How do automobiles work? What are the core principles of automobiles? Why haven't I owned one until recently? Why do I own one? The answer to these questions and probably more may appear in this blog post.
Let's start with a bicycle, my preferred mechanism of transportation. Despite slander that occurs against it, bicycling is one of the most efficient forms of transportation that exists. I'll get to why below. Why would anyone need anything else? Well, bicycles are terrible modes of transportation for long distances. I live far enough away from work to make cycling a bad commute. I can do it, but not 5 days a week, not even 3 days a week. Bicycles are light and provide significant advantage over walking, running, swimming, kayaking, driving, and bussing, but in a very short range. Anyone who says they bicycle to and from work everyday lives a short distance from work or can cycle for a significant amount of time. How far is the furthest I've heard someone commute by bicycle? 17 or so miles up hill both ways is about the furthest and the cyclist was in terrific shape. The furthest I've cycled daily is 5 miles each way. It was so difficult that I could only ride 4 times per week, leaving me at home 1 day per week.
Efficient? If you are limited to only cycling 50 miles per week, your carbon footprint is almost non-existent. Remember that your footprint is eating and then breathing, something that all drivers must also do. If you eat more than a driver (which is silly to consider), it won't be much. Then where does all that energy (kinetic: ½mv² and potential: mgh) come from? Well, it's pretty clear that it's the pedaling you do. But everyone should exercise. Cyclists just do it on their way to work instead of at a gym or running in a circle. Have you ever exercised before? So let's compare a car and driver to a cyclist.
Random carbon footprint calculator says a car emits 1.03 metric tons of CO2 driving 2500 miles.
Another random carbon footprint says that the average American emits 20 metric tons of CO2 in a year.
But these are not good comparisons because the average American drives to work. The average person in the Netherlands rides a bicycle to work and emits 10 metrics tons of CO2 in a year. So the amount of carbon emission between a cyclist and a driver can vary by 10 metric tons per year. A car driving just 5 miles each way only emits 1.03 metric tons, so we're talking about an order of magnitude difference in carbon footprint. Alas, this doesn't solve the problem of whether bicycles are more efficient than cars, but it does provide us with some scale.
May 5, 2017
On Thursday of this week (May 4, 2017) I released a mail client. It's pretty humble, but I've been using it for a decade and so it was worth it to me to iron out a handful of bugs and make it good enough for other people to use. Currently it won't be much use to you if you run Windows, Mac OSX, don't run your own mail server, or don't understand what fetchmail is*. But those things are fixable and I intend to fix them in the months to come. That means this blog post doesn't have to cater to end users, so I won't attempt to. This blog post will be about how I came to write a mail client and why it makes sense in 2017.
* The wording of that sentence was pretty bad so I'll reverse it. BikeIM-0.5 is usable to you if you run Postfix, if you run Dovecot, if you run OpenSMTPD, if you run fetchmail, if you use GnuPG, if you use Mutt, if you run Linux or *BSD, if you use Git, and understand how to report bugs.Read more »
Mar 21, 2017
This blog is a continuation of this blog post which is a pretty good mix of technical and creative projects that this blog was originally written for. If you look at some of the way-way-back posts you'll see some of the things I've thought about and tried to work on from this perspective.Read more »
Mar 1, 2017
It took quite a few months to get the time to work on this blog. I had AltSci Cell and AltSci Blog updated to the new blog system back in November. I ported most of AltSci Concepts to the new blog system a few months ago, but I didn't want to convert it until I had comment working. You can see there are no comments at the bottom of this page because I'm not ready to backport the comments to AltSci Cell yet. But if you go to any of the posts on AltSci Concepts you'll be able to post your comment.
In all the years of AltSci, only a handful of people have commented. The main purpose has been to collect a large corpus of spam (389245 spam comments from 67085 unique IPs, 9683389 csrf spam attempts rejected) which I've had to filter at times. But the opportunity to post responses is a valuable part of the Internet. That's probably why sites like Hacker News and Reddit are so valuable: they let you comment on important topics where the comments are disabled or too toxic to post in. That doesn't mean that these sites are infallible. In fact, that's a lot of the controversy in any open forum -- people post in a thread that is going to stay linked to that website for a long time and time increases a search engine rankings. When should the post be deleted? When should the admins leave it alone? These problems are not trivial to solve. If you think they are... please create a thread to discuss this post and e-mail me a link.Read more »