Rants, rambles, news and notes from another geek

Water for Gas and the First Law of Thermodynamics

snake-oil I’m always amazed at the things people will believe. Today I got trackback spam from a “water for gas” site on my miles per gallon post. (The trackback has since been deleted.)

I hadn’t run across this particular “technology” yet, so I dug into it a bit. It turns out there are dozens of sites out there claiming you can add a water-based fuel system to your car to significantly improve your gas mileage.

The gist of what they’re claiming is simple:

  1. You use energy from your car’s electrical system to electrolyze water into Hydrogen and Oxygen.
  2. You then run the gaseous hydrogen and oxygen back into your intake manifold where it burns in your engine’s combustion chamber, resulting in more power with less gasoline used.

Sound oh so simple. Except that this is yet another instance of someone peddling a perpetual motion machine.

Here’s the problem: The first law of thermodynamics states:

The increase in the internal energy of a system is equal to the amount of energy added by heating the system, minus the amount lost as a result of the work done by the system on its surroundings

In layman’s terms, this means you can’t get something for nothing. Applying that to the water for gas system, it basically means you will use more energy electrolyzing the water into hydrogen and oxygen than you will get combining them back together when you burn them in your engine.

**In other words, if you took the gasoline completely out of the equation, you would eventually have your battery die because the engine wouldn’t make as much energy as it produced. **(See this breakdown of the math if you want more info.)

What is more interesting than the bunk science displayed here is the willingness of people to be duped by this and respond with things like “but my friend has one and it works great”. Here we have some guy in middle-America (with little or no scientific or engineering experience and certainly without any of the proper equipment necessary to actually test this) telling you that the last 200 years of science and engineering are false and that perpetual motion (or snake oil) are real. The fact is, most of these scams are actually MLMs and Pyramid Schemes, do I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at the misleading information.

Remember people: If something seems too good to be true, it almost always is! The ultimate test for this in on, however. Bruce Simpson has offered up a million dollars to the first person who can prove it works. Read more over at the One Million Dollar HHO Challenge site. (He’s got a bunch of other great links to the real science involved here in case you want more info.)

So thanks to the trackback guy for letting me learn a bit about this new form of Snake Oil. Hopefully this will help a few more people save their money for things that actually will save money on fuel, like cars that get better mileage.

Wrath of the Lich King Theme for Windows Mobile 5 and 6

Last night I finally got around to upgrading my Blackjack to Windows Mobile 6.0. I’d been delaying because they didn’t have an updater that ran on Vista and I don’t have an XP machine available. Once the Vista updater arrived, I put it on the backlog.

I had an old WoW theme for my Blackjack but I decided it was time to make a new one. Here’s a photo of it running on my phone:


If you’d like to download it, here’s the ZIP file: LichKing_SmartPhoneTheme.zip (26KB)

Keyboard Shortcuts to Use With Remote Desktop

The list of keyboard shortcuts for Remote Desktop used to be one click away in the System menu. Then it moved to the Help system. On my newest version, I can’t find them at all.

Today I was trying to remember the shortcut for screenshot in RDP and couldn’t find it. A quick internet search later, the answer was found. Crazy how sometimes the community support content is better and more discoverable that product help sytems.

MinyWhite.com - Keyboard Shortcuts to Use with Remote Desktop


(I’ve copied the image over here so I don’t lose it. That is nicely done. Thanks MintyWhite!)

Microsoft Joins the OMG

uml_small3 I’ve been eagerly waiting to share this with all of you, but since the press release hit the wire this morning, we can now let the cat out of the bag.

This morning we announced that we have joined the Object Management Group (OMG). The OMG is the group that owns a number of standards, including UML and BPMN.

As we announced at Tech Ed this past spring, Visual Studio Team System code-name “Rosario” Architecture Edition (aka Team Arch), will be shipping UML designers in the box. The opportunity to participate and engage with the standards setting body for UML is very exiting for all of us.

Where Did Password Minder Go? SOLVED!

I’ve long been a fan of Keith Brown’s Password Minder program for keeping all my passwords and other sensitive information safe.

Imagine my frustration then when last week I couldn’t find it to download onto my new ly repaved laptop. Yeah, I had a backup copy, but I like to get newer versions of things when I repave to keep these things up to date.

It seemed that Pluralsight’s web presence had been completely redone (good) but the Tools page was done (bad).

Today after checking back to see any updates, I found a post by Keith with a new link:


Whew! It isn’t dead. :)

Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and .NET 3.5 SP1 Release to Manufacturing

Time for another release announcement:

REDMOND, Wash. – Aug. 11, 2008 – Microsoft Corp. today announced the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Visual Studio 2008 SP1. These releases come just nine months after the release of the .NET Framework 3.5 and Visual Studio 2008, and include a substantial number of updates based directly on customer feedback. The service packs continue to address the needs of the developer community by making it even easier to develop applications for the latest platforms, with new features such as the .NET Framework Client Profile for faster deployment of Windows-based applications, multiple enhancements to ASP.NET, and unparalleled support for database application development through the ADO.NET Entity Framework, ADO.NET Data Services and integration with SQL Server 2008.

“Visual Studio 2008 SP1 and the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 had an extremely positive impact on our ability to develop a Web-based application that our customer, Misys Healthcare Systems, could use to manage patients’ records – in fact, it helped us boost development speed by 60 percent,” said Galen Murdock, president and CEO at Veracity Solutions Inc. “The Microsoft ASP.NET AJAX improvements and new capabilities such as ADO.NET Entity Framework and ADO.NET Data Services meant we didn’t have to worry about any of the underlying plumbing and could simply focus on building a highly responsive and interactive experience for users.”

