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Comparing World Gas Prices

The Associates for International Research released some data on Wednesday – July 9, 2008. It is a comparison of gasoline prices. Here is a sample of the data on what a gallon of gas costs:

  • Oslo, Norway $9.85
  • London, England $8.96
  • Paris, France $9.43
  • Rome, Italy $9.03
  • Berlin, Germany $8.68
  • Tokyo, Japan $6.30
  • Montreal, Canada $5.57

So the price that you are paying may not seem so bad. That’s until you look at figures like these:

  • Caracas, Venezuela $0.12
  • Tehran, Iran $0.41
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia $0.47

As the real estate people say… ‘location, location, location’.

Catherine Forsythe

Google Explains Ranking

Depending on how much you really would like to know, a Google employee explains how Google’s ranking works. Well, not exactly. He actually explains the mechanics on how it works without explaining the secret sauce that goes into the process. But if you would like to read the spec’s from a ranking team member, this article is for you. The article states:

Google ranking is a collection of algorithms used to find the most relevant documents for a user query. We do this for hundreds of millions of queries a day, from a collection of billions and billions of pages. These algorithms are run for every query entered into most of Google’s search services. While our web search is the most used Google search service and the most widely known, the same ranking algorithms are also used – with some modifications – for other Google search services, including Images, News, YouTube, Maps, Product Search, Book Search, and more.

The most common question I get asked about Google’s ranking is “how do you do it?” Of course, there is a lot that goes into building a state-of-the-art ranking system like ours, and I will delve deeper into the technology behind it in a later post. Today, I would like to briefly share the philosophies behind Google ranking:

1) Best locally relevant results served globally.
2) Keep it simple.
3) No manual intervention.

There will be a second installment with a further indepth analysis about ranking and how it is done.

Comments welcome.


Oil Crisis – Have We Missed The Boat?

No matter who you talk to these days, the price of gasoline usually come up in the conversation. What also comes up is why no one is doing anything about the oil crisis. But didn’t we already miss the boat long ago? Let’s face it America. We as a nation have done a piss poor job when it comes to the way we view the price of gasoline. We constantly failed to recognize that $4 a gallon or higher prices were going to bite us in the butt one day. We just went on our merry way thinking that oil would be abundant forever.

One problem is that no one forced our auto companies to produce more fuel efficient vehicles. The big 3 loved selling those 6,000 lb monsters with those huge V-8’s sucking gas like a drunk on a binge. In Europe which demanded more fuel efficient cars, they are currently at 44 m.p.g. on average with 48 m.p.g. due in 2012. We here in the US fumbled with establishing 35 m.p.g. by 2020.

So here is the new thinking for those who own those gas sucking V-8 engines.  I heard this a dozen times last week while I was on vacation. With gas at $4 a gallon, it is not economically feasible yet to dump that V-8 for a more efficient vehicle. Even though people may be paying $200 a month more for gas, a car payment would cost more. With this type of thinking, gas needs to hit $6 a gallon or higher before people will trade in those gas guzzlers. Depending on what you read or hear on the news, we could hit that pricing soon.

With Detroit again seeing profits collapse as sales of big cars plunge, Mr. Domenici says he is worried about the survival of the domestic automakers.

“They talked a good research game,” he says. “But let’s face it, little was being done. They are suffering the consequences and could go broke just like the airlines.”

What Congress didn’t or couldn’t do, the free market is now doing in the form of higher gas prices: forcing Americans into more fuel-efficient cars. Ms. Cischke of Ford says that in the last two months, “We have seen more of a shift in the market than in 20 years of CAFE. People are buying what they need.”

With big truck and SUV sales down by about 50%, it is only a matter of time before we see the big 3 go belly up. What I am looking forward to seeing is when the US government helps bail out the big 3 when their sales of huge vehicles stops completely. After all, we should ALL pay for their dumb ass moves because we were the dummies who bought these monster vehicles. :-)

How long do you think it will takes us to find an alternative fuel?  5, 10, 20 years or more?

For those who own a gas guzzler, when will you buy a more efficient vehicle?  When gas hits $4, $5 , or $6 or more?

Comments welcome.

PS Don’t plan on GM coming out with the Chevy Volt any time soon. There might not be a GM.  :-(


Free Online FPS Combat Arms Launched

Nexon America Inc., the U.S. division of Asia’s leading online gaming company Nexon Group, announced today the official launch for Combat Arms, its original free-to-play, online multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS). The official launch signals the completion of beta testing and the addition of fresh content, including new weapons and an extra map and game mode. Also going live is the game’s ranking system, where players can track their skill level, kills, clan matches and more. Combat Arms beta testers can view rankings and new users can get started by signing up for free here.

“Combat Arms carves out a unique space in the modern FPS market by eliminating subscription fees and locked areas and adding plenty of free weapons,” said Nexon America VP of Marketing Min Kim. “For the first time, gamers can experience a high-quality FPS experience for free. Plus, Nexon’s community features and online stat-tracking let fans tally score kills and talk trash with their friends between matches — with the in-game proof to back it up in the rankings.”

Combat Arms allows gamers to compete in numerous, worldwide combat zones and epic battles against friends and foes. The launch delivers updates throughout the game, now leveling up will unlock new weapons for users to further hone fragging skills on the battlefield, including a new map which transports players to a deadly biochemical lab deep in frozen tundra, giving great opportunities to show off sniper skills.

