Which Would You Pick?

September 23, 2012

The commenter “ssat” on Bishop Hill summarises the power generation options, comparing 1 GW generators:

: 1 GW nuclear, 4 acres, 24/7/365, reliable, sustainable with re-processing, possible future thorium.
: 1 GW solar, 5,000 acres, 4/7/365, nothing at night.
: 1 GW wind, 60,000 acres, 6/7/365, nothing when calm/stormy.
: 1 GW coal, 15 acres, 0/7/365, reliable, sustainable but nothing with CCS mandated.
: 1 GW gas, 2 acres, 24/7/365, reliable, sustainable with local/friendly shale.

Which would you pick?

Writing with Scrivener on Mac and iPad

September 3, 2012

I am using and impressed with Scrivener as a tool to help me with my writing. While I’ve been using Word since Word 3.0 in the days of DOS, Scrivener has pretty much replaced Word except for when I have to use it when collaborating with colleagues where they are using Word. At some point I’ll write more about makes Scrivener so useful to me. Recommended. Only US$45.

Something which has eluded me, until now–which also hindered my writing projects using Word–was how to make it easier to write on both the Mac and the iPad and let the machines handle the synchronisation. Further, I wanted to write in the iPad without losing any formatting in the text. Everything that I read was about using SimpleNote, Elements, or other text editors. I wanted RTF capability and I wanted it to work well with DropBox.

I’ve cracked it.

  • Dropbox is the tool to move the files. It’s an elegant and simple tool.
  • Set Scrivener to sync (Menu: File/Sync/With External Folder …) with a folder in the Dropbox folder tree. I use ~/Dropbox/Apps/Scrivener/Sync/ but you can also use a symbolic link pointing to some other location.
  • on the iPad, use the app “Notability” which has RTF capability. Unusually for iPad apps, it also can navigate the Dropbox folder structure on the iPad. Import the RTF files in the Scrivener folder file into Notability app and do you work with it. You can create new RTF files in Notability and export them back to the Scrivener sync folder in Dropbox.
  • In Scrivener, open the writing project and the first thing to do is sync with the Dropbox Folder (Menu: File/Sync/With External Folder Now)

Someday there will be an iPad version of Scrivener. With the above, I’m not sure I really need or want Scrivener on the iPad but if there I’m sure the syncing will be even more automated. But until that day comes I have what I need.

Small Discovery with Hazel … press “alt” key for sub-rules

September 3, 2012

I discovered Hazel from the “Mac Power User” podcast. Hazel has really helped my personal productivity by allowing me to automate a number of time-consuming things related to my consulting business management.

In setting up a new Hazel rule to experiment with a new idea I used Google search to see if I could get some ideas from others. In that search I ran across an article where in the “Condition” part of the Hazel rule a sub-rule “if” statement was used.


I wrote the author and got an almost immediate reply:

Hazel has a fairly hidden feature that allows you to do this. Instead of pressing the + button to add a new condition, holding down the Option key will turn that plus sign into ellipses, and clicking the ellipses will allow you to add sub-rules like I did; you can end up with as many nested conditions as you’d like.

As an added bonus, this trick generally applies to other apps with ‘rule editor’ interfaces like Hazel. Many applications that allow you to define conditions with this interface (it’s a standard Apple-provided interface kit) respond to this Option-click, which is cool.

“Fairly hidden” is an understatement. But it works. And it’s an important discovery for me as I am pretty sure the rules I’m going to be writing need that sort of capability.

Hazel is “cool”.

Plan to untreated effluent into the Sea at Siccar Point. Good idea?

September 3, 2012

There is a plan by a company that prepares and packages vegetables for grocery stores to change how their waste water effluent is handled. Now they pipe it to on-site reed beds to filter it. They are seeking to reduce the treatment costs by building a pipeline across a sensitive area into the Firth of Forth to allow untreated wastewater to be released just beyond the shore. The location is near a marine conservation area and through a historical geological location–Siccar Point.

It’s the 21st Century. In the 20th Century we learned that dumping untreated effluent into lakes, oceans, and rivers was not a good thing to do and we did something about it. When I first moved to Scotland in the early 1980’s sewage effluent was dumped straight into the Firth of Forth. Now there are treatment plants. They still tell us we can’t eat the fish and seafood from the Firth, but it doesn’t smell anymore.

How, in the 21st Century can this plan to dump yet more effluent into the nearby sea be considered serious?

There is a campaign “Save Siccar Point“. Have a read and consider if you would like to help.

Have your Say on Scottish Renewal Energy Plans on 3 Sep 12

September 1, 2012

This seen in today’s Scotsman newspaper about an event on Monday in Edinburgh:

Published on Saturday 1 September 2012 12:55

THE public is being urged to have its say on offshore renewable energy at a public meeting in the Capital on Monday.

The event, at Premier Inn, Morrison Street, is the first of a series of meetings across the country as the Scottish Government steps up its drive for green energy.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland has huge potential for generating clean, green offshore energy. With around a 
quarter of Europe’s wind and tidal resources and ten per cent of wave energy potential, Scotland is well positioned to capitalise on our natural assets.

“We are at an early stage in identifying potential locations for offshore renewable projects. It’s very important that the views of local communities are carefully considered.

Monday’s event includes a drop-in session from 1pm until 6pm and an evening presentation from 7pm until 9pm.

The Premier Inn on Morrison street is hardly a “premier” location for such an important event. If I were a cynic I’d think the late notice in the paper and such an obscure location would suggest that the Government doesn’t want attention paid to this event. Despite that, I’ll try to be there.

Update 2 Sept: The Scottish Government Web Page on this event is here.