The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Notes on a Browser History Mechanism, Part III

Your web-article "Notes on a Browser History Mechanism, Part II"
Wed, 23 Sep 2009 15:42:05 +0000 (GMT)

Hello Sean,

I just saw your article about the "History Tree" Firefox add-on at;

I am the author of History Tree and have just tested it and made it available for Linux and Mac. See; The reason for the delay is that I use mostly Windows and have only recently tested History Tree other platforms.

You were of course right to be surprised that it was initially for Windows only, since its mostly written in JavaScript. However, I had to test on Linux and Mac, since I am a bit of a perfectionist in that way.

I hope you find time to try History Tree out and that you find it useful Perhaps we will then see “Notes on a Browser History Mechanism, Part III” ?

Best Regards,
Norman Solomon

There is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist. And I would like to thank Norman for emailing me about the new version of History Tree.

I've tried it out, and I like it. It does what I described seven years ago, only it looks a lot better, and definitely has more functionality that I expected. But seven years ago I wasn't using tabs. I am now, and my only complaint about History Tree is how it handles tabs.

[History Tree screen shot]

The screen shot shows the history for four tabs I have open in Firefox, with the second tab having quite a bit of historical branching (the red box is the current page being displayed). My issue is that the second tab was opened from the most recent page in the first tab (which is off the bottom of the screen), and the third tab was opened from … well … I forgot which page in the second tab I opened it from. Same with the fourth tab. That's my complaint—there's no indication of which tab was created from which page.

I am at a loss as to what Norman can do for this. Drawing lines showing which page a tab was created from would get horribly confusing. Perhaps if you mouse over the first page in a tab, it could change the color of the page which created the tab in the first place? And then what to do when said page isn't visible?

But other than that, it's a very nice piece of work.

So called “alternative energy sources”

What about electric cars? What about 'em? Present battery technologies do NOT support 200 miles at freeway speeds for two people and luggage. Fifty or a hundred miles, just maybe. That takes care of a short commute and a trip to the grocery on the way home every day. And then you have to plug it in and recharge it. And where, dear reader, does that electricity come from? 77% of it comes from powerplants that burn those nasty hydrocarbons like coal, oil and natural gas. Another 10% comes from nuclear, and 7% comes from hydro, you know, those dams that are killing our rivers? And when you plug in your eco-friendly electric car, that's where the electricity comes from. Except for the 7% that's lost in the lines bringing it to your house. Short answer? If everybody goes to electric cars, we're gonna need more electricity. And right now, more electricity is going to take more carbon.

The whole energy/carbon/ecology discussion is filled with little corners of knowledge like these that I've just dipped into briefly. Many of us out here in the blue states know about this stuff and we know how bad policy, based on bad science is going to hurt this country.

Folks, another thing to consider is that energy, synonymous with carbon, already costs. You pay for it. The people who run the factory have to pay for it to give you what you want, and YOU pay for the energy. And now Obama and the eco-whackos are trying to make it more expensive to use energy. and guess who will pay. Can you afford it?

Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated » Carbon and more

Mr. Cajun works for the power industry, so he knows this stuff. And what he's saying is scaring me. But his article is just the tip of the iceberg. Years ago, Steven Den Beste wrote a series of articles on energy production and what we, as a society, realistically need. It's a lot to read, but the entire series below is really worth reading.

But there is a synopsis of the articles below for those that want to get to the meat of the argument. Basically, it boils down to:

In order for “alternate energy” to become feasible, it has to satisfy all of the following criteria:

  1. It has to be huge (in terms of both energy and power)
  2. It has to be reliable (not intermittent or unschedulable)
  3. It has to be concentrated (not diffuse)
  4. It has to be possible to utilize it efficiently
  5. The capital investment and operating cost to utilize it has to be comparable to existing energy sources (per gigawatt, and per terajoule).

If it fails to satisfy any of those, then it can't scale enough to make any difference. Solar power fails #3, and currently it also fails #5. (It also partially fails #2, but there are ways to work around that.)

The only sources of energy available to us now that satisfy all five are petroleum, coal, hydro, and nuclear.

My rule of thumb is that I'm not interested in any “alternate energy” until someone shows me how to scale it to produce at least 1% of our current energy usage. America right now uses about 3.6 terawatts average, so 1% of that is about 36 gigawatts average.

That was true in 2003 (when the original articles below were written), and it was true in 2008 (when the above was written) and it's still true today.

Anyway, the full set of articles:

Two more articles that were listed in my links along the Den Bests articles:

And as a refresher course, a slang definition of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics:

  1. You can't win.
  2. You can't break even.
  3. You can't even leave the game.

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