Pseudo-Manitou on LJ just mentioned that tropical storm “Alex” has missed hitting the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and that there’s only 10 or 20 more such storms to come this year (the period of concern of course presumes the oil spill will have been dealt with this year).

Now the worrying idea has been put about that the higher than usual methane content of the oil (30% rather than 5%, IIRC) means there’s giant methane pocket down there, and the new leaks appearing through seabed cracks could mean the seabed is going to disintegrate, releasing the 50,000psi methane pocket in a gigantic explosion big enough to send a supersonic tsunami several hundred miles inland in a few minutes. And it throws in a secondary tsunami for free as the ice-cold deep-sea water meets hot and now empty underground cavern in a huge steam explosion. And of course there’s the added bonus of the giant methane death-cloud to wipe out any survivors and those beyond the waves reach.

But it occurs to me that we’re missing out another possible bit of disaster porn here; What if a huge tropical storm does hit the oil slick? Right through the middle where the oil concentration is at it’s highest? Well it’d suck up a lot of the oil into it’s high-speed winds, tearing it up into tiny particles. And since hurricanes have a wide range of pressure gradients, somewhere in that hurricane it’ll have the perfect ratio of fuel to air for combustion.

One flash of lightning and a fuel-air bomb the size of Texas explodes.

If you wanted to up the anté a bit furthur of course, consider the wild possibility of the hurricane passing directly over the leak site and igniting. Fresh fuel being pulled up at it’s least diluted source, 70% oil, 30% methane, a constant supply of cold air being pulled down the centre of the funnel from the upper atsmosphere. Why specify cold air? Because cold air is more compact, and contains more oxygen. And with the fire adding to the heat, the convection could well anchor the hurricane on the fuel source.

This could plausibly be the first time in history we see a hurricane catch fire. Or explode.

Of course, the ratios for effective fuel-air explosive mixtures are apparently pretty precise, so it’s far more likely it’ll simply rain burning oil across the southern 3rd of the USA.

Pretty decent premise though.

It’s been a couple of months since I last did any real work on the Bonsai RepStrap. My money’s allways close to the line, and most of it’s been tied up in T-shirt stock. However tonight I bit the bullet and ordered the next batch of parts. So I now have on their way to me:

  • 30x Miniature bearings, 3x10x4mm
  • 10x M3 flanged nyloc nuts
  • 40x M3 10mm stainless pan-head machine screws
  • 50x M3 15mm eye-bolts
  • 50x 0.7mm double-barrel crimp sleeves

Now, a lot of them may sound like pretty generic parts, but I’ve done my research to get just the right ones. The crimp sleeves for example aren’t the plain crimp tubes used in jewellery, but the sort used in sea-fishing. They’re double-barrelled so wires don’t get crossed inside them when crimped and get damaged and weakened. Small (and light) bearings at a good price were also a trick to find. But not as hard to find as the machine-thread eye bolts. While some place do them down to maybe M6, I could only find a single shop providing them with an M3 thread, and only in bags of 50.

To be honest, I’d prefer to have used M3 hook bolts, but couldn’t find anywhere that did them at all. Maybe later something will turn up.

They’ll be used in the wire tensioning system along with the flanged nuts and wire crimps. The crimps will hold secure loops of 0.7mm nylon-coated steel cable. Those loops will be fed through the eye bolts. The eye bolts will be retained in a recess by the flanged nuts. The recess will stop the bolt from turning as the nut is adjusted, pulling the bolt further into the recess and putting more tension on the drive wire that runs around the geared capstan.

That’s the theory anyway.

Until they turn up, back to casting and designing T-shirts.

Off to Focus in the morning, looking for some specific storage boxes and some 12mm mouldings. In turn to build the new cargo hauler around, and tidy up the rough Bonsai frame.

When I first heard about the Eye-Fi SDHC a couple of years ago, I was very intrigued, but saddened that it seemed so locked in to one service. But time’s gone by now, and it looks like they’ve opened their doors a lot wider.
The Eye-Fi is an up to 8Gb SD card with a built-in 802.11n wifi functionality. The idea is that when a photo is taken, it’s stored and also uploaded by any open wifi point to the web service. And now there’s a number of services including YouTube, but more importantly I feel, the open-source Gallery 2. The Gallery 2 option means it can now upload to your own personal webspace, located in the country and legal protections of your choice.

However it still requires you to get within 27meters (max) of an open wifi point. And with the spectre of an un-redacted Digital Economy Act looming, open wifi points may soon become rather thin on the ground.

However, one of the things that came up in the original discussion of the Eye-Fi was the idea of using a data-enabled SmartPhone with wifi as a bridge. Eye-Fi talks to your phone via 802.11n, phone talks to the internet via 3G or other mobile broadband. It’s a delightfully simple and compelling concept, but one that has apparently seen little development. Perhaps I’ve simply not found it yet, but it’s hard to find discussion of the subject past 2007.
Certainly you could use a laptop for the same purpose, but that shouldn’t be necessary, particularly as open-source phones such as the Android now exist, where the necessary programming should be relatively simple. And in any case, the uptime comparisons are unlikely to favour it.

In a world where police can illegally demand or force you to delete the video and images from your camera, I for one would treasure the warm inner glow from knowing that while the originals are gone, identical copies have already transferred to my phone and on to a secure server on the other side of the planet.

So if anyone knows of a bit of software to turn your SmartPhone into a passive wifi access-point/bridge, I’d love to hear about it, as I’m sure others would.

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