Right In the Thick of the Carbon

Sci­Am on a (depress­ing) report rank­ing the top 100 U.S. met­ro­pol­i­tan areas in terms of amount of car­bon emis­sions. The part that real­ly star­tled me (empha­sis added):

The res­i­dents of Lex­ing­ton, Ky., Indi­anapo­lis and Cincin­nati emit the most green­house gases—nearly 2.5 times as much car­bon on a per capi­ta basis as their peers at the top of the list with small­er foot­prints. But these cities have the added bur­den of being major region­al trans­porta­tion hubs; in oth­er words, their per capi­ta emis­sions bur­den is skewed upward by the freight needs of the rest of the coun­try, accord­ing to senior research ana­lyst Andrea Sarzyn­s­ki at Brook­ings (based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., ranked 89th).

Round­ing out the bot­tom 10 biggest emit­ters per capi­ta are: Knoxville, Tenn., Har­ris­burg, Pa., Okla­homa City, St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, Ky., and Tole­do, Ohio.

No.s 4 and 8, here in TN. One of my first thoughts on what these cities might have in com­mon is that they are all wide­spread cities in which cars are the dom­i­nant means of trans­porta­tion (that is: almost no bikes, walk­ing, mass tran­sit, etc.) — not that this is by any means uncom­mon in the U.S. Per­haps this is the sil­ver lin­ing around $4/gal. gaso­line?

The Pheonix Has Landed

NASA had put the odds at around 50% of hav­ing a suc­cess­ful land­ing near the North Pole of Mars. Their track record of Mars mis­sions thus far was­n’t even that high (55% of mis­sions had been lost). How­ev­er, with amaz­ing suc­cess­es like the two rovers who have sim­ply kept going, that coin-toss of chance seemed okay.

Today, after what was described as an excru­ci­at­ing sev­en minute time of decent, NASA report­ed a suc­cess­ful land­ing. What’s more, they even have the pho­tos to show for it.

Pheonix Lander Foot

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona and NASA teams. Every­one is look­ing for­ward to some more great sci­ence from this mis­sion.

IPMT — IP Movie Theater

From Wired.com’s review of the Roku set-top box for stream­ing Net­flix films:

[The] Roku Net­flix Set Top Box is Just Shy of Total­ly Amaz­ing… The score below is bal­anced between the ease of use and qual­i­ty of the hard­ware, and the dearth of con­tent avail­able. If every piece of media in the Net­flix cat­a­log were stream­able, this would be a 10 for sure.

They do men­tion a few oth­er draw­backs (not the least of which is that it is not ter­ri­bly attrac­tive). How­ev­er, it’s a good price point for exist­ing Net­flix users. I’ve noticed that Net­flix is adding quite a bit to their “Watch Now” sec­tion, though I rarely use it as you can­not direct­ly watch any­thing on a Mac. I’m not ready to get rid of DVD’s just yet, but I do think we just got one step clos­er to the goal of real IPTV. As far as the Roku goes, it looks like it’s get­ting pos­i­tive reviews across the board.

Web Two Point Wha?

I think Wired’s epi­cen­ter blog needs to clar­i­fy one of today’s posts a bit:

Big Pay­day for Web 2.0The biggest web deal announced today was CBS’ plan to buy CNET, one of the last inde­pen­dent online con­tent com­pa­nies, for $1.8 bil­lion, or $11.50 per share. The val­u­a­tion rep­re­sents a healthy 45 per­cent pre­mi­um over yes­ter­day’s clos­ing price, and it’s a cou­ple hun­dred mil­lion dol­lars more than the $1.6 bil­lion CNET spent on its ZDNet acqui­si­tion eight years ago.

Let’s be clear: CNET (for­mer­ly C|Net, as I recall) is con­sid­ered Web 2.0? As in the same CNET Cen­tral I used to watch Richard Hart, Gina St. John, Ryan Seacrest, and John C. Dvo­rak on back in 1997? I just don’t see CNET as being any­thing oth­er than Web 1.0. Peri­od. They are still a pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ist-dri­ven site, even they allow a few user com­ments here-and-there. There’s no social aspect to the site to speak of. Just because it was a big acqui­si­tion of a most­ly internet/tech com­pa­ny does­n’t make it fall into the lat­est buzz­word space. You’d think Bet­sy Schiff­man, and Wired, would know bet­ter than to just throw around hip labels with­out think­ing. To be fair, the arti­cle also men­tions Com­cast’s acqui­si­tion of Plaxo (which has me a bit con­cerned about the pri­va­cy of my friends and fam­i­ly) but clear­ly is focus­ing on the big-dol­lar deal of the day, here. It appears a bet­ter title would have been “Web 1.0 final­ly pay­ing off.”

Convert Text to iTunes Audiobook

Since I’ve been all about lis­ten­ing to audio­books late­ly (actu­al­ly, for the past year — just more recent­ly of the fan­ta­sy genre), this link was pret­ty time­ly. Using some of the inte­grat­ed Apple ser­vices and some script­ing, macOSX­hints user miketyson put togeth­er a Ser­vice in OS X to sim­ply con­vert high­light­ed text to an Audio­book and add to the iTunes library. I gave it a try with a web­page in Safari (the Speech → Start speaking text ser­vice does­n’t work in Fire­fox) and the result was pret­ty easy to lis­ten to. The new Alex voice in 10.5 helps, though I don’t know if I could lis­ten to an entire book this way. How­ev­er, it’d be per­fect for those longer New York­er (and the like) arti­cles I nev­er seem to have time to read. It would cer­tain­ly be nice to have this Ser­vice auto­mat­i­cal­ly switch the AAC encod­ing to “Spo­ken Pod­cast” instead of hav­ing to switch to iTunes and change the set­ting man­u­al­ly. I’ll inevitably for­get to switch it back and end up with some real­ly awful sound­ing music files, no doubt.