a moat, not a wall...


Dear President Trump, since you are considering the ludicrous idea of building a wall along the U.S. Mexican border, may I suggest to you that you instead entertain the idea of building a moat. This moat could be used to irrigate the entire border section area and create a green belt farming economy. I think it much more productive and long lasting than a wall which will serve no other purpose than isolation. This could be a joint project to which Mexico might actually agree. A moat or canal offers many more long term benefits,i.e national friendships, food, higher property values, taxable goods, all the while generating money rather than a wall which would drain money, lower property values and isolate nations, creating instability and fear. Just a thought.


A year to the day since I last wrote here.


Dear Apple... Could you please center the camera on the body of the iPhone?

architecture for tornado prone populations


Can we please stop erecting post and lintel bulidings in tornado prone areas? How about we try half-buried domes.



Industrial espionage is sexier than political espionage.

tv mounting


Never mount a flat screen television above a fireplace. It will never look good.



rain on my expired domain


Years ago I used to own the domain lowcolabs.com, but I had decided to let it go for some reason or another. I got curious and nostalgic, so I decided to take a peek. The domain has become one of those weird sites that you can't quite put your finger on. Are they domain parking? Are they selling some sort of third party product? A simple view of the source reveals that it is fully automated. A machine. A machine that sells plastic iPhone accessory crap. Even further investigation reveals that all the automated links seem to be scraping eBay and other large retail sites. There are subtle hints here and there that the origin of this site is in China somewhere. I do have to say it is well laid out.

Sometimes I think maybe it is an ignorant coder learning some new tricks, or maybe the site is in development. Usually my conclusion is that these sites are nasty, pure trash. Now that someone or something has parked on this domain, it will probably be next to impossible to get the domain back. Oh well. Burn in internet wasteland lowcolabs.com.

Web.archive.org to the rescue. Here is the original Lowco. Labs site, a little broken and slow, but surprisingly somewhat intact. Ah, memories. Just for clarification, I always coded my images properly!

obnoxiously long URL strings



So, first Netscape tacks on its' query garbage, then images-partners-tbn.google.com tacks on even more garbage, and last the fucking stupid clickstreamid, which makes some dumb fuck rich. Shitty, shit, shit!

Add up every single query in the world with this type of string, and you get a shit load of traffic. Is it really necessary to pass all this gunk to my server and clog my logs with noise. Keep all the shit meant for computers to read somewhere else. Oh, and what a bitch to parse.



Many times when I am thinking about physics I use mechanical / electrical analogies to help me visualize certain scenarios. The idea of earth ground has always intrigued me, so I decided I would try to visualize earth ground as a mechanical system. This crossed my mind when I had mounted a grinder to a work bench and the motor vibrated the entire bench. I realized I had to ground the entire bench to the floor.

I looked up mechanical and electrical analogies and found this site. Yet, on the site, there are only equations and robotic circuit diagrams. I am a visual person, so I needed to draw these diagrams in order to wrap my grey matter around some of these things. Certain concepts become more clear when I diagram them myself.

I used positive numbers on one side and negatives for the spring back position. This is also idealized. To put energy into this system I must pull the mass in one direction and let go. The closer I pull the small mass to the super mass, the more energy I am placing into the system. Force is analogous to current, and voltage to velocity, so voltage would essentially be the springiness of the flexible rod.


I knew I was thinking about these ideas correctly because I had equated the floor as a large capacitance. Mass would be analogous to capacitance. Increase the mass, and the mass thus has the ability to better damp the vibrations. Check this 730 ton tuned mass damper. A huge mechanical capacitor!

All these ideas were colliding into each other, and the diagram above reminded me very much of a radio transmitter.

So what happens when I remove this rod from the ground and vibrate it from its center? Would this center point be considered a ground, or at least a moving ground? The center is the point at which energy is put into the system. I guess it could be considered a relative ground?


The other thing that is weird is that I have no apparent negative numbers like in the first diagram. The spring back is part of the next movement. If I infinitely move the center of this rod in one direction, then the two masses would be always be behind the center. If I brought the center to a dead stop then the rod would spring, giving me my negative number, and grounding itself to the center. If timed correctly, when the end masses are springing back, and the center is pulled for the next motion, then it should be less work, or the work is relative? Need to do retarded equations.

The end masses centers' are constantly looking for equilibrium, which is the rod center.

