an SUV.

  • Reversible steering column for left-side or right-side drive (in different countries, etc.).

  • Video screens to replace rear view and side mirrors.

  • Hydrogen fuel cells generate enough electricity to run your house while the car is in the garage.

  • Uses sea water as fuel into the fuel cells, exhaust is water vapor.

  • Will run for 300 miles without a "fill up" (recharging the hydrogen fuel cells)

GM is working with Shell to place 13 hydrogen refueling stations in the greater New York metro area. Hopefully more cities to come.

So, just rush to your GM dealer and...I mean, wait 10-20 years and then rush to your dealer.

But you can get a cool brochure today!