Tag Archives: bitching

Shake your power and sustainability

My wife showed me this really great project called Shake Your Power. I recommend backing their project up on kickstarter. The project is lead by a great musician called Sudha Kheterpal. It’s a good way of transforming kinetic energy to electricity. I’m not going to go into details on how it’s doing it, because their video is doing a great job.

My question on twitter to them was about the support behind this product (especially dead batteries). And their answer was that they wanted to hear my engineering ideas. Here they are:

First of all this is not an engineering issue (unless you want to solve one of the world’s biggest problems: concentrating energy in a reusable and tiny format). My question was more along the lines: What will these people do when their batteries are end of life? And this actually is a support issue.

You are working on a product that will change people’s life for good. People will depend on this product for their main portable electric source.

I’m assuming that the battery is a LiPo (or Li-ion) type. These type of batteries have a lifespan of 300-500 charges. After that, their output starts to degrade significantly. If we are talking about Africa, another factor will be temperatures over 30º C. High temperatures put even more stress on LiPo batteries.

With everyday charging and using, you will most likely get 1-2 years of life from these batteries. And when these batteries are dead, they will need replacing. And if people cannot find electricity, they probably will not be able to find special LiPo batteries.

My recommendation is simple: Leave the charger unit in the shaker just like the way it is. Replace your batteries with easy to find, rechargeable AA batteries.

Or better, build a support infrastructure behind this project that will find the owner and replace the batteries let’s say every 2 years. It might be a bigger challenge than engineering this product, but your change will be permanent!

I just don’t want this to be yet another western project that reaches out to developing countries and forgets about the people that they touched within a few years.

Image by Shake Your Power. All Rights Reserved.
Image by Shake Your Power. All Rights Reserved.

Google doesn’t know better?

When google first released their Nexus One, I wanted to buy one badly. But I lived so many frustrations with the buying experience, I decided not to and went ahead and bought a Nokia n900.

Google “listened” the frustrated buying experience, and pulled the plug on selling phones. When they announced that they are going to release the new Nexus S with Best Buy, my initial reaction was: WTF? You buy a Google phone built by Samsung with a T-mobile plan at Best Buy?

I understand Google needs a retail partner to sell their product to a bigger market, but why not do like others and sell it through your carrier “partner”? They already have agreements with big retailers like Best Buy, Walmart, etc…

At this point I already have a very good Data+Voice plan, I don’t have a contractual bound with T-Mobile, I’m ready to commit to a 2 year plan. But I still cannot buy this phone without paying some $10-$30/month over the $199 with two year agreement, and here are the screenshots to prove it.

WTF Best Buy?

Also what about releasing another “Google” Phone (G2) with T-mobile at the same time? If I was T-Mobile, I would be pissed off and refuse to sell any Google product… It’s like Google really doesn’t want people to buy any of their phone…

I think I will pass on Nexus S and continue with my n900…

Voting abroad and document distribution chaos.

In Turkey we are approaching a referendum for a major constitutional change. I’m not going to write about what the change is and how it impacts citizens’ lives, that’s my father’s job 🙂 Instead I’m going to write about how voting abroad for Turkish ex-pats is handled.

I’m only living abroad for ten years and I know before I left Turkey, there was a concept of voting on the border (which includes consulates and physical borders.) About ten years ago us, the Turkish ex-pats, were not allowed to vote anymore for any elections or referendums in Turkey. It looks like this is changing now for better I hope.

For the last few months emails are being forwarded between ex-pats, some major Turkish political, cultural organizations, web sites are spreading the word about this new right to be able to vote abroad. But the way this “spreading the word” is done in such a weird way that I am  feeling very uncomfortable to follow what is really going on.

So far I got 4 different emails pointing to 4 different web sites and none of them are official government web sites. When I go and read the content of the news about this, none of the articles are pointing to an official governmental word about voting abroad. Instead they unanimously talk about filling a form, and mailing it to your local consulate or the General Directorate of Civil Registration and Nationality of Turkey.

The distribution of that form is the main issue here. You are filling a National Form that requests every bits of your identity. Especially this form has to be distributed by only Turkish Government. How can I trust a form that I download from any site?

All the sites I mentioned above, host the form and link to their version of the form. One site hosts it in MS Word format as a .doc file, the other hosts it in Adobe Acrobat format as a .pdf file. One site has a version with pretty graphics, the other one with straight text format… Come on!

(When I was trying to find different versions of the form on different web sites I realized one of those web sites was already hacked by a Turkish hacker group. Now can you trust this?)

I worked pretty much 4 years of my life trying to fix that type of issues with the Turkish government between 2000-2004, it looks like nobody learned anything on electronic government practices.

It’s time for Turkish government to create a central, secure repository for documents, and standardize all government related paperwork. Anything close to this is e-Konsolosluk web site (which was down when I was writing this entry) and that is only for consular services. How to do this is another topic which I will be writing in the near future.

Gnome and the glslideshow screensaver setup.