It is interesting that this diagram also looks like magnetic lines of force. On cruising the net for animations of this scenario, I have found there are a lot of shitty physics applets. I hate how physics has turned into capital letters and symbols. This level of abstraction has always deterred me. Gamma, Gamma, HEY!


the first movies (or multimedia is information coupled to light)

date unknown

I was playing with the idea of placing an enormous fresnel lens between the sun and earth, so as to somehow focus an intense beam of light onto the surface of the earth. I let this stew as I was looking at the guts of an old 16mm projector. I kept thinking of the light passing through the film and being projected onto the wall. At the same time I was reading about Quetzalcoatl and the Temple of Kukulcan, and how at a certain time of the year the play of light and shadow on the side of the temple produces an illusion of a serpent undulating, supposedly that to be a metaphor for Quetzalcoatl.

All these things somehow coalesced. The sun being the light in the projector, the temple and its design acting as the film, or the medium through which to manipulate light, and the final moving image, Quetzalcoatl, as the character in a mythical narrative. Suddenly, the structure of Plato's cave then somehow became a camera obscura. I mean, why are constellations called what they are, the ever moving celestial sphere has plenty of stories associated with it, a sort of cosmic zoetrope.

Off topic now, but continuing...

Add all that to learning about fiber optics, and strange things started to happen. Does a video camera necessarily need to translate its images into a complex set of voltage signals for transmission over cable? Would it be possible to design a live television camera with the ability to modulate light right into a bundle of fiber optic cable to a box designed for projection. The primary idea being that the original image is never translated electrically, only optically. A sort of large extended endoscope. Weird. Optical tunnels. Screw high-def, box-to-box fiber.

Now incorporate laser holography. Can we scale up a holography optical bench to the size of a television studio?


Below would be the modifications for the hypothetical holographic television studio. Replace the photographic plate with some sort of optical tunnel array, essentially a huge fiber optic cable. Is this physically feasible? Huh, I guess Wikipedia says it is so, "real-time holography". Ah, what a little research can do.


The only thing I don't understand about the "real-time holography", is, why does it have to be processed by a computer? If light is traveling into this proposed optical tunnel array, and essentially acting as a wave guide, we just need to spit out the light the same way it came in??? The resolution of the image would be dependent on the size of each individual fiber in the array?

Instead of an array of fibers, what if it was one massive fiber, a huge internally reflective glass tube. So, a huge internally reflective glass tube, say about the size of the Holland Tunnel, but fairly straight, connected at one end to our proposed holographic television studio, and at the other end to a holographic projection theater. Reality bandwidth...

metaphysical stealing

date unknown

I realized the other day as I was looking at a lightbulb in a design shop that I wasn't looking at this lightbulb because I was going to purchase it, but about how I could build that, what improvements would I make to it, and how would I change it aesthetically. Was I stealing the lightbulb's ideas inherent in itself? How synchronistically cheesy!

Then I was thinking about business strategies, and how some strategies are often repeated when an efficient model emerges. This left me to apply this metaphysical stealing across a range of ideas, mechanical processes, bureaucracies, transportation infrastructures, energy efficient buildings, Coca-Cola.

I lost my train of thought, or, the N train is a quasi-predictive collective unconscious trans-spatial temporality. Maybe I should go read some Jung, or eat a grilled cheese.

no more war

date unknown

I have a series of simple questions about the current war in Iraq.

First, it has been stated that the U.S. shall be "victorious" when this war is over, yet what exactly is the "victory"? What exactly will the U.S. win? Stability in the Middle East? Is the war a win or lose situation? If we lose, who will win? If we lose, what have we lost?

Second, why are we at war in Iraq? The most basic question. My answer is always September 11. Yet, September 11 stems from a completely different set of circumstances. When the U.S. supposedly becomes "victorious" in the war in Iraq, will U.S. citizens feel any sense of closure with September 11? What will "victory" ultimately be? Who exactly is our enemy in Iraq? The insurgents? Who are these so-called "insurgents". Are all "insurgents" al-Qaida?

What exactly is "terrorism"? There always has to be some sort of motivation behind a terrible act of destruction, be it for either money or power, and at times those two things become synonymous. If we see terrorism as always being politically motivated or power driven, what was gained by destroying the World Trade Towers. Was it a symbolic act that had psychological repercussions in hope that oppressive U.S. foreign policy would change? If so, what exactly were the psychological repercussions and what foreign policies were seen as oppressive? A change in U.S. foreign policy would never be the result from this ultimately crude act, it would only strengthen it. Was it to politically polarize populations?