Read the entire press release here:


UPDATE: Here are links to all the downloads:

Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions with Service Pack 1 (Bootstrappers)

Visual Studio 2008 Express Editions with Service Pack 1 (iso)

Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (Bootstrapper)

Visual Studio 2008 Service Pack 1 (iso)

Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server Service Pack 1

.NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1

Software Development Teams and Sports

![2837161341](/images/blog/WindowsLiveWriter/SoftwareDevelopmentTeamsandSports_D04B/2837161341_3.jpg) For a long time I’ve made the analogy that the best software development teams are like basketball or hockey teams, and lately I’ve been thinking more about how you can recognize what kind of a team you have by continuing this analogy and looking for similarities and differences.

In sports there are a few different kinds of teams. There are teams like gymnastics or bowling where the final result of a match is a result of the combined individual efforts of the team members, but the efforts of the team members aren’t combinatorial. In other words, on an Olympic gymnastics team, the team medal is awarded to the team who’s combined individual scores are the highest. On a bowling team, each player’s score is added together and the team with the highest total wins.

Another kind of sports team is the kind you see in American Pro Football. Here we have one team that is subdivided into two or three parts. The offense is a sub-team that works together to score points. The defense is another sub-team that works together to prevent the opposition from scoring points. There are other sub-teams for special activities like punt returns, field goals, etc.

Basketball, hockey, soccer and rugby are examples of yet another kind of team. On these teams the whole team is working together for the entire game to accomplish their task. There may be specialists on the team like goalies, defenders and wings who have focus areas, but if the time came for an offensive player to block a goal or even a goalie to shoot and score, they would do it.

The best functioning agile teams that I’ve worked with have been like that last kind of team. We have specialists who are good at certain things, but when the time comes to do some work, anyone and everyone does what needs to be done. We can talk all day about elimination of roles on agile teams, but we know from experience that the best testers are people with a natural bent for it. There are also people who are instinctive toolsmiths and will take small taxes that affect the team and mitigate them by adding script or a tool that benefits the whole team. But when it is time to signup for a task, or pair with someone, or fix the build server, or write a new test harness, everyone on the team is prepared and empowered to do that work.

I have also seen agile teams that are more like American Football teams. The most prominent indicator of this is a separation of developers (offense) from testers (defense). This can work, and a large number of teams work this way, but as with football, sometimes the defense finds itself with the ball and if they may not really know what to do with it. Or even worse, they may not feel empowered to do something with it.

You will also find that there are development teams that are more like gymnastic teams. Indicators of this are things like “class ownership” or “module ownership”. When you find architects who must design all the details before a developer can “code it up” you are likely seeing a gymnastics team. Almost any time you find architectural, design or process siloing, you are probably seeing one of these teams. As with gymnastics, these teams can be successful, but it creates a different culture than the one I’m a fan of.

One of the key differences between these types of teams is the attitude about work and dependencies between people. On a hockey or basketball team, the team must work together to win. You can put an amazing group of individuals together, but if they don’t play well together, they won’t win. Done well, the work is combinatorial, where the effort of one person improves the people around them and thereby improves the team. If someone falls down on the front line in a hockey game, you will be unsurprised when the defenseman continues forward and attacks the goal.

Each subteam on a football team behaves this way, but they can’t cross the boundaries very well. The people on the field are interdependent, but they are still siloed into certain responsibilities and expectations. Some might say that this is a result of the way the game is played, with each side taking turns, but in some college and most high-school football teams, the players play “both ways”, meaning that the same people play on both offense and defense. On those teams, when the ball is intercepted, you are much more likely to see the person with the ball being someone who knows how to run and/or throw.

On teams like gymnastics teams, though, you see something different. The person doing floor exercise goes and puts up a score, then the person doing parallel bars goes next, etc. One person can’t really help the next person other than by making a strong enough score to boost the overall team.

The next time you’re thinking about your team, about roles, about siloing and ownership, take a look around and think about what kind of team it is. Think about what kind of team you want. And think about what the forces are that are driving your team to be one way or another. You might be surprised what kind of team you’re on.

(Photo by jimmybop)

Just Released! Improving Web Services Security Guide – Scenarios and Implementation Guidance for WCF

My former team has released a new guide that is getting rave reviews from people called “Improving Web Services Security: Scenarios and Implementation Guidance for WCF”.

Some juicy quotes from reviewers:

  • ” I am new to WCF programming….The guide is very good, very useful and definitely saving us time. It has become the central document from which we are developing. “
  • ”…. you really did a great job! I think that every WCF developer should keep your book as day by day reference…”
  • “Very cool and extremely useful…. I can’t say enough good things about this … it’s an amazing work. ….”
  • “Awesome, phreaking, colossal… the content is unique - there is no match of it…Very timely just as WCF becomes mainstream with my customers. … It is serious booster with real world projects…”

Download the Guide

Contents at a Glance

  • Part I - Security Fundamentals for Web Services gives you a quick overview of fundamental security concepts as they relate to services, service-oriented design, and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA.)
  • Part II - WCF Security Fundamentals gives you a firm foundation in key WCF security concepts, with special attention on authentication, authorization, and secure communication, as well as WCF binding configurations.
  • Part III - Intranet Application Scenarios shows you a set of end-to-end Intranet application scenarios that you can use to jumpstart your application architecture designs with a focus on authentication, authorization, and communication from a WCF perspective for your intranet.
  • Part IV - Internet Application Scenarios shows a set of end-to-end Internet application scenarios that you can use to jumpstart your application architecture design for the Internet.
  • Guidelines, Practices, How Tos, Q&A show self-contained nuggets of information that present both developers and architects digestible pieces of specific guidance. Often code is included to illustrate important concepts and answer specific questions.

I can’t seem to find a link to a hardcopy source, but the PDF is free!