First of all, setting up screensaver configurations in gnome is a total mess. I don’t know why they decided to release and use gnome-screensaver instead of using xscreensaver. And I don’t want to know either.

My ubuntu setup is an archaic one. It’s an upgrade over an upgrade over an upgrade. I probably upgraded 4 or 5 times. So my config files might be overwritten, wrongly upgraded, etc… But I was having this horrible issue of not being able to setup my glslideshow settings.

You can search this online. Mainly people are complaining about how to setup the directory from where glslideshow reads the images, also how to set it up so that it doesn’t idiotically show the same images 5 times over and over again. Well I’ll repeat these in this blog post and some more which are not covered.

Initial Setup:

First of all to setup the directory to read the images go to your home directory and create/edit file .xscreensaver like the one below:

imageDirectory: /home/username/Pictures/Slideshow/or/wherever

This sets up your screensavers that are using images, to use this directory instead of  /usr/share/backgrounds (the default directory). Some people on the internet tells you to symlink it to your directory, but I think this is a far better way of doing it.

If you read the glslideshow manual (RTFM), it tells you that by default glslideshow pans an image for 6 seconds (Ken Burns/Pan Scale effect) and displays it for 30 seconds. This means that the glslideshow will idiotically display the same image 5 times. (30/6=5)

In order to fix this issue, you will need to tell it to pan it n seconds and display it also n seconds. So the command should be:

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root -pan 6 -duration 6

(-root means display on the root window which is the way screensavers work)

The configuration for this resides at: /usr/share/applications/screensavers/glslideshow.desktop

Go ahead and edit that file as root and change the line that reads:

Exec=/usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root


Exec=/usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root -pan 6 -duration 6

Now you are ready to have a slideshow that displays with pan/scale each image for 6 seconds.

And it all doesn’t work…

This is where the shit hit the fan for me. No matter what I did, my glslideshow was still running as /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root (ps aux | grep glslideshow)

After a stubborn and painful few hours I discovered that these settings were being cached in a file called: /usr/share/applications/desktop.en_US.utf8.cache (This is WTF number one)

If you look at this file, it’s a 56 KB cache file of all the settings gnome is reading for all of it’s applications!! I guess it should have been setup to delete it on restart but for some reason it never got deleted…

After renaming this file (never delete them, always rename them 🙂 ) the slideshow started to run as I wanted it to be.

WTF number two was that when I tried to add new images to my slideshow directory, glslideshow never picked them up. At the end of another painful search I found that the list of images are actually cached in a file called .xscreensaver-getimage.cache under /home/username/tmp/ (username is your username). I got rid of that file…

So now, it looks like I have a slideshow screensaver which kind of works. And hopefully you too…

Better news on the n900 battery

I am starting to believe that my battery issues were 2-3 isolated incidents. Lately the phone is staying a full 13-15 hours without any issues with moderate usage: 3g/wifi browsing, media player + FM transmitter and the rest.

One thing I did is to remove the RSS applet and empty the RSS feeds. I almost never use them anyway. The other one is to shutdown the phone, remove the battery, hold the power button for 10-12 seconds, put the battery back and start the phone. I don’t know if any of those had an effect on the battery life.

I also contacted the Nokia support, since I still believe that there is an issue with my phone battery. They will send me a new battery. I will have a chance to compare the new one and the old one.

I had a chance to chart a “normal” usage and the deep sleep mode for the phone looks like working pretty good. I’m hesitant about posting more charts to my blog, but I’ll do it anyway to be fair to the previous post. Here are the charts.


Percentage graph

As you can see: the system load is way better:
System load

The new 80’s

Adidas BagEnough with eighties revival! The only thing good about eighties was the music. The whole eighties fashion was horribly wrong and was a mistake. Please let’s learn from our mistakes.

The shoes with weird color combinations were wrong. Same thing for the big sunglasses! Shirts with big metallic buttons all over and wide shoulders for women, oh my god please stooppp!

We went shopping with Ebru last weekend and all the brands are racing to bring back the eighties. It makes me wonder if they hit the innovation wall. Even the fake shiny leather curvy adidas bags were back. I wanted throw up in them. 🙁 All the teenagers who were either a sperm or two-three years old when this horrible fashion was “rocking” the world are now going crazy shopping in urban outfitters for fake eighties stuff.

I’m ok with bringing back the 8 bit music, heavy metal, pixel art, synth music, etc.. But please please not the fashion!

My flight horror story

EDIT: (06/20/2009 13:30 istanbul time) I made it! I caught the NY – İstanbul flight! I’m tired now I’ll write more details on it later.

Here is my story so far.
My booked/confirmed itinary was DCA – Chicago O’hare – Istanbul. DCA – O’hare being at 7:40 (EST) and O’hare – istanbul at 10:20 (CDT).

I was at the DCA airport around 5:40 and checked in for my flight. It was already delayed to 8:40 at the time I was there. At first they wanted to send me with an earlier flight at 5:50pm which got delayed to 6:30ish. And then the UA rep saw only 3 seats available and a very long wait line for that flight and she decided that I cannot make that one. It took only 20 minutes after that to delay that flight to 9:10 then to 9:20.