Terrorism is like a ransom note with no demand for ransom. Every terrorist act can be linked to a political cause. If we have a suicide bomber who believes what they are doing is for the ultimate good for their cause, what is their cause, and what are the politics that are inherent in that cause. Is the suicide bomber merely a robot following orders unattached to a chain of command? I always see "terrorism" as the most selfish act of all, an act that ultimately kills innocent helpless people, helpless meaning they have no control over a larger set of circumstances. That larger set of circumstances would be power structures that are struggling to define and control the same space.

These are just questions I find myself asking sometimes, and I always struggle to answer them, sometimes with little resolve.

NYC subway

date unknown

I took a phone survey the other night about the state of the New York City subway system, so that got me thinking about a variety of issues in the underground. First off, the noise. A lot of the renovation that has been done to some of the train station platforms was the installation of new tiling. The tiling is definitely an aesthetic improvement to the sometimes dingy platforms, yet the tile is the worst material for sound absorption. Like singing in the shower, the sound is reflected off the hard shiny surface bouncing around even more. Say all the tiles were some sound absorptive material, this would make a dramatic improvement to level of noise on the platform. Or if the walls were somehow built with a resonant cavity?

Friction. Sometimes the screeching of the train on the tracks can become unbearably. If we lessen the amount of friction being produced between the wheel and the track, this would cut out ninety percent of the noise. Lighten the load of the train cars by constructing the cars out of lighter metal alloys. All new train cars being built should somehow meet a new standard. A lighter train would reduce energy expenditure as well as noise. Some curves in the track are pretty demanding on a long train. You can hear and feel the amount of friction around these turns. A survey should be conducted of the worst curves in the tracks, and then these curves should be eased over time.

Are the NYC subway trains using a type of linear brush motor? The third rail was always mysterious.Create a 50 year plan to eventually take the trains off the third rail system?

I am not familiar with how the trains are actually tracked by the MTA, but I am assuming the methodology is currently by an electronic switch. Say instead of the current switch, we use a laser diode and a light sensitive photo diode, so that when the train breaks the connection between laser and photo diode, we have a signal. This reading should be sensitive enough to take into account the speed of the train and any other relevant data, individual cars could thus be bar tagged. This reading could be calculated within a distance formula devised to determine when the train will arrive in the appropriate station.

Color code platforms. Currently the method for understanding which train is arriving is solely through the use of signs. This can be made more explicit by creating a platform which is entirely, say blue, for the A,C or E. Maybe all the posts on the platform should be painted the same train color. The only problem with this is, changes in the line. So an adaptable color coding system. Also the direction the train is traveling needs more clarification, as well as express versus local. If you are a frequent subway rider you understand that the inside track is express, whereas the outside track is local. But this doesn't hold true all the time. If you are completely unfamiliar with the New York City subway, local and express isn't that clear.

More maps. Sometimes the map is outside the turnstile and after you pass the turnstile, no friggin' map!

Clarity of announcements on the platform could use some work. Better placement of the speakers, say at ear level to average human height, so the volume doesn't have to be cranked to eleven. Improve the microphone for the train station attendant, or the placement of his/her mic. Same would go for announcements on the train.

wind farms (a two thousand year old technology)

date unknown

All the energy generated in the Gulf of Mexico by Katrina, and now Rita, over the course of the last two months, has only caused devastation. Upon watching these storms, spin like a monstrous washing machine, I could only think of powering the entire coast line with the use of large windfarms. This extensive wind farm could power a hurricane defense system, a self-regulating system.


All this got me thinking. How would it be possible to simultaneously break one of these storms, while extracting its energy? Would a huge impenetrable wedge driven through the center of the storm break it? With this massive hypothetical wedge in place, the winds should divert into two streams, creating two smaller storms. Ah, what about a series of these wedges, what about an inverted wedge? Could this also be applied to tidal waves traveling inland? Take these wedges and integrate them somehow with the proposed windfarm and a tidal power plant...

If we smooth the wedge out, will this ease the stress placed on particularly edges of the wedge? So a smoother type of double sided wedge.This applet is helpful for visualizing these things.

It would be of great advantage to map all the storms in the Gulf of Mexico over the course of recorded history, and find the average path of these storms. This could determine the optimal path in which to place these wind farms.

