Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Wishes for the Holidays and a great 2008!

NYC Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree just before lighting.
Photo Credit: Kristen Artz

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins Neue Jahr 2008

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

Feliz Natal e Próspero Ano Novo

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Solare e Milano

The weekend before the 22nd EU PVSEC opened, I had free time to tour Milan and see the sights. I spent Saturday afternoon shopping and looking around. What else? Since my last visit to Milan in June 1996, the Piazza Duomo has changed and gone further upscale.

On Sunday, I ventured to the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci" (English). As I walked about the museum for a few afternoon hours, I found I had photovoltaics on the brain. Leonardo’s machines are no doubt the highlight of the museum’s collections, but anything related to solar resonated with me. In fact, I lingered at aged exhibits on steelmaking and metallurgy because of my new found interests in material science. One exhibit featured the indirect-arc electric furnace invented by Ernesto Stassano for melting steel.

For a professional’s point of view, please see the Blog post, National Museum of Science and Technology ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ in Milan, Italy, by Charlie Trautmann, Executive Director of the Sciencenter.

Here is a photo slideshow around the Duomo and towards Castello Sforzesco near my hotel.

I stayed at the Hotel Genius Downtown which bills itself as a three star hotel, but, being nice, is more like a two star. The basics of clean and safe are covered, and there was a small air conditioner in the room. Frills in the bathroom, like a shower curtain, were lacking, and electrical aspects of the room required maintenance or upgrades. Renovations are in progress, and this hotel has much potential but caveat emptor until you hear otherwise.

Last, I wanted to again acknowledge that blogging mecca, Bar Magenta with BITAGE| HOTSPOT delivering a FreeWiFi Hotspot. I did all of my 22nd EU PVSEC postings from here. With drinks at €5 a pop, I don’t think this saved me any money over paid WiFi, but it was fun hanging out with the locals.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Windows Live Writer Beta?

Desperately Seeking Blogging Software

I have been on a quest to improve my blogging "platform" since Google forced the migration to Blogger Beta and the "New Blogger". While I survived the transition with minimal template changes though without benefit of the new template tools, I have been struggling with the loss of the Blogger for Word Add-On. This Add-On helped cleanup the excessive formatting of Microsoft Word and resulted in simple posts with clean .html code.

Complicating matters, an issue with Word 2007’s new Blogger support has never been reported as fixed. As I looked for news about a resolution of this issue, I stumbled upon this post, A Comparison of Blogging Tools: Word 2007 vs. Windows Live Writer on The ToughBot Project.

A free and useful application from Microsoft? Windows Live Writer (WLW) Beta is a desktop application that makes it easy to publish rich content to your blog. WLW supports Blogger with both publish and draft capabilities. There is WYSIWYG with your Blog's template theme. For this Blog, I noticed a few flaws with the WYSIWYG but overall the feature is a plus.

WLW supports rich media types, but, again, Blogger, Microsoft, or both don't seem to have a peace accord to get photos into drafts or published posts. While a picture can be inserted, I couldn't find a way to setup FTP to my Blogger account or to Picasa Web Albums. After going through the trouble of installing the Picasa Image Plugin, I could access my Picasa Albums but I had trouble formatting the inserted photo (operator error?). Oh, you set the size during the insert process.

In another odd twist, Blog photo albums in Picasa Web Albums do not permit photo uploads from your Picasa account. The easy work around is to setup a separate album or post process the draft online with Blogger.

Being able to use tables at will without coding .html is a huge plus, and WLW delivers on this. I like a good table, and tables can help format content in a post for a professional looking layout.

Test Table with border

Glück Schwein

Does it work?
Yes it does.

WLW seems like it is worth a trial. I will give it a go with my next post at GUNTHER Portfolio. I forgot to mention Labels are supported.

You can download the application here, Windows Live Writer (WLW) Beta, and, of course, the developers' have a Blog at the Windows Live Writer team blog.