So very nice customer service rep from United Airlines (UA) booked me on an American Airlines (AA) flight to O’hare which was scheduled to depart at 8:40ish.

When the flight time came the AA flight got delayed to 9:15 so all hopes got lost since there was no way of catching my flight at Chicago. I waited for the nice gentleman to complete the boarding since he was the only one there then he advised to talk to the gate people for UA since the original ticket was with them.

For the ones who doesn’t know DCA, basically everything ends around 9:30. So I caught a group of UA people, who were extremely nice and helpful to me. Although they were about to go home and I was the only passenger there they waited for me to help me fix the situation.

However my flight from chicago to istanbul was operated by Turkish Airlines (THY). They said that they cannot do anything about this flight and they even called THY but the person on the line for THY had no idea what to do. 🙁 it was about 10:20pm and the UA lady booked me to the next flight to O’hare at 5:50PM next day and said at least you’ll have a confirmed seat next day.

Then I went home and tried to call Orbitz to get some help. The only thing that they did is to get a hold to THY representative in Turkey (it took 48 minutes to do that). After they transferred my call to THY, the THY representative tried to help me but couldn’t do anything more than citing that there is no seat available on the next istanbul flight from Chicago.

I offered him to book me to NY to Istanbul flight but he was clueless. He tried to help me but nothing has been done. He called me back and forth from Turkey couple of times ending with no result.

I also tried to call THY NY office numerous times. On each attempt my calls went to a voicemail that has no recordings to indicate that the line is indeed a THY line.

It was 2 am. I was dead tired and went to sleep. Woke up at 7am. Called the orbitz again to get a refund and book another flight to Turkey this time without THY. Of course unless you don’t want to lose half of your money you spent on the ticket, this is not an option. At some point of the orbitz agent offered me 200+ dollars to book the flight…

Orbitz agent put me back into contact with THY (another 45 mins). This time a better agent from THY tried to help and I transferred me to someone who actually knows what she is doing, after telling her the story all over again, she promised me to call me back in 15 mins. I got a call from another THY agent 30 mins later. It was about 10:15 AM already. He knew what the problem was and he booked me to NY – istanbul flight which is at 4:30 pm (EST)

I bought an Acela (so called “fast” train) ticket to NYC ($177.00) and got in the train at 12:00pm. I’m currently in the train as I’m writing this. My plan is to catch earliest LIRR train from NY Penn station to Jamaica station and take Airtran from there to JFK.

I have absolutely no hope to catch the JFK-Istanbul flight unless it is delayed for an hour. But nobody can say that I didn’t try.

Morale of the story:

  • Don’t fly from USA to Turkey on any flight that makes a connection in the USA. Try to book a flight that connects from Europe. (Lufthansa, KLM, Air France, whichever)
  • THY customer service and presence in the USA must be improved dramatically, until the time I see serious positive steps taken from them, THY will be my last option.
  • If you have a connection flight and it’s delayed to the extend that you cannot catch your connection, still take that flight and stay at your connection. It’s much better to deal it on the spot than dealing on the phone.
  • The overall flight quality and spontaneity is decreasing exponentially. Charging a lot of money as tax on an airfare and still seeing no improvement on the air travel is sad.

Lord of the Rings: a.k.a How I humped the book by Peter Jackson…

This is something that I wanted to write for quite long time. This is to show how much I hate Lord of the Rings movies… All three of them…

I`m a good reader, and I know book films and film books are not that good. However there is something really different in LOTR. With all the media coverage and bullshit reviews of the movies, Peter Jackson become a super human, and he`s obviously much more famous that J.R.R.Tolkien. And this pisses me off…

I read the book in two languages. First in Turkish, then in english. And I must admit, the english version of my book has a scene from the movie on the cover. I also do not consider myself as someone who dedicated his life to LOTR. But I loved the book, I loved the story and especially the characters in the book. I cannot say the same thing for the movie! Let the ranting start…

Frodo: He`s gay. I`m sorry to say but his weak, cry-a-lot, girly character made my life a living hell during the couple of hours I spent in the movie theater. I certainly didn`t imagine him like while reading the book. The small person can achieve big things image is completely raped by P. Jackson. He made Frodo so “small” that he became a whiny shitty character. Enough said…

Gimli: Give me a break! He`s the taşakoğlanı in the movie. (This is a turkish saying meaning testicle boy…) Everybody makes fun of him, he`s goofy, low IQ and so so warrior. Hey Peter, WTF man? Have ever read the book? Gimli is a great warrior, blunt and definitely not a source of comic relief! Why would anybody waste such a good charater, is beyond my imagination!

Sam: Gay number 2. They are a duo of whiny puppies. In the name of making Sam naive, the movie depicts him as gay. Period!

Actually I`m super bored of this entry I`m gonna stop. This makes me upset! I`ll continue one day… Especially on Saruman, Gandalf Mortal Combat scene… ARGH!