The launch adds a fourth game mode with “Capture The Flag,” one of the most popular forms of multiplayer gaming. The classic strategy and territory game requires stealth and teamwork and provides another mode for players to show off their expertise.

All of these additions supplement the game’s customization features, which allow gamers to create a personal mercenary with tailored weapons and equipment. Players cannot only create a made-to-order soldier, but can also show him off through the extensive community features with buddy lists, clan support and the extensive stat-tracking system.

Interested players can sign up here.

New WordPress plugin to update Plurk!

I have been working with Mark Bockenstedt who has created a Plurk updater based on a similar updater used for Twitter. Mark used the Twitter updater as a base and then updated it with a PlurkAPI allowing him to send post information to Plurk.

This is a great idea in my opinion. People are starting to use Plurk more and more, if you want to get your word out there then this is another good way of letting the world know that you are working on something.

Mark put up this updater on his website on July 3rd and I didn’t notice it right away but when I installed it there was some trouble. It looks like there are some class definitions that are shared with other plug ins so I had class conflict errors. I left a comment on his blog post and he got back to me within minutes. We worked together to determine that there was another Twitter updater needing that class and then he told me how to fix it. About 10 changes to his files and it’s installed.

So now you can read about my posts on Plurk if you are not a Twitter fan.

Go check out this plug in if you are a WordPress blogger.


You should know by now that you’re never alone on the Internet. No matter what you may be interested in, you’ll always find others who share your same interests, and you’ll probably have more in common with these people than you would have ever expected. As is usually the case, people with similar interests enjoy associating with one another, and the Internet has opened up new ways for individuals to find and communicate with each other. Regardless of what your social group revolves around, you’ll need a place to get together, and Grou.ps is that connecting force.

These groups can be used for whatever reason you would like, and you’re in control of deciding which modules become a part of your group. Want to share links, photos, and a wiki with your community? No problem, just add the elements to your group. Content from other services can be posted in these social hubs, and even though the service is free, Grou.ps doesn’t bother you with their branding or advertisements. In fact, they even go a step further by enabling you to make money with your group.

Good Timing v1.91

Good Timing is an intuitive alarm clock program. It can sound an alarm at a particular time or in a specific amount of time. Alarms can even be configured to run like stopwatches. All sounds are customizable. Use Good Timing to manage your time at work, track classes and study-time, schedule sleep and exercise, arrange appointments, remind yourself of that potato in the oven, and time any number of other tasks.

[2.85M] [Win95/98/2k/XP/Vista] [FREE]

Windows Update SNAFU

Gnomie Mike Thomas writes:

Dear Chris,

Last night was Update Night here, and since I had Automatic Updates turned on, I received the two updates from Microsoft and they were installed. I then rebooted, as per instructions, to finish the installation.

After the reboot, I was unable to access the Internet — either by my DSL or by the dial-up connection. I was not best pleased.

I double-checked all wiring, and the connections were secure. I ran all possible checks on the machine, which said that all was as it should be — all devices in good working order. I even reinstalled my ISP software, to no avail. I still had no access to the Net.

This morning I spent over an hour and a half on the phone with my ISP tech support. The young man there was very patient with me and as helpful as he could possibly be. We exhausted every avenue, ran every test, and came up with the inescapable conclusion that the problem was not with their hardware or software.

After that, I tracked down and uninstalled the two updates from last night. Mirable dictu, I had access to the Internet again!

I’m not sure which of the two was responsible for cutting me off from the Net, or if it was the combination of the two, but without them I have access, while with them, I do not.

I have XP Media Center SP3 running on a Compaq Presario desktop. My ISP is Net Zero DSL. I’ve never had any serious problems with either (aside from getting SP3 installed on the AMD chipset).

Am I the only one to have this problem with these updates, or is it more widespread, and to what extent? What are the common factors, if any?

Most important, when will this be fixed, and will somebody please tell me so I can turn Automatic Updates back on? And how will Microsoft get the amended updates to those who cannot figure out how to get back on the Net? By telephone or by snail mail?

Can you swing some extra clout at MS? Or at least tell me where to direct my displeasure?

PS Tonight I got a phone call from my cousin, who has DSL from Bellsouth. She was also unable to access the Net after Update Tuesday. Therefore, I must conclude that the problem is not only with my ISP. I walked her through the steps to turn off Automatic Update and to uninstall the updates from Tuesday. Behold, she also now has access to the Net.

Disable Balloon Tip Messages In XP

Pop-up messages and balloon tips can become annoying in XP. Windows relies on these messages to inform users of what is going on with their computer. Many of the messages never seem to be relevant and more importantly, many of the messages are so self-explanatory that they are completely unnecessary. Take for example the balloon tip that appears indicating that I have unused icons on my desktop.

Now this is just my personal opinion and I’m sure some many people don’t mind all the balloon tip messages. In any case, you can prevent these messages from appearing by making a change to the Registry as described below.

  1. Open the registry editor and navigate to the following key:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER Software Microsoft Windows CurrentVersion Explo-rer.
  2. Right click on Advanced, point to New and click DWORD value.
  3. Type in EnableBalloonTips.
  4. Double click the new DWORD value and change the value to 0.

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