Maybe I will build just one wind turbine in the Gulf and send that energy to the grid, selling it back to local power company. The credit I receive will automatically be transferred to my bank account, and my New York City power bill will be setup to automatically deduct those funds from my account. An elaborate hack for wireless power, sorry Tesla.


Hmmm. Maybe buying property in Arizona, and building a solar farm, selling it locally, and using it globally isn't so far fetched. Ah, a green Enron, anyone? Greenron. So, all this lead me to read the National Energy Policy Report.

Upon reading the section "Nature's Power", I found a section with maps of the US, displaying viable regions for the development of alternative energy sources. Yet the wind map did not display any high wind activity in the Gulf. Weird. The other strange thing was on the solar map, which does not display the entire midwest and western regions of the US. Go take a look. I can't figure this out.



Why must there be heat sinks in electronic equipment? Isn't a big heat sink the sign of poor energy throughput? I took the two gargantuan heat sinks out of a G5 the other night because I lost a screw behind one while I was installing a RAID bus. These things are massive. So I came up with the idea of heating my fish tank with all the processing power lost to thermal radiation. Just think my fish are nice and cozy and my computer is more compact and cooler and without the fan noise.

A thermal camera would be extremely useful in diagnosing the problem areas. The other thing about the G5 is the interior compartment design. This computer is sold as a workhorse, yet when you try to plop some massive storage into the sucker, there is no room inside. Many a video editor will find themselves using external drives. When you do put more drives inside the G5, you have to rig them around the fans, which is clumsy, and also ruins the original design for maximum airflow.


The other thing about the G5 is its power supply. It is extremely noisy. I rigged up a sort of stethoscope, a large coil connected to a pair of headphones. Waving the coil across certain portions of the computer, I could then determine where the noise was being generated. It is in the regulation of the power supply, that this noise is occurring. The noise is actually bleeding across the exterior power supply cord into my surge protector. There are some threads around about proper grounding of your equipment, but the problem is not on the users end, its interior to the G5's power supply. If you are doing any sensitive audio work, you will find this problem incredibly annoying. You can actually here the blips from the processor or something. When the processor is working harder, this noise becomes more apparent.

Oh yeah, if you ever do remove the heat sinks from a G5, be sure to label which one goes where. I didn't realize that the heat sinks were smart enough to realize which slot they were in. Upon booting I discovered that the fans go full tilt, if you have them switched. This took me a while to troubleshoot, because I thought it was due to installing the new RAID card. Verbose booting revealed the problem.

mistake mutation


Occasionally looking around the net, I find mistakes, be it grammar, captioning, what have you. And too often I find the same exact information on a number of different websites. This information was simply and obviously cut and pasted, or more worrisome, caught in the flow of an automated process. Thus leaving us with a multiplicity of mistakes, an error ripple through a single thread in the fabric of the net.

Hmmm. Isn't that thread connecting other threads, and the resulting ripple thus weakening over time? The mistake will eventually be fixed and or dead end itself?, or does it exist as a form of mutation?

I was using the Search and Replace function in BBEdit to fix an error I had made across an entire website, the error simply being a missing quote character. This was the result of automatically generating a template for a small site, but the implications struck me the same as the simple example above.

Can we say it ripples through best or most efficiently through a homogeneous information medium and less so in a heterogeneous information medium? It seems as though the mistake will mutate more in a heterogeneous information medium, and not mutate at all in a homogeneous information medium.

pixels per inch


The pixel is the building block of the visual digital universe and can be analogous to the way in which physicists rely on their measurements of the speed of light to develop models of the physical universe. Removing this block causes that model universe to crumble.

Usually when creating images for onscreen display we are dealing with ppi. Why are we stuck with this ppi resolution and why are most graphic programs US measurement-centric? Yes, we do have the ability to change these parameters, but the inch has already "inched" its way into our minds as those obtrusive ppi numbers.

PPI's sole concern is with the physical world, i.e. print. Yet every time we create a new document in Photoshop, or scan a document, we are faced with the dreaded PPI. It is too commonly thought that 72 or 96 ppi is some de facto standard, while in reality it is a mere approximation of physical size. These numbers are the remnants of a technology developed in the 80s with advent of the personal computer, and it would be interesting to try and historically connect this to the development of the printing press.

Remember that show "Connections", or it's remake as a CD-ROM game, now there is the similar "History Detectives" on PBS.

all media, unless noted, © 2017 mikelow.