If I find an acceptable solution to posting photos, my wish list includes a word count feature and Mac support. The former is more realistic. It appears everyone knew about this blogging software except me.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

MacJournal Blog Software - Test Post

I have been trying out different blogging software for my MacBook. Using MS-Word on my desktop PC has gotten to be a real pain since the Blogger for Word plugin broke with the New Blogger. I first tried ecto but there was no draft feature, it required photos to be in flickr, and I had trouble just getting the thing configured.

This is my first attempt at a MacJournal entry. MacJournal v 4.1.2 : Mac journaling and blog software is a productivity solution from Mariner Software. There doesn’t appear to be a draft feature or a way to create tables. So far the basics seem to work, but I am very comfortable using a wretched Windows PC. Old habits...

Well, the test post was a bust. I had to add the image after "sharing", fix the font, and add labels.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

California Gasoline Prices Close to Record Highs

[Silicon Valley, California USA]

California gas prices up almost 30% since January 2007

I filled up my gas tank at the ARCO shown above on Monday, April 16, 2007. The price was $3.599 per gallon (3.785 liters) for Premium 91 octane. My Bimmer requires super unleaded gasoline, and, yes, I do notice! At the Chevron across the street and closer to Route 101, the price was 12 cents ($0.12) higher at $3.719 per gallon. I wish they would just round up the ridiculous 99/100ths of a penny already. I haven't paid this much for gas since the weeks following Katrina.

Back on January 24, 2007, I was able to purchase gas at a California Chevron station for $2.779 per gallon.

It is a good thing Proposition 87 failed as I advocated in Proposition 87 – I vote NO. If Proposition 87 had passed, I believe gas prices would now be over $4.00 per gallon for regular unleaded. I know European readers will find all these gasoline prices amusing.

And if Vinod Khosla is a pragmatist and Dr. Hermann Scheer is a hopeless idealist ("Scheer Nonsense" -- The Damage Idealistic Environmentalists Can Do) then shouldn’t Proposition 87 be referred to as Khosla’s Kolossal Vinodfoolery?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

iRobot's Helen Greiner at 2007 International CES

Here is a video clip of Helen Greiner, iRobot Corporation (NASDAQ:IRBT) Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, introducing the iRobot® Create™ platform at CES this year.

The video camera crews filming this were laser focused on getting the footage and an elbow here or there was not out of the question. I wonder if the Roomba platform has been over extended by iRobot. When will iRobot migrate PackBot technologies into commercial and home applications?

I discovered a Blog dedicated to iRobot called Robot Stock News -- All about iRobot, Roomba, Scooba and PackBot (

This is now the third time I have noticed problems with video and audio synchronization with video clips uploaded to YouTube. The original video clip has audio drop outs, but the sync is fine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Delete that Photo!

German Woman commands me to delete a random Photo

When I was connecting through Frankfurt Airport on my way to Berlin for the Ruse visit and the 7. Forum Solarpraxis last November 2006, I decided to play around with my new Canon Powershot SD800 IS digital camera. As I took a picture of the gate waiting lounge, my camera flashed because I had it in the wrong mode.

My first thought was I might get in trouble for violating an airport security rule. A few minutes later a German woman walks over to me. First she asked why I took her picture. I told her I did not take her picture; I took a photo of the whole room. Unsatisfied, she demanded I delete the photo. “Löschen Sie das Bild!” she commanded.

As a native born American traveling as press, this demand was not well received. I didn’t respond to this threat and put my camera away. I still don’t know why she thought herself so self important. I have three plausible explanations; she is either a politician, celebrity, or cheating on her husband. I will let you judge this from the photos above, but I discount the later two possibilities. The close up is a low resolution zoom on the original photo.

I might never have looked at this photo again. If the woman had asked me in a nice way, I would have deleted the photo on the spot instead of posting it to my Blog.

And Frankfurt is the worst airport for international connecting flights. Lufthansa still uses buses to haul passengers to and from the tarmac. All the buses are routed to Terminal B regardless of the location of your connection. As the kicker, you need to go through a security screen once more before getting to your departure gate. Forget booking tight connections through Frankfurt.

© 2006-2008 Edgar A. Gunther   All rights reserved.